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.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Printed in the National League South game v Concord Rangers Saturday 3rd November 2018  We won 1-0 in front of 683.

There's nothing football fans like more than having a good old moan-up. Infact some only seem happy revelling in their miserableness. This isn't something you can pin on Whitehawk supporters, who at a recent game I went too, didn't stop singing despite being 1-0 down. A cacophony of noise from squeaky toys, wind instruments and drums overlaid with a whole range of catchy little numbers including a twist on the Hokey-Cokey - 'You put your Whitehawk in, your Whitehawk out.' In contrast the Kingstonian fans went gammon red and shouted obscenities. I knew who would be more fun to support. 
Suddenly Slough fans have discovered that endless groaning and moaning is boring. And the more of a laugh it is going to a game, guess what – the more people want to join in and come along again. The noise at the Eastbourne FA Cup game was unbelievable at times – and in the second half non stop with peoples tongues and limbs dropping off due to excessive singing and advertising hoard banging. I even borrowed some of my youngest boys toy instruments for a Whitehawk-esque squeakaphon. Any time we took a breather, Clubshop Sue would prod someone into action. At Welling we didn't stop despite being 2-1 down. Now all we have to do is start to sing at home.
I recently went to see Saltdean take on AFC Uckfield in the Southern Combination. The players arrived on the pitch to silence. There were no flags, no football tops or scarves just the whistling wind and rain coming off the South Downs. The weather meant spectators was huddled in the two stands where the intimacy of the crowd meant you could hear everyone's banter as well the constant moanfest officials have to put up with. Often from the very same players who were dishing up a poor game of football, as another wayward pass spun out of control while others showed an ability to grasp aero-dynamics; you know, the one where hoofing a ball into high winds isn't a great idea. At one point the exasperated lino told a player to shut up. In the end Saltdean salvaged a draw and we went home wet but having enjoyed a different type of football experience, especially as a tractor nearly run me over as I came out of the clubhouse – a first for me at a football match.
It's hard for clubs like Whitehawk and Saltdean when there are so many other football clubs in such a small area competing for players, spectators, exposure and advertising. So I always thought Non League Day was a great way for clubs to shout about themselves. Not so for one ground-hopper who went on a twitter rant saying that (Non League Day) 'does any good whatsoever' and 'reinforces a stereotype instead of challenging it.' With an air of conviction he continued 'After eight years of Non-League Day, average crowds across the rest of the season are no higher than they were in 2010. The FA should do much more to coordinate fixture lists and club locations and help new punters find their way in. The mess of different leagues and websites is bewildering if you don't know where to look. But something needs to happen all year round. Clubs, leagues and the FA all working together. Ongoing campaigns that aren't just hinged around one game. Trying to get a bumper gate tomorrow as a one off because everyone else is doing it will not have any long term benefit.'
I don't believe Non League Day does no good whatsoever and I do know that clubs like Dulwich used it as a springboard to massively increase crowds - which in turn has helped them return home. But it does need to be part of a marketing strategy – easier said than done when many clubs only have a few volunteers to do everything! I think clubs should see it as a one off FA Cup match where the extra money at least keeps the wolves from the door and lets people know you exist.
Our FA Cup game against Eastbourne netted us £25,000 alone – and the reward? A tough away game with no glamour to Sutton 'pie-gate' United. I've had some great times at Sutton, the most dramatic being in 1981 when Eric Young and Eggy James scored two late goals which won us the Isthmian League title. For some reason I found myself as a 15 year old squashed in the player tunnel celebrations and I wore my scarf at school the next day with pride and sore ribs. I also remember going to Gander Green Lane (I can't bring myself to call it the Knights Community Stadium) for our first game after we'd been demoted from the Conference for financial irregularities, a lack of seats or the fact that the mens toilets were next to the tea hut making the brews served there highly suspect. I was totally skint at the time and had to hitch to the game from Brighton and to my shame, crawl under a fence to get in for free. Somehow our make shift side managed a win and I celebrated by bunking the train home.
Doubtless we will travel en-masse to Sutton, make a hell of a lot of noise and – shout it from the rooftops – have some fun, but we could do with a few new songs. How about 'You put your Slough Town in, your Slough Town out...'


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