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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Daventry Town
on Saturday 24th September 2011. Slough won 2-1 in front of 274 to go

There’s nothing like the FA Cup to make me spring out of bed early,
bursting with excitement. Or maybe that’s just my son shouting that
he’s bursting for a wee. Whatever. I do love the FA Cup especially
when I get to go places I’ve never been. Actually, I have been to
Banbury before but that was for a friends funeral. Simon Jones was
killed on his first day as a casual worker at Shoreham docks, his head
crushed by the grab of a crane. He had no proper training doing one of
the most dangerous jobs in the country sent by an employment agency
that didn’t care about health and safety. The dock company had also
customized the crane grab that decapitated him to save time and money.
Now people hiding behind bogus health and safety rules gets on my
nerves as much as it does the Daily Snarl, but Simon’s death showed
that cutting corners costs lives. Aged just 24 Simon was killed to
save a few quid and his friends and families weren’t prepared to take
that lying down. We mounted a direct action campaign to get the
company to court which we eventually did.

In my mind Banbury was a small, quiet Oxfordshire market town. Er,
apparently not so small and definitely a bit more raucous. Their fans
were certainly in a raucous mood, and it was good to have a decent
crowd getting behind their team even if they did abuse us and somehow
think that 100 travelling Slough fans could fit in a taxi. Maybe
counting isn’t one of their strong points or taxis are a bit more
accommodating in this part of the country.

It is now nearly 39 years since we last paid Banbury. That was also an
FA Cup game and we lost 2-1. Someone in the pub complained that they
still hadn’t got a programme for that game. We reckoned it was time to
let it go.

Banburys decade of horror was the eighties. They nearly went bankrupt,
had to sell their ground and spent time in the Hellenic League. The
Spencer Stadium has an ‘everything must go’, falling down and unloved
feel to it. It also suffers from flooding and directly behind one goal
is a new flood relief channel! The grounds owner, a millionaire who
made his money from poultry, wants to build houses on it, but the
council won’t let him unless they find another ground. But it is in a
fantastic location, right next to train station in the middle of town.
Sites have been identified but as we all know these things take time.

Banbury are in the Southern Premier and in the opening 20 minutes it
showed but we were fantastic in the second half and when Ben Abbey
scored our third Sloughs fans were cock a hoop singing music wherever
she goes.

As we escaped to the bar to get out of the rain, we chatted to a
beaming Slough chairman Steve Easterbrook. As he pointed out, many
clubs base their finances on a run in the FA Cup. If that doesn’t
happen then budgets are cut. So it’s a very handy three grand for a
club with no ground. It’s not so long ago that Slough beat Paul
Mersons Walsall in the First round of the FA Cup. A game that Merson
has said was the lowest point of his footballing career. Could we
reach the first round proper again?

What the game also showed is that there isn’t a big difference between
the top clubs at our level and the division above. But with just one
automatic promotion spot, the hardest part is getting out of this
league. But this is just the sort of victory to spur us on to go and
claim that automatic spot this season.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Barton Rovers
on Tuesday 13th September 2011. We won 2-1 in front of 212

