In August 2010 three Maidenhead United fans were banned from attending home games, by a kangaroo court, for crimes they didn't commit.
These men promptly encountered a jobsworth security blockade, and so escaped to the non-league underground.
Today, still stigmatised by the MUFC Ltd hierarchy, they survive as supporters of fancy.
If you enjoy a train away day - and if you can find them - then maybe you can share a drink with ... the K-team!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Standtastic Day


Maidenhead United 2-1 Sutton United (Att: 404)

After watching Bristol Rovers ‘must not lose’ Vanarama Conference opener with Grimsby Town on BT Sport (attendance at the Mem was higher than all the games in L2, plus five in L1, but yours truly was hiding behind the sofa), I decided on a walk down to York Road for Sutton United’s visit. The sun was shining after all (and Best Of albums by The Clash and Pixies were fresh on the iPod; new favourites ‘Police On My Back’ and ‘Gigantic’ joining old staples ‘Train In Vain’ and ‘Debaser’ as repeat plays).

I arrived after kick-off, thus missing the official opening of the new stand by long-standing (arf!) supporters Fred Bannister and Roy Hole, plus MUFC Hall of Famers Mick Chatterton and Brian Pitts (Dave Harrison, another Magpies legend, was also at the game). The stand looks good. It still doesn’t seem real – and makes estimating the crowd increasingly difficult – but it really does look good (unlike, it has to be said, the seemingly genetically-modified Magpies painted onto the Shelf wall!). Fair play, obviously, to Chairman Who Knows His Football for making it happen. Props, also, to those at MUSA who were banging the drum about proper ground improvements five years ago (and more). CWKHF wasn’t listening then; seemingly he is now. I’ve little doubt that the ring-fenced ground improvement fund is a major reason as to why. Well done all.

Perhaps I’m a lucky charm, as Sutton’s apparent early dominance – culminating in metalwork being rattled – subsided soon after my belated arrival, with Maidenhead subsequently taking control of proceedings. The Magpies were fielding what a Bell End regular described as a ‘typical Drax line-up’; a centre forward (Jacob Erskine) at centre half, a centre half (Mark Nisbet) in central midfield, and a central midfielder (Adrian Clifton) upfront. Erskine – a versatile player whom impressed last season – looked ill-at-ease in defence on Saturday (and not only because he was wearing #10, evoking bad memories of William Gallas at Arsenal). Nisbet, meanwhile, is not a midfielder and his ‘fish outta water’ performance in the middle of the park was typified by a wild, second-half hack for which he was rightly yellow-carded (possibly a red, however, on another day). Clifton, conversely, was excelling out of position; causing Sutton all sorts of problems with new signings Stefan Brown (ex-AFC Totton and Hungerford Town; deceptively quick) and Dave Tarpey (ex-Farnborough and Humpton; proven goal-getter at this level) flanking him. The latter opened the scoring with a well-taken finish after good work from Clifton and Brown. 1-0 at the break.

A proverbial rocket for Sutton at HT; they were outta the blocks quicker than a very quick thing (i.e. NOT a Maidenhead United defender). It was only a matter of time before they equalised ... and a Rwandan international striker duly obliged (I’d noted a hitherto unidentified national flag, hanging behind the Canal End in the first half, and wrongly assumed that it was a Rwandan one; I’ve long thought, incidentally, that we should get an Iranian tricolor in honour of Bobby ‘The Daddy’ Behzadi). The visitors now looked the most likely winners. But Drax had a plan. And it worked.
  • Defensive line-up
  • Keep it tight
  • Unleash Lanre Azeez and Reece Tison-Lascaris from the bench
  • Nick a late winner
  • Brandy & Cigars

With, it transpired, a little over five minutes remaining the ball was innocuously heading towards the Sutton by-line. A bit of RTL magic later, two neat one-touch passes inside the box, and the ball was at the feet of Tarpey. 2-1 and no mistake. Nisbet – thankfully restored to centre half – won countless headers as time wound down and, shortly afterwards, Drax was instructing the stragglers (there weren’t many) to applaud the fans as his name was chanted in glorious sunshine. Loud music would soon be booming out from the home dressing room. Am I right in thinking that Drax and Paul Doswell (Sutton boss) haven’t got much time for one another??

