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, November 27, 2011


Printed in the Southern Central League programme on Saturday 26th
November 2011 v Ashford Town (Middlesex). We won 4-3 in front of 271
people and go back to top of the league.

While we all fell quiet for the minutes silence at Slough’s last home
game, Remembrance Sunday got me thinking about how lucky I am to be
here. Without ever being on a battlefield it’s impossible to imagine
what war is like but it’s a bit easier to imagine how frightening it
would be to have your home continually bombed; friends, families and
neighbours killed. My Nan, Daisy Hunt, was a teenager from the East
End of London during the Second World War and she had three very lucky
escapes. Living in EC1 wasn’t the safest place to be as it was
targeted by sustained German bombing raids. So bad at times my Nan
said it seemed like hell itself as the East End went up in flames, and
each day felt like you were on borrowed time.

One of the more pleasant sheltering from the bombs was in my Aunt Bets
Pub, The Scottish Stores in Caledonian Road, Kings Cross. Sheltering
from the bombs in the cellar they managed to while away the time by
drinking the stock. The pub was rough and ready, with Aunt Bet handy
with a wooden bat to keep order. It’s now a strip-club!

Nan’s family house was so bomb damaged they had to move out of the
City Road and into Hackney.  Every day was a lucky escape, but one
time Nan was at her Dad’s allotment with her future husband Ernest.
They heard a Doodlebug overhead and quickly ran to a shelter. They
just managed to shut the door and were blown down the stairs but
unhurt. The nearby shelter was hit and the occupants not so lucky.
Doodlebugs were self-propelled pilotless aircraft, which when they
reached their maximum range would crash and explode. The bit that
everyone knew about the doodlebugs was their sound. When that sound
changed, you knew the bomb was going to drop and you darted for cover.

Another time, Nan’s friend popped round and asked if she wanted to go
to the library. Daisy said she couldn’t as she was preparing food for
dinner. The next minute the windows in the house were shattered as the
library they were planning to visit was hit by a rocket. One of her
friends was killed; identified by the bottom of her jaw, the only part
of her ever found.

The third lucky escape came when she was working in a factory when
another doddle-bug hit. She managed to get into the shelter with
workmates, but her clothes were ripped and her legs cut and they had
to be dug out of the rubble. She walked dazed down the street where
her grateful mum took her home, but she should have reported to the
medical staff that arrived on site with an ambulance or to the ARP.
The Air Raid Patrol wardens were the ones that went round the streets
during black-outs telling people to turn out their lights so the
bombers couldn’t target them. They also reported bomb damage and re-
united families. In the morning after the attack there was a knock at
their door from the ARP saying they had searched all night for my Nan
but she couldn’t be found. That was because she was asleep in bed

Lucky might not be the right word when describing the bombing of
London. But I sometimes wonder, what if one of the bombs had killed my
Nan. My mum wouldn’t have been born, I wouldn’t have been born and
neither would my son. My brother and his five boys would never have
ever existed. Neither would Daisy’s two sons (my uncles) and their two

I think if we should remember anything during Remembrance Sunday is
just how precious life is, and that politicians and people should do
everything they can to make sure that war is the last ever resort.
Maybe if the politicians who seem so ready to go to war had to send
their children to fight, they might be a little less gung-ho.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v St.Neots Town
on Saturday 12th November 2011. We won 2-0 in front of  379 people and
go back to the top of the league!

AIK Stockholm versus Djurgårdens IF is the biggest football derby in
Sweden. But for the first 10 minutes of the match the stadium was
quiet with both sets of fans united in silence to protest how fans are
being priced out of the game.

This was the inspiration that has galvanized a pocket of fed up
Wolvehampton Wanderers fans into action. With their game against
Sunderland on Sunday 4th December live on Sky, Wolves fans decided
that this will be the time to demonstrate to the whole of the Premier
League what football would be like without supporters. There will be
no clapping players out onto the pitch, no singing, no celebrating any
goals scored, just stone dead silence. Watching the You Tube clip of
the AIK Stockholm game, if they pull this off it will be a really
powerful message (although knowing Sky they will probably pipe in
canned cheering).

Their message is now spreading, just like the fantastic Fans United
movement that got behind Brighton and Hove Albion, inviting supporters
of every allegiance to ‘Take Back The Game’ together. A game that has
seen some clubs prices rising by 900% since the Premier League was
launched in 1992! With the world economy a financial car crash, it’s
harder than ever for supporters to follow their team home or away.
While most of us see living standards dropping, player’s wages
continue to rise to an astronomical level. The average top-flight
football player now earns 34 times the average national wage!

Whilst this hyper-capitalism might have brought success and glamour to
the Premier League, the rampant commercialism and focus on profit has
left fans feeling like cash cow customers squeezed for every last
penny. From the ‘39th game’ through to privatised TV rights, European
super leagues and the suggestion of abandoning relegation, those at
the very top seem evermore determined to seek ever-greater riches to
create a manufactured, commodity product that bears little resemblance
to a sport.

