These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. After only 24 years we finally won promotion to the Southern Premier - only seven leagues below the Premiership. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time, and despite living in Brighton just can't shake them off. Oh and we will be playing in Slough next season!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Stratford Town on Saturday 21st November 2015. We lost 4-2 in front of 261 very cold fans.
It will come as no great surprise to some that I spend far too much time in the pub residents helped to re-open as the first co-op on a housing estate in the UK. However, it isn't all spent gulping down beer, but in meetings, organising events, showing people round, sorting out the garden and being drowned not by beer but by paperwork. As chair of The Bevy committee I don't get paid a penny and I don't get free drinks or food. And neither should I. While we have paid staff, our co-op pub relies on an army of volunteers to keep it going, not just saving money but also because people see it as their pub.
One of the visions we had when we opened was that it would feel like a front room; somewhere you felt immediately welcome when you walked thru the door. Our first ever garden fayre was the perfect example of how we are achieving that. From 3 to 83 years old, people mingled, tasted free nibbles and cake, carved pumpkins and enjoyed the banter. One older resident apologised for arriving early, saying otherwise she would just be sitting at home on her own. The old guys that populate the bar in the day raised nearly £200 through raffles and cake sales to make sure some of our elderly residents would be able to afford Christmas dinner with us. Last Saturday I missed another football match because we were at an awards ceremony where we won best community business in Sussex!
One lad with learning disabilities had a stroke recently and has lost most of his sight. He has been welcomed as part of the last of the summer-wine-club and one of the builders swapped numbers in case he ever needed a lift to the pub. It might not seem much, but those little acts of kindness, strengthen our communities and make them much better places for everyone. He told me at the awards ceremony he would be lost without the Bevy.
We live in a society that is increasingly isolated, where old people are left to rot and people live in fear of crime. We know that what we do will be needed more and more as community spaces are lost to property vultures, greedy pubcos and a tsunami of council cuts.
We have already shown that we are more than just a pub with 40 groups using the Bevy since we opened last December – everything from felt making to history groups to health MOTs, WI knit and natter, our monthly repair cafe, weekly senior tea club, community choir, running club, Spiral disability group, men and women darts teams, the list goes on. We've also held our first wedding where at one point there were 11 vicars in the house!
It's not all been plain sailing, like any new business we have suffered from cash flow problems, building problems, personal problems. When we do get it wrong we get it in the ear, but we have a suggestions box, and actually most of the people complaining do so because they want The Bevy to work as well. It's their pub.
Getting it and running has been like turning round a tanker, but we reckon we have a blueprint of how we can stop the tide of 29 pubs closing a week by making them more than just pubs. We have spoken to campaigners wanting to re-open their Brighton locals and I have met with other community pub campaigners that are springing up all around the country.
But our model is really no different to the thousands of football clubs up and down the country that rely on the same goodwill and passion to keep their teams ticking over. Come early one Slough Town match-day and you will see just how many people are involved to make sure everything runs smoothly.
So if you are thinking of any New Year resolutions this year, then I would say volunteer.
And if you're looking for an unusual gift for that awkward person then why not buy them a pub for Christmas. Shares in the Bevy are just £10 (tho obviously don't be shy if you can afford more). And while you're at it, why not sign someone up to the Slough Town 500 lottery club and help make your football club more financially stable.

Pre-match Slough perfectly sums up what i'm talking about. Photo by Gary House 

Monday, October 26, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League match v Cambridge City Saturday 24th October 2015. We won 3-1 in front of 292

It was FA Cup day. It was Non League Day. And here I was standing by Brighton beach watching my missus and eldest having paint thrown at them in a sponsored run. This wasn't part of the deal when we decided to have kids. Saturday was carved in stone as football day, now being eroded by temper tantrums*, commitments and a community pub. (*from me, when I miss a footballing Saturday).

Once again tho Non League Day, ironically the brainchild of a football league QPR supporter, swelled crowds across the country but the one million dollar questions remains – how the hell do you get people to come back, more than just once a season?

Suffolk side Bungay Town who have hit with the headlines with their Non League Day offers, paying people 5p to watch a game and last season a free punnet of mushrooms said they would be doing nothing special for once – well apart from winning 13 nil! Bungay might play 11 levels below the Premiership but they have a top class marketing 'department'. Chairman Shaun Cole said “I love Non League Day, its a great chance for clubs like us to take on the big boys in the semi-pro game, not on the pitch but in the media. I see a lot of clubs complaining that they don't get attention but if a club that plays at the second level of the Anglian Combination make the national press then surely anyone can. Just be a bit creative in what you do.”

Bungay seem very lucky in that they have a great team behind the scenes. Their former chairman has secured over a million pounds of funding over the past 10 years, and from a town of little over 5,000 they have an incredible 25 teams.

But this years Non League Day was going to be different for Bungay Town 'What do you do when everyone is expecting something special, or at least a little odd? The answer to that is nothing. Or #nothinspecial. That's because what we do (and hundreds of clubs like us up and down the country) every Saturday is special in itself. At every club in the land at our level there is a small group of people who mark out the pitch, wash the shirts, collect the subs, maybe arrange some insurance, pump up the footballs and try to find them in the hedge after our heroes have failed to be quite as clinical (or cynical) as some of Chelsea's finest. We at Bungay Town FC think that in itself is worth celebrating and if we can persuade a few fans of the pro game to watch their local non league side this weekend then so much the better. No free mushrooms, paying you to get in, fancy dress, stilt walkers, supporters wearing onesies or pensioners riding unicycles. Just a lower level English Non-League game which thousands of us enjoy every week.'