Tarpey looks some player. Aside from his goals (both well-taken), he had another couple of chances; one well-saved and the other a rasping drive that went just over the bar. On each occasion he got his shot off with the very minimum of fuss; chance, BANG. His dark hair and diminutive stature, gait and playing style (hard-working, frequently cutting in from the left-hand side onto his right foot) reminded me of Ashley Smith. High praise. Hopefully, unlike Smudger, we’ll afford him a decent chant. Perhaps, if we can’t think of anything more original, the necessary alteration to ‘SuperManny Williams’ would be appropriate? Regardless, he was a shoo-in for MOM on Saturday. Whether anyone was about in Stripes, to present him with the award, is another story. It was almost deserted when Mr Logic, Les and I stuck our heads round the door shortly after the final whistle. Over to the Anchor instead. Oh dear. Football scarves replaced by music posters (Green Day, Iron Maiden, Metallica etc.) was the least of our worries; Kronenbourg off, the carpet in an even worse state than before (yes, really) and BeyoncĂ© shakin’ her booty on TV (The Box seemingly their music channel of choice). Bad times.

Off to the Greyhound (or, as I’ve heard others refer to it recently, the Skinny Dog). Sky Sports News on TV and a more-than-decent choice of reasonably-priced ales. And Sutton fans to talk with! Our friends from Gandermonium, no less. I was able to confirm the identity of the red-faced, fully-kitted referee whom they had encountered – earlier in the day, in another town centre pub – enjoying a pint of Stella … BEFORE the game he was due to officiate! They, in turn, were able to re-assure (further) that Simon Downer will be a decent acquisition for us. TBF, I’ve no doubt that he is (not was) a top player, it’s just that we’ve signed others in the recent past who have come with sound reputations only for it to transpire that they were – to varying degrees – over the hill. Another ex-Sutton defender, John Scarborough, is a case in point. Other, more infamous, examples include Rocky Baptiste and Nathan Bunce.

It certainly didn’t escape my attention on Saturday that, whilst most of the Maidenhead players were celebrating Tarpey’s winner with the Youth, Downer was doing extensive stretching exercises (back problem?). Eddie Hutchinson, meanwhile, was largely anonymous before his substitution, early in the second half, and I’ve never been Ashley Nicholls biggest fan. Indeed, perhaps Nicholls’ most significant contribution on Saturday was his ‘clever’ time-wasting tactics; several times he kicked away a dead ball (often when the decision had gone in Maidenhead’s favour) and, at one point in the first half, took turns with his opposite #6 (ex-Bristol Rovers youngster Charlie Clough) to go down – under minimal contact – screaming like a banshee. I suspect that our Dad’s Army generals – Downer, Hutchinson, Nicholls – are taking up a decent proportion of the budget. This might come back to bite us on the backside, if/ when injuries and/ or suspensions mount and a certain someone is whingeing about financial constraints.

Anyway, enough of the negativity! Into Bar Sport with the Sutton boys. Bobby P, Maurice, Nick B, Rich C and Payney were also there, the latter lamenting his decision to lump on Sutton at 6/5 (he didn’t do his homework; Sutton now haven’t won an opening day fixture since 2009, with no away win on the opening day since 2006). After Gandermonium’s departure for the train station – later than previously intended and following some ‘bitty’ Jam Doughnut-flavoured shots (for which I refuse to take full responsibility!) – I met the wife for dinner in nearby Noodle Nation (where the below photo was taken). Beef & mushrooms with rice, washed down by a bottle of Tsingtao; a delicious end to a fantastic standtastic day. 

Being a regular reader of their blog – and knowing, full well, their opinion of the Magpies Murder Squad – I knew that the Gandermonium crew were gonna meet with strong KSG approval, but it was nice to have it confirmed. They will, of course, have a second visit to Maidenhead this season when they match-up with HAYU on a Sunday(!) in  November. I provisionally agreed to join them, but now note that it’s the day after we play at Wealdstone. Hmmm … failing that there’s always Fancy Dresslemania XV, of course, back where it all began. Fingers crossed that we’ll both be celebrating come April ... us the title, them a play-off place! ;-) Seriously, I do hope that we’ll not get too carried away with this, admittedly excellent, result. We were, after all, top of the league following last season’s opening game ...


