"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

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Away Day Diary: Sutton United 1-2 Maidenhead United (25/04/15)

Fancy Dresslemania XV

^^^ You may have read that we've done these Fancy Dress away days before. Lots of 'em. Last year was, for my money, the best yet. What about this year? Well, as you'll hopefully discover, the above is just one of many classic photos (thanks to Jennie, Olivia, and Stuart - in addition to the usual suspects - for their contributions). #blogwritesitself

^^^ Believe it or not, Willie T had driven to and from Leatherhead - sans costume - before my better half gave us a lift to the station, ahead of the 09:40 from Maido. Those Halifax branches don't open themselves. I'll have you know! #mariokart

^^^ The Macleods Ivan Drago and Duffman. This photo nearly broke Facebook shortly after being uploaded. Well, multiple 'likes' within seconds, at least.

^^^ Tube montage.

^^^ Escalator at Victoria.

^^^ The scene atop the aforementioned escalator. OK, not really, but an overseas hen party asked for photos - and then went crazy - before a TFL jobsworth told them off.

^^^ Carshalton: BOO!

^^^ Sutton: YAY!

^^^ Will H and LCG Dave Glen and Chris (or Chris and Glen?) outside the wonderfully - and appropriately - named Magical Haircut. Open seven days a week.

^^^ A stroll along Sutton High St - past several decent-looking boozers - to Wetherspoons #1 (Moon on the Hill). Breakfast and a meeting with Gav Altona. We were also joined by a guide - a replica shirt-wearing home fan (@rosstayloruk). Suggestions are welcome: regarding which Maidenhead defender the wooden snail (above, left) best represents.

^^^ Sun's out guns out.

^^^ How to break the internet in four easy steps:
  • Buy Craig an electric pink beret and matching sunglasses (a la Angry Salmond) from Amazon
  • Stumble across a Labour Party stall on Sutton High St
  • Take a photo
  • Post on Twitter  

^^^ Willie T Super Mario outside Wetherspoons #2 (The Grapes). Only some will get the significance of this photo (#injoke). Coincidentally, whilst Mario and I were waiting for the others at Maidenhead train station earlier, he'd greeted and briefly chatted with a passing female. He later told me that she was his GP. "No alcohol or crisps today, Doc, honest". ;-)

^^^ Absolutely packed in here for some reason, which might explain why Drax was in tears. (Hat tip to the LCG for the face masks.)

^^^ Anything to do with Taz (SUFC)?!

^^^ Next pub was the Winning Post. Safe to say that there were more than a few raised eyebrows when we walked into this establishment. Probably best avoided.

^^^ Drax for Sutton.

^^^ Glen and Chris do karaoke? Now there's an idea ...

^^^ Pub #4 - the Crown. Proprietor Rae Dawson. Arf! (#injoke)

^^^ Somebody (*cough*) put Diamond Lights on the jukebox THREE times in a row. All together now: 'Darling, I love you ... '

^^^ Duffman deriving pleasure from another's suffering ... in another rubbish pub. No Guinness - or much/ anything else on draught - so bottles of Budweiser for all. Much to Drago's disgust (arch-Communist that he is).

^^^ 15-minute walk to the ground, past a large building site. TBF, more of Sutton probably needs a bulldozer taken to it.

^^^ "One MUFC; there's only one MUFC".

^^^ Quick workout for Drago at the Collingwood Rec. Nb. SUFC sticker got Bell Ended shortly after he'd finished.

^^^ Corner flag fancy.

^^^ After changing ends following a minute's silence (in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the Bradford City stadium fire), Sutton took an early lead through ex-Magpie Dale Binns. Drago and the Minion thankfully missed it as they were in the bar (about to learn that plastic glasses are not permitted on the terraces). Section Commander Maurice of the Home Guard - and the rest of the travelling hordes - certainly didn't let this setback dampen the party atmosphere.

^^^ Batman is Spider-Man's Dad. Fact.

^^^ Maidenhead equalised around the 30-minute mark: a Harry Pritchard shot from long-distance palmed - Willie T Mario-esque - into his own net by Sutton's 3rd-choice keeper (a less-heavier-than-before-but-still-susceptible-to-chants-about-his-weight Wayne Shaw). 1-1 at the break. But the Magpies had wrestled control of the game ... which perhaps explains Meerkat Logic's tail!

^^^ Second half. Several improvements at Gander Green Lane since my last visit (August Bank Holiday 2007), let alone my first (Fancy Dresslemania I), but Duffman wasn't happy with the flag-hanging facilities re the new(ish) covered stand. Maidenhead remained the better of the two sides - with substitute Sam Barratt's impressive display prompting questions of why he hasn't featured more often - but the game was rather typical end-of-season, nothing-to-play-for fare. Soon it was time for you-know-what ...

^^^ GGL has a large circumference. I fully appreciate that now! The conga had become rather ragged, three-quarters or so around the ground when Maidenhead (Stefan Brown) scored what unsurprisingly turned out to be the winner. We soldiered on and instead enjoyed a delirious *fake* goal celebration when back to where we'd started.

