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.

Friday, September 07, 2012

HOMELESS HEADACHES


Printed in the Southern League division one central game v Woodford United on Tuesday 4th September 2012. We won 4-0 in front of 193 people.

Is everyone from Slough? It seems that whenever I mention where I’m from or don the amber and blue, half the world’s population have lived, had a job there or at least smelt the old sewage farm along the M4. You only have to look at our forum to see how Slough fans have been scattered across the land.
So it was no surprise when the bloke I was talking to in the burger queue said he was from Slough. The guy had moved to nearby Ruislip and was supporting Wealdstone who had settled there and whose crowds and fortunes are on the up.

About 150 Stones fans had made the trip to the Dripping Pan, the delightful home of Lewes FC. Being Lewes when he got to the front of the queue he was offered various posh cheese options on his burger before he muttered ‘er, just normal burger cheese please.’
12.30 is too early for a bank holiday kick off, but thanks to crap boy band crooners JLS playing at Hove cricket club later all the local stewards had been bagged so it had to be this time. It’s obviously two early for players as well, as we looked to be heading for a dire 0-0 draw until a soft penalty in the 81st   for Lewes gave them their first win of the season.

Wealdstone were the non league team and in 1985 became the first ever club to achieve the FA Trophy and Conference double but there was no automatic promotion to the football league in those days. Just six years later their chairman had sold their ground to a supermarket, the club were homeless and receiving little money from the sale began a nomadic existence that has lasted 20 years and seen them groundshare at Watford, Yeading, Northwood and Edgware Town. Now they are at Ruislip Manors old ground. But with just six years left to run on the lease who knows what will happen next.

There's also the small matter of the Prince Edward Playing Fields in Harrow. The site had fallen into complete disuse and the club saw it as the solution to their homelessness as well as being in the borough where the club began. They spent a staggering ten years getting all the necessary planning permissions and by the time construction finally started they had put some 300,000 into the project. However it was hindered by various problems and just a year later the private company paying the builders went into liquidation leaving a 70% built stadium. In 2006 Harrow Council put the unfinished ground up for tender and Barnet FC won the bid. Wealdstone still retain the right to play if the ground is completed but on terms that make it no more than a very expensive ground share with no income available from the social facilities or any part of the site.

As Nick DuGard, Press Officer at Wealdstone wrote "In effect Stones had spent 10 years finding, planning, lobbying, funding and partly completing a football facility for absolutely naught, zilch and zero. Is it any wonder that Wealdstone supporters and those close to the club are a little emotional about the currant situation? Wealdstone's toil and dogged effort seems to have been all but forgotten. Barnet however are lauded for this great new facility now known as 'The Hive' by Harrow Council."

Barnet have themselves been locked in a battle with their council over plans to upgrade their ground. They identified one site but this has been handed to Saracens rugby club on a peppercorn rent. They see Prince Edward Playing Fields as a temporary solution if they are forced out of their ground. But as Nick DuGard points out "This is indeed an ironic situation not lost on the supporters of both clubs - a club from outside the Borough of Harrow, being forced into it, will now be replacing a side being forced to play outside its traditional home of Harrow."

For Slough fans these tails of homeless woe will strike a chord and we know that getting your own ground in your own patch is a bloody headache but essential if any team is to thrive and prosper. 

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