"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

Sunday 9 October 2011

Lewis - another youngster driven away

In this week's Maidenhead Advertiser there was one particular article that caught my eye (and it wasn't the one that contained Drax's 'I don't want to sound like a manager who moans about referees, but ... ' quote; the second time in three weeks that he's used that exact phrase!)

Under a 'Happy Driver staying put' headline, Charles Watts wrote about Holyport striker Lewis Driver turning down an approach from Combined Counties Premier League moneybags Windsor FC:

Driver, who has been at the Summerleaze club since 2007, spoke with Windsor after boss Keith Scott made an official approach for the frontman.

But, after a bit of soul-searching, he decided to stay at the club he loves.

Driver said: "I had a chat with Keith and he asked if I fancied coming over.

"But after a while I decided to stay. I've been here so long now, I love this club and I want to enjoy my football.

"I think he (Scott) said I have no ambition but I'm playing in a team that's at the exact same level as Windsor.

"I'm at a club that's going places. It would have been a sideways step."

If Driver had made the move to Stag Meadow, he would have started earning money for his football.

But he insists that is not something that bothers him.

He said: "No one gets paid at Holyport, everyone is on the same playing field.

"I just think the atmosphere here is so great.

"I rang and asked a lot of the players what they thought and they all said they wouldn't hold it against me. They told me to go and earn some money.

"But in the end that was what made my mind up. They are the type of people I want to be playing with, not people who are at clubs for all the wrong reasons."

Leaving aside the fact that Keith Scott and Windsor clearly haven't learnt their lesson, it is refreshing in this day and age to read about a football player - even a lower non-league player - who obviously values other things, such as his club and his teammates, above money.

If only Maidenhead United FC had more players like him.

What's that you say? Driver started out as a promising youngster at York Road, only to be jettisoned after one full appearance (a 5-0 win over Beaconsfield SYCOB in the B&B Cup in December 2006) and 12 substitute appearances?


Driver - a left-sided defender/ midfielder in his younger days, and highly-rated by Carl Taylor (a decent judge of a player, if not necessarily a decent manager) - may not have been a Conference South/ Southern Premier level player back in 2006/07 (he may not be Conference South level now; indeed he may not be Conference South level in the future), but he was never given much of a chance to prove it, either way.

I'd much rather have seen him given a go, though, than the likes of Steve McNamara, Serge Makofo, Leon Fisher, Ronayne Benjamin, James Hamsher, Tyron Sealey, Adam Bernard, Dale Binns, Steve Barnes and countless other expensive/ inexpensive journeymen flops that have appeared on our left flank in recent seasons.

This isn't a rant at Drax, specifically, either: an ex-colleague of mine once told me how he was a regular for Maidenhead United Reserves when the club was managed by Alan Devonshire. Towards the end of one season, that was set to finish in mid-table mediocrity, he was pulled from a Reserve game and told he would be making his debut for the first XI at York Road. He turned up at the ground, only to be informed that, actually, he wasn't going be playing and his place had - at the last minute - been filled by a new recruit from Hayes or Osterley or Timbuktu or wherever ('One of Devonshire's boys or, more accurately, a mate of one of Devonshire's boys'). That was the final straw for said ex-colleague; he left the club and, I think, gave up football for a while before joining Marlow United. I think he still plays for them.

Maidenhead United is the senior non-league football club in a large catchment area. Maidenhead Boys & Girls is apparently one of the largest and best run youth clubs in the South East. Yet the likes of Dominic Polisano, Luke Dexter, Ryan Hazell and Lewis Driver made barely a handful of first team appearances between them.

What odds on Ryan Jones (if he hasn't already?) and Lee Barney becoming the latest 'next big things' to get frustrated at a lack of playing time - caused by no-better or inferior players being regularly brought in from outside the club - and ending up at Holyport or Marlow United ... or quitting football altogether?

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