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.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

WHEN THE SINGING STOPS

Printed in the play off semi final game v Beaconsfield Thursday 3rd
May 2012. We lost 2-1 and for the third year in a row lost in the play
offs. Gutted.


What a fantastic send off for Chris Sliski. The nearest you will get
to a Slough Town state funeral! Slough Crematorium was packed to the
rafters with hundreds of mourners and many unable to get in.
Afterwards we crammed into Farnham Park, home of our junior teams and
I chatted to his friends and relatives. One told me how he was known
as No Problem, organizing family trips abroad, taking it all in his
stride ‘if there was a nuclear bomb going off down the road, Chris
would say no problem.’

Other conversations were how Slough Town were going to cope without
Chris. No one will ever be able to fill his boots especially as he did
the work of three or four people. As the amber and blue balloons were
released outside the crematorium, his wife Julie said if he was here
today he wouldn’t be listening to her speaking but sweeping up in some
corner.

While there will only ever be one unique Chris Sliski, there are
people just like him up and down the country keeping small non league
football clubs going through their dedication and hard work. I spotted
one of them the other Saturday at Rottingdean Village FC. With
St.Neots the champions coupled with Chris’s death, my hearts not
really been in the last few Rebel games, so I hunted around with some
friends to see what lower league offers were on the table. Rottingdean
were playing Saltdean United, the away side needing to win to try and
make sure their ended up as champions of the Sussex County League
Division Three – a mere 11 leagues below the Premiership!

Now exposed just doesn’t do the ground justice, which is really only
one step up from park football. There’s a metal railing fencing it
off, but no floodlights mean no FA Cup or FA Vase adventures and being
in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty their not likely to get any
soon either. Only in the old dugouts could you find some cover and I
hate to think what it’s like in the winter. It didn’t seem appropriate
to sing ‘more sheep than fans’ but there were. The football wasn’t
great but I certainly wasn’t going to mock any players with just 40
people in the crowd. In any case, the passion was there and what more
can you ask for? Well in Saltdean keepers case, a mars bar in the
second half which he needed to stop himself fainting!

Rottingdean Village football club share their clubhouse with the
cricket club, which seems a sensible move and you could watch both
games simultaneously hoping not to be hit by either ball. The social
club was well stocked with food and drinks and we soon clocked the old
guy behind the bar. He would later sell us a programme for two pounds
which included the entry fee (no turnstiles just walking along hoping
people were honest enough to cough up). As I beat the rush for some
half time chips and a cup of tea, who do you think was serving me? Did
he actually see any of the game? I wish I had taken the time to
properly chat and shake his hand.

We need more community spirited people like Mr.Rottingdean and
Mr.Slough Town. We are lucky at our club that a lot of people do help
out, but there is always room for more. I read a piece on Needham
Market FC, population 5,000, average gates 250 and management
committee of 30! That’s a club on the up.

So here’s to ninety, possibly one hundred and twenty, possibly
penalties gut wrenching minutes. Where you spend half your time
singing, the other looking away. I just hope we haven’t blown
promotion. I know a certain Chris Sliski would have a word in all our
ears, put an exasperated post on the forum telling us to get behind
the team.

But whatever happens, we should all remember that when the singing
stops and the game is over, that there is a role for all of us with a
few spare hours a week to get involved in their local club to make
them stronger. Without that help then there would be a lot less games
of football to watch in this country.

And as another Slough Town legend SuperKev the Physio said to me about
being one of the pall-bearers ‘Chris had been carrying the club for so
many years; the least I could do was carry him.’

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