Match day

Team logo
Braintree Town (H)
Sat Dec 7
15:00

Match day

Team logo
Braintree Town (H)
Sat Dec 7 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
3rd
34pts

Slough Town joint-bosses reflect on 500 games in charge

Slough Town joint-bosses Neil Baker and Jon Underwood reflect on 500 games in charge together with The NLP's Matt Badcock.

21/11/19


PLAY-OFF wins, FA Cup second round appearances and proving doubters wrong – a lot has happened since 2010 for joint-managers Neil Baker and Jon Underwood.

It started with an away win at Chipstead with Godalming and now sees their Slough Town side pushing for promotion to Non-League’s top tier.

On Saturday the duo celebrated 500 games in charge together when the Rebels took on Chippenham Town in the National League.

‘Bakes and Unders’ sat down with The NLP’s Matt Badcock last week to discuss their time together including annual BBQs, returning from a stag-do to a message from Slough and their ambitions for the future.

Matt Badcock: Congratulations on reaching 500 games together – does it feel that many?

Jon Underwood: You forget quite a few in between but we remember the first one well – Chipstead away for Godalming, October 2. We’d only taken over on the Thursday for training.

Neil Baker: We’d watched them lose 8-1 on the Wednesday against Met Police. We were very close to not taking it because Unders was at Sandhurst at the time with quite a good team. I was more wanting to do it and Unders had to think about it a bit longer.

JU: It was my suggestion originally. We’d seen the Godalming management had gone and we’d talked about joint-management but we’d never really looked at a particular job. I just rang you up one day and said, ‘Why don’t we go for it?’

NB: I put an email together.

JU: You don’t plan how you’re going to do it. That first game we kind of didn’t know how it was going to play out.

NB: We were there and that’s when we decided Unders would start the team-talk and I would finish it. We hadn’t talked much beyond that other than I would deal with the financial side and Unders would do the warm-ups. It’s pretty much stayed the same since that day.

JU: That first game we were more concerned about getting a team on the pitch. The previous manager, Chuck Martini, had taken a lot of players and there were players there on the Thursday who didn’t want to cup tie themselves. We had to draft in a few favours. We won 2-1.

NB: One of our best mates, Gav Smith, missed a penalty. Thanks very much! I remember we were at Bracknell watching a game – we must have been injured and we were just talking about being joint-managers one day. I was always quite young when I wanted to get into management. But we didn’t plan it, it came from Jon seeing the advert.

We always knew we had very similar beliefs in how we wanted to play and we are best mates going out so we just thought, ‘Why not?’

JU: I would have never looked forward and believe where we are now in terms of the games, staying together, the level. It’s gone better than we could have ever imagined.

MB: You obviously played together at Farnborough Town and Bracknell Town under Alan Taylor – when did you first meet?

NB: Jon played with my dad Keith at Farnborough so I probably knew him via that. It was 1997 when I first started playing and for the first year, we weren’t mates any more than anyone else in the changing room. It was probably a year or two later we started to go out socially.

We probably ended up going to Pantiles (a club). I used to go on a Wednesday night with Geoff Noonan – who now works at the FA – Scott Bennetts, Mark Rivers.

JU: We went our separate ways after Farnborough. I went to Aylesbury for two or three months with Alan Taylor and that didn’t work out. It wasn’t Alan’s fault but the changing room he inherited had some real bad characters in there. About September time I went to Staines with Ken Ballard.

NB: I went to Aldershot for a year, then Boreham Wood and Sutton then I went to Bracknell the following year. You came the midway through that season.

JU: It was about two-and-a-half years between….

NB: The best of my life!

JU: That’s where we met Hammo (former NLP editor Stuart Hammonds) and socially that was the best changing room we were part of as players. We had a real good team bond with players we will speak to now. So that’s where it started. But at that age I wasn’t thinking about management until I got my injuries and then I decided to go down the coaching route. If we can not talk about my spell as Bracknell manager….

NB: I was 27, 28 and played under Jon for a couple of months. I started that season at Leatherhead and I had a phone call from him saying, ‘Please help me out!’

JU: It didn’t work because I got the sack! We had a real close changing room. I was assistant to Alan and I took over from him. I had in my head that it was going to be difficult managing mates and moved people on to have a fresh start. It didn’t work. The players I got in, my assistant, it just didn’t work. We had six points on the board at Christmas. You have to learn and I learnt loads in that six months.

