"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 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)

Thursday 21 March 2019

Away Day Diary: Harrogate Town 1-0 Maidenhead United (16/03/19)

Heathrow Terminal 5 for the 09:25 British Airways flight to Leeds-Bradford; the second time that I've flown to a Maidenhead United game (Gatwick to Newquay - for Truro away, during the Conference South title-winning season - being the first)

After spending nearly as much time taxiing to the runway as we did in the air, strong winds and rain greeted us upon arrival in North Yorkshire; more happily, the Macleods (M & P) had been up there since Thursday, and they kindly took time out - from their break from stalking Remy! - to collect Craig and me from the airport

Roll call of pre-match pubs: Winter Gardens (impressive building, but underwhelming ale selection for a Wetherspoons; two coach loads of South Shields supporters arrived just as we were leaving), Major Tom's Social (nice set-up, but a 'bit beardy' and lots of children about; "like a hipster crèche"), Montpellier (compact and 'foodie', but friendly staff and a top pint of Timothy Taylor's Knowle Spring), and the Harrogate Tap (an early contender for 'Pub of the Year'; our first encounter of the day with a lapsed Sheffield Wednesday fan - nice bloke - and his Town-supporting mate)

Rainfall was heavy and prolonged, almost apocalyptic; standing water on the Stray and general agreement that our match only went ahead because of the 3G pitch

O-O or 1-1 would, IMO, have been fair; the Sulphurites are evidently a strong side - their captain, for example, was head and shoulders above everyone else re Man of the Match (ironic, bearing in mind that he looks barely 5ft tall!) - but, basically, this game came down to their centre forward afforded the freedom of West Riding, to score with a far-post header, and then their highly-rated keeper somehow managing to tip a Ryan Upward effort onto the crossbar

Ground, meanwhile, can (politely) be described as piecemeal; a haphazard box-ticking exercise, with no less than four separate stands on the dugout side and a new structure plonked - very recently - behind one of the goals (blocking natural light from getting to the clubhouse windows)

A ten-minute walk swim, back along Wetherby Road, to the Empress; decent ale selection - including Daleside Blonde, my 'beer of the day' - but standing room only, with seemingly everyone except us glued to the Calcutta Cup on TV ("The comeback starts here!" joked Craig, after Scotland had reduced the arrears to 31-7, just before half-time  ... )

Travelodge check-in complete, time for the evening crawl: the Coach & Horses (another 'Pub of the Year' contender; another pint of Daleside Blonde), the Alexandra (countless Man Utd fans - in Yorkshire! - watching innumerable TV screens, with the BBC commentary at full blast), the North Bar (it's coffee and cakes are popular with ladies who shop, apparently, and if their ales are anything to go by then understandably so … notwithstanding the odour of drying socks!), the Little Ale House (cracking micropub; protests planned against Theresa's heir apparent #fudley), Cold Bath Brewing (another good'un; almost too much choice!) and, finally, Blues (an inferior version of Vinnie's in Weston, IMO; a struggle for me to finish my pint, although this at least partly explained by the fact that we were into double figures at this point!)

Eighteenth in the table (UPDATE: nineteenth, at the time of publication, following Tarpey's first goal for Barnet) and, thanks to Chesterfield's injury-time penalty winner at Havant & Waterlooville, six points clear of the drop zone; our next match - vs the Hawks, at York Road next Tuesday - has season-defining potential

Monday 4 March 2019

Away Day Diary: AFC Fylde 2-1 Maidenhead United (02/03/19)

After three consecutive 1-0 wins, the second opportunity for Maidenhead United to record four National League victories in a row 
 for the first time  came at Mill Farm (the venue, last season, for Tarpey's four-goal midweek master class)

Four of us on the 07:17 from Maidenhead (joining Chris Rad. and Calum, who were already on the train); TWS was supping a large can of Stella after making light work of a bottle of passion fruit and apple cider, as the 08:53 left Euston!

