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, January 19, 2014


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Chalfont St.Peter on Saturday 18th January 2014. We won 5-1 in front of 269 people. 
Whenever I feel down about our club every playing in Slough again, I think of Maidstone United. The old club went bust in the Football league in 1992 with a new Maidstone quickly re-born and playing in the Kent County League Division Four! It took 20 years for them to get their new ground, with numerous legal disputes and even a colony of Great Crested Newts looking to scupper their plans. When permission was finally given it still took 8 years to kick the first ball there. But now look at them go at the top of the Ryman Premier. Playing in their new state of the art 3G pitch their crowds went up a staggering 450% in their first season of their new ground, averaging 1,698 in the Ryman South! They are now spending £50,000 on expanding the stadium after just one season to accommodate more fans.
When we move to a new ground, we need to get it right with mixed facilities that build a long term future for the club. I have every faith in our chairman and management committee to get this right but the continuing uncertainty over Arbour Vale does no-one any favours.
So with the news that South Bucks conservative councillors decided to unanimously reject the Sikh school staying at Pioneer House what now for Arbour Vale? Under free school rules, the school was allowed to move to an empty Pioneer House for a year without planning permission. That time will be up in July. So will they appeal or look for a new home and will the government say that their new home should be Arbour Vale? And will the council take the government to court if that happens?
Of course the local Tories are being hypocritical – the free school free for all is their own governments flagship programme. But of course they don't like it when these national decisions come to bite them on the bum on their own doorstep. Especially when we all know what the elephant in the room really is. Just ask yourself this – would the genteel folk of Stoke Poges be so up in arms if it was a Catholic free school?
This government has told a load of old flannel about devolving powers and letting local people decide what's best for their area. Forget that free schools can over-ride educational authorities and planning laws. Schools can be handed to a private company even if most parents don't want it and schools can be plonked where they want and bugger the consequences. And as the National Audit Office pointed out, they aren't exactly value for money either.
Not only that, but free schools have been rocked by forced closures, heads under investigation for financial mismanagement, female teachers being forced to wear the hijab, schools teaching creationism, and able to employ people who aren't trained as teachers. Every week it seems there's another sorry story to tell. But its the segregation of children on religious grounds that worries me most and in Slough every free school seems to for a specific religion. Now you just need to look at Northern Ireland to see what a successful policy of separating children by religion turned out to be.
In the meantime our club gets used as a political football; which is kind of ironic really when if built, it will be one of the few places in the town that has the potential to bring all of Sloughs multi-cultural population together.
So for us ageing rag-tag dads rebel army, we have to keep calm and carry on. In between sucking on our oxygen masks, we must continue to cheer on the team and try to remember how to chant S L O U G H T O W N But maybe now its time to dust out that old classic we had hoped to have binned 'All we want is a football ground in Slough.'