Which reminds me of the sign seen hanging from a few lower league fences recently 'Before you complain, have you volunteered yet.'

What so many people do to make grassroots football tick in this country isn't #nothinspecial, but above-and-beyond; giving so many of us, players and supporters alike, something special to do on a Saturday. Unless or course, you have to watch strangers throw paint over your family.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League game v Paulton Town on Saturday 17th October 2015. We won 2-1 in front of 244

I can handle most things life throws at me but a tame defeat in the FA Cup and I’ve got a face like a slapped arse, looking for a cat to kick, grumbling on twitter and frothing on the train as the seats around me become vacant.
Football fans are impossible to please. It's never quite just right. We want immediate gratification and never ending success. We are like little kids waking at 4am demanding to open our Christmas presents. Spoilt brats with terrible temper tantrums.
The other Saturday I went to a stadium that is so near my house, I can cycle to it 10 minutes – even quicker if there were weren't so many bloody football fans getting in the way. The crowd of 26,000 in Brighton's swanky stadium is no doubt going to be more than the total attendance of all the games I go to this year. Brighton are top of the Championship and on this display are heading to the Promised Land of fixtures being switched at short notice, eye-watering admission prices and being told endlessly like some North Korean dictate that they are in the best league in the world. I have never seen such a one-sided 1-1 draw as the Albion played Cardiff off the park. It could easily have been 6-1 and at the death, a player missed what looked like a sitter. Reading their forums afterwards you'd never guess they were not only top of the league but the only football league club not to have lost a game yet, playing fantastic, intelligent football. Two points dropped! End of the world! We need another striker!
When Slough recently went on a five game losing run, the forum came alive with the question 'can you comment on a game you've not been at?' Slough had been beaten 3-0 by second in the table Leamington, recently relegated from the Conference South. It seemed, we had let ourselves down badly by some defensive mistakes and an offside goal. But the fightback in the second half led those that were there to praise the team effort. 'Did it get us any points' those frothing on their keyboards blubbered? Well no, but I don't know about you, but commenting on a game you weren't at, or just following on twitter or Rebels Radio is a bit like commenting on a book you've just read a review of. As Staines Rebel Junior said “Having listening to a lot of radio last year and having actually been on it a few times this year I can tell you it is incredibly difficult to put over exactly how the team are doing and how each individual player is doing. Basing your analysis of the game solely on twitter or the radio is nothing like basing it on being there for real.”
I want the team I support to put in a shift. Something I felt we hadn't done against Basingstoke who were ripe for one of those cliched FA Cup upsets.
One of my best days supporting the Rebels was when we lost 9-0 to AFC Wimbledon which sealed our relegation. Why? Because of the support for a team who all season were on a hiding to nothing with the club in serious trouble. It was backs-against-the-wall look-on-the-bright side-of-life stuff. And I’ve never had a womble bow to me before.

Lewes fans are also on the warpath, sick of five seasons of dross. Yes, they know they have one of the best marketed clubs in the land, yes they are a community club ticking all the right boxes and going about things in a sensible, sustainable manner. But fans want to see their first time play some decent football and get a win. Which is understandable, and I thank my lucky stars I don't have to put up watching them at the moment week in week out. But one fan completely crossed the line accusing one of the (volunteer) directors of having his snout in the trough. Trough full of what?

I know its hard (but easy after 3 league wins on the bounce for Slough fans) but we do all need a reality check sometimes. See how we can get involved to make our club better. We wont all agree, but what we do need to do, as supporters of Slough Town is get behind the team when it really matters. When the game is on. Let's leave the frothing on the top of our beer.


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Redditch Town on Saturday 27th September 2015. We lose 2-0 in front of 250.

Two football teams and four train stations - Dorking has it all, plus more trees than you can shake a leafy Surrey stick at.
Dorking Deepdeene is my destination for the FA Cup 1st Qualifying round (or round 3) and time to turn my attention to my home town team, with Slough Town away to Dorking Wanderers for the first time ever.
It's not surprising that Slough have never played the Wanderers as they are very much the new kids on theblock. It's just 16 years since they were formed and they have made incredible progress and now find themselves in the Ryman League South after promotion last season.
Slough Town, once of the Conference and a non league big hitter, are now entering there 12th season homeless, similar to the other Dorking who've were made homeless after their old Meadowbank ground was deemed unsafe in 2013. 135 years old, they are currently sharing with Horley FC in the Combined Counties.
Still good things comes to those that wait and Slough Town, Dorking Wanderers and Dorking FC should all be moving to new grounds next season. In the case of the Dorking teams they could be groundsharing at a revamped Meadowbank, on a 3G pitch which will also be the new home of the Surrey FA.
How important a home to call your own comes over loud and clear from Dorking FC now a Community Interest Company. “When the Board took over the club in 2014, Meadowbank – its location, history and everything it can contribute to Dorking’s town centre - was one of the main factors that enthused the local people involved. The ground was threatened with development for retail or housing – but the Board pledged to secure the future of football. When it opened in 1953, Meadowbank was the pride of the town and the local community. We are delighted that ambitious Councillors and Officers at Mole Valley District Council shared our vision to restore it as a focal point of the town centre. The Council has committed to a fantastic £4 million pound redevelopment with a brand new clubhouse and a 3G all-weather artificial pitch (consigning the famous ‘Dorking bobble’ to footballing history). It will be a sporting facility for use by schools, youth clubs and local  people...Consequently, our ten year plan builds a holistic football club that balances football, business, community and social enterprise. We passionately believe that Dorking FC can not only be seen a blueprint for how a grassroots football club should be run, but one that people in the Football Association recognise as THE blueprint. We intend to set Dorking FC as the standard against which all other grassrootss football clubs are measured.
A dig at Wanderers or common sense? While the groundshare hasn't been confirmed and isn't exactly a match made in heaven, more a shotgun wedding, it makes economic sense. The current Wanderers ground in Westhumble is a credit to volunteers who've worked so hard to get it to Ryman League standard and with spectacular views to boot; but its just a little out of town for my liking.
So the Slough Town Rebels were all set for the proverbial banana skin. Wanderers unbeaten and just 8 places below Slough who play a level above in the Southern Premier whose season has so far been one of fits and starts.
On a perfect sunny FA Cup day in front of a decent crowd of 184 Dorkings reserve keeper Slavomir Huk pulled off 2 fantastic saves in the first half as Slough dominated proceedings. But with cup ties, you always just worry as you hit a brick wall, the opposition will deal that killer goal. Then as it looked like we were heading for a stalemate, Slough got a penalty in the 90th minute. Slotted home by Rebel captain Martin, the travelling fans mobbed him and Slough were through to the next round.
£3,000 in the bank for a homeless club isn't to be sniffed at while for Dorking Wanderers, they can get back to storming their new league and maybe just maybe kiss and make-up with their elderly statesman rivals one day soon.


