"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

Wednesday 28 February 2018

2017/18 Diary ~ February

Scarf My Father Wore - County's adopted anthem - is, according to Tim Marshall's excellent "Dirty Northern Bastards!" And Other Tales from the Terraces: The Story of Britain's Football Chants, as good it gets re songs at football; I was pleased to hear it live … although it can go on a bit!

The Maidenhead equivalent, of course, is Soggy Sombrero; the original instigator of said ditty - the legendary Brian McK - entered the Maiden's Head, pre-match, just as we were leaving

Orient getting all of the Bell End in August pissed me off, as my York Road match day experience is negatively affected by not being able to stand behind both goals; imagine my reaction to turning up on Saturday and seeing that segregation pens have been installed on the 'Maidenhead Kop' (the turd-coloured paint job does, I think, give some indication as to the level of thought from those responsible)

Canal End: plans for turnstiles down there - work had belatedly started last summer - appear to be in tatters (a breezeblock wall has been demolished, replaced by a chain-link fence that extends towards York Road), hence the aforementioned ruination of the Bell End :-(

Keeper Ben Hinchliffe was in the thick of the action throughout: expertly stopping a fierce drive from James Comley - after the Hatters had taken an early, and not-undeserved, lead - then smiling ear-to-ear at the away fans (noticeably fewer than the other ex-Football League sides that we've hosted this season), who were literally wiping brows and puffing out cheeks, after the 'Marlow in the black' had booked Comley for an alleged dive (stonewall penalty not given, IMO; other decent shouts also waved away)

Piss poor performance from the official summed up still further when he clearly went to book our Man of the Match, Ryan Upward, for over-celebrating his equaliser - Les described my reaction to the goal as 'rolling back the years' #scenes - only to realise that it would've been the midfielder's second yellow of the game, and so sheepishly returned the card to his pocket

On an increasingly wet and muddy pitch - one that certainly wasn't conducive to easy-on-the-eye football - Maidenhead cranked up the pressure; Stockport defended valiantly, though, while the ball just didn't seem to want to fall for us in their box … and when it did …

Ryan Upward - that man again - was denied by another top drawer Hinchliffe save; a near relentless barrage of corners followed, as full-time approached, but the final whistle sounded seconds BEFORE an effort from substitute Adrian Clifton nestled in the onion bag

Tuesday night replay it is then; uncertain, at the time of writing, whether I'll be able to join Macleod (M) and his other passengers for the car journey up north …

(Match highlights here)

Snow was forecast, but the game went ahead; however, I wasn't among the travelling support - 21 diehards in total - due to babysitting duty

Team sheet didn't fill me with much confidence: Remy Clerima out (injured?), Harry Pritchard and Sean Marks only on the bench

0-0 at the break was a minor miracle: both Craig and Macleod (M) were far from complimentary about our first-half display

Cue a half-time rocket from Dev, presumably, and two quick-fire goals (from Jake Hyde and Sam Barratt)

Kiss of death, texting 'Wem-ber-ley! Wem-ber-ley!' to Craig and the Macleods? Yep.

Pegged back to 2-1 by Darren Stephenson - impressive in the first game; this one as well, by all accounts - before County equalised, via a deflection (again; their opening goal at York Road had also been inadvertently diverted past Carl Pentney), in the 90th-minute

Ouch! 3-2 AET, with a strong suspicion of handball re their winner; "Two-nil and you fucked it up" :-(

Rather like our disappointing FA Cup exit, at Coventry in November, the only silver lining is that an eagerly anticipated league game - Macclesfield away on 24th February - can now go ahead as originally scheduled

Tough result to take, though, no two ways about it; almost glad that I wasn't there. (Almost.)

(Match highlights here)

Tottenham vs Arsenal on BT Sport; Maidenhead could really do with another striker, but even the Magpies would likely turn their noses up at Alexandre Lacazette, judging by his finishing - or lack of - at Wembley

Oval ball action, i.e. Ireland vs Italy in the Six Nations on ITV? I watched less than ten minutes before bolting to the kitchen to make cupcakes with Junior (whilst listening to BBC Radio Berkshire, obvs.)

