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.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Printed in the Southern League Division One Central game v Royston Town Saturday Saturday 29th March 2014. We won 2-1 in front of 292 people.

Forget squeaky bum time. This is one of those seasons when you not only have to be close to the toilets but also a mathematical genius, as a place in the play-offs goes to the wire. Twitter goes into meltdown on Tuesday and Thursday nights as Slough fans indulge in twit-athons trying to work out all the different permutations as results from other clubs come in. Well, a few of us saddos do anyway.
Whereas the majority of Twitter is just inane twaddle, its main reason for being is for revolutions and non league football. In the not too distant past BM (before mobiles) we would have to wait till Sunday or the following week to find out the scores, now they spew forth in a torrent of finger tapping rage.
Well, at least they should do.
In my last bestseller, The Non League Manifesto, one of my key demands was making twitter compulsory for all non league clubs. It doesn't take a lot of effort and puts you in touch with people instantly. Of course its not the answer to getting more bums through gates, but when the weathers iffy its the quickest way to let people know if the game is on.
One of the revelations of our new managers is their use of social media. When there's a two way dialogue between fans, it creates trust and can quickly clear up any issues that otherwise can get out of control and set keyboard warriors off in a frothing frenzy.
And giving supporters a voice is a good thing. I was involved in one of the Slough Town fanzines ‘Rebels Without A Clue’ which was part of the wave of independent football fanzines that started demanding a right to be heard and culminated in the Supporters' Trust movement and supporter run clubs.
Of course fans being taken seriously still has some way to go, but I was particularly impressed by Hull City's owner telling their fans to go to hell if they didn't like the idea of being called Tigers.
We should also be wary of social media. Any idiot can put their thoughts out there – just look at me. And where are the editors checking their facts?
But i have to take my Slough Town bobble hat off to Sam Gardiner, a 17 year school boy who pretended he was a football scout because he wanted more people to listen to his football views. Before he was rumbled, he had 20,000 followers and was being private messaged by footballers and journalists. "When I was 15, I created a Twitter account but no one was taking me seriously. I had 300 followers. Adults don't want to listen to 15-year-olds and I don't blame them, to be honest. But I was getting really frustrated, because I love football, I love talking about football and I just wanted to air my opinions to as many people as possible."
The fact that he wants to be a journalist or an MP gives an indication to his state of mind, but at least his front is harmless compared to some of the bile and hate sent to people in the limelight, or by people like ex-Slough Town Dave 'The Doughnut' Deeney whose under police investigation for threatening to stab Kettering Town fans.
What we really need is some computer geek to invent an app which can act as a breathalyser; that can smell if you have had too much to drink and stop your postings until the morning when you can reconsider them in the cold, sober light of day.
So keep those results and revolutions coming but remember to take the rest of it with large pinch of smelling salts. And despite all this social media business, the best way of communicating is still face to face using your vocal chords. 

Some photos of the day with some cute mascots

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Printed in the Southern League Division One Central game v Leighton Town Saturday 22nd March 2014 We won 4-1 in front of 248.

It seems the job advert for owning a club in England must read something like this.
'Like a bit of money laundering and tax evasion? Have the morals of an axe murderer?
Why not invest in an English football team.'

Last week Birmingham City's owner Carson Yeung was given six years in a Hong Kong slammer for money laundering - £2.8 million of which he used the buy shares in the Blues. The fact that Yeung had been convicted of two other fraud offences before he bought the club, counted for nothing when it came to the FA's fit and proper test. Birmingham City's board now consists of Yeung's long-time Hong Kong-based associate Peter Pannu, and Yeung family members including his 20-year-old student son, Ryan. The league said after the verdict that it is satisfied its rules are being complied with and that "Premier League football is one of the most regulated and transparent sectors of UK sport or business".
Meanwhile Leeds United fans wait with baited breath to see who their next owner is. Will it be Massimo Cellino, who is currently facing court in Italy over suspicion of embezzlement and already has an impressive tax fraud record.

Never mind, what is really getting some clubs hot under the collar is the fair play rules that have been introduced by UEFA. Some are threatening court action over rules which were introduced to address the huge losses sustained by many clubs. Cardiff City won the Championship last season losing £31million while doing so, while Hull City notched up loses of £26 million and came second.

Even Brighton, who have the most season ticket holders of any team outside the Premiership, are having to cut costs to comply with the rules.

