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, August 27, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Fleet Town
Saturday 27th August 2011. We won 3-0 in front of 277 people.

With a fanfare splash across the Slough Observers front page, it was
announced that ‘'Footballs coming home'.’ But this wasn’t about Slough
Towns move to Arbour Vale but that a revamp at Wexham Park Stadium is
under way. The ground we were evicted from and has since been left
empty for eight years is showing signs of life.

Wexham Park owner Byron Thorne is said to be investing a substantial
amount of money in order to bring the former Slough Town ground up to
standard. Debris, overgrown weeds and vandalised chairs in the stands
are now all set to be removed and grass cutters started repairing and
clearing the pitch. Former leisure manager Martin Blake, who is co-
coordinating the refurbishment, said he was very excited about the
prospect of football returning to the site in Wexham Road. "Already we
have had local organisations and football teams get in touch who want
to be able to come and play here.” According to Mr. Blake a
professional football club has already expressed interest in using the
site as a location for a football academy. Other community groups
within Slough are also said to be interested. Who they are is of
course all top secret but Martin Blake added that he would love to see
Slough Town return.

But why now? Imagine you’re on your way to church just about to get re-
married when the ex you haven’t seen for eight years starts shouting
'what about me'.’ Well what about you. While we all have great
memories of Wexham Park with Slough playing their highest ever level
of football their, the club never owned the ground and never got
income from the clubhouse. If we ever went back there it would still
be at the whims of an outside landlord, who in the past showed just
how much they cared! Remember the sixty seats saga? Or the fact that
the ground is half in South Bucks who never really had the best
interests of Slough or its football team.

Work has also started on Stoke Poges Lane for a new Sikh Social and
Cultural Sports Centre. This will feature a single-storey sports
centre with sports field and apparently be home of Singh Sabha

So you wait 10 years for a ground back in Slough, then three come all
at once.

Our chairman Steve Easterbrook told the Slough Observer that we're not
interested in a return to Wexham Park as we already have another site.
But does this muddy the water with the council?

Thankfully no and I received this prompt reply from Councillor James
Swindlehurst, commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal. He told me
"The council has been supporting Slough Town Football Club’s bid to
return to Slough since the Labour Group were elected in 2008, and it
is a promise now moving to the delivery stage. The club has been
working with a housing partner to develop plans and to put these
through the planning system, and we look forward to seeing the
proposals which are presented."

"This Arbour Vale site has the capacity to support the stadium with
its ancillary facilities and housing which makes the development
viable, and it has the bonus of being located within the Slough
boundary so the club can meet their ambition to return home. The
council will continue to work with the club to advance proposals for
the Arbour Vale site, as superficial ground improvements at the old
Wexham Stadium seem unlikely to deliver a home which matches the fans
expectations for a brand new community stadium in Slough.”

I’m not sure what the owners of Wexham Park are up too, but they
probably realise they are sitting on a piece of land that is worth
millions but is worthless. Maybe they should just let it revert back
to being part of Wexham Woods.

So thanks, but no thanks. We want Orchard Park, not Wexham Park.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Burnham  Tuesday 23rd August 2011. We lost 2-1 in front of 300.

