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.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


To be printed in the National League South game v Braintree Town Saturday 25th November 2023 

Maybe it was just the timing, but it striked me as odd that as soon as the government announced plans for a football regulator, the Premier League imposed their first ever punishment on one of their clubs. 

Chelsea and Manchester City be a little more nervous now that Everton have been hit with a 10 point deduction after a ruling by an independent commission? According to sports lawyers they should be as it sets a huge precedent and they could also face large points deductions.

It was two of last seasons relegated clubs who sent a joint letter to league officials clarity over whether the Toffees' losses of £371.8 million over the previous three years were in breach of financial fair play rules. The rules say you are ‘only’ allowed to lose £105 million over a three-year period. The commission found that Everton had overspent by £19.5m, concluding: "This was a serious breach that requires a significant penalty." It added that Everton's transfer business while threatened with punishment "was recklessness that constitutes an aggravating factor."

A previous ruling in May agreed that the relegated clubs would be able to apply for compensation through the Premier League should Everton be found to have broken the rules.

Forget the financial insanity that Everton lost £371 million in 3 years when you are only allowed to lose £105 million in that time; forget that relegated clubs get a handsome parachute payment - could this ruling open a Pandoras box?

Everton closed their statement about their punishment with what looked like a warning. “The club will also monitor with great interest the decisions made in any other cases concerning the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.”

This is going to be a proper bun fight.

An independent commission is still looking over the 115 Manchester City charges, which is a case of far greater complexity. Chelsea are under investigation for a range of potential breaches from the Roman Abramovich era, after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported allegations of secret payments possibly relating to transfers and managerial appointments.

Infact the three clubs who have lost the most money in the history of the Premier League are….drum roll...Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Miguel Delaney Chief Football Writer for the Independent wrote “This potential explosion of off-field examinations and litigations is increasingly seen as the inevitable consequence of an era in which the Premier League was just too laissez-faire in regulation. The view of many competition insiders is that the old Richard Scudamore regime didn’t look seriously enough for breaches as it didn’t want to harm the Premier League brand.”

But kicking the can down the road might now have very serious consequences for the Premier League brand. Delaney added “Might this lead to something akin to the Premier League’s Calciopoli era where, as with 2006’s Serie A investigation into match-fixing and referee appointments, there is so much litigation; where the very reputation of the game is affected?’”

So is the Premier League finally baring its teeth? Yes and no, says leading sports lawyer Catherine Forshaw. “They have more than one eye on the independent regulator that is due to come in,” she says. “Basically, the Premier League are saying that they want to retain some of their regulatory powers to govern their own league. This is a way of showcasing that they’re able to do that – and they will take breaches of the regulation seriously.”

The Football Governance Bill will amongst other things establish an independent football regulator, that is “committed to breaking this cycle of inappropriate ownership, financial instability and poor governance practices.” It will strengthen the owners and directors’ tests, give fans a veto over changes to their clubs badges, home shirt colours and moving grounds – and prevent clubs from joining breakaway leagues.

The problem for football is that its all a circus. Inevitably those with the most cash win while others overspend to try and grab a seat at the top table. And that’s without even mentioning some very dubious owners.

We love football because we don't know the twists and turns, who will win the match. We love the Luton Town story, in as much as they were hammered so much by financial issues and points deductions they lost their place in the Football League but have somehow clawed their way back to the top.

This casino capitalism way of running football also has a massive knock on effect on every league. How many Championship clubs lose money chasing the dream? According to the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2022, the combined 24 clubs of the Championship spent £1.25 on wages alone for every £1 they earnt. One of those clubs Reading is now bottom of Division One and piling up points deductions at an alarming rate.

Wrexham had to spend big to get out of the National League in part because of the closed shop of the English Football League having just one automatic promotion. This creates a non league bottle neck and more reckless spending.

Ebbsfleet spent a fortune on getting promoted out of our league last season but like nearly every promoted club is finding it a real struggle.

So how can the likes of Slough ever compete in the league above without some financial fair play rules?

Of course the Premier League will now fight tooth and nail to water down any government plans for an independent regulator. Everton might be their first sacrificial lamb.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023



Printed in the National League South game v Havant and Waterlooville Tuesday 21st November 2023 We won 2-1 in front of 436

During one of Scott Davies numerous FA Cup press appearances, he mentioned that Slough Town had saved his life. After beating his gambling addiction, it was playing for the Rebels that made him fall back in love with the game.

