Football / Non-League Notebook: Slough rise from trough

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The Independent Online
IF THE usual three clubs, instead of just two, had been relegated from the GM Vauxhall Conference last season, Slough Town would have lost their place among the semi-professional elite. The Berkshire club survived, though, and with a new manager at the helm they have surged to the top of the league as the only side with a 100 per cent record after four games, writes Rupert Metcalf.

David Kemp, the former Plymouth Argyle manager and Wimbledon coach, replaced the long-serving Alan Davies in the manager's office at Wexham Park in the summer. Kemp, 39, was a prolific Third Division goalscorer with Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Carlisle and Plymouth, but he has yet to taste success as a manager, having been dismissed by Argyle in February, three months before their relegation from the old Second Division.

Kemp still feels he did a good job at Plymouth, though. 'I kept them up for two years on a shoestring budget,' he said this week, 'and since I left they have spent a lot of money and been relegated.'

Kemp was often criticised for inflicting a Wimbledon-style long- ball game on the Devon club, so he is keen to stress that Slough 'play the ball through the midfield', where Les Briley, the former Millwall battler, rules the roost.

Slough, who are 50-1 outsiders for the league, have gained 1-0 victories at Northwich and Bath to add to two convincing home wins: 3-0 against Kettering and, on Monday, 2-0 against the formidable Dagenham and Redbridge.

'I used Monday's game as a yardstick to see how good we are,' Kemp said, 'but we coped with them very well.' Slough, who entertain Altrincham tomorrow, lead the table by two points from Wycombe and Stafford. Briley is one of several Kemp recruits, who include two forwards, Andy Sayer, formerly with Wimbledon, and George Friel from Woking.

Should Slough go all the way and win the Conference, Kemp feels the club could cope with League football. 'Our chairman is Alan Thorne, formerly chairman at Millwall,' he said, 'while the managing director is Bob Pearson, who used to be manager at Millwall.' With experience off the field and success on it, Slough's supporters are despondent no more . . .