"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 28 March 2011

Bullsh!t-o-meter at York Road about to explode

A little over a month ago I wrote on this blog that I was going to "refrain from posting what Stevie G calls 'emotive polemics based on half truth and rumours' on the MUFC Ltd forum ... and will try to bite my tongue, as it were, if/when Drax continues his 'Taylor-isms' in the Advertiser"

However, following the Advertiser's double-page "Magpies' in Crisis" feature which, last week, left even the normally hyper-opinionated Chris Raine lost for words, I've had a couple of emailed requests to offer my take on some of the quotes attributed to the Manager and the Chairman. 

Rude not to, really. I mean, it's not everyday that news of Maidenhead RFC's promotion campaign is pushed off the back page! Instead, under a headline asking "Where did it all go wrong", there was a graph which clearly illustrated the 'stark reality' of the club's 'fall from grace' - 

Last league win at York Road? Monday 30th August 2010. 

Last league win full stop? Tuesday 30th December 2010. 

Just the 15 league games, then, without a win! 

"Drax: Quitting has never been an option" was the headline of the article that gave us the manager's take on things. 

TBF, I wouldn't consider quitting either ... if I had another year to run on my contract! 

"Sometimes supporters are too quick to blame managers and their management teams. Sometimes they should take a look at some of the players" 

Umm ... who signed virtually all of the players? And who picks them?

"I haven't questioned myself at all"

Maybe you should.

"I know after doing it for so many years, that what we're doing is right"

The league table would suggest otherwise.

"It's what we've always done and it's worked, so we will keep doing it this way"

The art of life is a constant re-adjustment to our surroundings ~ Okakura Kakuzō

"We need the supporters to get behind us ... Most of them have been fantastic"


"It's not going to help anybody at the club if the supporters turn on the management and the players at this stage"

Have any of the supporters, at games, actually turned on the management and/or the players? A bit rich, anyway, coming from the manager who - in the very same article - states that 'sometimes supporters should take a look at some of the players'

"I'm lucky that my Chairman knows his football"

A statement proven by what, exactly?

"He's seen the games and knows we've tried hard ... "

The Youth team would've tried hard; why don't we just play them?

" ... and how unlucky we've been"

15 league games without a win transcends bad luck, surely?

"Last time Maidenhead went down they were losing 5-0 each week, but that hasn't happened this season"

Not true. Obviously not true (and so what if it were true?). Our overall record in the 2005/06 season was actually as follows -

P 42 W 8 D 9 L 25 F 49 A 99 PTS 31 (with two points deducted for a signing irregularity on Dennis Greene's watch)

At no stage during that season did we go 15 league games without a win. At no stage did we get close to equalling club records for the number of the league games without a win (17 in the 1988/9 season) or the number of consecutive league defeats (we've currently lost nine in a row; the record is 11 in 1951/2 and 1976/7).

Speaking to the Advertiser this week, (Peter) Griffin insists Hippolyte will be the man in charge next season, whatever league the Magpies find themselves in.

"We have only ever made one managerial appointment since we took over five years ago and that's Drax"

Hmmm ... correct, of course. Technically. 

Carl Taylor was in charge when Pharmalink took control of the club and I'm pretty sure he was out of contract when the aforementioned disastrous season ended in relegation. Many, including myself, thought he should've been replaced then. Without question. Instead, he was kept on. In fact, Carl told me that he was offered a contract, which he didn't sign. He was then sacked by the end of August after a 5-0 home defeat by Clevedon Town.

Furthermore, while not a managerial appointment, the football club made a 'regal' appointment in 2008 when unveiling His Royal Highness Prince Frederick von Saxe-Lauenberg as the club's patron. As we now know, for 'His Royal Highness Prince Frederick von Saxe-Lauenberg', read Sid Halpern of Withington, Manchester.

Not exactly a spotless record, then, when it comes to hiring and firing; which is why I think it's a case of 'be careful what you wish for' when it comes to those supporters who would advocate replacing Drax. As it is, I'm sure most realise that now is certainly not the right time.

"Regardless of what happens he has brought a sense of professionalism to the club which is second to none"

What does that statement actually mean, in real terms, aside from the players giving each other post-match marks out of ten and supporters not being allowed on the team coach?

