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.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


It was my mate in the pub that asked the simple question, as I tried to explain that Shoreham’s second FA Cup victory this season meant they were now in the first Qualifying round. Confusing? ‘What’s with all these qualifying rounds, why not round one, two, three’ he sensibly quipped?
Which is just the point Damon Threadgold from the fabulous realfacup made in his article on how to improve the competition. "Change the names of the rounds to be more inclusive. The current 1st round is actually the 7th round of the competition, let's not pretend it isn't. This separatism suggests non league sides don't count and are playing in a different competition just to get into the real competition, a feeling exemplified by the exclusionist colloquialism for the 1st Round onwards, the 'propers'."
So onto round two of the FA Cup and it’s a welcome return to Middle Road, after the Musselmen of Shoreham beat Dorking 4-1 away in the extra preliminary round (see, it’s confusing). Today’s opponents were Walton Casuals who aren’t a punk band from the seventies managed by Jimmy Pursey or an English Defence League splinter group but a team from Surrey playing in the Ryman League Division One South.
The match had been in doubt as Shoreham had to cancel two home games over the Bank Holiday. Not due to the weather but because of 50 caravans encircling their ground!
The travellers were gone, replaced with war planes as Shoreham air-port with its Grade II art deco building hosted its annual weekend air-show.

This is where I could get all clever with war-planes and puns on Hurricane and Spitfires but well, I’m not clever enough for that. Neither was one of Walton Casuals players whose orange clad team-mates were dazzling Shoreham with their football and had taken a 1-0 lead after just 10 minutes. It looked like it could be a landslide. One of them shouted to another ‘calm down, we are 1-0 up’ but I reckon when you are in a such a commanding position you should go for the jugular.
I’ve been to Walton and Hersham many times before. They were the team who scored a last minute goal at Wembley to beat Slough in the FA Amateur cup final in 1973 in front of 41,000. Which is a few more than the 63 in attendance today.
So Casuals are they young Walton upstarts formed by soldiers just after the war who only became a senior football team 18 years ago and been in the Ryman league just seven. Last weekend they turned over their neighbours.
Shoreham compete a level below in the Sussex County League Division One and a new broom has arrived at Middle Road after many a season of flirting with relegation. New chairman, new manager, new players, new bulbs on the floodlights. The place is all spick and span and still does tea in a mug. What’s not to like?
The Casuals goal-fest didn’t come and somewhat surprisingly Shoreham equalized in the 38 minute. In the second half Shoreham looked so much more assured and went in front. The last 10 minutes Casuals rained balls at their goal but to not effect and it finished 2-1 to Shoreham and a trip in the next round to everyone’s favourite pink and navy club Dulwich Hamlet.
Financially Shoreham pocket £1,925 for this round making it nearly three and a half grand so far. Which is not to be sniffed. But do the winners of the FA Cup playing in round fifteen (and with all due respect to Shoreham, I suspect it won’t be them lifting the cup) really need  £1.8 million quid?

Thanks to Shoreham's official photography Mike Dinsdale for letting me use his photos. More action shots here 
Andy the photographer was also there Saturday. You can view his photos here 

Monday, September 02, 2013


I'm printing this article earlier, as news emerges that 140 year old Kettering Town are to be wound up with debts of 58k.
The same day Gareth Bale swapped clubs for 85 million.
Which tells you all you need to know about football.
Let's hope the Kettering fans can sort something out of this mess and start a new club again. Great supporters who don't deserve this.

One minute you’re drawing against Leeds in the FA Cup, the next you are losing to the villagers of Barton Rovers. At your third ground in as many seasons on a Tuesday night four leagues below the Conference.
How the hell did it come to this Kettering Town! A brief look at their recent history would make for a great comedy sketch if, as usual, it wasn’t the fans taking the can.
Their chairman sacked their assistant manager the night they played Leeds, run up debts of 1.4 million then let George Rolls take over. A man so dodgy even the FA had to ban him from running a football club. Paul Gascoigne was manager for about 24 seconds. They’ve since played games with just 10 players and had to move from Rusden’s ground to Corby’s cos they couldn’t afford the electricity bills at Nene Park.
So when Slough turned up the other week, let’s just say both sets of fans had some serious empathizing to do.
It wasn’t so long ago that we had some proper ding-dong battles with Kettering in the Conference. A pulsating 3-3 draw in front of a few thousand. Hanging on for dear life for a point with our mental Aussie keeper Sean Lahiff keeping the ball out of the net in the last minute with his face.
Kettering always seemed to me like a league club on the cusp – much more so than clubs like Macclesfield, Rushden and Diamonds and Accrington Stanley.
But now they are homeless with their proper old school Rockingham Road ground just pushing up the daisies (or the poppies in their case). They are in free fall with a football team that would give headless chicken a run for their money. But they still have great support and at least their new groundshare is in Kettering at Burton Latimer.
This support is something I pondered on our supporters coach on the way home. Now I don’t want to rude to our loyal fans but the coach reminded me of the OAP coaches that rack up in Brighton at Christmas with everyone swapping tales of hospital food and the lack of parking at Wexham Park. At least they have Sue to cheer them up and flog them Slough Town pillow cases.
Being homeless and playing out of Slough means our support is ever aging. The odd young ‘un can be seen at the ground, bribed with chocolate by Sue the child snatcher. The club is run prudently, a lot of people are helping behind the scenes and the building blocks for the future like the Academy are in place but until we get to Arbour Vale this age thing is going to be a problem.
When I was young (see, I’m sounding like an old git now, that supporters coach is infectious) I used to cycle to games. You’d have to be a nutter or Mark Bailey on a triathlon training suicide mission to attempt that now up the Farnham Road
So instead we are left with a diminishing number of people willing to get behind the team and beginning to all sound, as Bishop Stortford fans put it so well “a misery of Slough supporters.” Waving our sticks at anyone who will listen, shouting ‘I remember Terry Reardon.’
So where are the young vocal scallywags who don’t care that we used to play in front of thousands, who couldn’t give a toss about Wycombe Wanderers or that we once played at Wembley? Who just want to go along, get behind their team, sing their songs and have a laugh.

As for Kettering, well just when you think you have grabbed footballs shitty stick, take a butcher at Farnborough. Hopelessly in debt for the second time in a decade, the corporate brains at Paddy Power decided to bribe all their players and hilariously rename them things like Pele, Messi and Maradona. How the Conference laughed, refusing to let them play until they cough up 100k. Poppycock, I say, just poppycock.