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, December 28, 2018


Printed in the National League South game v Wealdstone 1st January 2019  We lost 1-0 in front of 985
The decision to scrap replays in the FA Cup 5th round, says all you need to know about football (a decision which would have denied Rochdale their chance to play Tottenham at Wembley last season and add to the hundreds of thousands they made from their cup run). The football authorities continue to bend over backwards to the top teams, but like spoilt brat corporations demanding tax cuts this is never enough, threatening to take their ball home and set up a Super League if they don't get their own way.
Anyone who takes even a cursory glance at football knows its the economics of the madhouse (talking of madhouse Mourinho spent £537,000 staying 895 consecutive nights in a Manchester hotel!). The Premier League agents, players and clubs are like drug addicts hooked on TV cash while clubs in the lower leagues throw good money after bad to try and grab a place at the table.
Thankfully Slough have a chairman with his head screwed on and now its official – Steve Easterbrook is the second best chairman in the land! Against League 3 asked for supporters to vote on the best and worst owners. It was no surprise that Blackpool were the winners for worst whose fans continue to boycott the club until their dodgy owners have left the building.
The winner was one who really stands out from the crowd and is refreshingly honest. Andy Holt is chairman of Accrington Stanley who are seriously punching above their weight in Division One with the smallest crowds and the lowest budget in the Division. Not afraid to speak his mind and very open about the financial aspect of running a club, Andy is a twitter breath of fresh air. I couldn't resist asking him what the FA could do to support lower league clubs and make the game more of a level playing field.
Andy Holt “The first thing that has to happen is an acceptance by all that football clubs play a major role in local health, well being and social life. They are starting to get this. There’s no point worrying about the high street because of the success of Amazon when the shops are gone. Action should have been taken 10 years ago. There’s no point of worrying about pub and clubs closing because of big pub companies actions when many are derelict. It’s too late. Communities are under attack from all sides and policy has to resist this decline in a timely fashion. I am meeting an all party group in Westminster next month on this. There has to be a sea change in attitude, proper regulation and distribution of funds. We see the social impact of leaving these decisions to the market. 
I am continually in trouble for speaking my mind, but feel someone has to. There are many clubs on the edge. The truth is without change our clubs are doomed. The mathematics behind the finances assure this, year on year smaller clubs are squeezed further by the rich clubs who effectively set the rules. We are in the second phase at Accrington Stanley FC, the first was to stop the rot. The second is to grow the club, which is a number of initiatives taken over different time frames, £1 a pint short term, school shirts long term initiative. Whatever I do I can’t beat the authorities if they continue down the path they’re on.”
Anyone whose been watching Sunderland Till I Die can see that while football might be big business, it isn't a business in any other sense of the word. It's one of the only ways left in our fragmented society of bringing people together. The problem is you need very deep pockets and a bit of luck to keep peoples dreams alive. It's just lucky for Accrington and Slough Town fans that they have people in charge who have their heads screwed on.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Printed in the National League South game v East Thurrock United Saturday 22nd December 2018. We won 3-1 in front of 581 people.
Good things apparently come to those who wait and Dartford had to wait 14 years to move back home – but what a home. It's not often I get stadium envy but all the Slough Town fans turning up at Dartford's Princes Park experienced the wow factor. I'd heard good things about the ground but wasn't expecting just how good it was going to be. A crowd of over 1,400 just before Christmas in the pouring rain, hundreds of kids in Dartford kit. The Councils decision to invest in the best facilities possible have clearly paid off.
10 years ago I turned to Dartford in my programme notes for some inspiration amongst the bleak situation Slough found ourselves in. Our old ground Wexham Park was becoming a wildflower meadow and Slough Council had unbelievably voted against even talking to the club. Thankfully times and councillors change, and some including Slough supporter and leader at the time Rob Anderson went to visit Princes Park with our chairman to see how they did it. Jeremy Kite Leader of Dartford Council and a Dartford Supporter told me at the time “Everyday, councils throw bucket loads of money at schemes to deal with anti-social behaviour, childhood obesity, community cohesion, civic pride and community relations. Here in Dartford, we took the view that rather than fund a series of expensive here today- gone tomorrow initiatives, we would invest in football as a catalyst for all those things. I'm sure every Council thinks they are doing things right, but I've never regretted or doubted the wisdom of our investment in a new Stadium. You simply cannot put a price on the sense of pride and worth that is developing around the town as a result of The Darts coming home. Princes Park will not only become a centre of spectator sport, but also as a participatory one too - for kids of all ages. I have told the club that they MUST bring kids in and encourage school sports finals and training to take place on the first pitch. My other advice to councillors is 'invest in quality'. We could have built a typical 'iron and block' stadium but what does that say about us? What confidence does it give others if WE won't invest in great architecture? How can we expect people to respect the building if it doesn't deserve respect?
“I know that many Council's feel that they 'can't' do this, and 'can't' do that, and if we had stopped every time somebody had said that our dream was impossible then we wouldn't have got beyond advertising for an architect. Leadership is about legacies, not bureaucracy, and when I'm dead and gone they will bury me with a smile on my face because I know we have provided a facility that will makes tens of thousands of people happy every year.” 
Pre-match and I met the usual Rebel Rabble in Dartford Working Mens Club. These are the sorts of places that usually refuse to change with the times and many have shut or are hanging on by their dirty fingernails. Not this one. It was massive, clean and busy – it even has its own twitter account. I'm not a real ale drinker but it had 15 on tap and my omelette and chips cost just £3.50. Why would anyone from the town want to go to Dartford Wetherspoon's? I get why people go to Spoons if your skint or if you like your food reheated in a microwave, but if you want to support our beleaguered pubs then surely you shouldn't mind paying an extra few pennies for a pint especially in Slough where many pubs have taken a battering and closed for good.
On the pitch, it was Dartford who were taking a battering from Slough. Infact we were so good, Chris Flood could go off injured in the warm up and yet still be in the National League South team of the week! See, we told you he would Tear You Apart Again. But for all our endeavour we only had Josh Jackman's superb 37th minute goal to separate the sides at half time. While people threw bird seed at me as I attempted a 'Same old Dartford, always warbling' song, they joined in heartedly with Chris Ashley's 'Same old Dartford, always crossing' one. Despite the torrential rain, we stayed dry under the cavernous stands and really got behind the team. Dartford eventually equalised and for a team in the play-offs the Darts can feel lucky to get a point out of the game.
As we drunk a post match pint in their stunning bars, its hard not to pinch yourself. Here we are, now playing in the same league as Dartford and back in Slough with crowds rising and the whole community using the Arbour Park facilities. 
So it must be true; good things do come to those that wait.

