These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

JOURNIES INTO THE UNKNOWN

Printed in the programme v AFC Wimbledon Ryman Premier 5th September 2006 (excellent hardworking 0-0 draw in front of the massive Dons travelling away support).

By the time you read this we should know our opponents, but when I first heard the draw I could almost smell the sea air and taste the ice-creams. I convinced myself it would be a trip to the town where old people go to die to see Slough take on Eastbourne United Association in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying round. Their used to be four clubs in the Eastbourne area until Eastbourne United FC and Shinewater Association merged three years back. It amazes me that Eastbourne can support three, let alone four clubs. Still, doesn’t matter now as bloody Cobham went and knocked them out in an extra preliminary round reply in front of just 45 people.

Sporting Bengal United would have been somewhere different. Although the name is far more exotic than where they play, an athletics stadium in Mile End, but they lost to Slade Green in front of 155 spectators.

So then it was down to either Slade Green of the Kent League or Cobham of the Combined Counties. Wasn’t Slade Green the place where Fletcher was locked up in ‘Porridge’? Apparently not, “Slade Green is a suburb of Erith situated close to the Industrial Development alongside the River Thames between Woolwich and Dartford” which doesn’t sound quite as nice as a deckchair on the beach in Eastbourne.

So what about Cobham? Now being a bit of a saddo (please don’t say ground-hopper) I visited Cobham last season with a few other Rebels to see ex Slough favourite Matty Miller bag a hat trick for Burnham in a pre season friendly. The place is ultra posh with nearby St Georges Hill having the most expensive houses in the country and home to Cliff Richard. St Georges was also the place where the Diggers made their declaration of land distribution and revolution over 300 years ago. All I can say is, if we end up going there, I hope it doesn’t rain otherwise we will get very wet.

So four teams, most of us have never visited, playing games in the world’s oldest cup competition at the beginning of August. Most people would no doubt never believe you if you told them the FA Cup started a month back, but then most people have probably never heard of any of the above teams– or Slough Town for that matter.

Despite this 258 teams battled it out for a chance to place in the Preliminairy round, with tie of the round going to West Allotment Celtic v Stockton and Norton Ancients, played in front of a grand total of 86 people over two games! Lowest attendance was at Atherton Laburnum Rovers who managed just 17 – two weeks later they lost to FC United of Manchester in the league in front of 1,324; while St Blazey down in Cornwall got nearly 300 through the turnstiles to see them beat Bodmin Town. Then there’s Eton Manor who won their first FA cup game since 1957 beating St Margaretsbury on penalties! It’s probably safe to say that none of these clubs competing in the extra preliminary will reach the 1st round proper but along the way there will be a few non league shocks and giant killing.

Just look what happened to us last season at Wroxham! As journeys go it was the longest of the season. I set off at 7am and five hours later and two more Rebel fans in tow we arrived at Wroxham, where we wandered round the small tourist town in the Norfolk Broads where everything seemed to be owned by someone called Roy. The ground was very picturesque, surrounded by fields and a river, but the pitch wasn’t up too much, and neither was the Slough performance. The fact that we lost to a village side two leagues below us probably tells you everything you need to know about the FA Cup. Nearly 100 Rebels made the trip – a full coach, and Slough supporters descending from all over the country – Brighton, Horsham, Peak District, Ashby de la Zouch, Cambridge. Although most ridiculous journey probably goes to Yeovil Steve who set off at 6am to drive to Wexham Park to get the coach from Slough. His journey back must have been a barrel of laughs, when at least the half dozen of us on the train back managed to drown our sorrows together.

We could really do with a decent cup run, but then all clubs say that. But for us homeless ones, the money and prestige, the focus on the clubs plight, really does mean something that little bit more. Still knowing our luck if we’d did get to the first round we’d up end up playing MK Dongs, when really deep down we all want Wycombe.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home