"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

Monday 26 January 2015

Misty-eyed nostalgia

Maidenhead United on YouTube - an alternative guide

Credit where it is due - some cracking stuff has been uploaded in recent weeks to the Bell St End to Boardroom (BSE2BR) blog.

My Grandad first took me as a toddler in the early 80s. But it was in the late 90s/ early 00s - in my late teens/ early twenties - when I began to enjoy going to football for the reasons that still keep me engrossed today. We have reached this era* (the Born and Bred generation morphing into the KSG) on BSE2BR, perhaps explaining why interest has been piqued. 

I spent much of last Saturday morning watching various archive match highlights on YouTube. Nowadays, in the digital age, these types of packages are commonplace. I rarely pay much attention to them - as I find that watching Maidenhead United games just the once, in the flesh, is more than enough - but realise that they can be good; for double-checking a goal was as good as you initially thought (e.g. Devante McKain @ Dover Athletic during Fancy Dresslemania XII ... and, yes, it was), for appreciating a virtuoso individual performance (e.g. Fat Phil Wilson's heroics at Halifax Town** ... with the aid of lady luck it must be said, while Steve Hale's strike was another good 'un), for reviewing game-changing game-ruining refereeing decisions which you missed (e.g. Andy Dugdale's early red card for handball in the FA Trophy QF @ Canvey Island ... no real arguments) and for laughing out loud at 'did that really happen' curios (e.g. a cricket ball on the pitch at Welling United ... superb 'long barrier' fielding technique by Steve 'Barmy Army' Hale, on the touchline, after a loud shout - from Macleod (C) - that the referee should 'stick it up yer arse').

For me, though, these packages fail to tell the whole story; the on-pitch action is only part of a day out at football. Also, there's no context. As such, I thought I'd share some other - more alternative - Maidenhead United clips from YouTube, with additional commentary that will hopefully help 'set the scene'.

Please feel free to make known any other 'hidden gems' that I've missed, and - if I have the time/ inclination - maybe a follow-up post will result. Or maybe not.

* A time when Maidenhead United was Maidenhead United if that makes sense? People will accuse me of misty-eyed nostalgia. Of having an agenda. Of being anti-club and anti-Drax. Maybe all of that is true (at least to some extent), but others will know what I mean. And they will agree. Incidentally, watching John Dreyer's side in action on YouTube re-affirms my view that sacking him - let alone appointing Dennis Greene as his replacement - was a terrible mistake. If only Tumble could've persuaded Lawrence Yaku to turn up - and on time - more frequently. Alas.

** Ever wondered why Modern Romance's 'Best Years of Our Lives' can sometimes be heard at Maidenhead games? No? Well, tough! It's because, after the minibus ride back from Yorkshire, Macleod (C) and I ended up in some nightclub - likely Smokey's - and the UK #4 chart hit from late 1982 was playing. 'Oh oh oh oh, makes me wanna dance; Oh oh oh oh, 2-0 to the Mags'. So, if the Magpies are winning 2-0 - especially away - then get singing. 1-0, a la some heathens at Salisbury the other year? No deal. #tradition

Stafford Rangers 1-1 Maidenhead United
FA Cup 1st Round 2006/07

Before - A narrow 1-0 win over Merthyr Tydfil at York Road had secured our first appearance in the 1st Round of the FA Cup since the 1971/72 season. (The Merthyr game was the one after which a pink jumper-wearing skinhead punched Willie T, full in the face, in Stripes ... before being allowed back in for the league fixture only a few weeks later.)

We got drawn away to higher league opposition, and there was much excitement. Pharmalink kindly paid for several supporters' coaches (five or six?) to the game. A recently-appointed Drax was still in his honeymoon period. Pre-match Churchillian speeches in the pub preceded red cards for both Craig O'Connor and Dominic Sterling; a Chico Ramos penalty save; a heroic 1-1 draw; on-pitch punch-ups with some Stoke City top boys at the final whistle (see Tremendous Mike P for photos of the current MUSA Secretary going toe-to-toe - sort of - with the cap-wearing hoolies). Days like this - also Blyth Spartans (Whitley Bay), Plymouth Parkway and others - make me want to find the time for a 'Retrospective Away Day Diary' series! 

