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, December 22, 2013


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Uxbridge Saturday 21st December 2013. We lost 2-1 in front of 275 people.

Anyone who see's me on a Saturday, will know that its the day I like to help our struggling pubs. Especially on away days, Nigel the Windsor Rebel always manages to find a little watering hole where the Dads Army can meet and chew over the Slough Town fat. Which is why every time I see a boarded up pub or one converted into another poxy supermarket my heart sinks. Where are people meant to meet, to celebrate, to gossip about the days events, if there are no community spaces left?

Despite living in swinging Brighton, on my estate and the one next too it, both our local pubs have been shut for a few years. That's 18,000 people without their local boozer. So when the Old Bevendean Hotel came up for sale and looked like it might become more poxy student flats, a few of us came up with a cunning plan to re-open it as the first co-op pub on a housing estate in the country. That was in December 2010 and since then I’ve lost count of the amount of hours we've spent in meetings, wading through documents and hanging out with the local Vicar. Just how much time can you spend talking about a bloody pub?

Now co-op pubs are happening up and down the country (23 so far) along with co-op shops (over 300), libraries, swimming pools, phone and energy cooperatives. People getting off their backsides and deciding they can run things better themselves. We raised £70,000 ourselves, over half from selling community shares. Infact we have the most co-op members of any pub in the country but unfortunately not the richest and that has been the problem so far – with nearly all the co-op pubs and shops happening in posh areas.

Then we got the phone call about a month ago. We have been successful in getting a £130,000 grant from the Social Investment Business.

It will not only be somewhere for the people of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean and Brighton to meet but an example to other working class estates of what can be done. From the Brownies to art groups, Albion in the community to health services, credit union to repair workshops, the range of groups saying they will use the Bevy shows that it will be so much more than just a pub

It feels fantastic that we are not only playing our part in reversing pub closures but also coming up with a model of how pubs need to change if they are to survive.

Father John Wall, the vicar of Moulsecoomb said "This grant is an amazing vote of confidence in our vision for our Community! I have always said every decent neighbourhood deserves a good Church and a good Pub: now in Moulsecoomb we'll have both: "the Bevy" will be a Community Hub for all ages to meet, relax and join together, and now it'll happen within the next few months. I can't wait for the first pint to be pulled!"
We've still got a lot of work to do, and need money for our community kitchen and garden which is why we are re-issuing shares. But in the meantime you can also help with struggling pubs around Slough. Residents are trying to turn The Bull Inn in Iver Heath into a co-op pub and the Golden Harp, Furze Platt Road, Maidenhead is trying to stop Tesco's turning it into a convenience store.

People need somewhere to gather otherwise our communities become fragmented and people become isolated.

But for just a moment forget the depressing news that 18 boozers are closing a week – this is one that is going to re-open. We only went and bloody did it! (now can Slough get their new ground and promotion please, for the icing on the cake).

Sunday, December 08, 2013


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v AFC Hayes. We lose 2-1 in front of 240 people.

If you were a member of the FA what would be the burning issues you'd be tackling? Our dismal coaching system that is gearing up for yet another England team ready to embarrassed, outplayed and out thought at an international tournament? Betting scams? Players wages and the spiraling cost of watching football? So many clubs on the brink of administration? Grassroots football suffering from terrible playing conditions? The issue of 4G pitches?

Or what about the fit and proper rule which is so lax it has allowed a company like Sisu to take Coventry City to the brink of extinction. Sisu are one of those vampire corporations; a hedge fund specialising in 'distressed debt', using money from unnamed sources via the Cayman Islands for what they hoped would be easy money from Coventry being in the Premiership. Instead they are playing 35 miles away at Northampton Town in League One in front of the smallest crowds in the division as supporters boycott their games. Meanwhile Coventry's new council owned stadium lays dormant while Sisu play a game of brinkmanship with the council waiting for them to sell the ground and land around it for a pittance.

Up and down the country, we have clubs in similar financial distress. So you would think the FA would have their hands full. But think again. Rather than tackle these bigger issues, better to come down like a tonne of bricks on the small fry.

At a midweek League Cup game against Uxbridge in front of about 100 people, someone decided to streak across the far end of the pitch at Slough Town. Not the cleverest thing to do but no harm done, lots of discussion in the local paper, people laughed it off and everyone felt the bloke, who isn't a regular supporter, must have lost a bet or something. The referee didn't even report it. And we don't even know if the streaker had small fry cos he kept his red pants on.

But for the FA this is no laughing matter, they have warned the club and say the police might become involved.

Fair enough if there had been a punch up, racist chanting, or he'd cut the goal posts cut down with a chainsaw as the opposition were about to take a penalty.

But really FA get real. Slough Town is the same as so many small clubs up and down the country, run on a shoestring mainly by volunteers who do so cos they love their club. It has stewards who keep the 300 Dads Army at bay from ripping opposition supporters heads off and eating their brains. But often the stewards most taxing job is handing out sweets.

So what the bloody hell are the club meant to do? If the FA can't stop people running on the pitch at Wembley in the crunch World Cup Qualifying game against Poland how can Slough stop some bloke from running on at the far end of the pitch where hardly any supporter were?

This behaviour reminds me of the tax office who threaten small business with pain of death if they don't pay up on time, but have tea and cake with companies like Vodaphone and ask politely if they wouldn't mind paying the odd pence occasionally. These big companies threaten they will leave the country if they have to pay taxes, and clubs threaten they will leave for a European super league if the FA say nasty things about the Premiership so they back off.

It's much easier to pick on the Slough's of this world. No one could really care less about the small footballing fish at the bottom of the pyramid barrel unless they go all romantic and have a run in the FA Cup. They need a helping hand from the footballing authorities not a ham-fisted approach from incidents, that in the wider scheme of things, don't really matter. Wouldn't their efforts be better spent asking the government asking when we are going to get a decision about our new ground?