Printed in Southern League Premier Division match v Circencester Town on Saturday 5th September 2015. We won 1-0 in front of 260 people.

It's probably safe to say that too much time is spent on football. Watching it, dissecting it, hanging on every word of players and managers who quite frankly, don't have a lot to say. But when push comes to shove, football can bring people together when it really matters.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon two young lads from Worthing United FC were travelling along the A27 to play a game for their team. A team that had just had the most successful season in its history. But fate had other plans. A hurricane jet from the nearby Shoreham air-show crashed into the road killing 11 people including the two footballers. Sussex went into shock, Worthing cancelled all forthcoming games and issued an emotional statement “At this point, we don't know how or if we will cope with this.”
Goalkeeper Matt Grimstone was a groundsman for Brighton and Hove Albion, while midfielder Jacob Schilt was a Seagulls supporter who have played for the fans' team in charity matches. The Championship club have pulled out all the stops to do whatever they can for a club whose manager said was “pretty much on its knees.” Worthing United's next game is tomorrow in the FA Vase with Albion helping with ticketing and stewarding, which as one of the Worthing officials pointed out “Will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the clubs history, sadly for the wrong reasons.”
So on FA Cup day it seemed appropriate to pay our respects at Worthing's near neighbours Shoreham who were taking on Horley Town from the Combined Counties in the preliminary round (or round two if we were being sensible about it). Non league football is a close-knit community and both clubs had agreed that whoever won the game would donate £500 of their cup prize money to the Shoreham Memorial Fund. As we arrived just in time for the minutes silence, filmed by ITV and local station Latest TV, Middle Road was busy than usual. A decent crowd of 142 – nearly double what they get when Brighton are playing away and three times what they get when the Albion are at home – had come to show their respects. The pull of the Albion has a big effect on the local non league scene, with crowds dipping and players disappearing to the AMEX - even the Horley Town supporters flag had the Albion plastered over it.
In the last round these two teams had scored 15 goals between them against their opponents but instead of a goal-fest it was still 0-0 with 70 minutes gone despite the odd chance, some good saves and wayward shots. Both teams huffed and puffed and the big Shoreham lad who had banged in 5 goals in the previous round seemed out of sorts. Shoreham finally scored in the 51st minute when Horley gave away a needless penalty that was well dispatched by Shoreham's player-manager. A horrible bobble and Horley equalised 20 minutes later and both teams go again.
Of course you could say that football doesn't matter when tragedy’s like this happen, but I think it does. Why I can't imagine the grief the families are going through, it can only help to see just how people have come together, including an amazing sea of floral tributes on the harbour bridge. The outpouring of grief, the minutes silence, the messages of goodwill from across the country, have been heartening.
They might not set the world alight, but clubs like Shoreham and Worthing United are important parts of our communities that contribute much more than just some footballers huffing and puffing after a leather ball. They are part of the glue that binds communities together and our towns, cities and villages would be much poorer places without them.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Poole Town Saturday 29th August 2015. We lost 3-1 in front of 305 people.

