"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

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Wasted on the young

I had a rip-roaring post (if I do say so myself!) - titled 'Oldest. Ground. Ever.' and referencing, among other things: The Simpsons, Area Action Plans, Maidenhead Rugby Club, Goldie Lookin Chain, Poole Town, two Grannies fighting over the Daily Mail in Windsor Library, the shadow cabinet, X-factor judging panel and Conservative government U-turns - written and ready to go following last Saturday's blue plaque unveiling at York Road.

I was planning to follow this up with another post which concluded that the KSG had 'stopped caring', as seemingly evidenced by ...

As it is, 'Oldest. Ground. Ever.' (and its appendage) will remain - for the moment, at least - unreleased. Only to be used in the future, perhaps, as a bonus track on a Greatest Hits, Live or Commemorative album. 

Why shelved? Allow me to explain ... 

It came to my attention the other day that GMOSC is two-years-old this month. Over 100 posts and 23.3K page views in the meantime. I have enjoyed writing; people have apparently enjoyed reading. The fact that progress is apparently being made - finally - on the building of a new stand, and that phrases like 'family club, 'contract extension', and 'bad luck, injuries, referees, financial constraints' are now commonly used, in jest, by Magpie fans - indeed, the fact that Drax has his own parody (?) Twitter account - is a source of some pride. 

I'd like to think that most people with at least half a brain cell (which, admittedly, doesn't incorporate everyone at York Road ... ) now realise - if they didn't from the outset - that we were royally stitched up (when being ejected at Ebbsfleet, in the first place, and then banned from York Road). It could be argued - with, admittedly, some justification - that I/ we have dwelt upon on Ebbsfleet far too much and for far too long. Hopefully, though, this is illustrative of how unjustly I/ we felt treated; the extent to which I/ we felt hurt and let down by what unfolded. 

The ejection and subsequent banning of the aforementioned former Bristol Rovers Director (if not the subsequent public/ online outrage) had some similarities to our situation. There were several posts, across a number of threads, on the Rovers Alternative Forum - to which the former Director in question was a regular and highly-respected contributor - that resonated. None more so than the following line ... 

Like others I feel I want to go but, when I do, I feel angry and can't contribute anything positive. 

I am opinionated and outspoken by nature (blame my mother!). As such, rather than not contributing anything at all - if I cannot contribute anything positive - then I am likely to contribute something negative (see the D. H. Lawrence quote, further down). However, I have now become rather jaded of peddling the same antagonistic rhetoric. Furthermore, I suspect it likely that people have become as bored about reading the post-Ebbsfleet bad vibes, as I have about writing them. This, coupled with the points above (Salisbury etc.), lead me to seriously contemplate whether it was time to call 'it' quits ... 

Those reaching for the brandy and cigars, at this point, should hold their horses, however. For I have been saved! An evening spent watching - with 61 others, including old friend Steve Henson (whom - I hope he won't mind me mentioning on here - has had better years, rather putting things into perspective for me) - the Youth team's well-deserved and rather thrilling 2-1 (AET) victory over Forest Green Rovers in the FA Youth Cup was a sharp but welcome reminder that visiting York Road and supporting the Magpies can be an enjoyable experience. 

The fact that it was an entertaining game (as hinted at above) certainly didn't hurt. Nor that it was a match-up between two fiercely competitive but seemingly ego- and histrionic-free teams, refereed by an official who didn't need/ want to be the star of the show, watched by an engrossed and knowledgeable crowd. It was good to see Drax present (superbly dressed in a woolly hat, grey tracksuit and yellow Caterpillar boots) and also to chat with ex-Magpie striker and current Berks & Bucks Youth coach Steve Hale (who did bemoan the lack of MUFC players in the bar afterwards; probably past their bed time, though, Steve!). The not-unfriendly welcome from Steward Jnr (par for the course with him, TBF), the courteous and chatty barmaid, and the restoration of the walls in Stripes (including the fancy dress sponsored walk certificate from Parkinson's UK and the Hall of Fame photos, albeit not in the correct order, and some frame-less) were other plus points.

