"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 26 May 2012

Drax twitter hoaxer inadvertently unmasked?

I'm told that there has been some debate on the MUFC Ltd forum, of late, as to the identity of the consistently humorous @therealdrax (despite claims to the contrary, I cannot take credit).

Well, I think I know who it is ...

Check out the Chairman's final comment, from the online Advertiser article, concerning United's rather predictable reprieve from Conference South relegation (thanks to Kettering's financial difficulties):


All the hallmarks of a tongue-in-cheek @therealdrax witticism.


Monday 21 May 2012

Port looking to build

So says the headline on pg 97 of last week's Advertiser - 

Anyone else find it funny - and rather apt - that the accompanying photo is of the victorious Maidenhead United U16 team?!

Anyway, a hearty 'well done' to everyone involved with the MUFC Youth and U16 teams. 

A real sense of achievement, I'm sure. 

Thursday 10 May 2012

Away Day Diary: Shelbourne 1-2 Cork City (27/04/12)

OK, so it wasn't quite up there with some of the most memorable world events...

However, I will always recall where I was when I heard that Maidenhead United had been relegated (again...) from that footballing paradise, the Blue Square Bet Conference South.

The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin.

Really? I shit ye not.

Why? It seemed like a good idea, and Callum's sister had recommended it. Also, where better to forget about the trials and tribulations unfolding at York Road (culminating in the emotional roller-coaster hitting the buffers after Havant's 93rd-minute winner secured their safety and condemned the Magpies in the process)? Yeractualcultureinnit. Well, it was a break from the pub, anyway.

Team Macleod had booked their AGM in Dublin well before Maidenhead decided to stop trying to win games, WEF March. Lenny wasn't allowed to come had other important things to do that weekend. Besides, his surname isn't Macleod.

As is traditional, the weekend would include taking in a match. Strangely, the Airtricity League schedule their games on a Friday night. A right bugger for away fans but allows everyone to enjoy the delights of the English Premier League over the weekend. The power of marketing, eh?

The obvious choice for a game was St. Patrick's Athletic. Why? Having arrived in Dublin the year before, Callum had nailed his colours to the St. Pat's mast, basing his choice on the simple fact that their clubhouse is apparently a pub. Fair enough. He was fanatical about them. When I say fanatical, I don't mean in a 'going to any games' kind of way, more of a glance through the papers of a Saturday morning. Apparently, Friday night is the biggest night of the week for partying in Dublin, and watching a game seemed to him like a waste of valuable drinking time.

Sadly for us, they were away at Sligo Rovers. Follow them on the road for their furthest trip of the season? No thanks. That left us with a decision to make.

UCD (or University College Dublin Association Football Club, to give them their full name)? Think Team Bath. Students? I'm with Paul Calf on that matter, so a non-starter.

Shamrock Rovers? Favourites to win the league, following their Europa League exploits the previous season? Charlie Big Potatoes. No deal.

Bohemian FC? They were away, too.

That left Shelbourne. The script was 'big club-cum-underachievers, fallen on hard times, relegated but battled their way back'. They were at home to Cork City, who had beaten them to the second-tier title the previous season. Oh, and Leeds United used to play them every pre-season for many years, as the Chairman was a Leeds fan. Perfect. Drumcondra area, please, Mr Taxi Driver, Tolka Park.

AAh yes. The taxis. There seemed to be more taxis than people in Dublin. Apparently, they've deregulated there, and the world and his wife now have taxis. That might explain why ours was a Peugeot 406 with 291k miles on the clock and a heater stuck on full blast!

15 EUR got us a place behind the goal with the Shels (as they're known) Ultras...

^^^ The away end. Less than packed.

^^^ 1109 Cork City fans. It sounded like nine until they went 2-1 up.

^^^ I managed to find the only pen in the ground...

Fair play - they gave their team good backing, had an impressive array of flags (including a rather nice one in the style of the old Oasis logo), plus the occasional inventive song. In a time when fans of most clubs have the same homogenized songs, they managed to sing something I've never heard at a game before: 

A bit different, but I like it. Nothing to do with the fact that I bought the New Order homage Monaco song when it came out...

Shelbourne were unbeaten at home, and Cork hadn't even scored a goal on their travels. Home win, then. Script torn up, Cork battered Shels in the first half (albeit with only a Vinny Sullivan strike to show for it).


A visit to the club shop proved to be fruitless. No addition to The Anchor scarf collection, as they'd run out 'Four or five weeks ago'. The season only started two months ago, as it's a summer league. A bit noddy and not something Club Shop Guy would let happen at the Magpies Megastore...

Anyway, match highlights - to some geetar rawk - are here.