I don't often travel to football on an open top bus. Across the sea. But then this was FA Cup day where anything can happen. From my Swanage holiday apartment I could see Bournemouth, so it
seemed only proper to play a trip to watch Bournemouth Poppies extra preliminary tie against AFC Portchester. I'd done my research, using the power of Twitter to find out the best way to get their from a very helpful official. That the Poppies best run in the cup was a couple of years back when they lost a second qualifying round replay to Truro City, the same season they reached the quarter finals of the Vase.
Bournemouth Rovers were founded by 8 enthusiastic gentlemen in 1875 one who ended up as Mayor of Bournemouth. Portchester didn't arrive on the scene until 101 years later. They are known as the Poppies so as not to confuse them with their illustrious town neighbours and moved to their ground in 1908. A former farmers field its surrounded by houses and still has plenty of space to develop. The clubhouses was opened in 1985 and has an impressive 205 seater stand and glass fronted clubhouse where you can sup your ales and watch the football in the cold winter months ahead. It still has those old fashioned speakers that managed to crackle into life to tell us about goal scorers and subs, and a couple of nesting pigeons which they have no doubt trained to shit on opposition fans. And in today's crowd of 77 there were quite a few from the suburbs of Fareham.
An open top bus across a chain-linked ferry sounds almost as romantic as the early rounds of the FA Cup until bits of tree hit you in the face while snot dribbles down your cheeks and old people hold onto their hats shivering. Eventually I made it to the bus station, where it's a change onto the yellow bus, where a combination of day dreaming and the hotel near the ground being refurbished meant I disappeared hopelessly lost into the suburbs. So I arrived late in a cab greeted by a turnstile operator so far away from the action with building works in front of him that he didn't know the score. I hadn't missed any goals but it soon became apparent that despite both playing in the Wessex League, Portchester were bossing this. Managed by former Arsenal and England international Graham Rix they seemed to be so much more assured on the ball, passing it around and winning most challenges. But it took just before half time to get their break through with a Mr.Baldacchino scoring the first goal (I arrived too late for a programme). The second half started the same with the Poppies keeper pulling off an excellent save, posts being hit until two quick goals ended their cup dream. On this showing you quite fancy Portchester to go a bit further and they play AFC Totton in the next round. (They did, beating them 3-1)
The game had everything you'd expect from this level of football. A second half pep talk from one of the players dad, goalkeepers having to hop over fences to get wayward balls, obligatory old man with a crazy beard mumbling into his beer. With neighbours Bournemouth now in the Premiership the gulf between the clubs has become a chasm, it's almost a different sport. That's not to say it isn't run professionally or that people behind the scenes don't work bloody hard to make their clubs tick. Its just so different from the 'best league in the world' crap Sky never tire of telling us. And that's why I love it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


To be printed in the Southern Premier League game v Histon Tuesday 18th August 2015

For anyone not paying attention to the endless 'Year Zero' Sky adverts telling us non-believers to subscribe to the best league in the world, the middle-aged fat blokes drinking on the 8.39 to Brighton gave the game away. The football season had begun. My trip to cheer on The Rebels was my 39th season supporting the team (give or take a few years off for having a lobotomy).
The beginning of the football season is always one of anticipation. Football fans are usually either hopelessly optimistic or have a built in pessimism from endless years of hard knocks – the beginning of this season not helped by losing our second game 5-1! For many of those supporting clubs in the Premiership, the utter predictability means the best they can hope for is not being relegated or a place in the Europa league which has so many qualifying rounds it seems to start before the previous season ends. For non league clubs, while money obviously talks, seasons are a lot more unpredictable. So what would I like this season? One of consolidation and third round of the FA Cup would do nicely!
As its geographically impossible for me to be on the Slough Town Supporters Trust board, the least I can do is encourage people at the beginning of the season to join. Bellowing and carolling people into Ollie’s hut at the first home game of the season seems to do the trick.
It really is a no brainier to join the Trust. For starters, if you get the supporters coach to away games you get a massive £5 discount for every trip and you are insured if the game is postponed. But it shouldn't just be about what you can get out of being a member. A strong supporters trust really benefits the club. This season they are sponsoring the backs of the home and away shirts for £3000. Sponsoring half the running cost of Rebels Radio as well as publicising the commentary, working on finding co-commentators to help Adrian - in exchange for publicity of trust news during commentary. They also run the 500 club Rebel Lottery and golden goal and have linked with the STFC Predictions League. They also work hard publicising the club, during the summer attending school fairs at Weston House Primary and James Elliman Primary along with stalls in Slough High Street.
Trust board members also make sure home games run smoothly – who do you think misses part of the game by being on the turnstiles, runs the club-shop, sells programmes and golden goal tickets, picks up the litter at the end, collects wayward balls and all the other hundred and one jobs that need doing? Not to mention organising the work parties that made sure Beaconsfield's ground passed the Southern Premier League ground-grading rules.
As commander in chief Steve Easterbrook put it “Apart from all the great work that the Trust does in the community and all the benefits that members receive, being a member of the trust is a great way of being more connected to the club. The Trust also has a healthy representation on the club's management committee and therefore members have a direct input on how the club is actually run. At the end of the day...... the fans are the club and any organisation, such as the Trust, that brings true fans together can only have a positive impact on the long term future of this great club.”
So don't forget to throw in your spare change in the collecting buckets at the end of each home game.
* You can join the Trust on match-days, on-line or by sending cheques (made payable to STSA Ltd) c/o 17 Swabey Road, Langley, Slough, SL3 8NR. It's just £10 a year. Junior membership is £5
* For more info and news updates  
* You can follow the Trust on twitter and like their Facebook page 
* The Trusts AGM is at the Polish Club on Wednesday 9th September 8pm

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Printed in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division game v Frome Town Saturday 8th August 2015. We drew 0-0 in front of 275