"You only have to look at the big clubs in the division above us, and the wage bills they have, to know it's a tough level of football"

I assume this should read 'the big clubs above us in the division' (as the division above us is completely irrelevant, is it not?). If so, the clubs immediately above us are Lewes, Thurrock, Bishop's Stortford, Dorchester Town, Hampton & Richmond Borough and Boreham Wood. Hardly giants of the non league game!

As for their wage bills; how do we know what they are? Guesswork, probably. The very same guesswork which leads me to believe that the likes of Steve Williams, Ashley Nicholls, Will Hendry, Sam Collins and Jefferson Louis must be getting a fair wedge to turn out for us.

"I won't have anything to do with people who only look to the short-term, who are reactionary and just get rid managers when times are tough"

What about people who look to the long-term and, as such, expressed surprise when a non league football club - with average gates of just over 300 - decided it was a good idea to hand their manager a multi-year contract extension?

"That's not what we are about. It's not about contracts, or anything like that"

Who said anything about contracts?! ;-)

"He's the best man for the job, working with the budgetary constraints we have"

Ah yes, budgetary constraints. This leads me to the article on the adjourning page; entitled "Drax: We'll keep fighting" - 

"We will go there (Braintree) and give it a real go...Hopefully this time we can get the rub of the green, which is not something that has happened this season"

"Farnborough...are a team with a big budget"

"Chelmsford are another good team with a big budget"

Despite not having the biggest of budgets, Hippolyte is still looking to bring in some new recruits ahead of the transfer deadline next Thursday.

"There are three or four who I think would strengthen the team but it's difficult to get them when you don't have the financial muscle of the other clubs"

Just a moan about injuries and referees away from the complete set of excuses!

And how does bringing in three or four new players tie-in, I wonder, with 'budgetary constraints'?

Still, we mustn't be too downhearted. The Chairman isn't. This view was made clear under the headline "Optimistic Griffin enjoying cut and thrust of the fight" -

Peter Griffin, Maidenhead United's Chairman, is refusing to be dragged into the mire of pessimism which many think surrounds York Road.

"I'm not downcast about what's happening"

"I'm enjoying the fight"

"If we can get ourselves out of this situation there will be a real sense of achievement"

Seriously? Hahaha!

"It's not a disaster if we go down"

I actually agree with this.

"It would be terrible, but not a disaster"


Things took a turn for the worse at the weekend as well and not just because we lost at Braintree. One of the potential signings Drax was talking about obviously turned out to be Anthony Thomas; on loan from Farnborough for the rest of the season and a goal scorer on his debut as we went down 3-1 at Cressing Road.

How a 'family club' that bans it's own supporters - on the say-so of an illiterate steward - for allegedly 'attempting to bring alcohol into the ground' and 'foul and abusive language' can then pay someone to wear the shirt who has convictions for animal cruelty (over a three month period) and affray is beyond me.


Anyway, what is the answer to the Advertiser's back-page question; where DID it all go wrong? Generally speaking - remember, the Chairman won't have anything to do with people who look to the short-term - Drax's promotion side was needlessly dismantled and we've never been the same since the pathetic FA Cup capitulation at Horsham. The two-year contract extension handed to the manager, meanwhile, was IMO always going to promote complacency as much as stability. With specific regard to this season, at least one York Road regular has told me that team spirit seemed to disappear as soon as (the half-fit) Akurang and Hendry signed (the timing of which - just after we'd exited both major Cup competitions - seemed strange in itself). Furthermore, if you have little in the way of quality strikers, then why not play one upfront and pack the midfield? Speaking of strikers, KSA might not have been everyone's cup of tea, but the fact remains that he is our top goalscorer this season. Should he really have been one of the first shown to the exit door?

I'm also gonna mention at this point the fact that, since one of our most vocal supporters was banned for the season at the beginning of September, we haven't won a league game at home and have won just twice in the league full stop. We went to see East Stirlingshire (who know a thing or two about losing!) play at Berwick Rangers last weekend (photos already on the GMOSC Facebook group and an 'Away Day Diary' to follow, on here, as and when I get the chance) and their Macleod (M) equivalent - who was the spitting image of David Sweeney - kept shouting "Nae sing, nae win" at the relatively decent amount of travelling support; urging them to make some noise (they didn't need much encouragement, TBF!). Now, a certain other MUFC Ltd blog will tell you that the vocal support for the Magpies this season has been good. Perhaps it has, although that blog is written by a self-styled spin doctor who seemingly cannot describe a Magpies defeat without using the words 'admirable' and 'hard-working'. Pinch of salt, then.