Sunday, December 09, 2018


Printed in the National League South game v Truro City Tuesday 11th December 2018. We lost 2-1 in front of 416 people.

One of those annoying football sayings is 'We go again' – but what if you don't want too for a while? What if you want to wallow? And how do you pick yourself up after that? The picture of Scott Davies looking totally dejected after the final whistle perfectly summed up my mood. I haven't felt that deflated after a game of football for a very long time as I kept asking myself how did we not get anything? I could sort of could handle losing to Rochdale but to dominate Gillingham, full timers playing three leagues higher than us, and not even get a draw. It just sucked. The second round of the FA Cup is becoming a proper wind up.
I was 13 when I went to my first ever away game which just so happened to be against Carshalton Athletic in the FA Cup 1978. I remember it being sunny so it must have been an earlier round and I also remember my dad telling Chris Sliski there better be no trouble and to look after me and my school mate Wise. I remember Slough fans singing about not being very nice to Robins but that's about as rowdy as it got. I also wished i'd gone to Southall away in the next round to see their old ground before it went the way of so many London non league stadiums.
I darent of told my parents what happened at Yeovil's slanty old Huish ground although they would have seen it on Match of the Day as we fought out a 2nd round tie on the pitch, terraces and around the town. I was 14 but that sound when they scored in the last few minutes still haunts me nearly forty years later. Protected by older Yeovil fans who told us to take off our scarves to stop us getting thumped. We watched more fighting in the clubhouse before going home to the news they had drawn Norwich in the 3rd round. I still look out for Yeovils scores each week, hoping they've lost and wishing the grown men who spat at kids an eternity of listening to the Wurzels.
Being homeless and potless, the FA Cup brought us perhaps our most unlikely of victories at Windsor's Stag Meadow. Paul Merson had told his family to bet their homes on his Walsall team winning, but in the end we gave the ex Arsenal player 'the worst day of his footballing career' as we won 2-1. Walsall fans were gracious in defeat joining in with our red card protest to encourage the council to help us find a home back in Slough. Then in Round 2 we lost to poxy Yeading. The next day hearing the news that they had drawn Newcastle at home in the 3rd round and suddenly their 100 supporters became thousands for the day.
I missed us beating Millwall at Wexham Park, were we strategically left rubble and half bricks on the terracing that was being built around the ground. Local lad Gary Attrell netted the winner near the end and Millwall fans reacted with dignity and restraint. In the second round we lost 4-1 at home to Bishops Stortford.
If we are honest we were deflated before a ball had even been kicked before the Rochdale game as we heard the news that the winners would get rewarded with a trip to Doncaster. If a trip to Doncaster could ever be described as a reward.
I remember being on the terraces of Brisbane Road as we went 2-0 up against Orient at half time before they pulled two goals back. We lost the replay 3-2 which also happened to be the first game for our legendary physio SuperKev McGoldrick who stayed with the club for an incredible 32 years before sadly losing his battle with cancer earlier this year.
The greatest Slough Town FA Cup come back game ever must have been against Reading. 3-1 down on 90 minutes before equalizing in nine minutes of injury time! The night in the Wheatsheaf afterwards was one to be remembered.
I missed the Swansea and Birmingham games but was at Hertford, Wroxham and Erith when we were knocked out by lower league opposition.
Maybe I'm being greedy. Slough have a fantastic pedigree in the FA Cup compared to many non league sides but I think our managers, our volunteers, the supporters that stuck with the club when we were pants, deserved this time to go one better. And just to rub it in Matty Stevens was recalled by Peterborough. The lad has a promising football league career ahead of him and I think I can speak for all Slough fans and say thank you for your time at our club.
I love the FA Cup but I bloody hate it as well.

