"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

Tuesday 10 April 2012

"Tell everyone you know, it's gonna be twelve in a row"

Maidenhead United fans had undertaken - albeit infrequently - Fancy Dress away days before the 2000/01 season. The frame in the photo at the bottom of this post contains a montage of images from one such occasion: a 0-0 draw at Lewes in April 1993 (Att: 92). There were also 'themed group' Fancy Dress away days in the late 90s, e.g. Tartan @ Barton; YPS (Yellow Polo Shirt) Day at Molesey. (Logic forgot about the latter and was duly dispatched to the nearest Marks & Spencer's to make the appropriate pre-match purchase!)

After the thrills and spills of promotion from Isthmian Div One in 1999/00, it was back to mid-table mediocrity the following season. That is why, I assume (I can't remember exactly), someone suggested that we re-introduce the idea of the last away game of the season* as designated Fancy Dress Day. As such, 28th April 2001 at Sutton United became, in effect, Fancy Dresslemania I.

*in the league, on a Saturday

Before Fancy Dresslemania XII, at Dover Athletic, later this month, here is a recap of the now-storied and proud KSG tradition. But don't ask us to rank them in order of preference ... unless you're a good listener with time to spare!

I ~ Sutton United, 28th April 2001

Firstly, a mid-table encounter on a damp and overcast day. Callum (as Bernie Clifton), Murdo (a Thunderbird), Willie (Donald Duck), and I (Mr Blobby - no jokes, please) had planned on getting the team bus to the game, but, upon arrival at York Road (after the inaugural 'Walk of Shame' from Chez Macleod?), it was announced that the bus had broken down en route; the players, management, and supporters would instead travel in a car convoy. As such, Murdo Tracy drove us there (in Thunderbird Zero). He also gave a lift to a certain Michael Vogel (whose name, up to that point, we didn't know). The highlight of the journey to Gander Green Lane occurred when, during a group stop-off at a petrol station somewhere on the A24, Donald Duck went in to buy some chewing gum and queued alongside Magpie centre-halves Tim Cook and Steve Croxford, both laughing uncontrollably ... which made a change as, usually, it was us laughing at them! Stevie G would join us, dressed as a sailor, in the bar at the ground. The game lacked MUFC goals and talking points - as did the day itself, in all honesty - but the odyssey had begun ...

II ~ Grays Athletic, 27th April 2002

The final league game of the season (always preferred, by me at least). Participants were Callum (a lion), Murdo (Rupert the Bear), Willie (Batman), and yours truly (Big Ears - again, no jokes, please), plus my now-wife (a school-girl), Scouse Mick (a gorilla), John Scouse (a tiger), and Logic (a cock - no comment). Locals in the bar before the game laughed when they saw us in our costumes. We, in turn, laughed when they went all weak-at-the-knees over Alan Dev. We were invited onto the pitch pre-kick-off for a photo taken by the local rag (which I was subsequently unable to find). We were still there as the teams emerged and clapped the Magpies, in a 'Guard of Honour' formation, onto the pitch! We sang ourselves hoarse throughout, had a photo taken with cult hero (and warming-up substitute) Rickey Ibe on the terraces at half-time, and invaded the pitch (retrospective letter from Rasher?) when promising youngster Rob 'Rod Hull' Saunders scored a late winner from the penalty spot. He ran towards us to celebrate, as did several other players, only to think better of it as Rupert, Batman, Big Ears, et al. converged! Perhaps it might've been different if Big Ears' female companion had made it over the pitch surround ... but she had no chance in that skirt! Trevor Kingham was also there; I remember him smoking, at half-time, one of the biggest cigars that I've ever seen. A great day out would finish back at the Cricketers.

III ~ Bishop's Stortford, 26th April 2003

Participants were Callum (Austin Powers), Mick (Elvis Presley), Murdo (Captain Hook), Willie (a Princess), and yours truly (Dennis the Menace). We travelled on the team bus. The game was a goal-fest, with Maidenhead winning 4-3 despite best efforts to throw away a comfortable lead. Dev's gloried tenure was nearing its natural conclusion. Highlights were Dr Albert's Fancy Dress-referencing tannoy announcements and Princess Willie propositioning Stortfort's Beckham-wannabe midfielder Tim Langer, in the bar, after the game. I/ we thought Willie made a fine-looking woman. Langer disagreed! Callum's photo of Elvis (below, top) is a classic. The night once again ended back in the Cricketers. Dennis the Menace's female companion might not appreciate the photographic evidence (below, bottom)!

