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, October 29, 2013


Printed in the Berks and Bucks Quarter Final v Wycombe Wanderers Tuesday 5th November 2013  We lost 3-0 in front of 366 people. 

Years ago an article appeared in a Bishop Stortford programme asking for a collective noun to describe opposition fans. For the Rebels they came up with "a misery of Slough supporters".
Fast forward a few years and not a lot has changed. Our football club is awash with some right old miserable gits. But its fair to see that Peter Riley definetly wasn't one of them.
Sure Pete's forum jokes were poor and his eyesight was definitely going as he kept mistaking clubshop Sue for Cheryl Cole; but Peter was one of those people you wanted to be around. And one who I shared many a beer before and after a game. He was always considered and could see the best in things and was ready to praise. I think it speaks volumes of the man, when ex players like Jacko and our ex manager Steve Bateman come on to the forum not only offer their condolences but in Steve's case, recall that Peter was always willing to look him in the eye and talk tactics after a game.
When I heard the terrible news I couldn't help thinking just how unfair life is. He had just retired and finally got the grandchild him and Margaret had been waiting so long for. But the flip side of that, is that he had a good life. He had one of the closet families I've ever seen and he never thought anything of taking them out. The last time I saw him he was treating them to a trip to Egham Town. Poor old Margaret has had to put up with us in exotic locations such as our legendary away weekend in St.Neots where she must have been fascinated by our drunken reliving of a famous 1-0 victory in the curry house afterwards.

He loved to keep himself fit and told me about his little black book where he keep up to date details of his weight. He had walked to the recent away game to Maidenhead and up till recently was taking part in the Black Park 5 mile runs, encouraging Mark Bailey to come along and get fit, I think on the advice of Margaret. He was one of the Rebels that walked all the way to Woodford Town in Northamptonshire, as part of clubs tradition of walking to the last game of the season. Shame the game was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch when they got there. But he was always making sure people were ok and geeing them up with encouragement no doubt warning them that if they didn't hurry up he would unleash his joke book on them. He even cycled to a few games with Ian Lathey and his team on an old borrowed bike.
I know Glen has said how hard it will be to go to football now he wont be sharing that experience with his dad. But I hope we can see on the forum and today, that whether he likes it or not that Slough Town is his extended family. Not the sort you would like to invite round for Christmas dinner but one where we look out for each other and can have a good old moan but also raise a pint or two for Peter who served our club with honour.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The top level of football has disappeared so far up it's own arse that it's hard to understand why it's still in the sports section of papers and not the business pages. It could even have it's own banana Republic news section.  
Now I know FIFA are an easy target but even they have excelled themselves with their choice of hosts for the 2022 World Cup. But as former Supporters Direct boss Dave Boyle ponders in an excellent article on FIFA's own goal “It feels awfully like the beginning of the end for the old order.”  
Qatar is getting the football authorities all hot under the collar, because presumably they didn't realise that this Feudal dictatorship smack bang in a desert, get's quite hot in the summer. Who'd have thought! So there has been discussions about moving it. Not to another country, in response to the deaths and slave labour conditions of migrant workers building the countries infrastructure. No, they mean moving it to the winter. But Premier League top boss Richard Scudamore says any FIFA decision to do this without consultation would be "morally reprehensible." Morally or financially? Don't they know disrupting the Champions League would be a crime against humanity? 

Journalist Marina Hyde nailed it when she said "I'm not totally sure about the rules of apocalypse bingo. But I'm pretty sure that the second that people care more about how a winter World Cup will affect the Champions League schedule than the fact it's being built by slaves in a non-democracy, we all move closer to a full house."

