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, October 24, 2017


Published in the Southern League Premier Division game v Gosport Borough Tuesday 24th October 2017 We won 5-1 in front 678 and are top of the league.

I never thought I'd be reading a book by a ref nodding my head in sympathy. Football is a passionate sport and it's the done thing to criticise the man in black often to cover the shortfallings of your team; but as I’ve got older I’ve got less and less tolerant of the 'ref had a shocker' brigade.

For the most part I found Howard Webb’s 'The Man in the Middle' book pretty absorbing. I must admit I didn't realise the hours ref’s have to put in to climb the ladder and Webb’s tale is one of totally dedication, lots of sacrifices and bloody hard work – and he admits to making mistakes! He's also a football fan through and through; OK he only played Sunday League football but he supports his home town team, Rotherham United (not Man United as many often accused him off).

Mind games from managers, slattings in the press, pulled apart by pundits, judged every game by referees assessors, tricked by players and grief and death threats from supporters – who'd put up with their family having to get police protection after a split second decision you've made? You need to be pretty thick skin to put up with all that.

There's some great insights into certain managers and players – you wouldn't be surprised by the tricks of Alex Ferguson, but maybe surprised by a haunted Jose Mourinho telling him after a game we all make mistakes but that 'the Man' will now fire me (which Abramovich did a week later).

Watching Match of the Day through your hands after Gary Neville had bollocked you for the lack of a red card, only to find you had in fact got it right 'Never believe anything you hear from players or managers at half-time until you've seen it with your own eyes' I'd warn my rookie refs who worked alongside me. 'They'll try every trick in the book to get into your head and alter your mindset. Be strong. Don't be swayed. Believe in yourself.'

Webb’s performances led him to officiating for 11 years and nearly 300 Premier League games, an FA Cup and Champions League final, nine major international tournaments and finally a World Cup Final 'By the summer of 2008, FIFA had short-listed sixty referee's teams for the 2010 World Cup and, for the next couple of years, they watched us like hawks. The governing body needed to reduce this elite group by half in time for the finals and, in order to whittle it down, instigated a rigorous programme of continuous assessment and aptitude testing....along with seminars all over the world and intensive training camps.' He passed the tests and ended up being in charge of the World Cup Final in South Africa 'What I’m doing tomorrow is just huge. Footballs the biggest sport in the entire world. Millions of people will be watching this one game. And I'm the man in the middle. Bloody hell fire...'

Eventually the intensity became too much 'To be honest. I was becoming increasingly weary of the flak that kept coming my way.... but if there was one insult I hated being hurled at me, it was 'disgrace.' It really got my back up. I was just a referee who tried to do an honest job and who occasionally made genuine mistakes. I may have been far from perfect, but I didn't think I was a disgrace....'Life as an elite referee had been like the proverbial roller coaster, with exhilarating highs and plummeting lows. After nearly a quarter-of-a-century in the middle, however those dips had started to take their toll.'

As football takes on even greater intensity and financial stakes become even higher, the pressure on the ref will only get harder, so hats off to anyone who wants to step into the middle.

I recommend you read this book before the next time you shout cheat.

* Howard Webb 'The Man in the Middle' published by Simon & Schuster 2016 (Buy from an independent bookshop rather than the tax-dodging Amazon)

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Printed in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying round game v Folkestone Invicta on Saturday 14th October 2017 (coming after our remarkable comeback in Wales where trailing Merthyr 4-0 at half time, we won 5-4!) We won 1-0 in front of 926 and are now in the first round (proper) of the FA Cup

It's FA Cup 4th Qualifying round with the First Round Proper - as if the previous six rounds have somehow been dirty and improper – within touching distance. I can almost hear the commentators harping on about the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers up against the big boys. Just like Folkestone fans and every other club in this round, you can't help getting ahead of yourself and dreaming of glamour ties that would raise not just funds but also let people know that there is actually a club in Slough.

After the West Brom friendly it was my pleasure to go for a pint or two with former Rebels manager Eddie Denton and Slough captain Steve Daley where I got the inside story of our famous victory over Walsall in the FA Cup 1st round. It was 2004, we were in the Ryman Premier, homeless and our budget had been cut again. As the Match of the Day cameras were there we organised a red card protest against Slough Council – which to be fair to Walsall fans they joined in when they heard our miserable lack of support for our plans to get a ground in Slough. One councillor helpfully pointed out we should merge with Windsor.

Before the Walsall game we had a goalkeeper who had done well for us, but Eddie was worried he was a bit too young and inexperienced for a game like this. Leeds reserve keeper Shaun Allaway, who had once been tipped to play for England, became available and the young lad was dropped from the team and Shaun brought in for his debut against the Division One side. At the time we felt this was pretty harsh but as a manager you live or die by these decisions. Walsall had Slough watched previously and their player-manager former Arsenal and England International Paul Merson apparently told his family and friends they could bet their house on a Walsall victory. I'm not sure I slept much the night before and I arrived early in Windsor where we were groundsharing as the pub opposite the ground filled up. In the end over 2,000 packed into Stag Meadow to witness an historic 2-1 victory to the Rebels. Considering the constraints Eddie was under, it has to be one of Slough's greatest cup victories and was the shock of the round. As for Merson, well he said "Losing to Slough was the worst day of my football life. The sound of Slough players celebrating still haunts me."

However being Slough we drew another non league club in the second round – Yeading who were flying in our league with a certain young striker called DJ Campbell firing on all cylinders. Despite scoring a 3rd minute penalty we lost 3-1 and once again lost out in appearing in the Third round of the FA Cup. Worse was to come the following day when Yeading drew Newcastle United at home while Campbell ended up playing in the football league.

