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.

Friday, January 22, 2016

BARING AN APOCALYPSE

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Hitchin Town on Saturday 23rd 2016. We won 1-0 in front of 314 people. 

While the January monsoons were once again wiping out non league fixtures, Lancing FC from the Southern Combination Football League (or Sussex County in old money) tweeted that baring an apocalypse their top of the table clash with Arundel would go ahead. Lancing share their ground with Sussex FA and have bitten the bullet and installed a 3G pitch.
So sure of getting the game ahead they had offered free tickets to a local youth side who they hope will merge with them. So while other clubs were forking in vain, the Lancing groundsmen were hoovering and sweeping! By kick-off there were 118 paying punters and over 300 packed into the impressive facilities along one side of the ground. The game was fast and furious in the first half and by the time of the deluge in the second half came, the pitch didn't turn into a mud-bath. In the end they won 4-1 and went top of the league.
The only hiccup of the day was my complaint to the caterers that the coffee they had served me was salty. No, you idiot, you had just put milk in someones bovril.
Another Sussex club Worthing seem to waking from a long sleep since a young chairman took over and appointed an even younger manager. They installed 3G in the summer and are second in the Ryman South attracting gates between 500 to a 1,000 - so big infact that they have to work with the local council on a travel plan.
Of course Maidstone are leading the artificial way and are knocking on the Conference doors with crowds averaging over two thousand. Its worth Slough fans remembering that its just a couple of seasons back when a homeless Maidstone were averaging 300 a game.
Now Bracknell Town want to get on the 3G wagon, selling part of the decrepited Largess Lane ground for £1 million for housing so they can pay for it and carry out ground improvements. The all weather pitch will enable them to share with Ranleigh school in the week along with classrooms for sports studies courses for teenagers, a creche for students at nearby Bracknell and Wokingham college and a sports hall for the disabled. All that stands in the way is planning permission, but things certaintly look a bit brighter for the Hellenic League club with nearly 300 attending the Christmas holiday day derby with Ascot Town. So hats off to Bracknell for trying to diversify with as many income streams as possible – and you never know it might even bring in a few extra fans.
Of course I will miss the mud-baths that even up the teams in the early rounds of the FA Cup but it really is a lower league no brainer, I've heard complaints from other teams about an unfair advantage but as technology gets better, pitches get cheaper and the football authorities really get behind it, a trip to watch a game on the grass will become a novelty. And of course when we move to our Slough Town Theatre of Dreams we will be playing on the artificial stuff because as our chairman says “it is not only the way forward for clubs it is the way forward for communities as the pitch can be better utilised as opposed to just the couple of times a week you can play on a grass pitch. Also with an artificial pitch there is less chance that a game will be called off. It has taken the FA a long time, however artificial pitches are now accepted in the FA Cup, in the Conference League and it won’t be long before the professional leagues accept them.”
Barring of course, an apocalypse.

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