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, 30 April 2018

2017/18 Diary ~ April

Alex Wall's transfer to Luton Town in 2013 included a pre-season friendly the following year which, it transpired, coincided with the Maidenhead Beer Festival at York Road; my colleague CJ - who I've worked with, on and off (mostly on), since 2009 - is fond of both the Hatters and beer, so regrettable that he was unavailable

Last year he moved to Aldershot, close to the Recreation Ground, and so this seasons visit - our first league game there for 15 years - was earmarked instead as his Maidenhead United debut and, after an invitation was thrown out to a wider audience, we were to be joined by other workmates similarly keen to sample a bit of Magpies action: Craig Ma. ("He's not a Slough Town fan is he?!"), Hannah and Matt R ("They're married AND they're in the same team at work?!"; the former an ex-HBOS colleague of Willie T), plus - all the way from Somalia, via London's stand-up comedy circuit - the much missed G

Did warn them that watching Maidenhead is often 'a good day out slightly stained by 90 minutes of football', and so it proved!

Each of our last two away days has featured a chance meet with someone that Craig Mc. knows: this time a home fan called Ian, whom I'd first got chatting to in the toilets of the Victoria (while an entire platoon of riot police were milling around on the street outside)

Rather predictable result - and scorer - and a real shame to see us fighting (James Comley with the skipper) and arguing (Carl Pentney with the manager) amongst ourselves at the final whistle

Seen our performance described as 'brave', which I don't really get: the home side weren't all that ("You're staying down with the Maidenhead"; only Bobby-Joe Taylor stood out) but Gary Waddock was positive with his changes and I think that they deserved to win, whereas our starting line-up seemed disjointed and our substitutions were head-scratching (e.g. Comley, on for Jake Hyde, ended up playing right wing!)

Have to commend the Shots for letting the away fans (175) in the East Bank - not a given, apparently - and for eventually allowing us to hang the flags down the side (in hindsight, we should've brought the big black and white one); as I mentioned on twitter, the East Bank acoustics are great - certainly no need for a sodding drum - and, IMO, it's up there with the Bell End (pre-segregation) as the best covered terrace in the division, if not non-league

One pint in La Fontaine (strange location for a baby shower!) before visits to the George (disappointed but not surprised that the place erupted when the other MUFC came back from 2-0 down, after belatedly deciding to play like a team which cost over £3bn, or whatever, to assemble), the Queen Hotel (17-year-old Sam P - not drinking but still made to go outside, by the bouncers, whilst we finished our beers, because "No children are allowed in after 9pm" - witness to a bus catching fire; cue a road closure and more police), and finally the Trafalgar (pick of the bunch, in a town centre which is perhaps best summed up by an amusement arcade - called Cashino - with a padlocked drain cover outside)

The contrast with this time last year - our 2-1 home win vs East Thurrock, in sweltering conditions on 8th April 2017, was our seventh victory in a row and put us five points clear at the top of the table - is stark; Woking, at York Road on Tuesday, is massive (only already-relegated Chester are below us both in the six-game form guide)

(Match highlights here)


Worse teams than us, in poorer form had been the oft-used reassurance during our recent slide down the table; well, the Cards were one of those teams and so it felt a bit 'now or never' re the win that would finally see us break 50 points

Out went Remy Clerima (ominous, as someone mentioned that we'd yet to win without him this season; he was on the pitch at the end, BTW, so presumably injured rather than unavailable), Christian Smith (bit harsh, as I thought he did well - as he often does - when called upon at Aldershot) and Jake Hyde; in came Jake Goodman, James Comley (indicating that his recent post-match bust-up with Alan Massey had blown over) and Moses Emmanuel (law of the ex)

Kiss's Crazy Crazy Nights played on the PA system at the interval (which turned out to be rather prophetic); I agreed with Craig's assessment that "this seems reminiscent of Eastleigh away," i.e. we should've been - but, worryingly, weren't - several goals to the good at half-time, as opposed to Dan Darlington's  'Goalless at the break. Probably about right' tweet

I greeted ex-Magpie James Mulley, as we passed each other by the Cage, and would definitely have asked for a photo if I'd realised at the time that he was accompanied by Charlie Wassmer; 'Surf Dud' - now earning rave reviews at Humpton - was the 2016/17 GMOSC Player of the Season (after topping a poll ahead of Benny Laryea and John Lambie)

