"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

Friday 29 November 2019

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Dover Athletic 3-4 Maidenhead United (26/11/19)

Didn't for one moment expect to escape traffic delays of some kind on the M25 but, equally, I also didn't expect to be celebrating - with Macleod (M) and Willie T - Maidenhead United goals whilst listening to BBC Radio Kent, in the car, on the M20! We'd left home at 5pm and, after a convoluted journey lasting nearly three and a half hours, walked through the Crabble turnstiles just as the half-time whistle sounded … with the Magpies having come back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to lead 3-2 at the break!

Only 15 or so away fans (later supplemented, behind the goal, by the suspended Alan Massey and Danny Whitehall), all of whom - bar Macleod (M), busy putting up the flags - were in raptures as Malta's Hackney's Joe Ellul (!) finished with aplomb to give those wearing orange 'fluorescent red' shirts a two-goal cushion

Very soft penalty, awarded by the vertically and intellectually challenged Referee (Lloyd Wood), on the say-so of his Assistant - Nb. no second yellow, at this point, for Ellul - allowed Dover the opportunity to level the scores (after Wayne Rooney John Rooney Paul Rooney had earlier halved the deficit); CHRIS DUNN TO THE RESCUE, though, with his second penalty save in three games!

Even though Ellul was harshly sent off (his second red card, for two cautions, in as many matches), after a wayward pass from substitute Ibra Sekajja, the Magpies navigated the remaining added time - five minutes, inexplicably - with relative ease: only one heart-in-mouth moment, when there looked to be more of a push in the box than the one that'd previously resulted in a spot-kick!

Rude not to toast being on the right side of a seven-goal thriller - especially as we'd only just left the car! - and so the three of us enjoyed a round of drinks, in the rather clinical clubhouse, before embarking on our return journey … which, thanks to road closures (incl. the M4) and an unavoidable petrol stop in Windsor, lasted until 1am and took our total drive time close to six hours! Worth it, though, for three valuable points #midweekawaydayfortheages

Monday 4 November 2019

Away Day Diary: Aldershot Town 2-0 Maidenhead United (02/11/19)

Although not a huge rugby fan, I wasn't going to miss the World Cup final; it seemed that neither England nor Maidenhead United would get much better chances of ending their respective droughts (16 years since Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in Sydney; 22 since Chuk Agudosi's legendary celebration in front of the East Bank)

Less said the better regarding the early morning weather, leading to us eschewing a walk into town - our preferred option - and booking a taxi; however, come pick-up time, the torrential rain had stopped, and the skies had brightened considerably

Disrupted service due to high winds delayed the 12:04 from Reading, and we were sat on the train - with a load of Oxford United fans - awaiting its late departure when an announcement came through that a long list of scheduled stops had been scrapped, including Ash; instead, we had to get the 12:32 to Gatwick Airport, alight at North Camp, and hotfoot it to Ash Vale

Everyone - including Paul (Macleod [M]'s neighbour), Mr Logic, and Dav 'the St Johnstone fan' - was extremely pleased with my choice of a pub; indeed, Ian and Mark, Shots season ticket holders from Fleet, reckoned that the Garden Gate will now become their regular pre-game haunt

Robust breeze at our backs as we attacked the East Bank in the first half; thoroughly disappointing, therefore, that - aside from one miraculous headed clearance from underneath the crossbar - we barely troubled their keeper

Some decent saves from Chris Dunn, but otherwise, he was at fault for both goals (fumbling the ball over the line; beaten at his near post); overall, it was a poor performance from the Magpies against a side hitherto bereft of confidence

Happy birthday (today) to CJ - Aldershot resident; long-time friend and colleague of mine; Luton Town fan - who would join us in the Crimea (crap beer)

Other post-match pub stops: the Trafalgar Inn (OK; not as good as I'd remembered), the Queen Hotel (photo with Fijian members of the British Army Rugby League team), and back to the Garden Gate (change of beers from the afternoon; equally good)

The old adage - 'a good day out tainted by 90 minutes of football' - was mentioned more than once on the journey home; we'll have to improve - significantly - to give Rotherham a game in front of the Football Focus cameras next Saturday

(BBC report; match highlights)