^^^ Floodlight Fancy. "Scotland, give us a song".

^^^ While the Minion lofted (someone else's) banana in triumph ...

^^^ ... Duffman - who, BTW, doesn't care anymore (!) - roused the troops with one final league game blast of 'Johnson Hippolyte's Black & White Army'. 1-2 the result; 464 saw it. Match highlights here. 18th in the league! Great achievement. Brandy and cigars.

^^^ The Advertiser's Dan Darlington was interviewing Drax as we retreated to the bar. I gave the former a mask and requested a photo. "Well done Drax!" I said (non-sarcastically). "Cheers, mate!" was his reply. Fair play.

^^^ Scary or what?! Those in the background of this photo - albeit not Bavarian Les - were listening intensely to a (yawn-inducing, for us) Q&A session with Paul Doswell. "Tell Superman to shut up!" the Sutton manager shouted angrily at one point. I assume he meant Duffman ... who probably wasn't the one making the offending noise, or else we wouldn't have even heard Doswell shout! The SUFC Chairman, incidentally, commended the Maidenhead support. Rather nice of him.

^^^ Photos were taken of an impressive SUFC Hall of Fame (ft. sometime Magpie Paul McKinnon) while chatting with our friends from Gandermonium. Dukey was kind enough to help Drago find a photo of the marvellously mulleted Sutton legend Gwynne Berry.

^^^ Quick photo, just before we left, with Dale Binns. Taz took this one and was delighted by my gormless facial expression (I always look like that!). Dusty is a good player and, it transpires, a nice bloke. He's a rubbish dancer, though, and still a pantomime villain (thanks to a MUFC official claiming, at the time, that his signing for the Magpies had nothing to do with money. LOL).

^^^ Eye-catching graffiti.

^^^ "Consonant, please, Carol" "Vowel, please, Ivan".

^^^ Not - repeat NOT - a judgement on Autotec Workshop. We just couldn't come up with anything else.

^^^ We bypassed the Plough near the ground, as advised by Taz (#whatwouldmerthyrdo? #getstabbed) and were led by Gav Altona to the Robin Hood.

^^^ Best pub of the day? Angry Salmond, for one, was the opposite of angry.

^^^ Twilight when we left ... some more promptly than others.

^^^ Our final pub in Sutton was the appropriately named Sutton Arms. Decent enough.

^^^ Waiting for the tube at Oxford Circus (having *just* about managed to catch our desired train from Surrey).

^^^ Back to Maido. Dickie W and Ryan D Green Army Man and Captain America headed to Coco; Drago, Duffman, Mario, and the Minion to the Rose. Mario had a couple of goes at karaoke: his versions of a Buzzcocks and then a Libertines song were as bad as anything he's ever done (#sayingsomething). Duffman decided against the Smoke, although the above photos would indicate that his need for more drinks was the greater (by far)! #ohyeah

^^^ Stone cold sober, dressed sensibly? Guaranteed to be accused of slurring words; not allowed in. Drinking all day in a silly costume? Open arms.

^^^ Let's hope Princess Peach and Ludmilla Drago aren't reading!

^^^ Bacon sarnies the morning after.

Sutton's view? The Gandermonium write-up is here. The following line from the Amber Planet forum also caught my eye:

Job done.

Drax's view? Rather sums him up:

'To do the double over a side like that, who in my opinion are one of the strongest in the league, is a good achievement'

^^^ One of the strongest in the league?! Finishing 15th, with 16 defeats and a negative goal difference would certainly suggest otherwise!

It's hard to argue that Hippolyte hasn't improved the club since his arrival in 2006.

^^^ No, it isn't.

Before that [Hippolyte establishing the Magpies as a constant fixture in the division] Maidenhead United fans were accustomed to seeing their side slug it out in the Isthmian Premier Division, as well as the Isthmian Division 1 and Division 2.

^^^ Eh? Maidenhead United fans of a certain vintage, maybe. We haven't played in the Isthmian Division 2 since the 1990/91 season; in the Isthmian Division 1 since 1999/00. Dickie W, for example, mentioned to me only the other week that he has never known Maidenhead United sans Drax. No wonder he's excited about the imminent return of Alan Dev!

^^^ After buying the Minion hat shortly after last year's fancy dress, I was after a yellow t-shirt/ blue dungarees combo to complete the look. The product above, left, was ordered from www.cheapestfancydress.co.uk. (Maybe a clue was in the title?!) When it arrived, though, it was purple (as per the second image - from another, randomly chosen website - above right). Their grammatically poor response to my subsequent complaint email included the following lines:

The picture clearly shows that the costume is yellow and purple, not Blue. The picture doesn't look anything like Blue, therefore my web-site is not misleading at all. 

This is just a different image for the same product, they are different due to the quality of the photo, but they are both Purple, albeit the 2nd photo is more like a neon purple, definitely not Blue at all.

Does Drax have a fancy dress sideline, I wonder?! 

I returned the item and was refunded, albeit sans the not-insignificant P&P. I'd suggest one avoids www.cheapestfancydress.co.uk.

Anyway, I'll end this post on a positive note.

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