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, August 31, 2015


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Poole Town Saturday 29th August 2015. We lost 3-1 in front of 305 people.

I don't often travel to football on an open top bus. Across the sea. But then this was FA Cup day where anything can happen. From my Swanage holiday apartment I could see Bournemouth, so it
seemed only proper to play a trip to watch Bournemouth Poppies extra preliminary tie against AFC Portchester. I'd done my research, using the power of Twitter to find out the best way to get their from a very helpful official. That the Poppies best run in the cup was a couple of years back when they lost a second qualifying round replay to Truro City, the same season they reached the quarter finals of the Vase.
Bournemouth Rovers were founded by 8 enthusiastic gentlemen in 1875 one who ended up as Mayor of Bournemouth. Portchester didn't arrive on the scene until 101 years later. They are known as the Poppies so as not to confuse them with their illustrious town neighbours and moved to their ground in 1908. A former farmers field its surrounded by houses and still has plenty of space to develop. The clubhouses was opened in 1985 and has an impressive 205 seater stand and glass fronted clubhouse where you can sup your ales and watch the football in the cold winter months ahead. It still has those old fashioned speakers that managed to crackle into life to tell us about goal scorers and subs, and a couple of nesting pigeons which they have no doubt trained to shit on opposition fans. And in today's crowd of 77 there were quite a few from the suburbs of Fareham.
An open top bus across a chain-linked ferry sounds almost as romantic as the early rounds of the FA Cup until bits of tree hit you in the face while snot dribbles down your cheeks and old people hold onto their hats shivering. Eventually I made it to the bus station, where it's a change onto the yellow bus, where a combination of day dreaming and the hotel near the ground being refurbished meant I disappeared hopelessly lost into the suburbs. So I arrived late in a cab greeted by a turnstile operator so far away from the action with building works in front of him that he didn't know the score. I hadn't missed any goals but it soon became apparent that despite both playing in the Wessex League, Portchester were bossing this. Managed by former Arsenal and England international Graham Rix they seemed to be so much more assured on the ball, passing it around and winning most challenges. But it took just before half time to get their break through with a Mr.Baldacchino scoring the first goal (I arrived too late for a programme). The second half started the same with the Poppies keeper pulling off an excellent save, posts being hit until two quick goals ended their cup dream. On this showing you quite fancy Portchester to go a bit further and they play AFC Totton in the next round. (They did, beating them 3-1)
The game had everything you'd expect from this level of football. A second half pep talk from one of the players dad, goalkeepers having to hop over fences to get wayward balls, obligatory old man with a crazy beard mumbling into his beer. With neighbours Bournemouth now in the Premiership the gulf between the clubs has become a chasm, it's almost a different sport. That's not to say it isn't run professionally or that people behind the scenes don't work bloody hard to make their clubs tick. Its just so different from the 'best league in the world' crap Sky never tire of telling us. And that's why I love it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


To be printed in the Southern Premier League game v Histon Tuesday 18th August 2015

For anyone not paying attention to the endless 'Year Zero' Sky adverts telling us non-believers to subscribe to the best league in the world, the middle-aged fat blokes drinking on the 8.39 to Brighton gave the game away. The football season had begun. My trip to cheer on The Rebels was my 39th season supporting the team (give or take a few years off for having a lobotomy).
The beginning of the football season is always one of anticipation. Football fans are usually either hopelessly optimistic or have a built in pessimism from endless years of hard knocks – the beginning of this season not helped by losing our second game 5-1! For many of those supporting clubs in the Premiership, the utter predictability means the best they can hope for is not being relegated or a place in the Europa league which has so many qualifying rounds it seems to start before the previous season ends. For non league clubs, while money obviously talks, seasons are a lot more unpredictable. So what would I like this season? One of consolidation and third round of the FA Cup would do nicely!
As its geographically impossible for me to be on the Slough Town Supporters Trust board, the least I can do is encourage people at the beginning of the season to join. Bellowing and carolling people into Ollie’s hut at the first home game of the season seems to do the trick.
It really is a no brainier to join the Trust. For starters, if you get the supporters coach to away games you get a massive £5 discount for every trip and you are insured if the game is postponed. But it shouldn't just be about what you can get out of being a member. A strong supporters trust really benefits the club. This season they are sponsoring the backs of the home and away shirts for £3000. Sponsoring half the running cost of Rebels Radio as well as publicising the commentary, working on finding co-commentators to help Adrian - in exchange for publicity of trust news during commentary. They also run the 500 club Rebel Lottery and golden goal and have linked with the STFC Predictions League. They also work hard publicising the club, during the summer attending school fairs at Weston House Primary and James Elliman Primary along with stalls in Slough High Street.
Trust board members also make sure home games run smoothly – who do you think misses part of the game by being on the turnstiles, runs the club-shop, sells programmes and golden goal tickets, picks up the litter at the end, collects wayward balls and all the other hundred and one jobs that need doing? Not to mention organising the work parties that made sure Beaconsfield's ground passed the Southern Premier League ground-grading rules.
As commander in chief Steve Easterbrook put it “Apart from all the great work that the Trust does in the community and all the benefits that members receive, being a member of the trust is a great way of being more connected to the club. The Trust also has a healthy representation on the club's management committee and therefore members have a direct input on how the club is actually run. At the end of the day...... the fans are the club and any organisation, such as the Trust, that brings true fans together can only have a positive impact on the long term future of this great club.”
So don't forget to throw in your spare change in the collecting buckets at the end of each home game.
* You can join the Trust on match-days, on-line or by sending cheques (made payable to STSA Ltd) c/o 17 Swabey Road, Langley, Slough, SL3 8NR. It's just £10 a year. Junior membership is £5
* For more info and news updates  
* You can follow the Trust on twitter and like their Facebook page 
* The Trusts AGM is at the Polish Club on Wednesday 9th September 8pm

