the real fa cup

Slough Ride A Cock-Horse To Make Banbury Cross

6157150773_09ec8abc3c_z.jpg Banbury 1 – 3 Slough
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round 17/9/11

There’s nothing like the FA Cup to make me spring out of bed early, bursting with excitement. Or maybe that’s just my son shouting that he’s bursting for a wee. Whatever. I do love the FA Cup especially when my team Slough Town have to visit places I’ve never before. Actually, I have been to Banbury before but that was for a friend’s funeral. Simon Jones was killed on his first day as a casual worker at Shoreham docks, his head crushed by the grab of a crane. He had no proper training doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country sent by an employment agency that didn’t care about health and safety.

In my mind Banbury was a small, quiet Oxfordshire market town. Err, apparently not so small and definitely a bit more raucous. Their fans were certainly in a raucous mood, and it was good to have a decent crowd getting behind their team even if they did abuse us and somehow think that 100 travelling Slough fans could fit in a taxi. Maybe counting wasn’t one of their strong points or taxis were a bit more accommodating in this part of the country.

It is now nearly 39 years since Banbury last met Slough. That was also an FA Cup game and we lost 2-1. But Slough were a football club in the ascendancy and that season we went on to win the Athenian League and play at Wembley in the Final of the FA Amateur Cup. Someone in the pub complained that they still hadn’t got a programme for that FA Cup game. We reckoned it was time to let it go.

6157637558_37a21004e3_z.jpg While Slough’s fortunes have dipped, kicked out of the Conference, homeless for the past 10 years and only being saved from relegated to our lowest ever league by the demise of Halifax, Banbury’s decade of horror was the eighties. They nearly went bankrupt, had to sell their ground and spent time in the Hellenic League. The Spencer Stadium has an ‘everything must go’, falling down and unloved feel to it. It also suffers from flooding and directly behind one goal is a new flood relief channel! The ground’s owner, a millionaire who made his money from poultry, wants to build houses on it, but the council won’t let him unless they find another ground. But it is in a fantastic place, right next to train station in the middle of town. Sites have been identified but as we all know in Slough, these things take time.

Banbury are in the Southern Premier and Slough a league below and in the opening 20 minutes it showed. Banbury eventually took the lead in 36th minute but Slough had chances and just before half time Sean Sonner got his head on a cross to level it. In the second half Slough were fantastic. We deservedly took the lead with Steve Sinclair lobbing the keeper and it could have been three when we were awarded a generous penalty which top goalscorer Danny Burnell saw superbly saved by Banbury’s keeper. In the 88th minute Slough’s Ben Abbey sealed it with a breakaway goal with Slough fans cock a hoop singing music wherever she goes.

6156569867_5c73092ded_z.jpg As we escaped to the bar to get out of the rain, we chatted to a beaming Slough chairman Steve Easterbrook. As he pointed out, many clubs base their finances on a run in the FA Cup. If that doesn’t happen then budgets are cut. So it’s a very handy three grand for a club with no ground. It’s not so long ago that Slough beat Paul Merson’s Walsall in the First round of the FA Cup. A game that Merson has said was the lowest point of his footballing career. Could we reach the first round proper again? What the game also showed is that there isn’t a big difference between the top clubs at our level and the division above. But as Slough have found out with two play off defeats in the past two seasons, with just one automatic promotion spot, the hardest part is getting out of bloody Southern League Central. This fine win is just the sort of thing to spur us on to go one better and start playing premiership football again on a regular basis.

Words: Warren Carter. Warren is @brightonrebel, a Slough Town fan exiled in Brighton. Read his Slough Town Soapbox here.
Photos: Courtesy of Slough’s official photographer, Gary House. View more photos from this game and others at Gary’s flikr and at Horsham Rebel.

Leave a Reply

Non League Day
Bobby Robson Foundation

search