"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 8 December 2021

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Southend United 1-1 Maidenhead United (07/12/21)

Sixteen years ago, the Shrimpers were knocking over the likes of Nottingham Forest at home – 1-0, Freddy Eastwood; 10,104 saw it – en route to winning the League One title; these days, in stark contrast, Roots Hall is playing host to a relegation six-pointer against the club that finished rock bottom of the Conference South – with a goal difference of minus 99 – back in 2005/06


Our wretched form hadn't deterred me, Craig, and Macleod (M) – the last-mentioned the only one of us *not* making his Roots Hall debut, having seen Leeds United (ft. Trésor Kandol) play there in a 2006/07 League Championship fixture – from planning to treat this midweek match-up as a bonafide away day, i.e. cigarettes trains and alcohol


Unfortunately for yours truly, though, the COVID-19 outbreak within the Magpies squad, which caused the postponement of the original game (plus Chesterfield at home in the league; Ascot United away in the Berks & Bucks), meant that I was ultimately unable to travel by train – hitting the pubs in and around London Bridge, and from Westcliff-on-Sea station to the ground – as, the day before the rearranged fixture, I started a new job


TWS instead joined Craig and Macleod (M) on the 12:54 from Maido and then the pre-match pub crawl, which apparently went as follows: the Market Porter (aka the Third Hand Book Emporium in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'), the Barrowboy & Banker (full of Ipswich Town fans en route to Charlton Athletic), and the Two Bridges (where, forty years previous, with Jinxy Munro and Hamburg Michael for company, Craig had enjoyed his first London pint), then the West Road Tap (ft. several beers from Berkshire's Siren Craft Brew)


Having hit the motorway shortly after finishing work at 4pm, I was hopeful of reaching the West Road Tap in time for a pre-match livener: I did make it in the end, albeit only after a trying 2hr 40min drive – featuring detours through Waltham Abbey and Brentwood – evoking memories of our midweek journey to Dover in November 2019 and ensuring that I truly savoured my swift pint of Leigh-on-Sea Brewery's Legra Pale Ale


Even though massively outnumbered, albeit by not quite as much as the official figures would indicate, it was the travelling horde making *all* of the noise – aided by excellent acoustics in the dilapidated away stand – during a first-half devoid of much/ any quality; that was until a couple of minutes before the break when a lapse by the follicly-challenged linesman ("You're just a shit Dr Evil") and or the Magpies' defence afforded ex-Arsenal youngster Rhys Murphy an embarrassing amount of time and space to (1) put Southend ahead and then (2) out himself as a pillock of the highest order by needlessly giving it the big'un towards the away fans behind the goal


None of us was confident that we'd see a stirring second-half comeback from the men in yellow and green, but, remarkably, we did! The outstanding Josh Kelly forced a fine fingertip save (the 'M@rl*w with the flag' awarding a goal kick, obvs.) – and substitute Dan Sparkes fluffed a golden opportunity when gifted possession by their goalkeeper – before later chasing down a lost cause, robbing a defender, and setting up Kane 'scores goals' Ferdinand to spark jubilant celebrations (albeit not, initially, from the goalscorer – Southend being his boyhood club)


Dennis Greene was talking bollocks (as per) when he said that "there's nothing better than a point on the road" – obviously it would've been better to have won the game; I think that, with a bit of luck, we would've – but a draw was not to be sniffed at, especially as it (1) stopped the rot, (2) lifted the Magpies out of the relegation places, and (3) seemed to be a more satisfying overall experience for us than for Southend; hopefully, it can be the catalyst for some much-needed Maidenhead wins

Monday 22 November 2021

'As featured in the Southend Echo'

^^^ As above, a Woking fan on Twitter nominated me to provide Chris Phillips, the long-serving Southend Echo sports reporter, with some thoughts and observations - from a Maidenhead fan's perspective - ahead of our upcoming relegation six-pointer at Roots Hall. The article is on the Echo website. My answers repeated below:

  • What have you made of the season so far?

It has been tough going, to be honest, particularly the last few weeks. Following an extraordinary 3-2 home victory over ten-man Wrexham - in front of their Hollywood owners - the Magpies have lost three four straight games and conceded 15 16 goals, including seven in a remarkable FA Cup tie at Halifax.

