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.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Printed in the Ryman League Premier game v Chelmsford City 21st April 2007. We lost 4-0 but played better than the score suggests. Problems with the printers mean't no programme.

This is my last notes of the season.

It must be boring being a Chelsea/Man United/Arsenal fan, where a season of crisis usually means finishing third and only reaching two cup finals. When they do lose a game their whinging managers always blame everything else and cry that its not fair - ban FA Cup replays, international matches; blame injuries (ignoring the fact that they’ve got 16 internationals on the subs bench) or refs that have got it in for you. It’s like listening to some millionaire boss complaining about not having enough perks of the job. Infact I’m surprised one of them hasn’t complained that their opponents scored a goal cos the ball was too round.

For the rest of us plebs who have to put up with season after season of not-very-much, the anticipation of a fresh start brings out the optomist even in the most pessimist of people, telling ourselves ‘just wait till next season.’

Still, what a season we’ve had! Everyone will be no doubt be glad to see the back of it – the worst in Sloughs 117 year history - although it has been a laugh at times, and who knows maybe we can throw a spanner in the works and stop Hampton getting automatically promoted in the last game of the season. That would make the presentation evening very sweet indeed! And as time rolls on, we can at least tell all our new supporters when we are flying high in the non league world again, that we were there when getting a thrashing was a weekly event! Still, we helped put a dent in Margate’s promotion bid with that excellent draw, and you could see from their frustration they expected to roll us over. That’s one thing we knew we’d get with Wilko as manager – someone who instills a battling belief in the team and never say die attitude. Our support – what’s left of it – has been brillant and if we can at least start winning a few more games, hopefully a few more people will be dragged kicking and screaming through whatever turnstiles host our ‘home’ games next season.

Knowing relegation was a certainty around Christmas time had its bright side. Being one of the first in the non league pryamid to go down (just after Lancaster City who look like they will be finishing the season with minus one point!) meant we could relax, enjoy a sing-song, not get at the players and drink ourselves silly at grounds we aren’t likely to visit in a long while. It also meant that I didn’t have to spend weeks wracking my brain over the possible results of the bottom clubs and the myriad of permutations these could have on the final table.

Instead we could ponder on what league will we be in next season. Will we have a decent squad to compete? What will our playing budget be? Where will the club be playing? Will there be any news on a move back to Slough? Will be have an exciting FA Cup run? Will we have more local lads playing? Will Sue really set up a tequlla bar in the club shop when she takes over as club shop manager? And will we still have a club to support!

My preference for next season from a purely footballing point of view is the Ryman South. It’s a tough league, but there will be trips over to Kent where teams at least have decent grounds and football clubs with history, predigree and supporters. There will be a chance to see Dartford’s amazing new ground if they don’t go up. I always enjoy trips to Dulwich Hamlets ground, the beers cheap at Met Police and Hastings, Burgess Hill, Worthing and Horsham are just around the corner. I like the idea of going to see Walton Casuals whose supporters are no doubt covered in Burberry. Croydon Athletic also do a mean cheese toastie, which is just what you need after getting lost in the nearby cemetary.

Over in the Southern league, the places are a lot more pictureseque being full of village sides, but only Didcot and Chesham attract decent crowds.

As my school headmasters no doubt told us in assembly, its the taking part that matters, and to enjoy the highs you’ve got to experience the lows. Well, we’ve had enough lows thank you very much, isn’t it about time Man United/Chelsea/Arsenal had a relegation battle on their hands? No doubt if they did get relegated, they would manage to change the rules to ban relegation that season. For the rest of us, we can enjoy the summer break and hope that next season will be one to savor.

See you next season.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Printed in the Ryman Premier League match v Bromley 14th April 2007. We lost 8-0!

It’s election time again and for Slough fans it’s a chance to ask prospective councillors a few questions about the club. So if you get a knock at the door ask them if Slough Town having a new football stadium in the town is one of their priorities.

Of course some will tell you there’s not enough money in the pot to help the club, not that the club is asking for any money. Still, I can only nod my head in disbelief when I hear that we all need to tighten our belts. Aren’t we the fourth richest nation in the world? So why the hell can’t we afford decent public services? And in my view, decent sporting facilities are a public service which every council should aspire too.

Still, maybe its something to do with the crazy system where it seems the richer you become the more ways there are to pay less tax. The top ten per cent of Britain now owns an incredible 54% of the wealth. And the top percentage of these have managed to get tax dodging down to a fine art. In 1999 The Economist reported that Sun and Sky TV owner Rupert Murdoch had made £1.4 billion in profits over the previous 11 years but had paid no corporation tax. After an examination of what was available of the accounts, it reckoned Murdoch would normally have expected to pay enough tax to “build seven new hospitals, 50 secondary schools or 300 primary schools”.

