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.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

GATWICK EXPRESS

Printed in the programme v Gosport Borough Southern League (South and
West) 22nd September. We lost 2-1 - not quite sure how.


With Sloughs FA Cup adventure over before it even really began and a free Saturday I decided to hop on the train to catch Horley Town v Erith Town in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying round. Horley is a pleasant enough little town just outside Gatwick – they once merged with Gatwick Rovers - but it’s suprisingly not deafened by the air noise you get in parts of Slough.

It was hardly cup fever for these two clubs as I couldn’t find anything about the game on either of their web sites till the night before. In town there were no posters and when I payed my £5 entrance fee, there were no programmes left cos “we only printed a few.” Which is suprising since it’s quite a while since Horley last played in the cup.

With their old ground falling to bits, they sold it for housing for a decent sum and have built themselves a tidy little ground. The old ground had been donated by a local landowner who became Club President, and was held in trust in memory of those that died fighting for their country; the ground appropriately named “The Defence”. The new ground, called, ‘the New Defence’ has a very impressive clubhouse with seated stand incorporated. The all glass front means comfortable viewing from the heavens to drink beer and stay out of the cold, and the place is open seven days a week bringing in a steady income.

After a few seasons in park football, they got back into the Combined Counties. However, not enough seats mean’t they fell foul of the leagues ground regulations and demotion. With a few extra seats and some covering behind the goal they were able to get back to the Premier after they won Divison One last season. Now i’m all for making grounds better for players and spectators alike, but when Combined Counties crowds hardly ever make it too three figures it seems a bit draconian and pointless.

As for the game. OK, i’ll admit it; it took me until half time to realise i had the teams muddled up and thought Horley were Erith. What the club official thought of my ramblings about the game I don’t know, as i told him i thought Horley were in control when clearly they were not. Me, stupid? Well in my (very poor) defence there were no programmes, but a glance at the seated stand and the clubhouse and Horley’s claret and blue colours were pretty visible. Doh! It’s bad enough doing it once, but i’ll admit that I once went to a Slough game away to Abingdon Town in the FA Cup 4th Qualfying Round in 1989 and did the same bloody thing. I hadn’t been to a match for ages, and Slough were playing in their away kit with Abingdon in yellow, so I spent the whole game not only keeping an eye on the floodlights that looked like they were going to blow over at any point, but thinking Slough were Abingdon! At the final whistle I couldn’t believe we’d lost a cup game to such lowly oppoisiton and it wasn’t till me and my mate got back on the coach that it dawned on us that Slough had actually won. I think it was then I realised I needed glasses.


Once I got over my misconception, i realised that Horley were infact being played off the pitch and had a serious discipline problem. One player had been sent off after 10 minutes and i was told four of their first team were already suspended; not bad for a month into the season. Some of their players just didn’t stop moaning. Erith on the other hand were well organised, had a couple of flair players and should have been more than 1-O up at the break. The second half pretty much stayed the same with Erith in control, as the game got more and more fraught with fouls – one Horley player going off in an ambulance after a clash of heads. It was only in the last 10 minutes that the home side seemed to wake up and realise they had to get an equalisier but it was too late. 1-0 to Erith. Horley’s cup run was over.

As for the future of the club, well it looks very rosy. With its excellent facilities crowds are averaging 140 so far this season. Many of the players come from the youth set up and the local area with 27 teams playing under the clubs banner. There’s more ground improvements on their way and they are aiming for the Ryman where I think they could easily hold their own. Just print a few more programmes next time please so I get the teams the right way round and don’t end up looking such a plonker.

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