Injuries have not been kind to Alan Devonshire's squad since pre-season, but we appear to lack quality in crucial areas, and it does feel a little bit like the manager is throwing mud at the wall at the moment, hoping some will stick. Our lineup seemingly changes from game to game, which is obviously not conducive to success; our last win versus a fellow National League side, without the aid of a dismissal, came against relegation favourites Dover Athletic at York Road in late August.

  • What had been the expectations for the club this season? What do you feel is still possible?

Maidenhead United competing with former Football League clubs in the National League is a surreal experience. And each new season, for us at this level, starts with the same goal: stay up, keep the dream alive! That said, I do think survival is a realistic expectation - what with the points deduction for Dover and only three relegation places. We lost some key players from last season, though, with Josh Coley and Danilo Orsi-Dadomo moving to Exeter City and Harrogate Town, respectively, and Rohan Ince to Woking. Adequately replacing the likes of them was never going to be easy. As since proven.

Ex-Southend trialist Jamie Sendles-White made an unexpected debut in the 4-0 defeat at Boreham Wood on Saturday, after which the talismanic Devonshire gave a rare and perhaps telling post-match interview. He hinted at further personnel changes - possibly regardless of the outcome at Roots Hall on Tuesday night. However, our playing budget is dwarfed by that of most other National League clubs. So jettisoning underperformers and or signing worthwhile reinforcements is far from straightforward. Dev certainly has a big job on his hands to steady the ship, but history suggests that he will get things right at the end of the day.

  • You have quite a few ex Southend players. How have Sam Barratt, Emile Acquah, and Kane Ferdinand all been playing for you?

Kane Ferdinand signed from Woking in a de facto swap with Ince. He has chipped in with some vital goals - not least a last-gasp winner at Halifax on opening day - but, rightly or wrongly, has suffered comparisons with the ex-Brighton midfielder.

The physically imposing Acquah has seen more playing time of late - as Nathan Blissett struggles with his form and fitness - and scored a brace in the FA Cup defeat at Halifax. I hope that coming up against his former club will put some fire in his belly.

Much was expected of Sam Barratt when he signed a two-year contract extension in the summer. Frustratingly, he has again suffered disruptions caused by niggling injuries.

  • Some Southend fans may not know too much about Maidenhead. What can you tell us about your more recent history?

Southend United was crowned 2005/06 League One champions after beating Bristol City 1–0 at Roots Hall in front of 11,387 fans. In stark contrast, our final home game of that season was a 6-2 loss to Eastbourne Borough, watched by 217 people! We finished rock bottom of the Conference South back then, but have subsequently celebrated two promotions, most notably when a league record 44 goals from David Tarpey helped us win the Conference South in 2016/17 - our first title for 55 years. 

  • Who is the dangerman?

Youth team graduate Josh Kelly seems - touch wood - to have finally shaken off various long-standing injury concerns and, this season, is starting to fulfil his immense promise on a more consistent basis. I understand that his Dad hails from Southend. As such, presumably, the former Northern Ireland U21 international forward will be particularly keen to impress against the Shrimpers!

  • What is the team news?

Recent defensive woes have coincided with Will De Havilland - our best centre half - missing games with a hamstring complaint. I don't expect him back for Tuesday night, which doesn't bode well from a Maidenhead perspective.

  • What's your prediction?

This matchup has evoked memories of another potentially vital midweek six-pointer away from home when we beat Maidstone United in January 2019. It would be good for us to see a repeat scoreline: 4-2 to the Magpies - one red card apiece; Ferdinand, Acquah and Barratt among the goals - although that'd be a case of heart ruling head! Bearing in mind our wretched form and De Havilland's likely absence, I'd probably take a draw.

Monday 8 November 2021

Away Day Diary: Halifax Town 7-4 Maidenhead United (06/11/21)

Honestly thought, after our disappointing trip to Altrincham, that Southend in late November would be my next MUFC away game; I hadn't factored in (1) the Magpies beating Hastings United at the home of football, and (2) the subsequent draw made on ITV #MagicOfTheCup

A televised 90th-minute winner in front of the Bell End, and news of CWKHF kindly stumping up for a subsidised supporters' coach (which, lamentably, wasn't filled), confirmed that I'd made the correct decision to bin off a fireworks display on Saturday at Windsor Racecourse - I instead accompanied the wife and kids, on Guy Fawkes Night, to one in Henley-on-Thames - and commit to joining Craig and Macleod (M) on the trains (even though we would be travelling to an increasingly familiar destination, rather than the more exotic-sounding Ponte Carlo)

Like on opening day, we enjoyed a fried breakfast in Paddington before departing King's X on the 09:33 train; Macleod (M) pointed out both he and I had overlooked that our beloved Goldie Lookin Chain would be playing The Warehouse in Leeds later, which prompted a general sense of foreboding ...