The two teams that won promotion to the football league last season perfectly illustrate the hugely different ways of running a football club. Crawley Town outspent clubs in league one let alone league two backed by anonymous oversees investors. Meanwhile AFC Wimbledon, formed after the FA’s ludicrous decision to let the old Wimbledon move to Milton Keynes, went from the Combined Counties to Football League in just nine seasons. They are owned and run by their supporters and their only mysterious figure is Hayden the Womble.
This issue of ownership was part of a wide ranging six month Parliamentary enquiry. And guess what? The culture, media and sport select committee's report said that footballs governing body is in serious need of reform. It has come up with 34 recommendations that in any sane environment would be an uncontroversial manifesto for change.
But this of course is football.
The report identifies the two main logjams that need to be unblocked at the FA, and they unsurprisingly revolve around money and power. Leeds United lovable chairman Ken Bates was even name checked somewhat unfavourably at the way Leeds were owned. They heard evidence from a host of people including former FA chief executive Ian Watmore who highlighted his frustrations that during his tenure there was "nothing chief or executive about the job" and that is why he left. His proposals for reform too often "either hit the buffer" or "just (weren't) possible to do at all because we didn't have control of our money and our resources".
The report recommends a radical overhaul of the FA to enable it to establish itself as an overarching regulator with a longer-term strategy with tougher rules on ownership and finances. The report says: "The FA, Premier League and Football League have spent too long behind the curve on ownership matters." It proposes a new licensing scheme, overseen by the FA and applying beefed-up financial controls and a tougher fit and proper persons test.
It also calls for the football creditors rule to be scrapped. This rule has meant that when clubs have gone into administration, players receive all their pay whilst local businesses and charities only receive 20 pence for each pound they were owed. It also recommends that the Financial Services and Markets Act be amended to help supporters' trusts, and that the long-term future of Supporters Direct be secured.
The sports minister, Hugh Robertson, who has called football 'the worst-run sport in the country' immediately called on football to respond positively to the recommendations and warned that the status quo was not an option. "There is a moment here for the football authorities to respond positively and decisively to both the content and spirit of the report and we will be working with them to achieve this."
But will a Conservative coalition that loves the free market and has declared a war on red tape really want to bring in legislation? The Premier League have refused to comment so far but will no doubt be relying on behind the scenes lobbying and press briefings to their Sky/Sun News International financial bedfellows to undermine the recommendations. Hey, they could even threaten a European superleague to scare the government off.
The Premier League's 20 clubs collectively lost close to half a billion pounds last year despite record income. Does that matter? Maybe ask Portsmouth, Leeds United and a host of other lower league football fans if it does.
Successive sports ministers have urged football to sort itself out with little success. Will it be any different this time round? Have our ‘fit and proper’ MPs got the fight to take on the Premier League?
Or will they bottle it, just like they did with the bankers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Printed in the Evo-stik League Southern Division One Central game v Aylesbury Saturday 13th August 2011. Drew 0-0 in front of 306 people.

Surely its written in the stars that this is the season Slough Town win the league and begin the next one in their fantastic new ground back in Slough as champions? Well I bloody hope so. As we scrape along the barrel of the football pyramid I feel we have done our time now. Thank you all the small towns and villages I would have never visited, but it’s time to move on. Mind you, there’s always one club who wants to spoil the party, one money bags upstart and this time it’s St.Neots FC. Their chairman has already boasted “I see no reason why we won’t win the Southern League Division One Central.” Still at least St.Neots has a decent ground with supporters and it has already been penciled in as the annual Rebels away weekend in March.
You can fit the population of St Neots into Slough 4 times , in fact you can probably fit the combined populations of all the clubs in our league into Slough! Big fish in small pond? Sour grapes? Arrogance? Perhaps, but I’ve had enough of one man and his dog. Thankfully our fairy Godchairman Steve Easterbrook with lots of dedicated supporters has helped kick the club back to life and surely it can’t be long before we are back in the Premiership (Ryman or Southern Premiership that is).
Reading our forum I can only conclude that someone has dropped LSD into the Thames Valley water supply. A few friendlies and some people have worked themselves into a frothing internet frenzy of madness.
I can’t comment on new or old signings cos I didn’t bother with any friendlies apart from the Windsor one and that’s 90 minutes of my life I can’t ever get back. I forgot what fun Windsor can be by the castle with tourists enjoying the British summer by poking my eyes out with their oversized anti social umbrellas while taking pictures of paving stones, phone boxes and dog turds. Just what is it with people who think its ok to hog the whole pavement with their damn umbrellas, that force you into the road and drip the rain onto passers by? Wear a bloody hat. And I couldn’t even find Windsor and Eton station it’s been so swamped by shops. Surprise they haven’t shoved some on the railway tracks.
As for a new club. Well they’ve ditched the Eton along with all the money they owe to everyone and started again at the Combined Counties Premier League. There seems to be a lot of the same players, managers and a clubhouse sporting it’s traditional plastic cups over the pumps informing you that that beer is off today. The backdrop to Windsors ground is spectacular but I don’t miss going there, although with the players they’ve got you can see them gaining promotion at the first shout.  
In Slough’s league there are some grounds I’ve never been before – newcomers Chalfont St Peter and Chertsey and of course Saint Newts. And some like AFC Hayes that I have visited enough to know that I don’t really fancy going back anytime soon.
So there will be beers, tears, some gut churning moments - usually because I’ve sampled some undercooked chips. Some matches your glad you were at, some bores, some games where it feels more like a chore, some shivering on the terraces, some frozen pitches. But let’s hope at the end of it we take one giant step up the footballing ladder.
The Evo-stik (Adhesives and Sealants) Southern League Division One Central 2011/12 season. Bring it on!