The bottom line is players are getting paid too much and it is totally unsustainable. Surely no one needs more than £10k a week to live on?

A report from the High Pay Centre in 2012 revealed that footballers at the top have seen a wage increase of over 1500%. As players’ wages take up a bigger slice of club turnover - up from 48% in 1997 to 70% in 2010 - there is lower levels of investment in the essential infrastructure that could improve the national talent pool, namely coaches.

Of course, not all footballers are on such obscene wages and it does stick in the craw when I hear chairman, managers and players moan about too many games at the top level. Have a look at non league, where many clubs are having to play 3 games a week after the winter monsoon. Or the Slough Town captain Adam Foulser who is out for six months and as a self employed plumber losing wages to boot because of an injury during a game.

So perhaps we will see more clubs like Vauxhaull Motors taking the sensible but regrettable decision to resign from the Football Conference. Their chairman said “Like many other football clubs, we are confronted with the reality of low gates and ever-increasing costs. This now unsustainable position has been going on for several years despite efforts to balance the books and to do nothing would be foolhardy. As a responsible committee administering a club that was founded over fifty years ago and a club that we would wish to continue for another fifty, with responsibilities beyond the Football Conference, to some thirty teams, youth, junior and ladies catering for over 400 children within Ellesmere Port and beyond, it has become necessary to withdraw the senior side from the established pyramid.”

That's one honest chairman who would pass any decent 'fit and proper' test.

Sunday, March 09, 2014


Printed in the Southern League Central Division One game v St.Ives Town on Saturday 8th March 2014. We won 1-0 in front of 252 people.

I'm always a little underwhelmed when people boost that they have visited all 92 Football League clubs. So what? If I really wanted to show off I could reel off at least 150 grounds I've graced over the years - and that doesn't include league clubs. From Gateshead to Truro, Boston United to Bridgewater Town, I’ve been there, done that. Not as some sad ground-hopper but with my Slough Town bobble hat on. Thing is with football, I can't watch it as a neutral with anywhere near as much enjoyment. Which is why I can't be arsed watching games like Chelsea v Man United because I want both corporations to lose. 

So despite the pull of Lewes v Dulwich and a rail replacement service ahead of me, when I got the text that the Potters Bar game was on, I grabbed my coat and headed to boldly go where no Slough Town team had ever been before.

Three hours later, and I’m joining the fat old Rebel gits in a Weatherspoons for a pre match pint. The very ones who according to one particularly irate Dunstable player have got nothing better to do on a Saturday than grace the very same non league terraces he plays in front of.

PottersBar didn't exist until 1960 when they were known as Mount Grace Old Scholars. And their new (ish) turnstile block comes from the old Wembley Stadium and they have a certificate to prove it! The old wooden one, surrounded by mud and debris, was something ground-hoppers would go all weak at the knees for. The ground staff had done a good job at getting the game on, but getting round the ground was like re-enacting the Battle of the Somme. We lost 3 fans down a sink hole while a Scholarly official thoughtfully laid down old doors across the bog. Dashing young Rebels made a rope bridge out of scarves so Clubshop Sue wouldn't muddy her Prada shoes.

Slough really are playing some lovely football at the moment, and have also discovered that Wilko spirit with some of their tackling. We coasted to a 3-0 victory and rejoiced as most clubs around us dropped points. Oh the immediate joy of twitter; it was made for non league football. Whereas once we used to wait days to find out scores delivered by carrier pigeons now its just an endless stream of results.

The crowd was just 141, the vast majority were Slough and you've got to take your hats off to the volunteers who've obviously put in masses of unpaid hours to get Potters Bar to where it is. So it seemed rude not to have a drink in the bar afterwards and it was good to chat to one young lad who has decided to watch some real football than the soap-opera Sky sell us (and where the plot line is usually so predictable). He had hardly seen a game or goal this year and told us how just recently a coach load of Watford fans turned up to for a County Cup match only for it to be called off. We either need to stick County League Cup games into the dustbin of football history or play some of the early rounds as part of pre season.

Also joining us for a beer was our chairman Steve Easterbook. The more you talk to this man, the more you realise just how lucky Slough are to have such a clued up, down to earth chairman.

On the way back we bumped into some friendly Sunderland fans staying over night and hoping to put one over the money men from Manchester. Even the rail replacement journey that took me all the way to Littlehampton before finally depositing me at Brighton at 11pm couldn't dampen another great away day with the Rebels.