I'd suggested we mix things up a bit with a pre-match mini-crawl in Leeds - before a customary stop in the Three Pigeons Pigeon Centre, obvs. - and that is what we did: Whitelock's Ale House (decent; "the very heart of Leeds," according to John Betjeman), the Head of Steam (we weren't planning on going in there, for a change, but [1] Tapped had bouncers on the door, which was off-putting, and [2] it's a good job that we did as, in addition to the usual fine selection of beers, there was a Maidonian behind the bar!), and the Scarborough Hotel (meh; topics of conversation included generational cohorts, which kinda summed things up!)

Frankly ridiculous first half (Emile Acquah with a brace!) ended 4-3, with the raucous away support asking both teams - genuinely - What the f**kin' hell was that?! The madness continued after the break, prompting the collective shaking of heads and scratching of chins (and, later on, the checking of record books): When was the last Maidenhead game with eleven goals? When was the last time that we scored four but lost? When was the last time that we were on the receiving end of a 7-4 beating?

After post-match drinks in the Three Pigeons ("We haven't made the 3rd Round Proper since 1988," lamented one home fan, rather misjudging the mood of his Magpies-oriented audience) and Meandering Bear (delicious pints of Tiny Rebel's Peloton Pale and Settle's Plum Porter; vibe reminiscent - in a good way - of a German bar); a supermarket sweep in Tesco Express (where, back in September 2017, we'd bought a Frozen cake to celebrate my birthday); a delayed train ride from Halifax (packed to the rafters with disconsolate Sheffield United fans); a sprint to catch our connection at Leeds; a carriage-wide sing-song to wish Willie T - self-isolating at home - a happy 40th; jovial conversations with the Rangers-supporting train guard ("like Steve Coogan channelling Brian McKendrick in an Armando Iannucci -penned mockumentary pilot"); and a regrettably unpleasant encounter with an accusatory, punch-throwing, silver-haired, silk scarf -wearing rugby fan with - he boasted - an architecture degree from Kingston University (year unknown; he couldn't remember); we stalked off - still more-than-a-little shell shocked, I think - into the cold Berkshire (mid)night

XII (i.e. twelve) successive post-WWII 1st Round Proper ties have now been lost by the Magpies, which is presumably an unenviable FA Cup record (UPDATE: nope!); we can perhaps write off the embarrassing 7-4 scoreline on Saturday as a freak - the result of a wide-open cup tie played in miserable conditions - but, it is crystal clear that Dev cannot put out a makeshift defence, with our tone-setting midfield dynamo shunted to full-back*, and expect to get anything out of games against above-average opponents such as the Shaymen (*Why haven't we signed a right-back on loan - if only for a month - with Remy Clerima busy modelling, plus Ryheem Sheckleford and Shaun Donnellan injured?)

Monday 11 October 2021

Away Day Diary: Altrincham 2-0 Maidenhead United (09/10/21)

A veritable horde of Maidenhead fans on the 07:32 train to Reading; topics of conversation on our journey northwards included the ticket inspector's resemblance to Ade Edmondson, the Saudi takeover of NUFC, favourite Belle & Sebastian songs (Craig's vote for #1 goes to the title track of their second EP), and a long-overdue chant for Alan Massey

Let's get the football out of the way early: the Magpies' performance at Moss Lane was rank and easily bested by a decent (if nothing special) side that we mightn't be playing again next season unless Dev quickly strengthens a squad severely lacking (1) midfield creativity and (2) forwards capable of providing a reliable goal threat

The Jolly Crofter (we changed trains at Stockport, which reminded me - not in a good way - of Chemnitz) was the first of several pre-match watering holes: Pi (some brilliantly-named ABC beers; discussion re 'Berks & Bucks towns as Premier League football clubs'), Jack in the Box ("another place more suited to a meal with the wife and the kids, rather than an away day with lads"), the Cheshire Tap (pints of Beartown - if not, sadly, Crème Bearlee - in an establishment that resembled an actual pub!), and Costello's Bar (group photo time)

RANK performance from the Magpies! Did I mention that already? OK, as you were ...

