Martin McCabe has been a Slough Town fan since 1988 and a season ticket holder for the last 11 years. He is a regular fundraiser for the club and charities, taking part in the end of season sponsored walks.
So where do Slough Town’s problems start? Oddly enough with arguably our greatest ever season. In 1997-98 we finished 8th in the Conference, which even then was an excellent league, won by a fantastic Halifax side, and we reached the semi-final of the FA Trophy only to be “robbed” by a dubious off-side goal (aren’t they all?).
We were managed by a fresh-faced local chap named Brian McDermott (now of Leeds United) and had the coveted mix of youth and experience throughout the team. After finishing on a huge high there was talk of a promotion the following season.
Little did we know that disaster lurked around the corner. Conference Grading rules meant that our ground at Wexham Park had 50 too few seats. No problem, the supporters association and council purchased some and arranged for them to be fitted. But the owner of the ground and football club had grown tired of his frustrated plans to develop the site, and decided to pull the plug on the club by refusing entry to the ground.
On the brink of extinction a rescue package was put together by a consortium and a deal was struck to remain at Wexham Park, but not before we were demoted from the Conference. So began our downward spiral.
Five years later with no agreement reached over Wexham Park we were evicted, and are now the Homeless Rebels. A couple more relegations later we find ourselves languishing at Step 8. We have been grateful tenants since at both Windsor and Beaconsfield, who have each hosted us for prolonged periods. Ironically our tenancy has added to our landlords’ coffers, and we have since found ourselves competing with them both on the field, losing last year to our landlords in a promotion play-off.
Light finally seemed to be emerging from the end of the tunnel when in 2009 the Local Council, the Club and a housing developer put forward a proposal to develop a site in the heart of the town for a new football ground, housing and community sports facilities. Progress has been relatively modest, but years of hard work have gone into the project. A realistic chance of returning to our home town after 10 years was so tantalizingly close.
Last month those hopes were dealt a hammer blow when the Department for Education wrote to the Local Council indicating that they were willing to use statutory powers to take the development site from council ownership, handing it over to a school. We have nothing against the proposed school, but after years of hard work and ten years of homelessness we don’t think this site should now be snatched away.
As such we have launched a petition to make our feelings known and would urge all football fans to sign up and support us.
In the modern era, I think all fans have this feeling, “It could be us next”. In signing this petition you can help us and show that football fans are prepared to rally around and help each other despite partisan loyalties. You never know next time, it might be your club asking for just that little bit of help.
Sign the Slough Town petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/47176
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Thanks to Flickr user surprise truck for the image used in this blog, reproduced under Creative Commons licence.