Rather worrying to read Dev's pre-match comments about the state of the squad, post-Stockport; learning that Alan Massey was also suspended for two games only made things worse

Quite a din from the travelling support - who numbered anywhere between 200 and 400, depending on your source - even before they'd taken a first-half lead (great strike by Colchester loanee Aaron Barnes, brilliantly captured by Scouse Snapper Mick)

Upward, Ryan with a superb equaliser, direct from a free-kick; goals and Magpie of the Match displays on consecutive Saturdays from the former Flackwell Heath, Beaconsfield SYCOB and Burnham midfielder, who seems increasingly comfortable at this level

ANOTHER fluky, deflected goal against (late winner); very frustrating

York Road stewards would struggle to organise the proverbial piss up in a brewery, so it was a baffling decision - by the similarly incompetent Thames Valley Police? - not to segregate; disappointing, but certainly not surprising, to read reports of fisticuffs between small groups of 'supporters' #familyclub

(Match highlights here)

Gone are the days when I'd religiously attend Maidenhead United games - week in, week out, without question - but I genuinely can't think of any that I was gutted to miss … until this month when, it transpired, two came along like London buses: the replay at Stockport and our - quite possibly one and only - visit to Nethermoor Park

Unfortunate timing for me, as this fixture - the first of three 'big' away games in the space of four weeks (the others being Macclesfield and Gateshead) - coincided with a trip to the in-laws' to celebrate my wife's birthday

I chatted with my neighbour - Truronian, octogenarian, and Magpies Season Ticket holder - whilst loading the car on Friday morning; "Guiseley have lost their last six … so they'll probably beat us!" he quipped

Strange coincidence that Paul Cox was sacked as Lions boss in the week: the second time this season that he's been relieved of managerial duties ahead of a game with us!

Earthquake, registering 4.4 on the Richter scale, should've been - but wasn't! - felt by us, shortly before 3pm, in Monmouth: approximately 50 miles from the epicentre and home, it would seem, to a British Geological Survey real-time seismogram monitoring station!

Less said the better re our defending, as the home side opened the scoring through ex-Wanky Wanderers striker Dayle Southwell, but the Magpies were ahead at the break, and Harry Pritchard - with his second; Jake Hyde got the equaliser - extended the lead soon after the restart

Easy enough win, by all accounts, and we're now slap-bang mid-table (P11 D11 L11 F46 A46); happy days

You'll struggle to find a Magpies fan, BTW, who won't wish James Mulley all the very best - even at Humpton - following his recent move; he'll always have a prominent place in Maidenhead United folklore, thanks to that goal - and THAT celebration - at Port Vale in the FA Cup #pandemonium

Evening games at York Road are often magical: even the most mundane league encounter can feature memorable 'I was there' moments (e.g. Louis Wells' comical flap leading directly to Lord Jamal of Fyfield's solitary home goal - a thirty-yard wonder strike three-yard tap-in winner - vs Staines [Att. 271] in April 2010; Rocky Baptiste's hilarious free-kick vs soon to be defunct Thurrock [Att. 186] in March 2009)

As such, there was no way I was staying at home to watch Chelsea vs Barcelona on TV (sentiment seemingly shared by 1,054 others)

Strong start from the home side, as strong winds swirled around the oldest senior football ground in the world continuously-used by the same club™; James Comley was pulling the strings, despite Eastleigh's best efforts to kick him off the park

Thirty-six (or thereabouts) was Moses Emmanuel's first half offside count but, on one of the few occasions that the flag stayed down, the former Spitfires striker latched onto Sean Marks' flick and curled a shot past Graham 'Arsenal Invincible' Stack; a great finish, if it wasn't miss hit/ deflected (the flight of the Conchords ball was rather odd)

Late arrival from Macleod (M) - owing to football practice with the Nomads - and, as soon as he'd taken his place on the Bell End, just before half-time, Eastleigh were awarded a (dodgy) penalty; big centre half Ayo Obileye duly dispatching the spot-kick, as he had done in the corresponding fixture

Excellent run and cross from Harold Odametey, after the break, set up Marks to restore our lead (#9 burying the ball at the third attempt); Sauce was Man of the Match and had the left-back - Sam Wood - on toast in the second half … so much so that the ex-Wanky Wanderers defender was later hauled off!

I fully expected the referee to blow for a foul on Stack, as Harry Pritchard's corner sailed over the keeper's head and into the net, but he didn't! (Chris 'knee-high to the first defender' Ferdinand would surely disapprove)

Golden Earring (of Radar Love fame) cropped up in conversation on the Canal End - sparking a roll call of other Dutch bands - as the Magpies sauntered to a richly-deserved victory; now just seven points off the play-offs!

