In August 2010 three Maidenhead United fans were banned from attending home games, by a kangaroo court, for crimes they didn't commit.
These men promptly encountered a jobsworth security blockade, and so escaped to the non-league underground.
Today, still stigmatised by the MUFC Ltd hierarchy, they survive as supporters of fancy.
If you enjoy a train away day - and if you can find them - then maybe you can share a drink with ... the K-team!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Wealdstone. Again.

^^^ Post match beers after our 2-0 win vs the Stones on New Year's Day. Our first victory against them in nine attempts. Or something. We'd lost at Grosvenor Vale as recently as Boxing Day. Your's truly featured in their award-winning programme. In case anyone missed it ...

^^^ The Mallet reference not my doing. If I had mentioned him, then I'd have suggested a different photo. ;-) TBF, very little of my text was changed. Spot the difference:

How excited are you about the chance of winning the Connie South this year? Could the club survive if promoted to the National League, crowd and infrastructure-wise?

TBH, after moaning about the Conference South for years (in comparison to ‘train away day paradise’ that was the Southern Premier), I’d only just began to accept –  appreciate, even – this division. Greater responsibilities at work and at home meant that I’d started to limit myself to a decent away game approx. once a month. Upper mid-table mediocrity in the Conference South, with decent runs in the Cup competitions, wouldve suited me just fine. Then, unexpectedly, we were top of the league with promotion looking like a real possibility! Divorce lawyers at the ready, if we do go up, as I won’t want to miss away days at the likes of Lincoln, Macclesfield, Chester, Gateshead, Wrexham, Torquay, Southport, York etc. and my wife won’t be too pleased!

That said, Dev’s record at Braintree suggests he’d definitely be able to keep us up (if promoted) and so perhaps I needn’t be overly concerned about squeezing as many decent away days as possible into one season. Our attendances, meanwhile, have gone through the roof of late. Contributory factors include a decent manager, low ticket prices (esp. for kids), the club engaging with the community and finally building a new stand. As George W. Bush would say: ‘It’s not rocket surgery!’. I’m sure the powers that be are well aware further improvements still required, though, to the infrastructure: e.g. the bar, toilets, turnstiles allowing for better segregation.

From what you've seen so far, who are the other title contenders and possible relegation fodder in our division?

The best team I’ve seen us play was, funnily enough, Oxford City away in September. Scott Davies – familiar name for Stones fans – scored a stupendously good goal to halve the home side’s deficit, with twenty or so minutes remaining, before we bagged another to seal a 3-1 win. City could count themselves somewhat unlucky, though, and I’m surprised that they remain lowly in the table (17th as I write). Others who have been to more games than me – and who’s opinions I respect – are in total agreement that St Albans City are the best team we’ve faced (1-1 at York Road the Saturday before the aforementioned Oxford game). I missed our 6-0 thumping of Bishop’s Stortford (saving the New Year’s Day game with Wealdstone for my York Road debut this season UPDATE: I actually made it to Maidenhead United 5-0 Dartford; fortunate enough to see Tarpey's wonder goal in the flesh) and so will nominate Concord Rangers as the worst side I’ve seen, although we weren’t much better on the day (scrappy 1-0 win).

Tell us what you know about Wealdstone? Have you seen previous games between the sides?

*Shameless plug alert* My blog – Go Mad or Stop Caring – contains no less than four separate posts covering Stones games: your 4-1 win at York Road in April 2015, our 1-1 draw at the Vale in November 2014, Wealdstone 1-0 Met Police in August 2012 and Wealdstone 2-1 Barrow in January of the same year. The latter – which also contains the Dominic Sterling photo that you mention – goes into some detail re the ‘Fanfreundschaft’ that I think exists between our supporters and its origins. To paraphrase Grim (or was it Murdo?) – "It's really odd, as we usually hate everyone, but you lot are alright".

What is your prediction for today's game?

Your recent loan signings seem to have made a real difference, so I’m expecting a tough game. Not unlike the recent Trophy encounters. Seeing as you had the better of those, hopefully it’s our turn now! Narrow Maidenhead win.

Who is your club's best known fan?

Murdo. If there’s a louder supporter, then I’ve not heard him/ her.

Is Alan Devonshire the best thing that's ever happened to the Magpies?

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Johnson Hippolyte laid decent foundations. I read it in the Maidenhead Advertiser, so it must be true! In all seriousness, I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with the powers that be at York Road but, after the previous regime (some of whom remain) nearly ruined the club financially, we were rather fortunate that it was Peter Griffin and Pharmalink to the rescue, rather than the charlatans who were involved at the likes of Salisbury and Hereford for example. Alan Dev was excellent for us the first time around and, whilst I tend to adhere to the ‘never go back’ principle (says the man who returned to his previous job after an unsatisfactory spell in the City), I knew that he’d make a mockery of Hippolyte’s ‘achievements’ (i.e. barely keeping us in the division). Dev was apparently interviewed by the Chairman when Drax got the job in 2006, so who knows where we’d be if he’d gotten it then?? Probably playing Oxford United, rather than Oxford City!

