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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Bedworth United. We won 2-0 in front of 241 spectators and are now second!

Only Newcastle United’s clown owner Mike Ashley could come up with such a crap re-branding. Forget St.James Park, Newcastle now play at the' Park Stadium. Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue; I can already hear Toon Army fans scratching their heads to try and incorporate it into songs.
Just as I hate it when old pub names are lost under some trendy new moniker, I can’t stand it when traditional football stadium names go the same way. Surely there’s other ways of raising sponsorship, or god forbid, reducing players wages so clubs don’t have to bow to the corporate hammer and squeeze every drop of cash out of everything.
York City went from Bootham Crescent to Kit Kat Crescent, Bournemouth’s Dean Court became the Fitness First Stadium, but is now looking for new sponsors. Everyone’s favourite football romantics Accrington Stanley played at the Crown Ground, until it was renamed the passion killing Interlink Express Stadium, then the Fraser Eagle Stadium until that company went bust. Dagenham and Redbridge’s Victoria Road has become quite the mouthfall – welcome to ‘the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium’. Witton Albion have played at the Bargain Booze Stadium, Cambridge United briefly played at the Trade Recruitment Stadium and are now at the R Costings Abbey Stadium, while Kettering's Rockingham Road has just been renamed Elgoods Brewery Arena. When Graham Westley took over as chairman/manager/god at Farnborough Town, amongst other things, he renamed the ground 'The Aimita Stadium' after his company, but as soon as the pratt left it was changed back to Cherrywood Road. Locals at Stocksbridge Park Steels delightfully named Bracken Moor Ground have refused to call it the Look Local stadium, much of the dismay of the sponsors the Look Local newspaper.
Sometimes it does work - sort of. Pontefract Collieries for some reason play at the Abstract Stadium, while Rugby Leagues Castleford Tigers play at the Jungle after former sponsor When Argos bought the company, they severed all their links with the Tigers but the club decided to keep the name. The Oval, bastion of English cricket, is now "The Brit Oval", following a sponsorship deal with an insurance firm. Of course compared with American sports, British sponsorship is the epitome of subtlety. Thank god we haven’t yet got the Pizza Hut Park and or Dick's Sporting Goods Park!
Mind you, if renaming football stadiums is bad enough, what about renaming whole football clubs, which seems popular in Welsh football. The owner of TNS waged a war with the BBC to get them to read out Welsh Premier League results – nothing to do with the fact that it would have been free advertising for his company. TNS are now The New Saints, wherever that is. The oldest football club in Wales, Cefn Druids have already been renamed 3 times by different sponsors and are currently Elements Cefn Druids.
As for Newcastle, well the Newcastle United Supporters Trust summed up the new name perfectly “Newcastle is beginning to resemble one of Mr Ashley’s famous sales at Sports Direct - chaotic, cheap and a shambles. Now, as his latest slap in the face to the fans and the city, he wants to sell off the famous name of St James‘ Park. Everything he does now seems to be calculated to thumb a nose at his customers.”
If the idea of re-branding is to make more money, then it seems rather short sighted if you manage to alienate your customers – sorry football supporters – along the way. Maybe Ashley should have hooked up with some bath and toilet manufacturer and renamed St.James Park

Monday, November 23, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division game v Bromsgrove Rovers Tuesday 17th November 2009. We won 3-2 in front of 209 people.

Me and Gary Big Lens were coming back from footie half-listening to Radio 5 football phone when a Rochdale fan rang the programme. He asked why his team weren’t being given a bit of a mention after they had gone to league leaders Bournemouth and won 4-0. Surely that deserved some recognition? The presenter couldn’t have been ruder and basically put the phone down. Didn’t that Rochdale fan know that there were hundreds of Man United ‘supporters’ waiting on the lines to tell the nation that they had seen Fergie picking his nose and complaining about referees? Or that Arsene Wenger was French and annoyed about something. That phone call summed up the massive hurdles all smaller clubs must face trying to get in the lime-light, win over new fans and get them through the turnstiles. There have been endless debates on how to do this, and complaints on every non league footie forum I have ever read about people not being interested. But I reckon you need a bit of imagination and a lot of dedication (and winning the odd game helps as well) to drag those Sky-eyed Premiership punters through the turnstiles.
One club got recognition for their efforts by winning the Football Foundation Community Club of the Year at the National Game Awards. UniBond Premier League side Marine, based in Crosby, Liverpool polled over 20 times the number of votes of its nearest rival by the readers of the Non League Paper. With last season’s average attendance of 268 they still managed to beat the likes of Wrexham and Oxford United, so they must be doing something right. But what? Well they promote the club in over 20 schools, let under 11s in for free with an adult and dish out free season tickets for primary school children. They stage community days at league matches and collected the most pairs of boots in the "Boots for Africa" appeal for which the Mariners received a separate award from Henkel Consumer Adhesives, the catchy named company that sponsors the Unibond League. Marine Community Development Officer Barry Lenton said, "It was an honour to be presented with the trophy on behalf of Marine and it vindicated all the work that we have done over the past six years in ensuring that Marine is at the heart of the community in Crosby."

Marine Chairman Paul Leary added, "This really is a fitting tribute to the work in the community carried out by Barry Lenton over a number of years. Since his appointment he has worked tirelessly with local schools and the media to promote Marine Football Club. His promotions and ideas have provided a lot of enjoyment and fun for many children and their parents visiting Marine some of whom have become regular supporters. This award inspires us to do more and Barry and I are to enter discussions with some special needs groups in the area to invite them to attend a number of games next season." All this promotion has also got themselves a young band supporters who also knock out the tunes - even managing to come up with songs about their leagues sponsors Henkel (which considering they produce adhesives and sealants is pretty impressive). Next stop is working with the local nuns to hold bucket collections at the ground. As one supporter put it “It’s important to have God on our side as we start the new season.”
God might help those that believe in him, but it’s obvious that Marine’s relentless hard work is the best way to achieve miracles and get the local population supporting their team.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Rothwell Town. We beat the team second in the table 4-1 in front of 245 happy fans (ok, maybe not the 5 Rothwell fans that made the journey).

