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 19, 2016


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Stratford Town on Tuesday 16th August 2016. We drew 0-0 in front of 336

Two games of football in two days; both promotion challenges, but the contrast couldn't have been more stark.
On Friday night I watched Brighton demolish Fulham in their swanky stadium in front of over 28,500. Taking my sons ten year old mate set me back £22.50.
On Saturday I was entertained by Southwick who might have blown their chance of back to back promotions after a 2-2 draw against Midhurst and Easebourne in front of just 16 people.
Just a few miles and nine levels seperate Southwick and Brighton and while the Albion are chasing the Premiership Promised Land, Southwick are hoping they can reclaim a place in the top division of the Southern Combination Premier Division (Sussex County in old money) after a long absence.
To say Southwick have fallen on some hard times is an understatement. At one point they also fell on hard drugs, with a former chairman sent down for a long stretch. Changing their trading name, meant liquidation and then relegation under FA rules. So this proper old school club that once spent time in the Isthmian Premier League were in Division 3 of the Sussex County.
They play at Old Barn Way and the ground unfortunately apes its name and is need of a good spring clean. They were the first club in the Sussex County to get floodlights back in 1968 and it used to have a stand but this was burnt down. A £100,000 grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund a few years back got the club new changing rooms, a directors lounge and rather bizarrely a press box (which is now in a right sorry state).
Funded by the Premier League the Football Stadia Trust dishes out capital grants to clubs from the Football League down to the lower levels of the National League System to improve safety and to enable them to satisfy FA’s over the top ground grading requirements. Last season that budget was just £6 million.
At Southwick if you are so inclined, you can combine your ground hopping with a bit of train-spotting, spoilt by a carbuncle of a bridge. The architects of such monstrosities should have to live opposite so it spoils their view every time they look out the window.
Last season they won promotion back to Division Two. A few of us set off to the promotion party game only to find out they did it without kicking a ball because the other team couldn't field a team! This season a late charge has seen them get close to the a very different Premier Division than the one Brighton are hoping to join.
Kick off was delayed while a sub run across the pitch with a coffee, kids played on a bog of a pitch before the game and there was no programme cos the printer had broken.
Just 16 punters paying £4 to get in wont even cover the refs and linos expenses so they've got nearly as many phone masts on their floodlights as fans and luckily they have a clubhouse open every day where many ignored the game for a beer, putting valuable coppers into the coffers.
As for Midhurst, they had a complete new team from the week before so despite being third from bottom put in a proper shift, making for an entertaining game. I thought it was to avoid relegation but one of their officials said that this was unlikely as teams in Division 3 grounds weren't up to scratch – well apart from AFC Varndeanians who play at Withdean stadium.
The gulf might be immense but the Southwicks of this world are the bedrock of the game and I don’t want to bang on about Jamie Vardy but it was only six seasons ago he was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels. And it wasn’t so long ago that Brighton nearly fell through the Football League door.
While the Premiership sloshing around in so much cash they could let everyone in free next season, grassroots football is suffering a thousand council cuts. Would it be too much to ask to hand out a bit more to the Football Stadia Trust so clubs can improve their grounds and youngsters don't have to play on mud baths with no proper facilities.
And now that there seems to be a TV rule that Brighton aren't allowed to play games on a Saturday at 3pm its worth checking out some lower league football with a pint in hand and see how the other half live.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Kings Lynn on Saturday 16th April 2016. We won our last home game of the season 2-0 in front of 338 and hopefully our last game at Beaconsfield, as we will be moving into our new ground next season

My Slough Town report for the season has arrived and it makes for grim reading.
There was a time when I wouldn't miss a friendly, would travel up for trust meetings, fun days, infact if someone was blowing up an amber and blue balloon, I would be there with my puff.
But this season, I'm not sure i've even reached double figures watching the Rebels. I made it to the trips to Kings Lynn, Dorking Wanderers and Basingstoke. I've got my six-hours-on-train ticket to Merthyr and am looking forward to see how their 3G pitch plays out cos i'm sad like that.
It was the first time in years that I didn't get a season ticket and didn't buy a new top. A combination of work, community pub and children have conspired against me. Even more sacrilegious is that I now have an overpriced Brighton and Hove Albion season ticket thanks to my son.
But it really isn't the same. Yes, there was nearly 30,000 at Brighton v Burnley (despite it being second v first, two opposing supporters were still managing to moan to each other about their clubs). It was a lovely spring day, great atmosphere and Brighton were denied 3 points by a last gasp Burnley goal, that would have put them top of the league. But it didn't gut churn me as much as a last minute goal would have done against Slough. I didn't really care when the pantomime figure Joey Barton trod on players and wound up the crowd. I just thought everyone would like a Barton type player in their team and that people take football far too seriously.
I can still remember that Yeovil cheer nearly 40 years ago when they scored with a few minutes to go to knock us out of the FA Cup and deny us a place in the third round for the first time ever and i'm still slightly peeved about losing to Basingstoke in the FA Cup earlier in the season.
To be honest, I can feel my life force being sucked out of me every time I walk into the Beaconsfield clubhouse and being in our new ground actually in Slough will make things a lot easier for me – as well as bring in new supporters from the town. (it might also liven up the forum which reminds me of a few old blokes in a pub arguing over the price of a stamp). It would also be good if a few more saved all that hot air and wrote an article or two for the programme instead.
I've watched from afar as the Supporters Trust have really stepped up, increased membership and had a good presence in the town. Photos of the ground taking shape have put a spring in my step. Forgot the fact that for the past couple of seasons, the squeaky bum play-off/relegation battles have been replaced with boring old consolidation. Just what the doctor ordered!
As new Brighton fans need reminding that their club lost their ground thanks to a dodgy owner and were moments away from being relegated from the football league and that they mounted an impressive direct action campaign to get their new ground. As time goes by, new Rebels will not know the basket-case that was Slough Town FC. No ground, no money, no players losing 9-0, 8-0, bucket collections from other fans to keep us going. We were teetering on the brink.
So there's much to be proud of, and the fans that have stuck with the club, should give themselves a big pat on the back. A new ground will breathe new life and new supporters into the club and will at least give us a realistic shot at being in the Conference South in the next few seasons. Oh and as we are still waiting for that first ever appearance in the FA Cup 3rd round can I put in a request for that to happen before I go senile and forget that I was ever a Slough Town fan.
See you next season (hopefully, sometimes).