Note: This weekly series will look for teams outside of the top flights of European football to find true underdog stories of clubs well below the radar. Clubs will be featured based on performance in the various tournaments that happen concurrently with the league seasons, or even strong runs in some of the leagues that dot the European football landscape. Chances are, these clubs will be years away from finding a home at the top flights of football – if they are ever able to get there – but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from time to time. If you happen upon a team that you think might qualify, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @GuruEbby or @SportMuseNet!
Slough Town F.C.
Nickname: The Rebels
Founded: 1893 (as Slough)
Location: Slough, Berkshire, England
Team Colors: Blue & Yellow
Ground: Arbor Park
Current League: National League South (Tier 6)
Reason For Notice
Slough Town was one of at least two clubs to upset a club from a higher tier in the replay of its FA Cup match this week, with a thrilling victory on penalty kicks over National League side Sutton United. The victory in front of the faithful fans at Arbor Park advances the club through to the second round of the FA Cup, where they will face off against the winner of Gillingham and Hartlepool United, who play their own replay match later today.
Slough Town was formed in a merger between three clubs – Swifts, Slough Albion, and Young Men’s Friendly Society – in 1890. They are a semi-professional club, and as such has spent most of their history in the lower tiers of English football.
Slough has played as high as what is now the National League, but has struggled to attain that level since being relegated after the 1997-98 season due to issues with their ground at the time, and ended up back in the Isthmian League despite finishing in 8th place in the league that season. Their odyssey through the lower divisions of English was just beginning, but eventually they righted the ship and began to find success.
After missing the Southern Football League Division One playoffs by one point during the 2012-13 season, they qualified for the playoffs the following season and won promotion to the Southern football League Premier Division, where they finished in 16th and 17th in their first two seasons before breaking through for a playoff spot in 2016-17. While they failed to garner promotion that season, they won the playoffs after a third place finish the following season, returning to the National League – and Tier 6 – for the first time in a long time.
During league play thus far, Slough is currently in 13th place, though they have played only 16 matches thus far, while most others in the league have played 17 or 18. They have allowed one goal per game on the season, but boast a +4 goal differential, which has helped them to a respectable 7-3-6 record thus far. They are only five points out of the playoffs, so as they round out their schedule, it could be easy for them to move up the table, and their strong play thus far in the FA Cup should help.
Speaking of the FA Cup, this will be the ninth time that they have reached the second round of that competition, as well as the second consecutive year; last season, they lost to League One club Rochdale after playing through four qualifying rounds, a feat they nearly had to repeat this year (they entered qualifying a round later due to their current position in Tier 6). However, prior to yesterday’s match, Slough had benefited from a favorable draw through qualification, as they were typically matched against clubs from lower tiers.
As mentioned previously, the second round of the FA Cup will begin on 1 December, but Slough Town does not yet know their opponent. They will, however, be hosting that match, which will hopefully give them an advantage regardless of the opponent. This weekend, they also enter qualification for the FA Trophy, hosting a match against league-mate Weston-super-Mare. As such, they aren’t scheduled to play a league match until December.
Update on Last Week’s Club
Last week, I profiled National League North club Stockport County after their own success in the first round of the FA Cup. They do finally know who they will be playing in the second round, facing off against the Tranmere Rovers of League One on the road. That match will be played on 2 December.
In league play, while others were playing FA Cup matches, Stockport County lost to the Blyth Spartans in league play, and they remain in 11th place with 24 points, though they have still only played 17 matches while other clubs have played 18. They will most likely play another league match in advance of their FA Cup match, but that remains to be seen while we are awaiting the other FA Cup results to shake out. In the meantime, they will be hosting league-mate Chorley this weekend in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy competition.
Until next time…