"As for Maidenhead, the conga (which was amusing) aside, quite a strange bunch really – some the oddest chants I've ever heard at a football match" ~ localboy86, Amber Planet forum, 26th April 2015

Thursday 3 January 2013

Same as it ever was

^^^ Spot the (deliberate?) mistake

Maidenhead United 0-2 Hayes & Yeading United (01/01/13)

It was bucketing it down (again) as I drove home from work on New Year's Eve. There was little chance, I thought, of the following day's game at York Road being on. Remarkably, I was wrong and all things considered, the pitch was looking pretty good at 3pm (credit to the ground staff).

A glorious chance, then, for the home side to consolidate their recent good form - as evidenced by the Magpies' biggest away win, in more than 30 years, at Staines Town over Christmas - and impress a bumper, season-high crowd (404) in the process ...

A glorious chance wasted.

Same as it ever was.

Forget the result, though, for this was a highly-entertaining, niggle-free, chance-a-minute extravaganza between two abundantly-talented teams playing s3xy football throughout - clearly illustrating, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the overall quality of the Conference South is on the up and up ...

Dream on.

Same as it ever was.

Indeed, within the first 30 minutes of football at York Road in 2013, Alex Wall had (1) recklessly clattered into their goalkeeper (earning a yellow card; could well have been red on another day) and (2) badly - even by his standards - missed an absolute sitter. Plus, there was a corner delivered - a la Chris Ferdinand - one bounce, straight into the side-netting. Furthermore, HAYU's game-sealing second goal, right at the death, came after MUFC carelessly lost possession deep into their opponent's territory. Seconds later, the ball was in our net. Classic counter-defensive ...

Same as it ever was.

Still, at least the home crowd had a good sing-song, proudly vocalising their support for the team with gallows humour to the fore ...

Same as it ... Oh.

Yes. Sadly, there was one break with tradition on New Year's Day. The Magpie faithful - capable of creating a cracking York Road atmosphere at meaningless midweek fixtures against the likes of Thurrock and Staines Town as recently as 2009/10, and well-known in the 90s* for being among the loudest supporters (pound-for-pound) in the Ryman League - barely mustered a whimper throughout the game. And were noticeably silent when implored, by the sizeable travelling contingent, to "give us a song". "Can you hear the Maidenhead sing?" 'Ayes would then ask rhetorically during the second half. Not often have I heard that, over the years, from the away fans at York Road and when I have, the response has usually been immediate and defiant.

It would seem that MUFC Ltd now has the spectators they desire and the supporters they deserve.

* the 90s - the 'good old days of yore'. Some will mock, but anyone who has experienced both and claims - with a straight face - that watching MUFC is as or more enjoyable now as it was then is either mad, in denial, and/or has an agenda.

Boreham Wood (average attendance 235; worst in the division) host Maidenhead United (320; 4th worst) next Wednesday (9th January). Will *anyone* be in attendance?! In all seriousness, a few years ago, Macleod (M) and I - to name but two - would go. Without question. Afternoons off work, if need be. Voices hoarse the following morning. These days, I/ we would probably struggle to think of more unappealing ways to pass a Wednesday evening in January. Part of me is saddened by this realisation, and part of me is relieved.

Relief was definitely the more prevalent emotion come 5pm on New Year's Day!

Hey ho. Comprehensive coverage concerning who passed to who, and who was (supposedly) playing where etc., available in the usual places. Instead, I will share some photos and irreverent observations.

Same as it ever was.


^^^ The Macleods back on the Bell End!

^^^ HAYU fans stuck their flags up on the Bell End and left them there during the entire first half while their team attacked the other end. Imagine if we were to do the same somewhere like, I dunno, Ebbsfleet? That is what York Road and Maidenhead United have become: everyone else's favourite away day. We're a total walkover. Three points are almost guaranteed, and you can hang your flags up wherever you like; drink on the terraces; invade the pitch; swear gratuitously; abuse the keeper; brazenly punch a home supporter in the clubhouse. Whatever you feel like, really.

^^^ First-half match action. HAYU were already 1-0 up by the time we had positioned ourselves on the Bell End. Macleod (M) pointed out that, in days gone past, my Dad would've texted me the news that we were already losing, and we'd probably have stayed in the Anchor! Almost immediately, it became apparent that we weren't witnessing a classic. Macleod (M) commented, "this game has 0-0 written all over it ... just a pity we're 1-0 down!" As aforementioned, Alex Wall missed an absolute sitter. A proper photographer captured a great image of it, which Wall would re-tweet after the match - indicating he has a sense of humour ... or he really is taking the pi55! Fans to my right, meanwhile, debated how he compared to the likes of Rickey Ibe and Lee 'Porn' Channell #goodoldaysofyore


^^^ GMOSC's resident food critic suggests that, when visiting York Road, you go for a crusty roll with BBQ sauce because: (1.) the chips are expensive, (2.) they'll likely have run out of burgers by half-time, (3.) the sausages taste decidedly vegetarian/ non-meaty and (4.) the crusty rolls and BBQ sauce are actually OK. 