NB: Byron Walton came in after Unders and I stayed for the rest of the season. Byron left at the end and it was by that point that I wanted to manage because I was putting on weight and I wasn’t enjoying playing. I actually applied for the Bracknell job and didn’t even get an interview. Bearing in mind I’d been at the club about seven years, at the time, it really agitated me.

It was probably the best thing because I then went to Fleet Spurs, who were Step 6, Wessex Division One and had finished bottom of that league the year before.

It was the best place to cut my teeth and learn about myself as a manager. It was an important decision from Bracknell.

MB: I always wonder what that’s like when suddenly you’re the man standing there giving the team talk.

JU: For some people that’s one of the hard bits. There’s also a lot of stuff you don’t even know you’ve got to cope with before you do the job.

You think it’s just picking a team, maybe coach. But there’s so much more.

NB: Even some of the things we’ve had to deal with this year have been an absolute eye-opener. You’re always learning. You become psychologists, friends and financial advisers.

We now do less of the coaching because we’ve got Lee Togwell. When we first started, we would do all the coaching.

JU: We had some help from Mike Critchell, who was a coach at Farnborough, when we first started. He did some pre-season sessions for us and then we took it on.

We’re not natural coaches. I’ve done my UEFA B, I enjoy it and we both know what we want to put across but we’re maybe not that experienced in terms of planning sessions and Lee Togwell, who is our player-coach, is fantastic. He’s as good a coach as we’ve probably come across. I tend to speak with him on a Wednesday before we train on a Thursday. We tell him what we want from a session and he will put it into a session and make it work. It’s only in the last year but that has improved us. It’s a strength of management that you can bring in the right people to improve you as a team. We don’t think we know it all, we don’t pretend to.

MB: Did anyone tell you at the beginning that joint-managers doesn’t work?

NB: Yep. I think there were also people who wanted to see us fail. That’s probably football in general, which is quite sad really.

JU: There’s lots of that. Maybe people you’ve been around that, for whatever reason, didn’t get the break that you got and they just think they can do a better job. I think we’ve had to prove a few people wrong over the years.

NB: That’s probably one of our main drivers. We want to prove people wrong all the time. Even now – and we’ve been at Slough for seven years and had lots of success, promotions and FA Cup runs – you get the odd doubter. It’s very few now but when you see negative comments on forums or twitter you want to prove them wrong. It’s probably our key driver because we want to keep improving ourselves, the team and people around us.

MB: You had some early success with leading Godalming to back-to-back play-off finishes.

NB: Our first season was the hardest. We took over in October and had a complete rebuild. It’s very difficult to get players to come over mid-season when you have a very, very small budget. We were less than £1,000/week at that point so you don’t have the ability to go to such and such as say, ‘Here is £200’.

JU: We had a split team – half who were mates…

MB: How did you get people in?

NB: People like Stuart Harte, Scott Bennetts – players who had had relatively good Non-League careers and were quite keen on coming to enjoy their football.

JU: We had a half a team of people like that, a few left over from before and then loads of trialists, which isn’t like us as managers. We just had to take players and give them a chance.

NB: There were quite a few players we had highlighted that were good friends of ours, but weren’t the types to leave their club mid-season because they were loyal. So, we always had it in our minds we just needed to get through the season and, come the summer, we would rebuild. We effectively rebuilt with three different groups. A group of friends we’d played – people like Jamie McClurg, Ben Edwards, Johnnie Dyer – we then had another group that came through Gav Smith and then a few local Fleet boys like Darren Wheeler, Wes Harrison.

JU: We knew the three groups of lads were all good characters. They didn’t know each other but we knew they would get on. They were our type of people. And it just clicked.

MB: Was there anything you did to help that along?

NB: We did what we do every year – an annual barbeque at Unders’ place. We’d been training at Charterhouse in pre-season…

JU: Stick them in my back garden and throw a load of beer and food at them. The key was they were similar people. We know what we want in players – honest, hardworking, no egos.

We knew they were all like that and if we gave them a chance to bond, they would. A couple of those players are still with us.

NB: We had two full seasons at Godalming, we got in the play-offs, the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup and won the Surrey Senior Cup, which was out last game for Godalming.

MB: That summer the club were moved from the Southern Central Division to the South & West…

NB: We’d agreed to stay at Godalming. We’d gone for the Hampton job at the back end of that season and got down to the last two.

JU: We just knew there was always a ceiling at Godalming. It was a nice club, but a small club and we were punching above our weight. We were ambitious but we were starting to look at the next thing. We thought we could get up that year through the play-offs and if we did, we would have stayed, but we always wanted a back-up.