Nightmarish defensive howler gifted Woking the lead after 76 minutes - they'd have never scored otherwise, despite having perennial Magpie menace Louie Theodopolopodous among their ranks - and things were looking rather bleak for the hosts, as Dev threw on Adrian 'Yaya' Clifton and Sam Barratt, while Ryan Upward prepared to swing over a free kick …

GET IN THERE! Yaya's emphatic header immediately hauled us level and then, with two minutes of normal time remaining, Sean Marks - my Man of the Match - bundled home Barratt's left-wing cross to spark wild Canal End celebrations (borne out of relief, as much as anything; I felt sure that my jacket had been ripped!); a great fight back - even allowing for the ineptness of the opposition - that was reminiscent of Jordan Cox's heroics vs Eastbourne Borough last season and, crucially, all but ensures another National League campaign for Alan Devonshire's black and white army #brandyandcigars

(Match highlights here)

Decent weather - finally - so I donned my Alan Dev t-shirt from Cult Zeros, in honour of the great man's recent birth(at the end of the)day, to mow the lawn (sweat was soon dripping - literally - from my forehead!); here's hoping for similar temperatures at #FDXVIII next Saturday, particularly as my outfit is primed for sunshine

Other 'football free weekend' chores done and dusted, it was time for some al fresco Soccer Saturday (with the little man sat alongside me, in the garden, watching CBeebies on his mother's iPhone); enjoyable enough even before news of Max Kilman's 94th-minute winner, which mathematically secured our National League status!

Virgilio - who apparently fell at the sixth - one of seven horses that the wife and I had backed, £2.50 each way, in the Grand National; only one was placed … but that was Tiger Roll, the winner! (£47 back from Paddy Power; better than a kick in the wotsits.)

Eleventh place still a (remote) possibility for the Magpies: faltering Sutton at York Road on Tuesday, before we face a Dagenham & Redbridge side who [1.] currently occupy that spot, [2.] play on Tuesday AND Thursday this week, and [3.] are apparently facing an uncertain future

Remember when it was said that Drax keeping us in the division BELOW, often by the skinniest of margins, was 'a great achievement'? In the immortal words of Mick 'Crocodile' Dundee: "That's not a knife … THAT'S a knife!"

(Match highlights here)


Supposed to meet with Gandermonium in the Maiden's Head but, sadly, they were a no-show (much like their team, it would transpire!); Craig, Macleod (M) and I instead enjoyed pre-match pints of Rebellion (incl. Impressionist) with Stef, Phil the Gorilla and co.

Upraised eyebrows when we heard that Adrian Clifton and Sean Marks were starting together upfront, but both were in the thick of the action from the outset - as Maidenhead dominated - and performed well throughout

Treemendous (#payney) strike from Harry Pritchard - in from the very moment that it left his right (wrong) foot - gave the Magpies a deserved lead; reinforced, before half-time, by Jake Goodman's header

Third just wouldn't come, though, after the break - goal disallowed, penalty saved, shot came back off the bar - and only a great save from Carl Pentney, right at the death, secured the three points; much to the delight of all but 332 of the 2,201 crowd

Old boys Paul McKinnon (Sutton's record goal scorer; seven for Maidenhead in 1995/96) and Vernon Pratt (teammate of McKinnon - and Trevor Roffey - during Sutton's famous FA Cup run in 1988/89; Maidenhead's top scorer - he was a centre half! - in the 1994/95 season) photographed, post-match in Stripes, alongside Craig Dundas (#epicfail from yours truly), Bob Hussey, and Kevin Brown ('Sarge' played with McKinnon and Pratt, under John Watt, at York Road); Macleod (M), though, inadvertently cropped out!

Next stop for me and Macleod (M) was the Barley Mow, where my sister - visiting from Sydney - had been partaking in the pub quiz trivia night with my parents; it seems like only yesterday that my Dad and I were among those sat outside the Barley in August, drowning sorrows after our home defeat to Wrexham, contemplating the prospect of a long, tough season ahead #timeflies

(Match highlights here)


Devonshire '86 and Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid met with Gandermonium in the Euston Flyer, post-match, before ending the night in Smokey's

&

Radioactive Man, in stark contrast, was home in a flash! ;-)

(Match highlights here)

(Scouse Snapper Mick's photos here)


Last time that the final away game of a season came in midweek was at Staines Town in 2010/11; Fancy Dresslemania XI should actually have taken place at Thurrock but, further to the bans which followed events on the opening day, the KSG instead decided to walk to Binfield to support the Reserves (raising money for Parkinson's UK in the process)

Embarrassing for the 'mighty' O's that this fixture hadn't taken place, on Easter Monday, as originally scheduled; one of their fans, who'd labelled us 'tin pot' on social media, in the immediate aftermath of our Good Friday game with Sutton being abandoned at half-time, was very quick to delete his tweet!