Well, I can’t say the Rebels had such a profound affect on me, but watching the team definitely keeps me sane. Sane might not have been on the word on peoples lips when I told them I was going to Grimsby on a Tuesday night. But after clocking up the train miles for all the previous cup games, there was no way I was missing the party and the clubs first ever visit to Cleethorpes. What’s 260 miles between friends.

Rebel supporters seem to fall into two camps. Older ones who have given up on top level football, or younger ones who can’t afford to watch it. I only support Slough Town but have found myself with a Brighton season ticket.

But for how much longer? A fantastic well run club, but one that becomes more corporate with every day. Brighton deserve all the praise for their scouting system which uncovers a convey belt of gems. But the football they play – often its like toying wearily with a mouse. My eldest isn’t so bothered about watching them anymore and taking my youngest to Whitehawk last weekend; after the game he said going to lower league football was more fun, probably cos they can have a poke about in all the nooks and crannies rather than have lids removed from their water bottles. Come the end of this season my Brighton season ticket could well be going in the bin.

I couldn’t afford the train to Grimsby. They quoted me £75 and would only sell one way. Er hello, I don’t want to move there. Thankfully the Supporters Trust twenty quid deal was a magnificent gesture and it showed by having a full house. (*If you haven’t already, you really should join the Trust)

If I was going to avoid service station slop I would need refreshing in Slough which never fails to disappoint. So English breakfast or curry or a mish-mash of both at RKM coffee right by the half abandoned Queensmere shopping centre. A decent potion of chana and paratha for just £6 followed by a couple of beers in the Brick House. Donning my Slough Town top and bobble hat people chatted about the game. But everyone was questioning why the coach were leaving so late. There would be no time for my usual away day research for my book – ‘Britains roughest boozers’.

Grimsby v Slough hadn’t caught the TV companies imagination but they missed out on a treat. It’s certainty not boring watching our team at the moment. We seem to have adopted a version of Kloops heavy metal football. We also like to gift opposition teams a two goal advantage before we put our pedal on the gas. And I love it. (well, maybe not the 2 goal advantage bit).

As we sprinted off the coach one lad pointed the way to the ground but said it wasn’t up too much. I beg to differ. The score line also flattered them and even their supporters agreed, but it was like the walking wounded out there at the end. For an hour tho we looked as on fire as Sloughs bus stations roof. And apart from one Frankenstein Monster of a steward, they were a friendly bunch. Probably helped by winning 7-2.

Grimsby fans also heaped loads of praise on us for the noise we made throughout the match – the grounds acoustics really helped; well and everyone singing – it certainty wasn’t the beer losing the vocal chords as we only got in the ground 15 minutes before kick off. Scotties dad commented “Every time I think that Slough fans can’t do more to support their team they consistently surprise me. Fantastic support and I’m sure that it’s much appreciated by the players and management team.” Which by the reaction of the squad at the end of the game you could see if was.

We really need an Acoustics Tsar at Arbour Park to find ways to stop the noise leaking out. Oh and a Drum co-ordinator so it doesn’t keep being left under the stand.

I wish Grimsby well, a great club and I hope our cup run has enticed a few more supporters, put a few more quid in the pot and given everyone a spring in their step.

As the coach finally pulled into Arbour Park, some went straight to do their milk rounds while Deano grabbed 4 seconds sleep before heading to work. I crawled into bed at my mums at 3.30am after having a fight with a strategically placed wheelbarrow. Then up at 9 for my third and probably last interview with Radio Berkshire on our cup adventure.

And as my train trundled back to Brighton I spent the day feeling relaxed and ready for action. Another day spent watching Slough Town, keeping me sane.

Saturday, November 18, 2023


Printed in the FA Trophy 2nd round Saturday 18th November 2023 We won 2-1 in front of 631 

When the spotlight is on your team, you need to grab every opportunity to impress those who might not have been before or only occassionally, in the hope that they come back – or even better become a regularly supporter. A packed Arbour Park for Slough’s biggest ever attendance at the ground, could have easily overwhelmed the club. But from the outside it ran like clockwork with most importantly hardly any queues for the loos, bars and food vans.

But this doesn’t happen without proper planning and an army of volunteers that Slough is lucky to have.

Co-owner Ashley Smith told me “I certainly wasn’t surprised about the how many volunteers the club has as I’ve been involved in non league for over 20 years so know how integral they are to running a club. We started the Volunteer of the month award as we felt they needed greater recognition. "  

One of those volunteers is Keith Bryant. He told me 'I used to go and watch Slough at the Greyhound Stadium as a kid, but only started again when my two boys asked to go to a game. Our first match at Stag Meadow was the Salisbury FA Cup game in 2004. Adam and Paul both caught the bug and we've been supporting Slough Town ever since. It's obviously catching as my daughter and two granddaughters also attend games home and away."