NB: We sat down with the chairman at the end of the season and we felt we needed a little bit more money. We were maybe £1,200/week and we wanted to stretch that to £1,400. He agreed so we thought, ‘Let’s have another year at it’. So, we agreed to stay, it was in the papers, and then three days later the FA decided to move Godalming from the Southern Central to the Southern South & West. That had never been in the equation. One Friday we got a phone call. Our gut instinct was, ‘That’s fine, we’ll deal with it’. But the moment you talk to the players – who you are paying £70 or £80 – ‘By the way, your Saturday is now going to involve a two-hour journey to Bristol,’ that became a situation.

JU: The problem when you’ve got such a tight group is that if two or three of the key ones go, then others follow.

NB: Before we’d agreed to take on the Godalming job for another year, we’d put our application in for the Slough job. Once we’d agreed to stay, we contacted Slough to take our names out of the running. A week later, it was almost embarrassing and we almost didn’t do it, but we went back to Slough and asked to be reconsidered. We said, ‘Why not’.

Even though we are both Fleet boys, we didn’t know the Slough chairman Steve Easterbrook lived there as well.

JU: We did it through Roy Merriweather who was the manager when I was at Wokingham and had a role at Slough.

NB: We didn’t hear anything for a good couple of weeks. I remember we’d been on our friend’s stag-do in Benidorm. We’d been talking on the trip saying, ‘How have we not heard anything from Slough?’ We landed at the airport and we were getting our bags when Unders had a message: Can you meet up tomorrow?

I literally couldn’t talk because I’d been shouting for three days and had lost my voice! We went at met Steve at the Lismoyne Hotel in Fleet and sat with him for two hours talking football.

JU: With a pint of water! It didn’t feel like an interview. It was just a chat but we clicked with him straight away and he obviously picked up on the energy between us and our ambition.

NB: We left the meeting thinking it went pretty well. He rang us later that day and asked if we fancied popping up to see the club. So, we got in the car with Steve the next day, he took us up to Beaconsfield and then where he hoped the new ground would be. I remember driving back to Fleet and he said, ‘So what do you think then?’ We said, ‘Yeah, it sounds good – we’d be really interested’. He said, ‘So that’s a yes then?’

JU: You’re offering us the job?

NB: He said, ‘Oh right, I thought that was pretty obvious?’ We were like, ‘No it wasn’t!’ We accepted there and then and then had the difficult conversation with Godalming.

JU: It was the same league so we knew it inside out and we’d done well in it. From what we knew about Slough, we talked about characters and what we liked, we knew there were good players at Slough but character wise they weren’t going to be for us.

NB: We were a bit like bulls in a china shop. We went and cleared out what we didn’t want. We knew we were bringing over the vast majority from Godalming because they’d been successful but we knew we needed to add to it.

JU: There was probably six or seven that we kept and we took 14 across for pre-season – not all signed – and there were one or two extras but that put us under pressure at Slough from day one. We were letting some real fans’ favourites go.

MB: Did you feel that pressure?

NB: Massively. Straightaway it was, ‘You boys better know what you’re doing because we expect to get up this year’. We started off pre-season in ridiculous fashion. We beat Sandhurst 12-0 and Holyport 9-0 in our first two games. Then at the back end of pre-season we got whacked by Wealdstone 6-0 and then lost to Burnham, who are obviously local rivals, 4-1. All of a sudden there was lots of doubt.

JU: We picked up some injuries at the end of pre-season. We started the first home game against Northwood really patched up.

NB: We had three forwards and not one was available. We had to bring one in on the Thursday night and we played a centre-half up front. Our start to the season was really average – four points from four games.

JU: That built the pressure.

MB: What were you saying to each other in that period? Were you able to stay relaxed?

JU: We weren’t relaxed. We’d built up a lot of pressure in our heads as well. Obviously, that was seven years ago. We’d have handled it better now because you learn.

NB: We’d only picked up four points from four games and then we went out of the FA Cup in the preliminary round. We always remember we’d lost 2-1 at Cirencester in the replay and walked into the bar where the chairman was stood. He came up to us both and the first thing he said was, ‘Are you OK?’

JU: We were worrying about what he would think about us and all he was saying was, ‘Are you two OK? What do you need?’