I must admit to giving myself a good old pinch and check it wasn't April Fools Day. After 12 long nomadic years the Rebels will soon be running out on their new 3G pitch after Slough Council gave the thumbs up to a new sports complex for the town. Construction work for phase one of the Arbour Park Community Sports Facility (catchy) is timetabled to be completed by August 2016. Costing £12 million, it will be, for anyone whose not been paying attention, more than just about a new football ground for Slough Town. Of course we will get increased attendances, but the 3G pitch will enable the ground to be used constantly and as our chairman Steve Easterbrook said “It's great that the council recognise the benefits of sport to the community, not just in terms of healthy lifestyles and wellbeing, but also as part of community cohesion.”
Now Slough is about a diverse melting pot of people as anywhere your find outside London, but one whose children are unfortunately being segregated by religious free schools. So apart from getting rid of these schools, the best way to bring the different cultures and people together is a successful community run football club in the heart of the town.
However, with council funding ready to be hit with a tsunami of cuts, then credit where its due to Slough Council – although perhaps not its ability to make quick decisions. Councils must think outside the box to tackle problems. Just look at Dartford Council, whose Conservative Party leader Jeremy Kite told me nine long years ago “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.”
Unfortunately, some councillors often seemed to trapped in self-imposed boxes and much happier to play tit-for-tat party politics. Let's call it Dexter-itous. Which is why what is happening in the town of today's opposition so interesting. On 7
th May, the people of Frome voted against traditional party politics and gave a coalition of independents control of all 17 seats. The founder of this movement has named it 'flatpack democracy' with Frome leading a small-scale political revolution that's spreading across the country. At its core is a basic aim 'taking political power at a local level, then using it to enable people a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.' Which is what all political parties say they like to encourage, but often stick their hands over the ears when new ideas come along because they are so busy pointing the finger of blame at their political opponents. What Frome has, is a group of people brimming with a can-do attitude and using the Localism Act to make things happen.

So the people of Frome create a new political movement and the Rebels finally get their new ground. Neither of which would happen if people sat on their sofas moaning that the council don't do anything for them or shooting people down that do get off their backsides.

The moral of the story - never take no for an answer – oh and make sure you have a level-headed, savvy-businessman like Steve Easterbrook on your side.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


The passing of the legendary landlord Miki Hall is a poignant reminder of just what sort of special person it takes to run a community pub. Miki was the right person, in the right place at the right time when he took over the New Kensingston in Brighton’s North Laine. Brighton's protest scene was about to explode against the Criminal Justice Act and the Kenny became the drunken wing of the Anarchist weekly news-sheet SchNEWS and its main distribution point with regular live readings on a Friday night. His pub made things happen.

But a proper pub isn't just a place where you can get a drink or a packet of peanuts. It's got to feel like your putting on an old pair of slippers. The Kenny was always a refuge for the risk-takers, rabble-rousers and revolutionaries and more than a few lost souls. Miki became our crazy father figure who was often worst behaved than his hundreds of adopted children. I hope he is proud that so many of those people have gone on to do amazing things in their lives, encouraged by his hospitality, words of wisdom and anything-is-possible attitude.

For me, the Kenny reinforced just why pubs are so important. Everytime I see a boarded up boozer or one converted into another poxy supermarket my heart sinks. Where are people meant to meet, to celebrate, to chew over the days events, if there are no community spaces left?

Miki took on the big breweries, who've strangled pubs with their modern day tied-system slavery forcing publicans to buy their beer from them at vastly inflated prices. Along with other publicans he went on rent strike, but eventually they won and the Kenny shut its doors for the last time (scroll down to page 2) scattering a community to the wind.

As Chris Natural put it so well “Under Miki's watchful eye(!), the Kenny was the best and only pub in the world I have liked. For it was so much more than a pub. It was an extension of Miki's essence. A melting pot of weird and wonderful, anarchic, rebellious and often crazy spirits. Infamous worldwide it and he encapsulated everything that was great about Brighton at that time. A piece of me died when the Kenny shut it's doors for the last time. Brighton was never the same again.”

Never really finding a Brighton local I felt as comfortable in since, I got together with other local residents, to try and open our own co-op pub! But just like the Kenny, so much more than just a pub. After nearly 5 years of campaigning The Bevy finally re-opened and while it can never be the Kenny, we hope it is a new model of how pubs can survive and be a shining example to other working class estates of what can be done.

Of course Miki was more than just a landlord. He had a history of activism – but always with a mischievous smile and a love of gossip rather than chip on his shoulder. And before that last orders bell was rung, you could be sure he would be trying to land a moustached kiss on anyone in the vicinity. As his health worsened he threw himself into disability rights; setting up disabled friendly areas at festivals giving many people the opportunity to enjoy them for the first time. 
I'm gutted I never got to buy Miki a bevy at the Bevy and say thanks for his inspiration and all the good times. You were a legend my friend, who will never be forgotten.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier League game v Frome Town Saturday 18th April 2015. We drew 1-1 in front of 352 at the last home game of the season.

It's fair to say that Slough fans aren't used to seasons like this. For a decade we have either been fighting for a play-off place or battling against relegation. It's surprising any of us have any hair, nails or nerves left. We've had amazing cup runs, knocking out Walsall and apparently giving their player-manager Paul Merson his worst day in football ever. We've been stuck in an endless play off loop until we finally cracked it in the best manner ever. Followed by the best celebrations ever in the Herschel!
We've won the League Cup and been relegated with a 9-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
Over the next couple of seasons it was borderline whether we would even have a club to support. We've been relegated to the Dog and Duck only to be saved by the demise of Halifax Town and more often than not 90 minutes of football spoilt a good day out.
So has this season been an anti-climax? Not a chance.
Walking round Weymouth beach on that sunny weekend in September and knowing this wasn't an FA Cup jolly but a bread and butter league game. We had arrived back in the Big Time (relatively speaking). Where locals knew that they had a football team and knew where the ground was. As Weymouth beach quickly filled with kiss-me-quick Slough Town bobble hats everyone seemed to be nodding their heads in disbelief. Did we finally get promoted or had Tom the Herschel landlord given us one to many free shots?
So I’m personally more than happy with some mid table mediocrity. Watching St Neots fans being put through the play-off mill, while we could just enjoy the brilliant 3-3 comeback without losing any sleep/nails/hair was enjoyable.
I've been really impressed with how the Supporters Trust has really raised its profile. It was an eye opener to see how much work our dedicated band of volunteers do before (and after) a game to make the club tick. And this season the Trust has doubled its membership from just four seasons ago.
So what next? I always love a cup run which is always a good place to pick up cash and more supporters. We could definitely do with some more youngsters coming through the turnstiles and getting vocally behind the team – and I don't mean all the screaming babies being produced by the Randy Rebels. If we stay in the Southern it looks like a much harder league next season, so I’d again we happy with mid-table with maybe a little sniff at the play-offs (actually, for purely selfish geographical and financial reasons I’d love us to be put back in the Ryman Premier) But more than anything I want those diggers to be moving the earth and laying the foundations for our new ground. Its amazing what we've achieved with little income and playing away from Slough for over 12 years. Just think what we could do with a community sports ground that will massively benefit everyone in Slough.
And I hope we can honour some of those Rebels that never saw us return to the Promised Land but put so much into the club. 
The Chris Sliski Stand and The Dave the Programmes Programme Hut would be a fitting tribute. And a poignant reminder that of course managers and players play a massive part in the club fortunes, but ultimately it's the fans that have steered the Slough Town ship in sickness and in health.

