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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MORE THAN MY JOBS WORTH

To be printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Hitchin Town Tuesday 12th September 2017.

Football fans have long been treated like criminals, so it didn't shock me as much as it should that female Grimsby fans had to lift their tops to show their bras before they could go and watch their team away to Stevenage. One lucky steward was stationed in the bogs no doubt looking for stink bombs. Mind you, one Grimbsy fan was recently found guilty of assaulting a steward with an inflatable shark, so they were obviously up to something fishy.
I remember one steward searching my bag at Lewes, during their ill fated one season in the Conference. The fact that I was with an 18 month old toddler didn't seem to matter, unless they liked poking around in dirty nappies.

At the Slough-West Brom friendly, a steward wouldn't let one of our wheelchair supporters sit in a fenced off area despite their being no other respite from the torrential rain. He left at half time soaked to the skin. Too their credit Slough Council apologised and said they were working on sorting out the situation as a matter of urgency, but a bit of decency and common sense from the steward really wouldn't have gone a miss.

A last minute winner is always going to get football fans passions racing, but instead of savouring the moment Manchester City Rahim Sterling was sent off for over celebrating while one City fan was bundled to the ground by stewards. City's Sergio Agüero tried to intervene and was falsely accused of punching the steward. So is football a game full of excitement or is it just something to watch out the corner of your eye while taking selfies and playing with your phone?

Nick Glynn was a senior police football commander and adviser for nearly two decades – as a well as being a Birmingham City fan. He said “It is always interesting to watch the reaction of stewards and police officers when a goal is scored. I see fear, anger, aggression, sometimes panic. For many, it seems the overriding desire is to stop a perfectly normal and natural human reaction to a rare event, rather than taking a few steps back, a few deep breaths, remaining calm, and observing and giving half a minute for things to calm down. The reaction of stewards and police officers to goal celebrations is symptomatic of a wider problem with the rules and regulations that govern football fans, and the way that authorities treat them as a group. Many regulations apply only to football fans, and please, don’t try to claim we all deserve it. We don’t.”

I felt the full wrath of this petty bureaucrat mentality at Sloughs recent trip to Hereford. I'd been really looking forward to visiting the ground for the first time, leaving Brighton at stupid o' clock to meet up with fellow Rebels and a mate just back from Brazil. In the ground we had a laugh with their bar staff and mingled with their supporters. One of them told us he had been at THAT GAME. As a ten year old he was at the back of the terraces and said that as Ronnie Radford hit the ball the whole crowd know it was heading for the back of the Newcastle net. His feet didn't touch the ground as the crowd celebrated. Over 40 years later as Hereford were reborn as a supporters run club, he was back on those terraces repainting them for free ready for the new season; bonded to the club forever by those celebrations.

The 101 Slough supporters were in fine voice as we snatched what was to be the only goal of the game just before half time. Me and my mate then left for a half time drink. To be honest I didn't really pay attention to signs saying no half time readmission. The two coppers had left bored, the bar staff told us to pop in and away fans were allowed in the bars before and after the game. In any case this was non league. What happened however was a perfect example of how to blow a situation out of all proportion. NO READMITTANCE bellowed Chief Steward. These are the rules. When we went back to the bar and started watching with the home supporters a couple of stewards couldn't have cared less but Chief Steward was angry. Rules are rules as he would no doubt be saying in another life loading up the trucks to the gas chambers.

On the way back on the train we chatted to Hereford fans who were none too complimentary about their stewards while my Brazilian mate said he had forgotten about their petty mindedness. In Brazil people wouldn't dare treat people like that in case someone had a gun and blew their brains out!

Meanwhile back at a small non league ground on Bank Holiday Monday West Didsbury & Chorlton were beating Runcorn Linnets in the North West County League in front of 484 supporters. One Man City fan who'd been at the Bournemouth game commented 'A beer in the sun watching football and not being treated like a criminal. Bliss.'


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