Since retiring last November I've had more time on my hands so I regularly help out at Arbour Park, whether that's Children's Tournament, putting up advertising banners or building the new outside bar that came flat packed. I'm also Membership Secretary for the Slough Town Supporters Trust and the mini-bus driver for the 'Slough Town Community' team.”

Tell us about the Grimsby game

Preparations for me started on Friday afternoon when I received a call asking could I come and help put up the new goal nets. I think they needed someone tall! It probably took me, Barry and Ade about 2 hours.

All of the volunteers arrived at about 9 o clock on Saturday morning, so we could start putting in place the segregation fencing, make room for the extra toilets and put in place all of the outside bar requirements, which includes electric cables etc. Fortunately, we didn't have to do any work putting up the marquee's. I think I got back home around 4pm.

We arrived at Arbour Park at around 9.30am on the day of the game. Early on I spent most of my time moving tables and bottling up the outside bars, as well as finalising the fencing. Once the gates opened, I spent my time checking whether the 50/50, Golden Goals and match day programme sellers (Including my daughter Nicola) needed anything and advising supporters, looking for alcohol etc, where they would get served quicker. This resulted with me helping to pour cans into plastic pint pots, to aid the queuing time.

At the final whistle it's all hands on deck to put everything away and picking up the litter. Then a quick drink or two before heading home.

2pm Monday, me and Ade were back at Arbour Park dismantling the last of the fencing, ready for collection by the hire company.

Was it a lot more work than usual?’ you asked. Definitely a lot more. But I loved every minute. Anyone who'd like to volunteer on match days would be made very welcome.”

Cheers Keith and cheers to the army of volunteers that keep the club going

* If you want to volunteer speak to Ade or Kay at games or email  

Tuesday, November 07, 2023


Printed in the National League South game v Truro City Tuesday 7th November 2023  We won 4-0 in front of 398

As we get older we tend to get less adventurous. Which is why supporting a football team is good for keeping you on your toes and out of those slippers. You just don’t know what’s going to happen next. You go to new places. You meet new people. And if you’re getting the train, you really have no idea if they will be running. You need to keep your wits about you.

I certainly had to summon all those wits the other day. The original plan was simple. A Small Boy deposited at Finsbury Park on the Brighton train like Paddington Bear, intercepted by me en route. But operational issues and signal failures meant it became a giant jigsaw on how to dodge the train cancellations and bring the little ‘un back home.

I finally got him at Haywards Heath, unflustered, but hungry with no marmalade sandwiches under his hat. When we reached Brighton, rather than heading home and staring at a screen, he set off to find his friends. Since secondary school he’s gone wandering, takes buses to estates he doesn’t know so he can explore. This will put him in good stead following Slough in the early rounds of the FA Cup trying to find grounds behind cemeteries, canals and abandoned sausage factories.

Half term and my eldest went wild camping with his friends. He borrowed a saw and a tarp, but forgot the tarp. One tent was broke, they ran out of water and food and camped a bit too near a footpath. They just told people it was part of their Duke of Edinburgh experience which it sort of was, cos covid had cancelled that. They cooked over a fire and went for walks. Only one angry man got cross with them, when really what he should have said is well done for camping and good to see teenagers getting some fresh air.

I used to have that wanderlust. One day bored in Slough, I decided to hitch to Devon like you do. I used to love hitching, where you got small snapshots of peoples life's that you would normally never meet. A bit like talking to opposition fans. The first guy was a lonely very rich businessman who bought me breakfast at some services, the second bought me lunch, the third was a lovely old bloke who bought me chips and a book about the history of the town I was camping near. I must have looked malnourished. I didn’t have a clue how to put up a tent, a trait I still hold onto today, and a family came and helped. I spent the next day hunting out coastal wildflowers before heading home.

Another time I decided to hitch to Glastonbury on the Monday. This was the days of sCant security and I slept under some plastic with a shoe for a pillow, ate bread a bloke made everyday using an oil drum and played football. By Friday it was getting to busy to have a kick-about so I went home just as the festival was starting.

The thought of doing any of that today feels me with dread. I don’t really like holidays. A day trip or over night stay to watch the Rebels at some far flung seaside resort is enough away from home fun now.

