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, October 27, 2014


Printed in the Southern Premier League match v Paulton Rovers on Saturday 8th November 2014. We won in a monsoon 4-2 in front of 275 people.

 It wasn't on par with the chaos that ensured when a drone appeared on the pitch in the Serbia v Albania game, but if John Tebbit says he's never seen anything like it, you know its something that is thankfully really out of the ordinary.

As players and officials went off at half time at Banbury with Slough winning 2-1, some idiot decided to hit the ref with a half full bottle of water from 2 foot away. This led to the ref abandoning the game, van loads of police being called and headline news. 

As disappointed Rebel fans dispersed I just wondered why anyone would want to be a ref. Well Ian Lathey, one of our most loyal supporters and his eldest son are, so I felt this was as good a time as any to ask why!

Why does anyone want to become a referee?   

Ian “I think people go into it for different reasons. For some it's to be involved when perhaps they weren't good enough as players. For youngsters it's a good source of income and teaches them important social skills such as communication, people management, conflict resolution. Refs get £45 at our level. To put that into context, Tom and I are assistants at Allied Counties (Slough, Burnham, Windsor, Maidenhead under 18s etc) and we get £32 for being an assistant. Would I want the extra few quid to take charge at Southern Prem level? Not a chance!   

Has becoming a ref given you a new perspective watching games?  

Ian: Completely! It's not just knowing the laws, which I can assure you most fans do not, it's also understanding the officials' decisions and seeing things with a bit more of an impartial eye. For example, thinking back to the Rugby game at home, when Rebels fans were screaming at the ref for Ed Smith's red card, I was completely supportive of the referee. How referees pro-actively manage games is something you can't fully appreciate unless you have been in the middle and done it.”   

Football is an emotional game and we all lose all temper from time to time. How do we protect refs from abuse from players and supporters or is something that will always be there.  

Ian “Even allowing for the fact I am a qualified official I still lose my temper occasionally when spectating! As you say it's an emotional game and we love our team. Verbal abuse from spectators is always going to be there. Even officiating at kids games you get comments from coaches and parents. I will happily talk to parents after the game and explain decisions however and they usually appreciate that once the passions of the game have cooled. As for players I'm very much an advocate of a global clampdown on referee abuse. It has to be a major and well publicised campaign applied at every level of football however. If that means we have a week or two of games finishing with 8 a side so be it. Players will quickly learn. I would be amazed if it happened however.”   

What do you think should happen to Banbury. Are non league clubs in an impossible position to stop this - like when we had a bloke running on the pitch at the far end of the ground in a league cup match and were threatened with a fine by FA  

Ian “I think the Banbury situation needs a two-fold solution. Firstly, the league has to rule that the points are awarded to Slough. If not, it sets a very dangerous precedent suggesting if your team is losing you simply assault the referee to get the match replayed. I don't think a monetary fine is appropriate but I would like to see Banbury United subject to some serious sanctions regarding their stadium management. The exposed tunnel area is an accident waiting to happen and the lack of officials and stewards was very poor. If they cannot correct this to the satisfaction of the Southern League then I believe the Club should face penalties. However good stadium management is, clubs cannot stop every incidence of misbehaviour. What they should do however is take all reasonable and practical measures and Banbury United fell way short of that from what I witnessed.”  

Cheers Ian, and remember the next time your about to shout cheat at the ref, get a grip of yourself and remember that without them, as we found to our cost at Banbury, there wouldn't be a game to watch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Hereford United Tuesday 21st October 2014. We won 2-0 in front of 276 people.

I do like a bit of Dorset. Every May Bank Holiday Slough try and spoil our regular trip to olde-worlde charm of Knoll House by Studland Bay, as the inevitable play-offs lead to some tense i'm-leaving-the-holiday-early-negotiating skills. This is the hotel where Churchill planned D Day and I half expect Nigel Farage to appear from the bar talking to the working classes as only a former investment banker can.
Later in the summer we always take a trip to Swanage, a lovely little seaside resort that has had a massive shot in the arm from people getting off their arses. If people ever tell you your crazy idea won't happen, hit them over the head with a Swanage steam train. When British Rail decided to rip up the tracks in 1972, a group of determined enthusiasts had a dream. 40 years later, they have not only re-opened the line, but it is now connected once again to the National Rail Network. There's 400 volunteers, 50 paid staff and it contributes £14 million annually to the local economy. 
You can tell it was my missus who picked the time to go on holiday as it coincided with the beginning of the football season, but as we pulled up outside our flat on a Saturday, the noise of players huffing and puffing drifted through the air. And so on Wednesday night, I parted with a few quid to watch Dorset Premier League reigning champs Portland United demolish Swanage and Herston. I love the fact that even at this level 60 people turn up including some away fans. A Dorset official told me that Portland didn't want to go up because of the extra traveling and it was nice to hear a bit of football realism. Yes, I’m all for people working together to realise a dream, but often with football clubs, its some bloke with a big ego and big pockets that pushes clubs to reach for the stars. When the money runs out, these clubs often plummet to whence they came or worse disappear altogether.
No sooner had we returned from Swanage, when it was about turn and off to Weymouth for an end of the summer kiss-me-quick traditional Slough Town away weekend. Weymouth is a fantastic resort. A beautiful sandy beach, Punch and Judy, a lively harbour and plenty of backstreet boozers to quench the thirst. As the Slough hoards descended it felt like we were back in the big time. People had heard of their local football club rather than scratching their heads and telling us they didn't know where West Piddlington Village FC ground was. While their stadium is too out of town for my liking, we can only dream of having something similar in Slough.
With only enough time to empty the sand from my pockets, it was back up to Poole. Poole felt a bit Slough by Sea with a dreary identikit high street. They've even let those bullies Tescos muscle in on a prime spot by the harbour which should be reserved for pubs and restaurants.
Just like us, Poole had fallen on hard times, and were forced to leave their ground to make way for Poole Pirates speedway and greyhound racing. If losing your ground to such ridiculous sports wasn't bad enough, the following season they lost 39 consecutive matches winning just 1 point from 42 games! Since then supporters have pulled the club by their football boot straps, finally knocking together a ground the Southern Premier were happy with and with planning permission for a new stadium, their future looks bright. Their noisy support felt like they are enjoying themselves, whereas you get the impression from Weymouth fans they are just tolerating the Southern Premier and will be sending us a postcard from the Conference soon.
As for us Rebels, this is just about as good as it gets and rather than fleeting Big FA Cup crowds, we are back in the big time and are singing our little hearts out just to show how happy it has made us.

* This column was sponsored by the Dorset Tourism Board