IV ~ Hornchurch, 24th April 2004

The first Fancy Dresslemania to take place at a game that meant something: John Dreyer's team chasing a top-half finish in the Isthmian Premier and a place in the soon-to-be-created Conference South. Once again, we travelled to the match on the team bus (with Steve Hale becoming the first - and, so far, the only - active player to participate, dressed up as a schoolboy). United lost a tight game 1-0, meaning things would go to the wire the following Saturday. (Thanks to our 4-2 win over Aylesbury United and Sutton's defeat of Basingrad, we would secure the necessary placing on the final day.) Dresslemania was starting to catch on, with youngsters Oli (Pierluigi Collina) and friend (Andrew Flintoff) joining established regulars Callum (Adam Ant), Logic (a clown - again, no comment), Mick (a hippy), Murdo (Dame Edna Everidge), Willie (a Reverend), and yours truly (Father Christmas).

It was a scorching hot April day, yet in the pub garden before the game, we noticed a Ken Bates-lookalike throwing out a Christmas tree - complete with all of its pines - from the large house opposite. I asked if I could have it as an added accessory to my costume, and he obliged. There were no objections to me taking the tree into the ground. Indeed, the stewards opened gates especially, as I couldn't fit it through the turnstiles! And to think that some ground staff object to flags without fire safety certificates! (MK Franchise Dons, I'm talking about you.) Another highlight was the Reverend Turner, complete with Bible (we were beginning to appreciate the importance of costume accessories), chasing a linesman down the touchline - waving said Bible - after a questionable off-side decision. "The linesman's going to Hell, the linesman's going to Hell," still raises a smile. I also remember Karl Williams bought us all a drink in the bar after the game. Some other financial dealings of his would directly influence Maidenhead United at the end of the following season ...

V ~ Newport County, 30th April 2005

The most important Fancy Dresslemania game up to this point: the unpopular Dennis Greene leading his team to Wales for what was, effectively, a relegation play-off decider at Newport County. It was also most eventful. Callum (a Tudor?), Murdo (a Beefeater), Willie (Spider-Man), and I (Scooby-Doo) were joined in Fancy Dress by Alex (a Rugby Union prop forward), Logic (umm ... a Hawaiian tourist?), Mick (Friar Tuck), Phil A (Robin), and Tel (a Roman soldier - Minimus Erectus) on a supporters' coach (one of two?) to the game. The ground had a powder-keg atmosphere. There was a four-figure crowd and - thanks to a fatal (drug-related?) stabbing in Spytty's car park the week before - a heavy police presence. (We were videoed entering the ground.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, United performed terribly and lost 2-1 (Adam Federici was in goal for the Magpies; Craig O'Connor rounded off a fine individual season with the consolation strike.) Spider-Man was so annoyed at the display that he stormed off mid-match to confront the manager ... only to be spotted afterwards, in the (absolutely packed) bar, nodding in agreement with him ("Yes, Dennis"). The Beefeater and Friar Tuck were more honest with their opinions, and after a spot of handbags, a drink went flying. The Beefeater, Friar Tuck and - inexplicably - Minimus Erectus were all thrown out. The unfounded rumours were that Dennis Greene's teenage (?) girlfriend had been punched in the stomach. The lies - and the result, of course - would overshadow, the following day, Brian Connor's testimonial at York Road. In hindsight, they were also a sign of things to come ... As it would transpire, though, Hornchurch's financial troubles afforded the Magpies a reprieve from relegation.

VI ~ Histon, 29th April 2006

Dresslemania was becoming a big deal by this stage - for the KSG if no one else. And this was a particularly memorable one. Johnson Hippolyte has infamously trotted out the line "Last time Maidenhead went down they were losing 5-0 each week, but that hasn't happened this season". Well, this was the last time Maidenhead went down (as I write). And while we weren't losing 5-0 each week, it certainly felt like it! We had been largely terrible throughout the season and were down and out by the time of the last game at play-off chasing Histon. The only doubt was whether we would concede four goals on the day to make it 100 league goals (!) conceded over the season as a whole. Callum (Zorro), Mick (Andy Pandy), Murdo (a Musketeer), Willie (Wonder Woman - the second time that he had gone as a woman!), and I (Superman) had travelled by train, tube (I remember going up a lengthy escalator at one station and being asked to turn around by some Japanese tourists going in the opposite direction, and then nearly blinded by the number of camera flashbulbs that went off!), and rail replacement via Cambridge. We were joined for kick-off by a jester (Logic), a Blues Brother (Stevie G), Les from Vic Reeves' Big Night Out (Phil W, living up to his nickname!), a surgeon (Club Shop Guy), and - aptly - the Grim Reaper (Rainey).