After - Once the vociferous travelling hordes had finally finished singing their collective praise of a gutsy display, it was a race against time to catch the coaches back to Berkshire. Some of us would be left behind (thanks, very funny). Yours truly, the Macleods, Willie T and Craig would have the last laugh, though, as the latter had just bought a crate of lager from the pub we'd been in before the game! We returned to the ground and had drinks with the players and club officials. After some consternation, we were eventually allowed onto the team coach (the players  - unlike KLP - were very keen on us being there ... thanks, no doubt, to the large quantity of booze accompanying us!)
The replay, ten days later, was the biggest game at York Road for some time. 1,934 crammed into the dilapidated ground. A lack of turnstiles down the Canal End (still not sorted) meant that the away fans got half - later all - of the Bell End. Sacrilegious. As if that wasn't bad enough, O'Connor failed to make amends for his early dismissal in the first game, wasting an opportunity to equalise by hitting the bar with a penalty kick (another Magpie heading the rebound wide, with the goal gaping). Then, in the second half, a male streaker would cause everyone, players and supporters, to lose focus. A second Stafford goal immediately afterwards 'turned out the lights'. Figuratively. Soon after the final whistle, meanwhile, Paul Carney (proto-Rasher) literally turned out the lights; the remaining Maidenhead fans - pushed back by the police and forced to stand on the (then crumbling) terrace next to the Magpies Megastore - had to navigate the bottle-neck, by the covered car park, in near total darkness. Some Maidonians (not York Road regulars, I'm sure) took their frustrations out on the Stafford supporters' coach: bricking the windows. (#familyclub) However, after waiting more than 30 years to reach this stage, the Magpies would do so again the following season. More on that later ...
MK Franchise Dons @ W@nky
Berks & Bucks Cup Final 2007

Before - A superb run of form after Delroy Preddie kicked a divot vs Wealdstone at Northwood saw us into the Southern Premier playoffs. A legendary midweek victory in deepest, darkest Norfolk ('Nisbet scored at King’s Lynn') preceded a relatively comfortable and straightforward 1-0 win, over Team Bath, in the final at Twerton Park. Cue delirious on-pitch celebrations and the iconic image of Macleod (C) giving Bobby 'The Daddy' Behzadi a piggy-back. A real sense of togetherness had developed (see photos from that season's Fancy Dresslemania at Banbury United for proof; players, management and club officials all posing for photographs with the supporters).
The B&B Cup Final was on a Bank Holiday Monday, 48 hours after the aforementioned playoff final. As such, legs were tired, and voices were hoarse. Sore heads all around! Probably. We should've won this game, but no one was too bothered that we didn't. The following video, believe it or not, was captured by an 80s TV superstar … as you can probably tell from the superior production values! The great and the good (and yours truly) can all be spotted: Club Shop Guy, Rainey, Rasher, Dickie West, my Mum and Dad, and Educated Left Foot. Also, interviews with The Daddy, the manager and Yashwa Romeo before the end. Macleod (M) can be heard throughout, leading us through a catalogue of chants (incl. 'Berks & Bucks, w@nk, w@nk, w@nk'). An enjoyable conclusion (result aside ... but who cares about the county cup?!) to an enjoyable season.
AfterI've written previously, on here, that the display against King's Lynn in the playoffs is the best I've seen from a Maidenhead United side. All that squad needed, IMO, to compete - if not thrive - in the Conference South was an out-and-out goalscorer. As it happened, we (inadvertently) got one: Emmanuel Williams. The story goes that Manny - who knew Drax from their (not altogether fruitful?) time at Yeading - asked to train with the club, ended up signing, and banged in 30 goals in 47 games. (Nb. the 'SuperManny Williams' chant was first heard on a rainy afternoon in September 2007, during a 6-0 FA Cup win at Brockenhurst.)
Regrettably, the unnecessary dismantling of the team and, ultimately, the aforementioned spirit of togetherness was underway. Louis Wells signed to replace Chico; we paid a transfer fee for Wes Daly; Dominic Sterling got shunted to left-back; Dwane Lee played wherever he liked; Carl Wilson-Denis started upfront; The Daddy seriously injured his knee (vs HAYU in the FA Cup) and rarely played CM again. I could go on. Instead, one word: Horsham.
Dwane Lee's penalty @ Horsham
FA Cup 1st Round 2007/08

