^^^ Beaver Las Vegas!
(My attempt, BTW, at a 'beaver face'. Never again. I promise.)
As per a post on the Conference South forum, 'match of the day' in the division last weekend was undoubtedly our visit to the Beveree (3rd vs 1st). Rainey selling out a supporters' coach, for the first time this season, further testament to that. I should've known that it was going to be a good day when Fuzz, Macleod (M) and I - en route to meet with Craig at the station ahead of our 09:38 departure - bumped into Bobby P, who revealed that he has a Havant & Waterlooville sign in his bedroom! I've photos of said sign - very long and bendy - somewhere. Sadly, I cannot find them :-(
^^^ Talk of signs and of Hampton reminded us of the above photo which, happily, was easier to locate. Not the first time that it has appeared on this blog. For which I make no apology. "Brian … BRIAN! You've dropped your sign". Classic! This was taken on the way back from the Beveree in September 2007. We'd managed a 1-1 draw, extending a win-less run at Hampton that stretched all the way back to Dev's first season in charge (a memorable 4-3 win in March 1997; Darren Powell - Hampton's defensive colossus - was sent off, if I remember correctly, with Messrs Agudosi, Attrell and Creighton among the Maidenhead goals). Understandable, therefore, that we travelled in hope rather than expectation, despite this season's excellent form.
^^^ The list of conversation topics, on the train journey into London, was long and varied. So long and varied, in fact, that I've forgotten the vast majority! "Make sure you're listing these," said Macleod (M), "for the blog". I wasn't. Out of practice. I do recall, however, that Mr C from The Shamen featured prominently. (Hence my pose in the above photo. Never again. I promise.) Furthermore, it was also revealed that the drum used to serenade the Magpies at Leatherhead in May 1991 (Drums at football?! For shame.) was the very same as used by Kipper, the fictional band in Robin Askwith's 'Confessions of a Pop Performer'. Yes, really! #filmpropsatfootball
^^^ Anyway, we met with Gav Altona - old friend and H&RBFC season ticket holder - at Fulwell station and followed him to the Roebuck. And I'm glad that we did, as this is a top boozer; comfortably the best that I've been in since the Barge Gladys, en route to Concord Rangers, in August. Decent selection of reasonably-priced ales (plus Dortmunder Union Pils on tap)? Check. Ham/ cheese and onion rolls, wrapped in cling film, for £1.50 each? Tick. Model planes made from old beer cans, and a collection of fishing rods, hanging from the ceiling? Bingo. I think that we'd all have happily stayed put. Instead we moved on …
^^^ 'Show us yer cards'. One drink stops in the Bloated Mallard (pint of Twickenham's Autumn Red = good; minimalist décor = bad) and then the Star (where the above photo was taken; full of rugby fans; traditional décor = good; rank pint of Doom Bar = bad), before a short bus ride to the Jolly Coopers, our usual pre-match Hampton haunt.
^^^ Our last league win wearing Slough Town yellow and blue? Hemel Hempstead (more on them later) in August 2015. We started well though, both on and off the pitch, and Harry Pritchard's strike raised the decibel levels still further. I bumped - almost literally - into Steve H, during the goal celebrations (above). Twas good to see him. The H&RBFC left back, directly in front of us, was getting some stick from the noisy travelling contingent. I'm not entirely sure why, although it definitely wasn't because he was short and 'fair-haired' ... although he was ("Stay outta the sun … "). The home side's keeper, meanwhile, resembled Ian Walker ("Dodgy keeper. Dodgy haircut"), whilst their #2 - Michael Kamara - was having an absolute nightmare; hoofing it out of play, unintentionally, on countless occasions ("Sign him up for Marlow").
