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.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

THE NATURE OF SUPPORT


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.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Pete said...

Just to clarify..the'wretched' drummer still goes home and away, and if you think we didn't add and even lead the atmosphere at Wexham Park, then you're wrong. Oh, and Roger the bugle player still goes too.

7:55 pm

 

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