Welcome mats

Ian Plenderleith discovers a Swede with an addiction to Slough Town, what Colin Addison's main failing as a manager was, and where the Jail End can be found

How far would you travel to watch Slough Town? It’s one of those questions consistently posed in philosophical and political de­bating salons across the nation. In the case of Mats Tallqvist, leader of the Slough fan group the Swedish Rebels, the answer is “all the way from Halmstad”, and with great regularity, jud­ging by the diary accounts on his Unofficial Slough Town Web Page.

“It seems to be a custom when I am coming over that Slough are playing bad,” he laments after a recent 1-0 home defeat against Bognor Regis in the Ryman League First Division. His player assessments are entertaining and pithy – “Michael Bartley: Good effort, but has first touch of a Subbuteo player.” And as if to prove he’s not completely dysfunctional, he’s been bringing along his girlfriend Emma too. “Yes, every­one here in Sweden says I am mad,” he confides. Hatstand, mate, absolutely hat­stand.

Another player with poor ball control was the former Hull City striker Billy Whitehurst, who relates in an interview on a fan site ded­icated solely to his talents: “My second touch was always a tackle cos my first touch went aw­ay from me.” Read the rest of this lengthy one-on-one because it’s as frank as (and funnier than) a Cascarino confessional. For example, when he reveals the reasons behind Colin Ad­dison’s failings: “His downfall was that he talked too much. He would stand ar­ound tal­king for three hours about his fucking wife or his daughter going for a job.”

Added to that are some player confessionals (“The things he used to whisper in my ear! I used to start shaking!” – Neil Ruddock) and not a lot else, but it’s a site that delivers what it pro­mises and is all the better for resisting over-elaboration.

An interesting site in the wake of ITV Dig­ital’s downfall has been founded at IOU Sport, run by “two fans who believe that the time for the greed to stop has come”, and who are ur­ging readers to boycott ITV until it, or its daught­er companies, come up with the money the site owners feel ITV Digital or its successors morally (and perhaps legally, but that’s still a major sticking point) owe to Foot­ball League clubs.

The site provides an overview of articles re­lated to the whole sorry episode so far, al­though the most absorbing section is the mes­sage board, where you can read postings from wor­ried ITV Digital employees, or the views of fans taking issue with the website’s stand and blaming the state of affairs on the League. As long as the matter remains unsettled, this site should provide a healthy sounding board for anyone wishing to read or express an alternative view.

Finally, for those suffering from away travel withdrawal symptoms over the summer, Duncan Adams’s Internet Football Ground Guide should keep you going until the first pre-season friendlies roll around. This col­umn would like to apologise for its criminal failure to mention previously this information-stuffed, brilliantly researched, and well written guide to every ground in the English professional leagues.

The site is kept well up to date on ground dev­elopments and clubs on the move, as well as providing exhaustive directions, notes and anecdotes, pub recommendations, songs, stat­istics and admission prices, not to mention some fine photography and a section for dewy-eyed nostalgists on lost stands and grounds. My only reservation was the site’s recommendation to spend a weekend in Cleethorpes next time you’re at Blundell Park, but then I’m still suffering from the childhood trauma of a day trip to Cleethorpes Zoo to find that all the live animals had been replaced with plastic ones.

Its sister site for Scottish grounds is almost as worthy (it has become one of my life’s am­bitions to visit the Jail End at Ross County), and although not yet complete, and with fewer features, it promises to list all Scottish teams some time in the near future.

From WSC 185 July 2002. What was happening this month