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, January 29, 2012


Printed in the Southern League Central Division league match v
Chertsey Town on Saturday 28th January 2012. We won 3-0 in front of
278 to stay top of the league.

Our best season in a long time and I’ve only managed to see Slough
play just once this year. Blame it on the newest addition to our
family. Albie Thomas Carter was born early one cold and frosty morning
in January. Second time round is a lot less daunting; certainly none
of that fear as you sit at home holding your first fragile little baby
with the terrifying realization that you are now responsible for
another human being.
So not wanting to chance missing the birth, my trips to Slough were
curtailed. But not of course my football fix. Early one Saturday
morning, my Albion supporting mate appeared with two tickets for me
and Ruben to go and watch them play Wrexham in an FA Cup 3rd round
game. I’d already heard the local chip shop guy tell a customer that
Brighton were playing in the first round of the cup. Well, excuse me;
I think your find that there’s been nine rounds before this one. As I
drank in the nearest pub to the stadium, full of more fans than most
teams we play usually get at a home game, I didn’t want to tell the
Brighton supporters, that being a non league fan and a football
romantic, I wanted Wrexham to win. OK Wrexham aren’t really proper non
league, they’ve just found themselves temporarily in the Conference
thanks to; yes, you’ve guessed it, a succession of dodgy owners who
brought them to the brink. It was just a few weeks before, after a 10
year fight against property speculators, that the club are now
supporters owned. Walking up the tunnel into the stadium of 19,000 the
noise had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and I was
hoping to have one of those stadium announcements to tell me to go
home immediately cos my missus was having a baby. Ruben was a little
less impressed when I told him he had to sit down for the whole of the
game. (mind you I was cheered by the news that Aston Villa are to look
at standing only areas at Villa Park).
In the end the two thousand noisy Welsh fans cheered Wrexham onto a
replay and a few more quid in the bank. Money that will go to running
the football club rather than lining the pockets of some dodgy
It was great to hear some good news about Wrexham after a particularly
bad month for lower league football. Once again Darlington are
teetering on the brink, going into their third administration in 8
years and this could be their last. Lumbered with a 25,000 stadium
thanks to ex chairman, egotist and convicted fraudster George
Reynolds. Three sides of it are mothballed to save on those costs, and
gates have unsurprisingly, slowly slid down from what the club got at
their old ground of Feethams, one of the loveliest in the league. Then
there’s Kettering, who seem to have given up on, well being in
Kettering and have moved into another defunct conference clubs ground
Rushden and Diamond. They are in such a financial mess they can’t even
find the £3,000 that they owe to Essex Senior League club Southend
Manor for gate receipts from their FA Cup match in October. Meanwhile
Northwich Victoria have been thrown out of their ground, as a way of
paying off previous chairmans debts.
As one Slough fan put it ‘To a lesser extent the Conference is doing
to the rest of non-league football what the Premier League is doing to
the football league.’
Then there’s Croydon Athletic, the first team we beat on our way to
that famous FA Cup victory against Walsall not so long ago and the
only ground I’ve been served a cheese toastie. On the 17th January
they gave formal notice to quit the Isthmian league with immediate
effect. Croydon Athletic were only formed in 1986 and had risen
quickly up the leagues, but they never really recovered from their
chairmans Mazhar Majeed cricketing match fixing scandal when they were
investigated for money laundering.
Now Brighton have had their moments; dodgy chairman sold their ground,
one kick away from being in the Conference, groundsharing at
Gillingham, then playing in a soulless athletics stadium. But as they
scrambled up for air their ex chairman realized to survive they had to
embed themselves in the community and so ‘Albion in the community
begun. This award winning work (of which my eldest and his school
really benefit from) is something all clubs at all levels of the game
should aim for. They deserve their fantastic shiny new stadium for
that alone.
The following week and still no baby, so off I went dragging Ruben and
his mate to  another community club. Lewes were about to part with the
manager Steve King for a second time. His wide boy image never really
fitted with the politest club I’ve ever visited. Kingstonian were the
opponents and again, chatting to their fans, they have had their
troubles from (I know, I know this is getting a bit repetitive) a
dodgy chairman.
Not wanting to alarm me or our passengers my missus told us when we
got home that she was having contractions in the carpark as she waited
for the game to finish. A baby rook would have been fitting. As it was
we had to wait another 33 hours before little Albie appeared.
At the heart of all this, is that supporters must be involved in the
running of clubs. We are very lucky with a chairman like Steve
Easterbrook who is trying to put building blocks in place to make sure
the club are on solid foundations. The announcement of the new SloughTown Academy
is one of those building blocks.
Steve recognises the importance of community involvement and the
crucial role that the supporters trust plays in running the football
club. He told me “We are very fortunate at Slough Town FC to have a
supporter’s trust that not only raises much needed funds but also
greatly assists in the running of the club. The focus at the club
today is driven by community involvement and financial stability. In
the past twelve months we have launched Slough Town Youth and the new
Football Academy and the Trusts support and help has been key.”
So is it child cruelty to subject another Brighton boy to support The
Rebels of Slough? Perhaps, but with two community clubs on his
doorstep and lots of lower level options available, I won’t give them
a hard time if they choose to cheer on any of those. But I might stop
their pocket money.