Monday, April 06, 2015


Printed in the Southern Premier Division game v St Neots Town Saturday 4th April 2015. We drew 3-3 in front of 354

How do you turn a protest into something positive? Sometimes there's no other option but to take the direct action response to show the authorities you mean business. But sometimes your protests can be pitched so that they help galvanise wider support. It was Brighton fans who showed the way when some bright spark from Plymouth came up with the idea of Fans United. Supporters from all over the country descended on the Seagulls threatened ground to show their support and catapult the campaign into the national headlines.

A fortnight ago, AFC Blackpool fighting off relegation from the North West Counties Premier Division and averaging crowds of just 35 decided to delay their kick off after fed up Blackpool fans said once they had protested at Bloomfield Road they would make their way to the Mechanics ground. The irony wasn't lost on the Championship supporters, that despite playing eight levels below them, AFC Blackpool had more grass on their pitch than them. But then since their relegation from the Premiership, the Blackpool chairman has lawfully been allowed to syphon off tens of millions on unsecured interest free loans to the various companies he owns. The kitman walked out in midweek, and the legalised loan sharks who sponsor the shirts will not renew. Blackpool have arguably the worst pitch in the Football League; their training ground would shame a semi-professional club and they are destined for relegation. The chairman argues his family deserves recognition and reward for underpinning the club for two decades and seems to think this gives him the green light to asset strip it to within an inch of its life. The Premiership, who have provided his family handsomely with their parachute payments shrug their shoulders, while the Football League say they have done nothing wrong. Which probably isn't surprising since the chairman of the Football League happens to be the chairman of Blackpool Football Club! In an email they argued “aside from adhering to our regulations (including financial requirements) and the laws of the land, clubs are their own individual business and can chose to operate as they wish”. Which is as good a quote as any, as why clubs should be owned by its supporters.

As for AFC Blackpool, they benefited by a bumper crowd of 503 who cheered them on to a 2-1 victory against Bootle. It also gave some fans, a glimpse of a very different footballing experience. One tweeted 'AFC Blackpool was bloody brilliant. Terraces, terrace banter, beer and great friends all together again. How it should be.'

Hereford United fans spent the season grappling with horrendous debts and dodgy owners who wanted to asset strip their ground. With crowds plummeting due to boycotting fans and owners that kept dishing out excuses, the courts finally had enough and the club that had famously knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup were no more. But fans quickly set up a phoenix supporters run club that will be playing back at Edgar Street next season. Their aims include that no other individual or corporate body will be able to own any more than 24% of the shares in the company and that any profits must be reinvested in the club and will not return to any of the benefactors/sponsors, or be shared between shareholders.

Last Saturday Slough had the pleasure (well apart from the result) to visit our old friends Hitchin Town who ran a campaign blinder to stop a charity selling off their ground to a supermarket giant. Early in the season 2,000 people marched through the town to show their support, with the majority of them staying to watch the Canaries beat league leaders Poole.

And of course, Slough Town have cleared the last major hurdle to getting a new ground with building work potentially starting this summer. It's been a funny old season and a bloody long time since we weren't either fighting for promotion or battling against relegation, so as well as giving our nerves a welcome break, the ground news is just what our supporters needed to give something to toast at the end of the season.

Friday, March 13, 2015


To be printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Truro City Saturday 14th March 2015. 

Maybe it was just the spring sunshine going to my head, but standing on the packed Dripping Pan terraces with Kingstonian fans in full voice, I couldn't help thinking that non league football was once again finding its feet; and the relentless crap that league supporters have to put up with for the privilege of supporting their team, was finally turning enough of them away and back to grassroots football.

Of course its not all roses; Lewes opponents Kingstonian groundshare with AFC Wimbledon and their management have said if Wimbledon get their own ground they will probably have to find a new home because Kingsmeadow is too big for them. Meanwhile FA boss Greg Duke, with his deep understanding of lower league finances, has said that he is looking at cutting FA Trophy and Vase money - the same week that the Premiership announced a 5 billion pound TV deal! Dyke’s wants £2 million per year switched from other parts of the FA budget to pay for 35 new coach educators to work in the grassroots and professional game. It's been approved by the FA board, but amateur blazers have unsurprisingly, yet to be convinced about the merits of such expenditure and the resulting 15 per cent cuts being imposed on every department to raise the cash. Do the winners of the FA Cup really need £1.8 million? Should teams be out of pocket in the early rounds of the Trophy and Vase?

