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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Published in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Aylesbury United. We won 5-1 in front of 261. With two games to go we are still fifth and if that stays the same will be in the play-offs. This is the last article on my blog till next season.

If I’m honest, I am always ready for the end of the season. I need a few months to recharge my batteries, enthusiasm, bank balance – and finally my season ticket for the next one ahead. And even a big gob like me eventually runs out of things to rant about. Whatever last twists and turns the season has too offer, it’s been a good one when you compare it to previous campaigns of unrelenting misery. But as we all know, when expectations are raised and we have spent the best part of the season in a play off position, it would be hard to take to see us fall at the last hurdle. I want to be involved in at least one more gut churning, nerve shredding, all or nothing battle to escape this level of football. Comparing the way we are run to so many clubs up and down the country I don’t think it will be long before we start to rise up the divisions. It will be a good day at the office when we don’t not outnumber home fans at away games or have to freeze in the cold at wind swept places I didn’t know existed.
It was strange enough at Bury at the weekend being outnumbered by at least 6 to 1, nearly double the biggest league gate we have played in front of this season (605 since you ask). That’s not to say there wasn’t a great turn out yet again of Rebel fans, with the more cultured of us making a weekend of it in a town so twee it makes Brighton seem like Basra. We’ve been lucky with our end of season games where some of the towns we are playing in are worth staying for more than ninety minutes. I’d sold the game to my girlfriend as a birthday trip of a life time; a lovely little Suffolk town with a ruined Abbey, more higgidly piggidly houses than you could shake a stick at, independent shops, a massive Saturday market and the smallest pub in the country; so small that even the combined forces of ever Windsor supporter would fill it up.
And oh what a co-incidence, Slough happened to playing there at the same time as we were staying! Not only that but I’d managed to book a hotel with a room so close I could smell the burgers cooking in the ground. Fourteen Slough supporters met later in the evening for a curry and agreed that despite the narrow defeat it was the best Slough had played in a long time. The only thing that left a bitter aftertaste in the beer we gulped, was the fact that if Sutton Coldfield were breathing down our necks before the game, they were practically in our trousers now.
It’s going to be anxious couple of days, and by the time you read this we would have to played Bromsgrove and hopefully have another 3 points on board. Today we face an Aylesbury side who were 3-2 up against second placed Hitchin last Saturday only to lose 4-3. Despite their lowly position they will be no push over’s and are desperate not to join their mates Aylesbury FC in the level below.
My brain is hurting for the permutations of the play-offs and how surrendering a two goal advantage to Sutton Coldfield in both games might seriously come home to haunt us.
Instead, let’s enjoy our last Saturday home game of the season. Look forward to more winning ways next season, a hung parliament, a decent World Cup, a baking hot summer and the news we all really want – when can we can start playing our home games in Slough again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Beaconsfield SYCOB Saturday 3rd April 2010. We won 3-1 in front of 283 people to keep us in the play off positions.

In the crazy world of football, those that live in financial Never Never land prosper, while those that try to keep a tight financial ship are penalized by not being able to compete.
Take a club like Rochdale, the leagues most unsuccessful team. But this season it’s different, currently top of League Two ‘the Dale’ are hoping for promotion for only the second time in their entire 103 year history, the last time being over forty years ago.
What’s more remarkable is that the club don’t have their own training facilities, have one of the lowest player budgets and are continually having to sell their best players to survive.
I went to Wembley a few seasons back to see Rochdale lose to Stockport County in the play off finals. Stockport are now in a right financial mess and bottom of Division One. Did they overstretch themselves to get promoted and so give themselves an unfair advantage over Rochdale?
What about second placed Notts County, who have been in financial turmoil all season. The owners who passed the leagues farcical fit and proper test didn’t seem to exist. Their goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, is reportedly being paid a staggering million pounds annually – probably more than Dale’s entire playing budget - while the club are millions in debt.
At the other end of the table Darlington are looking at Conference football next season. Their 25,500 state of the art stadium opened in 2003 and is an albatross round their neck with just a couple of thousand supporters echoing around the ground. It has been renamed seven times in seven years, they are on their third manager this season, and last season went into administration. Their ex chairman who built the ground and promised Darlington fans the Premiership and made home visits to any fans who dared criticise him, recently spent time inside for tax evasion after being stopped with £500,000 worth of cash in the boot of his car.
Compare those antics to the Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy, a lifelong fan who took over four years ago. “There’s a club down the road from here loaded with £719 million of debt, but if our overdraft goes above £50,000 I’ve got the bank manager on the phone to me. What I’m not prepared to do is to bankrupt the club in order to fund promotion. We may have a smashing team to watch, but my priority is to keep us in business.” And Dunphy has harsh words for those that get themselves in a financial mess "My opinion is that when a club goes into receivership or liquidation, they should drop out of the league. I think it's grossly unfair when we go to places like Bradford City, who have wiped off debts of £38m and been bust twice, and the likes of Rotherham, who've been bust three times and wiped off their debts. It's absolutely scandalous. Leicester City - a fine example - had a new stadium built for £50m and then go bust. We've been very careful in balancing the books and we've languished at the bottom end of the Football League because of it."
Most sane football fans would like to see Rochdale go up this season as champions. That’s nothing to do with being patronising and everything to do with the fact that Dale are a proper run football club who have done things the right way, and are showing everyone that it can be done. For that alone they deserve promotion. As one Dale fan put it “We've spent 4 seasons building a team to win promotion and that’s why nobody hates us for being top, we've worked hard to be there.” Unlike Notts County who are spending money they haven’t got, to store up problems for the future in their bid for Never Never Land.