Thursday 24 October 2019

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Wealdstone 0-2 Maidenhead United (22/10/19)

We've made no secret of the deep-rooted bonhomie that exists between us and Wealdstone but, despite enjoying Saturday (before, during, and after the game), and as discussed with Craig and others on Monday, there was no doubt that we would love it - Keegan-style - if able to beat them in the replay …

Even though Rotherham United at York Road wouldn't be the most enticing reward (shows how far we've come etc., etc. that a home draw vs a League One side is now viewed with such relative indifference)

A 'Waze special' - via Langley, Iver Heath and Uxbridge - got us to Ruislip in time for a quick drink (Black Iris' Bajan Breakfast; not bad) with home fans (some we'd seen on Saturday, some we hadn't) in the Hop & Vine (which would make a killing in Maidenhead)

Lots of head scratching re the Magpies line-up (three right-backs starting, with Seth Twumasi at left-back; Rene Steer and Freddie Grant among the subs), but we were on the front foot from the off and took a deserved lead when Josh 'he's one of our own' Kelly - clearly onside - finished with a shot across the keeper

Didn't have a good view of the Wealdstone sending off - *if* it was a foul then it initially looked like a penalty and a yellow card to me, rather than a free kick and a red - but, either way, I don't think that the decision was crucial to the result; we were comfortably better than them, on the night, even when 11v11

Stones' vocal support was underwhelming throughout, TBH, but they did find their voices - baying for the referee to level the numbers - when, after their on-loan keeper had made another excellent point-blank save (he'd made a similar one, in the first half, on Saturday), there was a melee in their six-yard box; again, we didn't have a good view of things, but a yellow card (for Ryan Upward) seemed about right

Talk at half-time concerned accusations made by Barnet stewards - notoriously crap - against two Maidenhead regulars; sounds a bit like Ebbsfleet 2010 all over again ("We don't want to ban you, but … ")

Only one up at the break was a disappointment, such was our control of proceedings, but Kelly effectively settled the tie with another decent strike after 56 mins; we were directly in line and knew it was in as soon as the ball left his foot

Not allowed out at the final whistle (a rarity), presumably because there's only one entrance to the ground; I appreciate that a larger away following would be granted an expanded segregated section, but goodness knows what the likes of Wrexham will make of the Vale if the Stones are able to emulate our 2016/17 title success ("National South champions, you'll never sing that!")

Ellul, Joe - belatedly substituted after being knocked over, and possibly out, by a ball-to-the-face - thankfully seemed OK in the bar post-match; we also chatted to other Wealdstone fans, whom we'd missed on Saturday (e.g. Mark 'The Fall fan'), and wished them all the best for the rest of the season

(Match highlights)

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Eastleigh 2-1 Maidenhead United (08/10/19)

Even though I had to retrieve them from the laundry basket - after the wife reminded me, in the morning, that they hadn't been washed - my hitherto lucky underpants were on! #needsmust

A familiar haunt: my previous visits to the Silverlake Stadium have included a Macleod (M)- fronted Ye Gods! performing at the Solent Cougars Scooter Rally in July 2007, the most boring football match that I've ever attended (our 0-0 draw there in February 2009), and a 2015/16 pre-season friendly vs Abdul Osman's Partick Thistle

September from hell had seen the Magpies plummet down to earth, and down the league table, after a hugely encouraging first month of the season; October hadn't started particularly well, either

Two minutes is all Halifax had needed to take the lead on Saturday, whereas Eastleigh had to wait until the 26th; the referee, who didn't hesitate to book those wearing black and white, yet was happy to give final warning after final warning to those in blue - and who will presumably be appearing as Dopey, or one of the other dwarfs, in panto this Christmas - waved away vehement protestations of offside, from Alan Massey et al, after Danny Hollands had stooped to head in at the far post

Level at the break, though, after another Danny - birthday boy Whitehall - was quickest to react, in the opposition box, to a fortunate ricochet; there were other Maidenhead shots at goal as well - on target and everything! - and our overall performance, in the first half (at least), was a welcome improvement on recent displays

Excellent cross from the impressive Sam Smart - the Magpies had switched off at a throw-in, after a customary bout of James Comley Comedy 'winduppery' - begged to be converted … and Tyrone Barnett did the honours with a thumping header