Then there's that old B team chestnut rearing its head again. This time, the threats are for Premiership Under 21 teams to be put into the
Johnstone Paint Trophy. Not the most prestigious of cups, until you get to the final when every player and supporter wants to be at Wembley. Let the B teams in that and it will be the Trojan Horse the Premiership Masters of the Universe want so they can swamp the lower divisions with B-listers.

Of course clubs like Lewes, Dulwich and FC United of Manchester have worked hard to carve out a niche for themselves with the resulting surge in support. A recent trip to watch the Peacehaven & Telscombe v Lewes derby showed the flipside of non league. Peacehaven's rise up the divisions and spending on players they couldn't afford has finally caught up with them. A new chairman off-loaded 3 players which immediately cut the wage bill in half. He then initiated a Stand or Fall campaign to raise £15,000 to pay for the required 75 seats before the end of the season. Or as non league football blogger Ian Townsend pointed out 'Half a day’s pay – or possibly the price of an acceptable birthday cake – for Yaya Touré.' No seats and it will mean relegation. Piddinghoe Avenue still has the feel of a Sussex County League ground and not the Sports Arena it likes to call itself. Whereas you walk into noise when you go through the Lewes turnstiles, at Peacehaven you are strung out like pearls and the £10 entrance fee doesn't sit right. Despite it being a derby that mattered and a big crowd, there was no atmosphere and no noise until Peacehaven scored the winning goals. How do you hope to attract the disillusioned supporter with those facilities?

Of course they do things a bit different in Germany where Bayern Munich fans recently unfurled a banner proclaiming ‘No to the English model’ while their president, said “We do not think the fans are like cows to be milked. Football has got to be for everybody. That’s the biggest difference between us and England.” So hears hoping the Premiership brand goes the way of Tesco. Too arrogant to see all the problems piling up. To dismissive of the fans protests. I doubt they will ever see the light, so let's encourage more people to jump ship and join the Non League Football Revolution (or Rebelution in our case).

Sunday, March 08, 2015


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Cambridge City Saturday 7th March 2015. We lost 4-0 in front of 315 people

How ironic that all those years spent praying for promotion everytime I saw the words AFC Hayes on the fixtures list, that I should spend so little time watching the Rebels in our first season back in the big time (Big Time of course being relative). It all started so well with a flurry of action down in the West Country but with the groundsharing at Beaconsfield testing my patience (I’ve been to so few home games my season ticket is working out as pricey as a seat at the Emirates), endless rail replacements which means five hour journeys become ten, kids, work and a co-op boozer that has popped up down the bottom of my street. Well, its been a season of 'wish you were here' and now with no prospect of relegation or promotion, a season spent watching more Sussex County than Southern Premier.

Still, I did fancy a bit of Chippenham Town, never having entered their turnstiles. Once I left the brave new world that is Reading station (how about this for a crazy idea, get a bar and a decent place to eat in the concourse you numpties) I arrived in Chippenham with plenty of time to catch up with The Real Ale Rebels (plus Kieran). They have the knack of finding old fashioned boozers that make you feel you have walked into someone's house by mistake. Leaving them to debate the finer points of ale, I got to the ground before the usual 1 minute to spare to catch up with all the aches and ailments of the ageing Rebel population and ponder the news that the council have given permission for our new ground (not that it means we can start building just yet).

I must say I was impressed with Chippenham. Loved the ground, cheap clubhouse, friendly fans from all ages including a Swede, with obligatory crazy Viking beard who travels over to games after a group of friends stumbled across the club – like you do when you live in Sweden. He bared his chest and waved his shirt above his head as Chippenham scored twice in a terrible game of football. I was wondering if the people by the Stadium Control Room would leap into action and cover up his modesty. But I had headed back to the bar before then.

This world of football is so far removed from the Premiership that it has more in common with horse dancing (or Equestrian Dressage as they like to call it to make it sound sensible). I cringed as I watched FA say they hoped the Premiership would hand a few more crumbs to the leagues below as the biggest TV deal ever was announced. Five Billion Quid over 3 years! The Premier League currently spends £168m on community programmes and facilities, just 3% of its income. So while the top of our national sport is awash with millions, grassroots football struggles with terrible pitches and terrible or non existent facilities. These very same clubs that play footballers millions, can't it seems, afford to pay its lowest paid staff the Living Wage (and its worth remembering that people on low wages are topped up with tax credits, so in effect taxpayers are subsidizing these big clubs).

So I couldn't help smiling, when their smugness turned to horror with FIFA announcing that the Qatar World Cup could be moved to the winter. We can't have our players getting too hot, not that we give a shit about the hundreds of workers killed building stadiums in the footballing hotbed (well it is a desert) that is Qatar. FIFA are so corrupt, even the Somali government waves its arms in despair and I wish countries would just tell them to stick their World Cup up their bloated, corrupt back sides.

Yet just like the Premiership, they get away with it because we go along with it. When there are protests, such as the Crystal Palace Ultras whose banners criticised the new TV deal, they are ignored by Match of the Day when these protests should become talking points.

