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, October 22, 2011


Printed in the Southern League match v Rugby Town Saturday 22nd October 2011. Slough won 4-0 in front of 275. Great result after Tuesdays FA Cup defeat.

Whatever I write is going to sound like sour grapes, so I’ll say it now. Well done Hanworth Villa. You deserve to be in the 4th Qualifying round of the FA Cup. You wanted it more than us. To get this far in
the Cup in your first ever season, well, it’s what FA Cup dreams are made of. But I won’t lie. I was half dreading the replay – not cos I thought an upset was on the cards. Stupidly, I thought Slough Town’s class would show. It was more that I was seriously worried that all the bad feeling from Saturday’s game, and all the words that had been brewing on our unofficial forum and twitter would spill over onto the terraces.
In the end I needn’t have worried. The big crowd was well stewarded and policed. The Hanworth Villa fans packed in like sardines in their little tin shed out sang a large freezing Slough contingent stuck out on an open field. We were numb as we squandered a comfortable one goal lead in the first half to collapse in the second
with the momentum of the home team backed by their supporters, helping them to a famous 3-1 victory.
Hanworth – not Hanwell, where my doughnut of a cousin first ended up – is near Feltham in Middlesex. They only formed in 1976 and have risen up the pyramid moving into their current ground ‘The Ranch’ in 1997.
It has slowly been developed enough for them to enter the FA Cup for their first time this season. Playing a league below Slough in the Combined Counties they average 125 for league games and a lot of their players started at the club as teenagers.
But it’s more than just a football club. With the decline in the number of pubs, social clubs and meeting places available for people locally ‘The Ranch’ is bucking this trend with the club house open 7 days a week, and employing a full time manager.
Their support arrived in numbers and fine voice with two full coaches
at Saturday’s game. Infact they’ve bought more away support than the rest of our league put together! Slough twice surrended the lead, the second time to a thunderbolt of a 25 yard free kick from Levi King. But this is when things started to turn nasty.
The Hanworth fans celebrated by barging into Slough supporters and intimidating us. We got racist chants, being called faggots, abuse of our disabled supporters, running on the pitch, and of course everyone in Slough is a Muslim (surely they could have thought of some blackberry jokes tho). Out came those old seventies classics like 'you're going home in a f****ing ambulance' and 'you're gonna get your f***ing head kicked in'
Hello, this is non league football not some re-run of a football crowd scene from ‘Life On Mars’. Most Slough fans left the shed in fear of their safety. If Slough had scored I think we could all predict what would have happened next. As it was this was the first time in over 10 years that the police have had to be called to a Slough game and this was solely due to the Hanworth fans.
The crowd of 525, many no doubt visiting for the first time, wouldn’t have come away with very good impressions of non league football.
Some Hanworth supporters said this was just a bit of banter but in Tuesdays programme said “Some of our support could be construed as unsavory, there was certainly some unnecessary bad language and
remarks…support your team, respect your opponents.”
Good luck to Hanworth against Totton. I’ll be crying into my beer at Leighton Buzzard with that usual football feeling of ‘what if.’

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Printed in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round game v Hanworth Villa
Saturday 19th October 2011. We drew 2-2 in front of 525 people
including some very pleasant Hanworth fans.

The whole of southern England seemed to be heading for Brighton to
enjoy the hottest October day ever. Except me. I needed to go the
other way via the hell that is the London underground. I arrived at
Slough to be greeted by that lovable stuffed dog Station Jim as cup
fever gripped the town.
Er, maybe. Still FA Cup Day 2nd qualifying round day certainly had me
entranced with Slough Town at home to Conference South team Boreham
Wood. No disrespect to Boreham Wood but when the draw was announced I
was disappointed. We have played them many times before and they don’t
exactly pack in the crowds. But the more I thought about it; well
Slough had already beaten Binfield, Banbury and I reckon we could make
it a hat trick of B’s and defeat Boreham Wood.
A few pre-match pints in the Alpha Arms then that long, expensive cab
ride up to Beaconsfield. With a planning application for a new ground
being submitted in December, hopefully this financially draining ride
won’t be for too much longer.
The sun might have been baking but Slough players came out and began
to batter the Wood. Within seven minutes Stuart Swift had scored a
fantastic free kick. Steve Sinclair then went off injured and it was
time for Charlie Mpi to replace him. Superquick Charlie has only been
getting brief substitute appearances so this was his chance to shine.
On half an hour he had this chance, clean through on goal with just
the keeper to beat. We all held our collective breath, then let out
roars of approval as he netted his first Slough goal. 2-0 Slough and
that’s the way it stayed at half time.
We knew Boreham Wood would eventually have a go, and in on the 55
minute they pulled a goal back. Just two minutes later one of their ex
players Sean Sonner scored again for Slough and the Sonner-BorehamWood
song began. But then straight from the kick-off Boreham Wood scored
again making it 3-2.
Then Boreham Wood went and bloody scored again. Our hearts sank until
we saw the lino flag for offside.
Just what is it with football? You look forward to the game all week,
come all that way, spend all that money, then just want the bloody
game to hurry up and finish! I felt sick with nerves for most of the
second half until finally the 4 minutes injury time were up and the
Rebels go marching on.
Today it’s the turn of Hanworth Villa who play a level below us in the
Combined Counties. Formed just 35 years ago we have never played them
before and this is their first ever season in the FA Cup. Both clubs
can almost smell the 1st round proper, but please let’s not take any
team for granted. Remember last season, when we lost to Erith Town in
that wonderful athletics stadium? Or at home to Harrogate Railway
Athletic who left us at the sidings as the got to play Bristol City.
Or what about Wroxham who turned us over in the Norfolk Broads.
For any club, FA Cup money is welcome, but for a club without a
ground, the nine grand we have now earned is fantastic. As we basked
in the victory in the clubhouse, our chairman got the drinks in for
the players while we got the leftover hospitability sandwiches!
Then the tweet came through from Sean Sonner saying simply ‘I love
Who could disagree with him on a day like that?