Before - Many of us (incl. yours truly) celebrated when we got drawn against Horsham. And why not? They were a lower-league team. I remember that their supporters got the arse about that. Bell ends. Anyway, we travelled in (relatively) huge numbers - the KSG's spiritual leader coming all the way from Turkey! - and the pub directly opposite their ground (the Queen's Head?) was spilling over, pre-kick-off, with Maidonians. You could barely get through the doors, so the KSG went to the off-licence across the road and came back with a crate of lagers to drink outside! Memorably, an old boy showing off in his classic Ferrari convertible was left as red-faced as his car when it conked out - loudly and seemingly in slow motion - as he drove past the throng. Superb!
They say that 'history is written by the victors', and that rings true; all the post-match reports - in print and on TV - highlighted a 'tremendous 35-yard effort' from Nigel Brake to open the scoring, but, for me, Wells really shouldn't have been beaten from there. (I'm sure the BBC Radio Norfolk commentator would agree that Chico - on the bench at Horsham - would've saved it). Furthermore, while the 3,379 attendance was certainly impressive, it goes unrecorded that the sizeable away support made much of the noise. Bitterly disappointing, therefore, that the performance from Drax's boyz was so lifeless. Painful to recall, actually, even to this day. However, the following video cheers me somewhat; the rather desperate cry of 'come on' heard at the very start is very likely me ... even though, by design, I had recently positioned myself towards the back of the stand. It was rather obvious, you see, that if Dwane Lee's penalty went in, there would be a surge forward as part of wild - and relieved - goal celebrations. Others - e.g. the Macleods - recognised the same. Steve H - for one - didn't. He was writhing in agony on the ground as the rest of us sensed hope after halving the deficit.
AfterSteve H recovered, but Maidenhead didn't. 4-1, the final score. A deserved defeat. Capitulation. Humiliation. Irrevocable damage to Drax's reputation. For me, things have never really been the same. Horsham played Swansea City in the next round, losing 6-2 in a replay (with both games televised?). The Swans would then lose to Havant & Waterlooville, who in turn lost - despite memorably taking the lead - at Anfield ... with Richard Pacquette on the score sheet (he got the opener) and Rocky Baptiste also in the starting XI.
The day after the aforementioned 6-2 game, we lost 4-1 in the B&B Cup at MK Franchise Dons (263 witnessing a masterclass from Bally Smart and a remarkable consolation strike from Darti 'hold me back' Brown). We would then exit the FA Trophy at the original Dons in our next match. Season effectively over at the turn of the year. Sound familiar? Six consecutive league defeats in springtime saw us flirt dangerously with relegation; we would eventually end up 17th after an unbeaten run to finish the season. That was no doubt celebrated as a 'great achievement'. Again, sound familiar?
Rant Zone in the Anchor
November 2008

