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.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

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.

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