Why did you start following the club?

My maternal Grandad – sadly no longer with us – moved down to Maidenhead from Annfield Plain, via Coventry, and was a York Road regular for more than 50 years. He was at our 5-0 defeat at Colchester United in 1960/61, which was (I think) the last time we’d played a league team in the FA Cup until 2011/12. He first took me to York Road when I was a toddler in the early 80s; I think my first game was a 3-0 FA Trophy win against Walton & Hersham in August 1985 (Att 120). I’ve been going ever since although, as aforementioned, my spare time is now somewhat limited and away games more of an attraction. I appreciate it sounds a little trite, but lifelong friendships – with people of different ages and backgrounds – have been formed on the terraces and for that I am genuinely thankful.

The manager

Rarely misses an opportunity to re-iterate that he came back for the fans. Crucially, I think he means it. I’ll never forget the time, during his first spell as manager, when we did fancy dress at Grays. Their fans, in the bar before the game, were laughing at our costumes. We had the last laugh, however, after Alan Dev walked in and they – to a man – went gaga.

The captain

Well known to Wealdstone fans. 19th November will forever be ‘Alan Massey Day’ in commemoration of his goal, in front of the Bell End, against Port Vale in last years televised FA Cup replay. I doubt that there is a better central defensive partnership in the division than Massey and Dean Inman. The only blot on Massey’s copybook is that he once played for Wonky Wanderers (usually referred to as something other than Wonky).

The wild card

Harry Pritchard. Check out his wonder goal – as featured on Soccer AM, the Sport Bible etc. – vs Bath City the other week. When he has a bad game, we generally lose. At the time of writing, we’ve only lost one league game.

The star man

Should be star men; weve a strong side. Dave Tarpeys goal-scoring form grabs the headlines and rightly so but Im sure that he would be the first to acknowledge the contribution of Sean Marks alongside him upfront. The aforementioned Massey, Inman and Pritchard; Carl Pentney in goal, James Comley in midfield; weve some good players ... as our league position would suggest.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Away Day Diary: Hampton & Richmond Borough 2-3 Maidenhead United (22/10/16)

^^^ Beaver Las Vegas! 
(My attempt, BTW, at a 'beaver face'. Never again. I promise.)

As per a post on the Conference South forum, 'match of the day' in the division last weekend was undoubtedly our visit to the Beveree (3rd vs 1st). Rainey selling out a supporters coach, for the first time this season, further testament to that. I should've known that it was going to be a good day when Fuzz, Macleod (M) and I - en route to meet with Craig at the station ahead of our 09:38 departure - bumped into Bobby P, who revealed that he has a Havant & Waterlooville sign in his bedroom! I've photos of said sign - very long and bendy - somewhere. Sadly, I cannot find them :-(

^^^ Talk of signs and of Hampton reminded us of the above photo which, happily, was easier to locate. Not the first time that it has appeared on this blog. For which I make no apology. "Brian … BRIAN! You've dropped your sign". Classic! This was taken on the way back from the Beveree in September 2007. We'd managed a 1-1 draw, extending a win-less run at Hampton that stretched all the way back to Dev's first season in charge (a memorable 4-3 win in March 1997; Darren PowellHampton's defensive colossus - was sent off, if I remember correctly, with Messrs Agudosi, Attrell and Creighton among the Maidenhead goals). Understandable, therefore, that we travelled in hope rather than expectation, despite this season's excellent form.

^^^ The list of conversation topics, on the train journey into London, was long and varied. So long and varied, in fact, that I've forgotten the vast majority! "Make sure you're listing these," said Macleod (M), "for the blog". I wasn't. Out of practice. I do recall, however, that Mr C from The Shamen featured prominently. (Hence my pose in the above photo. Never again. I promise.) Furthermore, it was also revealed that the drum used to serenade the Magpies at Leatherhead in May 1991 (Drums at football?? For shame.) was the very same as used by Kipper, the fictional band in Robin Askwith's 'Confessions of a Pop Performer'. Yes, really! #filmpropsatfootball

^^^ Anyway, we met with Gav Altona - old friend and H&RBFC season ticket holder - at Fulwell station and followed him to the Roebuck. And I'm glad that we did, as this is a top boozer; comfortably the best that I've been in since the Barge Gladys, en route to Concord Rangers, in August. Decent selection of reasonably-priced ales (plus Dortmunder Union Pils on tap)? Tick. Ham/ cheese and onion rolls, wrapped in cling film, for £1.50 each? Check. Model planes made out of old beer cans, and a collection of fishing rods, hanging from the ceiling? Bingo. I think that we'd all have happily stayed put. Instead we moved on …

^^^ 'Show us yer cards'. One drink stops in the Bloated Mallard (pint of Twickenham's Autumn Red = good; minimalist décor = bad) and then the Star (where the above photo was taken; full of rugby fans; traditional décor = good; rank pint of Doom Bar = bad), before a short bus ride to the Jolly Coopers, our usual pre match Hampton haunt.