We have - as per usual, it would seem - a Youth team to savour and, in Sam Lock and Aaron Steadman (both happy, BTW, to chat with us in the bar, post-match), coaches who are determined to see their charges progress ... crucially, to the Maidenhead United first team. Here's hoping some many will. Brandon Baker-Timms, Ryan Debattista and Jason Belgrave (I - unlike Hale, Henson and the MUFC coaches - thought the latter looked more threatening out wide, rather than up top on his own ... but what do I know??) are just a few - of several - names to look out for. I, for one, would like the Youth team to play on Monday nights more often - as I usually play myself (albeit badly) on Wednesday nights - but I hope to make the next round, away at Cheltenham Town, later in the month. Regardless, I wish them all the very best.

“I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze” - D. H. Lawrence penned in a 1913 letter to Cynthia Asquith. I can (or, hopefully, could) empathise with that sentiment, if truth be told. Perhaps it should be noted, however, that - as per Wikipedia - Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile ... At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents.


Thanks - in no small part - to Henson and the Youth team, the other night, I now fully appreciate it is time for me to 'draw a line under' Ebbsfleet. Not to forgive, necessarily, and certainly not to forget. But to move on. 

“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by a bee.” ~ William H. Walton

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright


OK, a positive attitude. Here goes ... 

'Chairman who knows his football' The Chairman is seemingly 'contract happy' and easily led (#potkettleblack, re the latter) ... but, thanks to him, the club is now debt free. And we should count ourselves very fortunate that he took over, not some ultra ruthless/ clueless businessman who would likely have lead the club down the (Jon) swanny. 

The Manager, meanwhile, is seemingly aloof, often foul-mouthed in the dugout, full-of-excuses after a defeat and too loyal to his clique ... but he is a fundamentally talented football operator and nobody better is available or would likely want the job. As aforementioned, the grass isn't always (Dennis) greener.

That'll do for now. Small steps an' all that! 

In all seriousness, some may point out that they'd heard all of this 'more positive, going forward' guff from me before. And that would be a fair point. Therefore, as gesture of goodwill - and further to a comment at the foot of a previous post - I will make a fixed contribution to the Link Foundation charity for each league goal that David Pratt scores for the Magpies this season, in excess of the 11 that his namesake Vernon got, one season, in the mid-90s. 

I won't be disappointed if/ when he gets a hatful, and my wallet takes a battering.


Sunday 7 October 2012

Away Day Diary: Didcot Town 1-0 Maidenhead United (06/10/12)


Right! Let's get the football out of the way: yesterday got spoiled by the 90 minutes of on-pitch action, and dwelling too long would ruin today as well. Needless to say, an injury-hit MUFC conceded a sloppy goal (Derek Duncan playing a striker onside, who finished via the bar), missed a whole host of chances (Alex Wall firing so many shots over the fence that, at one stage, I wondered whether DTFC had enough balls left for the game to continue), had a goal disallowed for offside (Wall getting a shot on target, for a change), were denied a clear penalty (a home defender blatantly handling on the floor, thus preventing Wall the chance to miss another sitter), lost their discipline (captain - CAPTAIN! - Danny Brown seeing red for calling the referee a '####ing cheat') and, ultimately, threw a five-figure sum down the (Jon) swanny. A draw would probably have been the fair result, but a limited Didcot Town side wanted it more than a seemingly complacent Maidenhead United team. As such, the Railwaymen deserved to progress (thus making club history). I wish them well.