Yours truly not one of the countless Magpies - Macleod (M) estimates that there were hundreds - who'd journeyed, fruitlessly, into London on the Bank Holiday (BCA's latest Family Zoo Day, cancelled due to the snow in mid-March, had been re-scheduled for the morning, while my sister was also back from Oz); I wouldn't be at the rearranged game either - 67 Magpies in attendance - due to a pre-booked holiday

Told that it was raining at home, but the weather in Majorca - on Tuesday, at least - was lovely

Our apartment had WiFi and I did consider listening to the game on BBC Radio Berkshire; instead I watched the Spanish TV coverage of Liverpool vs Roma in the Champions League (the commentators clearly very excited by Mohamed Salah; presumably less so re the defending, or lack thereof)

Not overly bothered about missing out on seeing Maidenhead play at Brisbane Road: I've been there several times before to watch other teams - notably Exeter (incl. a Friday night fixture when Willie T and I sat alongside Barry McConnell) and Hull (Third Division play-offs in 2000/01; the same night that Liverpool beat Alaves in the UEFA Cup final) - while the 'novelty' of the Magpies playing at stadiums with more seats than Gandermonium have sticker designs has, TBH, worn a bit thin


Once per season - e.g. Port Vale in the FA Cup, or Grimsby Town in the Trophy - was enough for me: spending >£15 to stand, amongst rows of seating, in an (oft- poorly positioned) Away End, is not really my cup of tea

Ryan Upward with the early winner; controversially sent off late on

Insider at the club had predicted, during Mark Nisbet's pre-season testimonial, that 'some players, who you don't necessarily expect, will make the step'; he specifically mentioned Uppy, and he was proved right

Enjoyable - as always, but particularly so - to read the 'beaten by a pub team' tweets #suckitup

Nice for Carl Pentney to keep a clean sheet on his 150th appearance; it's been reassuring to have him between the sticks, as opposed to some of the clowns that Drax picked (and, as I mentioned on twitter, he's another who has really stepped up this season)

Twelfth - top half - confirmed; ¡Estupendo!

(Match highlights here)



Birthday celebrations for Macleod (C) - 40 isn't old if you're a tree! - meant that we were in the Alan Devonshire Suite for this one; "Doesn't anyone like my melons?" asked Mrs Dev, at one point, as the fruit went largely untouched

Referee was a Mr Bromley but he showed no favouritism in allowing our second goal, from Christian Smith (who would later head the ball - one bounce - over the Canal End, from about a yard!), to stand despite it looking - excellent view from the seats, BTW - very much like their keeper had been fouled; 2-0 up after only five minutes and, thanks to a superb left-footed strike from the impressive Nana Owusu, 3-1 at the break

Our next goal - Sam Barratt's second - came so soon after the restart that the KSG were still finishing half-time pints; not to worry, though, as we saw it on BT Sport only a few moments later! #surreal

Marks, Sean added a fifth (it definitely wasn't an own goal, honest!) before being substituted, to a rousing reception, on what Dev later confirmed was his farewell appearance; as I said to him afterwards, #9 has been an absolutely vital part of our recent success and, although the reasons are completely understandable, it is sad to see him depart … Do you remember the time we saw a goal from Marks?/ Three of them versus Ebbsfleet/ Flying header down at the Bell End/ David Tarpey his best friend/ Never forget his name/ Still love me a goal from Marks

Less said the better re Jake Hyde getting the Goal of the Season nod - and the scaffolding backdrop - but otherwise the End of Season awards were pretty much spot on: typical of Dev - who confirmed to me that he did see himself in the Daily Mail last Monday! - to thank the fans, right and proper that there was public recognition for the efforts of Messrs Pritchard (another, sadly, making his farewell appearance?), Clerima and Massey, while Scouse Snapper Mick getting Clubman of the Year is a redemption story worthy of a Hollywood movie!

