"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

Saturday 24 December 2011

Season's Greetings!

Christmas time is here again
And Santa's on his sleigh
More chance he'll stop and shower gifts
Than Maidenhead win away*

Sing 'Silent Night', invite him in
For mince pies and a sherry
Go easy on the mistletoe
As it might be the MUSA Sec-re-tary!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from GMOSC!


*Again (following last weekend's win at Salisbury City!)

Friday 23 December 2011

Away Day Diary: Salisbury City 0-2 Maidenhead United (17/12/11)

^^^ The crowd was announced as 672 ... I think that 158 was closer to the true amount!

Salisbury City, along with Maidenhead United, regularly featured prominently in 'Top Five Away Day' lists on the now (temporarily?) defunct Conference South forum. Despite the ground being out of town, it is not hard to understand why. On the less-than-ten-minute walk from the train station to the High Street - down Fisherton Street - we were to pass approximately four pubs (of varying quality), two licensed sex shops and about ten (no exaggeration, honest!) Indian restaurants.

^^^ Down with this sort of thing! #1

After a quick pint in the King's Head (Wetherspoons), where Craig and I discussed the (perceived) pros and cons of Scottish independence, we headed to a far superior Greene King pub opposite (called the Mill and, I'm sure, very popular in summertime). Here the relatively high-brow conversation continued with the welfare state, among other topics, extensively debated. All we needed was a C-list celeb, a chin-stroking Guardian-reading leftie, David Dimbleby and a cherry-picked-by-the-BBC studio audience, in order to have our very own edition of Question Time!

As aforementioned, Salisbury's current ground - the 1997-built  Raymond McEnhill Stadium - is out-of-town. In fact, our taxi ride from the city centre took over ten minutes. The taxi driver - who seemed to have little or no interest in football - pointed out the location of Salisbury's former home, the iron age hill fort of Old Sarum itself and also mentioned that we were less than ten miles from Stonehenge, before dropping us off outside the ground entrance.

The ground was situated at the end of Partridge Way (A-ha!), a road which slalomed through a soul-less, indentikit housing development. The driver mentioned that the football club could soon be on the move again, with the housing estate likely to be expanded in the near future. It quickly became apparent that most Salisbury City fans, certainly those of sound mind, will surely jump at the chance to up sticks.

The expansive car park that greeted us (which, along with the industrial plant in the distance - and the car tyres that rather bizarrely surrounded the pitch - brought back memories of Berwick Rangers' Shielfield Park) contained countless large potholes and it was clear that the ground was one that 'ticked the boxes', but not a lot else. One clubhouse/main stand (containing, I assume, the very minimum number of seats required), one covered terrace and that, basically, was it.

Our MUFC Ltd away games this season have included Truro, Weston and now Salisbury. When I say that Weston's is probably the best ground of the bunch, then you get an idea of how poorly I rate Truro and Salisbury (although the latter not nearly as bad as the former, it must be said).

Having paid a barely believable £13 to get in ("£13, you're having a laugh"), taken the usual array of 'joyless regulation' photos, chatted amiably with the stewards and queued for a (decent) burger and chips, it was time to join the other travelling Magpies, on the covered terrace, behind the goal we were attacking (in amongst the majority of the home fans who, understandably, didn't move but, fortunately, weren't nearly as sensitive nor unreasonable as those who hadn't changed ends at Ebbsfleet last season).

^^^ Down with this sort of thing! #2

^^^ Greek plumbing, presumably

^^^ "Steve didn't really travel away much (except glorious FA Cup days) ... Forget the premier league stars, these guys play for the love of the game not the money" LOL!

^^^ Rasher's wet dream

^^^ Net about to bulge (not once, but twice)

Amazingly, United were two up before I had chance to finish my lunch; the goals coming within two minutes of each other around the midway point of the first half. Like at Truro (another west country team with a cr@p ground - who play in white - and who lost to a yellow and blue-kitted MUFC Ltd), the opening goal was a complete gift from the home side's keeper. "Oh oh oh, makes me wanna dance" exclaimed the MMS. Tut, tut. This chant should only be sung when United are 2-0 up, as per Halifax Town away, when it was first coined. Logic noticed my scorn; "We have to make allowances," he tentatively pleaded "as we hardly ever take the lead in a game these days, let alone 2-0".

No sooner than he'd said that ...

The second was a great goal as well; the much (and harshly?)-maligned Jermaine Hinds winning a 50/50 and playing a neat pass to the impressive Reece Tison-Lascaris, who beat his man and sliced open the defence with a through-ball to Richard Pacquette. With only the hapless keeper to beat, Pac-Man executed a superb, deft chip to stun the home crowd. I now joined in with the Modern Romance song, and the subsequent mickey-taking of the surrounding home fans ("Are You M@rlow in disguise", "Can we play you every week", "How sh!t must you be ... ", "You should have gone Christmas shopping" etc.)

