*** Another pint of Relegation please!
On Saturday 2nd January 1993 - while Marlow (of the Isthmian League Premier) were getting beat 5-1 at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup 3rd Round Proper - Maidenhead United were playing Whyteleafe at York Road in the Isthmian League Div One. United won 3-0 (with Sir Benny Laryea scoring twice); the crowd was 165.
On Tuesday 23rd March 1993, Slough Town were playing Wycombe Wanderers in front of over 7,000 people in the Football Conference (Slough were to finish 5th that season; W@nky were champions). The Saturday before, Maidenhead United had played Walton & Hersham at York Road in the Isthmian League Div One. United won 3-1; the crowd was 156.
As aforementioned elsewhere on this blog (AAEOTB), one of my biggest laments is that, as Maidenhead rose through the divisions in the late 90s/early 00s, our local rivals (Marlow, Slough Town, Windsor & Eton, Chesham United, Wokingham Town, Wycombe Wanderers etc.) seemingly went in other directions (all, except W@nky, spiraling downwards). Basically, for most of my Magpie-supporting lifetime, we have been a side without meaningful local derbies in the league. To illustrate this point, here is a list of our recent Boxing Day (or nearest to it) fixtures:
2011/12 – Basingstoke Town (H) - Conference South – Att 314
2010/11 – Bromley (A) – Conference South
2009/10 – St Albans City (H) – Conference South - Att 289
2008/09 – Hayes & Yeading United (A) – Conference South
2007/08 – Hayes & Yeading United (A) – Conference South
2006/07 – Cheshunt (H) – Southern League Premier – Att 243
2005/06 – Farnborough Town (A) – Conference South
2004/05 – Basingstoke Town (A) – Conference South
2003/04 – Hayes (H) – Isthmian League Premier – Att 425
2002/03 – Basingstoke Town (H) – Isthmian League Premier - Att 303
2001/02 – Purfleet (A) – Isthmian League Premier
2000/01 – Slough Town (H) – Isthmian League Premier – Att 613
1999/00 – Braintree Town (H) – Isthmian League Div One – Att 197
1998/99 – Oxford City (H) – Isthmian League Div One – Att 225
1997/98 – N/A (no league game)
1996/97 – Hampton (H) - Isthmian League Div One – Att 96
96?? 96?? That seems like a good point to stop. Aside from that, the other home attendance that stands out is obviously the Slough Town one in 2000/01 (613). To put that into perspective, our highest home attendance in the Conference South last season was 534 - against Dartford - on the last day of the season (a match with discounted entry prices?). I vividly recall Obinna Ulasi scoring the only goal, down the Bell End, against Slough. The atmosphere was electrifying. As it was at Wexham Park, later in the season, when a Richard Barnard error gifted Slough revenge in the form of a 1-0 win of their own. The attendance for the return fixture was 726. Slough were, however, relegated that season. "There's a Slough Town going down ... "
(The 1997/98 season, meanwhile, saw us play Marlow at York Road in the Berks & Bucks Cup Semi-Final. 420 was the attendance. 420 for a midweek county cup game at York Road?? Remarkable.)
The 1995/96 season, in the Isthmian League Div One, had been the first time we'd played Marlow in the League since 1974/75 (assuming that the Premier Midweek Floodlight League counts??). They were relegated the following year. Crucially, that season - 1996/97 - also saw United win their first trophy since 1969/70; Alan Devonshire leading us to Isthmian League Full Members Cup success. The final against Aylesbury United was played at Oak Tree Road, Marlow's home. The Blues (who Maidenhead first played in February 1871, making it the oldest senior derby in world football?) had been relegated the previous weekend. Macleod (M), Craig and others made sure to order pint after pint of the renowned local tipple - Rebellion - in the clubhouse before the final ... although they deliberately got the pronunciation wrong, coining a mocking phrase that continues to this day:
"Pint of Relegation please!"
What's the point of all of this? Well, I just happened to read in this week's local paper that Slough Town and Marlow played each other on New Year's Day. Slough won 3-0 and they now sit atop the Southern League Div One Central. Marlow, on the other hand, are rock bottom of the table. The attendance was 374. Compare that to the attendance (314*) at York Road, for Maidenhead United vs Basingstoke Town, a few days previous on Boxing Day ... and remember that the Conference South is two divisions higher.
* I had to go to the BTFC website to get this figure, as the MUFC Ltd site showed the score and nothing else (no line-ups, let alone a match report)
Perhaps not for much longer, though, will Maidenhead be two divisions above Slough. And with a new stadium (finally) on the horizon, a long-running and well-respected Supporters Trust in place, a Football Academy soon-to-be-launched - and a still-decent fan-base to support them - the Rebels look to be going places.