^^^ Our last league win wearing Slough Town yellow and blue? Hemel Hempstead (more on them later) in August 2015. We started well though, both on and off the pitch, and Harry Pritchard's strike raised the decibel levels still further. I bumped - almost literally - into Steve H, during the goal celebrations (above). Twas good to see him. The H&RBFC left back, directly in front of us, was getting some stick from the noisy travelling contingent. I'm not entirely sure why, although it definitely wasn't because he was short and 'fair-haired' ... although he was ("Stay outta the sun … "). The home side's keeper, meanwhile, resembled Ian Walker ("Dodgy keeper. Dodgy haircut"), whilst their #2 - Michael Kamara - was having an absolute nightmare; hoofing it out of play, unintentionally, on countless occasions ("Sign him up for Marlow").

^^^ The Beavers equalised with the aid of big deflection (the deflection diverting the ball into the path of their goal scorer, as opposed to diverting it into the net). "We're not singing anymore" had barely subsided, however, before Dean Inman's header restored our advantage. As per the above photograph, accompanying the match report in the Non League Paper, he didn't celebrate. Now, I've nothing against Inman per se - he's been excellent for us; arguably even more impressive than his widely well-regarded central defensive partner - but not celebrating against a former side is a bug bear of mine. (A pre match post on the H&RBFC forum read as follows: 'Will also be interesting to see how Dean Inman plays after having been effectively let go by Mark Harper a few seasons ago'). I certainly appreciated Lawrence Yaku not performing his usual somersault celebration, after notching against us (for Hampton, funnily enough); he'd played over 100 games for the Magpies and scored 60+ goals. Likewise, I can understand Frank Lampard not celebrating against Chelsea. But not celebrating a goal against, say, a team that you played for three times on loan, five years ago, is eye roll-inducing. Maybe it's me. It often is.

^^^ I wrote this tweet whilst snaking my way back to the clubhouse, after getting down to the covered terrace, behind the goal, only to realise that there were no toilets at this end of the ground. I contemplated getting some food but the queue was too long. The crowd, TBF, was large - four figures - which is remarkable bearing in mind the rather pitiful numbers that have watched this fixture in the past (265 at the aforementioned 4-3 game in 96/97; 410 at the 1-1 draw in 07/08).

^^^ Like Cressing Road, Braintree - and unlike York Road, Maidenhead - the Beveree seems to have gotten worse over the years. No Beaver Bar for a start! The temporary seating also starting to show it's age. The whole ground, IMO, needs a fair bit of work.

^^^ One of the Youth - impressive, again, in terms of number and noise - was thrown out (I don't know what for) and so had to peer over the fence to watch the second half match action. Hopefully he's not one of the stars of the local rag's much vaunted match day advert!

^^^ Great header by Ryan Upward, capping a MoM display from the former Beaconsfield SYCOB and Burnham midfielder.

^^^ We were in complete control but, out of the blue, Hampton reduced the arrears. News also filtered through that second-placed Chelmsford had recovered from 3-0 down, at home vs Hemel Hempstead, to lead 4-3. Maidenhead teams of yesteryear might've folded like a pack of cards; the nervousness of the travelling hordes manifested itself in a prolonged rendition of 'Alan Devonshire's black and white army' (which was to include a ludicrous amount of added time). Fortunately for us, though, this bunch of players are made of sterner stuff; despite a need for the occasional last ditch tackle/ block, plus Dave Tarpey missing a golden opportunity to give the score line a fairer reflection, we saw the game out with relative ease. A deserved win. And a late Hemel equaliser meant that our lead atop the table increased to 7 points!

^^^ Scenes at the final whistle.

^^^ Joker.

^^^ Beatles or Stones? Stones for me. 

After my celebratory photo with Bertie Beaver (see top of page), we returned to the Jolly Coopers. It was absolutely rammed but, thankfully, the landlord is one of those increasingly rare types who can serve multiple people at once. After bidding farewell to Gav Altona, we headed for one in the World's End (OK, I s'pose). A quick stop at a convenience store - the taste of Fuzz's knock-off Peperami will haunt me for some time - preceded our return train (sans toilet, much to Murdo's chagrin). Craig recommended the King's Arms, near Waterloo. Good call: another top boozer, this, with surrounding streets that resemble a film set (after miraculously escaping obliteration during WWII bombing raids). It was here that (a) the above photo was taken and (b) I was egged on to create a 'Can anyone stop Maidenhead?' thread on the Conference South forum. In jest, obviously. Or is it …

^^^ The train from Paddington was heaving. It wasn't until we were at Slough that I was able to get a seat alongside Craig and Fuzz ... facing a woman with a strong resemblance to a former England international. Craig and Fuzz, plus a nearby group of Eastern European lads, were in hysterics. Barry Venison: big in Poland. Who knew?

^^^ League derby with W@nky Wanderers next season?? Ye Gods!

Match highlights HERE