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, November 30, 2008


Published in the Southern South and West League game v Winchester
City. Slough beat the bottom club 4-0 in front of 250 very cold

I make no apologies for forgetting about football in this column (well
we have had a forgettable last couple of months). Instead I’m going to
tell you about my dads amazing new flat. So what? Well this isn’t any
ordinary flat, nor is it a room in a ‘care home for the elderly.’ No
this is state of the art apartment, where my dad can ‘live
independently but within a supportive environment.’ And what an
environment! And what support!

There’s a spacious restaurant, where lunch is included in the rent
meaning everyone has to come down and socialize at dinner time and not
be stuck in their flats never seeing a soul. Visitors can also eat
there –before the Bracknell game I had poached egg on toast for 50p!
Next to the restaurant is a lounge overlooking the garden. There’s a
gym, a hairdressers, library, cinema, shop, and guest rooms for people
when they are visiting. The residents are encouraged to get involved
in the running of the place and rooms are also available for hire, so
different groups can use the space and make the place part of the
community, rather than a gated ‘old-people only’ community. The place
is wardened and there is always a nurse on hand with each resident
having an individual care package tailored to suit their needs. On top
of this is incredibly friendly and helpful staff.

The home at Northampton Avenue is part of Sloughs Extra Care housing
and is built on the site of the old Centre swimming pool in front of
Herschel school. It’s a partnership between Slough Council and the
charity Hanover Housing and another one is being built at the top end
of the Wexham Road. Although rent is expensive, my dad isn’t rich or
has money stashed away in the Cayman Islands, so with the right advice
and plenty of form filling he should have enough to get by.

I also have to sing the praises of all the council workers I have
dealt with, who have bent over backwards to help my dad and I’m sure
are sick of the sound of my voice. This is in stark contrast to the
utilities and private companies who try and rip people off at every
opportunity, and could take a leaf out of the council’s social
services department’s ability to communicate properly.

I really wonder how people are meant to cope, especially older people,
with the relentless amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that’s needed
to get by in our society, especially when moving home. When my dad was
first getting grief from a particularly unpleasant occupational
therapist, the council told me to contact Age Concern. Like a lot of
older people, my dad was insistent he didn’t need help from anybody.
Age Concern sent along Rashpal Singh who was so persuasive without
being pushy my dad relented and started to access services and money
he was entitled too. Rash has taken him to appointments when me or my
brother can’t get time off work, knowing where to go and who to
contact, generally just being there for him.

Getting old doesn’t always look much fun – but with more Extra Care
supportive housing the loneliness and isolation many older people
suffer, can be a thing of the past. Slough Council are apparently
trailblazers when it comes to support for the elderly, so if
Betjeman’s bombs ever do fall in Slough, I hope they miss this amazing
new housing development that all the residents of Slough should be
extremely proud of.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We hate Wycombe - still!

Printed in the Southern League South and West match v Bishops Cleeve Saturday 8th November 2008. We drew 1-1 in front of 195 people. Bishops equalized in the 94th minute, which means we have lost 8 points at home this season by conceding goals in the last 5 minutes of the match!

