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, October 25, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division league match v
Stourport Swifts Saturday 24th October 2009. We won 3-2 in front 244
people and are six in the league.

Isn’t it slightly odd that just as the FA Cup comes into peoples
radars, the majority of teams who have competed in the competition are
already out. By the 1st round proper there has already been six rounds
and 75 per cent of the clubs knocked out.
As for Slough after five games spanning three months it was our turn
to bid farewell, with the final still eight months away! Still, I
don’t know about you, but our FA Cup run put a smile back on my face
after seasons of pulling my hair out.
I know most big clubs don’t care about the FA Cup anymore, but for us
lower league lifeforms scutterling along at the bottom of the pile
looking for crumbs of glory and some extra cash, it’s really something
to savor. From Tring to Tooting it’s been a good fun and there really
is something special about the cup that draws in bigger crowds and
gets the adrenalin pumping. A last gasp equalizer against Hemel then
our second half backs against the wall in the replay, followed by a
stroll against Concord Rangers only really livened up by their manager
who seriously needs some anger management lessons.
Then that game at Tooting on a sunny October day where we could start
dreaming that we were just two wins away from a possible game Leeds
United or Charlton.
Being in London I managed to drag quite a few mates along, some of us
sampling the excellent Croydon tram system that really should be
rolled out across the country.
Tooting’s ground is impressive, although I wonder if it was designed
by someone who lives in Southern Italy. It’s high stands and no back
cover for the stands behind the goal doesn’t seem to offer much
resistance to the English winter. With only one turnstile open and a
impressive Slough turn-out, the crowd snaked into the car park, and as
it turned out Tooting’s biggest ever FA Cup attendance at their new
ground. Helped of course by no Premiership games and the England game
live exclusively on your computer screen (and we won’t mention a
certain person who went to the old ground, now a housing estate,
despite the fact that he has already been to the new ground before!).
In the end my mates said it was a great game, the eight year old we
dragged along saying it was the best he had ever seen as Slough
recovered from being 3-0 down to battering the Tooting goal looking
for an equalizer. A victory would have got us Conference sea-siders
Eastborne Borough at home, but we have to wait till next August before
the journey starts again.
I’m finding it hard to muster the old vocal chords at some league
games, and our trips to Hemel Hempstead and Tooting and Mitcham’s
grounds reminded me, if I needed reminding, how I want to support
Slough at the next level up. But we know we have a long way to go if
we are to realize that dream. That FA Cup money will help, and some of
our old supporters will have hopefully once again found a taste for
the club, as we push for promotion this season. I also, maybe rather
selfishly have had enough of the far flung corners of the Southern
League, and want us back where we belong – in the Ryman League.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Printed in the FA Trophy Preliminary Qualifying round v Mangotsfield
United Sunday 4th October 2009. 1-1 draw in front of 241.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘The Black Swan’. It’s about
events or inventions that change the world that no one could have
predicted. The term Black Swan comes from the 17th century European
assumption that 'All swans are white'. So a black swan was a symbol
for something that was impossible or could not exist – until black
swans were ‘discovered’ in Western Australia! For Black Swans think of
the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I and the
September 11th attacks. Infact the books author Nassim Nicholas Taleb
regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events,
and artistic accomplishments as "black swans". So while economists,
bankers, social scientists and newspaper columnists try to predict the
future, it is inevitably wrong, as there are so many variables and
unknown unknowns that throw our predictions off course.
I doubt Taleb would bother attaching his theory to football, but I
hope that one day a Black Swan event destroys the predictability of
the Premiership, such as a meteor hitting Stamford Bridge! But I
reckon there are many Black Swan football moments. Take Exeter City
drawing Manchester United in the FA Cup. The club had started to
rebuild after spoon bender and all round plonker Uri Geller took the
club to the brink. But they never could have forecast getting Man
United in the cup – let alone drawing there and taking them back to St
James Park for a replay. The cash completely cleared their debts and
now they are in Division One. As for Slough’s Black Swan moment. Well
what would have happened if we had beat Yeading in the FA Cup and
played Newcastle United at ‘home’?
I saw Mangotsfield watch their Black Swan footie moment slip away a
few years back. After a Friday night party in Bristol a few of us
decided to catch their FA Cup 4th qualifying match at home to Lewes.
The village of Mangotsfield felt like another suburb of sprawling
Bristol and the game ended in stalemate. I managed to get myself a
space on the Lewes supporters coach, but before it left everyone
pilled into ‘the Mango’s’ clubhouse to watch the draw for the next
round; the cheers were loud as the winners would play Stoke City.
Quite a few of us went to the replay, kick off was delayed because of
the crowds and Lewes won. They eventually lost to Stoke 2-0, but it
really put the club on the map, the cup money helped them build an
impressive stand and they picked up a terrace load of new supporters.
Maybe there are Mangotsfield fans wondering ‘with if’ it was they who
had played Stoke. Would they now be playing at the same level as
Slough or would they have reached the Conference like Lewes?
It’s harder for a Black Swan footie moments to happen in the Trophy,
but a good cup run wouldn’t go amiss. The extra cash would keep the
Slough Town finances ticking over and well, it’s only eight rounds
before we reach the semi finals! Slough Town playing at Wembley in a
Cup Final would be something no one would have predicted at the
beginning of the season, but we have done it before!