Saturday, December 01, 2018


Printed in the FA Cup 2nd Round game v Gillingham Sunday 2nd December 2018  We lost 1-0 in front of Arbour Park record crowd of 2,084
While Slough Town have pocketed a tidy sum from another fantastic FA Cup run, the opposite has been happening to my bank balance. From Bristol to Southampton on Tuesday nights to Eastbourne and Sutton where we attempted the world record of how many Slough fans can be squashed in one pub. I just hope my children don't mind that instead of Christmas presents they will be getting mementos instead. I can't wait to see their little faces light up when I present them with FA Cup matchday stubs, old train tickets and programmes.
As a few people asked if I would be sneaking out after the full time whistle went against Sutton, I thanked them for their concern but that unlike Sholing I had contingency plans in place this time.
Sutton was one of those nights that our managers seem keen to give us. Starved of success for so long – just 10 years ago we were homeless and losing at Beaconsfield to AFC Hayes in front of 240 people. Now we are gorging and it's all a bit surreal. Kettering, Weymouth, Kings Lynn, Merthyr, Gainsborough Trinity....
The best atmosphere there has ever been at Arbour Park saw us more than match a top National League side. And then it came down to penalties I could hardly look - which combined with my height and the shallow terracing often happens at home games. Bud even left before a penalty kick was taken, unable to take the pressure but hopefully hearing the roar of victory as he got to Wexham. After 10 perfect penalties it all went a bit Pete Tong for both teams but eventually was won by perhaps the worst one of the lot as it slipped under the keepers body to send the Rebels into raptures – and finally to the bar. How can anyone not like football when it serves up nights like these?
I even saw our chairman relaxing at midnight with a beer in his hand – admittedly probably after a 12 hour day where he'd unblocked drains, served drinks, dusted away spiders webs and other activities you expect the man in charge to do. One day I promise I will pin him down to do an interview for the programme. It's not for want of trying!
After just three hours sleep Neil Baker was off to Hartlepool to see Gillingham come back and win in extra time after being 2-0 down at half time. Cold as brass monkeys was Neil's verdict which was apt seeing as Hartlepool are famous for monkeys. Apparently during the Napoleonic Wars, locals held an impromptu trial of the only survivor of a stricken French ship which just happened to be a monkey dressed in a French uniform. Since the monkey was unable to answer their questions and because they had seen neither a monkey nor a Frenchman before, they concluded in Trump-esque logic that it must be a French spy. The poor creature was found guilty, duly sentenced to death and hung. Still I suppose if we do get a replay I wont be raiding the children's money boxes to get to the North East on a Tuesday night.
Slough already hold the record for number of times they've been in the second round proper but never progressed to the third round (eight, since you ask). Today is going to be one almighty test as according to FA Cup FactFile this is the joint biggest league gap of the round. The big gobs will be gathering in the South stand to get behind the boys. So don't be shy; the songs, given the calibre of those that make them up, aren't that taxing to learn - although i'm still trying to add 'girls and non-binary individuals' to the 'Slough Town Boys' one.
So come on make some noise. Isn't it about time we got this FA Cup second round monkey off our backs? 
* Once again there will have been a monumental, military style operation from an army of unpaid volunteers to make sure the game goes smoothly. Non League clubs rely on these volunteers and they have all helped bring the success the club is now having; so why not get involved if you have a few hours to spare on matchdays?