NB: It just showed how he was as a person. We then got ourselves on a run and shot up the table. We were up to second in the league by November and we were slowly starting to turn the fans around. We went to Dunstable, who were top at the time, and lost 3-2. We had two players sent-off – one the most ridiculous red card I’ve ever seen in my lifetime – some got injured and for the next three or four weeks were on a poor run again.

JU: December was a nightmare month for us.

NB: I remember one home game we had eight of our senior players sat to the side. We went through a bad run to the extent where we were thinking we were going to have to go some to get in the play-offs now. Again, the chairman came out.

JU: He asked if he could write something in the programme supporting us.

NB: It was along the lines of, ‘They’ve got a lot to contend with, get behind them’. From that point on everything changed.

JU: We signed a couple and let a couple go – we made some big decisions. Without blowing our own trumpet, over the years we’ve made some decisions that at the time no one understood. We knew we’d get stick for it but we knew it was right. Our philosophy is, when you come up to those situations, if you don’t make those decisions and fail, you’ll always wonder.

MB: Is it easier to not make those big decisions?

NB: It is and just hope things will change. We have made big decisions and more often than not they’ve ended up being right.

JU: When you do it a couple of times and can look back and know it was right, it gives you the confidence to do it the next time. We always talk through everything loads. We don’t rush into decisions.

We made them in that January and went 16 unbeaten.

NB: We were almost fighting for the championship. As it happened, we ended up just sneaking into the play-offs…

JU: We had a bad Easter and crawled over the line. We had to go to Rugby, who had finished second, in the play-offs and we beat them 3-0. Then we went to Kettering in the final, we were 2-0 down at half-time and won 3-2.

NB: We were talking about our best moments the other day. For the pure emotion of how much pressure was on us to get promoted – and the fact we hadn’t been promoted as managers – that first promotion at Kettering was probably one of the biggest moments in our careers. It set the wheels in motion for future progress. If we hadn’t got up, there would have been that ultimate pressure on us the following year.

JU: It was our third year in the play-offs – the two before with Godalming and then this one. Moments in that season, it felt like nobody believed in us. You talk about proving people wrong, that was the biggest game. The relief was ridiculous.

NB: There’s a lovely guy, Graham, who is a big Slough fan. When we were appointed, he told us he was disappointed and, ‘I’ll tell you now, you need to get us up this season’. At various times throughout the season he’d comment on decisions we’d made as utter madness. On the forum that day he put an apology. He comes to chat to us every week, he’s a great guy.

MB: That Step 4 to 3 is often considered a big jump.

JU: It did feel like it at the time. You looked at clubs in that league – Poole, Weymouth – and they seemed like massive clubs. We thought we would do alright at that level and we had two years where we did OK. We were frustrated because we wanted to be better than we were.

NB: At the time we were ground sharing (at Beaconsfield), so you’re limited with your finances.

JU: Our average attendance at Beaconsfield was 280 and we couldn’t get it up. So, we didn’t feel like a club ready to progress.

NB: Everything culminated with the move back into Slough.

MB: We see so often how huge that can be for a club.

NB: Maidstone were the one we always looked at. They were in our league when we were at Godalming and we got into the play-offs ahead of them. You never quite know but that initial move back into the town and having our own base was so key.

JU: It was being built that summer. We weren’t getting in until the end of August but it allowed us to sell that. For the previous two years we didn’t really have anything to sell. We don’t like to bulls**t players – unless we’re confident, we would never sell a dream. But we could take them and show them.

That summer we brought in Mark Nisbet from Maidenhead, Simon Dunn from Basingstoke, Paul Stonehouse, Harrison Gilkes – players that had been in and around the league above and were available. So, we upped our targets. We had a bit more money to play with because they knew we would get better.

NB: And they wanted it to be a successful team to help that first season. We put a good side together and got into the play-offs. We lost in the semi-final at Leamington but I remember saying, ‘That’s not the worst thing in the world’. At that point the ground had half opened and there were still lots of things going on. We would have struggled in the Conference South going up that season.

JU: It’s probably the least down we’ve been. We’d lost other play-off games but we got our heads around it. We knew what we wanted in the summer to improve so we felt we had a plan.

NB: The following season was probably our best in football. The FA Cup run and promotion. We ended up on 99 points, finishing third – it was a crazy year. Five very good sides.

JU: Hereford blew it away in the end but all those sides – Hereford, King’s Lynn, Kettering and Weymouth – are at Step 2 now. The four play-off sides, there was nothing between us.

MB: You beat Kettering in the semi-final before going to King’s Lynn for the final.

