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, November 24, 2013


What difference can one person make? When Graham Foghorn ex of Slough wandered along to see his adopted towns team play, he would stand behind the goal on his own and do what he excelled at as a Slough fan. Bellow out like a Foghorn. At St.Ives Town, playing in the United Counties League in front of gates that often didn't reach 3 figures this behaviour was a little bit special! And it didn't always go down well with opposition keepers and players; at one away game some officials tried to throw him out for making too much noise! 

Fast forward a few seasons and St. Ives are in the Southern League and for the first ever time facing Slough as opponents. There gates average over 200 and when I saw them on their FA Vase run a few seasons back, their fans didn't stop singing as they put Peacehaven to the sword. It was that cup run in the Vase that got people interested in them and after spending a day and night in the small market town, you got the sense that the club are now part of its fabric with every player sponsored by a local business. That as more people get involved, more want to jump on board and that the club is going places. It's a virtuous circle. 

Just a season ago Clapton of the Essex Senior League were lucky to get 25 fans at their famous but dilapidated Old Spotted Dog ground. Friends of Clapton were set up by a former committee member worried about the future of the club while at the same time a few football fans disillusioned with the way top football was being run, decided to adopt them and the Clapton Ultras were born “We are a group of friends who felt alienated or priced out of modern football. We decided to turn out back on something we no longer enjoyed and focus on something more community centric.”

As Mike Bayly on the fantastic Twohundredpercent website pointed out “Like Friends of Clapton, the Ultra's want to create something viable and long term, a true sense of community. The chance to embrace a historic club with a passionate following at a fraction of the cost.”
So if you still think one person cant make a difference, ask the man behind Non League Day which has snowballed and become a permanent and important fixture in the non league calender. Ask the fans that turned their back on Manchester United and started FC United of Manchester, now building a ground of their own in a poor area of Manchester that will massively benefit from the regeneration the ground and its fans will bring. Ask the Wimbledon fans that decided to start again. The Portsmouth fans that now run their club, the Swansea supporters that bought their club for a £1 and are now watching them play in Europe.

It only takes one person to get the ball rolling, to encourage others to get involved and things begin to change. Of course it helps if a club is winning, but to guard against the times when the football isn't that great, fans must feel part of their club.

As for the St. Ives game. Foghorn draped in a Slough and St. Ives scarf was uncharacteristically quiet, unable to shout for either team. Don't expect that to last. But the next time he exercises his vocal chords he wont be like some madman on day release shouting on his own, but part of something special. Part of the social glue that binds communities together.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Potters Bar Town Saturday 9th November 2013. We won 4-3 after being 3-0 down in front of 231 people. 

How would you like to see the world run? By groups of people getting together to improve their communities or by wealthy individuals who threaten and bully when they can't get their own way? 

Cardiff City's Malaysian owner Vincent Tan is the sort of dictator all football clubs should chase off with a sharp stick. He's already changed the teams colours from their traditional blue to red and is toying with renaming them Cardiff City Dragons. He recently replaced the chief recruitment director with a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan who is a friend of his son. He done some work experience at the club in the summer including decorating the ground so obviously knows what he's doing! The Home Office ain't impressed tho and wont issue him a work visa. No doubt Tan would love the idea of a European Superleague with no threat of relegation for clubs that get to the promised land. 

In the US, the Tea Party, which is basically UKIP with guns, shut down the whole of the American government because they didn't like the fact that people in the country might be getting some affordable healthcare. Power companies have threatened that the lights will go out, if Labour freeze prices for two years while Grangemouth workers were told by a billionaire - agree to wage cuts and worse pay and conditions or the whole plant would be shut down. Bankers crashed the world economy. Now everyone else is told to tighten their austerity belts, thanks to half our debt being created by bailing out the banks in the first place. Yet none of those responsible have gone to jail and they carry on regardless. Imagine if me or you or trade unions had shut the country down or brought it to its economic knees. What do you think these people and the papers would be saying? 

Now I’ve got this crazy idea that a healthy society is one that supports everyone not just the rich few. And i'm not alone. There's an upsurge of of a co-operative movement that includes shops, pubs, and football teams. FC United of Manchester, the club formed by supporters who had finally had enough of the Theatre of Corporate Dreams, will start work on their new community stadium this month, funded in part by selling £1.6 million of community shares. Pubs are closing at a rate of 18 a week, and co-operative ownership is becoming an increasingly recognised solution. Residents of Moulsecoomb (where i live!) on the outskirts of Brighton are trying to open the first co-op pub on a housing estate. But The Bevendean will be so much more than just a pub with everything from cooking lessons, veg growing, health checks, job clubs, credit unions, repair workshops as well as a place to get a decent pint and meal at affordable prices. Somewhere for the community to meet, something that the community owns and can get involved in running. There are now over 300 co-operative shops with a further 30 in the pipeline. There is a phone co-op, energy co-ops, supermarket, libraries and swimming pools. And while its worth asking the question why such an important facilities like Grangemouth are in private hands in the first place, we might be holding our breath, waiting for governments to do anything to challenge the status quo. 

But we can make a difference now. Its bloody hard work and takes a lot of commitment to get these co-operatives to work; but if we want our lives not to be dominated by billionaires while making our communities stronger and better places to live, I’d like to know what's the alternative to people coming together to make a difference.