Everyone - or so it seemed - headed to Stripes (no Rebellion!) and then to Off The Tap; those present in the latter included the bar staff from the former, plus the man previously known as Landlord Joe (rather apt, as so many Magpies fans in the same pub, post-match on a Saturday, was reminiscent of the Anchor in its pomp)

You may or may not be relieved to learn that, for 2018/19 and beyond, I'll be reverting to a more sporadic approach re the blogging; I'm pleased, though, that this season - another truly remarkable one - has been recorded in such detail … thanks to everyone involved with Maidenhead United, obviously, and to my wife for tolerating the waste of so much time and energy on this self-indulgent waffle!

(Match highlights here)

(FCVideo's excellent season montage here)

< insert video here of Dev dancing > 

PREVIOUS INSTALMENTS:
August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March

Saturday, 31 March 2018

2017/18 Diary ~ March

Gastroenteritis not the best preparation ahead of the weekend … although, thinking about the vomit-inducing hot mess that was to follow, perhaps it was!

Adjectives that could also be used to describe both the Magpies performance AND the constituency of the latest MP to post an hilarious tweet about 'getting one over' the Prime Minister:

Tragic

Embarrassing

Shit

Hellish

Execrable

Atrocious

Dreadful

(Match highlights here)

Back when this fixture was (re)scheduled to take place in late February, on the Tuesday after the Macclesfield game, I had agreed to drive

Our six-hour (or thereabouts) train journey on Sunday - it took almost as long to get from King's Cross to Maidenhead, as it did to get from Newcastle to King's Cross; thanks to a points failure (or summat) at Slough - gave me time to reflect, though, on some of my recent life choices

Rather sit at home and catch up with Shetland on BBC iPlayer, before settling down with a mug of Ovaltine to finish reading The Man With The Golden Gun, than travelling to Meadow Park (or even listening to the match commentary)

Every other online list that I've seen ranks either Moonraker or Casino Royale as the best James Bond novel, yet I was left disappointed by them - the first two (by Ian Fleming) that I'd read - possibly because the unsavoury elements of Fleming's writing (e.g. casual racism, misogyny) came as such a shock

However, I was pleasantly surprised by both You Only Live Twice and the aforementioned TMWTGG; lower expectations, perhaps?

Anyway, as much as the recent Tyneside humiliation has put me off football, for the moment, s'pose I'd better write something on topic …

Maidenhead's starting line-up looked stronger: Rene Steer recovered from concussion, Harold Odametey and Harry Pritchard returned to their respective wing positions (please don't play them anywhere else, Dev, unless you absolutely have to), and James Comley back from his latest 'rest'

When it became apparent that Comley was missing - again - on Saturday, I'd feared the worst (not a 7-1 tonking, like, but still); there have been long-standing rumours that the ex-St Albans City man and the gaffer don't see eye-to-eye … if that is accurate then replacing the former's creativity, in the middle of the park, should be a high priority this summer

One-nil down to an early Morgan Ferrier goal; didn't bode well

One-all, though, the final score; Moses Emmanuel equalised on the half hour mark and, by all accounts, we were the better side after the break

Draw was a decent result (for the likes of Wrexham, as well as for us) … as Dennis Greene - not very popular, apparently, with the Boston United fans that Keith had met on his way to Gateshead - once said: "There's nothing better than a point on the road"

(Match highlights here)

Back when the Anchor was the place to drink, before and after games at the Mecca of Football, opposite, there was a rather impressive - if I say so myself - scarf mural (mentioned briefly in this blog post); the Bluebirds were, for a long time (if not full stop?), the only away fans to contribute

A 1-0 midweek win at York Road, in the Second Round of the 2009/10 FA Trophy, formed part of their run to the final at Wembley, where Stevenage Borough were defeated by the odd goal in three

Revenge came in the form of our own away win (2-0), also in the Second Round of the FA Trophy, in 2013/14 #barrowtwelve

Rugby - final round of Six Nations matches - on the TV, whilst minding the little one, for me on Saturday; once again I gave the BBC Radio Berkshire commentary a swerve, although this was certainly not an indictment of the work Adam Whitty et al have been doing

Our lowest National League attendance to date at York Road - 1,030; more than double our season-high league attendance from as recently as 2013/14 - witness to a 1-0 defeat vs the relegation-threatened visitors (who were reduced to ten men, thanks to a second yellow card for ex-Sutton midfielder Bedsenté Gomis); still a case, therefore, of 'so near but yet so far' re Dev's safety target of 50 points