JU: We were 99 points, they were 100. They were very, very good at home. We went up on the Sunday to stay overnight for the Monday. It was boiling hot. They’d beaten Weymouth 3-0 in the semi so they were favourites. We had a tough first half. We went 1-0 down but nicked one before half-time so we were 1-1 going down the hill. We were the better team second half and Manny Williams scored in the 89th-minute.

NB: It’s been huge really. The National League South was probably our aim. Even at Godalming we would say we would love to be managing in the Conference South. We saw that as our goal.

JU: Not necessarily the end goal but when you’re looking short, medium and long term.

NB: Yeah and once you’re there you say, ‘Right, we want to get to the National League’. The way we look at it, we probably in the top ten semi-professional clubs – true Tuesday and Thursday nights – in the country because there are so many full-time sides at Step 1. It’s ok, ‘Can we get into a pretty much full-time league?’

MB: Do you feel like you’re building towards that?

JU: It’s where we want to be. You have the challenge of the working situation and do you make that step. If we were to get up with Slough, I’m sure the club would stay part-time, as Woking have, and we’d try to punch above our weight at that level.

NB: A bit like Maidenhead who went up as part-time and have now changed their model this year. I know Alan Dowson has mentioned at Woking – you can have some of the best part-time players or the worst full-time players and there’s not always a lot of difference.

JU: For a part-time team in that league it’s probably more that preparation. Can you get up on a Friday night? More so than the ability or fitness. Having not managed in that league I can’t say for certain but I think some of our players are as fit as full-time players. We have players on days they’re not training with us go and train anyway. I think that’s less of a thing now. Maybe tactically and organisationally.

NB: It’s also full-time managers being able to go out and watch U23 games. To be fair, we do a lot.

MB: How does it work between you two now?

JU: Bakes is more flexible in his working hours than I am.

NB: We will mix it up. Sometimes we will go to games together, sometimes he’ll go to one game and I’ll go to another just to get a bit more exposure.

JU: Sometimes, if it’s a Tuesday, I’ll go to training with our player-coach and he’ll go to a game. That’s given us more flexibility. We know on a Tuesday night we don’t have to be there. One of us generally is, but if we wanted to go out Lee can take training no problem.

NB: We have that trust too. If I say or Unders says, ‘We’ve got to sign this player,’ then we try to sign that player. It’s not, ‘Well, I need to have a look as well’. I don’t think we’ve really ever disagreed about signing a player. We know what we want. I think we’re pretty basic in what we want – the right characters, hungry, want to work hard.

JU: You see it a lot in this league, the player who does club to club. We don’t really go for that. We want consistent hard work.

NB: We get offered players all the time. We talk about every single player but, more often than not, even though they might be better than what we’ve got, we don’t sit there and think we’ve got to get him. We’ve got a team and sometimes you can make changes for the sake of it. We’ve got 11 players who have played in excess of 100 games and some getting on for 300. We try to have that continuity and stability.

MB: How have things changed over the years?

JU: Back at Step 4 there were no contracted players, generally. You go up to Step 3 and you start to get more and more. Now you’ve really got to think about it. We don’t have everybody on a contract with us because you can’t afford to tie yourself up. Some clubs do but we try to give ourselves flexibility. It’s harder to find the right players during the season now.

NB: What I’d say about our team is we not the best side in the league technically. We’re not a poor team by any stretch, but what we lack in that we make up in character, heart and consistency.

JU: If you lined up our squad against all the other squads and asked each manager to rank on paper what they think, we certainly wouldn’t be third in the league.

NB: We’ve got players who have been key for us for years. A lot of other managers probably wouldn’t be that interested. But we know what they bring to us. We’ve picked up quite a lot of players from lower level football. Lee Togwell, player-coach, came from Step 4. Warren Harris, Guy Hollis – Step 4. Dan Roberts, Francis Amartey – Step 5. We’ve got a number that have come from lower levels or come up with us.

JU: Ability is just one part of it. There are so many more important bits. It’s about the right type of person and the right type of player. We don’t sign players for the sake of it.

NB: We’re often signing players who can play in more than one position. You look at our squad and the vast majority can play in a number of positions and that’s key when you’re working with a small squad.

MB: How much have you had to evolve as managers?

NB: We watch a lot more games and videos.

JU: You know a lot more about your opposition now. Going up from Step 4, Step 3, until we got to this level, we would always play 4-4-2 with natural width and we tended to be attacking. As we’ve gone up, we’ve adapted and played systems we would never had played three years ago. We felt the higher we went we needed to be a bit more solid.

