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.


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