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, February 19, 2012


“Surely the most gloriously undervalued resident in most towns is the
local historian. There can’t be a task in the community that brings
less of a boost to the ego than compiling books with titles such as
‘Tring Between The Wars’ and ‘When Andover had Three Fishmongers.’”
Mark Steel’s ‘In Town – one man’s tour of modern Britain’ recalls his
comedy jaunts around the country. Despite Tesco’s, Starbucks and
ringroads slicing up and doing their best to make everywhere look the
bloody same, you can still find individuality and quirkiness in each
of our towns and cities. Marks magic trick is to chat to locals and
trawl through obscure historical books then put these into words that
make you laugh.
And I do love a bit of history, especially the social kind rather than
the tedious King and Queen kind. I once helped embarrass the Alpha
Arms boffins with a quiz just about the history of Slough. They
floundered and complained like a Premiership manager that it wasn’t
fair they hadn’t won that week because I’d asked them questions they
didn’t know. But surely living somewhere should make you curious of
what went on before, especially in Slough when you hear the ‘Come
Friendly Bombs’ crap a thousand times and think just one more time pal
and I’m stick a Slough made Mars Bar where the sun don’t shine.
When Mark Steel prepares to launch his jokes at another unsuspecting
town he asks on twitter for any specific facts about the place. I
always like to bore him with gems like ‘Andover: Their senior footie
club folded after 125 years at the beginning of this season & rabbits
dug up their pitch season before’ or ‘You want to know about Windsor?
The footie club - 6 leagues below Palace - went bust owing £243,000!’
Which is probably why I have a column in the Slough Town programme
while he writes books, goes on comedy tours and appears on TV.
Somehow through wit and wisdom he makes chapters on Basingstoke,
Crawley and Milton Keynes interesting and funny. I love his chapter on
Lewes as he gets swept up in the Bonfire Night celebration mayhem. I
just wish some of this passion was present during their games at the
Dripping Pan. And who knew ‘Old King Cole’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little
Star’ was penned in Colchester. Not that I heard their fans take pride
in their heritage and sing them on the terraces when they beat us in
an FA Cup game some years ago.
The book also rings a bell because of its very similar to following
the comedy non league journeys of your average Slough Town fan. OK we
might try and avoid Merthyr Tydfil’s Britain’s Roughest Pub in Merthyr
Tydfil’s and instead plump for a nice ale house in Chalfont St.Peters
and chat to a guy who used to do the turnstiles until he fell out with
the club cos they painted the fence the wrong colour or something. But
in my 35 years of supporting the Rebels I have been catapulted to the
far reaches of the country. From Truro to Gateshead with plenty of
Midlands and Manchester teams inbetween. I even met a man in a pub in
Macclesfield who said he never went to support his local team, cos
they never come and see him when he’s bad.
Near the end of the book there’s also great hope for the future, that
perhaps we might tire of corporations and bureaucrats that want to
make everywhere the same. “Maybe one day Tesco stores will be turned
into music venues and cinemas, old people’s homes and adventure
playgrounds for kids.” We can but hope.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


This should have been printed in the Southern League Central Division
match v North Greenford United on Saturday 4th February 2012 but the
game was called off thanks to a frozen pitch.

I’m starting to feel like Slough Towns foreign correspondence; stuck
in the wilds of Sussex unable to get another game, sending reports
back from the frontline. I did manage to get the train to Aylesbury to
see us lose but even when I was in Slough at Christmas I couldn’t make
it to Beaconsfield. So overworked, tired and needing to keep an eye on
two little boys, I decided instead to make the shop trip to Three
Bridges FC for the first time to see their  FA Vase 4th round replay
against Gresley.
Since Creepy-Crawley brought their way into the football with their
charming manager, Three Bridges now proudly proclaim they are the
‘Number 1 non-League Football Club in Crawley.’ I don’t want to be
rude, but that’s not the best marketing pitch I’ve ever heard. And
just how many teams are their in Crawley?
Three Bridges are one of the better Sussex County League teams, a
league now under siege with the Football Associations planned re-organisation of Step 5 of the football pyramid. There are 14 national
leagues playing at Step 5 and the FA wants to cut the number to 12 to
match the number of promotion places up for grabs each season. The
Sussex County League would probably still continue but would lose its
top 13 sides, which is exactly the same situation as the Ryman League
was in a few years ago when the Conference South was created. Some
clubs and officials have quite rightly complained of the increasing
costs of travelling this re-organisation will cause with many Sussex
clubs getting by on very low attendances. But as the FA pointed out,
the Northern League teams have to do a lot of travelling, so, er,
Gresley meanwhile were formed out of the ashes of Gresley Rovers who
went downhill after ground grading rules denied them a place in the
Football Conference in 1997. In 2009 they went bust and a new club,
without the rovers, returned in the East Midlands Counties League.
They now find themselves in the Midland Football Alliance playing in
front of gates of 300 plus. At least half of these made the trip down
from Derbyshire and when I walked past one Bridges pub, seemed to be
very well oiled and in fine singing voice but as if is often the case
on these occasions there are always a few brain dead idiots ready to
spoil things. Still I do hope most of them remember what is without
doubt the best cup game I have seen this season.
In the first half Gresley battered their hosts but the Bridges keeper
Simon Lenkyj was in fantastic form even saving a penalty kick. Against
the run of play Bridges went a goal in front before the away team
equalized at the beginning of the second. Not long after Lenkyj went
off injured and you feared the floodgates would open. But even when
they had a man harshly sent off, Bridges had dragged themselves back
into this game, and if some of their strikers had their shooting boots
on they would have won in normal time. As the cold seeped into the
bones of the 308 crowd, Bridges Abu Touray scored a fantastic goal
with 11 minutes of extra time remaining. But with four minutes to go
Gresley substitute Rob Spencer hit an unstoppable half volley and we
were into penalties. As each person scored I wondered if I would ever
get home, until at sudden death a Bridges player had his penalty saved
to make it 7-6 to Gresley. Players and supporters from the Derbyshire
team went mental, and unlike the FA Trophy there really is something
special still about the FA Vase.
They are now in the last 16 of the Vase on a 21 games unbeaten run and
face Foghorns St.Ives away in Cambridgeshire next.