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The MANarama Big Interview: How did Neil and Jon make it to 500 games?

The MANarama Big Interview: How did the Rebels combo make it to the magical 500-game milestone together?

07/11/19


League sponsors MANarama check in with Neil Baker ahead of his and Jon Underwood’s big day.

It’ll never work. You’ll get in each other’s way. What if you fall out? Well one of you has to have the deciding say?

Neil Baker and Jon Underwood have heard it all, and they can throw plenty more nuggets of uneducated wisdom in for good measure, writes Sam Elliott.

The joint managers are, after all, one of the very few double acts left in the game.

But Slough Town’s partners-in-crime this weekend can officially say two heads are better than one.

On Saturday against Havant & Waterlooville, they take charge of their 500th match together.

“Unders has been busy looking at the stats,” said Neil Baker, one half of the Rebels dream team. “He must have too much time on his hands!

“We have won 244, drawn 98 and lost 157 of our 499 games. That’s a win percentage of 49%. I’m very happy with that. Sir Alex Ferguson only had 53%!

“It actually would be higher but for our first season at Godalming, the circumstances were difficult. Their manager Chuck Martini left and took a fair number of players with him when we got the job. That was our worst year.

“But it didn’t put us off. We haven’t been out of work since we were given the job in 2011 and that’s nice.

“The secret to the partnership is that we are best friends. We go out together after football and we get on - we know each other inside out.

“It works because we have similar views. If we have different opinions on things we talk it through.

“We are both willing to compromise and that gets you far.”

But has there ever been a moment where Baker and Underwood have clashed heads?

“Once!” he told us, smiling. “Away to Faversham eight years ago. We were debating a sub - people think that’s the hardest part of having two equal managers, but it actually isn’t. Except this time!

“We exchanged views and we couldn’t agree and just as the moment was about to arrive where one of us had to decide, the player got injured!

“Since then, we have hardly had a crossed word.”

How fitting would a win be against Havant in the third vs second game for the high-flying Rebels and their bosses.

“To be sitting where we are having won seven of our last eight matches is absolutely fantastic,” he adds.

“Our start to the season was slow, shall we say. There were a few reasons for it but Saturday is so exciting and a big game near the top is a great way to mark us bringing up our 500 together.

“I can’t speak highly enough of our players, they have been absolutely outstanding. They put their bodies on the line, especially last weekend in the second half against Chelmsford City.

“In our last 26 games in the league over the two seasons we have picked up 52 points. You can’t not be delighted by that.

“What makes it extra special is that so many of the players who took the club into the National League South a few years ago are still here with us.

“They are where they are on merit and we’re happy nobody is really talking about the club - these are the situations we enjoy and Saturday is the type of game we thrive on.”

ONE SIMPLE TEXT CAN BOOST THE MANARAMA CAMPAIGN!

Getting involved with the MANarama campaign as we try to combat Prostate Cancer could not be more straightforward.

Give... donate to Prostate Cancer via text
Go... then bring others into play by sharing on social media with #GiveAndGo.

Donate by texting "MAN £10", "MAN £5" or "MAN £3" (depending on the amount you want to donate) to 70004 & help stop prostate cancer from being a killer. Texts costs £10, £5 or £3 plus network charge. Prostate Cancer UK receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 0800 082 1616. Charity No 100554

FREE MINIBUS FOR YOUR CLUB

To say thank you to the incredible fans and clubs of The National League for supporting our MANarama campaign in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, we're giving a FREE minibus away to one club.

When your club hits £500 they go into the hat! Find Slough's page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Slough-Town-Football-Club

A massive thank you to the clubs that have raised the most so far.

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