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.

Monday, December 11, 2006

SORRY, THE MATCH IS OFF

This article about games being called off should have appeared in the programme for league game against East Thurrock United - but the game was called off. Oh, the irony. Spent the day in Seven Sisters with my family instead. Very nice - but it wasn't football was it?

Call me old fashioned, but I thought December was the month of wet muddy pitches with a bucketful of sand in the goalmouths. But obviously this was all new to the ref in charge of last Saturdays game at Hendon. Rain during Friday night had left a tiny rectangle of the pitch just outside the penalty area in a poor condition, but Hendon supporters, players and club officials worked hard, laying sand and ensuring no surface water was visible. The remainder of the playing area looked in good nick – and there hadn’t been a game called off at Claremont Road in almost five years. The players and managers wanted the game to go ahead but the ref didn’t and used the excuse that players could slide into the hoardings.

So a wasted trip to Hendon, which got me thinking about other games I’ve gone to that haven’t happened. Most disapointing was against Windsor two seasons back.

I’d stayed in Slough for Christmas Day, and was up bright and early ready to celebrate my birthday with a a few drinks and a victory over our landlords. But when I arrived people were leaving, the pitch frozen, the game off. I headed by train to London trying to find any footie to go to, before giving up and sulking depressingly sober back to Brighton trying to russtle up some friends to have a drink with me on the Pier and rescue the day.

Before the days of the internet and mobile phones, checking matches were on was a bit of a lottery, especially in those halycon days of the Conference when away games could be miles away. My cousin Mark, Pleb (who co wrote our fanzine ‘Rebels Without A Clue’) and me were driving down the M40 on the way Cheltenham with the snow getting heavier, visibility down to zero and a blizzard starting to blow. By the time we got to Oxford it became apparent to even us idiots that this sort of weather was not condusive to playing football, and when we did what we should have done in Slough – phone Cheltenham Town Football Club – we found that the match had been called off.

I’d not seen Slough play for a few seasons, when they were drawn away to Crawly in the FA Cup and as it was just up the road thought i’d go along. My friend persuaded me to take her son to his first football match and I agreed as I always think it’s best to start kids off at the grassroots part of the game. For a start it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, the kids have more freedom to run round, and if they say they are bored they can have an unoffical game of footie in some forgotton corner to keep themselves amused. I think it’s also good to show them that the world of football aint all Premiership glitz and glammer. At eight months Ruben is already on his fifth game, but Hendon was to have been his cousins Rafi first match at the grand age of six weeks old. Mind you, I couldn’t really tell if he was upset or not as he slept the whole afternoon anyway.

Anyway back to Crawley. Waiting in the bar we heard the game was off due to a waterlogged pitch. But trying to explain to an inquistive three year old why was proving hard work – ‘why is there no football game’, ‘why does it rain’, ‘why are there clouds’– on and on went the why’s on the journey back to Brighton. I finally gave up trying to answer and just replied all Buddha like ‘Because.’

Two seasons ago I got my map round the wrong way when I arrived at Walton train station. I got hopelessly lost and in the pouring rain couldn't find any living soul to point me in the right direction. Eventually I arrived at Stompond Lane soaked and starving thanks to rushing straight from work. They were friendly enough in the kitchen, but being vegetarian was causing them problems and all they could offer was a stale bun with processed cheese and some fried onions. After watching two minutes of the first half, the game was abandoned and I was sat dripping wet, cold and hungry on the train station questioning my sanity.

One Christmas I went to see Worthing play Lewes. The ground was packed (there was no Premiership footie on the TV, and the massive crowd just proved how so many games on TV is affecting gates) and as the rain poured down the pitch began to resemble a river.

Former Slough goalkeeper Dominique Jean-Zepherin then went on one of his infamous mazy runs out of the penalty box to near the halfway line, was tackled and a Worthing player kicked the ball towards the goal. It was just about to fly in when it hit a puddle so large ducks had taken up residence. It rolled onto the mud and stuck on the goal line. The ref had enough and the game was abandoned.

So from having no games called off last season, that’s two in a row. Still as the ever chirpy Matty Miller pointed out in the Hendon bar afterwards – at least it’s been three weeks since Slough last lost a game!

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home