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 26, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League match v Cambridge City Saturday 24th October 2015. We won 3-1 in front of 292

It was FA Cup day. It was Non League Day. And here I was standing by Brighton beach watching my missus and eldest having paint thrown at them in a sponsored run. This wasn't part of the deal when we decided to have kids. Saturday was carved in stone as football day, now being eroded by temper tantrums*, commitments and a community pub. (*from me, when I miss a footballing Saturday).

Once again tho Non League Day, ironically the brainchild of a football league QPR supporter, swelled crowds across the country but the one million dollar questions remains – how the hell do you get people to come back, more than just once a season?

Suffolk side Bungay Town who have hit with the headlines with their Non League Day offers, paying people 5p to watch a game and last season a free punnet of mushrooms said they would be doing nothing special for once – well apart from winning 13 nil! Bungay might play 11 levels below the Premiership but they have a top class marketing 'department'. Chairman Shaun Cole said “I love Non League Day, its a great chance for clubs like us to take on the big boys in the semi-pro game, not on the pitch but in the media. I see a lot of clubs complaining that they don't get attention but if a club that plays at the second level of the Anglian Combination make the national press then surely anyone can. Just be a bit creative in what you do.”

Bungay seem very lucky in that they have a great team behind the scenes. Their former chairman has secured over a million pounds of funding over the past 10 years, and from a town of little over 5,000 they have an incredible 25 teams.

But this years Non League Day was going to be different for Bungay Town 'What do you do when everyone is expecting something special, or at least a little odd? The answer to that is nothing. Or #nothinspecial. That's because what we do (and hundreds of clubs like us up and down the country) every Saturday is special in itself. At every club in the land at our level there is a small group of people who mark out the pitch, wash the shirts, collect the subs, maybe arrange some insurance, pump up the footballs and try to find them in the hedge after our heroes have failed to be quite as clinical (or cynical) as some of Chelsea's finest. We at Bungay Town FC think that in itself is worth celebrating and if we can persuade a few fans of the pro game to watch their local non league side this weekend then so much the better. No free mushrooms, paying you to get in, fancy dress, stilt walkers, supporters wearing onesies or pensioners riding unicycles. Just a lower level English Non-League game which thousands of us enjoy every week.'

Which reminds me of the sign seen hanging from a few lower league fences recently 'Before you complain, have you volunteered yet.'

What so many people do to make grassroots football tick in this country isn't #nothinspecial, but above-and-beyond; giving so many of us, players and supporters alike, something special to do on a Saturday. Unless or course, you have to watch strangers throw paint over your family.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League game v Paulton Town on Saturday 17th October 2015. We won 2-1 in front of 244

I can handle most things life throws at me but a tame defeat in the FA Cup and I’ve got a face like a slapped arse, looking for a cat to kick, grumbling on twitter and frothing on the train as the seats around me become vacant.
Football fans are impossible to please. It's never quite just right. We want immediate gratification and never ending success. We are like little kids waking at 4am demanding to open our Christmas presents. Spoilt brats with terrible temper tantrums.
The other Saturday I went to a stadium that is so near my house, I can cycle to it 10 minutes – even quicker if there were weren't so many bloody football fans getting in the way. The crowd of 26,000 in Brighton's swanky stadium is no doubt going to be more than the total attendance of all the games I go to this year. Brighton are top of the Championship and on this display are heading to the Promised Land of fixtures being switched at short notice, eye-watering admission prices and being told endlessly like some North Korean dictate that they are in the best league in the world. I have never seen such a one-sided 1-1 draw as the Albion played Cardiff off the park. It could easily have been 6-1 and at the death, a player missed what looked like a sitter. Reading their forums afterwards you'd never guess they were not only top of the league but the only football league club not to have lost a game yet, playing fantastic, intelligent football. Two points dropped! End of the world! We need another striker!
When Slough recently went on a five game losing run, the forum came alive with the question 'can you comment on a game you've not been at?' Slough had been beaten 3-0 by second in the table Leamington, recently relegated from the Conference South. It seemed, we had let ourselves down badly by some defensive mistakes and an offside goal. But the fightback in the second half led those that were there to praise the team effort. 'Did it get us any points' those frothing on their keyboards blubbered? Well no, but I don't know about you, but commenting on a game you weren't at, or just following on twitter or Rebels Radio is a bit like commenting on a book you've just read a review of. As Staines Rebel Junior said “Having listening to a lot of radio last year and having actually been on it a few times this year I can tell you it is incredibly difficult to put over exactly how the team are doing and how each individual player is doing. Basing your analysis of the game solely on twitter or the radio is nothing like basing it on being there for real.”
I want the team I support to put in a shift. Something I felt we hadn't done against Basingstoke who were ripe for one of those cliched FA Cup upsets.
One of my best days supporting the Rebels was when we lost 9-0 to AFC Wimbledon which sealed our relegation. Why? Because of the support for a team who all season were on a hiding to nothing with the club in serious trouble. It was backs-against-the-wall look-on-the-bright side-of-life stuff. And I’ve never had a womble bow to me before.