As hoped, but not expected (by me, at least), it was a case of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' for Salisbury City, fresh (or not, as it transpired) from their 3-2 AET FA Cup win at Grimsby Town in midweek. They looked shell-shocked, not surprising seeing as Maidenhead hadn't won in the league since beating Havant & Waterlooville at York Road on Tuesday 13th September! One of their unused subs (I think) got his marching orders, while players surrounded the Ref and there was a chorus of boos (largely for the officials, although I'm not really sure why) as the teams departed the pitch at the break.

^^^ The biggest flag on display, sadly, as there was nowhere to hang Murdo's black and white one

The scoreboard was impressive (and the score-line it showed was a welcome sight) but the uncovered end inhabited by the away fans during the second half emphasised what we were quickly coming to conclude; that the Raymond McEnhill Stadium is an underdeveloped sh!thole. The wind was absolutely freezing, while the persistent swearing of a certain MUFC Ltd fan was moronic and embarrassing. Director Stevie G and the Chairman must've heard it, but neither said anything. Pathetic. Simple as that. To think that we got ejected at Ebbsfleet - and then banned from York Road - for nothing, certainly nothing compared to what every away fan at Salisbury could hear ...

Must. Let. It. Go.

Salibsury - sent out early for the second half with, presumably, a rollicking still ringing in their ears - were improved in the second half but, while both teams missed simple chances to score (Pac-Man with Maidenhead's clearest opportunity; getting it all wrong when attempting to replicate his delicate finish from the first half), Billy Lumley and Mark Nisbet were back and in excellent form for the Magpies, ensuring that Maidenhead looked reasonably solid and comfortably held out for a long-overdue win.

No doubt I'll get accused (as usual) of being 'anti Drax' and 'anti club', but it should be pointed out that while Maidenhead performed much better than they did at Weston, Weston were much better than Salisbury (and Truro). Indeed, before the MUFC Ltd forum was made register-to-view, let alone post (I haven't 'upgraded' as yet, and I'm not sure that I will, as it'll likely only lead to further unfounded accusations - via Private Message - from the Chairman), I read on there that Maidenhead's record against teams in the top half of the league is abysmal (which makes the 4-1 FA Cup win over Woking all-the-more remarkable), certainly when compared to the record against lower-half teams. Salibsury are now 17th (one place above Maidenhead). Weston are 9th. Enough said.

^^^ Mr Logic standing to attention

"McKendrick's 12 Days of Christmas", "Jingle Bells" and then a prolonged burst of "Johnson Hippolyte's Black and White Army" kept us warm(ish) and helped pass the time until the final whistle. Then, as Rainey and his bunch hot-footed it for the next available train, an improvised version of Sham 69's 'Hurry Up Harry' was given a d├ębut airing. Magical! 

Time, post-match, for some more photos, a quick drink in the clubhouse and a pat on the back for Bobby 'The Daddy' Behzadi, before our return taxi ride into town.

^^^ Maidenhead were on fire!

^^^ Nothing happened :-(

^^^ A framed MUFC Ltd away shirt?

^^^ "All I want for Christmas ... "

This driver laughed at us when we asked to be taken to a pub showing the Wigan vs Chelsea game (for Craig). We thought that he was exaggerating and we'd surely be able to find somewhere but, after decent-looking historic boozer with open fireplace after decent-looking historic boozer with open fireplace came and went - with none showing the football - we had to concede defeat and so enjoyed a round in the Queen's Arms of Elizabeth ("Salisbury's oldest licensed public house since 1558") ... which had Total Wipeout on the TV.

After a walk through the historic (and, I thought, Berwick-upon-Tweed-esque) streets of Salisbury city centre - past a beautifully-fronted Odeon cinema showing the latest Sherlock Holmes movie and not a lot else - then another drink back at the King's Head (where we were - just about - able to name the winners and hosts of every single World Cup and European Championship), we headed to the Shah Jahan, an Indian restaurant recommended to us by the most recent taxi driver.

Post meal (top notch, BTW) there was time to purchase a carry-out and then enjoy a quick drink (Smirnoff Ice all round!) in the Railway (which was better, albeit only slightly, than it's neighbour - the Cat Tavern - which we'd had the 'pleasure' of drinking in immediately after coming out of the station earlier in the day) before catching the 21:30 (give or take) train home. Cue a deliberately camp photo (for reasons that I now can't recall), a brief stop in a (thankfully) well-heated waiting room at Basingrad (complete with eye-catching wall decoration) and the KSG entering into the spirit of the season by gifting not one, but two, cans from the carry-out to thirsty train passengers, before arrival back in Maidenhead.

Salisbury City a top five away day? Well, I'm not sure there are five decent away days to be had in the Conference South, currently, but Salisbury is definitely one of the better ones. And winning, while not a deciding factor, certainly doesn't hurt!

^^^ (Ear) M. U. F. F.

P.S. Click here for SCFC match highlights and here for further reading

Mid-point of the season 'Drax Excuse Tally Chart' update

Maidenhead's 2-0 win at Salibsury last weekend was their 22nd league game of the season, so we're now into the season's second half. As such, it is time for a mid-point of the season 'Drax Excuse Tally Chart' update, which will help indicate the excuses reasons why we've performed so badly - in the league - thus far.

