Football in Bracknell
In Depth

Slough Town win promotion to National League South

Former Bracknell Town defenders Neil Baker and Jon Underwood have led the Rebels from Southern League Division 1 to the Vanarama National League South

Slough Town win promotion to National League South

It’ll be difficult to beat the last few years for supporters of Slough Town, the Rebels have gone from strength to strength under the leadership of Jon Underwood and Neil Baker.

And on Bank Holiday Monday Slough moved to within one division of the Vanarama National League Premier (if that’s what they call it?) following a thrilling 2-1 Southern League Premier Division play-off win over King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

It means that next season Underwood and Baker will lead the Rebels in the National League South after four seasons in the Southern Premier and is the duos second promotion as managers at Arbour Park after they previously won the Division 1 Central play offs in 2014.

The road to recovery

Slough Town's Arbour Park ground under construction. Photo: Neil Baker.

Slough Town’s Arbour Park ground under construction. Photo: Neil Baker.

The transformation at the club has been incredible in recent years, from the outside at least they Rebels growth should be a real inspiration for what local clubs can do.

Slough were a ‘homeless’ club since leaving Wexham Park in 2003 (there’s some great pictures of the old ground in 2010 here), they ground shared with Beaconsfield SYCOB (now Town) from 2010 until the move to the purpose built Arbour Park in August 2016 and it’s superb artificial surface.

The club have built slowly since the arrival of Underwood and Baker. Building a solid side that has improved each season, culminating in the play off win and a televised FA Cup Second Round tie against League One Rochdale.

It’s a mark of the clubs quality that they played an almost full strength side against Bracknell in the clubs Berks & Bucks County Cup meeting this season. The Rebels narrowly missed out on the final after beating the Robins at a packed Larges Lane, they lost the semi final to eventual winners MK Dons.

The Conference days

The Rebels were in the Conference (now the National League) as recently as 1998 – collectively they’ve spent more time in the top tier of non league football than Maidenhead United’s solitary season. Slough were a Conference side between 1990 and 1994 and then 1995 to 1998, seven seasons in total.

That final relegation at the end of the 97/98 season coupled with the departure from Wexham five years later saw a gradual decline that almost ended with relegation to step five (Hellenic League or Combined Counties) in the 2007/08 season.

The key battle that season saw Bracknell Town and Slough slug it out at the bottom of the Southern League Division 1 South & West with the Robins edging out the Rebels by two points.

Neil Baker playing for Bracknell Town.

Neil Baker playing for Bracknell Town.

Slough were ultimately reprieved from relegation at the end of that season but current boss Neil Baker certainly won’t thank us for reminding Rebels fans that he and current Robins Jamie McClurg and Adam Cornell were part of the Bracknell side that beat them 3-1 in January 2008.

Right now

These days, Arbour Park is a world away from Holloways Park, Wexham Park and scraps at the bottom of step 4. Baker and Underwood – who spent a large portion of their playing career with Bracknell will start next season in the National League South and are 42 games from a return to the level both began their playing careers at in the 1990s with Alan Taylor and Farnborough Town.

Our congratulations to everyone at Slough Town, enjoy the summer break!

Neil Baker managerial career:

  • Fleet Spurs (solo)
  • Godalming Town
  • Slough Town

Jon Underwood managerial career:

  • Bracknell Town (assistant manager)
  • Reading Town (assistant manager)
  • Bracknell Town (solo)
  • Godalming Town
  • Slough Town

Dates and table information via the excellent FCHD.info. Slough Town reports from the clubs official website.

Main image: Neil Baker and Jon Underwood, Slough Town FC managers by Neil Graham.

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Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror. Manager of Binfield Ladies in the Thames Valley Women's League.

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