Lewes fans are also on the warpath, sick of five seasons of dross. Yes, they know they have one of the best marketed clubs in the land, yes they are a community club ticking all the right boxes and going about things in a sensible, sustainable manner. But fans want to see their first time play some decent football and get a win. Which is understandable, and I thank my lucky stars I don't have to put up watching them at the moment week in week out. But one fan completely crossed the line accusing one of the (volunteer) directors of having his snout in the trough. Trough full of what?

I know its hard (but easy after 3 league wins on the bounce for Slough fans) but we do all need a reality check sometimes. See how we can get involved to make our club better. We wont all agree, but what we do need to do, as supporters of Slough Town is get behind the team when it really matters. When the game is on. Let's leave the frothing on the top of our beer.


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Redditch Town on Saturday 27th September 2015. We lose 2-0 in front of 250.

Two football teams and four train stations - Dorking has it all, plus more trees than you can shake a leafy Surrey stick at.
Dorking Deepdeene is my destination for the FA Cup 1st Qualifying round (or round 3) and time to turn my attention to my home town team, with Slough Town away to Dorking Wanderers for the first time ever.
It's not surprising that Slough have never played the Wanderers as they are very much the new kids on theblock. It's just 16 years since they were formed and they have made incredible progress and now find themselves in the Ryman League South after promotion last season.
Slough Town, once of the Conference and a non league big hitter, are now entering there 12th season homeless, similar to the other Dorking who've were made homeless after their old Meadowbank ground was deemed unsafe in 2013. 135 years old, they are currently sharing with Horley FC in the Combined Counties.
Still good things comes to those that wait and Slough Town, Dorking Wanderers and Dorking FC should all be moving to new grounds next season. In the case of the Dorking teams they could be groundsharing at a revamped Meadowbank, on a 3G pitch which will also be the new home of the Surrey FA.
How important a home to call your own comes over loud and clear from Dorking FC now a Community Interest Company. “When the Board took over the club in 2014, Meadowbank – its location, history and everything it can contribute to Dorking’s town centre - was one of the main factors that enthused the local people involved. The ground was threatened with development for retail or housing – but the Board pledged to secure the future of football. When it opened in 1953, Meadowbank was the pride of the town and the local community. We are delighted that ambitious Councillors and Officers at Mole Valley District Council shared our vision to restore it as a focal point of the town centre. The Council has committed to a fantastic £4 million pound redevelopment with a brand new clubhouse and a 3G all-weather artificial pitch (consigning the famous ‘Dorking bobble’ to footballing history). It will be a sporting facility for use by schools, youth clubs and local  people...Consequently, our ten year plan builds a holistic football club that balances football, business, community and social enterprise. We passionately believe that Dorking FC can not only be seen a blueprint for how a grassroots football club should be run, but one that people in the Football Association recognise as THE blueprint. We intend to set Dorking FC as the standard against which all other grassrootss football clubs are measured.
A dig at Wanderers or common sense? While the groundshare hasn't been confirmed and isn't exactly a match made in heaven, more a shotgun wedding, it makes economic sense. The current Wanderers ground in Westhumble is a credit to volunteers who've worked so hard to get it to Ryman League standard and with spectacular views to boot; but its just a little out of town for my liking.
So the Slough Town Rebels were all set for the proverbial banana skin. Wanderers unbeaten and just 8 places below Slough who play a level above in the Southern Premier whose season has so far been one of fits and starts.
On a perfect sunny FA Cup day in front of a decent crowd of 184 Dorkings reserve keeper Slavomir Huk pulled off 2 fantastic saves in the first half as Slough dominated proceedings. But with cup ties, you always just worry as you hit a brick wall, the opposition will deal that killer goal. Then as it looked like we were heading for a stalemate, Slough got a penalty in the 90th minute. Slotted home by Rebel captain Martin, the travelling fans mobbed him and Slough were through to the next round.
£3,000 in the bank for a homeless club isn't to be sniffed at while for Dorking Wanderers, they can get back to storming their new league and maybe just maybe kiss and make-up with their elderly statesman rivals one day soon.