'Disgraceful', 'pathetic', 'shameful' and 'unwatchable' were some of the words used by others to describe the Magpies' display. There have been calls for the manager's head. I felt similar emotions after our limp FA Cup exit at Bashley in September 2008. A Magpies XI, featuring Jamal Fyfield, Ashley Nicholls and Richard Pacquette - with Mustafa Tiryaki on the bench - losing 2-1 to a team bottom (or at least in the bottom three) of the Southern League Premier. Didcot, in comparison, currently lies 16th in the Southern League Division One South & West. (On this performance, some of the Maidenhead players also belong in the Southern League Division One South & West, although that didn't stop them swaggering around the clubhouse - untidily dressed in tracksuits, with oversized caps on backwards - like the love children of Thierry Henry).

A contract extension is, of course, more likely than the sack, although poor league form this autumn cannot now be masked by the odd Cup win. This regime, let's not forget, didn't see fit to replace Carl Taylor after he had taken us down with a defence that conceded 99 league goals - instead, they offered him a contract (which he didn't sign!). #stability Furthermore, would you have any confidence in 'Chairman who knows his football' and company picking someone even remotely half decent to replace Drax? No, me neither. Be careful what you wish for - the grass isn't always (Dennis) greener.

There have been accusations of me 'revelling' in MUFC Ltd. defeats. That's not true: train away days in the cup, at unfamiliar grounds, are what I really look forward to, and there will now be fewer of those this season than I would've expected. To hopefully illustrate this point still further, I will leave it there (for now) and instead share some photos:

^^^ Fuzz - fresh (haha!) from an underwhelming Julian Cope gig in Reading the night before - was on the Jack Daniels almost as soon as our 11:04 train had left the station! In hindsight - bearing in mind the Maidenhead performance - it was probably the right thing to do!

^^^ Macleod (M) had seen MUFC play at Didcot before (a pre-season friendly) and said that it was a sh!t hole ... and a weird sh!t hole at that (he wasn't wrong). As such, we instead went to Goring-on-Thames for our pre-match pints. The Queen's Arms - close to Goring & Streatley station - urgently needs refurbishment. The landlord was still tidying up from the night before when we banged on the doors 45 minutes or more after the supposed 11am opening time. I've referred to the Frost Report's classic 'three ages of man' sketch before when describing pubs, and will do so again: it knew its place.

^^^ The John Barleycorn is apparently the Brakspear pub of the year 2012. It's not hard to see why (it has a billiard table, for a start!). Is there a 'No Singing. No Dancing. No Swearing' sign at York Road? There should be.

^^^ A photo for the much missed Macleod (C), who will undoubtedly appreciate the mulletmanship on show. Fuzz, meanwhile, soaks up the sun. It was glorious: sitting in the Barleycorn pub garden was the best bit of the day. Not going to the game - and instead staying put - was mooted. If only.

^^^ Bar Street, Goring-on-Thames.

^^^ Pub #3 - the Catherine Wheel - and Fuzz is busy noting the song titles we've given him for the next On Trial UK album: 

1. Maroon Morris Marina 
2. Punk Gimp 
3. Muttley Crew B-side (To The Power Of Ten) 

Nb. the gents - or, more accurately, the entrance to the gents - in this pub? Stupendous.

^^^ Better than Aston. A pristine sports car and a dilapidated tractor in the same driveway? Gold.

^^^ As in, nice pair of ... Incidentally, I've been in this curry house with the wife (we often spend our anniversary in Goring, as we were married in nearby Streatley). It is usually busy on Saturday nights, and no wonder. I highly recommend it.

^^^ Honeypot audition?

^^^ A worthy winner.

^^^ Jonny 'No Show' 'Late Show' Wah Wah enters the fray. #trouble

^^^ Didcot's tribute to The Beatles (yellow paint on order)? Or a grey duck?

^^^ Brilliant Leisure.

^^^ *humming the Shameless theme tune* 

^^^ For a few moments, we thought that this was Didcot Town (in blue) vs Maidenhead United: 'Leigh Henry has lost some weight'.

^^^ Wah Wah enjoys a conversation with someone of similar mental age.

^^^ 'Welcome to Didcot Town FC'.

^^^ 'Same old Maidenhead, taking the piss'.

