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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The middle-aged Southampton supporter said it all, 'This is the first and last time you'll persuade me to come by train, next time I'm driving.' I'd just met up at Clapham Common with Old Windsor Rebel, Merton Rebel, and 'who we playing this week, I seem to have gone to their old ground' (now a Tesco's) - let's call him Clueless Rebel.
The platform was already packed with Southampton fans going to Northampton in the FA Cup. But just as we were about to board, we were told there was a signal failure and the train was cancelled. We decided to get the tube to Euston, but it being the weekend half the tube lines were closed and the Victoria line was so busy we had to queue just to get near the platform. When we got to Euston, train after train was cancelled. Oh this was fun, and bloody expensive fun at that. Eventually we got to Leighton but instead of an amble through the town and a sample of their pubs, we jumped in a cab to their clubhouse.
With the news dominated by the climate change talks in Copenhagen, you sometimes wonder why we can't get the simple things sorted that would make a big difference. Like a decent train service. Because there's no other way of putting it, but ours is crap.
Before every game, I walk from my estate on the outskirts of Brighton to my nearest rural-esque station. With no queues and a friendly guard, who informs me that today the Lewes to Victoria line is shut. Great. Lewes is one of those towns that is in a delightful time warp. I wouldn't want to live there, but I'm glad it exists. The other week i tried to buy a sandwich at the stations cafe but only had loose change for a coffee, and a credit card they wouldn't accept. The man singing opera behind the counter told us to pay the next time I was at the station! This is the family run v the corporate. No Tesco employee is ever going to offer that, for fear of decapitation followed by the sack.
As for the trains, despite getting a public subsidy the companies prime motive is profit for their shareholders. It's a bloody disaster; from expensive fares, to confusing tickets, to packed trains while first class carriages go empty, and the underground is no better. God knows, what it will be like for the Olympics.
It's not bloody rocket science, but if you are only going to get people out of their cars you have to be able a decent, cheap, reliable public transport system. Instead it's cheaper to fly to Newcastle than get the train. Here in Brighton the buses are brilliant if a little over priced. A lot of stops have an electronic board telling you how long you have to wait or you can text a number to find out. Compare that to Slough. And as for Slough train station, the whole place could do with sprucing up and employ a few more ticket sellers. Instead there are hundreds of bouncer like creatures ready to pounce on anyone daring to chance a free ride. Still, plans for a new station in Chalvey are a step in the right direction.
The thing is when it works, I like getting the train. An away trip with a load of Slough supporters is a good laugh. I can read my book, stare out of the window, and I like bumping into different football supporters. We even spotted two MK Don's fans. I was ready to give them a Franchise rant but they looked like they were on day release. Mind you, any more train journeys like that, and they will be making room for one more in their special home.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division game v Bury Town Saturday 5th December 2009. We were top of the league beforehand, but lost 1-0 in front of 276.

Visiting Leighton Buzzard last Saturday to watch us put Aylesbury to the sword, bought back not so very distant memories of just how Slough supporters have been put through the mill during the past decade. Here we were facing another club that seriously gallen from grace; homeless, bottom of the league with just 3 points and shipping goals for fun. The last time I saw Slough play Aylesbury they thumped us 4-0 in front of over seven hundred people in March 2002. It was the season they were promoted back to the Ryman Premier, managed by the legendary Cliff Hercules.

Aylesbury, nicknamed 'The Ducks' due to the famous Aylesbury breed, have experienced some incredible highs over their long 112-year history but now are battling out a nomadic existence. In the summer of 2006 their former Chairman failed in his plans to covert their Buckingham Road grounds playing surface into a 3rd generation artificial surface, what he described as his 'last ditch' idea for creating a viable football club. He cut his ties, and when the ground lease expired Aylesbury United were made homeless. They now play 'home' matches some 20 miles away while their old ground sits idle.

Just as when Slough were at our lowest ebb and some suggested that we should cut our losses and merge, there is another club in Aylesbury playing in the town that would love to become the towns top dog. Last season Aylesbury FC were Aylesbury Vale. 3 years before that they were known as Haywood United, who themselves only came about in 2001 after a merger between Stocklake and Belgrave FC. The ambitious new Aylesbury approached the United chairman to offer to buy the club - so they could close them down! They contacted the Southern League to check the Ducks had a 'bond' in place; they rang Leighton Town Football Club to see if a 'ground share agreement' was in place, and tapped up members of the clubs committee for confidential information. At the beginning of this season, United's manager, their clubs main sponsor and most of the players then left for Aylesbury FC. As United's chairman Graham Read put it "The 'scheming and plotting' that's been going on by certain individuals has been totally underhand and delivered with sheer arrogance and total disrespect to the supporters, committee and the history of Aylesbury United Football Club."

As for Aylesbury FC, they are currently top of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division and reached the 4th Qualifying round of the FA Cup. While they are clearly ambitious, their morals could do with an MOT.

Slough supporters know from bitter experience, as you turn up each week to watch your team get thumped, as you reel from one crisis to another, that it's sometimes hard to see any future. But it will be the supporters that get Aylesbury United out of this mess, and after the game with Slough there was a well attended meeting with the manager, chairman and supporters who now run the club through 21st Century Ducks Supporters Trust. There was talk of plants to devlop a sports stadium at Aylesbury College, but also discussion about a groundshare with Aylesbury FC.

With a population of 70,000 is there room for two Aylesbury clubs? Only time will tell, but as the United chairman put it " The season ahead will be one of the most challenging in the history of Aylesbury United Football Club. But we will fight on, battle each battle with your support, will achieve and maintain our status as Aylesbury's senior respected football club." As Slough Town has shown, if everyone pulls together for the future of their club, then there is a future for the Ducks.