"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

Thursday 30 November 2017

2017/18 Diary ~ November

Colchester United in 1960 was the last time that we'd played a league side in the FA Cup, prior to Aldershot in 2011 (and some people - me included - question whether the Shots qualified as a bonafide league club); remember that 51-year barren spell whenever someone comments on our supposed abundance of recent good fortune #abouttime

On one of the 13 supporters' coaches to Essex sat my maternal grandfather, who first took me to York Road in the mid-80s and, shortly after WWII, had moved down to Maidenhead from Annfield Plain … via Coventry! No one could've been more pleased with this draw than my Mum (whereas I was rather envious of Slough getting Gainsborough away #contrary)

Verging on the ridiculous, meanwhile, was Macleod (M)'s tale: he watched the draw live on an iPad in a hotel bar, whilst on holiday in Dubai, and apparently predicted that we'd get an away tie at the Ricoh Arena … just weeks after ending a 13-year stint as a Ricoh employee!

Eleven:eleven train from Reading - with plenty of Magpies on it;  the blokes next to us cracked open a bottle of port! - arrived into Coventry just after twelve:thirty (slightly late) and preceded taxis to the excellent Dhillon's Brewery (close to the ground; highlight of the day)

New #1 in the 'biggest ground I've seen Maidenhead play at' stakes: the Ricoh's 32,609 capacity slightly ahead of the 30,500 seats at Stadium MK (where we lost 4-1 in a B&B Cup tie on a bitterly cold night in December 2007; Darti Brown scored a wonder goal, 263 saw it)

Thoroughly underwhelming experience: only James Comley really did himself justice; Harry Pritchard should've opened the scoring but shot weakly at the keeper (and, generally, didn't look 100%); sloppy defending for both goals (the second, just before half-time, was particularly deflating); Alan Massey went down, clutching his face, rather easily (regardless, I thought that their player was somewhat fortunate to escape with a yellow card); Adrian Clifton should've halved the deficit, with time remaining for a Port Vale-esque equaliser, but blazed over; pathetic home attendance (just 3,370 in total, >20% were away fans); decent Magpie turnout (716) - a modern-day record - and plenty of effort from the Youth, in terms of noise, although they were at the front and the acoustics were, like the view, much better towards the back

Roamed the city centre streets - pretty grim - to find a half decent post-match pub: the Castle Grounds (£11.80 for four pints of Pure UBU, served by an attractive redheaded barmaid; a porcelain Christmas decoration smashed in celebration by accident)

You'd have been forgiven for thinking that we were in a Third World country, judging by the state of Coventry city centre the trains on the way home; symbolic of a disappointing day in general (Wrexham away green lit for Saturday 2nd December, as originally scheduled, the silver lining.)

(Match highlights here)

Game of Thrones binge (most of Series 1); the wife was more or less recovered from a bout of tonsillitis but now the little man's nose was doing more running than Harold Odametey, while my throat was on fire < insert reference here to one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons >

A surprise to me that there was no late cameo off the bench from Sean Marks, at Coventry last weekend, returning as he was after a prolonged absence through injury; disconcerting, therefore, that he wasn't even listed among the substitutes for the Head derby

Tweet at half-time from the Advertiser correspondent certainly didn't make for great reading (Worse than some of the rubbish served up by Drax?! Really?)

Even though I'm a fan of his, Christian Smith replacing James Comley at the break was not a substitution that inspired much confidence of a barnstorming comeback (Presumably more to that change than meets the eye.)