Infact football perfectly mimics society – just think of the wealth of the premiership clubs and their stars, a system so skewered that thanks to another even more lucrative TV deal, becoming bottom of the Premiership will get you £30 million! Then look at Hounslow Borough Football Club who went to the wall last week with debts of just £6,000.

These elections could make a difference to the fortunes of our club, with a more sympathetic bunch helping us look for solutions. Just look at Maidstone. It’s 15 years since they went out of business, but now they are coming home with their local council are backing a new stadium that is now being built for the club. Then of course there’s Dartford, whose new stadium Princes Park in the heart of the community is regular drawing crowds of a thousand plus in Ryman Divison One. I think its worth recalling their council leaders words to show just what can be achieved “Everyday, councils throw bucket loads of money at schemes to deal with anti-social behaviour, childhood obesity, community cohesion, civic pride and community relations. Here in Dartford, we took the view that rather than fund a series of expensive here today- gone tomorrow initiatives, we would invest in football as a catalyst for all those things. You simply cannot put a price on the sense of pride and worth that is developing around the town as a result of The Darts coming home. Princes Park will not only become a centre of spectator sport, but also as a participatory one too - for kids of all ages. I have told the club that they MUST bring kids in and encourage school sports finals and training to take place on the first pitch.

”I know that many Council's feel that they 'can't' do this, and 'can't' do that, and if we had stopped every time somebody had said that our dream was impossible then we wouldn't have got beyond advertising for an architect. Leadership is about legacies, not bureaucracy, and when I'm dead and gone they will bury me with a smile on my face because I know we have provided a facility that will makes tens of thousands of people happy every year. We've had enormous fun on the way and as far as this leader is concerned, creating great opportunities for community sport is EXACTLY what we should be doing. Forget casinos, Forget Business Parks, Forget Shopping Centres (the Private Sector will take care of itself) - it's getting kids introduces to the discipline, pleasure, rigours and routine of sport that matters. Show me a kid that participates in, or follows team sport and I'll show you a good kid.”

Slough is a diverse melting pot and in my mind the best way to bring the different cultures and people together is a successful community run football club in the heart of the town. At this present moment in time this might seem pie in the sky, but as clubs like Dartford and Maidstone show us, never say never in football.

When that knock at the door comes, just make sure you let them know that Slough Town coming home should be high on the list of their priorities.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Printed in the Ryman Premier League programme v Margate Saturday 7th April 2007. After last weeks battering we got a very credible 2-2 draw and should have won the game.

It was our heaviest defeat since 1910. Yet any Slough fans that weren’t at the Wimbledon game on Saturday will probably think I’ve really lost the plot when I say that it was one of my best days supporting the Rebels over the past 30 years.

But let’s start at the beginning of a very early day with Ruben waking the house before even the milkman had been. First off was up the A3 to Colliers Wood Football Club. Even a non league saddo like me had never heard of the club who are new to the Combined Counties and where the highest attendance this season is 75. Anyway our supporters team and a few of my mates I’d dragged along were playing the Wombles supporters. We lost 10-1 last season, but this year it finished 7-3. An omen for later that afternoon?

Playing for the supporters is a good laugh. Despite my crap second half performance and feeling a 100 when I came off, it’s a great way for supporters to get together and start the day. Then it was off to Wimbledon for some pre match pints; we were going to need it. Whatever some people think of Wimbledon I’m bloody impressed with their set up and will miss going there. The clubhouse reminds me of Wexham Park when it was packed before and after a game. As we arrived a sponsored walk with hundreds of kids led by Haydon the Womble was arriving at the ground –being a fans run club with no massive backer they have to rely on everyone pulling in sponsorship and fundraising which they do very professionally. And with their 18 point deduction reduced to 3 and promotion back on track there was a real buzz about the place.

We knew before kick off that we were relegated and so it was decided to have a party. The fact that we were so thoroughly outclassed on the pitch, never once dampened the spirits of our supporters who never shut up once for the whole 90 minutes. Even when they’d stuck nine past us, we boomed out "were going to win 10 -9....!” as well as the now legendary ‘The Ryman League is Upside Down’ song. After the game even one of their players came over to clap us while Haydon the Womble gave us a bow. Their supporters clapped and hugged us and bought us more drinks; during the after match presentation they praised us supporters, and although its easy to generous when you’ve won so convincley it felt good to be a Slough supporter. It felt even better when quite a few of our players said the only reason they still play for the club is because of the support (well, it certaintly wouldn’t be for the money they are on!).