Coventry City fan at Preston, with a large drum on his back, a strong contender for 'Wally of the Year'; other topics of conversation on the outward journey included commemorative football shirts, the six men to have scored 100+ goals for Maidenhead (Copas 270, Chatterton 148, Denton 137, Laryea 123, Lowen 110, Day 108), and Doon Mackichan

First stop, after our 11:56 arrival into Blackpool North, was Bar 19: a bit grotty, but decent beers and only £10 for four pints

You would have thought that we'd never been to Blackpool before, judging by the number of 'tourist' photos (sea, pier, tower, trams, etc.) taken – much to Craig's annoyance – during the short walk to the Wetherspoons (where the rooftop terrace was closed! #badjuju)

Like most right-minded ale drinkers, I'd planned on avoiding the Greene King pub – particularly as I didn't fancy watching the North London derby (I didn't find out, until much later, that Aubameyang had missed a last-minute penalty) – but was outvoted and so in we went; an excellent pint of Cotleigh's Honey Buzzard, TBF, which was my 'Beer of the Day' ... at least until Ossett Brewery's Blonde – in the Old Vic, opposite Preston station – on the way home ('Pub of the Day', BTW, was the Stanley Arms in Wesham)

Danny Rowe turned Alfie Kilgour inside out (no mean feat) before firing home to cancel Ryan Upward's early opener – which Macleod (M) had missed! – and Fylde took the lead not long after the break; they're a decent footballing side (with an impressive off-field set-up; a pity that relatively few people seem to care) and probably deserved to win, but they didn't create many gilt-edged chances, and it was hugely frustrating for me that the winning goal came from a goalkeeping error

Eighteenth in the table now 
 down two places  but still five points clear of the relegation zone, with a game in hand; as Jon Urry said, between mouthfuls of fish supper, we need to bounce back against Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday

Sunday 3 March 2019

Rest in peace, El Presidente

There's not much for me to add, further to the understandably glowing tributes to Jim Parsons found elsewhere online. Many left by those who knew him through his long and distinguished associations with Maidenhead United and Plymouth Parkway. How many people can claim to have left such a lasting legacy at one football club, let alone two?

Instead, I'll share some photos of our recent trip to Penzance. And re-iterate - on behalf of all those who expressed similar sentiments on the day - that another friendly between the clubs is a must. Twelve years on from the last (fiery!) encounter ... and the truly legendary night out that followed! (Sadly, no actual evidence exists of Bobby P flagging down a police car on Union Street at 3am after mistaking it for a taxi!)

^^^ Owing to a 2nd birthday party on Sunday, we couldn't leave Maidenhead any earlier than 4pm. There was a slight detour to collect Steve H from Taunton train station, with rail replacement buses - clogging up the entrance - a reminder of why we were making the journey by car. However, overall it was a relatively good run, and we arrived at our digs - the Yacht Inn - just before 21:30. Here we were greeted by a sizeable group 'carrying on the Cornish tradition of beautiful harmony singing in pubs'.

^^^ Steve H and Willie T were complaining of hunger. After confirming that they'd stopped serving food, the kindly barman at the nearby Dolphin Tavern said we'd be welcome to eat a takeaway, from the local Chinese, in the pub. Soon enough, Willie T was back with a box-worth of goodies from the Sex Palace Sea Palace! As Steve H quipped: "He must be the only delivery driver who sits down and eats the takeaway!" At least his character for Fancy Dresslemania XIX (Nb. at Salford, not Eastleigh) is sorted! Some of Jim's family were in here - coincidentally - and we chatted with his step-children, Julian and Emma. Other topics of conversation included the length of Ryan Bird's contract [UPDATE: one year, apparently, with an option for a second], a dog called Zennor, and 'fast-paced drum & bass'. At closing time, the locals suggested that the Bath Inn might be open late(r). We headed there and were pleased to learn (after the barman had agreed to let us in for one bell-beating round) that it had been a regular haunt of Jim's.

^^^ Monday. A twenty-minute each-way stroll along the promenade to and from St. Peter's Church in Newlyn. With St. Michael's Mount a spectacular - if hazy - backdrop.

^^^ A fitting send-off, back at the Yacht. Rest in peace, El Presidente.