I wanted to go into Roy's Sports Bar, obvs., after expensive post-match pints on the Alty Bell End, but, following a supermarket sweep in Tesco Extra (better than recent efforts, especially as there was almost too much choice), we took the more sensible decision to whet our pre-departure whistles in the Station Hotel (carryout stashed behind the bar, as insisted upon by the door staff)

Not immediately evident to us - as I was bombarded with photos of beautiful beaches by members of the Egypt tourist board, and shared After Eights (straws, not squares) with fellow passengers Loughborough Jess (*not* the woman pictured, above, frightening Murdo) and Shai with an 'i' - that the train we were on from Stockport was running late; so much so that we would miss our connection at Reading

Clubbing together for an Uber ride might've been a good idea at this point but the choices considered were (A) stay put and wait more than an hour for the next Maidenhead stopper, (B) get a train - past York Road - for a connection at Slough, or (C) hit the town

Hit the town (i.e. Revolucion de Cuba) was the correct answer, or so Shay with a 'y' and I thought at the time; Craig and TWS - if not Macleod (M) - opted for (B)

Another good day out tainted by 90 minutes of football, then? Not so much. (Hey ho, at least Sutton United won we got to catch up with N.O'G., at the ground, for the first time since Halesowen.)

My next Maidenhead away game will probably be our midweek trip to Southend in late November; here's hoping that (1) any new manager bounce for them subsides in the meantime and (2) Sam Barratt and Emile Acquah can produce the goods - stop laughing at the back! - against their former club

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Yeovil Town 0-0 Maidenhead United (05/10/21)

You'd have been forgiven, bearing in mind (1) Maidenhead's lamentable home defeat vs King's Lynn on Saturday and (2) the national fuel shortage, for thinking that we'd give a midweek trip to Somerset a miss, but that would perhaps be ignorant of (1) the Magpies' unbeaten record against the Glovers - won four and drawn two (now three), dating back to an Isthmian League Cup tie in October 1985 - and (2) the MurdoMobile having a full tank

Erratic weather - blinding sunshine one minute, ominous-looking clouds and torrential downpours the next - as we made steady progress on our relatively straightforward journey down the M4/ A33/ M3/ A303: we passed Stonehenge shortly after six and arrived at the ground in time for dinner (not bad) from the Only Food & Sauces van - behind the Thatchers Gold Stand, surrounded by countless potholes - before kick-off

Our starting lineup included new loan signing Jay 'Mingi the Merciless' and, despite his all-too-predictable dismissal for two tackles yellows (the Yeovil no. 16, in contrast, got away with persistent fouling all night), his sprightly midfield display typified a much-improved performance from Alan Devonshire's men

Very few goal-scoring chances were created by either side, even after the red card: Nathan Blissett had a couple for the Magpies in the first half but (1) was hauled down when through on goal (free kick just outside the box, obvs.), then (2) shot tamely into the side netting, while Rhys Lovett produced a fine save to repel Alan Massey's misdirected header, before the travelling hordes (34, officially, although there was 50-odd in the away end) roared the team over the line for a deserved share of the spoils

I'd have taken a draw before kick-off - and it was pleasing that almost every Maidenhead player impressed (including lively substitute Josh Kelly, if not the two attacking Bs) - but, as discussed on the drive home (involving a slight detour due to road closures affecting both the A303 and the A34; soundtracked by songs from the likes of Belle and Sebastian - seemingly a Murdo Mixtape staple - and The Lightning Seeds), it is a concern that our better performances of late have only yielded solitary points (see also: Grimsby); no win now since 28th August

Long (ish) trip to 8th-placed Altrincham, this coming Saturday, presumably has 'good day out tainted by 90 minutes of football' written all over it; here's hoping that the Magpies, rather than the watering holes in John Squire's hometown, change the narrative

(BBC report; match highlights)

Sunday 19 September 2021

Away Day Diary: Notts County 1-0 Maidenhead United (18/09/21)