"Nae sing, nae win" eh?

You must know where I'm going with this by now ... yes, that's right, I blame Murdo!

Wednesday 2 March 2011

KSA gone

Kieron Lloyd J. Minto St Aimie. What a name! What a player? No. Not yet. Possibly not ever.

I first saw KSA in a Maidenhead United shirt during a pre-season friendly at Holyport in July 2009. A quick Google search, when I got back from the game, indicated that he had started out as a highly-rated youngster at QPR (apparently scoring a wonder goal on debut, in a high-profile friendly with Celtic) before embarking on short and largely unproductive spells at Oxford United (loan), Barnet, Grays Athletic (loan), Stevenage Borough (loan), Lewes (loan), Thurrock and Hitchin Town. Prior to joining the Magpies, the club he'd made the most appearances for was Barnet (13 games, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia).

While he didn't really stand out against Holyport (unlike Dereck Brown's son, Daniel, for example) he was signed by Drax and featured regularly throughout last season (sometimes out wide, or in central midfield, but often upfront), chipping in with some valuable goals. He was, though, a frustrating player. Despite having seemingly all the desired attributes (tall, quick, decent touch etc.), he often appeared lazy - as if going through the motions - and lacked a killer instinct. I vividly recall the match-up at Woking in September 2009 where, in front of a 1400-plus crowd, he clearly had the beating of Cards centre half and captain Tom Hutchinson, but never took the game by the scruff of the neck, with his final ball/ shot seldom hitting the mark.

Obviously I haven't seen much of him this season, but I have read and heard that the 'flatter-to-deceive' performances have continued. Still, it was something of a surprise to learn today that he has been released by the club. It was clear to me, at least, prior to the season that we were going to struggle for goals and, with Cliff Akurang recently having departed for table-topping Braintree Town, Sam Collins lacking fitness and form and so loaned to Hornchurch, the ill-disciplined and raw Alex Wall about to begin another suspension, and the hardly-prolific-at-the-best-of-times Kieran Knight getting (presumably) ever slower, I'm not sure that the shipping out of KSA is going to help matters. I suppose his departure frees up a bit of the budget for another striker (a hard-working one, who is a more consistent goal threat), but how much is debatable.

As for KSA and his future, I think there are parallels with another ex Magpie striker: Richard Pacquette. Like St Aimie, Pacquette has all the physical attributes and was a promising youth prospect, who didn't quite make the grade at QPR (for whatever reason). Pacquette's descent down the football pyramid, following his departure from Loftus Road, took in a whole host of clubs: from Stevenage and Thurrock, like St Aimie, to Hampton & Richmond Borough and Worthing. Somewhere along the line I suspect Pacquette had a 'eureka' moment, when it dawned on him that he was no longer the hot-shot young striker who could coast through games, relying on natural talent and instinct to get the goals and the glory; instead, he would have to knuckle down and work hard for himself and for his teammates ... or risk wasting his footballing abilities.

After successful spells at Havant & Waterlooville (where he scored at Anfield in the FA Cup) and at York Road (he initially joined MUFC on loan to help stave off relegation, before firing us towards the play-offs the following campaign, dominating the end-of-season awards), Pacquette made it back to the Conference (with Histon, then York City, and currently Eastbourne Borough). While the national league may be slightly too high a level for him, he was easily one of the best strikers in the Conference South during his time with the Magpies (forming a truly formidable partnership with Mustafa Tiryaki towards the end); a Hampton supporter I spoke to, for example, simply couldn't believe that he was the same player who had laboured upfront for them, three years or so previously, the turnaround in his effort and application being so marked.

Hopefully KSA will have his own Pacquette-like 'eureka' moment sometime soon. If so, I would expect him to be scoring goals galore in the Conference South (and possibly above) not long thereafter. He's only 21, so time is certainly on his side. I briefly spoke with him once, during the halftime interval of our pre-season friendly at Burnham last summer, and he seemed like a decent bloke (if somewhat shy and introverted; perhaps a lack of self-confidence might explain his inconsistent play?). As such, I wish him all the best.

Anyway, one less Maidenhead United player with his own song (there can't be many more left!). All together then, one last time, to the tune of 'Que Sera Sera' ...

Kieron St Aimie
He's quicker than you and me
Will probably score two or three
Kieron St Aimie

Kieron St Aimie
He's better than Wayne Rooney
And won't shag your granny
Kieron St Aimie