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.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

BLOATERS, FREEBIES AND BLUE-SKY THINKING

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
farce.
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.

2 Comments:

Anonymous henry manguzi said...

Hi I enjoyed reading your comments .and all though I've not been to see the bloaters play I will try to in the future.I am not a fan of football but understand how much others enjoy it and it is a way of giving many young people an interest in sport I wish all the club members well and fans in Gt yarmouth and all the best for the future.ps they could do with a new stand toilets and club house.fond regards harry

7:56 am

 
Blogger incawill said...

I'm currently living (4 years) in Peru after 10 years in SL1.

Reading comments like yours makes me homesick in a way and i hope Slough and the Bloaters are successful in the many years to come ...

6:41 pm

 

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