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.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Printed in the FA Trophy 1st Qualifying round game v Bognor Regis Town on Saturday 29th October 2016. We won 4-1 in front of 543.

It's fair to say that the FA Trophy doesn't get the pulses racing like the FA Cup although it is more glamorous than the Berks and Bucks or League Cup. Not that that is anything to blow your trumpet about. Having a cup of cold sick thrown over you would be preferable than the Berks and Bucks, where Reading enter their under nines and whose early rounds should be played as part of pre-season. A couple of years back in the Trophy Luton played their youth team and still beat Staines while the Cambridge United boss complained that the competition should be midweek with no replays and that really he couldn't be arsed. Then, like the annoying kid in the class who does no work but still comes first, they go and win the bloody thing. I agree with the suggestion to give the winners of the Vase and Trophy a bye to the 3rd round of the FA Cup, although i'd happily compromise with a bye to the First Round Proper (unlike the improper 6 rounds that have happened before). Much more money in the pot for each round would also help.
Yet ask today's opponents about what they think of the Trophy and you might get a different answer as they got to the semi finals last season before losing to Grimsby. I spoke to their programme editor and former kit man Rob Garforth whose been supporting Bognor since 1981.
Q: The Trophy is often seen as a very poor relation to the FA Cup and FA Vase, but reaching last years semi final, did Bognor supporters warm to it a bit more? 
Rob: “They certainly warmed to it more as the tournament progressed. Other than a last 32 appearance 20 years earlier, it had been one early Trophy exit after another for the Rocks, prior to last season, so there had been general apathy towards the tournament. When asking a work colleague if they were going to last season's First Qualifying Round tie, the response was: 'No, I don't do the FA Trophy.' Fair to say that the fan in question will have changed their tune in the later rounds.”
Q: Did the trophy run ultimately cost you promotion or did it help with that winning mentality and attracting new supporters?
Rob: “It played a large part in missing out on promotion, it has to be said. After the semi-final defeat, we then played eight matches in 15 days. Most were won, apart from Thursday, Saturday and Monday trips to Enfield Town, Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian respectively. One thing that I think gets overlooked is that the run in the Sussex Senior Cup - reaching the semi-finals - was also a factor. The Kingstonian match was moved a number of times throughout the season as a result. These days, again there is a degree of apathy towards that competition from supporters, but since 2011, the final has been played at the Amex Stadium, Brighton. This is a great occasion for players and management when they reach the final so one can fully understand why the club wants to do well in that cup, even if a lot of fans don't tend to see it that way as much. The Trophy run did of course however, attract some new supporters - two of which live right by the ground and had never set foot in the place, having lived there for a number of years!”

Q: How many Trophy games did you play last season and how much did you make?
Rob: “Including a replay and the two legged semi-final, it was ten games in all. I'm not sure of the total prize money won but I believe it was somewhere around £40-50k. The run produced many memorable moments, which is something you can't put a price on.”

Q: What can be done to improve the Trophy?
Rob: “A good question, but not an easy one to answer in my opinion. Particularly with the former Football League club's now plying their trade in the Conference, whose fans are not bothered with it in general. Such was the case with last season's semi-final opponents Grimsby. There were more supporters at Nyewood Lane than at Blundell Park, over the two legs. Torquay fans didn't appear too upset after we knocked them out in the quarter final. Even the lure of a Wembley appearance doesn't seem to appeal to some larger club's supporters, whilst the teams in the lower leagues feel that success in the tournament is highly unlikely.”

Q: What are Bognor's goals for this season?
Rob: “Simply to go one better than last year and get promoted. Things did not look to promising during the summer, with a number of last season's key players moving on and it looked as if it could be a re-building job. But after a slow start, things have picked up and we find ourselves in third place, with one point separating the top four at present. With a bit of luck we'll be returning to Arbour Park next season in the National League South.”

Cheers Rob, at least after today at least one of us wont have to worry about the Trophy getting in the way of a promotion challenge!


