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, December 09, 2007

THE PERSONAL TOUCH

Published in the Southern League South and West match v Winchester City Sat 3rd December 2007. We drew 2-2 in front of just 170 people.

So its goodbye to Wilko, a Slough legend who took up the poison chalice of manager last season when most sane people would have run a mile. He played on despite
injuries, but unfortunately his never-say-die attitude didn’t seem to transfer onto the other players. Wilko was always approachable and ready to chat to supporters after the game and to me he was an example of everything that is good about this level of football.

When I start my journey to games early Saturday morning (well you have to get to games early to avoid the rush at the turnstiles) I get on at a small train station just outside Brighton. The friendly guard seems to know everyone, as people stop to chat as they cut through the station. He told me that when he retires, he fears they will close the station and just have the electronic ticketing machines to greet you. Does that matter? While it will be justified in typical economic terms what price losing that personal touch?

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) are sponsoring todays game, and for me, fighting to keep open local pubs isn’t just about saving the local boozer. My dad lives on his own and his local pub is his social. When he fell over and broke his pelvis, it was the local landlord that took him to hospital and rang me up to tell me the news. It was the new manager of the place who popped round the other night to see if he was ok. People in the pub who fixed his broken boiler for free. You can’t put an economic price tag on that.

It’s the same with the local shop. While the big supermarkets suck all the money out of the local economy and the people on the till look like they have had a lobotomy, a proper local shop should be more than someone who just sells you milk and a paper.

With the government hell bent on privatising the post office, local post offices are continually being closed. I had to laugh at one government minister who claimed this is because people weren’t using the service as much; he obviously hadn’t queued up to buy a stamp for a while. Again, in many places, the post office can be the social hub. So is the post office a social service or just another way to look for profits?

For my job I run a community allotment project. We teach youngsters gardening, carpentry, woodland management and cooking skills but probably most importantly social skills. Sitting round the firepit on a winters day there will be children from the local schools, refugees, older residents, people with learning difficulties. I call this the social glue that binds communities together. People mixing together, breaking down barriers, having their sterotypes challenged. In a fragmented society this is really important especially for a lot of the pupils that come down to the project who are often having real problems at home and at school. It gets them out of their comfort zone and they have to grow up and work with sorts of different people. With all the crap that is written in the tabloids with their scatter gun approach blaming everyone for societies ills it is good to see what human nature is like when lots of different people work together. (But isn’t it funny how the tabloids always avoid attacking the super rich whose massive tax avoidance could help fund essential services and where the average boss-to-worker pay ratio stands at a staggering 98:1).

As a society we participate less and observe more. We’ve all got an opinion about the non-entities in the Big Brother house and watch the moaning minnies of East Enders, but we don’t know our next door neighbours. Youngsters are more likely to playing football against imaginary teams on a computer than running round on the local rec against real ones. These solitary pursuits coupled with the end of heavy industry, mean we all have less experience of collective endeavor and working together as a team. Which is why football is so effective in breaking down barriers. I’m not talking about the TV football supporter. Football is a social gathering, not merely an entertainment option. Although in my mind £50 to watch Arsenal sitting, prawn like is not my idea of a properly run community football club; no, a properly run club should not just judge their success on results but on its ability to make people feel that they belong.

So if you want to make one New Years resolution, i would suggest it should be get involved. This could be your local football club, local residents group or school. Forget an expensive gym membership why not do some conservation work instead and get fit working outside and doing something useful? If you feel somethings wrong in your communities then get involved to change it. Don’t just turn up to meetings when you want to moan about something, but get involved in shaping your neighbourhoods and help make them become better places. In doing so, you will also get to know your local neighbours and you might even have fun doing so.

Whoever gets the Slough Town managers job, I hope like Wilko, they have the time to chat to us supporters after the game. The human touch is priceless in keeping supporters onside and cheering on the team, especially when the chips are down.

2 Comments:

Blogger Georgina Best said...

You are so right about the importance of communities, cemented by things such as the corner shop and the local football team.

Its sad the way football has moved so far away from that. In the upper leagues anyway.

Slough might not have the prestige and skill of the top boys but they belong to their community.

Good blog buddy

9:03 pm

 
Anonymous fansformationdotcom said...

Con and Leon, along with Amy try convert Sydney lawyer, Lachlan to love the game of football. With 7 episodes to hit the web, check out episode one at www.fansformation.com and send it along to your mates. It will make you laugh and cry.

Another fan perspective.
www.fansformation.com

12:41 am

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home