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.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Printed in the Southern Central Division league match v Daventry Town on Saturday 25th September 2010. We lost 3-1 in front of 254.

What a simple but effective idea Non League Day was. Thanks to Friday night European qualifiers, the plan was to encourage those supporters of Premiership and Championship teams to go and watch their local club with the incentive of half price entry if they showed their season tickets. But did it work?
According to Wealdstone Chairman Howard Krais it did: ‘For us, Non League Day turned out to be a great success and we estimate we had 100 new people through the gate. We hope that they enjoyed the experience and will come back again. Wealdstone supporters worked hard to promote the game via forums, twitter and various websites but all the effort paid off and we are grateful to the people that thought up the idea of Non League Day.’
Sutton United’s crowd was up 200 with ‘Narrow the Angle’ blogger writing ‘Never was so much fun had in the name of a worthy cause. As soon as I walked into Gander Green Lane the place has everything you could want from a non-league ground. A club shop in a portacabin with a thick, lush hedge growing on top. Strange, curved terracing bending right the way behind the goal at the far end (Wikipedia says it was once used for 'racing' - not sure if they mean dogs, horses or humans). A giraffe for a mascot - well Sutton do play in yellow and brown! It's worth giving a better mention to these fans. They were such good value that I'd go and watch Sutton again any day just because it's a pleasure to take in a game with such lively and good-natured guys.’
Sutton are also encouraging first time visitors to contact them to tell them if there are any improvements they could make to their matchday arrangements (play games when no one else is might be one!)
Maidenhead United’s attendance was up by a third while Moneyfields FA Vase 5-2 victory against Farnborough North End more than doubled their previous week’s attendance. Camberley Town had their highest league crowd for a few years – 190, with one official commenting ‘There were a few people down there specifically because it was Non League Day. Not many but at this level every extra punter counts and hopefully they'll be coming back again. It was nice hearing some proper cheering when we scored rather than the polite clapping we usually get.’ Millwall pointed their fans in the direction of nearby Fisher FC, a former Conference club who recently folded and have risen again as a supporters run club in the Kent League. They had 60 extra through the gates. Reading Town had 9 league season ticket holders in attendance including as you would expect several from Reading FC but one from Hull City while Aston Villa fans swelled the league gate of Causeway v Coventry Sphinx by 25%! Villa’s web boards were buzzing afterwards. One said ‘Just back - Shepton Mallet 3 Bridport 5. Had a great day, bring on the next international break.’ While another said he was going to watch Boldmere St Michaels play Lutterworth Athletic in the FA Vase, because he was a choir-boy at the church 64 years ago ‘Only £3 for pensioners - I might become a regular next season.’
Other Villa fans went to Bromsgrove Sporting first ever ‘home’ match. Sporting take the place of one of our last season’s opponents and former Conference side Bromsgrove Rovers.
Of course you can’t keep everyone happy – one fan complained that the
Wimbourne Town burger he ate made him sick for two days.
With another round of International fixtures happening on Friday 9th October, let’s hope Non League Day will run and run.


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Marlow Tuesday 14th September 2010. We lost 3-1 in front of 229 people.

‘Changing Ends’ is one of those books where you nod your head in agreement as you read the content and pretty much know the conclusion, but are glad you read it anyway to reaffirm your convictions. Mike Bayly was a lapsed Kidderminster supporter, bored of watching football on the TV, who while re-reading David Conn’s excellent book ‘The Beautiful Game’ chapter on Glossop North End makes him wonder if lower down the leagues there is still ‘a beautiful game’. He then spends the whole of last season travelling around the country from Colwyn Bay to Poole Town from South Shields to Stansfeld Oxford and Bermondsey Club to find out, meeting the people along the way that keep the clubs alive.
He encounters various ways of running clubs like Enfield Town, the first supporter owned one in the country, to ones born out of protest like FC United of Manchester, to Truro City who rely on one mans cash to power them through the pyramid. He talks to disgruntled supporters who’d had enough or just can’t afford Premiership football anymore. He travels to London APSA – the leading Asian non league side and speaks to the chairman about how to get Asian players to break through in greater numbers. He goes to Dudley Town, who are struggling to reclaim their former glories after their ground literally fell into a hole. Their vice-chair talks about how hard it is to attract crowds, how you must stay professional and how essential it is to have a group of volunteers to keep your club going. “I’m not sure why a family want to spend £100 rather than £10 at the football, when they could get a similar experience coming here…An extra 10 or 15 paying members of the public each week could make a massive difference. We even send out free tickets to schools and still can’t get interest, so we rely heavily on people who want to help out with their local side. We have a strong team here who help out with press reports, website development, washing the kit, and other things which may seem minor but are hugely significant in our day to day running. You cannot put a value on the services these people do. ”
As one Colwyn Bay supporter tells the author “There is a massive culture of watching football in the pub now, as if the terraces are recreated in the pub – it’s almost like ‘retail park’ football where you get everything under one roof. At some point you need to make a conscious decision whether you want to be part of that world or not.”
Mike writes “Blind optimism is the preserve of most football fans. Aside from a handful of clubs the season will be littered with let-down, bitterness and mediocrity, punctuated with the occasional semblance of glory.” But as he discovers and as most of already know, supporting clubs lower down the footballing pond, is much more than just about watching the football. A Halewsowen Town supporter, a team perpetually overshawoded by near neighbours West Brom, hits the non league nail on the head “A day out at the Hawthorns would cost you £50. At Halesowen you can get entrance to the ground, a few pints, a pie and a programme for under £20. Plus you can go on your own and are guaranteed to see people there you know. It’s more like a social club for the community and its fans.”

* Changing Ends by Mike Bayly is available online at or by sending a £15 cheque payble to Blackline Press, 15 Lister Road, Ipswich, IP1 5EQ