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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


The passing of the legendary landlord Miki Hall is a poignant reminder of just what sort of special person it takes to run a community pub. Miki was the right person, in the right place at the right time when he took over the New Kensingston in Brighton’s North Laine. Brighton's protest scene was about to explode against the Criminal Justice Act and the Kenny became the drunken wing of the Anarchist weekly news-sheet SchNEWS and its main distribution point with regular live readings on a Friday night. His pub made things happen.

But a proper pub isn't just a place where you can get a drink or a packet of peanuts. It's got to feel like your putting on an old pair of slippers. The Kenny was always a refuge for the risk-takers, rabble-rousers and revolutionaries and more than a few lost souls. Miki became our crazy father figure who was often worst behaved than his hundreds of adopted children. I hope he is proud that so many of those people have gone on to do amazing things in their lives, encouraged by his hospitality, words of wisdom and anything-is-possible attitude.

For me, the Kenny reinforced just why pubs are so important. Everytime I see a boarded up boozer or one converted into another poxy supermarket my heart sinks. Where are people meant to meet, to celebrate, to chew over the days events, if there are no community spaces left?

Miki took on the big breweries, who've strangled pubs with their modern day tied-system slavery forcing publicans to buy their beer from them at vastly inflated prices. Along with other publicans he went on rent strike, but eventually they won and the Kenny shut its doors for the last time (scroll down to page 2) scattering a community to the wind.

As Chris Natural put it so well “Under Miki's watchful eye(!), the Kenny was the best and only pub in the world I have liked. For it was so much more than a pub. It was an extension of Miki's essence. A melting pot of weird and wonderful, anarchic, rebellious and often crazy spirits. Infamous worldwide it and he encapsulated everything that was great about Brighton at that time. A piece of me died when the Kenny shut it's doors for the last time. Brighton was never the same again.”

Never really finding a Brighton local I felt as comfortable in since, I got together with other local residents, to try and open our own co-op pub! But just like the Kenny, so much more than just a pub. After nearly 5 years of campaigning The Bevy finally re-opened and while it can never be the Kenny, we hope it is a new model of how pubs can survive and be a shining example to other working class estates of what can be done.

Of course Miki was more than just a landlord. He had a history of activism – but always with a mischievous smile and a love of gossip rather than chip on his shoulder. And before that last orders bell was rung, you could be sure he would be trying to land a moustached kiss on anyone in the vicinity. As his health worsened he threw himself into disability rights; setting up disabled friendly areas at festivals giving many people the opportunity to enjoy them for the first time. 
I'm gutted I never got to buy Miki a bevy at the Bevy and say thanks for his inspiration and all the good times. You were a legend my friend, who will never be forgotten.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League game v Frome Town Saturday 18th April 2015. We drew 1-1 in front of 352 at the last home game of the season.

It's fair to say that Slough fans aren't used to seasons like this. For a decade we have either been fighting for a play-off place or battling against relegation. It's surprising any of us have any hair, nails or nerves left. We've had amazing cup runs, knocking out Walsall and apparently giving their player-manager Paul Merson his worst day in football ever. We've been stuck in an endless play off loop until we finally cracked it in the best manner ever. Followed by the best celebrations ever in the Herschel!
We've won the League Cup and been relegated with a 9-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
Over the next couple of seasons it was borderline whether we would even have a club to support. We've been relegated to the Dog and Duck only to be saved by the demise of Halifax Town and more often than not 90 minutes of football spoilt a good day out.
So has this season been an anti-climax? Not a chance.
Walking round Weymouth beach on that sunny weekend in September and knowing this wasn't an FA Cup jolly but a bread and butter league game. We had arrived back in the Big Time (relatively speaking). Where locals knew that they had a football team and knew where the ground was. As Weymouth beach quickly filled with kiss-me-quick Slough Town bobble hats everyone seemed to be nodding their heads in disbelief. Did we finally get promoted or had Tom the Herschel landlord given us one to many free shots?
So I’m personally more than happy with some mid table mediocrity. Watching St Neots fans being put through the play-off mill, while we could just enjoy the brilliant 3-3 comeback without losing any sleep/nails/hair was enjoyable.
I've been really impressed with how the Supporters Trust has really raised its profile. It was an eye opener to see how much work our dedicated band of volunteers do before (and after) a game to make the club tick. And this season the Trust has doubled its membership from just four seasons ago.
So what next? I always love a cup run which is always a good place to pick up cash and more supporters. We could definitely do with some more youngsters coming through the turnstiles and getting vocally behind the team – and I don't mean all the screaming babies being produced by the Randy Rebels. If we stay in the Southern it looks like a much harder league next season, so I’d again we happy with mid-table with maybe a little sniff at the play-offs (actually, for purely selfish geographical and financial reasons I’d love us to be put back in the Ryman Premier) But more than anything I want those diggers to be moving the earth and laying the foundations for our new ground. Its amazing what we've achieved with little income and playing away from Slough for over 12 years. Just think what we could do with a community sports ground that will massively benefit everyone in Slough.
And I hope we can honour some of those Rebels that never saw us return to the Promised Land but put so much into the club. 
The Chris Sliski Stand and The Dave the Programmes Programme Hut would be a fitting tribute. And a poignant reminder that of course managers and players play a massive part in the club fortunes, but ultimately it's the fans that have steered the Slough Town ship in sickness and in health.