Infact it was Truro City away in 2009 that led to my longest football adventure as I decided I had to go and see Slough play a team from Cornwall. I woke at 4.30am and walked to Brighton train station. Clubbers sat shivering and disheveled waiting for the first train home. The train to Victoria was fine, but my tube broke down so at 6am I was hailing a taxi to Paddington, then jumping on a fast train to Slough to meet the supporters coach which was waiting at the station for me. Phil the Flag supplied the refreshments, old Pepe the chocolate and by early morning I felt like I had eaten half the daily output of the Mars factory. 
And then the coach broke down at Bristol. For two hours.

It limped to the services and Anil our trusty former coach-driver, became Anil the mechanic. He managed to fix it and then drove at speed and we arrived at Truro with 3 minutes to spare, joining about 50 Slough supporters. It was freezing with the cold Russian wind getting ready to bring the snow; we lost 2-1 and had loads of grief from some 1970’s skinheads. I finally got back to bed at 2.30am after an epic twenty two hour round trip. My missus was still nodding her head in disbelief the next day that I had gone all that way for 90 minutes of football. Perhaps she had a point. 

Grimsby certainly enjoyed their adventures in the FA Cup last season. With everyone willing them on, it was Southampton who played Laurel and Hardy football to let them reach the fifth round. They swarmed all over Brighton waving their plastic fish and confusing the seagulls, taking over the Pier and enjoying their best cup run since the 1930s.

Of course the big clubs want to put a stop to all this adventure, abolish replays from the third round as they complain they have too many games. We’ve already got VAR sucking the life out of spontaneity, ever onerous ground rules – at one point Southampton said Grimsby's inflatable haddocks were illegal. But just like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka, the footballing elite stuff their faces in the chocolate money tree but its never enough. Who cares that the FA Cup is one of the only financial lifelines left for lower league clubs, that can transform cash flows and bring in new supporters who probably didn’t even realise they had a home town football club they could cheer on.

Thanks to programme deadlines I don’t know if our football adventures have finished. Did we batter the haddocks? Did we reach the second round for a ninth time? And what if we got a replay? Kieran Wonderwall was planning on hiring a train to Grimsby. It would be rude not to join him. Especially if he’s driving.

Whatever happened, the FA Cup has once again been an adventure and one of the only ones I take part in anymore. Now where’s my slippers and TV remote.

Saturday, November 04, 2023


Printed in the FA Cup 1st round game v Grimsby Town Sunday 5th November 2023  We drew 1-1 in front of a record Arbour Park crowd of 2,205

I must admit Grimsby Town had never really been on my football radar. I've never been there - the nearest I've got as a Slough supporter is Gainsborough in the FA Cup first round, and we all know what happened there! (6-0 to the Rebels since you ask). I know it was famous for its fish, but like all older industries had struggled economically.

Then I started clocking articles by one of their new owners that totally resonated with me about what a football club can achieve away from the 90 minutes on the pitch.

The articles were written by Jason Stockwood co-chair of Grimsby Town and majority shareholder. He left the town at 18 and eventually became a successful businessman in the travel, insurance and tech industries. He is honest about his past being brought up by his grandma and a single parent mum on a council estate with three brothers with different dads ‘an undercurrent of alcoholism, and casual violence; basically a full house on those recently-minted social deprivation indexes.’

Gradually the pull of his old town – and the fact that his children started getting cockney accents – drew him back. I often wonder about being away from a place gives you the chance to see it from a new perspective, with all its opportunities rather than just its problems?

In a recent article he wrote : “Football serves as an alibi for intimacy, an excuse we sometimes need to be together. The matchday rituals represent certainty, comfort, and hope in an increasingly complex world. We can orient ourselves and sometimes anchor ourselves by sharing the same experiences and spaces. It’s a chance to do something and nothing together for a few hours each week. The first day of the season reminded me of the first day back at school – people greeting each other like they hadn’t seen each other for years, animated by familiarity and excited about the renewal that the space of six weeks has opened up for us all.

There is something uniquely powerful about football and the connection it creates with the people and the place I love. Those connections and relationships are the essence of life and, for me, represent the most positive use of our time.”

The clubs community partners include Navigo (mental health), East Marsh United (who tackle everything from housing, education to arts and a whole lot more inbetween) and the NSPCC, while the players support the Sunflowers Children’s Action Group – a local charity for children suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Infact what Grimsby Town are trying to do – with a lot less money – is similar to Wrexham. It’s easy to focus on just the money being pumped into the Welsh club, which has obviously made a massive difference. But it seems to me that those Hollywood owners have really made an effort to understand the place and how they can help build on its strengths that benefit everyone economically and socially.