There’s been lots of talk recently about our old rivals Wycombe Wanderers. Our games against them were always something to look forward too, if not always memorable – but that was usually due to my alcohol consumption rather than a comment on the game! The first and only time I got on the back of a motorbike was to get a lift to watch one of the last games against Slough on their famous slopped pitch. There was a game on New Years Day which me and still regular supporter Damian went too. Everyone had been partying hard the night before and with very little sleep, if any, I have no idea of the score or what happened. Then there was that almighty ding-dong when we were challenging for the Conference title. My local pub the Wheatsheaf was full of Slough supporters up for travelling to the big games – with unofficial coach trips to Colchester, Reading and Wycombe. The problem was getting people to leave the bloody pub and so inevitably we always arrived late. Usually that wasn’t a problem, but at Wycombe the ground was full to bursting, so a few of us more determined ones jumped over the fence while the less nimble watched from the hill side. The official attendance was 7,230 but unofficially it was a lot more and was the record Conference crowd for many years.
Since those heady days, we have been in free fall and Wycombe have even reached the dizzy heights of League Two. So do I feel envious or want to swap places with the old enemy? As crazy as it might sound, the answer is a resounding no. My chauffer and man with the big lens Gary House reckons it will be weird enough if we do get a ground back in Slough and start attracting the large crowds I know we are capable off. No doubt club shop Sue will come up with a marketing opportunity to get us to part with more of our money – how about limited edition t-shirts proclaiming – ‘we were the Slough fans when we were crap!’ (But will it be like the first ever Sex Pistols gig with everyone claiming they were there?) With gates hovering around 300 and half of those willing to travel to away games, you do get to meet most people over a season. I know when I’ve taken my son Ruben to games, he has plenty of unofficial aunts and uncles, along with other feral Rebel children to keep him amused when he’s bored of the footie.
League football has too many rules and regulations, segregation and fan-baiting rather than friendly banter in the bar. Even the Conference (sorry, Blue Square Premier) seems overpriced and over-policed. Our trip to Gravesend a few seasons back in the Trophy said it all. Putting all Slough supporters on a bit of uncovered terracing in the pouring rain didn’t seem to be in the spirit of non league footie. Neither did being surrounded and monitored by stewards throughout the whole game. Still shrinking violet Sue certainly let the stewards know she thought they were being overzealous!
No, Wycombe can keep their league position, their ground stuck at the end of an industrial park; their overpriced and over policed league footie. Non League footie suits me just fine. Infact the only thing I would keep is the rivalry between the two clubs – Windsor just don’t come a patch on it. So lets hope a couple of Wycombe relegations can see us playing each other in the Blue Square South sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Published in the Southern League South and West game v AFC Hayes 4th November 2008. We lost 3-2 in front of 208 people and are now two
points off the relegation spot.

Mobiles, email, internet forums, off-your-facebook, MySpace, YouDrivel
– so many avenues of communication where you can have your say. But
there seems to be a serious design fault with all of these. The
failure of the computer geeks to put in a plonker button that disables
threads and stops the idiots that plague website forums across the
world in their tracks. Or what about a devise that acts as a
breathalyser where it can smell if you have had too much to drink, and
stop your post until the morning when you can reconsider it in the
cold, sober light of day.
For those of you who never browse the Slough Town web boards, these
past few weeks have been very busy indeed. Despite a club that’s been
rejuvenated from basket-case to one with a fighting future, there’s no
pleasing some people. And that’s ok, within reason. I’m all for free
speech, but some people don’t seem to have the clubs best interests at
heart. They say – I pay me money, I have a right to say as I please,
even if that right damages the club.
I remember ex manager Eddie Denton moaning about our forum; just how
was he meant to convince players to sign for us when their first port
of call for checking their potential new club will be its forum. The
abuse, the squabbling, and the attack on players – no thanks, I’ll go
Former Oxford United Manager Jim Smith went on the warpath, blaming
football forums for making everyone a manager and then there’s the
radio phone-in where anyone with a big gob and little understanding of
football can mouth off.
Don’t get me wrong; giving supporters a voice is a good thing. I was
involved in one of the Slough Town fanzines ‘Rebels Without A Clue’
which was part of the wave of independent football fanzines that
started demanding a right to be heard and has culminated in the
Supporters' Trust movement and fans run clubs.
But some of the stuff I read on our forum is just childish,
destructive dross. If you’ve got a beef about something or a question,
why not speak to officials, the players and managers in the bar after
the game? Is that so difficult? I also think people forget that we are
playing eight levels below the bloody Premiership, with part time
management and players who have a life, family and jobs outside Slough
Town. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aim to be professional, but
let’s not demand the impossible.
It’s worth remembering that people have off days at work – and that
includes players. Would you like to have your bad day at work
criticised and splashed across a forum the next day?
For the 33 per cent of the population who have never used a computer,
this article will seem irrelevant. But for everyone, computer literate
or not, if you think something needs sorting at the club, get involved
to make it happen. Mouthing off and ranting crap on a computer might
make you feel great, but take a look in the mirror and make sure you
don’t have the words plonker staring back at you.