Printed in Southern League Premier Division match v Circencester Town on Saturday 5th September 2015. We won 1-0 in front of 260 people.

It's probably safe to say that too much time is spent on football. Watching it, dissecting it, hanging on every word of players and managers who quite frankly, don't have a lot to say. But when push comes to shove, football can bring people together when it really matters.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon two young lads from Worthing United FC were travelling along the A27 to play a game for their team. A team that had just had the most successful season in its history. But fate had other plans. A hurricane jet from the nearby Shoreham air-show crashed into the road killing 11 people including the two footballers. Sussex went into shock, Worthing cancelled all forthcoming games and issued an emotional statement “At this point, we don't know how or if we will cope with this.”
Goalkeeper Matt Grimstone was a groundsman for Brighton and Hove Albion, while midfielder Jacob Schilt was a Seagulls supporter who have played for the fans' team in charity matches. The Championship club have pulled out all the stops to do whatever they can for a club whose manager said was “pretty much on its knees.” Worthing United's next game is tomorrow in the FA Vase with Albion helping with ticketing and stewarding, which as one of the Worthing officials pointed out “Will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the clubs history, sadly for the wrong reasons.”
So on FA Cup day it seemed appropriate to pay our respects at Worthing's near neighbours Shoreham who were taking on Horley Town from the Combined Counties in the preliminary round (or round two if we were being sensible about it). Non league football is a close-knit community and both clubs had agreed that whoever won the game would donate £500 of their cup prize money to the Shoreham Memorial Fund. As we arrived just in time for the minutes silence, filmed by ITV and local station Latest TV, Middle Road was busy than usual. A decent crowd of 142 – nearly double what they get when Brighton are playing away and three times what they get when the Albion are at home – had come to show their respects. The pull of the Albion has a big effect on the local non league scene, with crowds dipping and players disappearing to the AMEX - even the Horley Town supporters flag had the Albion plastered over it.
In the last round these two teams had scored 15 goals between them against their opponents but instead of a goal-fest it was still 0-0 with 70 minutes gone despite the odd chance, some good saves and wayward shots. Both teams huffed and puffed and the big Shoreham lad who had banged in 5 goals in the previous round seemed out of sorts. Shoreham finally scored in the 51st minute when Horley gave away a needless penalty that was well dispatched by Shoreham's player-manager. A horrible bobble and Horley equalised 20 minutes later and both teams go again.
Of course you could say that football doesn't matter when tragedy’s like this happen, but I think it does. Why I can't imagine the grief the families are going through, it can only help to see just how people have come together, including an amazing sea of floral tributes on the harbour bridge. The outpouring of grief, the minutes silence, the messages of goodwill from across the country, have been heartening.
They might not set the world alight, but clubs like Shoreham and Worthing United are important parts of our communities that contribute much more than just some footballers huffing and puffing after a leather ball. They are part of the glue that binds communities together and our towns, cities and villages would be much poorer places without them.