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, February 14, 2019


Printed in the National League South game v Dartford Saturday 16th February 2019. We drew 2-2 in front of 701 people.

In last Saturdays Hampton & Richmond programme, the Clubs Chaplain pondered that age old question – 'why are fans more vocal away from home'? He might well be onto something with one of his conclusions that 'It may have something to do with the amount of alcohol consumed on route.' Slough fans definitely like to partake in the Holy Water; during our wilderness years it was the only thing that got us through the game.

The last time I visited Hampton was one of those seasons. It was April 2007 and they needed to win the last game of the season to get promoted from the Isthmian Premier while Slough had been relegated after losing 9-0 to AFC Wimbledon months before. A crowd of over 1,000 saw the Rebels take the lead only for the inevitable to happen and we lost 4-2.

Now Hampton is a funny old place for a football club. It's gentile. The pubs are full, the streets are clean, even the dogs clear up after themselves. It's the picture postcard of what those rose tinted among us like to imagine the 1950's was minus the rationing. A sort of parallel universe to Slough. Hampton fans must have extended Dry January cos I didn't hear one Hampton song, see one flag flapping, hear a peep until they equalised six seconds from the end.

I had another one of those parallel universe moments when I went up to South Kensington the other night for an awards ceremony with our community pub The Bevy. Walking through the doors to this restaurant/night club/Tarzan jungle, I felt like stone-age man blinking into the light. Blimey, the Bevy couldn't be further away from this party. There was such a bewildering range of drinks, I stupidly asked what was in one cocktail and just got a jumble of words stuck together that didn't mean a thing. Telling some beer boffins I like a Fosters shandy after a day working in the sun and they look at me as if I drink sewage. But I don't want a witches brew of slightly crushed rhubarb crumble, eye of newt, hint of seaweed, foraged elder twig beer that's been fermenting in a wasps nest for a month and tastes like fagbutts. I love pubs and what they can achieve but talk of beer just puts me to sleep; its about as interesting as getting stuck on a bus with a train-spotting groundhopper going into apoplectic shock cos there wasn't a programme.

Just like a football club, pubs can and should be the cornerstone of a community. In the last week alone the Bevy has delivered meals to older residents who couldn't get out cos of the snow, given cooking lessons to families and children, hosted two lunch clubs, a dementia cafe and arts and craft club, parkrun, our local MPs surgery, smoking cessation, had a free bus to the Albion as well as serving breakfasts, roasts, beers and been home to our darts and bar billiards teams. Our customers put up hanging baskets, fixed broken doors and lights because it is their pub. Next week we launch our newest venture offering community lunches each weekday for just £3 cooked from food that supermarkets would otherwise throw away.

Just like pubs, a football club to be successful has to more than just kicking a ball about for 90 minutes. For starters, it has to generate more than just a match day income stream if it doesn't want to rely on one person (and i'm so bored of the grass or death saddos in the Non League Paper complaining about 3G pitches). The fortunes of a club can also cause boom or bust in the local economy especially those in poorer area where a match day injection of cash to local pubs and cafes, hotels and cab firms makes a big difference. I remember reading about how the relegation of Dagenham and Redbridge from the League hit the poorest borough in London with fewer away fans. The pubs around West Ham's old ground are closed or dying while Torquay taxi drivers said not being in the football league means they all lose at least £60 each in fares on match days.
Slough Towns increased support should help its ailing pubs -it might even help Stoke Road, which let's be honest, needs some serious love and investment. Slough fans should support those locals that support the club (well, apart from McSpoons). Just ask the landlord of the Wheatsheaf how well he did at a packed pub on a Sunday morning before the Gillingham game.
Maybe the Hampton vicar is onto something. We should drink more beer at home games and loosen those vocal chords while helping pubs and our football club. That's got to be something to raise a glass too. We might even sing a sermon or two for you.


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