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, August 17, 2014

FANS UNITED: BACK TO EARTH WITH A BUMP

Printed in the Southern Football League Premier Division v Banbury United Saturday 16th August 2014. We won 2-1 in front of 312 people.


I thought good things came to those that wait? After a mere 24 years Slough finally get promotion and are rewarded with an opening game at near neighbours Burnham and a Tuesday night trip to the lepers of Hereford.
But let's rewind for a moment and savour that Bank Holiday in Kettering. 2-0 down, craning our necks inbetween Kettering fans and that all too familiar sinking feeling – the Slough Town nearly men. But this is a different Slough, with a different mentality and as soon as the first goal went in, Kettering who had been so dominant, began to wobble. That third goal and the celebrations were a bit of a blur and with a few of their numbskull 'fans' threatening all second half we bid a hasty retreat. Me and my mad cousin Mark and his unruly beard arrived as the vanguard at the Herschel Arms, letting landlord Tom and the few stragglers in the bar, that his pub was about to get busy. Fast forward a couple of hours, a few shots of god knows what, the players coach blocking Herschel Street as we all sang in the street, and the party was in full swing. It was one of the best nights i've had supporting Slough.
Like many Rebels, I gave work a miss the next day. Nursing my thumping head on the train back to Brighton, it took a couple of days to get rid of the hangover and quite a few weeks to wipe that grin off my face!
Not even the stupid plans to destroy lower league football by imposing Premiership B teams on us or England's predictable dismal performance in the World Cup could get rid of that grin.
But the Hereford United game brought football reality back with a bump. Hereford are yet another Conference basket-case, a league which Bath City's director of football says is no longer “viable.”
Thrown out of the Conference and £1.4 million in debt, you do wonder why the Southern League accepted them. They didn't even get a ground safety certificate until 3 days before the season began. The Hereford United Supporters Trust believe the new owners have only one thing in mind and that's asset stripping the club. They have asked their fans to boycott the team after over 95% of their members voted in favour. Their local MP agrees with the boycott and ex-players, officials, admin staff and the groundsmen are still waiting to get paid. They have a third winding up petition at the beginning of September. Will they even finish the season is doubtful.
The Hereford Trust have also organised an alternative fixtures list with ex-players and supporters donning the kit and 821 fans turning up for a Fans United fixture against Worcester. That's more than Herefords crowd against St.Neots on the opening game of the season.
The reason football authorities and clubs get away with treating us like mugs is because we act like ones, complaining about the way football is run but still willing to go along with it because of our sense of loyalty to our clubs.
This time fans have stuck together and I think we should respect that. Just like Coventry City fans refusing to go to Northampton, Wimbledon fans setting up their own club and Manchester United fans forming FC United of Manchester, who will be soon moving to their own ground, built in part thanks to £1.5 million raised by community shares.
That's the power of football fans. And until we make that stand, then the endless convey belt of financial football car crashes will continue while we all look over our shoulder and wonder if our club will be next.
Personally, I'd love to have gone to Edger Street, but I know that this isn't just about me going to a football match. It's about standing with other supporters. I would never cross a picket line and going to Edger Street is no different for me. And hopefully it won't be long, before we are playing a reformed supporters-run Hereford United at Edgar Street.

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