“Memories made will last a lifetime” What Neil Baker and Jon Underwood gave Slough Town fans

Slough Town managers Neil Baker and Jon Underwood. Photo: Windsor Observer.
Former Slough Town managers Neil Baker and Jon Underwood. Photo: Windsor Observer.

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So it’s twenty past nine on a Monday night and my eldest son has come flying down the stairs. ‘You might want to check your Slough Twitter’ he says. I grab my phone, punch Slough Town into the search bar, and then I see it: Club Statement Jon Underwood & Neil Baker. My heart sinks. I know what it is going to say.

After watching their eighth game without a win on Saturday afternoon, a 2-1 defeat at Hungerford, Jon and Neil have resigned. I could sense something wasn’t quite right at the final whistle. Jon and Neil still came over to thank the travelling Rebels, but you could tell from their body language that things were far from normal

Rewind to almost ten years ago when Slough were in the Southern League Division One. Steve Bateman has just been sacked after four unsuccessful promotion attempts. The Rebels appoint Neil and Jon after a successful few years at Godalming, helping them reach the play-offs twice and a superb FA Cup run to the Fourth Qualifying Round where they just lost out to Maidenhead. Their impact is instant, as in their first season they clinch promotion to the Southern Premier League after an amazing 3-2 win away at Kettering. I was at the game, and with Slough two goals down at half-time, I thought there was no way back. Whatever Jon and Neil said to them worked a treat. Captain James McClurg grabbing the winner to send the Rebels fans into dreamland. 

“I have a great video of that day after the final whistle where all the players and management came over to the fans to celebrate. It’s such a treasured moment”

I have a great video of that day after the final whistle where all the players and management came over to the fans to celebrate. It’s such a treasured moment. I hate mobile phones but without them moments like this would be lost, like tears in rain. 

The dual manager role seems to be working. I get to know them by saying hello and wishing them well. I start going to more away games. They’d always thank us for coming and wish us a safe journey home. They are friendly, approachable and honest when we ask questions about players and about teams we are going to play. It makes me feel more connected to the club and wanting them to do well. My son was off to Huddersfield University and he wanted to interview them for his course. They both took time out before a home game to answer all his questions. They couldn’t have been anymore helpful. 

A couple of years cementing their place in the Southern League followed, before promotion to the National League South was won in 2018. Another amazing win away at Kings Lynn in the final secures their spot. Again the celebrations are some of the best I can remember. Fans are on the pitch with the players. It means so much. Seeing James Dobson waving the trophy out of a car window is a highlight and again the party back at Arbour Park with the players is special. 

Jon Underwood celebrates. Photo: Philip J.A Benton/philipbenton.com

It’s during this period I begin to help out the club by being the matchday Twitter reporter, and also do bits and bobs on Instagram. Trying to find out team selections or grabbing a team sheet can be hard work, so I’d always look out for Jon or Neil if they were on the pitch during the warm up. Always obliging and trusting me not to mention the line up before it should be released. 

We’ve also had two amazing FA Cup runs under their stewardship, reaching the Second Round on both occasions. Seeing my team live on the telly is so surreal. Neil and Jon appear on Football Focus. The draw for the next round is done at Arbour Park. We’ve come such a long way since the dark days of nearly being relegated to the Hellenic League/Combined Counties League. Sadly we lost both ties, 4-0 to Rochdale and 1-0 to Gillingham, but these memories made will last a lifetime. 

Since 2018 we’ve been more than competitive in the National League South. We’ve held our own as we come up against more full-time teams with bigger budgets, former League teams who have fallen on hard times who are looking to get back up. This can be attributed to the brilliant work done by Neil and Jon. They always work with a smallish squad, but then complement that with youth and loan deals. We’ve had Elijah Adebayo, now smashing it in the Championship at Luton, Matty Stevens at Forest Green Rovers in League 1, Tyler Goodrham at Oxford United. Bringing in Alfonso Tenconi last season was a masterstroke. His pace and running was brilliant to watch.

“I’ve never felt so welcomed and wanted at a football club by the people who run the team”

Neil Baker acknowledges supporters. Photo: Philip J.A Benton/philipbenton.com

I go to watch a local early FA Cup game at Holyport. One of my mates points out Neil Baker in the small stand. I text him to give us a wave. He duly obliges. At half-time we meet walking round the pitch. Start talking about who Slough might get/want in the next round. Neil jokes it will be someone from our own league but would like somewhere we haven’t played before. Hey presto, the next day we get drawn against Worthing. He makes another remark regarding how well Slough will do. I’m not going to repeat what he said as I still can’t believe it myself! 

It’s now nearly 2pm on Tuesday afternoon. Slough have a Berks & Bucks County FA Cup tie at Maidenhead tonight. Scott Davies, Lee Togwell and Manny Williams have been put in temporary charge. My support for my team will not change. I’ll still be shouting my head off. We’ve got to come up with a new repertoire as Bakes and Unders Rebel Army will be no more. I’m going to miss these two. I’ve never felt so welcomed and wanted at a football club by the people who run the team. Wherever and with whoever they end up with they have my utmost respect and best wishes. They are two of the nicest people I have ever met. Slough Town Legends. 

More from Slough Town FC: Joint statement from Slough Town Football Club, Jon & Neil

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2 Responses

  1. Very well said.. I have been a life time supporter of STFC.. since going to the Dolphin Stadium as a boy..like you I have so many treasured memories of my home town club.. I am retired now and live in Perth Western Australia.. however through social media and contacts I keep a close eye on the club.. I will never forget the welcome the club gave me when I returned to Slough around 4 years back and attended the pre season friendly against Wycombe.. Jon and Neil were super guys..it was a pleasure to meet them..and everybody connected with the club just made that day one I will never forget..thank you STFC and Jon and Neil.. Slough Town till i die

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