Before - The other night, before the Cambridge United vs Manchester United game in the FA Cup, I heard the home side's CEO - Jez George - comment in a radio interview that the football club is all about 'the fans and the youth academy'. Amen, brother! Time, now, for an ode to one of Maidenhead United's bona fide 'real' fans. Bobby P - aka Pintjoy; Rant Zone - is one of those who cuts across both the 'Born & Bred generation' and the KSG.
There was a time, meanwhile, when the post-match atmosphere in the Anchor made home games as much - if not more - enjoyable than away games. Maidenhead United 0-2 Chelmsford City in November 2008 was during this period and, believe it or not, a top-of-the-table clash. 782 the attendance, and I'm sure that the Anchor was buzzing afterwards. Significantly emptier towards the end of the night, admittedly, just as Bobby P was hitting his stride ...
After - The Anchor was a sh!thole, for sure, but it was our sh!thole. The story of Merthyr Tydfil fans - the majority of whom were presumably residents of the reigning 3rd worst place to live in the UK - refusing to go in because it looked 'too rough', is oft repeated to this day (#whatwouldmerthyrdo?). As aforementioned, Saturday nights in there, post-match, were - for a time - really rather brilliant: continuous loop of football matches on the various TVs, 80s music (Collins, Wham, John, etc.) on the jukebox, football scarves on the wall, loads of family and friends discussing the game (and likely moaning about Drax; I remember a straw poll, after a 1-1 draw with Sutton in December 2007, that resoundingly concluded he should be sacked). Admittedly, not all of the comment was as well-informed and life-affirming as the Rant Zone interviews. But still. It was a sad day when, last February, property developer Michael Shanly made Landlord Joe an offer he couldn't refuse (not like that) for the remaining piece of Maidenhead he didn't already own (well, almost).
The Anchor remains open, but the scarves are gone, and, despite much-needed new seating (plus the fact that the wife will now go in there when she wouldn't before), it is best avoided. As such, if you wanted some post-match words of wisdom from Bobby P these days, you might have to try Stripes(!). Or the Greyhound. Or the Bell. Or Bar Sport. Or the Rose. Who knows? Actually, it was in the latter where Macleod (M) and I whiled away a Saturday night with the man himself in early December. The usual topics were discussed - and sparks flew, at times, for sure - but it was an enjoyable evening. His tale of the team coach's journey to Whitehawk earlier this season certainly raised a few eyebrows! Would Lawrence Yaku, for example, refuse to travel on the team coach and instead drive behind in his Chelsea tractor with the manager - John Dreyer - in the passenger seat? Perhaps he should've! Anyway, my Facebook timeline was awash last Saturday night with status updates - and photo uploads - regarding the fact that the Wealdstone Raider was making a public appearance in Bar Sport, Maidenhead. It's remarkable to think of the Raider's success, basically ripping off Bobby P's shtick … without the nuances, thus appealing to the LAD bible masses. Jokes aside, much of the money he raises is donated to charity, so good luck to him. In a parallel universe, however, Bobby P was entertaining a load of Saturday night revellers in a northwest London sports bar. Hey ho … that's more than enough quantum theory for one post!
Rocky Baptiste's free-kick conversion vs Thurrock
March 2009