I'd have taken a draw before kick-off and there's a good chance that we'd have secured an arguably deserved share of the spoils if our no. 18 hadn't fallen over his own feet, when a bit of Comley magic presented him with a glorious one-on-one opportunity; the former Chester man stayed down afterwards, for treatment on what the 52 away fans collectively diagnosed as acute embarrassment (the fact that it prompted a mid-match tweet from Macleod [M] is testament to what a bad miss it was; don't believe the BBC match report's truly hilarious assertion that 'Max Stryjek pulled off a superb save from James Akintunde to keep the Spitfires' lead in tact')

Goal difference is now all that separates us in 16th from Aldershot in 17th - which encapsulates our recent fall from relative grace - and Saturday's game at bottom-of-the-table Ebbsfleet has taken on a greater importance, with three points imperative; alas, it's difficult to see where our next win is coming from unless or until we bring in two or three better players to relieve the underperformers

Home to Wealdstone in the FA Cup, meanwhile, doesn't bear thinking about when you consider the recent form of the respective sides; I've nightmarish visions that we'll be comprehensively beaten, as we were by the same opposition in Drax's last home league game as Maidenhead United manager #hopenot

Sunday 1 September 2019

Away Day Diary: Sutton United 0-3 Maidenhead United (31/08/19)

Sore head for me, the morning after a work team night out (sat in the Old Manor's AstroTurf garden ... which, thinking about it, was decent preparation for a visit to Gander Green Lane's plastic pitch); news of Harry Pritchard's move to Bradford City broke as I enjoyed one of several pints of Lancaster Black

Under an hour is how long the drive should've taken, but an accident on the M25 meant that we had to take a detour - past the Turk's Head pub in Staines - and so there was time for just one pre-match drink; good to chat again, in the bar, with @garethdmiller

Terrible first 45 (from both teams, although they probably shaded things and should've had a penalty); Jimmy Nail's Ain't No Doubt playing on the PA at the break was the highlight of the day, up to that point, which says it all

Three lads walked past the travelling hordes, in the second half, and one of them - wearing round glasses - goaded us as he went, but got more than he bargained for in return: the loud chants, started by Macleod (M), that immediately followed - "You're just a shit Harry Potter, "Does Hermione know you're here?" and "Harry, where's your wand?" - had everyone (including his mates, the stewards, and the police) in stitches!

Once Shamir 'Mutha' Fenelon had given us the lead, with an absolute cracker, the result was never in much doubt ... if - bearing in mind (1.) our excellent recent record vs Sutton and (2.) the fact that I was wearing my lucky pants - it ever had been

Nice to see some of the Gandermonium crew (albeit briefly); I wish them all the best for the season and look forward to a proper beer up when they come to York Road for the final game #promotionparty

Sunday 25 August 2019

Away Day Diary: Yeovil Town 1-2 Maidenhead United (24/08/19)

Yours truly was Billy No Mates on the 09:04 from Maidenhead; my lucky pants (2/2 UPDATE: 3/3), a black and white striped sticker spotted on Platform 2 of Reading station, and Doves' Black And White Town playing randomly on my iPod, instilled confidence that the Magpies would maintain their unbeaten record against the Glovers

Even though I'd been told that Yeovil Junction station was remote, I certainly hadn't appreciated to what extent! The lack of a cash point - indeed the lack of any facilities, bar a car park - meant that it would be a 30-minute uphill trek, along a country road with no footpath, towards civilisation ...

Or what seemingly passes for civilisation in these parts! #moretattsthanteeth I bumped into the Macleods - taking time out from a stay in Wells - outside the Wetherspoons and, after two rounds in there (decent pints of Chesil and Rev. James) and one in the Beehive (scrumptious, homemade pork pies from Wells Market, washed down with rum-infused ale), we were parked up at the out-of-town ground - everything seems to be out-of-town in Yeovil; a truly bizarre place - with just enough time to spare

