"As for Maidenhead, the conga (which was amusing) aside, quite a strange bunch really – some the oddest chants I've ever heard at a football match" ~ localboy86, Amber Planet forum, 26th April 2015

Monday 4 October 2010

An Introduction


On the opening day of this season, I was the first of three Maidenhead United fans ejected before half time of our game at Ebbsfleet United; we were subsequently banned from attending matches at York Road, pending an investigation. Although we strenuously deny any wrong-doing and have nothing to hide in regards to what did (or, more accurately, didn't) happen at Stonebridge Road, I don't wish to dwell on the incident(s) because much has already been written about it/ them (by me, if not by EUFC; I sent a three-page letter to our Chairman defending myself against what, it transpired, was a vague and inaccurate, one sentence, two-line 'report' from an Ebbsfleet steward scrawled, one imagines, on the back of a Mars bar wrapper).

Since receiving notification of the MUFC Ltd Board's subsequent decision on the bans (as predicted, two of us were allowed back but warned that "bad behaviour will not be tolerated" yada yada yada - obviously the aforementioned three-page letter protesting, in detail, our innocence was a waste of time - while the other member of the 'Ebbsfleet 3' had his ban extended until the end of the season due to previous misdemeanors) the club forum was unexpectedly removed by it's host, the local newspaper, apparently on advice from their lawyers (advice not relating to a specific incident or comment, as far as I understand). 

While the forum - to which I was the leading contributor, in terms of the number (if not necessarily the quality!) of posts - had become increasingly moribund of late, a number of interesting and significant debates had taken place on there over the years (I think the site had been active since early 2005); I, for one, lament it's passing and think it a real shame that all of the posts have now, seemingly, been lost.

These two occurrences - being banned from matches at York Road and the long-standing forum being removed (replaced by an overly-simplistic one on the Official club site with arbitrary requests such as 'please do not make offensive posts that could bring the club into disrepute') - have spurred me into starting this blog ... 

A blog where, if I don't always conform to the 'we've never had it so good' mantra, I won't be labelled as 'a bigot', or anti- this person or anti- that person.

A blog where my posts won't be removed or edited without justification or explanation by the club's self-styled Spin Doctor (a Club Director; conflict of interest, what conflict of interest?!) or pushed down the page by other threads, such as those started by the Club-man of the Year (Yes-man of the Year, more like) concerning his leaflet distribution plans to publicise upcoming games, or moans that the local newspaper didn't do enough to publicise the recent Family Fun Day featuring a bouncy castle, face painting and a performance from X-Factor 'finalist' James Hooke (Who?! Jerry the Berry would've been a better bet!).

A blog that appreciates football - or, more specifically, days out at football - aren't just about the 90 minutes of often sub-standard, yawn-inducing on-pitch action and the subsequent result, but also the beers and pubs enjoyed en route to the ground; the ground itself; the banter between supporters etc., etc.

Don't panic!

Not all of the matches I plan to attend and report back on will involve Maidenhead United (certainly not this season, anyway, owing to the aforementioned bans); even last season we were 'branching out' and attending other non-league games, rather than experiencing yet another dead rubber Conference South fixture at a ground that we would have already been to on countless occasions. A prime example of this being when, rather than watch MUFC play Eastleigh (and lose 3-0, as it happens), we went to watch Plymouth Parkway at Chertsey Town in the FA Vase.

Parkway are the current club of Jim 'El Presidente' Parsons; former Chairman of Maidenhead United and current York Road trustee. MUFC played at Parkway in a pre-season friendly in the summer of 2007; a few of us stayed over in Plymouth and enjoyed a truly legendary night out. The chance to meet again with characters such as potty-mouthed octogenarian Charlie 'Fucker' Baggott (pictured below, with a rather anemic-looking Coolio?!) was too good to miss. Unfortunately, Parkway were outclassed and well-beaten on the day. That didn't stop us enjoying ourselves, though, bantering throughout with the vocal, if shrill, Chertsey Town U14s - resplendent in club tracksuits - who had turned out to cheer on their team (or wind up the opposition fans, I don't think that they minded either way).

