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!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


FYI - 

I don't plan to post again until late April/ early May (FDXVI at Weston-super-Mare).


Not sure yet.

Anyway, check out @gomadstopcaring for 'emotive polemics based on half truth and rumours' of the 140-character variety.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, 12 December 2015

FA Cup, 1st Round Proper

Greater responsibilities at work (ongoing) and at home (imminent) mean that I haven't the time required to do justice re a planned Crewe/ Nantwich/ Port Vale X2 post.

One day.


The following two videos encapsulate things rather better than I could, in any case, and I'm sure most Magpie fans would prefer to (re)watch these.

It. Wasn't. A. Dream.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Away Day Diary: Stirling Albion 0-0 East Stirlingshire (31/10/15)

^^^ After last year's excellent trip to Aberdeen, featuring the Shire's 4-0 defeat at Arbroath, a weekend in Dundee - and the Shire at Montrose - was mooted for this season's Scottish jolly. Instead, the Stirlingshire derby at the end of October proved more enticing and feasible; flights were finally sorted whilst I was enjoying a (birthday) week of sunshine, in Croatia, in early September. The two worst teams in Scotland's bottom division? I, for one, was looking forward to it.

^^^ The match was on. Which was obviously a relief!

^^^ Welcome to Scotland! Macleod (C) was on the red eye from Dublin and so in Glasgow before my Dad had even dropped me and Macleod (M) at Heathrow.

^^^ We told him to find a pub, preferably close to Queen St station, and he chose the Vale. Apt, bearing in mind Maidenhead United's upcoming FA Cup opponents.

^^^ Thumbs up from Craig, on Facebook, and no wonder; beers of the weekend in here. I was certainly a Happy Chappy.

^^^ After a train ride to Stirling full of boisterous (i.e. drunken) Scots - it wasn't yet 6pm! - we caught a taxi to the out-of-town Holiday Inn Express (close to the football ground, actually). A few pints in the hotel bar - 4% Stella; rather good - before we thought it high time to sample the nightlife. We decided to walk into town, via the nearby Morrisons; warm beer and cold pies #epicfail A challenge was set to help pass the time: personalise a chant for Dean Inman (UPDATE: we have a winner!) The cramped Port Customs Bar was our first stop; Grimsby vs Cheltenham on TV, below average pints of T. The nearby - and highly-recommended - Kilted Kangeroo followed; virtually empty. We consulted the What Pub website and headed to No 2 Baker Street. Macleod (C)'s weekly accumulator had been busted - already - by Bayern's goalless draw at Eintracht Frankfurt, but I was cheered by news of Rovers winning at Cambridge; Macleod (M) by the breaking story on SSN that the Crazy Italian was willing to sell Dirty Leeds. (UPDATE: quelle surprise) Some passable real ales as well, while the female vocalist wasn't bad. Dancing grannies with tats and short dresses, though, so we only stayed for one.

^^^ Nicky-Tams Bar & Bothy was next. Ed McSheeran was playing - live - the whole of the Rocky Horror Show. Impressive enough, but not our thing. It dawned on us (wait for it ... ) that the nightclub, Dusk, was close. Some bloke on the train had suggested that we avoid it like the plague. We paid £5 each to enter and almost instantly wished that we'd followed his advice; I think that, aside from one geriatric bouncer, we were the three oldest people in there! A couple of reasonably-priced, silly-coloured drinks and we were on the move once again.

^^^ Back to the Kilted Kangeroo; initially we were told that it was closed but then one of the bouncers said he recognised us from our TV work earlier and took pity on us let us in. Wigs-a-go-go. Apparently town was dead because everyone - but especially the students - would be saving themselves for Saturday night's Halloween festivities. Something to look forward to. Aside from the football. Obvs.

^^^ Up bright and early (actually, it wasn't bright ... nor particularly early). After two breakfasts (one at the hotel, another at a nearby pub #wheninrome) we headed to the ground, as Craig apparently knows someone on the SAFC board.

