"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 28 April 2013

Away Day Diary: Billericay Town 1-0 Maidenhead United (27/04/13)

Fancy Dresslemania XIII

^^^ "He does what he wants!"

There was a moment yesterday - as we walked in light rain from Lancaster Gate to Paddington - when I remarked to Macleod (M) that it'd been another great day out in fancy dress. "Meh" was his (paraphrased) response. I was somewhat surprised by this. But, on reflection, I understand what he was getting at. After 13 consecutive years of going in costume to the last away game of the season, it is hard not to become a little blasé and engulfed by a sense of 'seen-it-all-before' complacency. 

We really shouldn't take things for granted, though.

Did we have a great day? Absolutely.

Did the KSG excel with their costumes? Of course.

Could I have written this blog post in advance? Pretty much.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Do bears sh!t in the woods?

Does the Maidenhead United chairman know his football?


Here goes nothing ...

^^^ Not unlike last year, an early start meant that we gave the 'walk of shame' a miss. Another tradition was maintained, however, as Macleod (C) Hulk Hogan posed in front of the 'Three' billboard outside Maidenhead train station (other mobile network providers are available). No sign of the LCG. Poor show.

^^^ Mama Weer All Crazee Now

^^^ More than 10 'likes' on Facebook in as many minutes. Very niiice!

^^^ Before a journey on the Bakerloo line - the Circle, you won't be surprised to learn, wasn't running - we spotted the Stig, a Mexican, and a Sheik at Ealing Broadway, accompanying a group of replica shirt-wearing Hayes & Yeading fans to their game at Hornchurch. I have since read about Dover fans congaing in fancy dress at Bromley. Good on them (and I don't mean that to sound condescending. OK, maybe it is. Just a little!)

^^^ Beers at Hamilton Hall. A load of Sheffield Wednesday fans were drinking outside, which was a bit strange as they were playing at Peterborough United ... and not until after 5pm! A lesbian couple became the first to request photos with us rather than just taking them (manners cost nothing!). The South African barmaid serving Macleod (M) thought he had come dressed as Worzel Gummidge! Disgusted, he pointed to N O D D Y written across his knuckles and demanded that she guess again. "Noddy Gummidge?" Classic! :-D

^^^ Stock photo of 'yer actual culture, innit'. Borat would spill a can of G - down his tie and onto the train carriage floor - shortly after we had passed New Upton Park. He would make a great bartender. NOT!

^^^ On our exit from the station, we were greeted by the fuzz. It has become customary on a KSG away day. These particular officers were handing out leaflets advising how to negate the risk of vehicle theft. One stopped Borat and - completely straight-faced - started advising in a thick Brummie accent ("Lock your doors, basically"). I expected the others to take a photo. Alas. Fortunately, they didn't make the same mistake later in the day when Borat was stopped by a God-botherer on Billericay High St. "What do you pray for?" he asked the man from Kazakhstan. The Puna Stand.

^^^ The advice had been to avoid the pubs closest to the station (the Railway and the Crown): instead, start our crawl at the Blue Boar. As expected, this was an(other) above-average Wetherspoons. Regrettably, no photos of its light and airy interior, but I do have one of Hulk Hogan at a urinal. Corfu Ionian Coffee Porter on draught (at a very reasonable £2.15 a pint). We should've tried some, but we didn't. #fail

^^^ Pub #2. The Chequers. The best of the bunch. We sat outside. Wally ordered some food. If his Doctor is reading, I can confirm that he didn't eat any crisps. Honest! The skirt in the top left-hand corner of this photo is seemingly typical of the clothes - or lack thereof - worn by the average Essex female.

^^^ Next stop was the Red Lion. Fair to middling. Again, a urinal photo rather than one of the pub! Like the LCG, the MMS were conspicuous by their absence. Saving themselves, no doubt, for today's big Reading game. "One team in Berkshire!" etc.

^^^ A call from Stef Napoleon and a rendezvous with the stragglers across the road in the White Hart (second only to the Chequers, IMO). Best Of Bowie, incidentally, has been on heavy rotation in the car of late, and - as I write - the following songs make up my Top 5: 

1. Modern Love
3. Queen Bitch (although, criminally, this isn't on the Best Of)
4. Changes
5. Life On Mars?

^^^ "Two Noddy Holders, there's only two Noddy Holders ... " :-D

^^^ The Rising Sun. Meh. Coxy Fernando Alonso wanted a game of pool. No deal.

^^^ 10-minute or so walk to the ground. The sun was still shining at this point. Several cars tooted their horns. Not nearly enough, though.

^^^ Anybody for lawn tennis?

^^^ A lengthy 'Olé! Die Super Maidenhead', then a decent half-pounder and chips, brought the first period to a close as the rain began to fall (quite heavily). Billericay had scored the game's only goal, Chris Flood had somehow managed to miss - Rocky Baptiste-esque - from barely two yards out, and David Pratt had worked hard. Some other on-pitch stuff also happened, but hardly anyone was paying much attention.