I managed to ask Jason a few questions before todays big game (and after they’d just partied ways with their manager).

Q: Have supporters bought in to all the community stuff that you are doing ? Have the community organisations benefited from increased exposure?

"The number one priority for us as custodians is to improve the football and associated infrastructure. This will then give us the license to build on the community work our Foundation already does.

Away from the club I have co-founded another organisation more focused on

social impact called Our Future that has broader social aims. This has started to create momentum with a number of partners in the area. The football club is one of those.

Not sure if we have attracted new fans but hopefully some of those associated with the club are proud of the work we are trying to amplify and accelerate.”

Q When you’re having a sticky spell – like now – do people complain that all this other stuff is getting in the way of the football? How do you keep in touch with supporters and keep them on board?

A few people do, but I always think this misses the point as it is not a zero sum game. In the same way as we were accused of focusing on upgrading the sausage rolls rather than the football when we had an early bad run. Football is our priority but we can multi-task.

We have 2 board members from our Supporters Trust on our board, we try to be transparent and available in the media, we do Fans Forums and I also write a column in The Guardian which reflects my personal views on football.”

Q The inspirational owner of Accrington Stanley Andy Holt has said he has had enough and wants to sell. Do you think all owners have a shelf life?

Yes and they should. Like any business, everyone has a limited time to bring in new ideas but it should be finite. You should also move aside if someone can do a better job. The more worrying thing about Andy's comments have been about how ground down he has sounded about the risk vs reward of ownership. I'd be lying if I didn't say it isn't something I don't occasionally think about.”

Cheers Jason, and good luck for the rest of the season – well, apart from today.

So can a football club carry the place it represents on its shoulders? Can it remember its past but embrace future possibilities?

I think it can, but also with the right vision, in can break out from what happens on the pitch and lift and support all those other organisations trying to make a difference to peoples lives. I love what Grimsby Town are trying to achieve, the joy their supporters got from last seasons cup run. But if the whole town can also be given a new sense of optimism, better housing, more money in peoples pockets, more opportunities, then surely everyone is a winner whatever happens on the pitch?

Friday, October 20, 2023



Printed in the National League South game v Chelmsford City 21st October 2023  Finished 0-0 in front of 785

Well what a time to deliver the best game of Scotty Davies Slough Town managerial career. If I’m honest I never expected that, and wondered if we had blown it at their place; but that performance in the replay at Arbour Park was something else.

I’m not sure this FA Cup run has been good for anyones health. It’s certaintly not been for my fingernails or bank balance but waking up tired on a Wednesday morning is well worth it when you witness nights like that.

Thanks to Richard ‘Big Flag’ Kendall sponsoring the game I at least had a bit of pocket money left for the Salisbury replay. As one of his guests, it’s the first time I’ve been in the Arbour Park boardroom. Well, that’s not quite true, many a game my children and nepthews were mascots, but that was at Beaconsfield where the boardroom was more broom cupboard and the youngsters just ran through scoffing all the cakes and biscuits they could cram into their little mouths. Mind you my boardroom visit was short lived as I had to wash out the bin before the game.

It’s also the first time I’d met one of our new owners Ashley Smith. What a difference they have made, but rather than bringing a wrecking ball to the club, they have added their skills to compliment the people that were already part of the clubs fabric.

Like any sensible owner – not often found running football clubs - he told me they need to increase the crowds before we have a crack at promotion. This is the sort of level headed thinking we had from former chairman Steve Easterbrook, who also knew you can’t build a football club on sand but that it has to be financially sustainable. First round of the FA Cup against league opposition will certaintly help that, bringing in new supporters and sticking money in the bank.

Running a small charity I’m often asked by grant funders to explain our ‘outcomes’ – these are the sort of words that strike confusion into my brain. Wouldn’t it be better to write in clear English that everyone understands? What they are asking in a roundabout way is what difference have you made with our money. Telling them that without it we would have had to close, probably won’t cut it with some of them. They usually want bells and whistles and lavish praise.

There isn’t a parallel universe where I can see what would happen if our community garden didn't exist. But I can tell stories. One of those stories is about one of our volunteers, Keith who sadly died a couple of weeks back. Keith came to the garden one day and quietly got on with knocking our veg gardens into shape. Unlike some of our volunteers, he had an eye for a straight line, could use a hoe without chopping down the onions as well as the weeds.