* While our managers are no doubt happy with a third home cup tie on the bounce, spare a thought for programme editors. In between full time work our editor Steve Chapman spends between 5-10 hours putting each programme together. On average we sell about 175 a game and give away around 50. All senior league football clubs are required to produce programmes but the lower you go the more sparse these are and I do wonder in an age where info is at our mobile phone finger tips how long they will survive. I would never think of buying a Brighton programme for my eldest (especially as they are £3.50 a pop). So will the football programme eventually be a thing of the past?

** While we are dishing out sympathy spare a thought for the long distance football fan. I was ready to board the Slough Town express to watch us play Biggleswade on Non League Day when the horror of rail replacement flashed up on my screen. Nearly 4 hours to get to Slough seemed a bit much and so my season ticket stayed a virgin. Is this some sort of record? It's looking like its going to be mid-November before I get the chance to finally flash it at Phil and Aiden. Talking of Biggleswade, for a town with a population of just 6,500 they have 3 senior clubs! Eastbourne also have 3 (they used to have 4) while Worthing have three. Anyone know which town holds the record for the most clubs in a town that can compete in the FA Cup/Trophy/Vase.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


Published in the Southern League Premier Division game v Biggleswade Town on Saturday 7th October 2017 Non League Day. We won 2-1 in front of 760

When I first asked my nan that I was thinking of writing about her life, she asked who would be interested. But everyone has a story to tell, especially someone who survived the Blitz. So at the age of 88 with an incredible memory for detail I started to spend a couple of hours before home games recording our conversations.

Listening to her stories made me realise that despite its size, London was like a village “When we came home from school we just played in the street, you knew all the neighbours. You had the London way of talking. I can’t remember a lot of it now ‘cos I haven’t spoken it for years. Plates of meat are your feet; apples and pears - stairs, it was all cockney. If your gran moved out another relative would move in, but we all get separated during the War.”

I think it was her stories of the Second World War that really brought home to me how lucky I was to be alive. She had three near misses, but if one of those bombs had struck not only would my nan have died but my mum, me and my children would never have been born. She said that seeing the whole of the East End on fire during the Blitz felt like the end of the world.

One time Nan was at her Dad’s allotment with her future husband Ernest. They heard a Doodlebug overhead and quickly ran to a shelter. They just managed to shut the door and were blown down the stairs but unhurt. The nearby shelter was hit and the occupants not so lucky. Another time one of Nan’s friend, popped round and asked if she wanted to go to the library. Daisy said she couldn’t as she was cutting lamb’s tongues for dinner. The next minute the windows in the house were shattered as the library was hit by a rocket. The only part of her friend ever found was her jaw. The third time she was working in a factory when another doddle-bug hit. She managed to get into the shelter with workmates, but her clothes were ripped and her legs cut and they had to be dug out of the rubble. She walked dazed down the street where her grateful mum took her home, but she should have reported to the medical staff or to the ARP. The Air Raid Patrol wardens were the ones that went round the streets during black-outs telling people to turn out their lights so the bombers couldn’t target them. They also reported bomb damage and re-united families. In the morning after the attack there was a knock at their door from the ARP saying they had searched all night for my Nan but she couldn’t be found. That was because she was asleep in bed upstairs!

At the age of 18 she had to sign on for war work “They put me at an aircraft factory in Feltham and I lodged with young girls. We had the weekend off and we came home to our families. We did night work from 8 o’clock till 6 in the morning. I was on the rear part of the Spitfire planes riveting the tail end of it. Wasn’t hard work it was fun really. I was pushing the rivet in once and one of the girls said, ‘that’s gone through, it’s gone through my hand as well’. She married Ernest Hunt at 20 and they spent their honeymoon in an Anderson Shelter!

Being a pub person I loved the stories of The Scottish Stores in Kings Cross, a pub my Aunt Bet ran from 1941 to 1950. Nan told me that Aunt Bet always said the pub was a finishing school and that it finished her off! With a clientèle of prostitutes, gangs and soldiers; well it wasn't the sort of place where you could sit and relax with soldiers coming in to meet the prostitutes and gangs coming in to beat up the soldiers. One time my grandad ran to a passing copper to ask him to help stop a fight; when the copper found out it was the Scottish Stores he told him rather impolitely to f-off! My nan nearly adopted one of the prostitutes daughters after her mother had been sent to prison, but she fell pregnant with my mum and it never happened.

A couple of years back The Scottish Stores got its original name back and a make-over. There's a quote from nan on the front of the relaunched pubs website and I went in after a Slough game half expecting a picture of my Aunt Bet hanging on the wall warning everyone to behave themselves or else. A London magazine ran a two page spread on the pub mainly with her quotes and a picture of her on the front.

I loved the stories of moving to Langley estate because their home in London was overcrowded. “There were only four families on this road when we moved here. Not all the estate was built, no street lights, no paving. A lot of them moved back to London because they didn’t like it, it was too quiet. The first 100 people down here got an invitation to go to the Lord Mayor’s town hall to have tea there with him but I didn’t go ‘cos I had the kids. In the summer evenings you sat on your front wall. Someone would make a pot of tea, another one would bring out a bottle of beer, and someone would make sandwiches. There were only two cars on this street.”

My nan had a remarkable life that has shaped mine and all those around her. With three children, four grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and one great great grandchild her memories will live on. 

Her book 'It's just the way things were' can be read here  

                     DAISY LOUISA HUNT 1924-2017