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.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Printed in the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying round game v Weston-super-Mare on Saturday 24th November 2018 We lost 3-2 in front of 426 people.

Imagine giving up your day to rattle buckets outside your clubs football ground during match-day. You raise an impressive £35,000 to help fund your football clubs charitable arm that uses the power of sport to deliver everything from health checks, school work, skills, training, support for those with disabilities and of course football sessions for everyone to enjoy. 
A couple of weeks later Brighton and Hove Albion decides, along with the majority of other Premier League clubs, to agree to a £5 million goodbye to the outgoing chairman Richard Scudamore. A man who has earned over £26 million in 19 years for basically feathering the nests of the footballing elite.
In what sort of insane world is this right? How would you even have the brass neck not be so embarrassed you'd hand it over to football charities? 
Only Huddersfield, Wolves, Leicester, Burnley and Crystal Palace to their credit had the balls to say no to a golden handshake while others defended the indefensible. People like former pornographer-in-chief and now West Ham United owner David Gold “He deserves everything he gets, this is all very appropriate and we’re all very pleased.” Just as pleased no doubt with the fact that you’re paying a peppercorn rent to use the London Stadium at taxpayers expense. 
The money works out at about £250,000 per club and We Are Brighton compiled a list of what the cash could have better been spent on including money off season tickets (instead of the inevitable rise), free travel to away fans, buying eight new minibuses for Albion in the Community and get this, paying every person employed by the Albion the Living Wage. The money could also add over a quarter of the cash to the sports and recreation budget of Brighton and Hove City Council. As We Are Brighton pointed out 'Grassroots football is dying and a lot of it has to do with an appalling lack of facilities. Cuts from central government have forced councils to chop away at budgets allocated to sports and recreation, leaving substandard changing rooms, dangerous pitches and a lack of basic equipment such as suitable goal posts. At the start of the parks football season for example, teams turned up to find mountains of grass left all over their pitches because the council couldn’t afford to pay anyone to clear up five months worth of cuttings, rendering most pitches in the city unplayable. A freedom of information request revealed that the City Council spent £866,540 on sports facilities in the 2013-14 financial year, a figure which is bound to be less after five further years of cuts.' Newcastle's contribution could he handed over to Gateshead Council who plan to save £246,000 by no longer providing maintenance for bowling greens and football pitches.
We are now entering Children in Need season. Where just like those at Albion in the Community, people do extraordinary things and go that extra mile to raise money. Yes its fantastic that £1 billion has been raised since it began but to put it in perspective that’s the same amount the Prime Minister bribed the Ulster Unionists with just to stay in power after the last election. Infact, being you know, the government they could reduce the number of children in need tomorrow if they made it a priority. This might sound odd coming from someone who runs a charity, but like all charities you try and wean yourself off grants. One of our primary aims is working with pupils with struggle in the classroom. Not so long ago our books were full with pupils who got a more hands on education, rather than an academic one which was failing them. Some even get the only qualifications they would ever receive building their self-esteem while learning practical skills, helping them do better in school and even making them enjoy education. However, thanks to school cuts we are now having to fundraise to support schools sending their pupils to us. Our work is the sort of thing Children in Need would fund. So the virtuous circle goes; Government cuts school funding so parents, children and charities fundraise to keep services going. I think this is called trickle down economics. Or passing the buck. What's more the Children in Need grant form is a crystal maze of questions where at the end too often the computer says no. All that time and money filling in forms when if schools were properly funded they would pay us the going rate for our work and our small charity could get on with what we set out to do (you know, helping kids) rather than forever holding out the begging bowl.
Maybe it would be easier to see if the Premier League have any jobs going. Or maybe i'll just write Scuds a begging letter.


Printed in the FA Cup 1st round replay against Sutton United on Tuesday 20th November 2018  We drew 1-1 then won 7-6 on penalties on the best night ever at Arbour Park in front of 1,360 people.