Whilst I won't be going to nearly as many games next season, Fancy Dresslemania XIX remains firmly on my radar ... and I don't have any desire for that to take place at Holker Street (sorry, Barrow fans); I'd much rather Torquay survived but, despite our best efforts to make that happen (with 80% of league games played, we account for 18% of their goals and 20% of their points!), it doesn't look likely

(Match highlights here)

Eight years, this August, since the Macleods and I were ejected from our opening day win at Stonebridge Road on trumped-up charges of 'foul and abusive language' and 'threatening behaviour' 'making children cry'

Bans that subsequently followed, as unjust as they were, probably a good thing in the long run: there are better ways to spend Saturday afternoons than routinely following a football club around the country as the fixture list dictates

Beating Nathan Ashmore, Anthony Cook, Danny Kedwell et al 3-2 away was one of the most satisfying results of our Conference South title-winning season, according to Macleod (M), but I don't regret missing that game; I have no desire to return to the Kuflink Stadium (as it's currently known) … which, thinking about it, would be somewhat problematic if we were ever scheduled to play there on the last away day of a season!

Stroll to the Shire Horse for lunch (cod goujons, i.e. fish finger, sandwich and a pint of Rebellion's Relativity; both decent) after an unwanted doorstep confab earlier in the day: I'd stepped out onto a (shockingly) cold and wet driveway - wearing just my boxers and a dressing gown - to dispose of a nappy in the bin, and was greeted by a Jehovah's Witness (next weekend is, apparently, 'the annual celebration of Jesus Christ's death')

Flapjacks and a flare: I was helping to make the former, as the Youth (presumably) celebrated Harry Pritchard's 81st-minute equaliser by letting off the latter (it seems that we played well and fully deserved a point, which I'd have happily taken pre-match)

Limping towards our long-held safety target, though, in rather agonising fashion; simply staying in this (tough) division will, of course, be a terrific achievement, but after some notable scalps earlier in the campaign, it's a bit of a shame to see our form tail off as it has done of late (Ebbsfleet came into this match atop the four-game form table, whilst we were bottom) … hopefully we can kick on again, once we've finally broken through the psychological barrier (?) of 50 points

Envious of our friends at Wealdstone, who had a big Semi-Final second leg (which, sadly, they lost); this felt like our year in the Trophy and getting knocked out at Stockport, after dominating the first game and then leading 2-0 in the replay, is a black mark against 2017/18

Excuses are not, thankfully, Dev's style; it was absolutely the correct decision to keep faith with the players who won us the title - I have previously criticised Drax for needlessly breaking up our Southern League promotion-winning team - but I think he'll appreciate that next season could be a slog if the squad isn't strengthened in the summer (Nb. James Comley was conspicuous by his absence vs Ebbsfleet; it seems that he went off injured the previous weekend.)

Two million pounds (GBP) is what Ebbsfleet lost - not spent, LOST - finishing second to Maidenhead United last season! Time to share this video again (Is there a longer version? I seem to remember seeing a longer version, in the immediate aftermath of Margate.)

(Match highlights here)

Second time this season that I've missed a match-up with Paul 'tell Superman to shut up!' Doswell's charges: I was in Rye, East Sussex, for our 2-0 away win in September, and at the in-laws for Good Friday

Understand that our friends at Gandermonium have press accreditation for this summer's ConIFA World Cup, so perhaps I'll catch up with them then … although the most obvious fixture - Panjab vs Western Armenia, at Slough Town, on a Saturday in early June - coincides with my Dad's birthday! #jinxed

Truly remarkable that the U's - familiar Isthmian League opponents of ours over the years - hosted Leeds United and Arsenal in the FA Cup last season, and are now on the cusp of promotion to the Football League; it was only ten years ago that they finished rock bottom of the Conference South table with a measly 24 points (a 1-1 draw with them at York Road, over the 2007 festive period, had prompted the first calls - that I remember - for Drax to be sacked)

Torquay not segregated but Sutton was?! Probably a decision made by Thames Valley Police after taking one look at the league table and factoring in the Bank Holiday (allowing them to stand around, picking their noses in the buffer zone, on double pay or whatever) ... although at least a celebrity fan was afforded suitable protection from the travelling horde

On/ off commentary from @SUFCTV (presumably the monsoon conditions played havoc with their equipment): I only heard three goals described live and so, as far as I'm concerned, we won the first half 2-1 (Pritchard, Hyde; Walton)

Not a good day for Sutton: our match abandoned at the break (seemingly the correct decision; more questionable was starting the game in the first place) - with little or no sympathy from the hosts - and then Macclesfield winning at Woking with the very last kick (the former have a knack for late goals and appear destined to go up as champions)

(Match highlights here)

PREVIOUS INSTALMENTS: 
August, September, October, November, December, January, February

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

2017/18 Diary ~ February


Scarf My Father Wore - County's adopted anthem - is, according to Tim Marshall's excellent "Dirty Northern Bastards!" And Other Tales from the Terraces: The Story of Britain's Football Chants, as good it gets re songs at football; I was pleased to hear it live … although it can go on a bit!

