York City away, Reading FC and 47 years of support: Supporters Panel part one

Danny Robinson, Sam Barratt and Neil Baker. Photos by Jeff Youd, Darren Woolley and Neil Graham.
Danny Robinson, Sam Barratt and Neil Baker. Photos by Jeff Youd, Darren Woolley and Neil Graham.

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The Football in Berkshire’s Supporters Panel for 2022/23 was launched in the summer to give supporters of non-league and women’s teams in the county a voice through the season.

At the time of writing, the panel has 31 contributors covering teams in the Vanarama National League through to the Southern Region Women’s Football League.

The first questionnaire went out last week and the responses have been sifted through. FiB will release the panels in batches this week – keep an eye on our supporter panel page here and across our social media pages.

In this focus on the Vanarama National League clubs (and those fellas in the EFL Championship), we have Reading FC fan Ben Thomas, Maidenhead United fans Joshua Dunn and David Simoes, Slough Town fans Scott McNeish and Max Roscoe and Hungerford Town fan Mike Hall.

If you would like to be a part of the next Supporters Panel, scroll to the bottom of this article to sign up.

Tell us a little about how and when you started supporting your club

Ben Thomas (Reading): First game was in 1992 and has since become a huge part of my life. My dad started taking me to Elm Park where we stood on The Tilehurst End and I still attend with him, along with my son – three generations sitting together!

David Simoes (Maidenhead): I was born in Maidenhead in 1975; can’t remember when exactly I was introduced to the club but spent many of my junior days watching the club until today.

Joshua Dunn (Maidenhead): Started supporting Maidenhead when I was about 10 when a friend invited me to be a ball boy. I did that for a couple of seasons. My dad used to come to the end of the games to pick me up on a Tuesday night and he caught the bug. We decided to go to our first Maidenhead away game when I was about 13-14 and hardly missed a home or away game every season since.

Scott McNeish (Slough): I would visit Wexham Park on and off in the ’80s in my teenage years. It was only when a career change in 2007 allowed me to get to games more regularly that I became a season ticket holder and attempt to get to every game, something that I achieved last season.

Slough Town's Arbour Park ground under construction. Photo: Neil Baker.
Back when Slough Town’s Arbour Park was building site. Photo: Neil Baker.

Max Roscoe (Slough): I heard that Arbour Park was a brand new stadium so went to watch a Tuesday Night game (the main stand wasn’t even open as it was still a building site!) Then went to odd Tuesday night games then Sutton (A) FA Cup I went to and never looked back since!

Mike Hall (Hungerford): My dad played for Hungerford in the 1960s and we lived opposite the ground and so I have always supported the club from knee-high to a grasshopper. I have followed the team home and away since 1975 and so now in my 47th year of loyal support. I have served in many voluntary roles including General Secretary and Programme Editor and currently serve as Match Secretary and match day announcer. I also qualified as a referee in 1994 and officiated at over 750 games including over 300 at the Hellenic League level.

What’s a bold prediction for your team this season? What’s the best outcome?

Ben Thomas (Reading): The answer to these questions is the same: staying up. That’s all we need to do. If we do stay up, anything above 21st is the best outcome.

David Simoes (Maidenhead): Remaining in the National League is always the goal, but this year represents the biggest challenge.

Joshua Dunn (Maidenhead): I think if we can get one of our strikers firing and keep Sam Barratt fit, with the same at the back a fit Will de Havilland, I think we can push for a top half position maybe even close to playoffs.

Will De Havilland. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Will De Havilland. Photo: Darren Woolley.

Scott McNeish (Slough): It’s going to be really tough, but I would like to think that we can at least grab a playoff place. There are now a number of full-time teams in the National League South which gives them the advantage of just concentrating on football week to week. They are definitely teams we like to beat, especially away from home! The best outcome would be that we are competitive throughout the season, remain in the league and maybe, just maybe have a sniff of the playoffs right up to the last day.

Max Roscoe (Slough): Promotion!

