"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 3 January 2015

Away Day Diary: Hayes & Yeading United 1-1 Maidenhead United (01/01/15)

^^^ Whenever the question of 'best away day in the Conference South' crops up, on the relevant forums, as it does from time to time, you can be assured that Maidenhead will feature strongly in the subsequent discussion. This would be our (once in a lifetime?) opportunity to find out what the fuss is all about; HAYU's near farcical ground situation, and the fact that they are sharing with us this season, meant that Maidenhead United would be playing an *away* league fixture at York Road for the first time since we 'visited' Edgware Town for an Athenian League game in 1964/65. The KSG debated catching an early train (from somewhere like Furze Platt) - with a carry out; bringing along some smoke bombs (as away fans are seemingly allowed - nay, encouraged - to do at York Road) - before more sensibly agreeing to meet in the Bell at 1pm. Craig, Macleod (M) and I hereby enjoyed pints of the rather drinkable Rocking Rudolph whilst tackling topics such as 'Greg Dyke's B team idea: What's the point?' and 'Since when did phrases like 'last man' and 'eye line of the goalkeeper' enter the football rule book?'. We would soon by joined by a - very welcome - blast from the past: Scouse Mick, attending his first Maidenhead away game since, we think, Weston-super-Mare in November 2011. I appreciate that we all have better things to do, these days, than watch non league football on a regular basis - Mick, for example, is now an award-winning local photographer - but, hopefully, it won't be as long before we're re-united at another away game.

^^^ Queuing to get in. You wouldn't get that at Maidenhead! 
(TBF, we would open the Bell St End turnstiles.)

 ^^^ £12 tickets didn't last long. Noddy. You wouldn't get that at Maidenhead!
(TBF, our tickets are glorified raffle stubs.)

^^^ Drax and Dereck 'Grandad' Brown in the away dugout at York Road. Some wit quipped that this was probably a dream come true for me! Not so. #becarefulwhatyouwishfor

^^^ The aforementioned fact about us playing an away fixture with Edgware (my birthplace, incidentally) at York Road in 1964/65 was relayed to me by Club Shop Guy, just before halftime, as I passed onto him some historical MUSA stuff that I'd discovered when recently moving house. He was stood with 'legendary Royals reporter' Clive Baskerville. The Hound happened to mention that Edgware's White Lion Ground used to be a pig farm. Funnily enough (or not, as the case might be), the York Road pitch resembled a pig farm on New Year's Day. No chance of 'sexy football' on that! Yes, yes, I appreciate that both HAYU and our first team - plus others - now use it, but the pitch really is an unsightly mess.

^^^ Maidenhead shooting towards the Bell End in the first half only added to the general sense of weirdness. As you can see, Macleod (M) was particularly disorientated.

^^^ U R M Y B E L L E N D ... liderally!

^^^ First half match action. Not much to write home about. DJ Campbell finished a well-worked move, with a simple tap-in volley, to give Maidenhead an early (ish) lead, before HAYU - featuring ex-Magpies Matt Ruby and Des Waly, with Delroy Preddie on the bench (can anyone remember the songs that made up the Preddie Medley?!) - equalised just after the 20-minute mark. Will Britt made a couple of decent saves, albeit nothing that I wouldn't expect from a highly-rated loanee from a Premier League club. Campbell would hobble off with a(nother) hamstring injury. Exciting Youth team striker David Rogalski was on the bench but, rather predictably, it was Jacob Erskine who was brought on as a replacement. Erskine arrived, last season, with a 'rotund journeyman striker who cannot score' reputation but impressed me with his subsequent performances (both in defence and upfront). Here, though, he looked even larger than before ... don't we all, I suppose, immediately after Christmas?! Timmy Mallett, meanwhile, strolled past the Bell End in an oh-so-zany top that screamed 'I used to be on TV, thirty odd years ago, shouting nonsensically at children'. I quipped "Oxford United obviously don't have a game". Someone then mentioned Bristol Rovers. Now, I readily admit to being a 3CW; following Arsenal and the Gas as well as Maidenhead. But, while Michael Thomas' winner at Anfield in 1989/ Barcelona snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the 2006 Champions League final - and Dave Clarkson's winner at W@nky during Fancy Dresslemania XIV/ Mansfield winning 1-0 at the Mem a week later - caused me as much joy/ upset as play-off victory over Team Bath at Twerton/ FA Cup humiliation at Horsham, I would *never* describe Maidenhead as 'second' in my footballing affections. #MUFF