@MUFCYorkRoad magpies are deffo still flying on top after yesterday's performance! Big spread in the @NonLeaguePaper today as well! ☺️ pic.twitter.com/FKUboD28hD— Nicki (@nicki_joel) October 23, 2016
^^^ The Beavers equalised with the aid of big deflection (the deflection diverting the ball into the path of their goal scorer, as opposed to diverting it into the net). "We're not singing anymore" had barely subsided, however, before Dean Inman's header restored our advantage. As per the above photograph, accompanying the match report in the Non League Paper, he didn't celebrate. Now, I've nothing against Inman per se - he's been excellent for us; arguably even more impressive than his widely well-regarded central defensive partner - but not celebrating against a former side is a bug bear of mine. (A pre-match post on the H&RBFC forum read as follows: 'Will also be interesting to see how Dean Inman plays after having been effectively let go by Mark Harper a few seasons ago'). I certainly appreciated Lawrence Yaku not performing his usual somersault celebration, after notching against us (for Hampton, funnily enough): he'd played over 100 games for the Magpies and scored 60+ goals. Likewise, I can understand Frank Lampard, for example, not celebrating against Chelsea. But not celebrating a goal against, say, a team that you played for three times on loan, five years ago, is eye roll-inducing. Maybe it's me. It often is.
2-1 up at the break. Deserved lead, although H&R causing the odd problem. We got this. I think. (Hope.) #alclasico— GMOSC (@gomadstopcaring) October 22, 2016
^^^ I wrote this tweet whilst snaking my way back to the clubhouse, after getting down to the covered terrace, behind the goal, only to realise that there were no toilets at this end of the ground. I contemplated getting some food, but the queue was too long. The crowd, TBF, was large - four figures - which is remarkable bearing in mind the rather pitiful numbers that have watched this fixture in the past (265 at the aforementioned 4-3 game in 96/97; 410 at the 1-1 draw in 07/08).
^^^ Like Cressing Road, Braintree - and unlike York Road, Maidenhead - the Beveree seems to have gotten worse over the years. No Beaver Bar for a start! The temporary seating also starting to show its age. The whole ground, IMO, needs a fair bit of work.
^^^ One of the Youth - impressive, again, in terms of number and noise - was thrown out (I don't know what for) and so had to peer over the fence to watch the second half match action. Hopefully he's not one of the stars of the local rag's much vaunted match day advert!
'Book Las Vegas,' I said. Cue a Humpton goal. And news of a Chelmsford comeback. Oops ... #alclasico— GMOSC (@gomadstopcaring) October 22, 2016
^^^ We were in complete control but, out of the blue, Hampton reduced the arrears. News also filtered through that second-placed Chelmsford had recovered from 3-0 down, at home vs Hemel Hempstead, to lead 4-3. The nervousness of the travelling hordes manifested itself in a prolonged rendition of 'Alan Devonshire's black and white army' (which was to include a ludicrous amount of added time). Maidenhead teams of yesteryear might've folded like a pack of cards. Fortunately for us, though, this bunch of players are made of sterner stuff; despite a need for the occasional last-ditch tackle/ block, plus Dave Tarpey missing a golden opportunity to give the score line a fairer reflection, we saw the game out with relative ease. A deserved win. And a late Hemel equaliser meant that our lead atop the table increased to seven points!
^^^ Scenes at the final whistle.
^^^ Beatles or Stones? Stones for me.
After my celebratory photo with Bertie Beaver (see top of page), we returned to the Jolly Coopers. It was absolutely rammed but, thankfully, the landlord is one of those increasingly rare types who can serve multiple people at once. After bidding farewell to Gav Altona, we headed for one in the World's End (OK, I s'pose). A quick stop at a convenience store - the taste of Fuzz's knock-off Peperami will haunt me for some time - preceded our return train (sans toilet, much to Murdo's chagrin). Craig recommended the King's Arms, near Waterloo. Good call: another top boozer, this, with surrounding streets that resemble a film set (after miraculously escaping obliteration during WWII bombing raids). It was here that (1) the above photo was taken and (2) I was egged on to create a 'Can anyone stop Maidenhead?' thread on the Conference South forum. In jest, obviously. Or is it …
^^^ The train from Paddington was heaving. It wasn't until Slough that I was able to get a seat alongside Craig and Fuzz ... facing a woman with a strong resemblance to a former England international. Craig and Fuzz, plus a nearby group of Eastern European lads, were in hysterics. Barry Venison - big in Poland. Who knew?!
^^^ League derby with W@nky Wanderers next season?! Ye Gods!
Match highlights HERE