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.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

SLOUGH TOWN TO BLAME FOR ENGLAND FAILURE

Printed in the first programme of the season v St.Neots Town Saturday 13th August 2016. We won 2-0 in front of 345 people.

There is of course only one thing to write about, but I want to save it for the Big Day. Nearly 14 years since leaving Wexham Park, Slough Town are finally going back to Slough – hopefully on August Bank Holiday against another nomadic club who've returned home.

Instead, I want to spoil the party mood to talk about the threat to lower league football.

It was another of those football summers, but apart from the other Home Nations games and Iceland, it was a bit dull won by a team led by a spoilt brat who hardly won a game. England were even more dreadful than usual, but they've been rubbish for so long no one really seemed to care. I hardly saw a Three Lions flag flapping, we've come to expect so little. However, when it comes to solutions to the national teams perennial problems, it's the lower leagues that get punished for the FA's failings and Premier League greed.

The inclusion of Academy teams in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy is seen by many as the thin end of the wedge – a Trojan Horse to get B teams playing in the football league. The FA Cup is seen by big clubs as an irritant they could do without so the FA is scrapping FA Cup replays from the quarter finals. With an average of 1 replay in this round this will really make a big difference to the fixture congestion that apparently so hampers the England national side. What it will mean is a bit less money in the pot to be shared by the 32 non league sides that reach the first round proper. To cut down on the number of mid-week games, a new Division 3 has been proposed. This would mean the National League (or Conference in old money) would get its wish for more promotion places with up to eight clubs getting promoted. Virgin Media is also challenging the 3pm rule, which states that no live football can be shown at 3pm on a Saturday. Finally, that old winter break chestnut is once again back on the agenda. Forget that most lower league clubs get their largest gate of the season on either Boxing Day or New Years Day and football fans need a winter break from mince pies, mad aunts and endless repeats on TV. 

And what of the Olympic Legacy? Just two years ago we welcomed the world to an awe inspiring contest that made you proud to be British, now we seem to have stuck two fingers up at the world and returned to a 'Life on Mars' time with some retro Thatcher thrown in. Our grassroots football struggles with souring pitch hire costs and terrible facilities as everything that is not a statutory service is seen as an expense we can ill afford.

So it really is a testament to those those behind the scenes, that against this backdrop, Slough Town has finally got itself a brand spanking new sports stadium for the whole community. I'm not sure how many games I can make, but I couldn't resist the £100 Euro-deal season ticket. It's certainty cheaper than the £800 I shelled out for me and my eldest to watch Brighton and Hove Albion, whose games are moved at whim so often by TV that I can still stand on the non league terraces (see modern football isn't all bad). I've got my Slough Town Trust membership on line and I’m raring to go – well apart from missing today’s game cos i'm on holiday. Hopefully I’ve persuaded my missus that she would like to visit Bridport for the day so I can catch them play in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup against Alresford Town where replays apparently wont ruin England’s chances of winning the World Cup in Qatar. 

Non-Premier League football faces an overwhelming number of threats. Whether it be football being shown live on TV on a Saturday at 3pm, the scrapping of FA Cup replays, League 3 and B teams; football mimics society where the have-a-lots don't just want even more of the spoils but blame those at the bottom of the barrel for any of their failings.

In this climate you have to be so much more than just a football club if you are to not just survive but prosper. A new ground in Slough in a community stadium on a 3G pitch will give the club the chance to show just what it is capable of. I can't wait. 

* To find out more about all those proposals go to www.againstleague3.co.uk 

 

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