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Printed in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round game v Boreham Wood on
Saturday 1st October 2011. Slough won 3-2 in boiling heat against a
team two leagues above us, cheered on by 277 fans.

Are they for real? Are the rich (and their PR companies) really
demanding that the government abolish the 50% tax rate otherwise they
will have a hissy fit and leave the country. Well seeya. The
government, stuffed full of millionaires says it’s sympathetic. Then
has the cheek to tell public sector workers – already facing a two-
year pay freeze, job losses and inflation running higher than it has
for more than a decade – that they will have to work longer, pay more
and get less pension so we can help reduce Britain’s debt. A debt that
is so big because we had to borrow billions bailing out the bloody
banks. (over 50 per cent of the debt is because of this bailout)

I like the attitude of the fabulously titled Italian ‘simplification
minister’ who told footballers to stop being ‘spoilt children’ after
they complained about a solidarity tax of 5-10% imposed on all high
earners. Italy is introducing austerity measures to pay for its debt
crisis and Minister Roberto Calderoli, lashed out at the country's
professional footballers, threatening to make them pay a new income
tax twice over if they didn’t stop moaning! Mind you, many Italian
footballers negotiate a net salary, which means their clubs pay all
their taxes anyway which could now include the top-up solidarity

And that’s the problem with ‘we are all in it together’ guff from our
inherited millionaire chancellor Gideon Osborne. We are so blatantly
not. The bankers who crashed the world’s economy demanded less and
less regulation so they could indulge in ever more complex casino
banking scams. But were happy to accept taxpayer’s handouts when it
all went tits up because they were ‘too big to fail’. The super-rich
use every trick in the book to dodge their taxes. Barclays Bob Diamond
received £6.5m on top of his salary but incredibly told a government
committee it was “time to move on from widespread bank-bashing.”

These people look a like the football bosses who load their clubs with
debt then scarper leaving the fans to pick up the pieces. Not that
it’s surprising seeing as the people owning football clubs are the
very same superrich and the ‘unfit and improper.’ Leeds United’s Ken
Bates was named and shamed by the governments regulation committee for
the elaborate web he weaved to hide the fact that he owned the club.
Birmingham City’s owner was recently arrested in Hong Kong on money
laundering charges. Rangers owe millions to the taxman who have frozen
part of the clubs bank account. In a bid to get into the promised land
of the Premiership, many Championship clubs spend nearly all their
turnover on wages some spend even more. And Plymouth Argyle might not
even exist by the time you read this.

Maybe these football clubs and bankers need to take a feather out of
David Wailliams swimming cap. His latest bonkers Thames swimming
venture raised a million quid for sports relief. Asked at the end of
the grueling venture how he felt he replied “Whatever I’m suffering,
its not as bad as being Kenyan,12 years old, homeless, with no shoes
on your feet, no mum and dad.”

The world’s economy is on a knife-edge, yet bankers and top football
clubs carry on as if all is normal, stuffing their pockets and
complaining that it’s not fair they have to contribute to society. A
Premiership where a five year old can predict who will be at the top
is bad for competition and the long term future of the game.

The gap between the rich and poor is greater now than at any point in
the past 50 years. Abolish the 50 per cent tax rate. I agree; as long
as it’s put up to 80%.

* Fantastic article on why attacks on pensions are wrong