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.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

THE THREE MASCOTEERS!

Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Atherstone Town 20th March 2010. We drew 3-3 in front of 200 people. My son Ruben didn’t end up being a mascot cos he has chicken pox.


Football supporter’s loyalty is much abused by football owners. Supporters have an emotional attachment to the club they support, which often means they will put up with being ripped off by ticket prices, food and drink and ever changing replica tops; but there comes a point when even the most fanatical of supporter has had enough. Up to one in four Premier League season ticket holders are considering not renewing next season, according to the Football Fans' Inflation Index. Unsurprisingly Manchester United face the biggest potential exodus of season ticket holders with 15% giving up going to games entirely while another 44% only buying tickets when it suits them. This could cause serious problems for the Glazer’s who are facing supporters-led green-and-gold protests but banking on fans continuing to pass through the turnstiles to pay off the debts.
Since the Index began in January 2006 the cost of attending games has risen by 31.5 per cent. It now costs on average ninety quid to attend a Premiership game once the Index calculates essentials such as the cost of a gallon of petrol, a pint of lager, a bacon roll, a train fare, a match ticket, a replica shirt, pay-per-view cost and a programme.
Still, who cares about the Premiership cos what’s bad for them is an opportunity for lower league clubs. Today’s guest appearance on the bobbley Beaconsfield pitch will be my son, Ruben and two of his cousins Liam and Rafi. Rafi is from North London and I doubt is ever going to be a Slough Town fan, but the younger you can get children through the turnstiles the better. Ruben and Liam have both been mascots before and have notched up quite a few games between them. Mind you I’m waiting for the moment when Ruben questions my sanity of watching Slough when we live in Brighton when there is a perfectly good football club just down the bottom of our estate.
Once they grow out of the running-away phase, lower league football is the perfect place to take your kids. They can’t easily escape, their hardly like to be crushed by crowds, other people look out for them, there’s no dogs mess to fall in – and of course their vocabulary is widened! It’s also better for them to be involved in a shared communal experience than staring at a screen. Infact I reckon there should be a mascot for Slough every game. One supporter came up with the great idea of having a lucky dip draw at schools where the winner gets to be the mascot. We wouldn’t get the mascot money but we’d get more people through the gate, people who wouldn’t normally come.
At the age of four and still with serious ants in his pants, I would never dream of taking Ruben to a game where he had to sit still for 90 minutes. With Premiership crowds getting older, fatter, balder and more middle class, the lull of terraces and changing ends at half time should appeal to a lot more people and be affordable to most.
It’s also the younger supporters that start the songs and create some kind of atmosphere. Something that Jon Keen, from the Football Supporters' Federation, predicts is fast disappearing in the Premiership. He warns that the forty-something white-collar lot who do go are often simply too polite to generate the sort of electric atmosphere which used to be English football's hallmark. "The atmosphere is declining, if not dying, at many matches - it's not as vibrant as it used to be. And that is not what the television companies who fund our clubs want."
So, how about treating your offspring or junior relatives to the Slough Town mascot match day experience. It may not be the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ but the younger ones will have a great day out that won’t leave you eating bread and gruel for the rest of the month to pay for the privilege.

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