These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Monday, November 23, 2009

HEART OF THE COMMUNITY

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.

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