^^^ Borat - the renowned broadcast journalist that he is - managed to confirm the following during the interval: 

1. Mark Nisbet would have played if necessary
2. Alex Wall is tall
3. Harry Pritchard's apparent injury was not - repeat, not - caused by too much hand-party

^^^ I might write to Luton Town and offer them free usage of this image as Wall's profile pic on their website.

^^^ Classy. Drax should demand his own personalised plate when he gets the next upgrade on the Toureg. J0HN50N H1PP0LYT3

^^^ While the game was going on as well. Disgraceful.

^^^ As Harold Steptoe might say ...

^^^ Second half. Wally made a reasonable stab at leading us through some of the 72 Maidenhead United chants that he knows (or knew). Some generic/ old ('A group of blokes from M@rl*w', 'Cheer up Dennis Greene', 'Oh Logic pulled', 'We remember Histon') and some current/ more relevant ('Behzadi - he's the Daddy', 'Dereck Brown's my Grandad', 'Nisbet scored at King's Lynn', 'Wild - give us a wave' etc.). Borat also led a conga around the entire ground. During this, some oiks ran off with the MUFC union flag. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that it was jesting. Regardless, the Youth retrieved the stolen item in next to no time. However, shame on those Magpie fans who stood back and watched it get swiped. Cloughie, no doubt, is proud of you. Some other on-pitch stuff also happened, but hardly anyone was paying much attention.

^^^ Flash Gordon or Wonder Woman?
(Impressive clubhouse, BTW.)

^^^ The Grim Reaper or a hostage?
< insert 'watching Maidenhead United is torture' gag here >

^^^ Fidel Castro or a jihadist about to make a video listing his demands to secure the safe release of the aforementioned hostage? (SHOE BOMB ARMY)

^^^ "Rub your hands all over my body!"

^^^ Those supporters of the opinion that Jonathan Hippolyte needs to bulk up can rest assured; if his choice of drink - Guinness - for the journey home is anything to go by, then he is now on the famed supporters' diet. Never fails!

^^^ Yewtree sting operation?

^^^ "The HBOS story is one of catastrophic failures of management" ... can you guess which High Street Bank Wally works as a manager?! ;-)

My phone ran out of juice shortly after this photo - probably for the best. Otherwise, this post would take about a week to write and nearly as long to read! We crawled it back to the station (going in the Crown this time - not too bad), started a mass sing-song (Merry Xmas Everybody!) on a packed tube train, and argued amongst ourselves (*rolls eyes*) re Ebbsfleet/ 'Maidenhead United family club'. More drinks in the Anchor (thanks for the round, Landlord Joe), the Rose, and then Smokey's (thanks to Vinny C - my ex-workmate and former Maidenhead United reserve team player - for helping recover Borat's sunglasses from some cheeky blonde sort).

To conclude, then, the day can be summed up by paraphrasing Borat's (much-photographed) sign:


High fiiive!

P.S. Photo Addendum HERE

Sunday 21 April 2013

Sunshine On Keith

Maidenhead United 4-2 Bromley

We had decided in mid-March that Macleod (M) and I would attend this fixture, as James of the LCG was moving back to Essex, and plans were afoot to send him off with a few (pre and post-match) beers. As it would transpire, this was arguably the Conference South 'match of the day' - a massive relegation six-pointer between two sides who had plummeted down the table in recent weeks.

Bromley sat rock bottom of the (Football Web Pages' six-game) form guide, with two wins and eight defeats in their last ten league games (with a -11 goal difference during that span and just one goal scored in seven). Drax's Boyz had fared little better - 10 losses in 11 games (including eight consecutive defeats) accounting for their now-annual slide towards the danger zone ... and, in all likelihood, preceding another multi-year contract extension for the manager (#stability).

United knew, however, that three points at Fortress York Road - and neither Hornchurch nor Billericay Town winning at Sutton United and Weston-super-Mare, respectively - would see them escape the drop and enable the KSG (and others) to enjoy a stress-free Fancy Dresslemania XIII at Billericay the following weekend.

Brandy & Cigar-time beckoned. 

No further incentive required. Surely?

After missing the Magpies' remarkable win over Havant & Waterlooville - earlier in the month - due to a cold (don't worry, Macleods M and P have already given me more than enough stick about that!), I was looking forward to the game as I awoke on the match-day morning - excitement that manifested itself in a discussion, initiated by the posting of several videos on various social media sites, about how Maidenhead United should have their own pop song-cum-randomly adopted club anthem (à la You'll Never Walk Alone, Sunshine On Leith, Paper Roses, Delilah, Blue Moon or - IMO, the greatest of them all - Goodnight Irene). 

Suggestions included songs by Morcheeba, Max Bygraves and D:Ream, but it came down to I Think We're Alone Now (originally by Tommy James & The Shondells, as I discovered only yesterday) vs Modern Romance's Best Years Of Our Lives. Macleod (M) and I would take the executive decision* that - at least until someone (On Trial UK perhaps?) records a cover of the latter, as good as Snuff's cover of the former - it is I Think We're Alone Now that gets the nod. Everyone together, then, scarves aloft:

"Children behave. That's what they say when we're together. And watch how you play ... "

*We also agreed that the Magpies should run out to Doves' Black & White Town - infinitely superior to Final Countdown by Europe Laibach.