^^^ Farm access?! #URMYBELLEND

^^^ Worst. Gate. Ever. The main stand was, primarily, a leisure centre. We were greeted at the entrance by a gentleman in an SAFC polo shirt who, it transpired, was the Albion chairman! He lead us upstairs, past well-presented corporate suites, in search of Craig's contact. No dice. The bar was showing the Celtic vs Aberdeen game, rather than Chelsea vs Liverpool, so we thanked him and walked lumbered into town.

IF A LIVERPOOL FAN WAS A COMMENTATOR (CFC 1-3 LFC)The Deluded Commentator, Jimmy Liddel, was at Chelsea to see Liverpool give Mourinho more problems.Its their year again !
Posted by YNFA on Saturday, 31 October 2015

^^^ After witnessing a couple of intoxicated NEDs throwing punches at each other on the main shopping street - and brief but uncomfortable spells in various packed boozers (including the Port Customs again) - we settled in Katie's Bar & Bistro. No football on TV, but Sally Cinnamon on the jukebox. Another defeat for Chelsea - much to Jimmy Liddel's delight (above) - was confirmed as we caught a taxi back to the ground.

^^^ Eh?

^^^ Spot the (beach) ball. I vividly recall sitting in the away section, eating a Scotch pie as 3pm approached, starting to wonder what I was doing there. Then, all of a sudden, about 30 teenagers rocked up in fancy dress with various inflatables; 'I'm well pished!' slurred one of them, and he wasn't wrong!

^^^ The Shire Youth were superb throughout. A real credit to their club.

^^^ Certainly more impressive than the Binos* Ultras!
(*contraction of Albion, apparently)

^^^ No doubt Cars Fooked was also prood of ye.

^^^ 'Linesman! I disagree with your performance!' one of several throwaway lines that raised a smile. I also liked their 'East! East! East! East!' refrain and reckon that Maidenhead should chant the same immediately after 'Berkshire! Berkshire! Berkshire! Berkshire!'. BTW, the linesman in question - David McElleray - really was rather rubbish.

^^^ Match action. If it looks a little dark, that's because it was; the electrics kept failing. I doubted, at one stage, whether the game would get finished. 0-0 the final score; 618 saw it; Shire #4 (Townsley) won everything in the air; Shire #6 (Lynas) was all-action; ex-Magpie Richie Barnard on the bench.

^^^ We headed to the bar, at the final whistle, for cans of T. A bit sterile; no sign of Craig's mate; the locals didn't seem interested in talking (to us). Confirmation came through that Maidenhead had beaten Basingstoke in a seven-goal thriller. Craig was the first - but not the last - to suggest that we'd have been better off missing our trip to Forthbank, to see the two worst teams in Scotland, and gone to York Road instead. That doesn't account for the fact, though, that this was the best goalless draw I've seen in the flesh; 3-3 would have been a much more accurate reflection. A thoroughly entertaining encounter between two footballing sides who simply couldn't finish. And a red card to boot (the home side could/ should have been reduced to nine men). Plus a mightily impressive turnout, as aforementioned, from the Shire Youth. Nah, we'd made the right choice. So long as Saturday night wasn't as quiet as the Friday night ...

^^^ Dinner at the place where we'd eaten breakfast, betwixt the ground and the hotel. Big fish n chips = big points with the wife.

Gordon the waiter: 'Yes, I'm still here'

Macleod (C): 'Well, you do work here'

^^^ Into town and - as we were keen on somewhere to sit, with real ales available (#gettingold) - straight to the local Wetherspoons; the Crossed Peels. Initially we thought this place rather pokey, but it transpired that the upstairs area was vast. We stayed at ground level, however, and not just because the queue for the bar was significantly shorter. As X-Factor played on the TV screens, we had our own game of Fancy Dress Factor; Macleod (C) was Louis Walsh (to be sure), Macleod (M) was Simon Cowell (obvs.) and I was, um, Cheryl Cole-Fernandez-Versini-Foster-Harding (or whatever she's called these days) as we took it upon ourselves to judge the hundreds of students who came through the door in costume. Top three, in the 'Best Female' category, as follows:

2. Troll dolls (kudos, to the three in Stirling, for colouring and backcombing their real hair)
3. Statue

^^^ Another visit to the Kilted Kangeroo; we were virtually on first name terms with the bouncers at this point! As they'd predicted, MUCH busier than the previous night. We were among the tiny minority of people in 'normal' clothes and I, for one, felt a tinge of regret; when my wife had first clocked the date, that we would be away in Scotland, she'd asked whether we'd be going out in costume. 'No,' my scoffed reply, 'why would we?'. Whilst the Macleods are correct, in that we have nothing to prove when it comes to this sort of thing, I think it a shame that we didn't join in; what's the point of keeping a fancy dress box otherwise?! have Sylvester the Cat in the loft and could easily have rustled up Borat (complete with Kazakhstan pin badge, American flag and cardboard sign). Anyway, it's safe to say that we underestimated the seemingly ever-increasing popularity of Halloween. Won't happen again.

^^^ I'd noticed, on a t-shirt, that the University of Stirling's American Football team - the Clansmen - had won back-to-back National Championships in 2014 and 2015; by the look of this bloke, it's easy to see why! BTW, Old Mout's Kiwi & Lime flavoured cider went down a treat!

^^^ Lee Dev Bon Jovi

^^^ Jack & Victor from Still Game ... or, Macleod (M), is it DI Jack Frost and friend?! ;-)

^^^ The DJ - who, at one point, played The Cramps; much to Macleod (M)'s delight - gave the 'Best Male' award to a bloke dressed as Pat Sharp but, if it wasn't for his Fun House t-shirt, then I'd have said that he looked more like Flip from This Is England '90. No, the Fancy Dress Factor judges were in unanimous agreement that David Cameron, above, should've 'brought home the bacon' (as it were).

^^^ It was cold, TBF. It was! Foggy as well. Fog, incidentally, that would cause travel chaos at Heathrow the following day; almost seeing to it that Macleod (M) and I spent another night north of the border. Anyway, the above 'accessory' was actually part of a costume belonging to one of the aforementioned Shire Youth. Craig highlighted, on the Monday, a video of them that had been uploaded to the Scottish Football Away Days group on Facebook. 'Fannies', 'Shite' and 'Embarrassing' were typical replies. Macleod (M), in contrast, was the voice of reason: 'Made plenty of noise, mostly in good humour ... Why the negative comments? Would you prefer that they all jumped on the Old Firm bandwagon?'

^^^ The walk, from hotel to station, on Sunday morning. Did you really think we'd go a whole weekend without #yeractualcultureinnit ?!

^^^ The view across the Forth towards the Wallace Monument. Before long we were in the Auctioneers, back in Glasgow, watching Rangers lose at Hibs and Everton thrash Sunderland. Final thoughts on Stirling? Well, it's not Aberdeen. But, then again, that's self-evident! Certainly worth a visit, I'd say, particularly if Shire are havin' a party. And Stenny have gone to bed.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

< insert unoriginal, Card-related pun here >

TBH, I wasn't 100% sure, at the start of last week, whether I'd bother going to York Road for the big Cup tie; #fencegate had been more than enough drama, for one Cup run, while Woking didn't exactly make for exciting opponents. Then it became clear that, if I were to miss out, I'd be one of the few: quickly confirmed attendees, via our FB group, included LCG Dave, Will H, John G, Dickie W, Coxy, Macleod (M), Craig, Scouse Mick (ungrounded!); plus Fuzz, Gav Villa and Willie T (not working?!). Reasons behind such new-found enthusiasm? The 'magic of the Cup'? The *cringing as I write this* 'Devolution'? The fact that it was Bobby P's birthday?! For my part, nearly every re-tweeted post on my twitter feed seemed to concern Wealdstone's upcoming clash with Bognor. The Stones were excited. It slowly dawned on me that I should be too. And, come the day, I was.

