Why not join us for darts or pool?
Because your clubhouse is sh!t
TBF, the above is rather harsh as the clubhouse is actually OK; a decent size, certainly, although as dark and dingy as Stripes. I would've expected it to have been nicer, however, bearing in mind it also caters for the campers next door. I have actually stayed at that campsite - three times, in fact, most recently the night before our 1-0 FA Cup win over Whitehawk in August 1999 - and have generally fond memories of one of Brighton's less salubrious suburbs.
As such, our game at the weirdly-named Enclosed Ground was one of the few fixtures I was genuinely interested in when the schedule was released last month; our (relative) excitement as evidenced, on the day, by an early departure from Maidenhead train station. The tone, meanwhile, was set when Macleod (M)'s use of some un-'family club'-like language was remarked upon - before our arrival at Paddington - by an ex-colleague of Macleod (C) ... who would also ask why we weren't in our usual fancy dress! "Rasher's writing letters, Rasher's writing letters" :-)
^^^ Macleod (M) declared the bar open shortly after our 10:36 departure from Victoria. He was drinking water, though, which might explain the look on his face! In all seriousness, he was also (understandably) frustrated at having forgotten to bring with him a printed copy of the KSG Fixture Spreadsheet 2013/14 meaning that - unlike last year - we wouldn't be able to formally agree most of our upcoming trips on the very opening day of the season :-(
^^^ Gav Altona - whom, remarkably, I hadn't seen since the aftermath of our 2-1 win at Lewes in September 2009 - joined us on the train at Clapham Junction. We arrived at Brighton station shortly before 11:30 and headed straight to the nearby Sussex Yeoman. Their lampshades, above, matched my living room wallpaper (chosen, I'd like to point out, by the wife). I asked the landlord where he got them from. I don't think he understood the question. Well, he was from Leeds ;-)
^^^ After a walk through the Lanes (which reminded me, somewhat, of Düsseldorf's Altstadt) we frequented the following boozers: Brighton Tavern (gay friendly; massive dog outside), William the Fourth (no mobile phone signal; Leeds vs Sheffield Wednesday on TV), the Druids Head and the Sussex Arms. It goes without saying that you won't die of thirst in Brighton! The subsequent taxi ride to the ground took less than ten mins.
^^^ Proof that we made it in time for kick off (for a change!)
^^^ Anyone know where Whitehawk's new-found money comes from? Not from scaffolding, per chance, is it??
^^^ Main Stand
^^^ Jonathan Hippolyte eyeing up my pint of Guinness
^^^ Standing in a prohibited zone. Tut, tut. Good job Cloughie wasn't there! Very few people were, in fact. Macleod (M) counted 177 - with a nod to old friend Richard Jackson - and the official attendance was later given as 151 ... I'm not having a pop at Whitehawk, here, BTW; much rather no fans than a load of earring and replica shirt-wearing ar5eholes complaining about a handful of us invading the 'home' end, making noise and their kids cry. *cough* Ebbsfleet *cough* I certainly think, however, that a few more stewards might be a sensible idea when the likes of Dover Athletic and Chelmsford City visit ... especially if the latter's Chairman (?) fancies another bout of ties-off argy-bargy!
^^^ I fully expected Maidenhead to lose this game ... and that was before we discovered that Leon Solomon had injured himself in the warm-up, joining Bobby Behzadi and Michael Malcolm on the absentee list. Whitehawk's line-up, conversely, looked strong. They were in for a rude awakening, however ...
Drax had commented in last week's Advertiser that "With a little bit of luck we can finish much higher (this season). That's the plan". Well, everything went to plan at Whitehawk on Saturday! TBF, Maidenhead were solid and committed throughout, but it's safe to say that the manager must've had a substantial stash of four leaf clovers hidden somewhere about his person!
Firstly, ex-HAYU defender Tom Cadmore deflected a cross into his own net to give the visitors the lead and then, shortly before the halftime interval, the home side hit the bar from a free kick. After the restart, debutant Magpies keeper Elvijs Putnins made a great save and the Hawks had a goal disallowed.
I didn't realise that their 'goal' had been ruled out and, as such, I was even more delighted than I otherwise would've been when - with 15 or so mins left - Richard Pacquette scored our second goal after a corner from the industrious Danny Green.
With time running out Harry Pritchard would put a gloss finish on the scoreline as Macleod (M), Phil W, Logic and I made ourselves heard - or tried to, in the wind and rain - at the back of an uncovered temporary stand. "We're going Conference Prem," we chanted at the final whistle. Drax laughed. It was that kind of crazy afternoon.
^^^ It was actually much wetter than it looks
^^^ Top of the league ... as you can tell from the delirious facial expressions!
^^^ The taxi company ####ed up by not sending us a seven-seater and so Macleod (C), Gav Altona and I - who got the first ride back into town - had time to kill whilst we waited for the others. Macleod (C) and I went for a paddle in the sea, cheered on by those watching from the pier. It was freezing and our jeans got soaked. Macleod (C) also - rather childishly, it must be said - ran off with my shoes, socks and trousers. This resulted in an inappropriate photo outside an art gallery. I'm sure every reader will be relieved that my tribute to ex-Magpies striker Lee MOONEY hasn't made it past the GMOSC censors.
^^^ Drinks on the pier, next up, in Victoria's Bar. We sat outside, which had two advantages: (1) our trousers could dry off and (2) we could ignore the Man Utd game on TV. As we returned to the mainland we would pass a hen party going in the opposite direction. They mistook me for a bouncer (haha!) and started to deflate their blow-up penises on my instructions. "We are a family pier". Arf.
^^^ Do you wanna be in my gang? No.
^^^ A potential new name for the Magpies Megastore?
^^^ After a rather lengthy, uphill walk and quick drink in the Evening Star (Craig insisted I try a particular real ale - costing over £5 a pint - that tasted like sausages) we found our way to the Eddy on Upper Gloucester Road, where Macleod (C) had arranged to meet his sister - a long-time Brighton resident - and her friends. One of them looked like an exiled member of Goldie Lookin Chain. An impressive costume, for sure, but in hindsight I rather wish I'd taken a photo of his buxom better half instead ...
^^^ Anyway, it is safe to say that we celebrated Maidenhead's rarefied - and no doubt short-lived - lofty league position with more than a few beverages! *hic*
^^^ What can't speak, can't lie! Whitehawk needn't worry, BTW, as I've no doubt that they will do well. I look forward to our next visit.