* For more information on the Slough Town Supporters Trust and how to
join, please visit the supporter hut during a home match.

* Keep up to date with clubs in crisis at the excellent website

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Printed in the Southern League Central Division Saturday 14th January
2012 v Uxbridge. We won 2-0 in front of 310 people to stay 9 points
clear at the top.

I’ve only been to Great Yarmouth once and that was by mistake. We took
a wrong turning on our Norfolk Broads canal holiday and started
drifting out to sea. We’d already hit a boat and a bridge – let’s just
say that our canal boat driving skills left a lot to be desired. That
was over 20 years ago, but Great Yarmouth was an old fashioned seaside
resort with two piers, a long sandy beach, funfair, arcades and chips.
So I don’t quite know why the Savethebloaters twitter tag grabbed my
attention. Too much Christmas cheer and idle holiday time to spend
reading the twitter feed of a one man and his young daughters campaign
to save the club from oblivion with his Bloater bucket standing in
shop doorways, getting the cold shoulder from people and not much
spare change.
Currently bottom with just one win and six points and an average gate
of just 91 they couldn’t fulfill one fixture because not enough
players turned up and lost a recent home game 8-1. After going though
a similar thing with Slough maybe it was easier for me to empathise.
Founders and longest serving members of the Eastern Counties Football
League their old grandstand is the world's oldest football stand in
regular use, having been opened in 1892.
But from small acorns, mighty oaks and all that and you should never
underestimate what a few determined people can do to make a
difference. As twitter followers increased, so did items in the news
and people coming forward to help. The amazing thing is that their
debt is just five grand which is what Wayne Rooney probably earns
while he’s picking his nose. But more than that it was about reminding
people that if they want a local football club then some of them have
to get involved in helping to run it.
Another place, another financial car crash. Last season Windsor and
Eton FC went bust after 118 years of history owing an incredible
£283,000. They reformed at the same level as Great Yarmouth Town and
have promised to be more sensible this time round. Well they’ve
definitely showed a lot more marketing savvy than the last regime by
offering free entry to everyone on the bank holiday Tuesday after
Christmas. Instead of the average 150-200 crowd, 806 turned up to
watch Windsor FC beat Egham Town. Along with the free entry was a hog
roast, lasagna, soup, chocolate brownies and face-painting for kids.
The guest beers were drunk dry and the bumper souvenir programmes sold
out. As one of their supporters put it ‘Programme, hog roast, beer,
family - I'm going to end up spending more than I normally would at a
game. Genius.’ And if just a few of those fans become regulars; well,
job done.
The truth is, with so many other activities to grab people’s attention
and with people feeling the pinch; clubs need to be open to some
serious blue-sky thinking to get more fans through the gates.
Football blog ‘The Ball is Round’ put together a manifesto on the
future of non league football that deserves a read. Their nine point
plan includes creating co-operation partnership agreements between
Premier League/Football League clubs and Non League teams similar to
the Hyde United/Manchester City model. Free entry to Under 16’s. Allow
fans to drink beer on the terraces whilst watching the game. Make Non
League Day a firm fixture in the calendar. Scrap the ground grading
Most of this isn’t rocket science. Of course this shouldn’t be left to
one man and his daughter collecting cash or a chairman struggling to
get others involved. We can all do our bit for our clubs but clubs
should also be open to new ideas and possibilities, otherwise we will
see a lot more teams disappearing in the years to come.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Published in the Southern League Central Division game v Marlow on
Monday 2nd January 2012. We won 3-0 in front of 374 and stay seven
points clear at the top of the league.