Monday, April 06, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier Division game v St Neots Town Saturday 4th April 2015. We drew 3-3 in front of 354

How do you turn a protest into something positive? Sometimes there's no other option but to take the direct action response to show the authorities you mean business. But sometimes your protests can be pitched so that they help galvanise wider support. It was Brighton fans who showed the way when some bright spark from Plymouth came up with the idea of Fans United. Supporters from all over the country descended on the Seagulls threatened ground to show their support and catapult the campaign into the national headlines.

A fortnight ago, AFC Blackpool fighting off relegation from the North West Counties Premier Division and averaging crowds of just 35 decided to delay their kick off after fed up Blackpool fans said once they had protested at Bloomfield Road they would make their way to the Mechanics ground. The irony wasn't lost on the Championship supporters, that despite playing eight levels below them, AFC Blackpool had more grass on their pitch than them. But then since their relegation from the Premiership, the Blackpool chairman has lawfully been allowed to syphon off tens of millions on unsecured interest free loans to the various companies he owns. The kitman walked out in midweek, and the legalised loan sharks who sponsor the shirts will not renew. Blackpool have arguably the worst pitch in the Football League; their training ground would shame a semi-professional club and they are destined for relegation. The chairman argues his family deserves recognition and reward for underpinning the club for two decades and seems to think this gives him the green light to asset strip it to within an inch of its life. The Premiership, who have provided his family handsomely with their parachute payments shrug their shoulders, while the Football League say they have done nothing wrong. Which probably isn't surprising since the chairman of the Football League happens to be the chairman of Blackpool Football Club! In an email they argued “aside from adhering to our regulations (including financial requirements) and the laws of the land, clubs are their own individual business and can chose to operate as they wish”. Which is as good a quote as any, as why clubs should be owned by its supporters.

As for AFC Blackpool, they benefited by a bumper crowd of 503 who cheered them on to a 2-1 victory against Bootle. It also gave some fans, a glimpse of a very different footballing experience. One tweeted 'AFC Blackpool was bloody brilliant. Terraces, terrace banter, beer and great friends all together again. How it should be.'

Hereford United fans spent the season grappling with horrendous debts and dodgy owners who wanted to asset strip their ground. With crowds plummeting due to boycotting fans and owners that kept dishing out excuses, the courts finally had enough and the club that had famously knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup were no more. But fans quickly set up a phoenix supporters run club that will be playing back at Edgar Street next season. Their aims include that no other individual or corporate body will be able to own any more than 24% of the shares in the company and that any profits must be reinvested in the club and will not return to any of the benefactors/sponsors, or be shared between shareholders.

Last Saturday Slough had the pleasure (well apart from the result) to visit our old friends Hitchin Town who ran a campaign blinder to stop a charity selling off their ground to a supermarket giant. Early in the season 2,000 people marched through the town to show their support, with the majority of them staying to watch the Canaries beat league leaders Poole.

And of course, Slough Town have cleared the last major hurdle to getting a new ground with building work potentially starting this summer. It's been a funny old season and a bloody long time since we weren't either fighting for promotion or battling against relegation, so as well as giving our nerves a welcome break, the ground news is just what our supporters needed to give something to toast at the end of the season.