"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 31 December 2017

2017/18 Diary ~ December

We caught the 07:21 from Maidenhead armed with FORTY-EIGHT tickets (incl. seat reservations) between the three of us; one delay too many meant that we (just) missed a connection (one of four) - spending unexpected time at Crewe station (£4.50 a bottle) and 'the worst pub in Chester' again (decent pint, though, of Monty Python's Holy Grail by Black Sheep) - before arriving into Wrexham after midday

Royal Oak inexplicably shut - stopping the Joule's Tap House Tour dead in its tracks - and so we traipsed back up the pedestrianised High Street (which reminded me of Newport; make of that what you will) to the ultimately uninspiring Horse & Jockey

Elihu Yale, a Wetherspoon's pub, was the next stop; we stayed there for a couple of rounds as, although it was 'Bear busy', the ales (incl. Oakham's Raucous Reindeer and Westwood's Maori Sidestep) were very good

X-rated performance from the referee, giving us next to nothing and playing a crucial part in the all-important opening goal: the home side hadn't created anything of note before Chris Holroyd - who looked suspiciously offside - was put clean through to beat Carl Pentney at his near post, after the 'Marlow 'Welshman in the black' had intercepted a Christian Smith pass and then failed to award a free kick for a foul on Rene Steer (I'm not convinced that Steer was impeded, in all honesty, but 99 times out of 100 an official would blow for it after getting in the way as this one - Marc Edwards - had done)

Hyde almost immediately spurned a gilt-edged chance to equalise, shooting wastefully wide after latching onto an under-hit back pass; I hope his Maidenhead career isn't defined by this moment, although I fear that it might be

Another underwhelming match day experience, despite amicable stewarding and the Racecourse Ground being as beguiling as I'd hoped: extortionate admission price (£20), no burgers and no chips (is that too much to ask?!), condemned terrace behind one goal (a real shame), ramshackle away quarters (so many different colours and types of seating that it made the old Railway-side Stand at York Road look coherent), home fans with an annoying drum and Crystal Pauli-esque chants ('We're on our way' zzzz), etc.

Mad dash to the nearby Sainsbury's - which seemed to be operating a minimum alcohol pricing policy, as it only had cans of Old Speckled Hen on offer (they actually went down much better than I expected, as did the port and cheese) - before our less tortuous return journey; one highlight for me was emulating Craig in getting blocked on Twitter by OrientMeatPie, the Vauxhall Motors Runcorn Town Maidenhead United Leyton Orient fan and Mickey Mouse Squad affiliate, who once stated that GMOSC was a 'shit blog that no one reads' (half right!) and, earlier in the season, after MUFC gave the mighty Orient all of the Bell End, posted on the MUFC Facebook page that Magpie supporters should 'suck it up' #karma

(Match highlights here)

Sex People (DNSFW)

Oslo in Hackney was the venue on Saturday night for mine and Macleod (M)'s seventh live experience - best yet - of the peerless Goldie Lookin Chain, which explains these links to some popular videos from their YouTube channel. (For me, at this precise moment, there's a 'post-Wrexham, pre-Hartlepool' lull re the Magpies; fortunately, I don't think that our regular readers - all two of them - come here primarily for the on-field content … they're missing the point if they do!)

Work Xmas Party at Hedsor House on Friday night; I haven't touched white wine since last year's event!

Our exploits in the Trophy seemed, for many years, more impressive - and more enjoyable - than the FA Cup (e.g. 4th Round in 2000/01 [Blyth Spartans], and Quarter-Final in 2003/04 [Halifax Town], whereas Stafford Rangers in 2006/07 was our first FAC1RP appearance for 35 years); the counteract was that you'd usually have to slog your way past all-too-familiar foes from your division, before finally getting to the good stuff (e.g. before the legendary game at Blyth - "We're the famous Maidenhead, and we went to Whitley Bay" - we'd played Humpton and Enfield from our division [Isthmian Premier], plus Braintree Town from the one below)

Kingfield Stadium for the second time within a month - i.e. Woking away - another example of a yawn-inducing, 'team from the same division that we've played loads of times in recent years' draw

I didn't ever plan on attending this game owing to the inevitable hangover; however, Macleod (M) did go

Not going to lie - my interest in the result was so negligible that I didn't bother to look it up until Sunday evening; as heartening as it was surprising to see that our goal scorers were the maligned - of late - Moses Emmanuel and Jake Hyde

Getting Halifax or Macclesfield in the subsequent draw did little to ignite my enthusiasm for this season's competition, but that may well change if we manage to navigate another tricky-looking away tie

(Match highlights here)

Happy Christmas! said the National League fixture computer abacus, with a barely concealed smirk, when giving us a 538-mile round trip on Christmas Eve Eve

AFC Fylde away on a Tuesday in August would be this season's 'I was there' moment, at least according to Macleod (M) when the fixtures were released; this changed to Hartlepool away on Christmas Eve Eve … after work commitments meant that he missed Tarpey's four-goal haul at Mill Farm!