NB: We’ll often change formation and the way we want to play.

JU: I think managers are better at this level. We’d maybe dominate a half and be 1-0 up. Going back a few years, they wouldn’t change much. Now they come out second half and they’ve tweaked something. You have to be a bit more aware.

MB: Has the game change from when you were playing as well?

NB: There’s more and more opinions, there’s more people involved. Social media…

JU: Our players are very quiet on twitter. That’s not because we’ve told them to be, they just aren’t those characters. Scott Davies uses it but that’s for his job.

NB: Every year we will sit there and talk about things like gambling and reinforce those standards of discipline and they know that leads to twitter. Dan Roberts was always on twitter but he’s less and less because I think he sees his team-mates aren’t on it as much.

One of my biggest bugbears with twitter and football is when I see a player tweet when they’ve scored a goal but they’ve lost a game 3-1. I find it disrespectful to your team-mates, to your fans. I don’t understand that. But that’s the self-promotion some of these lads want – we try to avoid that.

JU: We use it a lot. We make sure we tweet after every game – win, lose or draw – we will comment about the game because our fans want to hear from us and we’ve had that feedback.

NB: There’s been times where you’ve lost the game and been absolutely horrendous, but we try to be consistent. The same way we will always be interviewed.

JU: There are managers who, when they’ve won, can’t wait – the interview is about making themselves look good and the players executed his game plan. When they lose you don’t see them for a few weeks! There is this kind of thing about football now, everyone wants to make out they’re an expert and use the buzzwords the Guardiolas come out with. I’d like to think we don’t come across that way.

We talk about ourselves and we’re proud of the 500 games but we try to put the praise on our players.

We’ll put our hands up when we’ve made a mistake and we try to give our fans information. We give team news every Friday before a game

NB: Which is probably too much information to be honest. We are effectively giving the opposition manager a steer of what we’re doing. But it’s our belief that our fans want to know this information and we’re not going to change anything we’re going to do because it will give them a steer. We’re not precious on those types of things.

JU: It cuts out some of the criticisms. If you’ve left someone the bench and you don’t give an explanation and we get beat, then people will comment. We’ve kind of stopped that being an issue.

NB: We’ve been doing that since day one. When we were at Godalming, I started writing on the forum. Under was like, ‘I’m not sure about that’. I said, ‘Well, I’m going to do it anyway because I’m going to give them information’. When we came over to Slough, I said I wasn’t going to change it. Unders then came onto it and it’s been a powerful thing.

JU: We don’t get into debates or put opinions.

NB: We give them facts about things they might not know. Often, it’s to stop speculation.

JU: They know we read it so they might ask a question and we will reply to it. As long as it’s a question we can answer, we will.

NB: Don’t get me wrong, there’s been abuse over the years. But we still do what we feel is necessary and we feel it’s helped our fanbase and helped it be a positive place.

MB: So, 500 games – a lot more to go…

JU: Hopefully! I can’t imagine not doing it and neither of us would want to do it on our own. We don’t have a big staff. We’ve got Trent Phillips, our goalkeeping coach who is brilliant and we trust him implicitly, and we’ve got a great physio Alex Moore and a player-coach.

NB: We don’t have a group of scouts and analysts – everything is done between the lot of us.

JU: We wouldn’t want to do it alone and go and find an assistant. What we do works.

NB: The ultimate aim is to get full-time. That can be harder as joint-managers because they are obstacles. One thing about me and Jon is we’ve never done it for money. We’ve both got good jobs that allow us to work in football.

MB: Can you see that full-time is not such a distant ambition?

JU: It’s where we want to be. All of a sudden it feels like it’s crept up on us. The immediate aim is to take Slough up. It’s a tough league to get out of but at the moment we’re putting ourselves in with a shout. Obviously, you could win the league but if you’re in the play-offs you’ve have a chance, we’ve been there before.

NB: Over our last 26 games we’ve taken 52 points – that is top three form really. If we can continue that for another three months we are going to be there or thereabouts for the play-offs and then you never know. That’s the dream really. I loved my time when I was playing in the Conference – the GM Vauxhall Conference as it was then. I absolutely loved trips up north to Liverpool and Manchester, days on the coach. That’s where I want to be, doing those trips to places and big clubs.

JU: BT Sport, live games, it’s bigger than when we were playing in it.

NB: Ultimately that’s where we want to get to next and will do what we can to get there.

Credit: Matt Badcock

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