DISCLAIMER(S): I didn't start recording the excuses reasons until September - and have missed a few editions of the Advertiser since - so don't claim this report to be 100% complete. Or in any way scientific. I am, of course, also 'anti Drax' and 'anti club' - and haven't seen, for myself, many of these games - so Drax could be spot-on with his excuses reasons. Regardless, none of these quotes are made-up (by me, at least) ... 

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post MUFC 1-2 Truro City on Tuesday 20th September

"I don't want to sound like a manager who moans about referees but..."

"It was shocking. It was an absolute farce... The referee lost control of the game"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post MUFC 1-1 Farnborough on Saturday 1st October

"I don't want to be one of these managers who is always moaning about referees but..."

"...he must have done something wrong"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post MUFC 3-3 Bromley on Saturday 22nd October and Boreham Wood 1-0 MUFC on Monday 24th October

"I don't think we're playing too badly, the luck just isn't on our side at the moment"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post signing new multi-year contract extension on Thursday 27th October

"It does get frustrating when you can't keep players because of the budget"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post MUFC 1-4 Dover Athletic on Tuesday 8th November

"At 1-1 we were on top but then one refereeing decision changed the game"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post MUFC 1-2 Staines Town on Tuesday 13th December

It was a disappointing defeat to take for Magpies boss Johnson Hippolyte, who thought his side were short changed by the referee.

"People talk about swings and roundabouts with decisions but we don’t seem to be getting any at the minute... Something has to be done about it because it costs club’s money and manger’s their jobs"

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post releasing Will Hendry (and pre re-signing Richard Pacquette) on Tuesday 13th December

"We just can’t compete financially"

Mid-point of the season 'Drax Excuse Tally Chart' update; 

Bad luck - 1
Injuries - 0
Referees - 4
Financial constraints - 2

So, there you have it. Referees are primarily responsible for our run of no league wins in three months.

Interesting that injuries don't seem to have been mentioned at all.

That said...

Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead Advertiser, post Salisbury City 0-2 MUFC on Saturday 17th December

"We are now injury free, and if we are to progress, long may that continue"


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

"I set a budget at the start of the season and I haven't raised that budget. Keith Scott is working within it and the players who have come in are prepared to work within it as well.

"It's the vision of the club and the ambitions we have for it that they are buying into."

When Windsor FC was formed in the summer, Stott always said he wanted to stay away from a business model which saw one benefactor putting money in to ensure the club stayed afloat.

Self-sustainability has always been the long-term goal and the club has plans to install 3G astroturf pitches and a gym at Stag Meadow in the near future.

And Stott insists that is still very much the case. He said: "I always said I would fund the start up costs and that's what I'm going to do.

"But I don't have any grand designs to be the sugar daddy of a football club, that doesn't work.

"So if we're not given the go ahead to develop the ground and do what we want to do, I'm not going to be doing it again next season or the season after next.

"That doesn't mean we won't have a football club next year, we just won't have a budget that we could sustain in a higher division."

Windsor's founding director added: "But I would be gutted now if we don't manage to pull off what we're trying to do, I think it's a model for non-league football.

"We're trying to do something different, not repeat the same mistakes. We're on the road to self-sustainability.

"I don't want to be just another football club who had a dream, drew some pretty pictures but then saw nothing happen.

Is the last sentence a dig at a certain other Royal Borough-based football club, I wonder?!

Fair play to Stott; he at least says all the right things, and comes across well in the paper.

As they say, though, talk is cheap ... and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Saturday 10 December 2011

"I don't like to talk about my charity work, mate"

Adopt a droning, Brian Clough-like accent, and repeat after me: "Great publiciteh for the cloob" ...

"He's Johnson Hippolyte, he does what he wants"

On-field ill-discipline, long win-less runs in the league and bullsh!t quotes in the Advertiser have all been characteristics of Johnson Hippolyte's tenure at York Road.

An obvious example of the latter this week when, on consecutive days, the following articles appeared:

"I've got some boys here that I love but we have to get the budget back down to where it should be" 

"We just can't compete financially so we have to try and see what we've already got"

"So we look in the reserves and in the youth team. We have to try and unearth another gem" 

'Maidenhead United FC have resigned striker Richard Pacquette'

"He had most of pre-season with us but we didn't have the money to sign him"

*wry smile*

Shortly after the Cup draw with Aldershot at York Road, the Chairman was quoted in the Advertiser as saying that the cash windfall might be spent on ground repairs or 'one or two other things'.

Seasoned Maidenhead fans - even those with below-average IQs - knew exactly what this meant.

As the song goes ...

Anyway, some selected comments from the 'Richard Pacquette leaves' thread on the HAYU forum:

'Released by the club today'

'I think this is the best for both parties'

'He must have been one the most expensive players we had in our squad. Perhaps this gives us some flexibility to attract some quality players'

'However [sic] are we going to cope'