^^^ Dev's comments in the paper, which I didn't read until the morning of the game, certainly didn't hurt (click here for context re 'real fans').

^^^ We had a plasterer round for a quote and so I didn't start the walk into town until gone 1pm; belatedly meeting with Craig, Fuzz, Macleod (M), and Mick, in the Bear. It was packed; thanks, in part, to several wedding guests in 'interesting' attire. The Zulu Blonde was rather good although the Stateside Rye, that Craig was supping, even better. We knew that the MUFC turnstiles would be creaking under the pressure of a larger-than-usual crowd, but still left the pub later than we should've. As such, the cheers that greeted the opening goal could be heard as we crossed York Road, outside the Anchor. The pessimists realists among us instantly feared the worst, although I did suggest that the roar - and it was loud - could've come from the home fans. Still, I was somewhat surprised to learn that we were one-up …

^^^ I was also pleasantly surprised to hear a near word-perfect 'Soggy Sombrero', shortly after our arrival behind the goal. The Canal End really was in fine voice.

^^^ 'Bell Ending' the Gandermonium sticker was, ultimately, far easier than peeling it.

^^^ Tucker Jnr in the house! The boy has got some promising bin-throwing skills! Willie apparently asked him, the following day, for his York Road highlight. 'Pushing bins over,' the reported response! #familyclub, #lad

^^^ Match action. Safe to say that Woking looked like a side low on confidence; Maidenhead a side keen to take full advantage. The Cards seemed to be finding their feet, though, as the half wore on …

^^^ A (plastic) pint of Newcastle Brown Ale (yuk!) was awaiting me, in Stripes, at the break (thanks Fuzz!). TBF, the Rebellion Relegation was off (quelle surprise).

^^^ Sir Garry Attrell - MUFC Hall of Famer and, in Macleod (M)'s opinion, the 'greatest ever Maidenhead player' - happy to pose for a photo with his biggest fan. Quick trip to the Gents, before we ventured back outside, and it was from here that we heard another goal-greeting cheer. Mallett Jnr, from the cubicle, reckoned it was an equaliser (although he seemed more interested in goings on at the Kassam #noteuphenism). Wrong! It was 2-0. Macleod (M) and I might've missed this goal - and the first - but we did see the quickly-added third, albeit just about, through the Shelf gap! We chatted with Roger and Jean (former Chairman and Treasurer, respectively) - painful defeats vs Salisbury in the 1999/00 3rd Qualifying Round, and particularly vs Welling in the 2002/03 2nd Qualifying Round, briefly touched upon - while Macleod (M) got a kiss from Mrs Dev. Another MUFC Hall of Famer, Andy Smith, also said hello. The joyous atmosphere was soon tempered, though, by an unsavoury flare-up. Apparently some of the Woking Youth were permitted to walk around the ground, past the Bell End, spitting and jostling as they went. A couple of the home fans took understandable exception to this; I had to deploy all of my persuasive conciliatory powers to defuse the situation. Yes, you read that correctly! But, of course, well done to the stewards. *rolls eyes*

*** Exhibit A (post on the WFC forum):

If Woking FC get in trouble for the muppets actions I hope Maidenhead get in trouble for a ridiculous failure to steward the game properly. We have been there before so they know it was likely to be a bit rowdy yet there was no one watching the noisy lot when they threw the smoke bomb, which then wasn't removed for quite a while. They then had two stewards who bottled standing near the rowdy lot, preferring to stand watching and discussing the game. Second half they didn't steward the Woking end at all. The muppets were chucking each other over the fence with total impunity.

*** Exhibit B (snippet from a groundhopper blog post; worth reading in full):

If the Woking players hadn't quite given up, some of their fans certainly had. A selection of the more idiotic of them felt that the only way to gain the respect of their fellow fans was to wade in to the home fans and try and start something. They were thrown out by those in yellow that were not on the pitch - although I'm not sure I would use the word "swiftly" as the whole thing seemed to drag on for an age before it was finally over.

