Right, let's get the football out of the way: yesterday was spoiled by the 90 minutes of on pitch action and dwelling too long would ruin today as well. Needless to say, an injury-hit MUFC conceded a sloppy goal (Derek Duncan playing a striker onside, who finished via the bar), missed a whole host of chances (Alex Wall firing so many shots over the fence that, at one stage, I wondered whether DTFC had enough balls left for the game to continue), had a goal disallowed for offside (Wall getting a shot on target, for a change), were denied an obvious penalty (a home defender clearly handling on the floor, thus preventing Wall the chance to miss another sitter), lost their discipline (captain - CAPTAIN! - Danny Brown seeing red for calling the referee a '####ing cheat') and, ultimately, threw a five-figure sum down the (Jon) swanny. A draw would probably have been the fair result, but a limited Didcot Town side simply wanted it more than a seemingly complacent Maidenhead United team. As such, the Railwaymen deserved to progress (thus making club history). I wish them well.
'Disgraceful', 'pathetic', 'shameful' and 'unwatchable' were some of the words used by others to describe the Magpies display. There have been subsequent calls for the manager's head. I felt similar emotions after our limp FA Cup exit at Bashley in September 2008; a side featuring Jamal Fyfield, Ashley Nicholls and Richard Pacquette - with Mustafa Tiryaki on the bench - losing 2-1 to a team that were then bottom (or at least in the bottom three) of the Southern League Premier. Didcot, in comparison, are currently 16th in the Southern League Division One South & West (on this performance, some of the Maidenhead players also belong in the Southern League Division One South & West, although that didn't stop them swaggering around the clubhouse - untidily dressed in tracksuits, with oversized caps on backwards - like the love children of Thierry Henry).
A contract extension is, of course, more likely than the sack (although poor league form this autumn cannot now be masked by the odd Cup win). This regime, let's not forget, didn't see fit to replace Carl Taylor after he had taken us down with a defence that conceded 99 league goals ... instead they offered him a contract! (which he didn't sign) #stability Furthermore, would you have any confidence in the 'Chairman who knows his football' and co picking someone even remotely half decent to replace Drax? Me neither. Be careful what you wish for; the grass isn't always (Dennis) greener.
I have previously been accused of 'reveling' in MUFC Ltd defeat. Not true (train away days in the cup, at unfamiliar grounds, are what I really look forward to and there will now be fewer of those this season than I would've expected). To hopefully illustrate this, I will leave it there (for now) and instead share some photos:
^^^ Fuzz - fresh (haha!) from an underwhelming Julian Cope gig in Reading the night before - was on the Jack Daniels almost as soon as our 11:04 train had left the station! In hindsight - bearing in mind the Maidenhead performance - it was probably the right thing to do!
^^^ Macleod (M) had seen MUFC play at Didcot before (in a pre season friendly) and said that it was a sh!t hole ... and a weird sh!t hole at that (he wasn't wrong). As such, we instead went to Goring-on-Thames for our pre match pints. The Queen's Arms - close to Goring & Streatley station - is in urgent need of refurbishment. The landlord was still tidying up, from the night before, when we banged on the doors a good 45 mins after the alleged 11am opening time. I've referred to the Frost Report's classic 'three ages of man' sketch before, when describing pubs, and will do so again: it knew it's place.
^^^ The John Barleycorn is apparently the Brakspear pub of the year 2012. It's not hard to see why (it has a billiard table, for a start!). Is there a 'No Singing. No Dancing. No Swearing' sign at York Road? There should be.
^^^ A photo for the much missed Macleod (C), who will no doubt appreciate the mulletmanship on show. Fuzz, meanwhile, soaks up the sun. It was glorious; sitting in the Barleycorn pub garden was the highlight of the day. Not going to the game - and instead staying put - was mooted. If only.
^^^ Bar Street, Goring-on-Thames.
^^^ Pub #3 - the Catherine Wheel - and Fuzz is busy noting the song titles we've given him for the next On Trial UK album:
1. Maroon Morris Marina
2. Punk Gimp
3. Muttley Crew B-side (To The Power Of Ten)
Nb. the gents - or, more accurately, the entrance to the gents - in this pub? Truly stupendous.
