Broth­ers meet in mid­dle as Slough take their bow

Sam and Lee Tog­well have taken dif­fer­ent paths to to­day’s FA Cup clash, writes Molly McEl­wee

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football -

Sam Tog­well has had his mo­ments in the FA Cup. In a 17-year ca­reer spent mostly in the Cham­pi­onship and League One, the mid­fielder was part of Barns­ley’s run to the semi-fi­nal a decade ago, when they beat Liver­pool and Chelsea. But this sea­son is al­ready ex­traspe­cial for Tog­well, as it is his first play­ing along­side younger brother Lee – apart from foot­ball in the park, their par­ents’ liv­ing room and a cou­ple of train­ing ses­sions to­gether at Crys­tal Palace’s academy, that is. For the pair have had rather dif­fer­ent ca­reer tra­jec­to­ries.

Whereas Sam, 34, worked his way from the academy at Palace to the first team, then on to clubs in­clud­ing Barns­ley and Scun­thorpe, Lee has spent the years with non-League sides.

Af­ter fail­ing to se­cure a schol­ar­ship at Palace, the 30-year-old opted for the coach­ing route while play­ing for semi-pro­fes­sional teams lo­cal to him, in­clud­ing Chal­font St Peter, Burn­ham and Bea­cons­field.

With Sam wind­ing down to part­time af­ter mov­ing down the leagues, this sea­son proved the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for the broth­ers to join up at last.

They are at Slough Town in the Na­tional League South – the high­est level Lee has played at, and the low­est for Sam.

“I moved away at 16 to play for Crys­tal Palace, whereas Lee’s gone the non-League route, work­ing his way up,” Sam ex­plains.

“And now we’ve met in the mid­dle,” laughs Lee.

Though he has en­joyed their re­union so far this sea­son, Sam ad­mits that the tran­si­tion from full-time has been a real ad­just­ment.

“[Full-time] you turn up to train­ing at half-past 10 ev­ery day and you’re fin­ished by half-past 12. It’s been hard get­ting used to train­ing in the even­ing and try­ing to cram a whole week’s train­ing into two ses­sions.

“Foot­ballers love rou­tine, and when you step out of that rou­tine, it’s like, wow, this is the real world and you have to start afresh, go out and earn your money. It’s been a real eye­opener.”

Along­side play­ing, Sam runs a per­sonal-train­ing busi­ness he and Lee started to­gether and even does ses­sions for his four-year-old and eight-year-old daugh­ters’ gym­nas­tics group. And he’s had to get used to his younger brother coach­ing him at his new club.

“First I signed for Slough just as a player, and it was in warm-ups I would take the lead,” Lee ex­plains.

“The man­age­ment saw I was all right at what I do and of­fered me the player-coach role last sea­son,” Lee says.

Sam adds: “He does all the coach­ing, so it’s all a good stan­dard – though I have to say that.”

Their fam­ily af­fair at Slough has made the Tog­wells’ par­ents’ lives eas­ier, as they no longer have to split them­selves be­tween fix­tures.

“Mum would go one way, Dad would go the other way since the be­gin­ning of our ca­reers. I think they’ve been to 98 per cent of our games, so they’ve been chuffed,” Sam says.

“The trav­el­ling aside, it’s nice for them to see their sons play to­gether on the same team,” Lee adds.

Their par­ents were at their dra­matic first-round win on penal­ties against Sut­ton, and both will be at Slough’s sec­ond-round tie at home to League One’s Gilling­ham to­day.

A win would be his­toric, as it would be the first time the club had pro­gressed to the third round – and also their first win over an EFL side in 14 years.

Sam has pre­vi­ously faced the ma­jor­ity of the “Big Six”, but he is in the same boat as his brother when it comes to the team he sup­ports – Arse­nal.

Both can­not help but imag­ine their dream tie tran­spir­ing should they make it past Gilling­ham, but they can­not agree when it comes to the venue. “The the dream tie would be Arse­nal away,” Lee muses.

“At home,” Sam in­ter­jects as­tutely. “It would be nice to play against Arse­nal – but the re­al­ity away at the Emi­rates is quite dif­fer­ent.”

Sam is hop­ing home ad­van­tage at Ar­bour Park will make a dif­fer­ence in the up­hill bat­tle the sixth-tier club face to­day and says his wan­ing ca­reer means he ap­pre­ci­ates the op­por­tu­nity more than ever.

“It’s the FA Cup – the magic will never go,” Sam says. “It is a one-off game; a small sta­dium, Astro­Turf pitch. You just hope Gilling­ham won’t like it.”

‘It’s the FA Cup – the magic will never go. It’s a one-off. You just hope Gilling­ham won’t like it’

Broth­ers in arms: Sam (left) and Lee Tog­well, both play­ers for Slough FC, who play Gilling­ham in the FA Cup 2nd round to­day

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