^^^ "Shoes off, if you love Maidenhead"

^^^ Party time on the Bell End. The KSG rolled out a few old favourites ('Nisbet scored at King's Lynn'/ 'If you all went to King's Lynn, clap your hands' etc.) - and sang 'Happy Birthday' to Bobby P, who was stood on the Shelf - before collaborating with the LCG, the Youth, and the rest, in a booming rendition of 'Alan Dev's Chas & Dave's Black & White Army'. Fifteen minutes … then five more added on! No wonder LCG Dave's hands were bleeding - literally - at the end! The players celebrated in the goalmouth after the final whistle - my face obscured, by the crossbar, in the relevant photo! - and the gaffer punched the air several times; I sense that this one really meant something to him (Drax now got nothing!). Macleod (M) and I chatted briefly with Matty Glynn, as we left; he looks as fit as a fiddle. I've felt that, at times this season, we've lacked a bit of guile in the final third; creativity provided in days of yore by the likes of Glynn, Attrell and Barry Rake. The Magpies didn't lack guile or creativity on Saturday, though, far from it; Woking were poor, yes, but Maidenhead were rampant.

^^^ To Bar Sport; absolutely drenched, despite the short walk. Reports that it had 'kicked off' back at the clubhouse. Nawty. Anyway … A PHOTO FROM YORK ROAD ATOP THE BBC SPORT WEBSITE! (above) THE SO-CALLED 'SPECIAL ONE' IN MELTDOWN! ARSENAL BEATING EVERTON TO GO TOP O' THE LEAGUE! GREENE KING'S EAST COAST IPA GOING DOWN A TREAT! Giddy times. I was reminded, a little, of the Anchor 'glory days' (albeit sans Landlord Joe, sticky carpets, ripped seats, tatty wallpaper, Macleod (C) monopolising the jukebox, amazing scarf collection etc.) … and this was before Mad Fred turned up! The wife collected me, as planned, at 8pm. I wasn't the first to depart, indeed I think that only the Macleods, Mick, and the birthday boy, stayed out. Probably for the best Definitely for the best, if the subsequent FB video of Bobby P dancing - 'like a cat chasing a laser' - to 'Town Called Malice' is anything to go by! #raidergotnothingonpintjoy

^^^ My throat was sore, when I awoke the following morning, and I was also suffering 'stand-banging thumb' (#noteuphenism). Small prices to pay. Thoughts immediately turned to the draw. The Stones had also won, so my FB and twitter timelines were full of suggestions re which teams were desirable/ undesirable. My view was as follows:

Most people - including Alan Dev - would like a league team at home. Failing that, a lower division side at home.

York Road, however, can barely handle Woking, let alone the likes of Millwall or Bristol Rovers! Segregation would also mean home fans locked out of the Bell End (a la the Stafford Rangers replay debacle).

Plus we've lost to the likes of Didcot and Horsham - the latter at this stage - in the recent past.

As such, I'd be delighted with any league team - bar Newport and Wimbledon (and possibly Oxford; not sure I could stomach the Mallett media meltdown) - away.

^^^ As you can see, this message was posted at 7:17PM. The euphoria lasted for about ten mins …

^^^^ FFS! Sunday afternoon would be OK, I suppose, but Friday night?! Bearing in mind that I'm unavailable for the weekend of the 2nd Round, a Friday night fixture - then - would be ideal. Hey ho, we're getting ahead of ourselves. [UPDATE: Sunday it is]

Back to Woking: there was much fanfare, in the build-up to last Saturday's fixture, re Drax's boyz fine 4-1 win over the Cards in the 2011/12 3rd Qualifying Round. However, the last time we'd played them - prior to the weekend just gone - was actually later that same season: a 0-1 scoreline at York Road, in April 2012, clinching Woking the title and pushing Maidenhead towards relegation (Nb. MUFC had publicly announced, in the build-up to this game, that the away fans were welcome to invade the pitch if/ when they won! #everyonesfavouriteawayday). Anyway, I've re-read my relevant blog post and think the closing 'emotive polemic' is worthy of reassessment:

It's been six years since Maidenhead were last relegated from the Conference South. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in the meantime. For what gain? The team and pitch are as bad now, as they were then. Any (minimal) improvements to the ground were likely paid for by MUSA. The average attendance is only up (by a small amount, if at all) due to the considerable away followings brought by the likes of Woking. The Youth and Reserve teams seemingly only exist to provide players for other clubs (if anyone at all; someone mentioned at the weekend that Jake Chance has quit football). Debt free? Undoubtedly a good thing. Aside from that? A promotion (which looks more and more like it was a fluke), a Berks & Bucks Cup win (meh) and an FA Cup replay against a League side that we have played nearly 20 times in recent years? Try and spin it whichever way you can, dish out the 'anti Drax' and 'anti club' labels - plus the bans - if you must. The inescapable truth is that it all looks like a monumental - and rather sad - waste of time and money.

Anti Drax? No, not Drax per se. More so frustration re an aloof, underachieving manager who regularly hid behind BS excuses in the paper and was rewarded for mediocrity by countless unnecessary multi-year contract extensions.

Anti club? No, not at all. More so indignation re a BoD - featuring remnants from the failed Jon Swan regime, which ultimately brought the members club to its knees - that, possibly due to the fact I kept banging on about spending money on the ground rather than the manager/ team, and imploring better links with the local community (PASE, Maidenhead Boys & Girls etc.), banned me (and a couple of others) for nothing; certainly nothing compared with behaviours regularly overlooked by the York Road stewards.

We now have a likeable, capable manager and a ground that has finally seen real improvements (more required, though, i.e. turnstiles down the Canal End). We also have an official link with BCA, ladies teams, and a Magpies in the Community scheme. 

Great stuff; credit where it's due. Seriously.

'I suppose being proven right is the best gift of all' ~ Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, The Leviathan [1.10]

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Away Day Diary: Blackfield & Langley 0-1 Maidenhead United (10/10/15)

I was at Tegel airport, on the way home from a fabulous week in Berlin celebrating my father-in-law's birthday, when I discovered that Maidenhead had squeezed past Winchester in their FA Cup replay and would be playing at Blackfield & Langley in the next round. I think most of my free Deutsche Telekom WiFi minutes were spent trying to work out (a) where Blackfield & Langley is and (b) how you would get there. Macleod (M) had already suggested, on Facebook, going via the Hythe ferry and this was ultimately the chosen option; Les, in a forwarded email, cogently explaining why:

1. Upon arrival at Southampton, it's necessary to get across the Solent. As I see it the likely options for that are ferry, bus or taxi. Ferry is by far the least practical option since, unlike in the case of Gosport, it only shaves a couple of miles off the distance travelled as compared to taking a bus or taxi via the Redbridge causeway, and anyway, Hythe pier is absolutely not within walking distance of the ground. Then there's the matter of the ferry fare: at £5.80 return it would probably be quicker and cheaper to take a taxi from pier to pier than to take the ferry.

2. In spite of (1), if others are up for it I'm minded to take the ferry to Hythe almost on a point of principle. If I wanted a quick and direct journey I'd drive. The walk from Southampton Central to Town Quay passes plenty of boozers, and Hythe is a more than decent place to stop for light refreshments as well. I don't think there's much near the ground. And it would be good to get the flags out on the ferry, as we did on the way back from Gosport.

Ah, Gosport. Not my finest hour. Indeed, Craig messaged from Portugal on Saturday morning (ahead of the Gibraltar vs Scotland game) to say that, as we were taking the ferry, I should pack a spare pair of jeans. Arf.