“Let’s all do the Binnsy”

Former Magpie Dale Binns (whom, lest we forget, definitely didn’t sign on at York Road for monetary reasons; ignore the fact that he was the first to leave when the budget was subsequently slashed *rollseyes*) had been dancing like a t!t, in the ‘Directors Box’, when Sutton equalised. I invited him to repeat when Maidenhead went 2-1 up. And again, at the final whistle. He declined. “Binnsy, what’s the score?”, “Binnsy, give us a dance”, “You’re not dancing anymore”. #binnsymedley Haha! M.U.F.F.

Match highlights here.

Monday, 4 August 2014

From Bell End to Boredom



With the added effect of saving me from having to check Steve J’s new website, on a regular basis, CSG has been kind enough to send across a scanned copy of my ‘fan profile’ (from the Newport County programme in November 2004).

In this post-holiday (Cyprus, very nice) pre-season limbo, I thought it might be an idea to compare my answers from back then to those that I would give now. (Self-indulgent, perhaps, but so what?)

Off we go …

First Maidenhead game attended?
September 1985 at York Road. Think it was against Borehamwood

Wrong. I think it was actually against Walton & Hersham; a 3-0 FA Trophy win on 31st August 1985 (Att 120, according to CSG’s excellent ‘One For Sorrow, Two For Joy’). If it was Boreham Wood, then it mightve been the 3-3 draw on 29th September 1984 (Att 220). Regardless, I’ve actually got a couple of photos somewhere … First away game is easier to answer, as I can actually remember it: a 1-0 win at Abingdon Town (great team photo here) on 6th April 1991 (Att 456). My Dad took me and had to stop on the way home as torrential rain made driving near impossible. I felt sure that home keeper Colin Fleet - who was also between the sticks, five years later at York Road, when Mickey Creighton infamously celebrated a brace in a 4-0 win by sexually assaulting an inflatable sheep - finger-tipped a Benny Laryea penalty onto the post and Garry Hall tucked home the rebound, but the aforementioned tome credits the former with the goal. Despite them pipping us to the Isthmian League Division Two South title that season (1990/91), by two points, I have a soft spot for the Abbots; their colours were striking and they had memorably-named players such as Kelvin Alexis and John Harvey-Lynch. A shame, therefore, that they have struggled in recent years and now find themselves playing in the North Berks League alongside the likes of Crowmarsh Gifford and Long Wittenham Athletic. There but for the grace of Laryea ...

Favourite ground you’ve seen Maidenhead play at?
Always liked Bedford and Bognor

Hmmm, I think the Bedford comment related to the fact that there was always a bit of tension when we went there; some grumpy old men among the home support frequently insulting our players (with racial undertones). Two covered ends an obvious plus, whilst I distinctly recall Steve Brown and Chuk Agudosi (apt!) scoring in a cracking 2-2 draw during our promotion season (1999/00). Not sure I’ve been back since. Bognor, on the other hand, I now associate with Eduardo’s horrific leg-break and William Gallas’ cry-baby antics - Birmingham vs Arsenal, on TV, in the clubhouse - before our 2-1 win in February 2008. Carl Wilson-Denis scored! Drax blanked us in the bar afterwards. Updated answer - Memorial Stadium, Bristol. Or, if that doesn't count, Twerton Park.

Worst ground?
Wexham Park, former home of Slough

This answer was a wind-up. Although WP was a bit of a dump, Barton Rovers was worse. Updated answer - Truro City.

Favourite all-time Magpies player?
Benny Laryea

No change. 123 goals in 232 games. Nuff said.


 #laryealove

Best Maidenhead match you’ve seen and why?
Thame at home 2000 when already promoted. Lost 1-0!

Another piss-take answer, although memories of all those black and white balloons, pre-match, in the Cricketers - and then spending the entire game mercilessly taunting Thame keeper Ian ‘W@nker’ Moores - remain prominent. Updated answer - the midweek Play-Off Semi Final win at King’s Lynn. The undisputed ‘I was there’ Magpies game of recent vintage. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife, pre-match. A truly excellent team performance, capped by a memorable goal and wild celebrations (check out the photo in Stripes, if it’s still there). Tit-bits like a certain MUFC Director struggling to change his corduroy trousers, on the terraces at halftime, and Craig subsequently reporting on the BBC Radio Norfolk commentary highlights (“You’ll never beat a keeper of Ramos’ quality with a shot like that”) only add to the legend. The Play-Off Final win, 1-0 over Team Bath the following Saturday, was always likely to be a walk in the (Twerton) park after this.