Shirtless away fans seldom a good sign for the hosts; 0-3 it finished

Home form has been excellent, so this result - let alone the score - was as unexpected as it was unwelcome

Ebbsfleet in April was the last time that we'd been defeated at York Road on a Saturday (P7 W4 D3 F14 A8) - and 13th in the table is not to be sniffed at - but …

As much as being disappointed at not getting a result at Coventry does indeed show how far we've come, looking beyond the occasion - FA Cup 1st Round tie at an impressive stadium vs relatively illustrious opponents - I don't think that the players did themselves justice last Sunday; following that underwhelming performance with a comprehensive home defeat vs a side below us in the table - albeit one that has improved of late under a new manager - compounds rather than alleviates a sense of let down

Dave Tarpey has been replaced - perhaps only temporarily and insofar as such a prolific goal scorer ever can be - but there's now a Dean Inman-shaped hole in an already stretched squad and, if Sean Marks is going to miss more time, I think we need another #9 as well

(Match highlights XXX)

Wet afternoon at Waddesdon Manor - in the news, the previous day, after a fatal mid-air collision - rather than watching the North London derby and/ or attending Woking away

0-0 was the score on my most recent visit to Paul Weller's home town; I'd have gladly taken goalless draws for both Arsenal and Maidenhead on Saturday

Kingfield an intriguing stadium, not least the relatively gigantic stand that Woking Borough Council helped pay for; I was also told by a group of home supporters, over pints of Cardinal Gold in the bar one year, that WBC enforced a Compulsory Purchase Order - and subsequently demolished some houses - as part of a phased plan to prepare the ground for League football #hearsay

I've previously wondered if the reverse could happen re RBWM and York Road, i.e. the Council issuing a CPO on the football ground to build houses (or, more likely, flats); as it is, Shanly getting closer

Nice surprise to read about three points for the Wenger boys; one on the road for the Magpies also rather pleasing #nothingbetter

Game of Thrones has been a near permanent fixture on our TV, in the evenings, over the past week (we've nearly finished Series 3); I was beginning to think that the House of Stark's oft-repeated motto - Winter Is Coming - could also apply to East Berkshire's finest, but perhaps that's me being something of a Negative Ned

(Match highlights here)

Even Drax would think twice before coming out with the risible comments that Spitfires boss Richard Hill made, after their 2-0 home defeat vs Barrow last weekend; the 100+ Magpie fans (official away attendance given as 80, but that seems as inaccurate as the turnstile operator was slow) were primed and ready with chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning"

Alan Devonshire's 472nd game in sole charge of the Magpies, taking him above fellow Hall of Famer Len Townsend into first place; for those interested in such things, Dev's stat line reads P472 W216 D104 L152 F756 A572 W%45.8 (permanent manager win percentages, top five and other notables: Jimmy Price 60.1% [out of 233 games], Geoff Anthony 54.3% [138], Maurice Williams 48.7% [150], Len Townsend 48.4% [471], Martyn Spong 48.0% [127], John Dreyer 36.7% [79], Johnson Hippolyte 36.0% [445], Dennis Greene 24.1% [29], Carl Taylor 22.0% [50] )

Silverlake Stadium is one that I've been to several times over the years; it's changed significantly - impressively so - since my last visit in 2015, let alone since 2009 or 2007

Team sheet missing both James Comley and Adrian Clifton - not even among the substitutes - but at least Sean Marks was back in the starting line-up (Craig surmised, in the car on the M3, that Marks only appeared on the bench at Coventry so we could name the full quota of subs)

Less said about our finishing the better: Moses Emmanuel (twice) and Marks missed very presentable chances, and so a solitary strike from Sauce - MoM, for me, ahead of Jake Goodman and Christian Smith - was all that we had to show for a dominant first half performance worthy of a four or five goal lead

Easy decision for the referee to award us a penalty - converted by Harry Pritchard - shortly after the break, although this was preceded by a clear push from Sam Barratt on Gavin Hoyte, and was followed by a yellow rather than a red card for the ex-Arsenal defender, who tripped Barratt when he had NO keeper to beat (the aforementioned push had caused Hoyte to clatter into Graham Stack, outside the box); the ref wasn't the sole reason why we lost didn't win this game - our woeful finishing was, IMO, the primary cause - but he did get some big calls wrong (see also: no free kick for Maidenhead nor red card for Stack, after he'd handled on the floor outside his area, and James Mulley being shown a yellow card before, 30 seconds later, a red - no second yellow - after inadvertently catching Hoyte with a high foot)