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Dorchester Town Tuesday 25th October 2016. We won 2-1 in front of 589 and stay second.

For those of us on Slough's outer limits and unable to get to every game Slough Towns very own Rebels Radio has become essential listening.
I spoke to the man behind the mic Adrian Gomm to find out a bit more.

Q How long have you been supporting Slough
“About 35 years catching games whenever work allowed, then in 2000 started to go to as many games home and away as possible. Don't think I've missed more than 3 games a season in 16 years.”

Q How long have you been actively involved
“About six years now, I started as a steward, then covered the turnstiles when needed. Done a couple of end of season walks and have been helping with the Supporters Trust for about 18 months. This summer I was even the keeper in a 'Beat the keeper' stall. With the radio I started in April 2014. A couple of weeks back I was invited to join the Operations Committee with the club as I've been heavily involved with the set up on matchdays, including setting up the bar, moving the goalposts and doing the opposite after each game.”

Q How did you get involved in Rebels Radio
“Although I don't have any media background I used to do a few minutes match reports for Time 106.6FM which was a local radio station for Windsor, Slough and Maidenhead.
I'd spoken to John Porter who started the radio, the first ever broadcast was on the 3rd Feb 2014 at home against Aylesbury My first commentary was against Barton Rovers in our promotion season.
Rebels Radio was the brainchild of MYFC Chairman Mick Newton, the aim was to provide a service as most of their members aren't local but still wanted a way of feeling in touch with Slough Town. MYFC funded the equipment - laptop, mixer desk and internet hub - and there is a monthly data allowance which is now covered by MYFC and the Supporters Trust and they cover the cost of any replacement accessories. I receive no fee!
As I said the service is for fans who can't make the game to get the action as best they can. Many fans no longer live in Slough but still have the club in their minds as this helps fulfil this need. Is it important? Not really but in this age of social media it is a good option, and I get told by many fans, including players relatives, who appreciate it. I will continue as long as work allows and people still listen and as long as the club wants it to no matter if MYFC are around or not.”

Q When you're not on the radio, you're quite a vocal supporter – how do you manage to keep a lid on it when your broadcasting?
“As you said I have been quite vocal before but after maybe being a bit biased at first, I realised that what people want is to hear the game, not to listen to me waffle on, this came more to fruit when I did my first solo commentary. Now I just describe what goes on but, like all fans, certain decisions/actions make my blood boil. Last season away to Hungerford the referee was allowing them to time waste at every opportunity, so I turned the mic off and shouted, rather loudly ' Get on with it you bloody twat' much to the amusement of Ryan Hope who saw me move the mic back and then carry on.
There was one occasion against Rugby at home, which led to a complaint. We had beaten them at their ground 4-0 and the centre back that day had a nightmare. I was behind the goal that game as the radio hadn’t started, and I kept calling him a 'donkey', so much so that I looked up the local donkey sanctuary on my phone and told him I'd booked him in for Monday. When we did the commentary of that return game at home I said that Slough fans had called him a 'donkey' and the player then proceeded to hit a free kick out of the ground from 25 yards out. Someone from Rugby complained so from then on I bite my tongue.”

Q How do you see the club progressing now we are back in town? After so many years in the doldrums its an exciting time to be a Rebel
“It's absolutely fantastic especially as it's happening both on and off the field, and I see it first hand seeing the amount of work that goes on each game, but as the club progresses it also needs to build both internally and externally. We need to keep the club in the focus of Slough residents, broaden our horizons so we can broaden their experience; but we also need volunteers to help out whenever they can rather than the same people doing all the jobs. I started by giving up half an hour, at the end of the first and second half and I'm now doing 7/8 hours on a Saturday, although I wouldn't change it at all as I enjoy doing it.”