Mike Hall (Hungerford): A bold prediction would be to challenge for a play-off position but we will be happy to avoid a relegation battle and finish as high up the league as possible.

..and what is your biggest fear?

Ben Thomas (Reading): That the team struggle leading up to and after the World Cup break, we change manager and the toxicity we saw in spades last season returns. On top of that, being adrift of safety around March will make for a horrid end to the season.

David Simoes (Maidenhead): I don’t fear relegation but with the prospect of a new stadium to support the growth of the club, it would be a step back.

Joshua Dunn (Maidenhead): I fear are supporters will turn very quickly against Alan Devonshire and the team. “We need a ‘insert key player lost here‘ replacement” “we’re going down” “tactics all wrong” and we end up in a relegation scrap.

The 'Join The Crusade' banner at Hungerford Town. Photo: Darren Woolley / darrenwoolley.photos
The ‘Join The Crusade’ banner at Hungerford Town. Photo: Darren Woolley / darrenwoolley.photos

Scott McNeish (Slough): My biggest fear would be that we get off to a bad start and never recover. With more teams in the division this year, there are four relegation places and we definitely do not want to be involved in a scrap at any point. Losing Bakes and Unders because of results or poor form just doesn’t bear thinking about it. These guys are made for this job and they will have my backing through good and bad times,

Max Roscoe (Slough): Relegation – The club need to stay in the National League South

Mike Hall (Hungerford): That our seven season stay in the National League could come to an end.

If you only went to one away game this season.. which would it be and why?

Ben Thomas (Reading): Birmingham at Christmas is underrated [not by Football in Berkshire’s Editor it isn’t] – cracking market up there and we might (keyword) win the game!

David Simoes (Maidenhead): York City – it’s a first and it’s a long way away!

Joshua Dunn (Maidenhead): It would have to be one of the grounds that I haven’t been to in the league. Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, York City or Dorking Wanderers. I think picking one of them would be a struggle. But what can I say to quote Tinie Tempah “I’ve never been to Scunthorpe,” also it is our first away game of 2023.

Scott McNeish (Slough): Weymouth. Fantastic old-school-looking ground with magnificent floodlights. You get a good view from wherever you sit or stand. You get down there early, find an arcade to spend an hour or two in, fish and chips on the beach front and then off to the stadium. The supporters of Weymouth are very friendly and welcoming which makes a visit all the more worthwhile.

Max Roscoe (Slough): Dulwich Hamlet – One of the best-run clubs in the National South, Nice Little Trip on the train. Good boozers and a lovely welcoming experience [could someone check Max’s ID – Ed].

Mike Hall (Hungerford): The one in which we win to secure National League South football for another season!

The best bit of club merchandise you have is..

Ben Thomas (Reading): Not so much merchandise, but I have 30 years of programmes of games that I’ve attended that I am very proud of. Worthless to everyone else, priceless to me. I also have one of the first-ever Supporter’s Trust pin badges which I’m very fond of.

David Simoes (Maidenhead): Framed arty picture of York Road – pride of place in the bedroom!

York Road, home of Maidenhead United
Not a framed arty pic of York Road, but still the home of Maidenhead United. Photo: Tom Canning.

Joshua Dunn (Maidenhead): Probably more my dads but let’s say our 140th Maidenhead anniversary shirt against Oxford University from 2011

Scott McNeish (Slough): I have a signed home shirt from 5 years ago that I won from the Slough Observer for winning the Prediction League, all based on Slough Town’s results. It’s proudly hanging up in my bedroom.

Max Roscoe (Slough): Not the weather at the moment but love the design of our bobble hats but also you cant go wrong with a Pin Badge!

Mike Hall (Hungerford): A limited-edition mirror with the 1st team squad picture produced for the 1980 run to the FA Vase Semi-Final.

Want to take part in the next Supporters Panel? We’re looking for representatives of all Berkshire sides across the men’s and women’s game. Fill out the form below with your details:

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