Shels came out early for the second half, having presumably had the proverbial rocket up their backsides. A sublime Paddy Kavanagh strike had Shels level. With the Ultras proudly waving their Austria/Latvia flags, as seen below, it seemed there would only be one winner...

^^^ Which one is which? Me neither...

^^^ See what I mean?

^^^ The 'Money Ran Out Before We Got To The Executive Boxes' Stand

Maybe the MUFC Ltd curse followed us, as Cork nicked it late, with MoM Sullivan showing his class again. He stood out like a sore thumb, so expect Reading to be signing him at some stage.

^^^ Mark O'Steward keeps a close eye on us.

^^^ Something Cork-football-related that does involve singing...

Not a bad game, TBH, although nothing special. Standard compared to England? League 2, based on what we saw, although perhaps I'm being a tad harsh. 

The crowd was vocal, which helped the atmosphere and allowed a few jibes at the Cork fans, apparently for having 'let their club die'. It did have a bit of a 'youth club' feel, though, with the average age seemingly 14. That allowed us to draw a parallel with a problem Maidenhead had a couple of years ago. How to get youths to watch their local side? No, Cloughie, it's not giving them a Junior Magpies application form. Give them cheap entry and let them enjoy themselves, even if it does involve standing in the seating area and a bit of swearing. 

Both clubs have achieved this, but the second bit is tougher. How to keep them interested when adult admission prices, girls/boys, cigarettes and alcohol, university etc., kick in. Maidenhead hasn't managed to do that with any real success, and I fear Shels may have the same problem. Let's hope not, as they're the future support.

Anyway, 1,033 saw it.

Friday 4 May 2012

Post-mortem Review

The Manager ...

Fair play. No argument with that. I have always thought Drax to be a decent manager. I don't think he helps himself sometimes, but perhaps more than anything, he hasn't been helped by the lack of accountability at York Road. On-field ill-discipline, long win-less runs in the league, relegation - all seemingly equal repeated contract extensions. What message does that send out? What would Drax actually have to do to get the sack? "He's Johnson Hippolyte. He does what he wants!" It is true. And counter-productive.

Ummm ... when did Anthony Thomas and Will Hendry leave the club? It was weeks, if not months, prior to the win at Woking. Was it not? So any inability to get the best out of them had nothing to do with the fact that things "played out rather differently" after March 3rd.

As for fitness levels, well, I haven't seen all of the games (neither has Stevie G, of course), but against Dover recently, we looked like the side most likely to win the match the longer it went on. A 93rd-minute winner against Eastleigh on an extremely heavy pitch also indicates that lack of fitness was not an issue. A lack of application, maybe ...

The disciplinary record? That has been appalling, under Drax, for several seasons now (player-coach red-carded for spitting in an opponent's face, anyone?). What have we done to sort it out? Nothing. Or nothing that has worked.

Things really came to a head this season because our two major goal threats - Alex Wall and Reece Tison-Lascaris - were suspended for much of the run-in. But how did we end up in a situation where we were so reliant on those two? Manny Williams (whom Drax said would score 15-20 goals this season) and Ashan Holgate (no better than Kieron St Aimie) were experienced strikers placed on contract last summer. Yet come the end of the season, we were starting with Lee Barney - who spent most of the campaign on loan at Beaconsfield SYCOB - upfront on his own as Williams and Holgate languished on the bench!

If you've only got a small budget to work with (and I'm sure I read somewhere that MUFC Ltd can't compete financially with the 'big' clubs), then you'd better get it right when signing players on contract. Drax was unlucky with Chris Taylor's injury but messed up, big time, with the signings of Williams and Holgate.

I can only assume that Stevie G doesn't mention this as it could be construed as an "attack" on the club ... and then he'd have to label himself as "anti-Drax" ;-)

The Advertiser reporter ...

"It's the Southern League now for the Magpies ... a season competing towards the top end of a table will be a nice change"


"The Southern League won't be easy, however, United's county cup drubbing at Chesham this season proved that"

ExactlyIndeed, it took Delroy Preddie kicking a divot at Northwood - and then an almost unbelievable run of form - for us to fluke promotion escape the division last time.

"There is a lot of promise within the dressing room and if Drax makes the right tweaks, next season could be a very enjoyable one at York Road" ~ Charles Watts, Maidenhead Advertiser, 3rd May 2012

CTRL C, CTRL V, next time, Charles! ;-)

The Chairman ...

"The first thing we need to do is let the dust settle before making any decisions"

Perhaps we should've "let the dust settle" on the FA Cup run before handing out the latest contract extension!

"The key thing then is, as a board, to go away and do a bit of a debrief"

"A bit of a debrief"?! :-D

"We have to look at what went wrong and see what areas we need to improve"

Why didn't we do this last summer? #1

"Our discipline is definitely one area"

You reckon?!

