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!

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]

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