After greetings from (an injured and so non-playing) Mark Nisbet - wearing a fetching pink tie and shirt combo - and Bobby 'the Daddy' Behzadi's brother, I met Macleod (M) in the Club Shack (the LCG's call, BTW). Needless to say, not many others were present. Indeed, the wooden shed on display in the garden section of your local Homebase probably has a more-welcoming interior and livelier atmosphere. We couldn't even take advantage of the glorious sunshine - i.e. sitting on the benches outside - as the tannoy was excessively loud and belting out sh!te like Mumford & Sons and Scouting For Girls. At least the Guinness now comes out of a can (as this blog suggested it should after visiting North Leigh in January 2011).

Soon enough, others arrived - also intent on sending James off in style - both familiar members of the LCG and some new faces (including one gentleman who thought Maidenhead's nickname was the Generals!). LCG Dave had arranged for James to be the mascot for the day. The sight of the big man - in a tight-fitting black t-shirt and shorts, holding hands with captain Michael Pook as the teams emerged from the tunnel - was one to behold! "Brommerley! Brommerley! Brommerley!" chanted the away fans surrounding Mr Logic and me. "Where's Brommerley?" I asked them. No answer.

The Magpies were attacking the Canal End in the first half and were quickly on top. Former Bromley - former everyone? - striker Richard Pacquette had already shot just over (the stand) before we took the lead; some truly dazzling wing play from Harry Pritchard set up PoY-elect David Pratt for an easy tap-in. Despite the away side levelling soon after - with a slight variation on 'free header at the far post' - Maidenhead looked up for it and remained dominant. Curtis Ujah was solid in defence - certainly better than the Bromley centre halves - while Pritchard and Reece Tison-Lascaris were causing all sorts of problems.

The latter would put the Magpies back in front, calmly rounding the keeper and finishing neatly before sweaty high fives with the fans - including yours truly - behind the goal. Macleod (M) had predicted a 6-6 draw before kick-off, and such a dizzying amount of scoring didn't look beyond the realms of possibility as a Pritchard free kick fizzed just wide, and then the same player hit the crossbar. Maidenhead - who could have had a couple of penalties ("the referee killed us" ... perhaps not, having just watched the match highlights) - should have been leading 3-1 at half-time: Pacquette was slow to react, and so another good chance went amiss (it truly beggars belief that Pacman is on a contract until the end of NEXT season).

During the break, I would purchase a retro badge collection set from the Magpies Megastore; Statto would joke with Macleod (M) about Ebbsfleet's recently-confirmed relegation (themed fancy dress away day, anyone?). Discussions with Rainey would conclude that - despite his repeated claims to the contrary - Drax is a lucky manager (no bad thing, of course); what would have happened, for example, if their parent clubs had recalled our plethora of on-loan centre halves a week after, rather than a week before, the transfer deadline?

Into the second half and Maidenhead picked up where they'd left off; Pritchard - comfortably the game's best player - forced a decent save from the Bromley keeper. I commented to Macleod (M) that we needed a third goal. As soon as the words passed my lips, Pacquette powered in a free header from a corner - our first goal from a corner this season, according to CSG (although Gordon noted, on Tw@tter, that Pritchard had scored directly from one at Welling). "Right side, give us a song!" sang the LCG to our left. "If you're going to Billericay/ If you're going in fancy dress", "How bad must you be, you're losing to us?!" and "Are you Maidenhead in disguise?!" featured in response.

The Magpies had a goal (correctly) disallowed, and the Ravens were down to 10 men (their captain sent off, I'm not sure what for - foul and abusive language?) when the deficit became a single goal. A nervy finish? No. 4-2. Pacquette couldn't miss (!) after more good play from RTL. "You are my Bell End" preceded a thunderous, 10-minute plus "Johnson Hippolyte's Black & White Army" (aptly started by James, chiefly augmented by Murdo - bass [voice] - and with LCG Will on stand-banging duty).

"We love you Maidenhead!", "We are staying up," and much (well-deserved) applause at the end. Blasts of "Oh Signor Gore" (the man himself was present) and "We remember Histon" (Chris Wild, please note). News that Hornchurch had lost at Sutton. Billericay (featuring Wild) were still playing but 0-0 at Weston. Brandy and cigars at the ready!

A couple of drinks in the Anchor (where we learnt that the attendance was 422 - a season-high; make of that what you will) before Macleod (M) and I again met up with the LCG - and a seemingly ever-increasing amount of James' family and friends - in the Bell (apparently we had just missed the ejection of a couple of paralytic Bromley fans!). Pizza and more drinks. Someone had a Midouri-based cocktail (#stillgame). Tales of Whitley Bay ("Oh Logic pulled ... "). "Billericay lost!" "Diamond Lights is coming?!" "There he is!" Macleod (P) would also join us - and I would belatedly discover that I'd spent the day in the company of a work colleague's other half - before the KSG bade a fond farewell to a Smokey's-bound James (until next Saturday, at least) and headed back to the Anchor. 37 12 on the jukebox. Bang tidy!

Credit where it's due, the manager had called it:

Click here for match highlights.