When he first started volunteering he used to sit and eat lunch on his own. But slowly he started opening up about his former chaotic, alcoholic life and forging relationships with people. We started using more of his old work skills to turn his hand to other practicial jobs like sanding our cabin floor and fixing our oven brickwork.

When we got some funding to transform the space by our cabin, Keith was just the man to project manage it.

He led an army of learning disability volunteers as they tackled the weed mountain and moved mound after mound of chalk and soil by hand, slowly flattening the area, terracing it, building flower beds with precision and love and turning it into this amazing space. We now wonder how we ever managed without it. It had its debut at our open day where we give people who volunteer the chance to show off what they do to family, friends and visitors. Keith of course, wouldn’t be seen at events like that, prefering to quietly get on with jobs in the background. That new space also means we can accommodate school trips during workdays and we hosted a wedding there. When people visited him in hospital, Keith was rightly proud of the legacy he had left at the garden and we will plant a tree in his memory and rename it Keith's Corner.

But his legacy was more than just about a physical space. It was about the unintended consequences, the human interactions. He particular stuck up a working relationship with a young lad with downs syndrome, giving him the work ethic and skills he needed to boost his confidence to find other volunteer opportunities – maybe even a paid job in the long term. It was playful, banter with Keith saying that on a building site he wouldn’t be having a break every 15 minutes! It was thanks to Keith teaching him new skills, that the young man can now help when we need other building work done. But it worked both ways and their friendship was a joy to behold.

I know our small community garden can have a big impact on peoples lives. Especially those that have been ignored, discarded or dismissed - to realise their full potential, to make them feel part of something.

Football clubs can do the same. That’s why I like Volunteer of the Month, to recognise the people who quietly go about supporting our football club in so many unseen ways. Slough Town is blessed with many of them. One of them is Keith Phillips who told me he didn’t want the limelight but said using his skills also helped with his mental health. ‘I hate publicity/photo taking etc, I just want to help the club the best I can.’

Feeling part of something is what all of us need, whether that’s working at our community garden or cheering on the Rebels in some far flung outpost. Then you hit the jackpot – beating Ebbsfleet moneybags United in the FA Cup in style.

Who wouldn’t want to be part of nights like these.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


Printed in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying round replay v Ebbsfleet United Tuesday 17th October 2023  We won 2-0 in front of 779. Into the first round proper we go! 

Every two days, a pub closes. Does it matter? As I sat in The Rose before the Ebbsfleet FA Cup game, worrying about the finances of our community pub, I’d say it does. The Rose is a proper backstreet boozer full of fleet fans including the landlord donning their colours behind the bar, with a warm welcome despite our Slough colours. Infact he remembered us from last time when we sipped cocktails on the cheap. The game might be segregated but this pub wasn’t. We got chatting to one Ebbsfleet fan who asked us to join him for a beer. All ages, dogs, babies, and older gentleman who also have no teeth. Apparently there were chickens, a hamster and other animals in the garden but I never got past the toy room which looked liked Big Ted had just had a punch up. It’s never going to win any awards, but the melting pot of people is what warms my community cockles and brings people together.

With Dartford just a few miles down the road you notice a real contrast in wealth. The small, shut ticket office said it all. Infact Northfleet seems to be the poorer cousin to Gravesend were we once sipped beer in the Three Daws a 15 century pub on the banks of the River Thames, enjoying lessons in drinking at an angle and tales of having to wear wellies in the beer cellar when it rains. We missed the ‘Grim Gravesend’ talk but we heard about ghosts and underground tunnels used by smugglers and for people escaping the press gangs, who regularly raided to force men to join the navy.

I understand the reasons but I’m still disappointed Gravesend and Northfleet was ditched in favour of Ebbsfleet United. The old name invoked grainy images from some 1950’s TV footage, all football rattles and men in flat caps smoking fags. They’ve had some famous players as well, Roy Hodgson and Jimmy Bullard pulling on the red shirt. I even managed to see them when they were Gravesend; no not in the 1950s but in 2005 when they narrowly beat us in the FA Trophy 5th Round. As for the pub where we had pre match pints, that’s now a cafe.

The name change decision was thanks to the regeneration of the Thames Gateway with the station becoming ‘an international travel hub for the Eurotunnel and a new garden city called Ebbsfleet.’

Their ground still holds onto its oldie-worldie charm, despite the fact its now called the Kerplunk stadium or some other such sponsorship nonsense.

To say the club have had an eventful few years is an understatement.

