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.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

ITS BEGINNING TO FEEL A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Bishop Stortford Saturday 9th December 2017 We lost 4-2 in front of 551 people.

As its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas let me tell you a story of an act of kindness that happened to British writer Bernard Hare that changed his life forever.

He was by his own accounts a bit of a low-life when he heard his mum was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. Living in London, he got to the railway station to find he'd missed the last train and could only get as far as Peterborough. He would have to nick a car, steal some money, anything to get home. "Tickets, please," he heard, but after he stamped it, the guard stood there looking at him. He'd been crying and looked terrible. "You okay? Is there anything I can do? Hare felt like thumping him 'What's it got to do with you, get lost and mind your own business." The guard ignored the fact that there was a good chance that he was going to get walloped and instead sat down opposite "If there's a problem, I'm here to help. That's what I'm paid for." So Hare told him his story "Look, my mum's in hospital, dying, she won't survive the night, I'm going to get home. It's tonight or never, I won't get another chance, I'm a bit upset, I'd be grateful if you'd leave me alone. " The guard finally left but 10 minutes later he was back and Hare was ready to punch him. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train will be there." Hare looked at him dumbfounded. What do you mean? Is it late, or something?" "No, it isn't late. I've just radioed Peterborough. They're going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes. Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let's not worry about that on this occasion. You'll get home and that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."

Hare suddenly realised what a total git he'd been and chased the guard down the train. He caught him up and grabbed his arm. "I wish I had some way to thank you, I appreciate what you've done." The guard replied "Not a problem. If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply. Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."

Hare was at his mother's side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, he can't think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough – more than that the Good Conductor changed him from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time. "I've paid him back a thousand times since then," he tells the young people he works with, "and I'll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don't owe me nothing. Nothing at all. And if you think you do, I'd give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."

It's a lovely story worthy of 'Its A Wonderful Life' but what the hell has this got to do with football? Well, two things. First, if you're not sure how non league football clubs tick then I suggest you volunteer one day for a couple of hours before the game. It must have taken a monumental effort to put the Rochdale match on. The majority of work done by volunteers, some of whom had taken the day off work to be at the ground from 9am to help and wouldn't have left till midnight (and some who came back the following night after work to move the segregation fencing) They are proper Slough fans, many who would have missed one of the biggest games in our history to help. Good Samaritans who make this club tick.

Secondly, i think the above story should be required reading by all stewards. Look I run a charity working with kids and adults with learning disabilities, I help run a community pub, I'm a governor at two schools – these organisations could hide all day behind rules and regulations so they never have to give a helping hand to anyone who needs it but we don't cos otherwise what's the point in us being there. So don't make someone with a walking stick climb a massive flight of stairs when you could easily escort them a few yards to meet their sister who incidentally had spent the whole game flogging merchandise to raise money for the club. Don't threaten supporters that its time to go for simply chatting to people after the game. Or as happened recently let someone in a wheelchair get soaked cos you couldn't use a bit of common sense and let them in a fenced off covered area. People aren't criminals for coming to football and maybe if we are all treated with a bit of decency it might stop some situations getting out of hand.

That train guard didn't hide behind its-more-than-my-jobs-worth mentality, he did the right thing. And the more of us that do, well maybe the world wouldn't seem such a hostile place.

Yes i'm being idealistic, but my pub and charity wouldn't exist without idealism (and a lot of bloody hard work) and this football club which was on its knees not so very long ago, wouldn't either. 

It really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read it through tears. What an inspiration. If only people would stop putting themselves first all the time, then they would be happier helping others and make the world a better place.

5:16 pm

 
Anonymous Bluescews said...

Spot on Warren.Stewards need to know they guardians of the club they are working for.A little bit of common sense and sympathy does not. go amiss

8:10 pm

 

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