I've said before that our squad needs reinforcements and I stand by this assessment: Marks was blowing - understandably - long before he was subbed but, with Clifton unavailable, we had no #9 to replace him; his departure saw us struggle to hold the ball upfront, lose momentum, and drop far too deep

Game-changer, though, was Eastleigh getting a penalty - correctly awarded after Pritchard's ill-judged lunge - with a little over five minutes left; I think that the home side could still be playing now, without scoring, if they hadn't been given this lifeline

Hartlepool at York Road in August were the worst side that I'd seen us play, but Eastleigh were unquestionably there or thereabouts; to concede a 93rd minute equaliser to them - as inevitable as it was (missed chances, penalty, red card etc.) and as good a strike as it was - is painful to recall

(Match highlights here)

My 100% record (3/3) in MUSA pub quizzes is no more, as Team KSG - me, Craig, Macleod (M), Macleod (P), and Willie T - could only manage second place in the Ark on Friday night; more importantly, money was raised for Maidenhead LFC (I agree with Murdo that we should attend one of their away games sometime soon), and other good causes, in a charity event that doubled up as a leaving do …

Aston Villa fan, prominent MUSA activist, and everyone's favourite wedding attire beer sweetie magnate, Steve H is moving back Solihull way after 24 years in Maidenhead (apparently his first game at York Road actually came in 1970, while visiting a family member who lived here); I'll fondly remember all those long nights in the Anchor, putting the MUFC world to rights, and occasional minivan trips up the M40 ("KC drove us up") to watch Castle Vale play, but my abiding memory of Steve H - and this says more about me, I think, than it does him - will always be the tumble he took whilst celebrating Dwane Lee's penalty at Horsham :-D (All the very best, Steve H; don't be a stranger.)

Chatterton, Michael cropped up in conversation on Friday night and, as I tweeted the following morning, his MUFC Hall of Fame credentials are worth re-capping: 451 appearances (3rd all-time), 148 goals (2nd), 52 games as joint-manager (36.5% win percentage) #legend

Cold - very cold - on Saturday morning; brilliantly captured by Scouse Mick

Liverpool hotels were the focus of my attention, before a lunchtime shopping trip to TK Maxx; Craig might not be keen, but the Macleods and I are planning on stopping over - in Liverpool, not TK Maxx - after our game at Tranmere Rovers in January

Eye test at Boots for the wife, so Junior and I had some afternoon time to kill

Silly rule (League or Club?), that you have to pay full price for second half admission, meant that his competitive York Road debut would have to wait :-(

Free Advertiser balloons handed out as we instead joined the (sparse, at that time) crowd watching bands play on a stage outside the Town Hall; prelude to the Christmas lights being switched on (M@rl*w had Russell Brand, Maidenhead had some woman off Gogglebox; make of that what you will)

I assumed the Magpies had lost when, having returned to the car, I saw a tweet stating that we'd dropped two places to 14th in the table; a pleasant surprise, therefore, when I subsequently read about Jake Hyde's late equaliser (which sent Sutton, rather than Macclesfield, top)

Even though we're among the top goal scorers in the division (37 D&R, 35 Aldershot, 33 Boreham Wood & Bromley, 32 Maidenhead & Fylde) - and Adrian Clifton has impressed many with his conversion from midfielder to striker - I think it's fair to say that we've yet to successfully replicate the potent Marks & Tarpey partnership from last season; perhaps it's time to give Hyde & Marks a decent run?

Looking forward, regardless, to Wrexham away next weekend: a proper old school ground (albeit with flags rather than fans dominating the behind-the-goal terrace) and proper ex-League club (I can clearly remember listening, in my bedroom, to radio commentary of their famous FA Cup win over Arsenal in January 1992)

Don't mention, though, our record in Wales: by my reckoning, we've played in the Principality on eight previous occasions - 75% vs Newport, the other games vs Merthyr - and the stat line reads P8 W1 D2 L5 F7 A15 (the only win - not witnessed by the KSG, incidentally - courtesy of a Richard Pacquette goal at Spytty Park on Valentine's Day 2009)

(Match highlights here)

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