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Printed in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division game v Frome Town Saturday 8th August 2015. We drew 0-0 in front of 275

I must admit to giving myself a good old pinch and check it wasn't April Fools Day. After 12 long nomadic years the Rebels will soon be running out on their new 3G pitch after Slough Council gave the thumbs up to a new sports complex for the town. Construction work for phase one of the Arbour Park Community Sports Facility (catchy) is timetabled to be completed by August 2016. Costing £12 million, it will be, for anyone whose not been paying attention, more than just about a new football ground for Slough Town. Of course we will get increased attendances, but the 3G pitch will enable the ground to be used constantly and as our chairman Steve Easterbrook said “It's great that the council recognise the benefits of sport to the community, not just in terms of healthy lifestyles and wellbeing, but also as part of community cohesion.”
Now Slough is about a diverse melting pot of people as anywhere your find outside London, but one whose children are unfortunately being segregated by religious free schools. So apart from getting rid of these schools, the best way to bring the different cultures and people together is a successful community run football club in the heart of the town.
However, with council funding ready to be hit with a tsunami of cuts, then credit where its due to Slough Council – although perhaps not its ability to make quick decisions. Councils must think outside the box to tackle problems. Just look at Dartford Council, whose Conservative Party leader Jeremy Kite told me nine long years ago “Everyday, councils throw bucket loads of money at schemes to deal with anti-social behaviour, childhood obesity, community cohesion, civic pride and community relations. Here in Dartford, we took the view that rather than fund a series of expensive here today- gone tomorrow initiatives, we would invest in football as a catalyst for all those things. I'm sure every Council thinks they are doing things right, but I've never regretted or doubted the wisdom of our investment in a new Stadium. You simply cannot put a price on the sense of pride and worth that is developing around the town as a result of The Darts coming home. Princes Park will not only become a centre of spectator sport, but also as a participatory one too - for kids of all ages. I have told the club that they MUST bring kids in and encourage school sports finals and training to take place on the first pitch.”
Unfortunately, some councillors often seemed to trapped in self-imposed boxes and much happier to play tit-for-tat party politics. Let's call it Dexter-itous. Which is why what is happening in the town of today's opposition so interesting. On 7
th May, the people of Frome voted against traditional party politics and gave a coalition of independents control of all 17 seats. The founder of this movement has named it 'flatpack democracy' with Frome leading a small-scale political revolution that's spreading across the country. At its core is a basic aim 'taking political power at a local level, then using it to enable people a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.' Which is what all political parties say they like to encourage, but often stick their hands over the ears when new ideas come along because they are so busy pointing the finger of blame at their political opponents. What Frome has, is a group of people brimming with a can-do attitude and using the Localism Act to make things happen.

So the people of Frome create a new political movement and the Rebels finally get their new ground. Neither of which would happen if people sat on their sofas moaning that the council don't do anything for them or shooting people down that do get off their backsides.

The moral of the story - never take no for an answer – oh and make sure you have a level-headed, savvy-businessman like Steve Easterbrook on your side.