Q Non League grounds aren't always set up for twitter let alone radio transmissions – how do you cope?
“There have been many teething problems. At North Greenford, there was no where to set up so we pushed two rubbish bins together to make a flat area to use, unfortunately the bins were pitch side and every time a team attacked down that side, every fan lent forward and we couldn't see a thing, the same happened at AFC Hayes but this time I'd brought a small table but was still the same situation.
Away to Merthyr in the FA Trophy, they had an old TV gantry that was 35 foot high. John decided this was a great place to broadcast from but I'm not good with heights, every time the ball went below us I couldn't see as I was rooted to the spot.
But the funniest story was actually before a commentary game. John and Mick were going to do the commentary at Truro, so I had a day off from chatting but went to see if needed anything. The commentary position was another gantry but only 15 feet high and had no seats, and Mick being slightly big needed one. John was already in the gantry so I left Mick to climb up while I fetched a chair from the press office. Twenty minutes later I returned with the chair only to find Mick stuck up a ladder, apparently he has a greater fear of heights than me, Mick was 2 steps from the top but wouldn't move up or down, he was frozen stuck. Another 20 minutes later he hadn't moved, much to my amusement as I was now sat on the chair watching and laughing. Finally John dragged Mick in and I passed up the chair, then watched us win 2-1, but forgot to try to help Mick back down. He could have been there for a week for all I knew. Gary House has a great picture of me sat in the chair, with Mick in the background stuck up the ladder.”

Cheers Ade, and if anyone fancies helping the club on match-days the Supporters Trust have helpfully drawn up a to do list which you can find on their website

* Thanks to Gary House for use of photographs. You can see more of his Slough Town match photos here 

Friday, October 07, 2016


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Cambridge City on Saturday 8th October 2016. We won 1-0 in front of 656 and stay top of the league

I'm sure there wont be many opportunities in our Slough Town supporting lifetime that we will be able to sing (to the tune of Pilot's 'Magic') 'O ho ho, its magic, we're gonna win ten in a row....' - and with our voices maybe that's a good thing. Still, despite playing some great football and twice being in front, Slough's third best winning run ever had to come to and end sometime. It's just a shame it was in the FA Cup.
The Dartford fans were a great bunch and could see us in the Conference South soon, but as a cautionary tale they told of life in the Conference. Full time teams and supporter segregation – is this really non league? For Dartford a relegation reprieve from the Conference led to another dreadful season hitting crowds hard. This season Dagenham are even charging £21 for the privilege of seeing them play Braintree and Southport. I saw Lewes taking a battering in their only season in the Conference and gone were the joys of supping a pint on the terraces. I even got my bag full of nappies searched by an overzealous steward. I just wish one had been soiled. Not that I want to get ahead of ourselves, but you can see 'the only way is up' for our club – although thankfully we didn't sing that little Yazz tune. At least not yet. 
One man who sadly wont see our progress is Keith Smith who passed away last weekend. Thankfully Keith did make it to Arbour Park for the opening game. 
Keith had been supporting the Rebels since the 90's and at Beaconsfield him and John Tebbit were our chairmans unofficial 'bodyguards' at most games, standing alongside him near the halfway line. Me and Keith were at opposite ends of the political spectrum but what I like about football is that once you've stopped bashing each other over the head with your parties manifestos you have one thing in common: Slough Town 
Me and Keith also shared a passion for Herschel Park. 30 years ago I helped set up Slough Urban Wildlife Group which scrutinised planning applications and tried to encourage the council to make Slough parks a little less like green deserts with a few lollipop trees and mown grass and a bit more friendly for wildlife and more interesting for people.
I don't think people realise just how many acres of parkland Slough has. From my old house in Wiltshire Avenue I could walk a couple of miles through them to get close to the High Street. Being from the Farnham Road end of town I didn't stumble across Herschel Park until I moved into Alpha Street with my dad (well I think he lived there, more often than not he lived in the Alpha Arms).
Herschel Park is one of Slough's hidden gems. A Grade II Listed garden near the town centre it was originally built in 1842 by Sir Jospeh Paxton as a pleasure garden for the Victorian houses built in front of it. By the 1980's the park was in need of some serious love with its two ponds silted up. We organised some work parties, even held a mini festival then along came Graham McCall who begin putting plans together for the park and the piece of landfill that was fast becoming a nature reserve which would also act as a noise buffer against the M4.
With £2.7million funding from the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Fund and support from the friends and volunteers the park has been completely restored. There’s a Nature Reserve and all sorts of events throughout the year, along with self-guided trails, including a tree trail and a history trail.
It's a fitting tribute to Keith that thanks to his and others hard work, Slough have a new ground and Herschel Park is once again a jewel in the towns crown.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