But with American owners pilling into the Premier League, it’s no
surprise that the idea of scrapping relegation came about. In the US,
sports leagues are closed, meaning there is no relegation or
promotion. John Henry, one of Liverpool’s new owners who already owns
baseball team Boston Red Sox, admitted he knew "virtually nothing
about Liverpool Football Club nor EPL (English Premier League)." But
he spelt out why he was interested "So much internet clutter competes
for mindshare now. Big sports clubs are one of the few things which
can cut through and capture mindshare. We have one of the great
baseball teams, but its ability is geographically limited. The
Liverpool numbers blew us away. We believe there is a significant
amount of monetisation we can do, on a worldwide basis, which is not
occurring now."
This ice-cold business-speak sums up just what football clubs mean to
most owners. And the last thing Henry would want for his product is it
being ruined by relegation.

So should these protests matter to us lower league minnows? I reckon
it should. The hollowness of the trickle down theory; the idea that
those at the top with so much cash will reach down to the bottom, is
codswallop. Just look at how non league is littered with fallen clubs.
And with so much money swishing around in the top divisions, how come
grassroots football finds it so hard to get by?

Maybe the horse has already bolted, but just like the protestors
camped out across the world to protest under the 99 percent banner,
football fans should fight their corner and show that ultimately
without them, these football brands are damaged goods. ‘A movement for
football fans sick of high prices, sanitised stadiums and prima donna
players. We're taking the beautiful game back.’ It’s about time us
footie fans refused to suffer in silence.!/takebackthegame

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


This article was written by Steve Cumber and printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Woodford Town on Saturday 5th November 2011.  Read the Slough Town forum and you see why I wanted to publish it on here.

Much has been written about the recent FA Cup games with Hanworth Villa, but the comments which interested me the most was about the support given to both teams.

We at Slough have had many FA Cup runs over the years and the one thing you can depend on is that whenever a team experiences a modicum of success in the Cup non regular folk turn up at the matches. This is mostly good news, as the whole point of big games is that they attract bigger crowds than the normal ones, make you more money, etc, etc. The downside is that you’re never certain who exactly is going to turn up, and this can lead to some of the issues we had in the initial match.

I have been to Hanworth’s ground when they have played a league match and it is a typical Combined Counties affair, with around 60 folk in attendance and absolutely none of the noisiness they made in their matches with us. So the additional folk made the additional noise. I get cross with these “hangers-on”, whichever team they are following, because I always think that if you can turn up for a big game, why don’t you bother to come along for a smaller game. Singing “ Hanworth ‘til I die” doesn’t have much sincerity if Hanworth aren’t going to see you again for the rest of the season. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but club supporters at our level should be able to do better than to ape the lowest common denominator chants from the Premier League.

But the truth is that in both games Hanworth’s support was very noisy, whilst ours was not. This prompted quite a bit of soul searching on the club forum, with some good points raised. We also had a thought provoking post from a Hanworth man named “Rooster”, which I found very interesting, and who chastised us, with a degree of accuracy I think, with being just too bloody negative.

Back at Wexham Park we used to make quite a noise – I only have to think back to those wretched drums and bugle that were played. But in the eight years since we left, the noise has gradually subsided, to the point nowadays where it is quite rare to hear a full bloodied Slough Town chant get going. It is clear that the noisy folks, the chant leaders, the drum and bugle players, have moved on. The journey first to Windsor and now to Beaconsfield clearly hasn’t helped, and being out of the town is certainly “out of sight, out of mind” for many people. And the average age of our supporters has, I’m sure, risen over the years, and us old folk don’t shout so much as you young ‘uns. ( Unless you’re Torquay Eddie of course, but his is specialist work aimed at the officials.)

Which means that we have become a very refined and quietly spoken bunch of supporters. Sure, if we are doing well, then we do manage to raise a few shouts or two, but if the match is unspectacular the atmosphere can be almost funereal, despite this being precisely when vocalizing is required. We may have more attendees at our games than virtually anyone in this division but most of the time, for all the noise and encouragement we give our team, we may as well be AFC Hayes or North Greenford.

We just seem to have lost the knack of getting behind the team. The very time that a bit of encouragement and supporting from us might make the difference, we clam up and do nothing. Some folk behind the goal try to get things going, but these songs tend to fizzle out due to sheer lack of input. Even the old “Parklife” song from our Conference days can’t seem to cut it anymore – not surprising I suppose as fewer and fewer people who stand there remember those halcyon days, and if the song means nothing to you then why sing it.

Incredibly, not only is our support less positive than it used to be, but in some aspects it comes across as actually negative. And the place to see this is on the unofficial Slough Town forum. I’m all for healthy debate and people putting their views out into the world, as that’s what democracy is all about. But some of the vitriolic nonsense against management, players and other supporters which appears on the forum defies belief. To my mind the forum administrators aren’t nearly tough enough with this stuff. There’s a line which shouldn’t be crossed, and when you cross it you forfeit your rights in this matter.

Supporting Slough isn’t compulsory, so why would you spend your time badmouthing others who are trying to do the same thing as you confess to be doing. Disagree by all means, but those who clearly have hidden agendas should be politely invited to pursue them elsewhere. Steve Bateman called them “keyboard cowards”, and Slough aren’t the only club to have them by any means. Calm down guys, we all want the same thing, don’t we ?