In 2007, My Football Club announced a £700,000 takeover in exchange for its members having an equal share in the club. It was the dawning of a new internet era on how to run football clubs. Or maybe not. Members were promised a vote on transfers, player selection and other major decisions. Just two and half years later from a peak of 32,000 just 3,500 were still members and one of their founders admitted that “we failed to give the feeling of ownership and closeness to the club they had hoped for. Perhaps the idea of being part of the takeover and making decisions was more exciting than the reality.” The following season the club were relegated from the Conference and they’ve yo-yo’d between the divisions ever since. They’ve nearly gone out of business and in 2013 members voted in favour of handing two-thirds of MyFC's shares to the the clubs supporters' trust and the final third to one of the club's major shareholders.

After exiting Ebbsfeet MyFC voted to support Slough. This was mainly sponsorship of our filming equipment and our away kit rather than what onions we used in our burgers. The idea has now faded away without really doing what it set out to achieve. If their idea on how to run a football club was ever really possible.

As if covid wasn’t bad enough for football clubs Ebbsfleet were relegated from the National League by just 0.002 points after the league was determined on a points per game basis. This was despite being out of the relegation zone and in the top 3 form sides when the competition ended.

Their new owners wrote off quarter of a million pound debt but gained the National League South title at a canter. And when we played them in the league last season, it couldn’t have been at a worse time. Jon and Neil had finally left Slough after managing for nearly a decade along with quite a few players; our crowds were plummeting, and Scott Davies had the near impossible task of keeping us in the league. But what a difference this time round with 200 Slough supporters behind the goal. If only someone knew who could fix drum skins and build us a roof on the away terrace, we could have made some proper noise.

In the end a breathtaking 2-2 draw, somehow felt like a defeat and we have to do it all again tonight.

In Slough, Pubs like The Roses have nearly all closed – infact its official: Slough is the worst place to party in the UK (with Brighton being the best). I don’t think we will make a song about that, but what it does create is an opportunity for the football club. If it can ever wrestle control from the council and be allowed to run Arbour Park properly, it can become the community hub everyone can get behind. They might even let us have a few chickens.

Saturday, October 07, 2023


Printed in the National League South game v Weymouth Saturday 7th October 2023  We drew 0-0 in front of 976

Sometimes its good to get a bloody nose. Not that many people probably felt that at the time. As my plane landed back in Gatwick, twitter or whatever its called this week, informed me that Slough had lost to Tonbridge – badly and tamely in the second half. Scott Davies was embarrassed and we were rooted to the bottom of the table.

Most Slough fans want Scotty to do well. He’s a top bloke, who has assembled a young exciting attacking squad but the goals just weren’t going in.

Fast forward a week and we had beaten Dartford away, Aveley at home and knocked Hayes and Yeading out of the FA Cup. This was more like it.

As you come into Dartford you can see why its one of the fastest growing most popular towns in Kent. It feels clean, spacious, decent bus service, decent pubs...and then there is an impressive stadium.

My only concern was the sign saying built by the Conservatives. Was it made from the crumbliest, flakiest concrete? Was it going to fall on our heads?

To be fair to the former Tory Leader of the council Jeremy Kite, he hit the nail on the head on what a new football stadium can do for an area.

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 as a result of The Darts coming home.”

His clear thinking and vision is in total contrast to those now in power, flailing around, blaming anyone but themselves. The education secretary was unrepentant – no one could possibly have predicted that out-of-date concrete might be out of date. Any responsible politician in her position would have done nothing and hoped for the best. Yes they had cut the school buildings project, yes she was the fifth education secretary in a year but it was the schools fault. Surely they should have someone working there who understand concrete. Even a couple of governors who could knock up a new school on the cheap.

Dartford have feet in two camps – bit too big for South but never quite having a go of it in the National League. Their bar was full of cockneys who quite rightly moaned about the beer being served in plastic cups. Maybe the glass ones had been donated by a former education secretary and they were worried they would shatter in our hands.

Then up pops Cliff the former one-man-Lewes-fan who used to run the Dripping Pan gate, rush to the offy to get cans to sell behind the bar, start the singing when Lewes were lucky to get 100 through the turnstiles. Their most successful manager Steve King was even his best man at his wedding. It’s a different Lewes now, their gates have soared and the women and men players get paid the same but it feels more like a wine tasting session than being at a football match. This certainty wasn’t the case when Cliff was leading the charge!

