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.

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.


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