Thankfully the chances of Slough Town joining this cauldron of crap anytime in my lifetime is pretty much zero. And that's the way I like it. Infact the more supporters are taken on a merry dance, the more Non League becomes attractive to people fed up with being taken for a footballing ride. And with the prospects of a new ground in Slough, these are the sorts of people we need to grab with both footballing gloves and turn them into Rebels.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


To be printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Arlesey Town Saturday 14th February 2015

It's not often that a Sussex County League side find themselves in the national news. Even if it was a dig that they were even more boring than Aston Villa, you can't buy that sort of publicity. It's bad enough being slagged off by Robbie Savage, there was also a piece in one those rags pretending to be newspapers, but it was the plug on Football Focus that nailed it for a car load of us to head to The Crouch, home of Seaford Town FC to see just how boring they really were.

Seaford is a small picturesque seaside town that at one time was touted as a potential rival to Brighton as the premier resort on Sussex’s coast. But now it has few hotels or guest houses despite having dozens of them before the Second World War. The seafront has no amusements and the beach has lost its golden sand at low tide thanks to a long arm built at Newhaven Harbour. But it's a lovely little town with quirky buildings and shops, and the view from the ground is stunning. I think Seaford residents are more than happy with its more genteel, some would say boring, pace of life. Mind you the town council has been anything but boring recently with allegations of bullying, admin cock ups, infighting, spiralling costs and then trying some poor attemtps and trying to cover it all up.

Seaford have done a lot of ground improvements since the last time I visited. They have a swanky new stand and floodlights, which didn't bring the football hooliganism some locals said would happen when they were seeking planning permission. But chatting to one of their officials the club have been in a bit of a financial black hole and cut back on the teams that represented them. You can still enter from the back of a park and the ground will need quite a bit of work if they are to reach the promised land of the Ryman League. That might be some way off, with Seafords highest ever finish fourth in County League Division One nearly 50 years ago!

So far this season they are pointless with a worse goal record than Aston Villa who are just 662 places above them in the football pyramid. And after watching them fail to score against league leaders Worthing United, you could see why their players need a little more confidence in sticking the ball in the onion bag. But really the pitch doesn't help and it seems insane that something that is so integral to a decent game of football, isn't getting proper investment from the footballing authorities. Unfortunately league ground graders seem more concerned with getting clubs to build stands that will never be full than sorting out pitches.

Not missing a trick Seaford chairman Bob Thompsett told the press "I'd like to invite Villa down here so we can decide once and for all who is England's most boring team. It would be loser takes all if you like. Paul Lambert has looked a bit down in the dumps lately so I'd like to cheer him up. I'm sure his players would enjoy themselves down here. Our pitch does have a few holes and a few dog turds but my wife Chrissie does the best teas in the division."
Failing that, they are trying to arrange a friendly against another club in the country with a terrible record. Stewart and Lloyds Corby Football Club from Northamptonshire, have lost 24 games scoring 16 but conceding 96. Chairman Thompsett added, “It’d be great to meet them halfway to see who is the worst team in the country.”
I can hardly wait for that game, it's got 'instand classic' written all over it.
As they say, the only way is up for Seaford Town and with a canny Chairman, milking the publicity for all its worth, let's hope Seaford start banging in the goals and picking up some points soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Poole Town on Saturday 24th January 2015. We lost 4-0 in front of 309 people.

I was reading an article the other day about what a complete mess we are making of our planet. You know, the sort of article you skip cos its too depressing and far more pressing is to find out just what José Moaninho is complaining about now.

Scientists spent five years identifying the core components needed for human life – and the results ain't pretty. Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded “safe” levels. Changes in the last 60 years are unprecedented in the previous 10,000. All of these changes are shifting Earth into a “new state” that is becoming less hospitable to human life – and there's no sign things are slowing down.
Lead author Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University said “It’s fairly safe to say that we haven’t seen conditions in the past similar to ones we see today and there is strong evidence that there [are] tipping points we don’t want to cross. People say the world is robust and that’s true, there will be life on Earth, but the Earth won’t be robust for us.”

“Some people say we can adapt due to technology, but that’s a belief system, it’s not based on fact. There is no convincing evidence that a large mammal, with a core body temperature of 37C, will be able to evolve that quickly. Insects can, but humans can’t and that’s a problem...It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive.” 
Well, cheers for that bomb shell but what's its got to do with football? And what could a small lower league club possibly do to stop the world becoming a less hospitable place for humans? Obviously if the worlds environment collapses then most of our games would be postponed – although the old blazers that run our league will no doubt be in their bunkers trying to make clubs finish the season. I think we should put a mark in the stand, and make our club greener than Kermit's bottom. Proper building insulation, solar panels, recycled water and reduced waste. Not only should these be essential components for our new ground but would also save money. I know, I know, let's get our bloody ground first but if those solar panels knock a few pence off your pint or mug of tea (served in a cup that isn't thrown away after just one use) or enables us to sign a better player; well who'd be arguing against?

Since Dale Vince, who made his fortune from green energy company Ecotricity, became chairman of Forest Green Rovers, he has been determined to make the club 'the most sustainable football club inBritain.' Some examples include collecting water from under the pitch to use for irrigation, solar panels and the first meat-free football menu. They've also got the UK’s first electric ‘mow-bot’ putting Rovers in the same league as Bayern Munich, who use the same revolutionary technology. The ‘mow-bot’ uses GPS technology to automatically mow the pitch without the need for human intervention – saving up to 50 per cent of a groundsman’s working week – it even sends a text if it runs into trouble. Rovers next plan to create an eco-venue for business and schools with the football club a working demonstration of sustainable living.

Of course there are those who complain that this is all green nonsense, while politicians and corporations carry on us normal and tell us that buying endless crap we don't need is good for the economy. But the warning from Profesor Steffen is clear if we do nothing “History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”
So wouldn't it be a good thing to have our club badge changed to 'Served the Planet with Honour'!