I deliberately mentioned kick-off above, as certain players didn't make it in time: Dean Bradshaw and Chris Wild notoriously ended up near Ipswich as 3pm approached, meaning our coach Matty Gore - fans' favourite and occasional parks player - had to make an unexpected Magpies debut! We didn't see the funny side of Bradshaw and Wild's tardiness and made our feelings known during the second half. That led to altercations with both Wild and manager Carl Taylor, while the former was warming up as a sub, plus a lengthy post-match interrogation for Craig Lewington (who, TBF, was a top bloke and agreed with much of the criticism levelled at the team/ club). The match was lost 3-0 (not 5-0, Drax), meaning we 'only' conceded 99 goals that season. However, it would have been the magical ton had the recently-signed Chico Ramos (who would finish the match with a nasty facial injury) not saved a penalty! "Pitch for 100, we're on the pitch for 100," we chanted, as the missed spot-kick was about to be taken, surrounded by nervous-looking stewards!

We didn't let the result dampen our spirits. Far from it, ultimately spending far too much time in the bar, then a nearby pub, after the final whistle - not a good idea, with rail replacement on the way back. The mood on the return journey was not helped by the Musketeer losing his brand new digital camera. We had to shelve a proposed meet-up with Taz and the Sutton fans. Only Zorro and Superman headed to the Smoke (at one stage declining a request for yet another photo with a "We're here for a quiet drink, please can you leave us alone" line) and would end up at a random private party in a soundproofed, converted garage somewhere in North Town. Here, a seemingly nookie-starved homosexual took an unrequited shine to both, with Zorro losing his mask and Superman hiding in a tree during a hurried escape! My brother would find Superman asleep in the gutter close to my Grandparents' house, on his way to start his early Sunday morning shift at Waitrose - a story that would feature, three years later, in his best man speech at my wedding. There was no one to save United, though; no reprieve from relegation this time. The following Fancy Dresslemania would be at a Southern League game ...

VII ~ Banbury United, 28th April 2007

After two defeats inside a January week to bottom-of-the-table Corby Town, leaving the Magpies just outside the relegation places and prompting an apology to supporters in the Advertiser from captain Dominic Sterling, United lost only three of their next/ remaining 20 league games. A comfortable 2-0 final day win at Banbury saw us finish fourth (setting up the 'I was there' play-off Semi-Final win at King's Lynn the following midweek). As already illustrated, the Magpies were in excellent form at this stage, and the win at Banbury was never in much doubt. The KSG had loved the Southern League (Banbury was typical: a nice place to visit, easily accessible by train) and enjoyed good relations with the players, management, and officials. (Post-match photos taken in the bar with countless players, Johnson Hippolyte, Bob Hussey, and others.) Bright sunshine enhanced the party atmosphere. Callum (Darth Vader), Logic (umm ... who wore a green fez?), Murdo (Snoop Dogg), Tel (a beer bottle), Willie (Barney Rubble), and I (Fred Flintstone) won a kick-about with the local kids at half-time (Vader left unmarked, at the far post, to score the winner), then stayed considerably longer than the rest of a sizeable away following (including one or two others in Fancy Dress) to loudly cheer a team onto penalty shoot-out victory in the charity match - local radio station vs local hospital - that took place on the Spencer Stadium pitch after the main game had finished. (The winning penalty sparked our first Fancy Dress pitch invasion since Grays in 2002.) The Smoke would beckon for the KSG; a swift return to the Conference South would beckon for Maidenhead United.