A few weeks after the match, one of us received an email from a mutual friend who asked whether we had been at the Chertsey-Parkway game. After confirming that yes, we had, he was asked how he knew/ suspected that we were there. His reply included a scan, saved as a pdf attachment, of a short report from a ground-hopper publication (called Non League Digest, I think) written by a regular contributor who had also attended the game. The report (below) details our banter with the Chertsey Youth and ends with the line 'I left disappointed with the football but still smiling at the repartee' ...

The repartee that the author mentions would, of course, be frowned upon by over-sensitive, hypocritical and ignorant Ebbsfleet fans; over-zealous Ebbsfleet stewards; self-interested MUFC Ltd Directors; sycophantic, socially inept Supporters Association committee members with personal agendas. Hey ho. Let the powers that be (both real and imagined) at York Road have their 'family club' (albeit a 'family club' sponsored by the town's lap-dancing establishment!); one that has zero tolerance of bad behaviour ... except when it is our manager getting sent off for swearing at a Match Official, except when it is our Player-Coach getting sent off for spitting in an opponent's face, except when it is Newport County fans invading the York Road pitch, except when it is a Merthyr Tydfil thug brazenly punching a home supporter in the York Road clubhouse etc., etc. 

Howay the Bay & upcoming plans

At the Chertsey-Parkway game we met, both in the pub before/ after the game and at the ground, a Whitley Bay supporter called Mark who lives in Northwood, Middlesex. He was at the match in anticipation that his team would play away to the winner in the next round. As aforementioned, we had enjoyed our visit (despite 'our team' having been thumped) and he seemed to be on our wavelength: attending a match between two teams that he didn't support, with beer-in-hand. So we agreed to meet with 'Northwood Mark' again in the same pub prior to the next round.

Whitley Bay eventually defeated Chertsey, after a replay, and made it all the way to the Final. We were there as they defeated Wroxham 6-1 at Wembley and were photographed with Bay manager Ian Chandler (seen below, chatting with Northwood Mark) and the Vase trophy itself, in a local pub, after the game (I can't remember the last time that the Maidenhead manager even spoke to us after a match, let alone when we were ever photographed with him; he's far too professional, you see). Northwood Mark would also join us at a Maidenhead home game (as we clashed - some of us literally - with Chelmsford City) before the season was out.

I would hope that our upcoming travels will include another Whitley Bay game or two, and more meetings with Northwood Mark; particularly if the Bay once again do well in the Vase (we were actually witnesses to the Miss Whitley Bay G-String 2000 competition nearly a decade ago, but that's another story!). Visits to Germany (Hamburg and Köln); Berwick (Rangers versus the Shire); Hampton, Dartford and Lewes (all versus Maidenhead United); Cheltenham (Saracens Reserves versus Maidenhead United Reserves) and Worcester (City versus Blyth Spartans) are also penciled in, as well as others.

First up, though, is a visit to Cinderford Town in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round this weekend. Several of us - delighted with the draw producing MUFC an away tie at a place we're never been to and therefore tempted out of the pub/ Homebase/ garden/ bed (with enthusiasm that James Hooke or that bouncy castle could never, ever generate) - will be on the 10:04 train from Maidenhead to Gloucester and then the 13:10 No 31 bus from Gloucester to Coleford. Maidenhead should win (emphasis on the word 'should'; despite Johnson Hippolyte's reputation for FA Cup magic, we've been knocked out by teams from lower divisions in each of the last three seasons). Regardless, I'll enjoy a train journey, a drink, a sing-song and a visit to a lovely part of the world with like-minded friends. Can't wait! It could well be another case of 'letter in the post', though, one suspects ... 


A quick explanation about where the blog title comes from: one of the final posts on the old MUFC forum, before it was pulled, included a link to an article on a W@nky Wanderers FC website which resonated with me when I read it and contained, in it's final paragraph, the summary that one should 'Go Mad or Stop Caring'. I thought it sounded rather apt.

No comments:

Post a Comment