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 29, 2012

DODGY CHAIRMAN AND SUPPORTERS TRUSTS

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
chairman.
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
http://www.twohundredpercent.net/ website

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