Next stop on the FIFA gravy train is Brazil, where some silly tournament in the summer was somewhat overshadowed by the plumes of tear gas. World Cup ticket prices out of the range of most people and massive spending on stadium infrastructure, while the countries public services fall apart along with mass corruption where the final straw. The biggest wave of protests in Brazilian history meant those in the stadiums could enjoy the aroma of tear gas canisters, while a latter day Gandhi in the guise of FIFA autocrat Sepp Blatter appealed for calm. With a third of a corrupt Brazilian Congress awaiting criminal trials, these are the sort of people he likes to do business with. As one of the millions of hand-written banners had it: ‘There’s So Much Wrong It Doesn’t Fit Into One Placard’.
Of course those demonstrations wont happen in Qatar or Russia. As FIFA's general secretary Jérôme Valcke pointed out "I will say something crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup. When you have a very strong head of state who can decide, as maybe Putin can do in 2018, that is easier for us organisers than a country such as Germany … where you have to negotiate at different levels."  
As Dave Boyle points out by giving Qatar the world cup, FIFA might have sown the seeds of their own destruction. As a football spectacle World Cups are becoming dull and predictable, but messing with the all powerful European Clubs main cash cow really is making some powerful enemies. If these clubs start telling them they ain't playing ball no more, this could be the nail in their sweatshop football.  
As drunk, homosexual English fans are hung, drawn and quartered by the Qatar Morality Police while players die of heat exhaustion, FIFA will tell us how they are bringing people together. Maybe through street protests isn't quite what they had in mind.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Written for Slough Town v Merthyr Town FA Trophy 1st Qualifying round game Saturday 19th October. We lost 2-1

I never managed to get to Merthyr Tydfil during the brief period that Slough and the team from South Wales played each other in the Conference. In those days, we seemed to be permanently camped up North, leaving too late, driving too fast to away games where we would often lose not just the game but our marbles. Oh, to be young, free, single and drunk again.

Now I'm always a bit confused by Welsh football. It has shown a startling Renaissance with Swansea, Cardiff and Newport, while the Welsh National league seems to operate in a parallel universe. Where the biggest force is a team called The New Saints (which is slightly more bearable than their previous name of Total Network Solutions) who are based in England.

Merthyr are yet another club who have endured some rough times. Now supporters run, Martyrs to the Cause campaigned to get rid of their old chairman who at one point seemed to be offering to sell their Southern league place to another club! After they were liquidated, the fans began again as Merthyr Town in the Toolstation Western League Division One playing home games 20 miles away in Taffs Well. But it took them just three seasons to regain their Southern League status. A league they have won more than any other club in its history. Now thanks to a £500,000 grant they have installed a 3G pitch and are doing up their ground. Company secretary John Strand said: "The club sees this development as a springboard for the club to become a hub for football development in Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding areas." More matches on the pitch, more income, more people involved in the club. I know I sound like the pub bore with my support for artificial pitches, but they just make so much economic sense.

This is something that is going to come to a non-league head if Maidstone United win promotion to the Conference South. Their artificial pitch saw just one of their games called off last year, where grounds either resembled the Somme or Narnia. They won promotion with average crowds of 1,500 and are now flying high in the Ryman Premier. Their clued-up co-owner recently penned a very sensible letter to the Greg Dyke, the new FA chairman. “Although we took the risk of putting in 3G, other clubs don’t. One major reason is that leagues from the Conference upwards do not currently allow 3G pitches in their league competitions. We understand that the FA is unable and/or unwilling to push the cause of 3G to them because of the Premier League’s influence in your committees. Faced with this strange barrier to what could be a hugely positive business option for many football clubs, we decided to set up 3G4US, a group of 50 football clubs from Football League, Scottish League and non-league who are all in favour of 3G pitches. The Football League don’t want to take any action because they might upset the Premier League, who are against 3G and the Football Conference don’t want to take action because they don’t want to upset the Football League.
And the FA can’t show an example by giving the green light to clubs to play on 3G in the FA Cup because the PREMIER LEAGUE WON’T ALLOW IT! It’s madness and a metaphor for how football is being run in this country.”
To me Merthyr Town and Maidstone United are taking an important lead and are where Slough want to be. Playing at Arbour Vale, offering more than just football and bringing the most multi-cultural town in the country together, by cheering on the Rebels. It makes sense for it be on an artificial pitch. But I would also like us to grow the lettuces for the free range meat burgers, have compost bins and compost loos. And a club-shop that sells programmes just to annoy Sue.

Clubs need to think outside the box, if they are to build a sustainable future for themselves. And with more wet and wild weather thanks to climate change, it's those that adapt that will decide whether they either sink or swim.