VIII ~ Basingstoke Town, 26th April 2008

Sooner or later, the fixture computer abacus was gonna give us a crap fixture for Fancy Dresslemania. Basingrad in 2008 was it. We had to 'change it up' to make the best of things. Fortunately, this game coincided with Chas 'n' Dave - actual Chas 'n' Dave - playing a gig in Chicago Rock Ruck, Maidenhead, the preceding Thursday night ... and it was Callum's 30th. The birthday boy, his workmate Matt, Murdo, Stuart, Tel, and I would take the Friday off work and head to Bournemouth to stay the night at a welcoming B&B before journeying to the game on Saturday in a limousine (dressed, respectively, as Bananaman**, a gangster, a criminal in handcuffs, Sid Snot, Taz the Tasmanian devil, and Sylvester the cat). Here, we were met by a pirate (Logic), Wally Man (Willie), and by far the highest number - up to this point - of Maidenhead United fans in Fancy Dress. The game, though, was a goalless bore-fest. Again, we hit the Smoke. I suspect those who had partaken in the Chicago Rock Ruck/ Bournemouth/ Smoke triple-header didn't get much done on Sunday 

**or Bananaham, as one of Basingrad's dopier fans thought he was called! :-)

IX ~ Basingstoke Town, 18th April 2009

Sooner or later, the fixture computer abacus was gonna give us a repeat Fancy Dresslemania fixture ... let alone a crap repeat fixture ... and the same place for the second year running! Basingrad in 2009 was it. Callum (Captain America), Logic (a horse), Murdo (a cow named Moodo), Popejoy (a gangster, complete with an automatic weapon), Stuart (Indiana Jones), Rainey (the Grim Reaper, once again), Willie (Ali G), and I (Diego Maradona) were joined on the train to Hampshire by several of the Youth in Fancy Dress - including Coxy, Dickie West, and Vicky C - which (possibly) brought a tear to Moodo's eye. Les (a penguin) joined our pre-match pub crawl of Basingrad, which included a first visit to the Maidenhead Inn ("Maidenhead, in the Maidenhead Inn"). The game was another bore-fest, albeit one in which the Magpies were victorious, thanks to a solitary Mustafa Tiryaki strike. Another (unofficial) record was set for most Magpies in Fancy Dress, whilst Ali G and Diego Maradona were told off by stewards for swearing in the first half (singing a song about a group of M@rl*w fans visiting the Pope). To this day, I lambaste Willie (dressed, remember, as Ali G) for not retorting with: "Is it coz I is black?!". Another pub crawl of Basingrad (back to the station), then pints and photos in the Anchor, preceded plenty of attention - and some very dodgy dancing (from the horse) - in the Smoke. That would be the last time (to date) that we visited the Smoke in Fancy Dress.

X ~ Dorchester Town, 24th April 2010

After two crappy fixtures in a row (Basingrad, both times), we got another good 'un. Callum, Murdo, Willie, and I would take the Friday off work, head to Weymouth, and give debuts to our recently purchased Bell End t-shirts. A legendary night out followed - culminating in an early morning dip in the sea for yours truly, and a fall out with the rather unfriendly proprietor of our unwelcoming B&B - before Leonardo Ninja Turtle, a woman carrying a baby, Alan Partridge, and Timmy Mallett took the short train journey to Dorchester. It was another sunny day and another decent Magpie turnout in costume (including my Dad!), especially considering the distance from Maidenhead. Despite us losing 4-2, the game was entertaining enough. Albeit not as much fun as the train journey back! Firstly, for some reason, we were re-routed via Castle Cary; I distinctly remember gangster Popejoy machine-gunning several passing trains from the platform, much to the amusement of the passengers contained within! Then the train to Reading - from which Dickie, dressed as a peasant, almost got us thrown! - was full of Charlton (and part-time Dartford) fans on their way back from Devon (Plymouth Argyle?). They were mightily impressed by our costumes, as were the two policemen I challenged to a game of Mallett's Mallet at Reading station. One of them got a bang on the head for hesitation!

XI ~ Binfield, 23rd April 2011

Another photo here.

XII ~ Dover Athletic, 21st April 2012

This year could be another relegation special, bearing in mind that today's yesterday's 4-3 home defeat to Farnborough - from 2-0 up at half-time - left MUFC Ltd in the bottom three. It should certainly be interesting if nothing else! Callum is journeying over from Dublin for the game, while (relatively) new father Willie will join me and Murdo on an early train from Maido. For various reasons, I expect the number of Magpies in Fancy Dress to be well down on the high points - in that respect - of Basingrad and Dorchester. Hey ho. My costume has been in development for months ... and I fully expect it to help inspire a miraculous performance and result! ;-)

I also look forward to a potential meeting with Punk Can Save Us - a Dover fan and regular poster on the AFC Conference South forum. He's worth following, IMO, on Tw@tter and via his blog. Check out his post on Dover's visit to York Road earlier in the season for a taster. 

Until then ...

"Tell everyone you know, it's gonna be twelve in a row"


No comments:

Post a Comment