BeforeThe Magpies had topped the table early in the 2008/09 season. However, our seating shortage meant playoff participation wasn't possible, and, in any case, we fell off the pace after slashing our (presumably sizeable) budget in the new year. Whispers of Rocky Baptiste's signing emerged at Bashley in September as we were dumped out of the FA Cup by a team struggling in the division below. He would supplement a group of strikers that included Richard Pacquette, Lee Newman, Gavin James and Mustafa Tiryaki. Manny Williams, meanwhile, would later re-join on loan from Woking - an embarrassment of riches that saw James and Tiryaki farmed out on loan, the latter to Potter's Bar and then Godalming. The relatively high-profile Baptiste was clearly past his best but reputedly commanded more-than-decent wages ... which his cumbersome displays didn't warrant; some of his misses had to be seen to be believed!
With Drax bemoaning 'financial constraints' - Dale Binns sold to Hayes & Yeading, and Pacquette on loan to Histon - the long-suffering York Road faithful had to endure more Baptiste than they would've liked. Drax - in typical fashion - was quoted in the Advertiser as saying that, during training sessions, Rocky resembled Dimitar Berbatov. It was, I think, intended as a compliment. Hungry youngsters like James and Tiryaki were the future, though. We could see that. 'We', at the time, included a group of 30-odd youngsters - presumably encouraged to attend by the admirably low £1 entry fee for kids - who were loud and witty with their chants, inspiring the KSG (sans Macleod (M) ... still on self-imposed exile following his ban, post-Cirencester?) and making meaningless York Road fixtures significantly more entertaining than they otherwise might've been. The 1-1 draw with Thurrock on 3rd March was one such occasion; 186 people - incl. four vociferous away fans - generating a far superior atmosphere to anything I've experienced at York Road more recently, despite average attendances now topping 400. The video below is, sadly, only two seconds long, but one of my favourite clips on YouTube. Baptiste wallops a free kick into the stratosphere - the ball now circles Jupiter alongside the one Chris Waddle spanked over the bar during the penalty shoot-out with West Germany in Italia 90 - and the crowd falls about laughing. I love the horn sounding (Nb. you might actually have to view on YouTube for this), like something you'd hear at a circus!
After - Rocky would be substituted - to loud cheers - before play was re-started with the goal kick! Comedy gold. By the end of the month, he was gone for good, signing for AFC Wimbledon and scoring(!) in his one and only game en route to the Conference South title. He joined Harrow Borough next and, according to Wiki, scored 50 goals in 76 games for them ... but is perhaps best remembered for an extraordinary miss that has been viewed on YouTube more than 4.6 MILLION times! Baptiste's belated departure reopened the door for Gavin James, and GJ showed promise upon his return to the team before a horrific double leg break at Dorchester Town. He was out for a considerable time and now plays for Flackwell Heath.
With Rocky gone and GJ sadly crocked, it was left to Tiryaki to fire us to our highest-ever league finish (#spin). The previously unheralded Turk quickly formed an almost unplayable partnership with the returning Pacquette and scored seven goals in seven games as the Magpies ended the campaign in sixth. That earned him a summer move to Havant & Waterlooville, and Drax claimed him as another 'find' - the reality being that the manager didn't play him until the budget cuts meant he more-or-less had to). I'd have liked Bristol Rovers to sign him to replace Rickie Lambert. Instead, he had (admittedly goal-shy) spells at Tranmere Rovers and Cambridge United before returning to Turkey. He now plays for G√∂ztepe SK. The 30-odd youngsters who helped make home games good fun for a time? Only a handful remain. Why not more? I don't know. You'd have to ask them. But put it this way, if Macleod (M) and the rest of the 'Born & Bred generation' weren't about during my formative years, then I wouldn't be writing this! (#blamemurdo) As mentioned in a recent post on here, another group of vocal youngsters can now be heard at Maidenhead home games. Will they be encouraged to last longer? Don't hold your breath.
Aldershot Town replay
FA Cup 1st Round 2011/12
Before - Horsham in 2007. That was our time. When we finally got round to playing a league team in the FA Cup - for the first time since a 5-0 defeat at Colchester United in 1960/61 (Nb. my Grandad was there) - I was unmoved. In my eyes, Aldershot barely counted as a league club; we'd played them twenty-odd times since they re-formed as a non-league side in 1994, and nothing would likely surpass our 2-0 Isthmian League Div One win at the Wreck in December 1997 (Att. 2,112 - Chuk Agudosi running the length of the pitch, Adebayor-style, to celebrate his goal ... and goad the home fans!) or our legendary 3-0 Isthmian Premier win at York Road in January 2001 (Att. 1,213 - Shots fans fighting with Reading in Stripes at HT; one aiming a Nazi salute, in the general direction of Carl Taylor, near the end; Barry Rake juggling the ball on his head, taking the piss as was his wont; Adrian Allen scoring an absolute worldie on a pitch part mud, part sand ... is this game not on YouTube yet?! UPDATE: It was already there! Allen's worldie is at 20:20)
Anyway, I was away for the weekend in Bognor Regis, so missed the 1-1 draw (Att. 2,283 - Anthony 'Family Club' Thomas with our goal; we should have won by all accounts). A trip to Hillsborough to play Sheffield Wednesday (#properleagueclub) would be the reward for the winner of the replay, a game that I was willing and able to attend ...
After The above video is indicative of the exceptional vocal support provided by the travelling Maidenhead fans (and, TBF, the East Bank's superb acoustics). As at Horsham, however, the on-pitch display paled in comparison. As mentioned in the previous link, a couple of posts on ShotsTalk provide the best summaries:

"2,181......with 261 from Maidenhead......their team may not have shown up - but at least they have - fair play"

"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"

While the Shots were losing 1-0 to the Owls in the next round of the Cup, the Berkshire Magpies were losing 1-0 at home to the Dorset Magpies in the Conference South. We wouldn't win another league game until beating Salisbury on 17th December.
In fact, we went from 13th September (2-0 vs Havant & Waterlooville) until 17th December without a league win. Sound familiar? It should. I think Drax had his contract extended around this time! (#stability) Knocked out of the Trophy by Staines and the B&B Cup by Chesham (3-0), we would get relegated that season ... then reprieved after 'winning' the subsequent AGM Cup. And yet some people - Advertiser SportsTALK podcasters, this is you - find it necessary to question the fans' 'negativity' re Drax. Long win-less runs in the league, avoidable cup exits and 'miraculous' relegation escapes. We've seen it all before, lads, seen it all before. But keep buying those excuses. I suppose that someone, apart from the Chairman, has to. Anyway, I'll end on a happier note (#glasshalffull) ...


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