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.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Printed in the Southern League South and West match v Didcot Town Saturday 20th December 2008. We lost 3-2 in front of 295.

It was a freezing cold Saturday, Slough didn’t have a game, but I still needed my football fix. Finding myself in London to see the family’s newest addition (and the usual arguments over whether baby Natasha will support Man United or Chelsea!) I headed rather briskly up Summers Lane to see Wingate and Finchley take on Sutton United in the FA Trophy.
Wingate and Finchley were two separate clubs until 1991. Wingate were established after the Second World War by four Jewish sportsmen who believed football was a positive way to fight anti-Semitism. However, in 1972 they lost their ground thanks to the extension of the M1 motorway and although near neighbours, Finchley came to the rescue with a ground share arrangement, eventually the two clubs merged. They both now play at this famous old ground with its 1930’s Art Deco stand – a groundhoppers dream.
Unlike Sutton, I’ve been to the grandly named Abrahams Stadium a couple of times and things definitely seem to be on the up. They have refurbished their bar and seem to have a thriving youth team policy with lots of youngsters in team tracksuits. However, their fans were easily outnumbered by Sutton supporters. Being so close to Arsenal, Barnet and Enfield, the club struggle to reach crowds of three figures. The Sutton attendance of 149 easily the best of the season. As for the game, it was excellent and Wingate and Finchley’s youngsters should have won it. Still, they made sure in the replay, going through to the next round on penalties.
While I was freezing in North London, a small delegation from our club’s management committee were in Holland to check out Rijnsburgse Boys, who play in a small town near Amsterdam and have recently built a new stadium similar to the one proposed for us at Arbour Vale. Slough general secretary Roy Merryweather explained the reason for the visit: “Rijnburgse Boys play at a similar standard to Slough, but the main difference is that they are supported by large crowds and are really a thriving part of the local community.” Roy was joined by Chris Sliski and programme editor Glen Riley, who is apparently ‘concerned with projecting the image of the football club’, which if you see the state of Glen is a bit worrying!
Roy added: “If football is going to go forward in this country, we need to modernise and have facilities fit for the 21st century. If we don’t, crowds will continue dwindling and football clubs won’t be the centre of attraction for a town. We need to reach out to a bigger audience and give clubs a stronger chance of success. We want a community base and hub in the town, which will also encompass a wide range of recreational facilities for things like boxing, gymnastics, ballroom dancing — anything active.”
For me the visit to Holland again shows how far our club has moved in the right direction. That if we do end up at Arbour Vale, it will be more than just a football stadium but a sports hub for the whole town.
If we don’t take these lessons on board then we could end up in the same boat as Wingate FC and Finchley FC who had to merge to make ends meet. It’s up to all non league clubs to play a pivotal role in the local community and do what they can to attract new supporters like Natasha and her brother Rafi away from the child snatching claws of the Chelsea and Man United’s of this world!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Printed in the Southern League South and West match v AFC Totton. A
decent 0-0 draw against the league leaders. Crowd 256

What is it with football owners and their inability to keep supporters
on board? I suppose businessman used to doing things their own way
have problems having to answer for their decisions. But answer they
have too – or the results can be disastrous.
Take Lewes. Not so long ago I held them up as models of how a football
club should be run. Then near the end of last season I got two phone
calls before the game where Lewes would be crowned champions and
promoted to the Blue Square Premier. I couldn’t quite believe what I
was hearing. The board had sacked their most successful manager ever.
Now Steve King isn’t the most likeable manager, with his constant
Wenger-esque whinging. But why was he sacked? Hand in the till? Hand
in someone’s knickers? Er, no. As one Lewes director put it "At no
time has Steve King been asked to get us promotion. He's created the
problem, if you like - and I don't mean this in a negative way -
because he's been so successful." That’s right, sacked for being too
For me the failure of the Lewes board was that they didn’t hold their
hands up and admit that promotion to the Blue Square Premier was a
step too far. It also says something about a league where too many
clubs have bankrupted themselves to try and compete. So it worth it?
At the last Lewes game I went too, the security creep of numb-knuckle
heads with stupid rules was all too evident. The sacking of King led
to a mass exodus of players they probably couldn’t afford anyway. It
also led to an exodus of support, including some of the most vocal
ones that really got the atmosphere going. And even with all the
ground improvements, much more was needed – a million pounds worth I
heard. Now I’m all for improving stadium for the spectator but once
again was ground grading going to cripple a club?
It isn’t always easy for chairman to let people know what’s going on -
even supporter-run clubs end up with battles and bust ups. When your
clubs not doing well, people are quick out with the knives. But surely
the message must always be more open. Supporters aren’t shareholders,
and the majority aren’t morons either. What if the Lewes board had
come clean and told everyone of their predicament – getting everyone
on board for a backs-against-the-wall siege mentality to try and raise
the cash and fight against a season of certain relegation?
Thankfully Slough Town, after many a cloak and dagger season, have got
Chairman Steve Easterbrook on board who has embraced the Glasnost
approach. People still moan, but then as I pointed out to one
supporter, if a load of naked woman turned up at his house with a
million quid, he’d still find something to complain about.
As for Lewes, they are rooted to the bottom of the Conference, lost at
home in the FA Cup to a team five leagues below them, and recently
recorded the lowest ever away support at Torquay United – five! They
are now up for sale. A Supporters Trust has been set up and hopefully
the attractive football that drew so many to the Pan will return and
the community work they have been so successful with will continue.
It’s good to aim for the stars but not if it destroys the club. With
the risk of annoying Lewes fans, maybe, just maybe the Blue Square
South and Ryman Premier is where they really belong.