^^^ Spot the (deliberate?) mistake
Maidenhead United 0-2 Hayes & Yeading United
It was absolutely 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 - credit to the ground staff - the pitch was looking pretty good at 3pm, all things considered).
A glorious chance, then, for the home side to consolidate their recent good form - epitomised by the Magpies biggest away win, in more than 30 years, at Staines Town over Christmas - and impress a bumper, season-high crowd (of 404) in the process ...
A glorious chance wasted.
Same as it ever was.
Forget the result, though, this was a highly-entertaining, niggle-free, chance-fest between two abundantly-talented teams playing s3xy football throughout; clearly illustrating beyond reasonable doubt that the overall quality of the Conference South is on the up and up ...
Same as it ever was.
Indeed, within the first 30 minutes of football at York Road in 2013, Alex Wall had recklessly and dangerously clattered into their goalkeeper - earning a yellow card as a result; could well have been red on another day - and 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.
Yep. 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; 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 have the spectators they desire and the supporters they deserve.
* the 90s; the 'good ol days of yore'. Some will mock, yet anyone who has experienced both and claims, with a straight face, that watching MUFC is more - or even merely as - 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 taken off work, if need be. Voices hoarse the following morning. These days, I/we would probably struggle to think of many more unappealing ways to pass a Wednesday evening in January. Part of me is saddened by this realisation. Part of me is relieved.
Relief was certainly the more prevalent emotion, come 5pm on New Year's Day!
Hey ho. Comprehensive coverage concerning who passed to who and when - and who was (supposedly) playing where - available in the usual places. Instead, I will share some photos and irreverent observations.
Same as it ever was.
^^^ HAYU fans stuck their flags up on the Bell End and then left them there during the entire first half, while their team attacked the other end. Imagine if we were to do the same at somewhere like, I dunno, Ebbsfleet? This is what York Road and Maidenhead United have become: everyone else's favourite away day. We're a total walkover. Three points virtually 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 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 text 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 exactly witnessing a classic. Macleod (M) commented that "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 ... either that or he really is taking the pi55! Fans to my right 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 (a) the chips are expensive (b) they'll likely have run out of burgers by half-time (c) the sausages taste decidedly vegetarian/non-meaty and (d) the crusty rolls and BBQ sauce are actually OK.
^^^ Is that a new water tank? Perhaps we've now got running water and so won't have 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) does his Johnny Cash impression (walk the line - geddit??)
^^^ Macleod (M) called Cloughie some rude words ... but crucially he waited until he was over the
^^^ 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 save a 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). No 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 by him once again 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, 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. Makes sense for Drax to have his more ill-disciplined players as captain, I suppose; 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; there were 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
^^^ A quick flick through the programme in Stripes (no satellite TV to watch, after all) and we came across the above. "MUSA held their annual fancy dress ... " Haha! Cloughie clearly making things up again. 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 and former MUFC keeper Delroy Preddie. TBH, I was completely flabbergasted that he didn't inadvertently let the door slip through his fingers! TBF, our current Conference South status owes much to Preddie; it is highly unlikely we'd have been promoted if he hadn't kicked that divot against Wealdsone (at Northwood), forcing Drax to recall Chico! 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, on top of 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). If you're having to rely on Bristol Rovers to cheer you up, though, then things must be pretty bad! Seriously, 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 is no longer selection 5612 on the Anchor jukebox. To make matters worse, it has actually been removed completely! Sad, sad times (for Callum and I, if no one else).
Same as it ever was?