"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 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

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