^^^ Is that a new water tank? Perhaps we've now got running water, so no need to hoodwink the ground grading inspectorate next time ...

^^^ Oh, as you were.

^^^ Hold up! What's this?

^^^ When did Maidenhead United become so professional?!

^^^ Macleod (M)'s Johnny Cash impression. (Walk the line - geddit?!)

^^^ Macleod (M) called Cloughie some rude words ... but, crucially, he waited until he was over the red brown line - and therefore outside the designated 'No Swearing' zone - before doing so, making it perfectly OK. Incidentally, that wooden fence, which was a temporary solution when erected about twenty years ago, looks noddier than ever now that the railway company have put up their own metallic barrier behind it. The PUNA Stand, if when it happens, should be the start - not the full extent - of significant ground improvement plans. It was a gloomy day, admittedly, but York Road was looking rather shabby, IMO. There is, of course, only so much that MUSA can do.

^^^ Second-half match action. I inadvertently captured an image of the ball mid-hoof ... not difficult, seeing as it seemingly spent much of the 90 minutes in the stratosphere. The pitch to blame? No, it wasn't that bad. Anyway, MUFC had a couple of chances to score, not least when the HAYU no. 11 made a great sliding block to prevent an almost certain equaliser. Harry Pritchard also had a late, headed goal disallowed after an excellent bit of wing-play and cross from substitute Mark Nisbet (*not* a typo). Zero arguments from the players; it did look to be the correct decision. As aforementioned, there was a sizeable travelling contingent, and they made a fair bit of noise. I wasn't impressed by their chant threatening to "kick the head in" of our no. 3, Bobby Behzadi. Firstly, Behzadi has played for both Hayes *and* Yeading, so they could at least have called him by name. Secondly, he is 'The Daddy', as proven once again by him shaking KSG hands in Stripes after the game. Behzadi wasn't captain, BTW, and I thought he should've been. Patrick Kanyuka - who seemed to deliberately knee HAYU's 12-year-old and 5ft-tall keeper in the head right in front of us - wore the armband again despite only joining the club in the last few weeks. I suppose it makes sense for Drax to have his more ill-disciplined players as captain - lead by example, as they say.

^^^ HAYU's second strike - a decent one, BTW, despite it belonging in the ever-expanding 'counter defensive' category of MUFC goals conceded - prompted a mass Magpie exodus; certainly no "We love you Maidenhead" chants, or anything like that, at the final whistle. We were the last to leave, singing, "I think we're at home now; there doesn't seem to be anyone around" as we went. There were a couple of pallets propped up by the Disabled Area Directors Box, as always seems to be the case these days. What is their purpose? (The pallets, not the Directors!)


^^^ A quick flick through the programme in Stripes (no satellite television to watch, after all) and we came across the above. "MUSA held their annual fancy dress ... " Haha! More Cloughie untruths. Quelle surprise!

^^^  "We are a family club; sponsored by lap dancers". As I left Stripes for the Anchor to watch the Arsenal game - Sky News was on in the clubhouse - the door was kindly held open for me by current HAYU/ former MUFC keeper Delroy Preddie. TBH, I was flabbergasted that he didn't inadvertently let the door slip through his fingers! TBF, our current Conference South status owes much to Preddie: promotion unlikely if he hadn't kicked that divot against Wealdstone (at Northwood), forcing Drax to recall Chico Ramos. Oh, for the days when we could/ would roll out the 'Preddie Medley' with consummate ease ...

^^^ Steve H and his imaginary friends in the Anchor! Arsenal's performance, in addition to Maidenhead's, didn't help my mood. Fortunately for me, Bristol Rovers had won earlier in the day, defeating Plymouth Argyle 2-1 at the Mem, to take them closer to the promised land (90th place in the Football League). However, things must be pretty bad if you need Bristol Rovers to cheer you up! In all seriousness, though, it's not about the football (per se). Never has been (I/ we would be ####ed if it was!) And, thankfully, the company on New Year's Day really was super, smashing, great!

^^^ We watched the PDC final after the Premier League football. Michael van Gerwen started well and looked on course to win before that annoying fat bloke from Stoke (no, not Robbie Williams, the other one) hit his stride. Macleod (C) and I agreed that, for Fancy Dress XIII @ Billericay, Phil W needs to ditch the lab coat, biros, spirit level and chives - lose the beard as well - and instead get himself a lime green polo shirt, miniature Dutch flag and set of arrows. Game shot!

^^^ It transpires that 'Passengers' by Elton John - previously selection 5612 - has vanished from the Anchor jukebox. Sad times for me and Macleod (C), if no one else!

Same as it ever was? 

If only.

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