Another great thing about Dartford is there amazing acoustics – we hadn’t bought a drum because apparently no one was going, but in the end about 80 of us stood behind the goal and watched a first half display of determination and skill that warms any supporters cockles. In the end a 2-1 victory, as players and supporters bundled into each other enjoying a rare victory. It also felt for the first time us old gits were outnumbered by the youngsters while Dartford fans complained about being outsung by us.

Next off Hayes. I loved the old Hayes ground but never went to Yeading. With summer refusing to die, I arrived early for a pre pint curry then beers with various Rebels in a gloriously, heart warming packed pub.

I chatted to an old guy in the pub who used to play for Yeading when they used to win everything. He said he couldn’t support the merged club and we heard similar from old Hayes fans, but times change. Mind you, try telling that to a couple of groundhoppers complaining that Hayes was now in the ultra low emission zone and they wouldn’t be coming. It’s a strange hill to die on.

Hayes and Yeading has all the makings of an impressive stadium with a really top quality stand, but being at the end of an industrial estate can’t be good for crowds. Maybe that’s why they struggled getting us all in in time with lots of us missing the opening exchanges. The stand behind one goal was also out of action cos the council were worried about hibernating newts, complaining that the stand was built a fraction to high. As one Hayes official pointed out, if that’s a problem why is there a massive industrial steel monstrosity being constructed at the other end of the ground.

In the end Slough never looked that troubled and we progressed to the next round, making it three wins on the bounce and early season jitters banished to another time.

Guess which stand the council said could harm the newts 

Tuesday, October 03, 2023


Printed in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round replay Tuesday 3rd October 2023  We won 3-0 in front of 411

My first memory is of blood pouring down my face and being rushed to hospital after jumping off an upturned wheelbarrow. Maybe that’s why I’m now a gardener.

I think a cup might have also once dropped onto my head, as whatever I do, I can’t stop going to FA Cup games no matter how many obstacles get put in my way.

I’d already drunk its magic in their early rounds watching Bexhill and Newhaven win in the preliminaries, while also seeing Slough stroll past Hayes and Yeading.

But this next one was proving more of a logistical challenge.

I support the train strikes, but the only way I was going to be able to get to our game at Salisbury was to stay overnight at my mums.

So I jumped on the late evening train so I could be all fresh faced Saturday morning and joined Phil the Flags, Aidan the Turnstile and Clubshop Sue in various cars as we Wacky Raced to the Ray Mac stadium.

I had been to Salisbury before in their previous incarnation before they went bust and had to start again at the bottom of the pyramid pile.

It was New Years Day and I had been working late in an old anarchist club and grabbed a few hours on the clubs sofa before heading out on the journey of a lifetime. I was tired and it was freezing and the game ended 0-0 and I remember waiting for a connection at Farnham station to get home, questioning my sanity.

We also had some cup pedigree with the former Salisbury, beating them in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying round, and being rewarded with a game against Paul Mersons Walsall at our temporary home at Windsor's Stag Meadow. It was a famous victory in front of the TV cameras. We used that game as a red card protest to tell Slough Council to help find us a ground back in the town. One councillor told us we should merge with Windsor which was very civic minded of him, while Merson said losing to Slough was the worst day of his footballing career. Ironically we drew Yeading in the next round and they knocked us out. And I’ve still got the hump about that because they drew Newcastle in the third round. So take that Hayes and Yeading.

Salisbury's ground is neat and compact and full of character with some very decent covered terracing in one end that had us Rebels salivating (or maybe we'd had one too many). The Slough hoards packed in there in the first half boasting the crowd to Salisbury's best of the season and unlike behind the goals at Arbour Park you could see all the action.

Their fans made some quip about only being famous because of The Office, so we gave them a rendition of These Are All Slough Things with a sprinkling of Uranus, which lays bare some of the towns notable achievements. We wheeled out ‘is this a Liberal Democrat constituency' to the tune of - is this a library. It was also good to see former chairman Steve Easterbrook in the ground – Slough Town Football Club have a hell of a lot to thank that man for, in particular our home at Arbour Park.

An ok first half, led to a dreadful second and there is only one player to thank for keeping us in it and that was loan goalkeeper Rohan Luthra. He was immense pulling off a string of unbelievable saves, earning us a very undeserved replay and getting some serious thank you songs from the Rebel Army.

After a get-out-of-jail celebratory session in the Wheatsheaf with some of the Rebels, I headed back to my mums for the evening. As my Sunday morning train meandered back into Brighton, I scribbled notes for the programme and plotted Tuesday nights visit. And hoped that our luck at still being in the cup meant that the first round proper was once again written in the Sir William Herschel observed stars.

photos by Scott McNeish