Printed in the programme v Dartford FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round Saturday 1st October 2016. 
After nine wins on the bounce we lost 3-2 in front of 733.

Its autumn and you can almost smell the first round proper of the FA Cup. Just two more wins and well, who knows. But today there's just the small matter of Dartford, a club who are celebrating a decade of playing back in their home town.
Slough are not only on a fantastic run, but also recently seem to be pitted against teams that have either gone bust, lost their ground or both – Leamington, Cambridge City, Hayes and Yeading and Dartford who just like us, spent 14 years homeless before moving into the impressive Princes Park.
10 years ago they were playing in the Ryman North but since their homecoming have powered up the pyramid with their green roof and recycling systems, even spending three seasons in the Conference before being relegated to the Conference South in 2015.
I only visited their old Watling Street ground once as a 15 year old. I remember a fine old non league stadium packed to the rafters for a tasty FA Trophy game which we unfortunately lost 4-1.
10 years ago I also turned to them in my programme notes for some inspiration amongst the bleak situation our club found ourselves in. Our old ground Wexham Park was becoming a wildflower meadow and Slough Council had voted against even talking to us. Thankfully times and councillors change, some even went to visit Princes Park with our chairman to see how they did it. And here we are pinching ourselves that we are back in Slough and as of Monday night, adding a thick dollop of 'we are top of the league' icing to the cake.
In the wake of the Bradford City fire and Hillsborough disaster, Dartford, like so many clubs, needed to either relocate or upgrade their facilities. Their board went for the latter option. Large sums of money were spent on planning and design fees, crippling them with interest charges.
At the same time Maidstone United needed to move to realise their dreams of playing in the Football League. Unfortunately this dream bankrupted Maidstone and the ground improvements, which Maidstone had paid for, were sold to Dartford at a cost of around £500,000, which made their debts unmanageable. Watling Street was sold to pay off creditors and Dartford withdrew from the Southern League four games into the 1992–93 season.
As is so often the case, it was the supporters and their 400 strong association who came to the rescue and made sure they had a club to support.
10 years ago I asked Councillor Jeremy Kite, Conservative leader of Dartford Council why they had invested in the club and his words didn't disapoint. 10 years later and we are welcoming him to Arbour Park! He told meTen years ago, Slough Town supporters wrote rather wistfully about the difference between our two clubs. Dartford was about to move into a new multi-million pound stadium provided by the Council and in those heady days it wasn’t a case of wondering WHETHER we could play a part in the wider community, but sifting through the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of ways we now could. I don’t remember how the views of the Slough Town faithful reached me but I do remember thinking it was sad that any town or club couldn’t experience the fun and excitement we were enjoying. I wrote a small word or two of encouragement suggesting that things wouldn’t always be bleak and hoping things would change for you. I said then, what I still believe now, that Councils can achieve a lot of their wider objectives - pride in place, healthy living, reliability, education, character - if they put trust in their delivery into the hands of sport. Councils don't need to build social and community infrastructure one pencil and paper clip at a time, it’s already there in people running sports clubs.
“Well, what did I tell you? Good things happen if you wait long enough and having been been pleased to offer a small bit of encouragement to keep alive your (then improbable) hopes for a new ground, here I am a decade later actually visiting it for the FA Cup!!! As Dartford supporters know, some things just take a little time, that’s all.”