Rat Race Ale House - the second oldest micropub in the UK; described as 'perfect' in the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide - would be closed until the 27th #badjuju

Train failure meant that the 08:11 from King's Cross to Sunderland was cancelled, so we had to travel via Peterborough #badjuju (Not disastrous, thankfully, as our arrival - and meet with Macleod (C) - was only delayed by 30 mins or so.)

List of pre-match pubs included the Causeway (very frothy pint of Cameron's Strongarm), the Blacksmith's Arms (where Craig expertly added ties to my recently purchased - on eBay, from Hartlepool! - Berkshire flag), and the Brewery Tap (four quality pints for £10.40 + free cheese = GMOSC 2017 Pub of the Year contender)

Every Northern ground that I've been to, thus far this season, has been selling pies (of varying quality) rather than burgers and chips; no chips at the impressive Victoria Park, but the cheeseburger was top notch

Poor refereeing again: this one - David Richardson - missed a clear foul on Rene Steer that led (albeit indirectly) to the home side opening the scoring and booked Sean Marks after Scott Loach had made the most of contact but barely spoke with the Pool players who left feet in on Remy Clerima (in the first half) and Harry Pritchard (in the build-up to our equaliser)

Off the line! The Magpies couldn't have argued if Craig Harrison's Richard Herring's side had been out of sight by half-time rather than only one up; Alan Massey's goal-saving block shortly after the break was a game-changing moment that sparked a second-half rally which more than compensated for disappointing displays/ results at Halifax, Chester, Torquay, Coventry, Eastleigh, and Wrexham

Our 18-stone striker (!) celebrated what turned out to be the winner with a mask that had been hidden in his sock … and then couldn't find his shin pad when play was due to restart! (Scouse Snapper Mick captured a great photo of the moment and, it transpired, also had the shin pad!)

Legendary carry-out (incl. 12 cans of lager, six pasties, two bottles of port, and a partridge in a pear tree), photos with Rainey (at least someone got the Christmas jumper memo!) and Remy (taken by Max Kilman), plus no delays (a successful sprint for an earlier-than-planned train at Paddington meant that we actually made it back in under four hours), enhanced our festive cheer; the KSG felt like conquering heroes upon our return … prompting additional - and, in hindsight, unnecessary - pints in the Maiden's Head

(Match highlights here)

Shaun the Sheep Movie on BBC One prompted a belated Christmas miracle: Junior sat on my lap and barely moved a muscle (aside from when giggling hysterically) for the entire film!

Only found out the result when switching over to Final Score at 5pm

Let's get something straight: if we hadn't sold Tarpey, we'd have pissed this tin pot league! (Bornatotter also makes a good point)

I was subsequently pleased to read that Christian Smith got the winner; he's someone who has really stepped up when called upon this season

Home win against the bottom side not a given, bearing in mind our results vs the other teams occupying relegation spots; a festive double over the Moors - assuming the scheduled return fixture goes ahead on New Year's Day - would be most welcome (Don't. Hold. Breath.)

United fans - certainly those with a basic understanding of football - will be delighted to see James Comley back from injury (groin) and on the bench

Local rivals/ lower league round-up #1: big win for Sl*ugh (with ex-Magpies Mark Nisbet, Chris Flood, and Gavin James on the score sheet), but they're 13 points off the top spot in the Southern Premier (albeit with several games in hand) #stayingdown (N.b. Basingstoke Town - an example of a club that Drax infamously said we couldn't compete with - languish in 16th)

Local rivals/ lower league round-up #2: M@rl*w's game at Hartley Wintney got postponed; they're 17th in Southern Div 1 East, behind the aforementioned Row (9th), Chalfont St Peter (8th), and Beaconsfield SYCOB Town (5th) #supermarlow

(Match highlights here)

A 12:30 meet, and then walk into town for me and Macleod (M)

First, indeed only, pre-match port of call was the Maiden's Head, where Stef et al. were already in situ; Craig and Macleod (C) would join us at 2pm

Chats with Dave L, Bobby P, Mr Logic, and Les upon entering the ground and making my way down to a less-than-packed Canal End

Frivolous penalty award - kick duly dispatched by Harry Pritchard - otherwise, we created very little of note; the away side had come close - very close - to opening the scoring when Danny 'just a shit David Tarpey' Rowe hit the post, Carl Pentney made a superb follow-up save, and then the ball was cleared off the line

You could see them taking all three points, even when we were 1-0 up, so it was no surprise that they went on to take the lead after equalising

Lots of huff and puff from Maidenhead - not least when Fylde got reduced to ten men near the end - but, in truth, we lost to the better side on the day; Macleod (M) mentioned that his highlight was chatting with ex-Magpie defender Kevin 'Sarge' Brown (150 starts/ 3 goals, in the '90s) on the Bell End after the final whistle, which perhaps tells you all you need to know

Dev's substitutions, while certainly not the main reason why we didn't get anything out of the game, were somewhat baffling: I'd have brought on James Mulley and Adrian Clifton for Rene Steer and Sean Marks rather than taking off Max Kilman (more height to deal with Fylde's long throws) and Moses Emmanuel (looked livelier than he has done)

Enjoyable year, though, all told (#understatement); here's hoping for more of the same in 2018

(Match highlights here)

PREVIOUS INSTALMENTS: August, September, October, November

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