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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME


Printed in the last home game of the season against Biggleswade Town Saturday 23rd April 2011. On a boiling hot day we won 3-2 in front of 321 people and are in the play offs again.

From the top of my estate, Brighton and Hove Albion’s spectacular new stadium can be seen nestled in the South Downs. For a team that lost the old Goldstone ground to a dodgy politician, nearly went bust and relegated out of the league, had to play 70 miles away in Gillingham and then moved back to a soul destroying athletics stadium it’s been fifteen very long homeless years. Such adversity for any football fan makes the good times so much sweeter, and Brighton will be starting next season in their new ground as Division One champions – with 16,000 season tickets already sold.
I know Slough’s new ground won’t be as flash and the season ticket sales anywhere near as impressive but it will mean just as much to us Rebels who have had to endure over a decade of a nomadic existence as we tumbled down the leagues.
So the recent announcement by our chairman Steve Easterbrook that a full planning application will be submitted for the old Arbour Vale site in the next few months and we should be playing in Slough for the 2012/2013 season; well, we definitely raised a glass to that news!
It’s not just the new ground that I’m excited about, it’s the fact that after viewing quite a few lower league white elephants stuck out in the middle of nowhere, that we have found quite a central site in such a built up town.
I know it will be down to money but I hope the ground is something we can be proud of and enjoy going too. I know Steve and others behind the scenes have been visiting different grounds and models around this country and abroad. And they’ve listened to us big gobs that we need cover behind both goals to create some atmosphere. But I would like us to push the boat out and make it as green as the grass we play on.
Let’s make Dartford’s new ground, the world’s first custom-built eco-friendly football stadium, as a benchmark. Some Slough councilors visited and it really is something to aspire too. Features include a living green roof which keeps in the heat and provides a natural air filtration system. Solar panels provide electricity for the community, changing rooms, toilets and hot water storage cylinders. Reclaimed rainwater collected in two vast ponds are used for the loos and the pitch. The place is also heavily insulated, there’s under floor heating (be nice to have some under the terraces!) and low energy lightings. Slough are already going to be getting the green thumb up just by the fact of being so close to the town centre. Maybe there could be a link up with the local bus service to take people to the ground near kick off time with reduced entry for those producing a bus ticket. Or maybe for those of us planning a walking pub crawl to the ground, we could get a free beer in the clubhouse for drinking and not driving?! A clubhouse with some decent local sourced food being served up, washed down with some local real ale would be good and how about ditching all the plastic cups, plates etc that blight every football stadium. Some decent recycling areas wouldn’t go a miss and what about composting bins? Could this compost feed the vegetables grown for the clubhouse food? Northwich Victoria’s groundsman uses old dried tea bags to repair pitch damage! And is it windy enough for a wind turbine? This isn’t just green tinkering but makes economic sense, reducing waste and cutting bills.
I hope Arbour Vale is a bit more than another identikit ground. As one Dartford fan wrote “It's not often that a whole community can be proud of one, specific local initiative but in Princes Park we have something that is, not only truly exceptional, but a local development we can honestly be immensely proud of.”
That’s got to be something to aim for at Slough.

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