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, November 05, 2007

UP AND DOWN THE PYRAMID

Published in the Southern League Division One South and West game v Didcot Town Saturday 3rd November 2007. We lost 6-3 in front of 239.


The one thing I love about non league football is its fluidity. I’m not talking about attractive passing play but the fact that teams go up and down the pyramid. Just a decade ago Histon were playing in the Eastern Counties Division One in front of a hundred, now they are in the Blue Square Premier. Eastbourne Borough have gone from playing parks football to knocking on the Blue Square Premier door in 30 years.

Of course this works both ways. Scarborough not so long ago played Chelsea in the FA Cup, but last season went bust and are now a fans run club playing in Northern Counties East against less well known teams like Yorkshire Amateur. Runcorn played in the Conference for many years, lost their ground and are now supporters run playing in the lower reaches of the pyramid.

Of course Slough have been on the downward trajectory ever since we got booted out of the Conference. OK, we had a great couple of seasons with Eddie Denton with promotion, the win over Walsall and the League Cup. But really the writing for the club has been on the wall for some time for numerous reasons that John Tebbit’s columns in the programme often spell out.

Infact it was John who was telling me before the Farnborough game that Slough supporters are pretty special and unique. Nearly 100 of us turned up that wet Tuesday night at Farnborough’s ground making it their biggest gate of the season (Farnborough were another club flying high, playing Arsenal in the FA Cup, before financial misery engulfed them). Similar numbers have travelled to nearly every away game, despite the fact that we haven’t won away since January! And fair play to the 30 odd who travelled to Didcot in the Berks and Bucks Cup to see another thrashing. As one web forum poster put it “The best thing about Slough last night was the fans. As usual they made 90 minutes of crap football easier to take.” Whether this was to do with Dave the Programmes sinking 4 pints of cider before the game I don’t know, but in the face of adversity it’s best to have a laugh and look on the bright side of life.

The remaining few months of last season turned into a Monty Python endurance test where we decided rather than just moan throughout the game we would get behind the team and at least enjoy ourselves. But the club were in a mess off the pitch as well as on, and relegation seems to have given the behind the scenes set up a much needed kick up the bum. The fact that we are penniless and just relying on gate money now has meant a welcome call up for Slough youngsters and while we can’t do much about on the pitch activities, there’s enough of us still to make a noise during the game and help out behind the scenes to make us a stronger club. That was shown by the brilliant response from everyone at the home game against Bridgewater Town. £320 collected in the bucket before the game, 50/50 draw tickets sales up, season ticket holders paying and complimentary tickets being stuck in the bin - and then another £60 more in the supporters trust bucket after the game.

But is it fair supporters must keep digging deep into their pockets? Is it right the Trust is asked to donate to help fund the club while we await the outcome of the planning application?

Some would say us supporters that have suffered enough, and this takes the biscuit. But with local business sponsorship hardly forthcoming, what’s the alternative? The loan last year from the Trust has meant is now the sponsors of our fancy new away kit with the Supporters Trust name emblazoned across the front.

The finances of the club and long term future could also well be stabilised by the Arbor Vale ground proposal with the Trust having some say over what happens to the stadium infrastructure, which is essential if we don’t want a repeat of what has happened to our old ground.

Still, I know defeat after defeat is hard to take, but there is hope over the horizon and I think we need to grasp the opportunity. I look at clubs like Leamington who went from the old Alliance Premier to oblivion, who now have their own ground and are back in the Southern League. Or Dartford who also went bust but now have an amazing new ground in the town attracting average gates of a thousand plus.

We can wring our hands with despair and turn our backs on the club, or we can come out fighting; from sticking a few extra quid in the bucket, joining the Supporters Trust, joining in the singing during games, trying to get some sponsorship etc. It’s our club, and who knows one day we might be all sitting round a table in our spanking new club bar while flying high in the Conference. There we will be boring younger Rebel supporters to death with of our tales of epic parties during 9-0 defeats at clubs who may well have risen then fallen back down the non league pyramid.

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