^^^ Craig and Mick went to Stripes at the break; the former enjoying a pint of Rebellion's Relegation's excellent Roasted Nuts. After a quick conversation with Gordon - living back in Maidenhead, after exile in Staffordshire - I went to help Macleod (M) hang the big flag down the Canal End. First time ever? Quite possibly the last time ever; very flag-unfriendly. "I almost regret raising money to get this end covered," joked Macleod (M). The flag failed to rouse the team, however, as the on-pitch drudgery continued. Few, if any, players stood out; perhaps only HAYU's new striker David Moli. Off-field wasn't much better; the KSG didn't want to tread on anyone's toes and so courteously gave the regulars a chance to impress ... but the silence was deafening (heavy nights all round?). Ring-rusty and without chant leader Willie 'I know 72 Maidenhead United songs' T, though, the KSG also struggled. Initially, at least. We needed something - a spark - to get us going ... and the players obviously weren't going to oblige (Erskine dallying, after being put clean through on goal, lead to rather absurd calls for him to 'be more greedy'). Thankfully, yours truly happened to spot a lime green bomber jacket in the stand; "There's Popejoy! That must be him". The rantzone extraordinaire didn't respond, however, to us imploring him for acknowledgement and so we instead gave him a wave hand gesture of our own! "Let's all wave at Popejoy"/ "Popejoy, with a prawn sandwich". Game on. McKendrick's Twelve days of Christmas (" ... and a pint of Foster's please") got an airing, as did odes to soggy sombreros/ Logic pulling in Whitley Bay/ Bobby Behazdi (not in the squad)/ John Urry/ Dereck Brown/ Jonathan Hippolyte/ Lee Newman; laughs at Marlow/ Slough Town (who, according to the match day programme, played a home FA Cup game with Hayes at York Road in October 1974)/ Dennis Greene/ our 'hosts' ("Two grounds, and you f###ed it up"); plus some par-for-the-course self-deprecation ("Sh!t ground, no fans"/ "Maidenhead's a sh!t hole, I wanna go home"). A fake goal celebration - I took an elbow to the face! - then preceded 'Come on you black & whites', 'Ole! Die super Maidenhead' and 'Johnson Hippolyte's black & white army'. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the Magpies rallied towards the end ... but there was no goal celebration, for real, in the second half. 1-1. Dreadful game (although, remarkably, Stuart reckoned that Boxing Day had been even worse!). "We love you Maidenhead, we do" could be heard at the end, though, as the Canal End sang as one ... for a change. Drax also gave us a wave, upon request, as he left the pitch. Popejoy take note! :-)

^^^ Nothing to do with me, guv! As aforementioned, Stripes now has Roasted Nuts and so the plan was to go in the clubhouse, post-match. Unusually, though, it was absolutely rammed and the queue at the bar - allied with the impractical layout - meant that you could barely get through the door. Now that the PUNA Stand has finally been sorted, the other side of the ground has surely become a pressing concern; the boardroom must be a major embarrassment to the powers that be, when they are sharing pink wafers and Earl Grey (or whatever) with visiting club officials, while the clubhouse is poor and - since the Maidenhead Beer Festival is to move to Desborough School College (more on that later) - the covered car park has reverted to uselessness. Anyway, with the Anchor closed (?) - and worse than before (borderline impossible, I know) - the only pub in the vicinity that ticked the following boxes ...

[1] child friendly (The Smiths, you see, included 'youngest fancy dresser'
[2] showing the Spuds vs Chelse game
[3] serving real ale

... was thought to be the Bell. So, we headed there.

^^^ Here we laughed (even Craig?) at Jose 'conspiracy' Mourinho and were gripped (well, some of us) by the Michael van Gerwen Les vs Robert Thornton quarter-final in the PDC darts. Pizzas (Meat Medley is, thankfully, a concoction that will find favour with carnivores, as opposed to an encounter with the former MUSA secretary who sounds like Brian Clough and droned on about membership numbers and swearing) were washed down by further pints of Rocking Rudolph. Smith the Younger (and his parents, obvs.) had to leave the pub by 9pm. Soon after, those remaining - the Macleods (now numbering three) and I - headed to the Rose ...

^^^ We were drinking Smuggler in the near-empty pub, working our way through 'Anchor jukebox anthems' (0408, 5612 etc., etc.) on their fancy faulty touchscreen, when a blonde-haired bloke arrived and starting setting up karaoke! I was volunteered to sing Tiffany; "I think we're at home now, there doesn't seem to be anyone around". Arf. Later on, Macleod (M) and I nailed 'Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do' by Goldie Lookin Chain (I say 'nailed' ... Macleod (C) has a video of the performance which might well indicate otherwise!). As I subsequently remarked on Twitter, the first day of 2015 (second day, technically, thinking about it) and things can only go downhill! Hmmm ... I'll finish with another tweet:

P.S. See below: the home of a self-proclaimed family club not family-friendly enough?! Ouch.

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