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.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

NO ESCAPE FROM SLOUGH

Printed in the Southern Premier League Division game v St.Neots Town on Saturday 5th December 2015. We drew 2-2 in front of 280.

I reckon if I got on a spaceship and landed on the Moon, I would bump into someone from Slough. Forget Marsbars, the towns biggest export is people. On the long train to the back of beyond, we arrived in the seventies time-warp that is Kings Lynn. I wondered aloud if this was the place you could hide from some hideous crime, where no one knew your name or cared. Until we walked into a local boozer and someone from Slough said he used to drink in the Wheatsheaf. FFS. Or 'its a small world' as they say in polite society. My cover was blown, not helped by my Rebels top and big amber and blue knitted mittens.

I love the fact that football sends you to the far ends of the earth. Too places you would never visit unless imprisoned or trying to escape detection like Wroxham or AFC Croydon (just go round the back of the crematory, down a windy old lane, you can't miss it). When I was growing up I could map the British Isles with ease thanks to my football knowledge. Maybe learning the football pyramid should be part of the Geography syllabus.

Forget the 92 league clubs. Pah! I reckon as I approach my 50th year on this earth i've visited 200 grounds and I take great pleasure in pointing out these places to my missus as we drive around the country, as she pretends to be bored stiff. From Dover to Gateshead, Truro to Boston, i've been there, done than and wiggled my Slough Town bobble hat. In the case of Boston, got stuck behind a wedding ceremony as we wound around country lanes and blew my air-horn so loud, I think I might have killed a small dog and its elderly owner. Some of these grounds are now unfortunately buried under housing and supermarkets, but supermarkets are now in internet-shopping retreat trying to offload their out of town stores. I look forward to the day when one is knocked down and replaced with a non league football ground.

A sense of belonging means everything to fans, but not it seems to the businessmen behind Whitehawk FC who have long been pining to ditch the name (and the ground) as they splashed the cash that has hoisted them up the leagues. They tried Brighton City but for some reason Brighton and Hove Albion weren't keen. The owners complaint that they are different from the corporate Brighton don't quite ring true. Both have been bankrolled by rich owners, but in Brighton's case they have 26,000 supporters coming to their games, whereas Whitehawk are lucky to get 200 in the Conference South. Sure, they have a dedicated bunch of ultras but the Wealdstone raider chant still holds true – 'you've got no fans.' The Whitehawk owners blame this on the reputation of the Brighton estate and no one knowing where it is, but with their FA Cup antics i'm not sure the latter is true anymore. The only trouble i've seen was years back in the FA Vase when some Truro fans unwisely sang 'does your boyfriend know you're here.' They think there is room for a second league club in the city but I think they need to get real. I went to watch the Albion on Saturday on a freebie, worth it because my eldest says he now supports the team of his birth town rather than the Arsenal. They are heading for the Premiership and that will attract even more supporters from across Sussex. Shoreham's chairman, a club just a few miles down the road admitting that their crowds drop by half when Brighton are at home.

If they do become Brighton Town, I don't want to be in the same situation I found myself in at Biggleswade. Wandering round their market town centre before being drowned in another of Nigel's real ale pubs, I spotted a stall run by Biggleswade football club. 'We are playing you today' I said, offering the universal non league hand of friendship, only to be told 'That's the other lot.' As they chased me out of town with a pitchfork I cursed the fact that I should have brushed up on my Geography syllabi, and seen that there was a Biggleswade Town as well as United.

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