The Maidenhead equivalent, of course, is Soggy Sombrero; the original instigator of said ditty - the legendary Brian McK - entered the Maiden's Head, pre-match, just as we were leaving

Orient getting all of the Bell End in August pissed me off, as my York Road match day experience is negatively affected by not being able to stand behind both goals; imagine my reaction to turning up on Saturday and seeing that segregation pens have been installed on the 'Maidenhead Kop' (the turd-coloured paint job does, I think, give some indication as to the level of thought from those responsible)

Canal End: plans for turnstiles down there - work had belatedly started last summer - appear to be in tatters (a breezeblock wall has been demolished, replaced by a chain link fence that extends towards York Road), hence the aforementioned ruination of the Bell End :-(

Keeper Ben Hinchliffe was in the thick of the action throughout: expertly stopping a fierce drive from James Comley - after the Hatters had taken an early, and not undeserved, lead - then smiling ear-to-ear at the away fans (noticeably fewer than the other ex-Football League sides that we've hosted this season), who were literally wiping brows and puffing out cheeks, after the 'Marlow in the black' had booked Comley for an alleged dive (stonewall penalty not given, IMO; other decent shouts were also waved away)

Piss poor performance from the official summed up still further when he clearly went to book our Man of the Match, Ryan Upward, for over celebrating his equaliser - Les described my reaction to the goal as 'rolling back the years' #scenes - only to realise that it would've been the midfielder's second yellow of the game, and so sheepishly returned the card to his pocket

On an increasingly wet and muddy pitch - one that certainly wasn't conducive to easy-on-the-eye football - Maidenhead cranked up the pressure; Stockport defended valiantly, though, while the ball just didn't seem to want to fall for us in their box … and when it did …

Ryan Upward - that man again - was denied by another top drawer Hinchliffe save; a near relentless barrage of corners followed, as full-time approached, but the final whistle sounded seconds BEFORE an effort from substitute Adrian Clifton nestled in the onion bag

Tuesday night replay it is then; uncertain, at the time of writing, whether I'll be able to join Macleod (M) and his other passengers for the car journey up north …

(Match highlights here)

Snow was forecast but the game went ahead; however, I wasn't among the travelling support - 21 diehards in total - due to babysitting duty

Team sheet didn't fill me with much confidence: Remy Clerima out (injured?), Harry Pritchard and Sean Marks only on the bench

0-0 at the break was a minor miracle: both Craig and Macleod (M) were far from complimentary about our first half display

Cue a half-time rocket from Dev, presumably, and two quick-fire goals (from Jake Hyde and Sam Barratt)

Kiss of death, texting 'Wem-ber-ley! Wem-ber-ley!' to Craig and the Macleods? Yep.

Pegged back to 2-1 by Darren Stephenson - impressive in the first game; this one as well, by all accounts - before County equalised, via a deflection (again; their opening goal at York Road had also been inadvertently diverted past Carl Pentney), in the 90th minute

Ouch! 3-2 AET, with a strong suspicion of handball re their winner; "Two-nil and you fucked it up" :-(

Rather like our disappointing FA Cup exit at Coventry in November, the only silver lining is that an eagerly anticipated league game - Macclesfield away on 24th February - can now go ahead as originally scheduled

Tough result to take, though, no two ways about it; almost glad that I wasn't there. (Almost.)

(Match highlights here)

Tottenham vs Arsenal on BT Sport; Maidenhead could really do with another striker but even the Magpies would likely turn their noses up at Alexandre Lacazette, judging by his finishing - or lack of - at Wembley

Oval ball action, i.e. Ireland vs Italy in the Six Nations on ITV? I watched less than ten minutes before bolting to the kitchen to make cupcakes with Junior (whilst listening to BBC Radio Berkshire, obvs.)