^^^ Steve H, Woody, McKendrick and Scouse Mick joined Macleod (M) and I on the 09:53 from Maidenhead. My parents were also on the train, journeying to Winchester for a day out because they'd heard good things.

^^^ Into Southampton Central at 11:17, as scheduled, and then a short walk to Bar Street Above Bar Street. The plan was to head straight to the local Wetherspoons - the Standing Order - but certain individuals within our group couldn't make it past the first pub: Yates's. It was rubbish - no ales on apart from a substandard Doom Bar - and so we didn't stay long. I made sure that the 'Republic of Mancunia' sticker, on the street sign pictured above, got 'Bell Ended' as we left.

^^^ I'd printed out directions, for the walk to the Town Quay, but certain individuals within our group couldn't make it past the first taxi.

^^^ Southampton town walls; photographed by Mick from the window of the taxi. #yeractualcultureinnit

^^^ I thought that this rather irritable fellow looked a little bit like Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lankan cricket captain.

^^^ Hythe ferry ticket machines. Exact fare (£5.80) required. You were instructed to see the ticket inspector if you needed change. Although he only had £1 coins. Obvs.

^^^ Ferry. Great fun. Even the coffees tasted good ;-) It was around this time that we received word of severe delays on the railway; Les, for one, was stuck north of Winchester. Two differing reasons were given: a broken down train at Botley (is that not a different line?) and a fire at Eastleigh. Mick had nothing to do with the latter, honest!

^^^ Murder on the Orient Express Murdo on the Hythe Pier Express.

^^^ Twinned with York Road.

^^^ Hythe; the Lord Nelson is No. 5 on it's picturesque High Street. Excellent pub this; we sat out the back, overlooking the railway. A little blustery, but the sun was getting through the clouds; which rather summed up the day to this point. Then one of the locals, with whom we were chatting, asked a question: "So, you've come all the way from Kent?" *facepalm* My worst fears, that the day would quickly start to disintegrate, were confounded when the tasty Ringwood Best Bitter ran dry and we were forced back on the Doom Bar. A sign of things to come ...

^^^ The aforementioned local had recommended the Malt & Hops, despite it apparently being the 'roughest' pub in Hythe (#whatwouldmerthyrdo?). He said that he'd give us a shout when he left, so we could follow him there, but then went without us. After a quick photo of Macleod (M) outside a shopmobility emporium, imprecise directions from a young Goth couple, and a somewhat meandering walk, we caught up with him and his friends (#can'tgetawayfromusthateasy). Hop Back Brewery's Summer Lightning was far too fruity for my liking, but the pub was decent enough; if it really is the roughest boozer then this is testament to the fact that Hythe is a praiseworthy little town. Macleod (M) put a quid in the jukebox and I stuck on three Goldie Lookin Chain songs. We didn't get to hear them, though, as Take That played repeatedly until our taxis arrived. ("I feel like such a twat, cos I really likes Take That")

^^^ Gang Warily Community & Recreation Centre.

^^^ Pre-match kickabout. Didn't score past Mick once and think I pulled something.

^^^ Line-ups.

^^^ Hoof!

^^^ TBF, the pitch wasn't exactly conducive to sexy football. Indeed, the game was as uneventful as the queue for food was long. Macleod (M) said that the grub, when it finally arrived, was good ... unlike the service. He thought it apt that they forgot to charge him.

^^^ "Mother, I can never come home again, cos I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere. Somewhere in a field in Hampshire". Note the female assistant; tasteless remarks, from a member of the travelling contingent, were out of order and I told him so.