Very hot weather excused a scrappy game of football that was not dissimilar to the recent one at Torquay (albeit our performance levels were down, and the Glovers not nearly as impressive as the Gulls); Josh Kelly had opened the scoring at Plainmoor and only the crossbar prevented him from doing the same at Huish Park, but I felt that the win was never in serious doubt once we had - somewhat fortuitously - gone ahead ... despite Jake Cassidy missing a subsequent penalty, Yeovil having a goal disallowed for offside, and then some doofus pulling one back for them (immediately after the in-form Danny Whitehall - so good that he doesn't need a warm-up - doubled our advantage, late on, with a pinpoint strike from outside the area)

Inn of choice for celebratory post-match bevvies was the Arrow; I enjoyed a first pint of Blackthorn since my Bristol days #UTG

Love the social media meltdowns from fans of the BELTs that we turn over and, after saying goodbye to Les, there were plenty for me to savour on the train journey from Basingstoke (I was going to write 'Basingrad' there but, bearing in mind the number of high-rise flats that are planned for Maidenhead town centre, thought better of it): Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, etc., etc.

Friday 16 August 2019

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Torquay United 0-2 Maidenhead United (13/08/19)

Time - high time - for my season debut; W1 D1 L1 is exactly what I'd expected at this stage, although, as Craig had also noted, we won the game that I thought we'd draw, drew the game that I thought we'd lose, and lost the game that I thought we'd win! #themaidenheadway

Our Kid - moving to Oz at the end of the month - was supposed to be joining me and Macleod (M) for the long drive to Devon but pulled out; too late, sadly, for us to find a replacement

Resplendent views of Babbacombe Bay, from the Cary Arms; standstill traffic on the Kingskerswell bypass, had delayed our arrival by approximately 25 minutes and so we only had time for one round in this perennial favourite (#topten) before meeting - in the Union, close to the ground - with Steve J, Jim Parsons' stepson (and his son), and one of Macleod (M)'s old TVSFL refereeing colleagues (now living in Paignton)

Quarter of the way through our previous game at Plainmoor - another midweek, back in October 2017 - we were 3-0 down; a significant improvement this time ... not least the team's prompt arrival!

United - more specifically, the United wearing hideous checkerboard shirts - opened the scoring against the run of play (MASSIVELY) but, after that, produced a masterful team performance, with every man playing his part; as mentioned on Twitter, talk of a 'smash and grab' is as wide of the mark as the home side's final ball 

A-ha! (Typical social media reaction, in general, from fans of a BELT)

Y-fronts begone; I have a new pair of lucky pants! #penal (Two for two so far this season, as I also wore them whilst watching the Stockport County game on TV)

Friday 26 April 2019

Away Day Diary: Salford City 3-0 Maidenhead United (13/04/19)

Fancy Dresslemania XIX

Slow-running and uncomfortably busy train, then the Central Library - venue for a Frank Sidebottom exhibition - being shut, meant an inauspicious start to a much-anticipated trip #bobbins

A trio of top-notch beers in the excellent City Arms - I wouldn't be surprised if this place won our 'Pub of the Year' vote - got us back on track: my first taste of Titanic's Plum Porter (I'd missed out, at Tranmere last season, as I was too hungover), Brightside's Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Mild, and Fernandes Brewery's Black Voodoo (again)

List of other Friday night pubs: Wetherspoons Piccadilly (meet up with the Tuckers; underwhelming drink selection), Pie & Ale (impressive establishment; general consensus re their scrumptious pies was [1.] Pork, [2.] Chicken, [3.] Steak), the Castle Hotel (more Plum Porter), Lloyds No. 1 (Tiger Tiger had declined our custom; I definitely think that we should've stuck to the proposed crawl), and - before a final, unfinished pint of Stella back at the hotel bar - Walkabout (as bad as you might expect)

Finding a table for breakfast on Saturday morning, in the sizeable Wetherspoons Piccadilly, wasn't easy; large groups everywhere, including Scots, French and Scandinavians over for the 'other MUFC' game, plus two or three stag parties wearing fancy dress

On with our costumes, back at the hotel, before a rendezvous with Spock and Horrid Henry; then a taxi to the ground (neat and tidy; the likes of Harrogate Town should take note)

Ridiculously sloppy play from us meant that the game was over as a contest by half-time; indeed, bearing in mind the stat brought to our attention by Travis Bickle, that we haven't scored an equalising away goal all season, it was basically over as a contest when the Ammies took the lead on ten minutes (the only silver lining to our insipid performance was the reaction from some Orient fans on social media!)

