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.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This should have appeared in the programme for the league match v Walton on the 26th November. The game was called off. Players keep threatening to go on strike and more have left over not getting paid. Relegation looks pretty certain.

I did my bit over the past month in reducing my football carbon footprint by only travelling to games in Sussex. As I sat on the bus to Whitehawk to see them play a cup game I wondered - when climate change really starts to kick in and green taxes and the rocketing price of petrol makes driving a car a lot more expensive, will we go back to the days when clubs were full of local players?

Pie in the sky? Nearly 40 years ago Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, beating favourites Inter Milan 2-1. All the Celtic players were born within a 30 miles radius of Glasgow.

At Whitehawk, currently top of the Sussex County League, players only get expenses so they are never going to attract players from too far away. Infact one supporter told me, that not so long ago you had to live in the Whitehawk area to play for them.

And on an estate with a bad reputation that has received millions in regeneration money, it’s more than just a football club but a proper community resource with plenty of football teams for all ages, young and old mixing, something community development workers can only dream of. There’s a busy bar with thriving social club that brings in the money – and you get your half time cuppa served in a proper mug rather than a disposable cup. The chairman was running the gate and his grandson selling raffle tickets. They’ve got plans to improve facilities, but I like the place, nestled next to the South Downs with the chalk hawk overlooking the ground.

Former players still come to watch games with their sons in the squad, while the manager Ian Chapman made more than 300 appearances in ten years as a player with Brighton. Chapman was also recently appointed first team coach at the Albion and both clubs face each other in the next round of Sussex Senior Cup (a bit like Reading playing Reading Town).

Next it was a train to Lewes, and how times have changed at the Dripping Pan. Not so long ago they faced relegation from the Ryman League and nearly went bankrupt in fronts of gates of less than 50. Now with their spanking new ground improvements they are knocking on the Conference door. Todays occassion was Darlington at home in FA Cup first round - the first time the Rooks had played in the first round proper at home in 121 years of history. It was a full house of 2,000 and if they had taken their chances the score line might have been a bit different.

Next off was Worthing, for a trip with all my family and Rubens first away game (ok Zoe refused to pay the entrance fee and went shopping instead). Before the game Worthing had showed the door to five senior players with their manager saying it was due to keeping within his budget restrictions, together with the progress of some of their younger players.

Worthing have the facilities and support for Conference South football, and yet one of their supporters told me that Victor Gladwish withdrawing £30,000 has had serious consequences for the club. In terms of premiership football £30,000 is peanuts but at this level can mean the difference between survival and going under. For Worthing the money was helping to fund their youth team scheme. Local players also brings in local support, family and friends as the young girls shouting over the fence at some Worthing player they fancied showed (they just weren’t quite willing yet to pay at the gate).

Obviously money does buy success, but well paid players don’t always give clubs the success they crave. Last year Windsor seemed spoilt with our rent money and squandered it on players from outside the area – result? Relegation. After Slough were thrown out of the Conference we splashed the cash in a bid to regain our Conference status. Result? Relegation. Then look at Ramsgate. Two straight promotions and now flying high in our league on mainly local players who’ve been playing together since they were in the Kent League.

With Sloughs financial problems, wouldn’t it be good idea to pack the team with as many decent local players as possible? Worthing are wise to invest in local talent. I just hope that for the sake of me reducing my traveling and carbon footprint budget that both Rebels can stay in this league.

If you want to check out your carbon footprint

Monday, November 13, 2006


Printed in the League match programme v Heybridge Swifts 12th November 2006.
We lost 2-0. I write an article about loyalty - then go and watch Lewes play Darlington in the FA Cup instead!

One thing you hear footie fans rightly moaning about these days is player’s lack of loyalty. They come and go it seems whenever another team waives an extra fiver under their noses. Well loyalty and commitment is something Eddie Denton had in abundance, and I must say I was sad to see him go.

We know we’ve had a pretty dreadful season so far, apart from the brilliant display against high flying (!) Harrow and Staines, and the backs-against-the-wall draw against Wimbledon. But apart from that we’ve not been good enough; been slipping silly goals, and not scoring them at the other end (you have to take shots for that too happen). Our team has also been decimated with injuries and suspensions and we could also do with a little bit of luck as well, but we’ve been down on ours at this club for a long time.

In fact since Eddie joined Slough it’s been backs against the walls for the whole club. Eddie joined the Rebels as a player in 1998 moving onto the management team as an assistant under Steve Browne. He became manager in the summer of 2003 after Browne, possibly Slough’s worst ever manager in living memory, left the club in Division One of the Ryman League.

Since then we’ve lost our ground and there’s been no movement on going back to the town. The budget seems to always be getting cut, and then it’s been the ‘will-we-be-starting-this-season’ suspense. Well we knew we had a team this closed season – then only seven players turn up for the first training session, and Eddie had yet another rebuilding job on his hand. Infact it’s amazing he stayed so long with that sort of pressure.

And yet, he got us a fourth place finish in the Ryman Division One South meaning the club avoided relegation due to league restructuring. He won us our first trophy for 15 years, with a great night in Staines (didn’t ever think I’d hear myself say that!) seeing us beat our mates at Hampton. But arguably his finest hour was helping pull off our best ever FA Cup result, knocking Paul Merson’s second division Walsall out of the first round. We can only dream where the club would be now if we had beaten Yeading in the next round and played Newcastle with all the publicity and money that would have brought (mind you we now seem to have signed half the Yeading team that knocked us out).

But football is full of ‘ifs and buts’, and differences of opinions. All I can say is Eddie gave his all for the club and you can’t ask for more than that. He was a nice bloke always willing to chat after a game – and apologise for a poor performance. He thanked the fans and has mentioned on many occasions we can be the best and loudest in the league (those of you who just go to ‘home’ games will be nodding your head in disbelief at that statement) and we travel in numbers. He said "Slough's a fantastic club, with fantastic fans. They're a good bunch and put a lot in to the club and I wish them all the best. I gave my all and they certainly gave the same back." So thanks for the memories Eddie – good luck in whatever you do next.

As for loyalty, well it seems right that Slough promote from within. Darron Wilkinson, like Eddie, is always willing to talk to supporters. He’s made over 200 appearances for the club, the sort of loyalty the club needs. Steve Daley is another one whose notched up 200 games and then there’s return of Matt Miller, who said he’d only come out of his self imposed retirement as it was Slough (mind you he had retired so he could watch Man United so he must have a few screws loose).

Then there’s the loyalty of the fans. About 80 of us travelled to Boreham wood and nearly everyone I spoke to said that with half our team missing, we were going to be thrashed – and yet still everyone came. We lost 6-0 and yet which team got clapped off the field at the end – the Slough players! That’s loyalty, well actually there’s another word for it which Yeovil Steve’s girlfriend said to him when he phoned and told her the score, but that word isn’t printable in this programme!