FA Cup Day. First Round good and proper. Four hundred Rebels squashed like soggy sardines under a tin roof as the rain lashed down, who didn't stop singing or encouraging our players. The only time we fell silent was to commemorate the 100 years of the Armistice. As a bugler played the Last Post the crowd fell deathly silent. I can't even begin to imagine the horrors that people faced in that war, but I do worry that as those that witnessed it are no longer with us, the drums of war become louder. The longest surviving World War I soldier, Harry Patch who died aged 111 in 2009 did not talk about it until he was 100. He said “I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
The game also marked the 300th competitive match for our management team, half of which Slough have won with two promotions thrown in. The fans also marked the fact that our physio SuperKev is sadly no longer with us.
No disrespect to Sutton, but this wasn't a glamour tie but a very tough draw against a team in the National League play-offs who had only lost three times this season. But there's something very special about this team, about our club at the moment.
Sutton United might be the National League now but they are old adversaries from the Isthmian League days and have played some historic games against us. We won the Isthmian League at Gander Green Lane in 1981 coming from behind to score two late goals that saw us pip Enfield to the title. Sutton were the first ever visitors to Wexham Park in November 1974 when the ground and the pitch resembled more of a farm-yard than a football ground and we pitched up there for our first game after being thrown out of the Conference in 1998. Both these games we won 1-0 but 1998 was beginning of the decline of Slough Town until a certain chairman took over and appointed a certain management team.
Sutton are a great example of how clubs like Slough can survive and prosper in the National League. Gander Green Lane is an old fashioned higgledy-piggledy ground which has seen crowds steadily rise. One of those reasons is down to having a 3G pitch which the local community can use regularly. Of course the football authorities don't see that and if Sutton had been promoted to the Football League they had two choices. Either rip up the pitch (well, it only cost £420,000 to install) and replace it with grass (£300,000 for that to happen) or face punishment and be relegated to the National League South! As their chairman said “It is frustrating that World Cup games can be played on them, as can European game, FA Cup matches but not games in League One or Two.” Frustrating is one word; I can think of a few others aren't printable in this programme.
The game was tight, but Slough were immense especially our defence and we know that our goalkeeper Jack Turner always has at least two world class saves in him every game. The pivotal moment happened in the 74th with Mark Nisbet's volley was destined for the net only to be headed off the line by Sutton skipper Jamie Collins. The resulting ball hung in the air and with Matty Stevens ready to fire the Rebels ahead, he was dragged down. Everyone could see it was a penalty apart from the one man who could do anything about it. And so it ended 0-0 with Sutton manager saying after the game 'We deserve to be out of the cup. Slough were by far the better side on the day. Should have had a penalty. We were well and truly beaten up today.'
Slough are certainty doing it the hard way – tonight will be our seventh FA Cup game this season. As our managers told the world on another Match of the Day appearance, since they joined the club they have taken us one round further every season. So no pressure boys. Just two more wins will do it.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Printed in the National League South game v Woking on Saturday 17th November 2018. We lost 1-0 in front of 1,465

There's never been a time in history when so much information has been at the fingertips of every human. So why does it feel like we've entered the Age of Stupid? World scientists tell us we have 12 years to change our ways or face catastrophic climate disaster. Our insect populations are plummeting – which seeing as they pollinate the food we eat is not something to ignore. We're drowning in plastic rubbish yet our politicians can't even bring themselves to curb plastic straw use. You'd think we would all be able to take better care of the planet we call home but I've long ago stopped watching the news – bored of the narrow focus and simple solutions to complex problems.

Football is my escape not just from work but also a world that seems to turn darker every day.

So why is it that on holiday that I always take a bunch of books to stimulate my intellect they always stay half read while I devour the football ones instead. So with Christmas coming up (I know, sorry to mention the C word) here's some recommendations

'Bloody Southerners' by Spencer Vignes is about the time when managerial gold-dust Brian Clough and Peter Taylor rocked up at Brighton and Hove Albion after walking out on Derby. This was a bit like Jose Mourinho in the wake of his Chelsea successes joining Southend. It's a brilliant evocative book that captures not just a pivotal time in the Albions history but also the towns. Clough might have worked miracles at Derby and Nottingham Forest but he doesn't cover himself in glory in this book with many tales from players of his mean spiritedness, dis-guarding injured players like yesterdays chip paper. Although Clough could hardly bring himself to turn up for training, him and Taylor woke a club from slumber with a chairman who splashed the cash and eventually got the club to the top of the tree and a Wembley FA Cup final. They put the town on the map along with Abba appearing at the Dome as it hosted The Eurovision Song Contest winning with 'Waterloo.' But Clough had little time for the place. In his autobiography he wrote 'People go to Brighton for various reasons. For a holiday, for a day trip, for a place to retire, for a Tory Party Conference. Or for a dirty weekend. With all due respect to the club and its fans, you don't go there for the football. Brighton is not a big-time club and is never likely to be.'

In 'How to be a Footballer' Peter Crouch comes over a very decent bright, funny man in a crazy puerile world of football. It's light hearted entertainment at its best with chapters on footballers fashions, team bus etiquette, celebrations, transfers and his trade mark headers and volleyed goals, both of which he practices to within an inch of their lives. He also talks unsurprising about his height quite a lot. I think his chapter on abuse should be read by moaning fans up and down the country on how getting on your players backs doesn't really bring out the best in them.

Back in the UK after a 30 years absence 'Home and Away' is Dave Roberts accounts of Bromleys first ever season in non leagues top flight as he criss-crosses the country from Barrow to Torquay to Boreham Wood. In the end this book is about belonging. As Bromley clung on to their newly won status Roberts mussed 'People whose names I didn't know but with whom I had stood on the terraces up and down the country were drifting around, unwilling to end the season just yet. It wouldn't just be the football i'd miss over the summer. It'd also be these fans. As one fan put it 'It's spending time with genuine nice people that's rewarding. No agendas. No pecking order. Just a glorious collection of rogues!'

I'm sure all Slough Town fans can relate to that. 

* Don't buy these books from tax-dodging Amazon but from actual real bookshops if you can.