Hard away games coming up, though: league leaders Macclesfield on Saturday - fresh from a remarkable 4-1 win at Tranmere followed by fourth-placed (at time of writing) Boreham Wood on Tuesday (Nb. currently the top two sides in both the four-game and ten-game form tables)

Macleod (M) and I were approached at the station, whilst waiting with TWS and Shay for the 08:52 to Reading, and are now informants for the British Transport Police; the karmic payback for this was our train going backwards - literally - from Birmingham New Street

Another delayed journey on Branson's sorry excuse for a rail franchise only made bearable by an entertaining conversation with the young lady sat opposite me (a 25-year-old peroxide blonde Care Worker from Coventry with face-piercings and more tattoos than the average 'baller); she was going to Stoke, to visit her soldier boyfriend, and so we tasked her with photographing a pint of Titanic Brewery ale (she'd only managed some shop-bought bottles, as of Saturday night, although these did include a Plum Porter)

Craig was originally due to be coming with us - indeed, he'd actually bought the tickets, on the train journey to Hartlepool the week before Christmas - but would instead be attending the launch of Tracey Thorn's new Record; still, he had been kind enough to provide us with some recommendations via the Good Beer Guide app

Circular (kind of) walk - 3.3 miles in length and featuring six pubs, Moss Rose (obvs.), plus a stop at the Aldi near the station - was planned, and highly anticipated, but put under some pressure by our tardy arrival

List of pre-match boozers: the Treacle Tap (we'd almost persuaded the aforementioned Care Worker to ditch her beau and join us here, so good did it sound; and it didn't disappoint), RedWillow (beer menu as extensive as the copper pipework in this stylish bar which, while perhaps a bit too swanky for a football away day with the LADZZZ, seemed fairly typical of Macclesfield: 'an upmarket Halifax'), and the Park Tavern (meh; more of a restaurant than a pub)

Lovely stroll, through South Park, to the ground; visual highlights included a Yates' Wine Lodge sign on the side of someone's house (coincidence Liverpool FC flags were flying from the caravan in the garden? I think not! #stuffwevescoused) and two massive (Moldavian?) military vehicles parked on a residential street

Ex-Football League club in delusions of grandeur shock! We were initially snubbed at the away fans turnstiles - directed instead to the away fans ticket office - before not being allowed on the sun-baked terrace behind the goal

Square pegs, round holes line-up - again - from the Magpies, with James Comley (rested) and Harold Odametey (personal reasons) both absent; losing Rene Steer and then the in-form Harry Pritchard, both with injuries, before the start of the second half, certainly didn't help matters

Food was substandard: my Steak & Kidney pie wasn't too bad but was overpriced, while others reckoned that the Meat & Potato ones would've been perfectly suitable for vegetarian consumption

I said "this will finish one-nil" - we'd defended well, particularly Jake Goodman (justified winner of our Man of the Match poll), but lacked creativity in the final third - and so it proved; disappointing to lose to such a late goal - Dev was FUMING - but they (just about) deserved it … the sort of result on which title wins are forged

England behind in the Six Nations as we entered the Macc, which was much better than I'd expected judging by its dilapidated industrial estate surroundings (any pub that covers its toilet walls with vintage copies of Viz gets a thumbs up from me); the chippy opposite was doing a roaring trade, so much so that we had second thoughts about joining the lengthy queue and instead made our way to the Wharf (not bad, but not Cheshire Pub of the Year -worthy either, IMO)

Last watering hole, before our supermarket sweep, was the pump-clip-tastic Waters Green Tavern; I enjoyed (1.) a swift pint of Banquo and (2.) correctly pointing out to the resident barflies the Shakespeare play in which said character - and his ghost - makes an appearance

Diane from Donny -equivalent conspicuous by her absence, as feared, on the return train journey; there's a noticeable difference, I think, in the clientele on Saturday evening trains going to London through the East Midlands vs those heading towards Reading via the West Midlands (e.g. one of the football fans who took it upon himself to sit with us on Saturday - a bald Aston Villa supporter with a hipster beard, who'd apparently spent the day boozing in Leamington Spa - had something resembling a swastika tattooed on his ring finger)

(Match highlights here)

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