Non League Day, the FA Cup and Slough playing on a Sunday. So instead
of a long train journey, a chance to go and support one of the numerous
local clubs near my home. The sheer amount of football clubs playing a
decent level of football is just staggering. I can get to eight clubs
who entered this years FA Cup on a Brighton day saver bus pass. Just
how do they all survive?
After having tea with the local vicar three of us head for the train
to Shoreham for a bit of FA Cup Extra Preliminary round action.
Unfortunately my powers of persuasion and pleading with people that
this was Non League Day with no Premiership or Championship football
excuses fell on mostly deaf ears, with ignored texts and feigning
death. In the end I only persuade my long term Albion season ticket
holder mate and his daughter to visit Middle Road to watch the
Musselmen take on Lancing.
Shoreham is one of those places just outside Brighton that I often
just pass through. The high street, a mix of old and pedestranised new
is very pleasant with a view of the harbour and a chance for all sorts
of food and beer sampling.
Pity we picked the real ale old boozer that wouldn’t let kids in.
We arrived too late to buy a programme with a healthy looking crowd of
over 120 including quite a few opposing fans. Not surprising, as you
couldn’t get much more local than this (well you could if Shoreham
played Southwick) and on bank holiday Monday this very same fixture
had seen Shoreham lose 3-0. For the first 40 minutes it looked like it
would go the same way then just before half time Shoreham’s Charlie
Walker scored the only goal changing the whole dynamics of the game.
Confidence is a wonderful thing and the goal was just what Shoreham
needed. They were a much better side in the second half missing plenty
of chances to put the game to bed. In the end it stayed 1-0 and
Shoreham pocked £1,500 for winning on top of their £750 from the
previous round and a 1st qualifying round tie with Thamesmead Town.
Premiership clubs might not care for the competition but it matters a
lot clubs further down the footballing pyramid.
Brighton’s new ground and emerging strength is enticing people who
haven’t thought about the Albion for years. This will no doubt affect
the already sparse crowds at this level. To their credit the Albion
were encouraging people to support Non League Day, I just think some
of the smaller clubs could do a bit more to help themselves.
I know that’s easy said than done. The archetypal bloke behind the bar
at Shoreham who has to put his hand to everything said about 10 people
help run the club and the players just get expenses. They also have
six other teams playing under their banner. But money is always tight
and they have no shirt sponsorship. Shoreham struggled last season
with crowds averaging around 50 and they would have been relegated if
it hadn’t been for ground grading regulations.
The club founded in 1892 have spent most of their time yo-yoing
between Sussex County League One and Two. But these clubs play an
important role in our communities and we should all do our bit to
encourage friends and families to switch off Sky or ditch Saturday
shopping and come and support the Rebels. You never know they might
even enjoy themselves.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Printed in the FA Cup Preliminairy round game v Binfield Sunday 4th
September 2011. We won 3-1 in front of 291 people.

It’s only the beginning of September and we are into the second round
of the FA Cup (Yes, I know it’s still the preliminary round). Nearly
250 teams have already been eliminated and our opponents today beat
Reading Town in a replay with a grand total of 177 people watching
both games.
Five teams went to the wall before a ball was kicked.
Friar Lane Old Boys, Bicester Town, Dawlish Town, Saffron Walden Town
and Andover all pulled out for various financial reasons.
Making the biggest splash were Ascot United who lost to Wembley 2-1 in
the extra preliminary round. So what? Well the tie, Ascots first in
the 140 year history of the cup, was also the first football match
ever to be screened live on Facebook thanks to new cup sponsors
Budweiser. Six quid entrance (and free for under 16s) got you a quid
off a pint of Bud, a free burger and a raffle draw where you got the
chance to take penalties against Dave Beasant (the only goalie to have
saved a penalty in an FA Cup Final) with the prize of FA Cup final
tickets. You could also get yourself a picture next to the cup. So
instead of the previous week’s league match gate of 88 Ascot smashed
their record attendance with a massive crowd of 1149! Meanwhile 20,000
people watched the match on Facebook. As for Wembley, they pocketed
£750 from The FA prize fund and played Ardley United yesterday.
I would prefer it if we get drawn away in the first few grounds to
smaller clubs than ourselves, to places I’d never usually visit. I
reckon there should be an advantage rule in the first few rounds where
lower ranking clubs get home advantage to see if they can pull off a
shock. I’m sure we can all remember the fun we had at Erith Towns
athletic stadium last season where Slough got dumped out by a club a
league lower than us.
The FA Cup Preliminary round is also the second Non League Day. Non-
League Day is such a brilliant, simple idea that after the success of
last year’s event it’s being repeated again. September 3rd was picked
because thanks to England playing Friday night the Premier League and
Championship are taking a week off. The idea is to tempt those fans
with an otherwise football free weekend into a bit of non league
action. A chance to shine a light on the hundreds of clubs in this
country who are almost exclusively volunteer run, and do so much good
for the local community, be it through coaching, fund raising or
providing opportunities for local people. A chance to experience
football at a level they may be otherwise unfamiliar with at a
fraction of the price.
This year the Macmillan Cancer Support came on board as Non League
Days official charity, ex-England international Chris Waddle is the
official ambassador, and the day secured the backing of the All Party
Football Group in Parliament. The Conference also organised a special
three-game hop while other clubs run special deals to get the punters
And who knows what else might happen? It was the authors of the
excellent website therealfacup who announce on their website
"disillusioned with football at the top level, we visited our local
team, Dulwich Hamlet, to watch them play Broxbourne Borough in the
Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and were hooked" Now they have
rekindled their love of football by reporting about the early rounds
of the FA Cup and Vase.
We often hear that the FA Cup doesn’t matter to those clubs at the
top, but to clubs like Ascot United, Wembley and Slough Town, the FA
Cup still means a lot.

• Reviews of FA Cup, FA Vase and more
• Non League Day