"Also our fitness levels, was that a problem?"

Are you copying Steve, or is Steve copying you? And how does "a lack of fitness" tie in with previous claims of better professionalism? Is "fitness" the new bad luck/ injuries/ referees/ financial constraints?!

"When things haven't worked out, you have to go away and look at how things are run"

Why didn't we do this last summer? #2

"If we need to freshen things up and make changes, we will"

Why didn't we do this last summer? #3

"We gave him (Drax) a contract last year for a reason and that's stability"

We're sticking with the stability line, eh? As aforementioned elsewhere on this blog, I think the contract situation has created a sense of complacency as much as it has a sense of stability. Speaking of complacency ...

The Advertiser Columnist ...

Ground Hopper called it weeks ago (5th April, to be precise):

"A long summer of reflection awaits the folk down at York Road"

Either that or "a bit of a debrief" 

The Advertiser back page ...

You'll note that Maidenhead Rugby Club's controversial sacking of Ricky Khan, their title-winning coach, also makes the headlines. Cue @therealdrax: 


"Rasher's writing letters, Rasher's writing letters ... "

Keepin' it real

The recent Maidenhead United vs Eastleigh highlights are worth a look ... and not only for the match action and pitch invasion(s); check out the interview with Drax at the end.

A subsequent post on the official forum reads as follows:


What exactly constitutes a 'real' fan?

Arse-licking the powers that be - both real and imagined - until your tongue aches?

Blindly toeing the (Limited) company line?

Participating in the MUGS* MUSA-organised summer work parties?

*Medley Uniting Griffin Sycophants

Swearing moronically and barely comprehensibly at games like some proverbial window licker?

Turning up for the 'big' games and/ or when it's discounted entry?

Who can say?

It is an indeterminate, subjective term.

Not coincidentally, Macleod (M) remarked to me the other day that the miles we've racked up watching MUFC Ltd this season must be relatively sizeable, despite the fact that we didn't actually attend many games (certainly in comparison to previous years**)

**Macleod (M) can count on one hand the amount of games that he missed, over a more than decade-long period, during the 90s and beyond; hands up if you were one of the 50 people - six supporting the Magpies - in attendance at Croydon 0-0 Maidenhead United, in the Isthmian League Div One, on a Monday night in April 1999 *raises hand*

This prompted a little research. It transpires that the four away games we attended in the league this season included - in Truro, Weston and Dover - MUFC Ltd's three longest trips (the 'other' fixture, Salisbury, was the 8th longest).

We were also among the 261 travelling fans at the FA Cup replay with Aldershot, after which one of their supporters felt compelled to write the following on their forum:

"Fair play to the 261 Magpies fans who came last night...they did their best to make the atmosphere and did their team proud with their singing - especially the last 15 - 20 minutes"

The Dover fans were also very complimentary about 'us':

"The highlight of the day was definately [sic] the Maidenhead fans who demonstrated what football at this level is all about"

Note the lack of distinction, in the above comments, between 'fan' and 'real fan'.

Indeed, perhaps it should be remembered that they are hardly any Maidenhead fans as it is! Attending a single game (or, in my case, seven plus one Youth team fixture) automatically distinguishes you from the overwhelming majority of the town's population; who couldn't give a toss about the football club and, in all likelihood, never will.

The four figure crowd for the Woking game (a win that saw the Cards secure the title, hence a larger than usual travelling support) boosted our average home league attendance to 365. As such, unlike 'Drax has never been relegated as a manager'the 'York Road average attendance was up compared to the previous season' is one much lauded stat that does survive the campaign.

Playing in the Southern League - minus the large away followings of Woking and the like - will, however, be a litmus test. And while I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment below, I see nothing to indicate that it isn't merely hot air ... 

"the accent remains on consolidating the increasing steps to blend the club into the fabric of the local community which cannot fail to pay long term dividends"

Classic middle management waffle. The facts are in the fluff! 

Anyway, thanks to everyone who has read GMOSC over the course of the season (and, yes, that goes for the 'real' fans, the Chairman, and the manager as well!). Several people (including more than one MUFC Ltd Director, several MUSA members, and also newer supporters whose names I wasn't previously aware of) have remarked - both on Facebook and in person - that they enjoy reading the content. 

This might help explain the fact that the number of page views recently topped 15,700. Good going, particularly when bearing in mind that the figure was less than 10K as recently as late January. Clearly there is a market for "bizarre online pathological vituperation from individuals whose depths of passionate attacks on the club are in inverse proportion to their actual attendance at games"


"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost" ~ Thomas J. Watson