The post from Hanworth man Rooster mentioned earlier elaborated on this whole subject very well and if you haven’t read it yet, then it is worth doing so. Despite what you hear sometimes we are doing well – many teams would like to be doing as well as us.

When one reads the forum or talk to Rebels fans, you often find that we lurch between two extremes. A victory means that we are going to storm away with the title, whilst a defeat will always condemn us to relegation.  This alternation between triumph and catastrophe is the classic behavior of a depressive individual, and if the Slough Town supporters went en masse to the doctors he would undoubtedly prescribe us a course of Valium. Are Slough alone in this – no, of course not. But with the number of supporters we have we could and should be doing better in the shouting stakes than we are.

Compared to five years ago we are in paradise. The club and team are in infinitely better shape and the future is rosy. But paradoxically our support in the dark days was better than it is now. No-one who was at the 9-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon will forget our support that day. The home terraces heaped lavish praise on us for it, but if we could do it then, why not now, when we win more than we lose.

The move back to Slough cannot come quick enough for so many reasons, but the necessity for us to generate both more and younger supporters is I believe the most paramount reason. Despite being avid Rebel’s fans, most of us here have, as far as vocal supporting goes, feel that we have done our bit. We need fresh blood; a new generation of tyros to wear the amber shirt with pride. Promotion would help of course, but whilst we are here at Beaconsfield, Southern Premier football might add a couple of dozen to the gate. Our own stadium in Slough would add a couple of hundred at least.

How about we all make a mid season resolution. Every one of us should make 10% more noise in supporting the team. Individually it’s not much, but collectively it might just inspire a tantalizing Sinclair cross and a resulting Sonner bullet volley for a match deciding goal which just might give us the extra point to win the league.

Come on, let’s all try it.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Woodford
United on Saturday 5th November 2011. We won 2-1 in front of 264 to
stay (and I like typing this) TOP OF THE LEAGUE!

As I walked into the clubhouse two men were complaining about the
police lack of interest in strangers knocking on their doors. This was
proper ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge’ stuff and I was all ears. Except it
was Seaford fans complaining about cold-calling which went to a vote
this week and could mean the end of Christmas Carols, trick or
treaters, rotary club charity collections – but not Jehovah’s
Witnesses! This was proper Victor Meldrew stuff.
The last time I visited Seaford Town was six years ago when they were
up against more grumpy neighbours complaining that if the club got
permission for floodlights it would bring crowd trouble! Their first
application was refused by Lewes Council because the lights would be
‘detrimental to local residential amenities.’ Ignoring the fact that
football clubs are invaluable community amenities. Eventually the
moaning gits were ignored and not only floodlights but a new seated
stand has been built meaning entry to the FA Vase and hopefully soon
the FA Cup. They only need standing cover for 22 more people and they
would be eligible for promotion to the Sussex County League Division
So having only competed in the FA Vase twice before, this first round
tie was the furthest the club has ever got and the local paper billed
it as their biggest game so far this season. Their visitors Tunbridge
Wells play a league higher in the Kent Premier League and have a
healthy average attendance of 129 something as Seaford’s programme
notes pointed out said ‘they can only dream of.’
Seaford is a pleasant little town in between Brighton and Eastbourne,
nestling at the foot of the South Downs where they head out to the sea
under the English Channel on their way to France. As their website
explained “The club is over a hundred years, and because it never had
the benefit of wealthy patrons in the early years, the club remains
typical of local football: keen players, enthusiastic supporters,
dedicated officials and just as many crises as any Premier League
club. Ours don't make national headlines, we don't go spectacularly
bankrupt or have to call in foreign billionaires to rescue us, and we
continue to play on much as earlier generations have done.”
However, the club definitely has the feel of one on the up. OK so
crowds might average around 50 but with football clubs for the under
nines upwards, over 250 people play under the Seaford Town banner.
They have a healthy number of people helping out, and although today’s
crowd was given as 98 it seemed a lot more, with no doubt plenty of
non paying players, wives, officials and four keen ball-girls. And
with a 23,000 residents they surely have a large enough pool to pull
in more punters.
As for the match; well for starters it was nice to actually enjoy a
game as a neutral rather than one watching with hands through eyes. I
was impressed with the quality of football and although Tunbridge
seemed more skillful going forward the teams evened each other out
even until Tunbridges Drew Crush struck in the 35 minutes. But
Seaford’s pressure finally paid off with Tom Morton’s scoring a wonder
goal on the stroke of half time. Picking up the ball 30-yards out, he
found the keeper off his line and picked his spot with great accuracy
to level up the scores. In the second half Tunbridge started to assert
themselves and on the 78 minute defender Andy Boyle headed goalbound
for the Wells winner. Seaford had a few more chances but the Tunbridge
keeper was commanding his goal and it was not to be as the Kent team
celebrated their 125 birthday with a win.
Still on that performance Seaford Town should be challenging for
promotion to the first division this season.  I’m sure the ‘disgusted
of’ types will be shaking in their Seaford-seaside-bungalow-boots at
the very thought.