^^^ The travelling support at B L A C K F I E L D A N D L A N G L E Y

^^^ Flowers behind the goal! Like the old Eastville Stadium. Sort of. Note the scruffy-looking, curly-haired, paunchy bloke - top, right - sat behind the wire mesh fence, alone on a bench, next to a children's playground (make of that what you will). Apparently he was giving Macleod (M) and Mick the middle-finger before they'd even started hanging the flags …

^^^ Curly pulled down the saltire, ripping a tie from it in the process. He was unreasonable throughout the brief conversation I had with him (which ended with me suggesting that he return to his seat, next to the play area). Things continued to escalate, for reasons that remain unclear clear to me, after my attention had long since been diverted by the match restart. I shall defer to twitter …

^^^ Non League Day RUINED. TBF, when all is said and done, I think that this is probably the first time I've seen actual fisticuffs at a Maidenhead game since one of our coaches and the current MUSA secretary were both decked by some cap-wearing Stoke City hoolies on the pitch at Stafford Rangers (I missed the MMS' '60 second stramash' vs Eastleigh; have only heard rumours re two of our stewards beating up that Merthyr Tydfil fan). B&LFC's black bomber-jacketed security men - Max and Paddy - were helpful enough, after the event, but conspicuous by their absence prior to that. Where were the Ebbsfleet stewards, or Rasher, when needed?! ;-)

^^^ I missed much of the second half, incl. Maidenhead's winning goal, as I was in the clubhouse with McKendrick and Woody - who had been watching Scotland scrape past Samoa in the egg chasing - and Mick; reuniting the latter with his camera. Funnily enough, he didn't look out of place in here, bloodied and bruised, as it was packed with players from Fawley RFC. Bit naff that the bar is shared, particularly as it is on the small side. (Yes, I know, #potkettleblack coming from a Maidenhead fan!)

^^^ Alan Dev and Happy Bob both said 'hello', in the bar, whilst Dean Inman and Alan Massey asked after Mick as they were boarding the team coach. We ordered a taxi straight back to Southampton and headed, belatedly, to the aforementioned Standing Order. Much better than Yates's, but we had already decided to bolt for the station - to catch an earlier-than-planned train - when Les, Logic, Rainey et al arrived. Proposed meet with Wealdstone postponed, meanwhile, as the Stones lot had apparently enjoyed themselves a little too much at nearby Brockenhurst. 'I bet blackfield and whatever they are called didn't say nice things about you lot,' wrote Sudhir on Facebook; implying, I think, that our friends from Middlesex had made a good impression. They've changed ;-)

^^^ We went to Asda for a carry out, before leaving Southampton, and so the stragglers were able to catch up; indeed, the train contained more than its fair share of returning Magpie hordes. Also travelling on it was the Mail on Sunday's 'fulminator-in-chief' and I chatted with the Orwell Prize-winning journalist, stood in a vestibule, after Les had left the train at Basingstoke; one topic of conversation was 'sibling rivalry'. The passengers on the train from Reading to Maidenhead, meanwhile, were serenaded with lusty renditions of 'Soggy Sombrero', 'You are my Bell End', 'HEA, RTS' and suchlike; see, Virgin Trains, it's not just rugby fans who love 'jovial sing-songs'. Back on home turf; to the Vine (above). It's been done-up, since my last visit, but I'm still not a massive fan; the Anchor but not the Anchor … if that makes sense?

^^^ So, United's reward in Monday's draw? As I wrote in various text messages, and on the Conference South forum, normally I'd have everything crossed for an 'exotic' away tie but, after #fencegate, someone boring at home was probably for the best. I had Basingstoke in mind, but Woking will do. Rather apt, in fact, that we've been paired with them as it gives me an opportunity to belatedly highlight what Macleod (M) and I were up to as Drax's boyz were busy thumping the Cards at York Road in the 2011/12 3rd Qualifying Round: accompanying Trevor Kingham's daughter, Denise, on a five-mile charity walk from the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (in Putney) to Loftus Road (ahead of QPR vs Blackburn Rovers)We didn't attend the game, instead drinking and chatting with Denise and her Mum in the Loyal Supporters Association's underground HQ - and then the Springbok - before going for a curry in the evening. If, unlike Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes (yes, that is him in the above photo; apparently making his very first appearance in the LSA bunker), you have yet to give generously to the charity, then please consider it; a very worthy cause. Trevor is missed. Always. And certainly last Saturday!