Rather worrying to read Dev's pre-match comments about the state of the squad, post-Stockport; learning that Alan Massey was also suspended for two games only made things worse

Quite a din from the travelling support - who numbered anywhere between 200 and 400, depending on your source - even before they'd taken a first half lead (great strike by Colchester loanee Aaron Barnes, brilliantly captured by Scouse Snapper Mick)

Upward, Ryan with a superb equaliser, direct from a free kick; goals and Magpie of the Match displays on consecutive Saturdays from the former Flackwell Heath, Beaconsfield SYCOB and Burnham midfielder, who seems increasingly comfortable at this level

ANOTHER fluky, deflected goal against (late winner); very frustrating

York Road stewards would struggle to organise the proverbial piss up in a brewery, so it was a baffling decision - by the similarly incompetent Thames Valley Police? - not to segregate; disappointing, but certainly not surprising, to read reports of fisticuffs between small groups of 'supporters' #familyclub

(Match highlights here)

Gone are the days when I'd religiously attend Maidenhead United games - week in, week out, without question - but I genuinely can't think of any that I was absolutely gutted to be missing … until this month when, it transpired, two came along like London buses: the replay at Stockport and our - quite possibly one and only - visit to Nethermoor Park

Unfortunate timing for me, as this fixture - the first of three 'big' away games (the others being Macclesfield and Gateshead) in the space of four weeks - coincided with a trip to the in-law's to celebrate my wife's birthday

I chatted with my neighbour - Truronian, octogenarian, and Magpies Season Ticket holder - whilst loading the car on Friday morning; "Guiseley have lost their last six … so they'll probably beat us!" he quipped

Strange coincidence that Paul Cox was sacked as Lions boss in the week: the second time this season that he's been relieved of managerial duties ahead of a game with us!

Earthquake, shortly before kick-off and registering 4.4 on the Richter scale, should've been - but wasn't! - felt by us in Monmouth: approximately 50 miles from the epicentre and home, it would seem, to a British Geological Survey real-time seismogram monitoring station!

Less said the better re our defending, as the home side opened the scoring through ex-Wanky Wanderers striker Dayle Southwell, but Maidenhead were ahead at the break, and Harry Pritchard - with his second (Jake Hyde got the equaliser) - extended the lead soon after the restart

Easy enough win, by all accounts, and we're now slap bang mid-table (P11 D11 L11 F46 A46); happy days

You'll struggle to find a Magpies fan, BTW, who won't wish James Mulley all the very best - even at Humpton - following his recent move; he'll always have a prominent place in Maidenhead United folklore, thanks to that goal - and THAT celebration - at Port Vale in the FA Cup #pandemonium


Evening games at York Road are often magical: even the most mundane league encounter can feature memorable 'I was there' moments (e.g. Louis Wells' comical flap leading directly to Lord Jamal of Fyfield's solitary home goal, a thirty-yard wonder strike three-yard tap-in winner vs Staines [Att. 271] in April 2010; Rocky Baptiste's hilarious free kick vs soon to be defunct Thurrock [Att. 186] in March 2009)

As such, there was no way I was staying at home to watch Chelsea vs Barcelona on TV (sentiment seemingly shared by 1,054 others)

Strong start from the home side, as strong winds swirled around the oldest senior football ground in the world continually used by the same club™; James Comley was pulling the strings, despite Eastleigh's best efforts to kick him off the park

Thirty-six (or thereabouts) was Moses Emmanuel's first half offside count but, on one of the few occasions that the flag stayed down, the former Spitfires striker latched onto Sean Marks' flick and curled a shot past Graham 'Arsenal Invincible' Stack; a great finish, if it wasn't miss hit/ deflected (the flight of the conchords ball was rather odd)

Late arrival from Macleod (M) - owing to football practice with the Nomads - and no sooner had he taken his place on the Bell End, just before half-time, than Eastleigh were awarded a (dodgy) penalty; big centre half Ayo Obileye duly dispatched the spot kick, as he had done in the corresponding fixture

Excellent run and cross from Harold Odametey, after the break, allowing Marks to restore our lead (#9 burying the ball at the third attempt); Sauce was Man of the Match and had their left back - Sam Wood - on toast in the second half … so much so that the ex-Wanky Wanderers defender was later hauled off!

