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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Printed in the last league game of the season (thank god!) v
Bridgwater Town Saturday 25th April 2009. We won 2-1 in front of 233

I must admit I know nothing about lower league Dutch football. Infact
I'd be a bit sad if I did. But with the possibility of a new ground in
Slough, General Manager Roy Merryweather organized for a small Slough
Town delegation s to see Rijnsburgse Boys and Quick Boys FC as having
visited the grounds before, he saw it as an ideal model to replicate.
I spoke to Roy and programme editor Glen Riley about the visit.

What is clubs league equivalent in this country?
Glen: They're semi-pro too but with their set-up/crowds it would be
similar to Conference/League 2. Not seen them play so I can't comment
on the standard of football.

Describe their set up?
Glen: Both stadiums had similar set ups with the main stadium
surrounded by many outside pitches that are used for their youth
sides. Both grounds had just a big main stand with all the usual
facilities with the rest of the ground open and flat standing.

Lower league Dutch clubs enjoy healthy crowds and are the centre of
the community. How have their achieved that?
Glen: Having 15-20 different youth and affiliated sides under their
umbrella obviously helps massively with keeping the club at the centre
of their communities. For local derbies, which there are a few, they
can get crowds of 5,000 but normally average between 1,500-2,000

What parts of their set up would you like to see replicated if/when we
get Arbour Vale?

Glen: Definitely the youth set up they have, maybe not on that scale
as there just wouldn't be room.
Roy: The football club in any village is the centre of the community
boys and girls from a very early age go along to their village ground
to enjoy the sport and they are proud to play for that club right from
an early age. All Dutch clubs have around 30 youth and 20 adults teams
through to veteran XI's representing that team. All standards are
catered for - your ability is not the main issue, it’s the desire to
play for your club that is the most important. Individual pub and
youth teams do not exist very much, to my knowledge in Holland
therefore the rivalry we experience between Slough, Windsor, Burnham,
Marlow happens at all levels.

How is this funded? Who paid for the stadiums? The day to day running

Roy: The whole concept is centred around the subscriptions of club
members, supported by a massive contributions of local sponsorship
plus the whole package backed by a heavy concentration of volunteer
help. Sounds simple but I'm sure it could be done.
Membership to the club, would not be cheap, but the perks involved for
both social and playing members would be enormous, season tickets,
shopping discounts, 500 club membership all would be part of the
package, in additions to providing a good standard of football, plus
training facilities and kit of the very best quality. If we work
together on raising standards of all teams, this can only be progress,
To watch Slough play Windsor, Marlow or Maidenhead at any level would
be the perfect scenario , from under 10 to Veterans it could happen,
that's not forgetting the Ladies section also.

As for company sponsorship, this is completely untapped territory, In
Holland business contacts are made through the football clubs.
Saturday is not a day of rest, it’s the opportunity to promote your
company in a real upbeat fashion, use the match and club house to
forming new friends and outlets. On one of my recent visits I spoke
with a local architect who said, since supporting Rijinsburgse boys
five years ago his company had advanced out off all recognition.
Contacts gained were enormous and the order book was full. We all have
a part to play, at a new ground with really smart reception rooms we
could really advance this theory. Part of the upfront payment of
funds would be given back in food and drink, by which we all benefit.
In Holland they work their bars similar to a number of Golf clubs here
in the U.K., with no money actually changing hands, just a card system
in place.

As for the final Dutch way of life is to recruit more of the likes of
Chris Sliski’s and Alan Harding’s of Slough. Whilst in Holland both
clubs had up to 50 people of similar status willing to give their time
free to their club to help out on match days and throughout the rest
of the week. Even the cleaners were retired supporters bored of
staying at home, who gave up the time just for a bite to eat at
lunchtimes for a few hours of work each day. We found a real sense of
pride to tell us what they all did each week for their team. I really
do believe we could follow these examples if we had the right facility
to entertain them all.”

Monday, April 13, 2009


Printed in the Southern League South and West division v Taunton Town.
Slough played in pink in aid of Breast Cancer Research and drew 2-2 in
front of 248.

At the last count I was up to about 150 – although no doubt some are
now buried under the jackboots of Tesco superstores. I’ve added
another 6 this season alone and with thirty years of football support
behind me, they start racking up.
I’m talking about football grounds, and being a Slough Town supporter
the majority of these have been non league.
God knows how many teams Slough have played over the past few years
with relegation after relegation, re-organisation after re-
organisation. Infact one of the more enjoyable aspects of supporting a
lower league football club is the amount of different places and
grounds you get to visit. Just don’t put me down as a ground-hopper.
You won’t see me in a large mac, hanging around the secretary’s office
hoping to get a team-sheet, complaining if there isn’t a programme or
bog roll in the toilets. But I do like to visit new places – even if
they happen to be Billericay, Barnet and Basingstoke.
I also like arriving at grounds at least a few hours beforehand. With
our weekend plans to the New Forest postponed, I decided to get the
train to Totton hours before kick-off. Problem was there wasn’t even a
greasy café to stuff my face in the small town centre (but I did get a
nice jar of home-made marmalade, which gives you an indication of the
place). Still the club were kind enough to open the bar for me.
Thatcham had a lovely old pub by the station, but was yet another tin-
pot ground where we failed to win. Cirencester was even less
impressive apart from the clubhouse. A barren wind-swept place on the
outskirts of town where I spent more time in the club-house trying to
warm up rather than watching another abject performance.
I didn’t really see much of Cornwall as we broke the speed barrier to
get to the game on time, and it looks like we won’t be going to Truro
any time soon. I quite liked Taunton, and Gosport has a certain charm
about it although it really could do with some more cover. I wouldn’t
want to be at Bishops Cleeve on a wet and windy afternoon either. And
it’s probably best to keep stum about Windsor, Abingdon and
My favourite this season is Paulton, no doubt helped by the best away
performance of the season. The place felt at the heart of the
community, the higgildy piggildy ground had great views and the
covered terracing behind one of the goals that looked down on the
pitch is something I’d like to see replicated at Arbour Vale.
In our Conference days, speeding up the motorways towards Manchester
and other far flung outposts was a regular occurrence. So was getting
lost. I have continued that tradition by finding myself stumbling
around in woodland while looking for AFC Hayes and being totally
bemused in the pouring rain with a sodden map trying to find Walton
and Hersham (with the game called off just 15 minutes after I got
I enjoyed that last game of the season against Worthing where we all
met up on the sea-front in thick sea mist. Me and my girlfriend having
an away break in the picturesque town of Maldon. That great weekend in
the Isle of Wight.
But of course, the ground I would most like to visit is the one at
Arbour Vale, with thousands of us packed in for the first game of the
season. Now that would really give us all something to cheer about and
give us the right to criticize other grounds without being told ‘at
least we’ve got one.’