I’ve been getting the train to Slough far too early on a Saturday
morning recently to chat to my Nan about her life, recording and
writing it up for future family members to peruse. Anyone who lived in
London during the Second World War has a story to tell and what a
story it’s turning out to be. On Saturday I got the full run down on
Scottish Stores Pub in Kings Cross that my Aunt Bet and Uncle Alf used
to run. A hang out for soldiers, prostitutes, gangs and gay men; let’s
just say it was very rough and ready. On one occasion when a fight
broke out, my granddad asked a copper to come and help. When he found
out which pub, he impolitely declined and headed the other way down
the street!

In Brighton we have Queens Park Books, a prolific publisher of local
history whose byline is ‘everyone has a story to tell.’  And I love
the warts and all stories I am getting from my Nan rather than the
rose tinted ‘good old days’ view of the world we often get as time
passes. There’s also another phrase – ‘those who forget the past are
condemned to repeat it’. But this maxim applies to football as much as
foreign policy.

All of us are ready to have a good old moan up, and football
supporters can be the most ungrateful. Take Dario Gradi, Crew
Alexandra’s manager for 26 years who’s recently been coming under fire
from supporters after an indifferent second season in the leagues
basement division. But who can do what Gradi does? There was a time
where Crewe were regularly able to generate huge income from the sale
of star players, but no such thing has happened for three seasons and
top clubs are now poaching lower league younger players all the time.
All this has left Gradi with absolutely no power in the transfer
market: Nine of the players in one match had progressed through the
academy ranks. This commitment to youth, alongside his commitment to
attacking football is surely something to be cherished?  I understand
it must be really frustrating for those that remember eight seasons in
the Championship but what do Crewe fans propose? Looking for a sugar
daddy that can supply a cheap shot in the arm for a few seasons before
the club becomes a financial car crash and ends up in administration?

For Slough fans the Conference days weren’t so long ago and we joked
with a Wycombe fan in a Chalfont pub just how different each clubs
fortunes have been. These car crash days are still very fresh in our
memories. Wycombe still sing songs about how much they love us and
with their perilous finances who knows, we might be meeting on equal
terms sooner than we think.

As I write these notes we are top of the league, which was not
something many of us would have bet on after that first half display
against Bedworth. The visitors should have been out of sight and would
have if it hadn’t been for some poor finishing, fantastic goalkeeping
and a sending off. But footballs about taking chances and in the
second half we bundled in two goals. With the rain pouring down, the
shed end was packed and the crowd was in fine voice. So how about
watching a team in the Conference South in our new ground off the
Stoke Road please.

We can all help drive the club forward by chipping in to help. Joining
the Supporters Trust, offering to help on matchdays, running the
turnstiles, stewarding (which seems to also include handing out
chocolates in the job description), writing and selling programmes,
flogging golden goal and raffle tickets, collecting wayward balls
during games, walking stupidly long distances at the end of the
season, sponsoring our players. Perhaps most importantly, for the
clubs finances, dragging new and old supporters to come along and
watch a winning side!

It’s looking like this could be a very good New Year.