These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ups and Downs

Published in the Ryman Premier league game v Folkestone Invicta 8th April 2006

It's that time when I start to speculate about who Slough will be playing next season. With more non league restructing on the way, and the border line between the Ryman and the Southern wafer thin, will my wage packet be stretched to bursting point by a switch to the Southern? Unless they manage a great escape, there will be no local derby against Windsor, so can be look forward to playing Maidenhead next season? Or will the magpies one again pinch another clubs conference nest again thanks to the hypocrisy of the Conference big-wigs. Why is it ok for them to demand three up three down to the football league, while every year giving failing conference clubs reprieves?

Last year it was Hornchurch that went bust (and out of the ashes AFC Hornchurch became the first club in the country to win a league title, the Essex Senior League, with an average attendance of 418). This year it could be Cambridge City going to the wall thanks to financial meltdown, giving Maidenhead, Carshalton or Newport County another chance.

In the Nationwide Conference 2003/4 season Northwich, Farnborough and Leigh RMI were all given a reprieve thanks to Telford going to the wall and Margate being thrown out. And what happened the following season? The same three clubs were relegated (Northwhich finished fourth from bottom but were thrown out over ground problems). This hardly makes the league competitive - especially with so many clubs knocking on the Conference door.

Last season Maidenhead should have been relegated yet got a reprieve, and once again the club have struggled at the foot of the league. I don't want to sound sour grapes, but are the Magpies really a Conference team and is this good for competition?

Surely it would be fairer to promote the clubs that have done the best in the feeder leagues. Take Fisher, who I reckon are the best footballing side I've seen this season - mind you they should be on weekly wages of eight grand a week - and yet if they don't reach top spot and muck up on the play-offs could find themselves in the Ryman Premier again.

The conference has done wonders to promote non league football, and the top half of the Conference is as strong as clubs struggling in the fourth division (or whatever it's called this season). But on the relegation issue they are wrong, and their attitude comes across like the old boys network that they have successfully challenged in the league to rightfully win two up-two down.

Talking of promotion I suppose we should offer our congratulations to Reading reaching the Premiership. For years a struggling bottom division side on the brink of bankruptcy, it's a remarkable achievement, but I think it bodes ill for Slough Town. Already they appear in the town at football events, when it should be the Rebels that are represented, and their Premiership status is going to magnify that ten-fold and no doubt nick a few more would-be Rebel fans. Still at least Steve Coppell, seems a decent human being, which is more than can be said of the top Premiership managers.

Chelsea's Mourinho has become as whinging and defensive as Wenger and Ferguson. Coppell has compared being a manager to being a pimp, and has expressed his dismay at the hype surrounding the Championship, let alone the Premiership.

I spotted him the last time Slough played Kingstonian on a cold winters evening obviously checking some players. Maybe he's the sort of man we should be looking at for the next England manager?