Worst match?
Hampton away 1998. Lost 1-0 and cost us promotion. The ‘nearly’ season

That defeat was painful, so it was, but nothing compared to my updated answer; the 4-1 capitulation at H*rsh@m in the FA Cup 2007/08. Just seven months after perhaps the best Maidenhead performance I’ve seen (King's Lynn), came one of the worst. And in our biggest game for donkey's years. Check out the respective line-ups from those two games! And never forget who signed Louis Wells (true story: the culprit rang me at work to tell me all about it).

Best Maidenhead goal seen?
Brian Connor v Reading in B&B Final at Wycombe 1998

BC’s goal was an absolute cracker, end of, plus all-the-more memorable because it came in such a big game … and from such an unlikely source! Updated - or amended - answer, however, would probably be Barry Rake’s stupendous Di Canio-esque scissor-kick volley against Enfield at Boreham Wood in September 2001.

Best all-time Maidenhead line-up?
Peter Rackley, Tyrone Houston, Brian Connor, Tim Cook, Paul Holder, Cliff Alleyne, Steve Brown, Barry Rake, Garry Attrell, Benny Laryea, Chuk Agudosi. Subs: Andy Morley, Richard Barnard, Andy Smith, Mickey Creighton, Garry Hall. 4-4-2

I’m fairly pleased with this (I’m reading ‘best’ as ‘favourite’); a balanced and relatively strong line-up, IMO. Andy Morley - decent bloke and player though he is/ was - an ‘of the time’ pick, though, whilst Agudosi’s departure tarnished his legacy somewhat and room should probably be found for Trevor Roffey. Otherwise, all good. Updated answer wouldn’t see many changes, then, but an alternative line-up - using none of the previously selected players and a more relevant 3-5-2 formation - would likely feature, among others, Messrs Ramos, Cooper, Sterling and Smith (Ashley); plus current Magpies Mark Nisbet, Bobby Behzadi and Reece Tison-Lascaris. (Nb. six of the XI that started the aforementioned King’s Lynn game.)

Best thing about Maidenhead United?
Away days on the train

No change.

Worst thing?
Hangovers the day after a game!

No change. ;-)

Do you support any other team?
Arsenal

And Bristol Rovers. #3CW, #whosyourfavouritenonleagueteam?

What other sports and hobbies do you enjoy?
Socialising, eating out, sleeping

I probably viewed ‘socialising’ as a sport back then! Sleeping was presumably included, meanwhile, as my student days had only recently finished. Updated answer - NFL (other sports); holidaying, walking; weekly pub quizzing, real ale drinking (hobbies). #gettingold

FAVOURITE:

Music: Oasis, Badly Drawn Boy, Stone Roses

Can’t remember the last time that I listened to a Badly Drawn Boy song. Ergo the mighty Goldie Lookin Chain to replace the woolly-hat-wearing Manc in an updated answer.

TV Show: Only Fools and Horses, Phoenix Nights

Phoenix Nights is undeniably good, but severely tarnished by the fact that Peter Kay features prominently and, nowadays, he does my head in. The Mighty Boosh can can replace it. Or Cheers; I’m slowly - all too slowly - making my way through the ITV4 repeats that Ive recorded. I also love the X-Files (and not just because of Gillian Anderson, see below). Only Fools still #1 for me.

Actor: Ruud van Nistelrooy

Arf. Gotta be Danny Dyer, innit.

Actress: Shannon Tweed

Double arf. Gillian Anderson.

Drink: Kronenbourg, Guinness and Black

Kronenbourg?? Yuk. Becks Vier now my lager of choice (although nothing can beat Keo in Cyprus, or Mythos in Greece, whilst on holiday). Guinness and Black, meanwhile, remains an away day staple. Also partial to a real ale, these days, preferably something dark like Windsor & Eton’s Conqueror or Batemans’ Black & White.

Food:
Sicilian meatballs and spaghetti

Eh? What pretentious twaddle! My Dad’s curry; my Mum’s chilli; my wife’s oven-baked risotto; my spag bol; Wetherspoons’ fish and chips (on a Friday) ...

Holiday:
Kefalonia

Guess where I’d been on holiday in the summer of 2004?? TBF, I do love the Greek islands (and Cyprus); Sissi, Crete, last year was perhaps the best yet. Also loved Boston, Seattle and Vancouver in 2012. And, of course, regular Christmas market/ football weekend visits to Germany. Glasgow also a great city; certainly preferable to overrated Edinburgh.