Printed in the Southern League South and West League match v North
Leigh Tuesday 20th January 2009. 1-1 draw in front of 205 people.
How old should your child be before you drag them along to a football
match? This was the question posed on the excellent Tony Kempster
website by one parent. Well as a dad I feel is part of my parental
responsibility to take my son and get him hooked on footie as young as
possible. Taking children to football is good for their social skills,
gets them used to crowds (well, sometimes there’s a crowd) and more
importantly, very good for their language skills!
Ruben was just 10 days old before his uncle Mad Beard Mark paid for
him to be match sponsor. Ruben slept through the game although he did
have the dubious honour of being breastfed in the Windsor and Eton
boardroom with pictures of royalty bearing down on him. Since then,
he’s come along to quite a few home games, a non league international
at Eastbourne and been on trips to Henley, Hendon, Andover, Uxbridge
and the Isle of Wight. Club-shop Sue brought him a little top which he
wore when he run out as a mascot with his cousin Liam last season. The
only problem being that he now thinks its ok to run on the pitch
His last match was New Years Day when over 2,000 squashed into the
Dripping Pan to watch Lewes v Eastbourne, easily the biggest crowd of
his life. Only once did he complain about ‘too many people’ singing
‘Rebels, Rebels’ and getting very excited about the Eastbourne fans
rendition of Santa Claus. I did try to tell him that the Rebels was
also the nickname for Lewes arch rivals Worthing, and that Slough
weren’t playing, but it was only the lack of chips that really got him
upset. Infact ‘Rebels, Rebels’ is definitely one of his favourite
songs – and he gave a good rendition of it at a recent demo against
the Israeli bombing of Gaza!
I want to be a fly on the wall when Ruben explains to bewildered class-
mates that he supports Slough Town – a town, let alone a football
team, they doubtless will have never heard of. Mind you, at nursery
they think he is singing ‘Seagulls’, the nickname of Brighton and Hove
Albion, and it seems unnecessary to contradict them.
Probably unsurprisingly, Ruben now loves football – be it watching it
or playing it. Infact any ball game is popular - although the hitting-
toys-with-a-tennis-racket isn’t the best game in the world – for his
toys, the windows or our heads.
It seems obligatory at the lower levels of football to have a group of
kids knocking a ball about oblivious to the football on the pitch.
Luckily at Slough there are always quite a few kids home and away to
keep Ruben amused. But it's better to take him when there's little at
stake. When we were fighting relegation at Newport Isle of Wight, I
spent half my time chasing him away from puddles that would have
How long his love affair with Slough will last I don’t know. With work
starting on the brand new Brighton stadium just a mile away from our
house, he’ll no doubt be heading their sometime soon. He will love the
atmosphere, the football will no doubt be better, but there will be no
unofficial football matches, climbing over chairs, running up and down
their aisles or grass fights. And it will cost 25 quid to get in. So
to the man who asked about taking his kids to footie. Yes definitely,
but for smaller children, the non league experience wins everytime.