I fully expected the referee to blow for a foul on Stack, as Harry Pritchard's corner sailed over the keeper's head and into the net, but he didn't! (Chris 'knee high to the first defender' Ferdinand would surely disapprove)

Golden Earring - of Radar Love fame - cropped up in conversation on the Canal End, sparking a roll call of other Dutch bands, as the Magpies sauntered to a richly-deserved victory; now just seven points off the play-offs!

Hard away games coming up, though: league leaders Macclesfield on Saturday - fresh from a remarkable 4-1 win at Tranmere followed by fourth-placed (at time of writing) Boreham Wood on Tuesday (Nb. currently the top two sides in both the four-game and ten-game form tables)


Macleod (M) and I were approached at the station, whilst waiting with TWS and Shay for the 08:52 to Reading, and are now informants for the British Transport Police; the karmic payback for this was our train going backwards - literally - from Birmingham New Street

Another delayed journey on Branson's sorry excuse for a rail franchise only made bearable by entertaining conversation with the young lady sat opposite me, a 25-year-old peroxide blonde Care Worker from Coventry with face-piercings and more tattoos than the average 'baller; she was going to Stoke, to visit her soldier boyfriend, and so we tasked her with photographing a pint of Titanic Brewery ale (she'd only managed some shop-bought bottles, as of Saturday night, although these did include a Plum Porter)

Craig was originally due to be coming with us - indeed, he'd actually bought the tickets, on the train journey to Hartlepool the week before Christmas - but would instead be attending the launch of Tracey Thorn's new Record; still, he had been kind enough to provide us with some recommendations via the Good Pub Guide app

Circular (kind of) walk - 3.3 miles in length and featuring six pubs, Moss Rose (obvs.), plus a stop at the Aldi near the station - was planned, and highly anticipated, but put under some pressure by our tardy arrival

List of pre-match boozers: the Treacle Tap (we'd almost persuaded the aforementioned Care Worker to ditch her beau and join us here, so good did it sound; and it didn't disappoint), RedWillow (beer menu as extensive as the copper pipework in this stylish bar which, while perhaps a bit too swanky for a football away day with the LADZZZ, seemed fairly typical of Macclesfield: 'an upmarket Halifax'), and the Park Tavern (meh; more of a restaurant than a pub)

Lovely stroll, through South Park, to the ground; visual highlights included a Yates' Wine Lodge sign on the side of someone's house (coincidence that there were Liverpool FC flags flying from the caravan in the garden? I think not! #stuffwevescoused) and two massive (Moldavian?) military vehicles parked on a residential street

Ex-Football League club in delusions of grandeur shock! We were initially turned away from the away fans turnstiles, and directed to the away fans ticket office, then weren't allowed on the sun-baked terrace behind the goal

Square pegs, round holes line-up - again - from the Magpies, with James Comley rested and Harold Odametey absent due to personal reasons; losing both Rene Steer and then the in-form Harry Pritchard to injury, before the start of the second half, certainly didn't help matters

Food was substandard: my Steak & Kidney pie wasn't too bad, but was overpriced, while others reckoned that the Meat & Potato ones would've been perfectly suitable for vegetarian consumption

I said "this'll finish one-nil" - we'd defended well, particularly Jake Goodman (justified winner of our Man of the Match poll), but lacked creativity in the final third - and so it proved; disappointing to lose to such a late goal - Dev was FUMING - but they (just about) deserved it … the sort of result on which title wins are forged

England were losing in the Six Nations as we entered the Macc, which was much better than I'd expected judging by its dilapidated industrial estate surroundings (any pub that covers its toilet walls with vintage copies of Viz gets a thumbs up from me); the chippy opposite was doing a roaring trade, so much so that we had second thoughts about joining the lengthy queue and instead made our way to the Wharf (not bad, but not Cheshire Pub of the Year -worthy either, IMO)

Last watering hole, before our supermarket sweep, was the pump-clip-tastic Waters Green Tavern; I enjoyed (1.) a swift pint of Banquo and (2.) correctly pointing out to the resident barflies the Shakespeare play in which said character - and his ghost - appears

Diane from Donny -equivalent conspicuous by her absence, as feared, on the return train journey; there's a noticeable difference, I think, in the clientele on Saturday evening trains going to London through the East Midlands vs those heading towards Reading via the West Midlands (e.g. one of the football fans who took it upon himself to sit with us on Saturday - a bald Aston Villa supporter with a hipster beard, who'd apparently spent the day boozing in Leamington Spa - had something resembling a swastika tattooed on his ring finger)

(Match highlights here)

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