Dev's 63rd birthday; he was suitably serenaded by the travelling hordes, during the second half, before an epic rendition of 'Black & White Army' that continued long after the merciful sound of the final whistle

Causes for celebration, post-match, in the Star (only one guest ale, but it was decent): group photo ticked off (#herdingcats), Duggee beat Jack Sparrow at pool (in their first match-up since 2000, when both were studying at the University of Hull), Bristol Rovers scored a 93rd-minute winner (after first conceding a 90th-minute equaliser) and, most importantly, Havant & Waterlooville lost at Solihull to secure our National League status for another season

I'd planned on us getting a bus back into town and, eventually, we did; although not before our lack of familiarity at travelling in an uncommonly large group reared its ugly head - as it had en route to Margate for FDXVII - with some of us on the X41 and others on the X43 #buswankers

Time for one in the Molly House (Beartown's Crème Bearlee was, by some distance, my 'Beer of the Day'; Jinxy Munro Ginger Spice - whose record, watching Maidenhead United in the National League, now reads as follows: P3 L3 F0 A13 - not the only male in there wearing a dress!), two quick pints in the Lass O'Gowrie (cracking pub; Crème Bearlee again), and a supermarket sweep at the station, before our train home (journey significantly more enjoyable than the recent one from Leeds)

You'd have gotten long odds, at the end of 2018, on the Magpies managing to avoid the drop; Dev keeping this team in the National League is arguably his best achievement #brandyandcigars

Sunday 31 March 2019

Away Day Diary: Halifax Town 0-1 Maidenhead United (30/03/19)

Hartlepool is generally considered to have been the best MUFC away day of the 2017/18 season and, while that is completely understandable (pre-match pints in the Brewery Tap; comeback win two days before Christmas; a photo of me with Remy Clerima taken by a future Premier League footballer etc., etc.), Halifax coincided with my birthday and so is my personal favourite; a top day out - even though we lost - and I was looking forward to another visit

Alcohol ban on our pre-booked trains - owing to Millwall playing at Elland Road - wasn't a problem on the outward journey (even TWS was happy to be drinking coffee!), but a different story on the way back: no booze lead directly to loud arguments amongst ourselves (no change there) ... about jihadi brides and Jon Snow's race-baiting comments on Channel 4, rather than the usual trivialities (e.g. Carl Pentney, York Road ground improvements) #notourfinesthour

List of pubs on the 'alternative' (i.e. different to last time, with the obvious exception of the Three Pigeons) crawl: Ring O' Bells (not the best, but close to the station and the impressive Minster; nice to sit outside in the sunshine), the Pump Room (micropub #1; strangely fascinating to watch the barman change a barrel using an improvised pulley system), the Grayston Unity (micropub #2; enjoyed it in there, and not just because I beat TWS at Guess Who?/ despite the barman asking if we were from Maidstone and then pouring the wrong pint), and finally the aforementioned Three Pigeons (Fernandes Brewery's Black Voodoo tasted like Terry's Chocolate Orange; Ossett Brewery's Blonde tasted as good as before)

Inauspicious-looking line-up (no Massey or Upward; recent signing Ricky Gabriel - nominally a left-back - making his debut at centre half) further convinced me that we were likely to lose but, after an uneventful first 45, our second-half performance was as good as the chilli & chips that I had at the interval; we fully deserved the three points, and it would've been more comfortable - a repeat of the famous Trophy scoreline from 2004 - if the post hadn't denied Josh Kelly (after Ayo had put us ahead with a coolly-taken penalty)

Further pints, post-match, in the Three Pigeons; then photos and pleasantries with James Akintunde and Nana Owusu, after bumping into them at Halifax station

A flying visit to the excellent Head of Steam, before our (long) train ride home; I've been told that Leeds is a cracking night out, and I can well believe it

XI points clear of Havant & Waterlooville in the table, so all but safe; a remarkable achievement, particularly bearing in mind *that* week in October/ November, and other poor results such as the home defeat to Braintree between Christmas and New Year #brandyandcigars

(BBC report; match highlights)