^^^ *humming The Simpsons theme tune*

^^^ Didcot Thong Rangers?! Gotta get me a club emblem pin badge!

^^^ Really? Is that so?

^^^ Inflatable on the left is symbolic of the Maidenhead performance.

^^^ 'Come on, Farnborough!'

^^^ < insert 'rubbish' punchline here >

^^^ How big?! This lady was good fun, BTW.

^^^ What are you drinking, Macleod (M)?! ;-)

^^^ The DTFC clubhouse BEFORE the half-time whistle. I doubt that Stripes has had this many people in it all season!

^^^ The best pool table cover ever?

^^^ The Anchor on tour.

^^^ Classic kit. Classic pose.

^^^ The travelling hordes pack an unfinished away end.

^^^ 'Right side stand, give us a song'. 

^^^ The patented Maidenhead United 'counter defensive' in three easy steps: 
#1 Maidenhead United have a corner.

^^^ #2 The corner - usually knee high to the near post - is cleared.

^^^ #3 There's a chance at the other end - usually a free header at the far post.

^^^ Perhaps the best photo of the day! Gordon's Dad is on the phone providing match commentary to someone, although not Gordon, as he is clearly in attendance (and likely preparing to trade further tweets with Educated Left Foot, also at the game!). 'Chairman Who Knows His Football' covers his mouth in shock (probably just heard a swear word); Rasher kicks the fence (probably gonna write himself a letter).

^^^ Snapper; view his photos HERE.

^^^ Put 'em up, take 'em down.

^^^ This young man's father follows Tottenham Hotspuds, W@nky Wanderers and Maidenhead United. Poor, poor kid.

^^^ The DTFC clubhouse. More than two and a half hours after the final whistle. Stripes - lest we forget - was completely empty, bar Dereck Brown, only an hour after the recent Bognor game had finished. The DTFC Chairman saw this photo taken and was keen to talk me through the various memorabilia items on display. He was a great bloke, certainly too polite to comment on the MUFC Ltd. officials' post-game boardroom no-show (which was described by another as 'embarrassing'). Instead, he said we were a 'real credit' to our club. I nearly wet myself laughing.

^^^ Any eagle-eyed Everton fans reading? #topsecret

^^^ After post clubhouse pints in estate pub the Ladygrove - and then the Prince of Wales (best of a bad bunch) - we got the 21:47 train back to Maidenhead (which, lamentably, wasn't a direct train). While sitting next to an Ospreys egg-chasing fan - who was mightily impressed by our relative chumminess with the GLC - Macleod (M) decided to rummage in the (increasingly heavy and difficult to carry) flag bag. Unexpected treasures included a packet of unused black 'Trademark' balloons, a Gloucester City hat, a Dartford vs Maidenhead Town [sic] match day poster and two cans of out-of-date Carlsberg Export ...

^^^ Waste not, want not! Here's to a more prolonged FA Cup run next year.

P.S. There were a couple of Swansea City fans (with Home Counties accents?) on the train back. We mocked their rip-off Real Madrid replica shirts. They explained that the kits were part of their centenary celebrations. We then mocked their relative lack of history, which got me thinking: is there a club that has lost more FA Cup matches than Maidenhead United? As no other team has entered the competition more times than us, presumably not! #tradition

Thursday 4 October 2012

Family club? #### off!

As above, it would seem that the players and management were once again fast and loose with the expletives.

Unlike the KSG at Ebbsfleet.

What will the Board – all-too-keen on handing out letters and banning orders to certain long-standing supporters who strenuously deny allegations of misbehaviour (“attempting to bring alcohol into the ground”) – and that sanctimonious weasel, Cloughie, say/do about it?

#### all.

####ing ####ers.

Anyway, I am loath to end a(nother?) post on such a negative note - ahead of this Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Didcot, which I am very much looking forward to - and, thanks to the MUSA 'Ground Maintenance Officer' and the below article, it would appear that all is not lost...

Well done that man!