How long, I wonder, before MUFC Ltd are dethroned as the 'most senior non-league football club in Berks & Bucks'? At least we'd have a decent Boxing Day fixture (for one season at least), I suppose ...
As for Marlow ...
"Another pint of Relegation please!"
*** Sensible post on MUFC Ltd forum shocker
Towards the end of last year the MUFC Ltd forum became register to view; you had to upgrade your 'supporter' status in order to read it, yet alone post. The official reason for this was given as follows:
"Due to person or persons unknown disrupting the site by impersonating other posters and regularly making posts that break the forum rules the forum will now be members only."
It was obvious to me, if no one else, that one of the new webmasters had taken it upon herself to edit and re-post comments (often under different usernames) without the authors permission. This caused much confusion; at one point the Chairman sent me a Private Message to accuse and threaten that I would be banned from the forum (he would later write another PM to apologise 'in this case' for the false accusation ... not the club's - i.e. his - first, of course).
I have yet to upgrade my status and don't intend to. AAEOTB, needless censorship on the forum was/is rife, while I was getting as bored of writing the same things as I'm sure others were of reading them. And anyway, this blog was set up with the intention that I'd write on here instead.
The fact that I cannot view the forum doesn't stop others, who can, sending me posts and comments as and when they see fit. Earlier this week I received an email entitled 'Sensible post on MUFC Ltd forum shocker', with the following screenshot attached:
Richard D (I'm not sure I know him) is clearly anti club, anti Drax etc!
Seriously, an interesting post with many valid points ... so much so, in fact, that it will no doubt be ignored by certain forum contributors (esp. bearing in mind the final sentence!)
That said, I cannot agree that the Maidenhead area doesn't produce many players who could play at Conference South level. AAEOTB, I think it probably does, but most players with potential (who haven't been snapped up by bigger clubs) lose interest at a crucial age (around 18) for various reasons (not least the fact that the senior club in the area has absolutely zero history of - or interest in - giving them a chance) and so they give up completely or drop down several levels to enjoy their football.
Lee Barney is, perhaps, a current case in point (I hear he is enjoying life on loan at Beaconsfield SYCOB ... ) but he is one of many. Dan Bailey, Luke Dexter, Lewis Driver, Ryan Hazell, Ian Henry, Nathan Lishman ... the list goes on and on. Good enough for the Conference South? Maybe. Maybe not. It would have been nice to have found out, though. Hey ho, I suspect they're enjoying playing elsewhere, or enjoying doing other things with their time. Maidenhead United's loss, I expect they would say.
Back to Barney and I note that he is (or was, as of 20/12/11) the second top scorer in the Southern League Div One Central with 18 goals. Slough Town's Danny Burnell - another who has represented both Maidenhead United and Beaconsfield SYCOB - has 13 goals (again, as of 20/12/11). Burnham's Lewis Driver ("excellent, a real handful on the pitch. His attitude is right and I'm delighted for him") and SYCOB's Charles Mpi (six goals in his last 10 matches) are other ex-Magpie strikers currently doing well in that division.
Would Maidenhead United be much lower in the Conference South table this season, if they'd had any of those guys upfront (or Kieron St Aimie, who's name I have just heard mentioned on Five Live; playing for Tamworth at Goodison Park in the FA Cup this afternoon), instead of Manny Williams, Ashan Holgate or Alex Wall?
I doubt it.
It would appear we share more in common with Newcastle United than merely a nickname ...
The above reminded me of the following shirt sponsorship fiasco ...
Did the 'lawn care and garden services' company - who were our previous shirt sponsors - ever pay up, I wonder?
*** Ragbag Rovers
Some great stuff on the Bristol Rovers Alternative Forum recently (esp. following the belated sacking of the unpopular Paul Buckle and the continued incompetence of the Board, headed by Chariman Nick Higgs) ...
The following posts are from a thread concerning the rumour that Ronnie Moore was interviewed on Thursday for the vacant managerial post (other candidates apparently include current bookies favourite Sean O'Driscoll; Iain Dowie, Chris Coleman, Richard Money and the divisive Gary Johnson), which went off-topic after someone mentioned Newport County's old ground ...
