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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Published in the Southern League Central Divison match v AFC Hayes on Tuesday 16th November 2010. We won 5-0 in front of 184.

I’ve been reading Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid – the history of football tactics.’ It’s a meticulously researched piece of work, detailing not just the different formations that shaped football and focusing on those managers who pushed the boundaries, but also countries social histories, giving some explanation to where those tactics came from and why they arose. But reading it, I reckon apart from one or two sensational managers, most of the rest rely on a large slice of luck. The right players with the right attitudes. No long lists of injuries. The goal that hits a balloon and goes in. A misfiring striker at the mercy of the tabloids. How you deal with egos in the dressing room, a family bereavement, not getting the rub of the green and other football clichés. Of course tactics and the right players are important, but it is impossible to control all the external influences that makes a team great and a manager will have to deal with all these factors off the pitch. How this is dealt with properly is the sign of a good one.
Then there’s supporters demanding instant success, chairman worrying about relegation and financial oblivion and intense media speculation. Just who would want to be a top class manager?
These pressures are a little different eight leagues below the Premiership, but some things remain the same. Slough are on a very poor run of form that has seen us lose to bottom of the table teams. For supporters who endured a torrid time not so very long ago, it brings back memories of the old days again. So what to do? Sack all the players and coaching staff? The same ones that got us to the play off finals last season?
One of the things that makes football so interesting is that two people standing next to each other, watching the same game, can and probably will have a totally different take on the proceedings. This is even more stark when you watch a game as a neutral with mates who are supporting one team. You become the annoying bastard who points out that it wasn’t infact a stonewall penalty and (god forbid) the ref is having a good game.
Take the Rugby Town match. I thought we played some great football in the first half and Rugby supporters agreed, but some Slough fans thought we were terrible.
So should we have a go at our own players? Should we harass our manager because he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing? (Luton fans sang this the other weekend when their manager made some substitutions. They were 3-1 up and were about to win their sixth game in seven!) The ref of course will also get abuse, because; well, they are the proverbial cat that we all like to kick when things aren’t going our way.
None of this is ever going to disappear – after all this passion is something that makes football what it is. Football is also bloody frustrating and brings out a peculiar short term memory condition, that has every game graded best/worst performance ever.
We know that watching football we can lose all perspective – you only have to listen to the plonkers on the football phone-ins to come to this conclusion. This is another reason it is so popular, you can forget all your worries for a while, and channel all your energy into something else. But in the heat of the moment, we can cross the line. I know I have.
But nowadays I’ll leave my shouting for getting behind my team, because I reckon that’s the best way to get players to perform and help Slough Town win games.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Rugby Town. Saturday 6th November 2010. We lost again, 3-1 in front of 266 people.

That well known football fanatic Albert Einstein famously said ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ I was reminded of it when I heard the news that Wayne Rooney and his loveable ex vacuum cleaner agent had successfully bribed Manchester United into paying him £200,000 a week.
His timing was impeccable, coming in the same week in which the government announced massive cuts with thousands facing the dole queue thanks to the banker’s big gamble. It was also the week when Portsmouth nearly faced oblivion yet again, thanks to greedy owners and over paid players.
It was as if the world wide economic meltdown never happened.
Top footballers like top bankers now live in this untouchable bubble. While the government tells us ‘We are all in this together’ Britain’s top bosses have given themselves a 55% pay rise over the last year and bankers are getting ready for their Christmas bonus bonanza, while the rest of us turkeys face the chop. The average FTSE 100 chief executive now earns £4.9m a year - almost 200 times the average wage. What’s even more of a slap in the face is that it is these top bosses are the ones urging the Government to make deep cuts in jobs, services and welfare. Meanwhile many football fans facing an uncertain future will start to question whether they can really afford that match day ticket.
Our friends from over the river Windsor and Eton FC may go out of business because of a massive unpaid tax bill while Dundee have been docked 25 points for going into administration. You begin to wonder who would fail the FA’s ‘fit and proper’ test. ‘Hi, I’m a paedophile arms dealer hooked on crack?’ No problem. Just how many clubs will have to go to the wall before the football authorities do anything? Would Manchester United going into administration make someone sit up and listen?
Just like the government, the FA seems scared to take on the people who got us into such a mess. So it’s more government belly aching about benefit cheats, but strangely quiet about millionaire tax avoidance. It’s estimated that Britain loses £100 billion a year through tax dodging! Mind you, doing nothing is not surprising when you find out that the Cameron’s have a joint £30 million fortune, Chancellor Osborne a £4 million trust fund kept offshore to avoid tax and Clegg is the son of a millionaire banker.
The schools PE and sport budgets is cut, and as usual it is poorer students who will suffer. Massive cuts to local authority’s budgets will mean that sport, not a service councils are legally required to provide, will take a hit. Leisure centres, swimming pools, playing fields and the staff who run them easy are cost cutting fodder. But surely this is a false economy? As Steve Gates, the director of sports specialism at Bradford's Tong High School said. “The results and use of sport to help children improve their overall attainment has been remarkable.”
While the £9.3 billion Olympic Budget remains intact, you wonder what is the point of the Olympics if sport funding across the country is going to take a battering. Who will we have to compete in the future if the sports infrastructure is old and crumbling? What effect will it have when one of our major health challenges in society is obesity?
With so much money swimming around at the top of society, so much tax unpaid by the super rich, so many top footballers kissing the badges of the clubs they are helping to bankrupt, I scratch my head and wonder.
Am I missing something here or is everyone else insane?