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, April 01, 2017

THE LARDY BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Kings Lynn on April 1st 2017. We won 3-0 in front of 607

It probably passed by many Rebels radars, but shout from the West Sussex rooftops, Horsham are finally coming home after 9 nomadic years. Their planning application was their third and final throw of the dice. The stakes were high as councillors had turned down two previous applications, and if they were rejected a third one, Horsham officials said it would be curtains for the club.
The first time I came across Horsham their fans were dressed up for Halloween in an FA Cup replay at Maidenhead United and sang songs about Lard. The Lardy Boys have had their moments of glory including an FA Cup 2nd round game against Swansea City where they drew 1-1 in front of their first ever televised game.
I always enjoyed visiting Horshams Queens Street. It was a bit crumbling but a proper non league – you know with that old fashioned terracing resplendent with the odd tuft of grass and wildflower popping out of the concrete cracks. The last time I went Slough were already homeless and having a torrid time in the Ryman Premier. Just before the match started there was a torrential downpour. Poor old Yeovil Steve arrived after finishing his Somerset bin round just as the game was called off. He helped push someone's car stuck in the flooded car-park and got covered in mud just to round off a rubbish afternoon. Queens Street was where football grounds belong – smack bang in the centre of town. But I knew from conversations with their chairman that they couldn't generate enough income to survive and the offer of cash to sell the ground for housing would help the club prosper in the future.
The problem with plans is that people and in this case councillors get in the way and as Slough fans know only to well, a nomadic existence isn't good for your wealth, health or attendances. At one point Horsham found themselves relegated to the Sussex County League for the first time in 64 years ground-sharing with Horsham YMCA as another application was rejected.
So you can imagine it was a pretty tense night, the sort of night that twitter was made for as people reported on the twists and turns of the committee. It was an impassioned speech by Albion season ticket holder and Tory councillor Billy Greening who set the tone telling the committee the application was the biggest issue from his constituents – and when the first application was submitted he was still at school completing his GCSE'S! Eventually councillors voted 19-1 in favour of a new 1,300 capacity football ground off the Worthing Road. As one fan put it 'Billy Greening perfectly sums up the opinion of so many people. We need to cherish our communities and the facilities that help them thrive.'
The ground will see the installation of two new all-weather 3G pitches, which will provide a much-needed sporting facility for everyone across the community every day of the week, a clubhouse and low impact floodlighting – and probably most importantly in an age when somehow the 5th richest country in the world can't afford anything – at no cost to the taxpayer.
Horsham president Frank King said “I am so glad that the council at long last have given us an 80 per cent support. There is no doubt about it, if this had failed, I am not quite sure where we would have gone.” Horshams manager Dominic Di Paola has made no secret of the struggles his side have faced by having no reserve, under-18 or under-21 teams this season. With two 3G pitches, the Hornets can start to start more teams to bolster player numbers and also generate funds of their own rather than spending money on ground sharing. Better facilities also attracts better players.
To cap a fantastic week, Horsham then beat league leaders Tooting and Mitcham, who were on a 14 match unbeaten run. The Lardy Boys once again have something to sing about.

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