Somerton Park, one of those quaint "proper" stadiums that football nostalgists get wet between the legs over. The innovative use of removable coconut mats at the corner flags rapidly turned the venue into a magnificent speedway track and the non-replacement of the rusty corrugated sheets at the back of the lemon meringue stand not only saved money but enabled fans to get away quickly without impeding the view of the hundred or so others.
dancing up and down with Scales and Meyhew, when Percy slid the ball in the net at Newport......................happy days (when we were actually terrible but it dint matter as we were all terrible together)
when we were terrible? What are we now then, 1 division lower and about £5m more in debt?!
thats the point - we were terrible then (and arguably worse now, but I'd defy anyone to say we had better players then than we have in this squad - remember Tarki Michallef, Dave Rushbury and Bob the giant to name but 5) but there was no angst or moaning everyone just got on with being a fan and loving it. We even had a bloke on loan from Bristol Manor Farm because we couldnt get anyone else as we had no money at all. Mark Johns scored on debut real roy of the rovers stuff.
We literally had no players to field 11 fit men and Bobby Gould had a brain wave (we all thought he'd finally lost it) of going to the lower league teams in Bristol and finding the biggest bloke with the most goals he could find. Johns played in one of the greatest games ever witnessed at Twerton,some of these facts may be wrong as my memory isnt what it used to be. We went down 2-0 to Chesterfield I think it was and Nicky Hammond on loan from Arsenal from memory saved a penalty and assisted by the Manor Farm man scoring we pulled back to win 3-2. Johns played in the next game and a combination of us getting players back, and him being found out as not the greatest meant he was returned to Manor Farm with his part in our history preserved. Neil Browns excellent summary of Bristol ROvers players through history confirms -
I seem to recall at the time - although memory is not of course 100% - that Johns was asked by BG to stay on with Rovers, but he had a decent job and Rovers full time wage would not match it.
^^^ A bloke on loan from Bristol Manor Farm - who became a cult hero, but decided against staying - pretty much sums Bristol 'Ragbag' Rovers up, in a nutshell, for me!
Time now then - prior to Rovers' upcoming TV clash with Aston Villa in the FA Cup later this afternoon - for me to share some of my favourite Gas-related You Tube clips ...
^^^ Twerton Park. Season 1989/90. Before Gazza's tears and Year Zero of the Premiership. Mustachioed fullbacks, mullet-haired managers (I'm talking about you, Gerry Francis!) tight shorts, dodgy local TV commentators and more terracing than seating. Real football. Rovers enter the penultimate game of the season knowing a win over promotion rivals Bristol City 1982 Ltd will guarantee their return to Division Two for the first time in nine years as well as making them favourites for the title. Think Maidenhead United vs Croydon in May 2000 ... except Croydon didn't have any fans at York Road, let alone fans who started ripping up advertising hoardings and spitting at their own manager!
^^^ After that comprehensive win had secured Rovers' promotion, they knew another three points on the last day at Blackpool would also see them beat Sh!tty to the title. Cue the beano to end all beanos; up to 10k away fans at Bloomfield Road and one of the best pitch invasions you'll ever see. The Blackpool commentator is also superb - check him out asking the bloke next to him who scores the final goal!
^^^ Another victory over Sh!tty at Twerton. December 1992 and a 20-year-old Marcus Stewart outshines a similarly callow Andy Cole, while Mark Lawrenson makes an early foray into co-commentating …
^^^ Proof that Rovers have also beaten Sh!tty at Trashton Gate. January 1996 and Peter Beadle - who ironically went on to play for 1982 Ltd - scores two. This is a legendary encounter; over 18k inside the ground with thousands more locked out. Trouble ensues, both inside and outside the stadium. Check out the dreadful pitch and tasty tackles ... and spot the players - from both sides - who went on to play/manage against Maidenhead; Peter Beadle (Newport), Craig Maskell (Staines, Humpton), Andy Tillson, Brian Tinnion and Mickey Bell (all Team Bath), Billy Clark and Andy Gurney (both Weston).
^^^ To finish, a more general round-up of (relatively) recent Rovers goals. This clip starts with the late Tony Wilson reading a sports report (of a game we've already seen, but stay with it), features strikes at Wembley (old and new), Anfield, Villa Park and the Millennium Stadium, shows exactly why - when I was at a game in 2008 and Carl Saunders was introduced to the crowd - they went mental ... and also includes the glaring Marcus Browning miss in the 1995 Play-Off Final at Wembley that cost Rovers promotion to the equivalent of the Championship. That man Beadle also equalises in added time at Trashton (check out the old skool Sky logo in the corner!) to spark another Rovers pitch invasion, while a Barry Hayles (now at Truro City) header is the cue for one at their current home (I love pitch invasions!). Also recorded for prosperity is Reading's record defeat at the Madejski (check out the home side's defending!). Plus there's Lord Richard of Lambertshire scoring the winner against Sh!tty in the most recent derby game ...
"Goodnight Irene, I'll see you in my dreams … "