The fans internet forum was buzzing. One Slough fan Kevin summed the day up perfectly My son Jake and I have just got back to Ashby de la Zouch after a fantastic afternoon! Although only part time Slough fans due to our other commitments we had to be at Kingsmeadow today and we have to say it is the best 290 mile round trip we have ever done! My first comments are about Wilko and the players. Whatever the score, you could not for one second question the commitment of everyone of the players today and whilst they may not be the most gifted group of footballers ever assembled they can stand proud in the fact they gave all they had for the shirt today. 'Serve with honour' it says and 'Serve with honour' they did.

As for the rest of you fans - two words - stunning support! Me and the lad felt like intruders because we haven't been all over the south of England like the rest of you so we stood and admired your fantastic and undying support for the club. I have been to Premiership winning and FA Cup winning matches but nothing compares to the way you guys (and gals) kept singing and singing. The players reactions at the end shows that it is appreciated. Thanks again to all the Slough fans at Kingsmeadow for reminding me what true supporters are all about.”

Brazilian Don said “I was one of the stewards at he away end in the first half and have to compliment you all on the fantastic support you showed for your team. I'd rate you 12 in a scale of 1 to 10!!! On a different note, can I just say that your team did you proud on the pitch today. You could have put 10 people behind the ball and hooffed everything in sight, including our strikers, but you didn't. You came to play football.

I leave the last word to my mate Gibby, who came along to the game "Amazing spirit in the Slough camp. Here you are on the worst defeat of the worst season in your history joking, non-stop singing, having a party, supporting the team through it all. None of the blank faces, depression, whinging, getting on your team's back, sack everyone etc. The Rebels can't fail to return with support like that."

Forget this season – it’s time to rebuild for next. It’s up to us supporters to remember these days, that when we do stand together we can steady the sinking Slough Town ship and one day make it a force again in non league football.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Slough - The Other View

Article printed in AFC Wimbledon's programme Ryman Premier League game 31st March 2007 . We were already relegated before a ball was kicked - and we lost 9-0!

Well what can you say about this season? By the time we make the trip to Kingsmeadow we might already be relegated – something most of us knew was a certainty around Christmas. Infact this season has been one big soap opera at Slough Town, with less laughs than an episode of Eastenders. We’ve seen players threaten to go on strike and then leave at an alarming rate as wages never materialised; we are in a financial crisis which even by our standards is impressive. We’ve had to play games with half our squad either injured or suspended with not enough subs on the bench. We’ve visited the usual places, but also been to some new ones like Cobhams delightful Leg O’ Mutton ground, so posh it had a farmers market outside its gates. We witnessed a 25 man brawl at Worthing. We had a nice trip to Ramsgate in the autumn sun (but the less said about the delights of Margate the better) and of course a battling scoreless draw against you lot in front of a decent crowd (please don’t tell us we played so well cos it was our ‘cup final.’) Since Ocobter six teams have stuck 5 goals past us, and one team 6. Which isn’t really suprising considering we’ve had three managers and 47 players.

At least there seems to be some movement on a ground back in Slough, but i don’t think many of us could bear another season at Windsor’s souless Swamp Meadow. We were promised football on the ‘best playing surface in the league’ – but for who? Ducks? During the wet weather we went ages without a game and when we have played the pitch has resembled the Somme.

Yet despite this being the worst season in Sloughs 117 years history, when the majority of our players left (only 4 remain since the beginning of the season) us supporters have adopted a backs-aginst-the-wall you’ve-got-to-laugh siege mentality. Despite the defeats we’ve been singing throughout the games and applauding our players off the pitch. Why? Because the players who’ve remained or joined the club are giving everything and you can’t ask for more than that.

Infact all Slough has left is its supporters, and I believe we are amongst the best in the league. Of course I would say that, but you try going through a season like we’ve had and still turn up in numbers away from home (for this league anyway) knowing that you could be getting another stuffing.

But as you Wimbledon fans know, when the chips are down football can bring out the best in people. It’s up to us fans to make sure there is a club to support next season, a club run by its supporters, even if it means at the bottom of the pyramid pile. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I reckon while you await the outcome of your 18 point deduction, remember that just eight seasons ago we finished eighth in the Conference and were semi-finalists in the FA Trophy. We then got thrown out of the Conference for financial irregularities and a lack of seats. Football has a habit of kicking you in the teeth, but as next season approaches the ever optimist in me hopes that things can be better. So if you hear a lot of noise from the Slough end it won’t be us banging our heads against a brick wall, but enjoying our day out and looking at clubs like yours, Enfield Town and Dartford to remind us that despite how things are now, they might be so very different in a few seasons time.