All football fans ask ourselves occasionally why do we bother. Spending time and money watching our team put us through agony. A long trip home after a dismal defeat in the freezing cold. I have had the football blues over years, but nothing compared to Match of the Day and One Show presenter Adrian Chiles. After reading his book ‘We don’t know what we’re doing’ which follows his team West Bromwich Albion during yet another relegation from the Premiership, you see that the love for his team is clearly doing him no good. At one point in his book Gordon Strachan complains bitterly about his miserable Match of the Day companion, but over time is dragged down to Chiles level!
But this book isn’t all star studied, but about the ordinary fan and the reason why people support a club. It’s more than just watching a football match. As Chiles points out, do you get the same outpouring of emotion at say the theatre? ‘I’m on coach number one of sixteen, and as we pull away from the Hawthorns, I fell suddenly, unashamedly, profoundly emotional. Being abroad one of this fleet fosters a special sense of belonging.’ One woman who works for a law firm has hardly missed a game in 40 years ‘People sometimes say I’m mad, but what do they get excited about? Shopping?’ The book is built round these characters. The bloke who drags himself from his hospital bed to games. The couple who name their son Albion. The football mad Vicar. Chiles tells of one Albion supporters who now lives in a little fishing village in New Zealand. ‘I was really passionate. It was a massive part of my life. Life used to be dictated by the Albion schedule. My wife used to get really fed up with it. She’s happier now. I’m happier now – my life is better. It’s better because this is a great place to live but it’s also because I’m so far away from the Albion.’ Another supporter who tells him how he came late to the Albion, incurs the wrath of one puzzled fan. ‘I don’t know how he let it happen to him. It’s like smoking, if you start when you’re a kid, fair enough. But if you start when you are order, we’ll you know the dangers…’
As he watches Albion lose again, one of his non footballing friends he has dragged along, asks him ‘why do you put yourself through this.’ Chiles even enlists a psychiatrist to see if football fans are in fact insane. A question we have all been asked by our partners or people who don’t like football. But reading this book, with all the banter, friendships, day outs, also gives the answer to that question. Infact his non footballing mate commented on the community spirit. “I was jealous of that. Because it was just like extended family, and more than that, there’s a huge range of people you meet. And that’s a very rare opportunity to meet different people. To have those kind of relationships, I’m genuinely jealous of that.”
If you’re looking for a present for someone this Christmas then I totally recommend this book.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midland Division match v Woodford
United 3rd November 2009. We won 1-0, attendance 206.

Legendary Slough Town goal scorer Ian Hodge was one. Quite a few of
our die-hard supporters are too. Alan Johnson rose from the Slough
ranks to union official to Home Secretary. We are talking about postal
workers, and how their selfish actions are bringing the country to its
knees; infact civilisation is about to fall because we have to wait a
few extra days for our letters. Of course the fact that the universal
post service is cheap and reliable and that people in the countryside
get the same service as those in inner cities means nothing to those
that want to parcel it up to the highest bidder. Royal Mail and the
government want to break the union, cut peoples pay and conditions and
herald in a privatised, fragmented service. Just think of the
unreliable Slough bus service or the over-priced trains if you want to
see what prospects are in store if private companies take over the
Royal Mail.
Slough supporter and postie Damian told me “Royal Mail recently
announced that mail traffic was due to fall by 10% a year and to
counter this they were going to engage in a period of “modernization”.
The reality of this was that were going to lay off 30% of the
workforce, freeze pay indefinitely and engage in a period of Executive
Action which would see a posties workload increase between 30-40%. All
of this bypassed a previously negotiated agreement with the
Communications Workers Union.
Most of the general public seems to take the view that as they see
postmen in the bookies, on the golf course or in the pub every weekday
afternoon they don’t really work very hard anyway. Bear in mind that
most postmen start work between 5 and 6 in the morning and have to
work in all weathers usually without any sort of break. The nature of
the business is such that there are days which are very busy and days
which are quiet.
Not a single one of us wants to go on strike and lose money but
neither do we want to be exploited for poor wages while the guys at
the top continue to earn massive bonuses for what, they keep telling
us, is a failing company. A company in so much trouble that they
managed to make profits last year of ONLY £321 million.
Of course really Royal Mail is worried about the massive self
inflicted pension deficit not to mention their desperation to sell off
the loss making deliveries sector to the highest bidder. So for
Modernization read Privatisation. Try and send a birthday card to your
relatives in Inverness for 39p then.”
We hear never ending talk of broken Britain and the break down of the
family – then work the longest hours in Europe so people never get to
see their kids. Other political parties with their millionaire backers
and even richer MPs, claim we are all in this recession together.
Yeah, right. While 3,500 post offices are closed across the country
and public services must be cut to pay the price for banker’s greed,
bankers are once again giving themselves more bonuses this Christmas.
As for the boss of Royal Mail Adam Crozier, he has bumped up his own
wages from around £114,000 a year when he started in 2003 to over a
million quid today! As for the striking Slough Town posties; well the
least we can do is buy them a pre match pint to show our support and
let them know that a decent, universal postal service where posties
aren’t treated like dirt is something worth striking for.