^^^ Better than Aston. A pristine sports car and a dilapidated tractor in the same driveway? Gold.
^^^ As in, nice pair of ... Incidentally, I've been in this curry house with the wife (we often spend our anniversary in Goring, as we were married in nearby Streatley). It is highly recommended; packed on Saturday nights.
^^^ Honeypot audition?
^^^ A worthy winner.
'No Show' 'Late Show' Wah Wah enters the fray. #trouble
^^^ Didcot's tribute to The Beatles (yellow paint on order)? Or a grey duck?
^^^ Brilliant Leisure.
^^^ *humming the Shameless theme tune*
^^^ For a few moments, we thought that this was Didcot Town (in blue) vs Maidenhead United: 'Leigh Henry has lost some weight'.
^^^ Wah Wah enjoys a conversation with someone of similar mental age.
^^^ 'Welcome to Didcot Town FC'.
^^^ 'Same old Maidenhead, taking the piss'.
^^^ *humming The Simpsons theme tune*
^^^ Didcot Thong Rangers?? I've gotta get myself a club emblem pin badge!
^^^ Really? Is that so?
^^^ Inflatable on the left rather symbolic of the Maidenhead performance.
^^^ 'Come on Farnborough!'
^^^ < insert 'rubbish' punchline here >
^^^ How big?? This lady was good fun, BTW.
^^^ What are you drinking Macleod (M)?? ;-)
^^^ The DTFC clubhouse BEFORE the half time whistle. I doubt that Stripes has had this many people in it all season!
^^^ Best pool table cover ever?
^^^ The Anchor on tour.
^^^ Classic kit. Classic pose.
^^^ The travelling hordes pack on unfinished away end.
side stand, give us a song'.
^^^ The patented Maidenhead United FC 'counter defensive' in three easy steps:
#1 Maidenhead United have a corner ...
^^^ #2 The corner - usually knee high to the near post - is cleared ...
^^^ #3 Chance at the other end; usually a free header at the far post.
^^^ Perhaps the best photo of the day: Gordon's Dad is on the phone, providing match commentary to someone ... although not Gordon, as he is clearly in attendance (and likely preparing to trade further tweets with Educated Left Foot; also at the game!); 'Chairman Who Knows His Football' covers his mouth in shock (probably just heard a swear word); Rasher kicks the fence (probably gonna write himself a letter).
^^^ Snapper; view his photos HERE.
^^^ Put 'em up, take 'em down.
^^^ This young man's father follows Tottenham Hotspuds, W@nky Wanderers and Maidenhead United. Poor, poor kid.
^^^ The DTFC clubhouse, over 2.5 hours after the final whistle. Stripes, let us recall, was completely empty - bar Dereck Brown - only an hour after the recent Bognor game had finished. The DTFC Chairman saw this photo being taken and was then very keen to talk me through the various items of memorabilia on display. He was a great bloke, certainly too polite to comment on the MUFC Ltd offificals post game boardroom no show (which was described by another as 'embarrassing'). Instead, he said that we were a 'real credit' to our club. I nearly wet myself laughing.
^^^ Any eagle-eyed Everton fans reading? #topsecret
^^^ After post clubhouse pints in estate pub the Ladygrove - and then the Prince of Wales (best of a bad bunch) - we got the 21:47 train back to Maidenhead (which, lamentably, wasn't a direct train). While sat next to an Ospreys egg chasing fan - who was mightily impressed by our relative chumminess with the GLC - Macleod (M) decided to rummage in the (increasingly heavy and difficult to carry) flag bag. Unexpected treasures included a packet of unused black 'Trademark' balloons, a Gloucester City hat, a Dartford vs Maidenhead Town [sic] match day poster and two cans of out of date Carlsberg Export ...
^^^ Waste not, want not! Here's to a more prolonged FA Cup run next year.
PS. There were a couple of Swansea City fans (with Home Counties accents?) on the train back. We mocked their rip-off Real Madrid replica shirts. They explained that the kits were part of their centenary celebrations. We then mocked their relative lack of history ... which got me thinking: is there a club that has lost more FA Cup matches than Maidenhead United? As no other team has entered the competition more times than us, presumably not! #tradition