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.

Friday, October 05, 2018


Published in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round v Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday 6th October 2018 We drew 2-2 in front of 481

A lack of pre-match homework and struggling to even pronounce Sholing I didn't really have a clue where I was going, except I could get there by train but would have to leave by 10 or be stranded on the platform.
I sort of knew it was near Southampton but didn't figure that a Southampton suburb could feel so different especially when the city is a proper carbuncle, flattened during the Second World War for the crime of building Spitfires. The post-war makeover isn't one that is going to win any beauty contests, but a few miles out and Sholing has a rural feel. The small train station has no ticket office, no shops and most worryingly for me no taxi rank as I drew a blank on peoples faces as to the existence of a football club (no thank you I don't want to go to St.Mary's) The kind lady in the corner shop drew pity on me and gave me a cab number and I arrived at the ground just as the walking wounded from the Slough Town supporters coach were hobbling across the road. 

Everyone loves a new ground, and as we have never played here before, plenty of Rebels had made the journey including Mark Elford giving his staff a lift home from work via the game whether they liked it or not! Being a former works team the ground boosts the obligatory pigeon club and a clubhouse with no beer on tap where tall supporters have to bend their heads just to get served. Only a fiver to get in, these are the sorts of places Slough were visiting not so long ago as we rattled round the lower leagues but Sholings facilities have also been seriously holding the club back. They also share the ground with a cricket club so this was only their third home game of the season, with a bumper crowd of 327 seeing who would reach the next round of the FA Cup.

Infact they would be playing at a higher level if it wasn't for ground grading and financial problems which had seen them demoted from the league above. However they've just been given a massive shot in the arm with Budweiser donating £100,000 towards improving facilities. Add to this planning permission for a new clubhouse and changing room and soon the ground will start to match the football on the pitch. 
While I can't criticise one-off funding and the money The Football Foundation put into tranforming grounds, for a sport swimming in cash, the grassroots facilities in this country are a disgrace. Three Sundays on the trot i've been to Creepy-Crawley at stupid o' clock to watch my eldest play football. The towns parks are impressive but there really is no excuse for the pitches and facilities. Dog shit, puddles in goal mouths, grass too long, pitches too short, different sized goalposts, no changing rooms. And guess what? Poor pitches produce poor football. Just how are we meant to develop youngsters when they have to play in those conditions? 
To be fair to Sholing, they wouldn't have looked out of place in last seasons Southern Premier and you'd expect them to win the Wessex Premier. A penalty for the Rebels early in the game was brilliantly saved by their keeper and despite Slough dominance we couldn't find a way through while having a few scares at the other end. Their lively fans in their small stand pumped out the songs to a drum throughout responding to our Rebel chants with 'Your just a chocolate bar' which was a lot more Topic-al than they realised. 
Now there are a lot of things that wind me up about the Premier League but Top of the Pops is people leaving early. And I mean stupidly early and sometimes at pivotal moments of the game. Would you leave a film before the end? Football is full of twists and turns so to pay a lot of money and head for the exits at 75 minutes is bonkers. The other week people were leaving as Brighton were about to take a penalty! So imagine my dilemma when extra time was staring me in the face. I had to make the quick decision whether to stay that extra half hour and sleep beside the platform. Years ago I would have unrolled my sleeping bag, found a nettle patch and bedded down. But times move on, and I didn't fancy hanging out with worms. 
As I started to leave the ground, my phone rang. 1-0 Lee Togwell. In the taxi 2-0 James Dobson. Waiting for my train 3-0 Josh Jackman. Three hours plus spent on the train and not a goal to show for it. That will teach me to leave before the last ball is kicked. Next time I will chance a nettle rash.


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