Not one, or two, but three runners - the latter none other than our former Assistant Manager, Sam Lock - passed me and Macleod (M), on the walk to the station, making yours truly feel suitably bad for giving a last-minute swerve to an early morning 5K (even though I'd been awake in good time)

Our train from Maidenhead to Paddington contained more Magpies than usual, most - unlike me, Macleod (M) and Craig - travelling on cheap tickets (£5 each way), via Grantham; topics of conversation included Edd China, possible Angela Lansbury- themed porn flicks (e.g. Murder She Rode), and interpretations of the Britannia S3 finale

The first pub on our pre-match crawl - after a greasy spoon (passing a pink McLaren with personalised plate; homeless persons just out of shot) at King's Cross/ St Pancras, then meeting with Stuart on the train and Steve H outside Nottingham station - was Castle Rock's brewery tap: the impressive Vat and Fiddle

Tour guide from here on was former Maidenhead United and Mercy College striker, and current West Bridgford resident, Andy Eaton; four starts, 61 sub appearances (kinda), and nine goals for Berkshire's finest during Dev's first spell as manager

September sunshine summed things up as we enjoyed more Castle Rock pints sat outside the Embankment ("Would you like a loyalty card?"), and then Navigation ales sat outside the Trent Navigation (with some cracking retro shirts dotted about)

Count em! 24 years (almost) since my last visit to Meadow Lane - to watch Exeter City - with Willie T, his brother, and his Dad; far too big and impressive a stadium for this level of football

Our starting lineup looked promising - or, bearing in mind injuries and suspensions, as promising as could be expected - and we performed much better than vs Stockport on Tuesday, in the first half; however, Josh Kelly failed to even hit the target with two gilt-edged chances that he really should've buried

Unlikely that they'll be as bad in the second half, warned Macleod (M), at the break, as he photographed me with a stag from Chipping Ongar; he wasn't wrong, and the home side - underwhelming overall - scored what ultimately turned out to be the winner, minutes after the restart, assisted by yet more powderpuff defending

Not even a penalty save from the returning Rhys Lovett - candidate for our MotM, along with Will De Havilland and Sam Beckwith - could significantly rouse the away support (76); the noticeable lack of "Alan Dev's" and "We love you, Maidenhead" told it's own story #ComleyWhereArtThou?

The post-match pub crawl - after a taxi ride to an already lively city centre, past a church converted into an eye-catching Pitcher & Piano - went as follows: the Kilpin Beer Cafe (Fruli on tap; 1. FC Köln on TV; Uncle Luther photo on the wall), the Kean's Head (pub as impressive as the view of the church outside; my rhubarb cider went down a treat), and the Canalhouse (as recommended by Gandermonium; likened by Murdo to The Calls in Leeds)

You'll have heard a 'good day out tainted by 90 minutes of football' from us before, but not that our train journey home included a civilised discussion, with a couple of fellow travellers, about the collapse - 13 years ago this past week - of Lehman Brothers. (Sadly, as things currently stand, the long-time bankrupt American firm probably has a better chance of near term success than Maidenhead United!)

(BBC report; match highlights)

Sunday 22 August 2021

Away Day Diary: Halifax Town 1-2 Maidenhead United (21/08/21)

Hundreds of days - more than 500, in fact - since my last MUFC train away day (Halesowen in the FA Trophy), I have to admit that booking tickets to/ from Halifax (£47 total for two Advance Singles) got me right in the feels; kinda apt, BTW, that we were presented with a trip to West Yorkshire, to open up the 21/22 season, seeing as our home game vs the Shaymen was the only 20/21 fixture with fans inside York Road

After waking up before my alarm (which I had to remind myself how to set; "there's a 5:45 in the morning now?!"), a walk into town with Macleod (M) to meet Craig and TWS (the latter newly-minted, thanks to a casino win in the small hours), breakfast at a Paddington greasy spoon (good call by Craig; topics of conversation included 'supermodels in music videos' and 'songs that you now associate with banal things', e.g. Blondie's 'Atomic' being the hold music for the IT help desk at work), and having to face the wrong way on the journey from Kings X (sat directly behind Macleod [M] was a longtime Hayes fan who, for some reason, has decided to jump on the Magpies bandwagon; it was also revealed that, when he was a youngster, Craig's mother knitted him a 'Starsky & Hutch' cardigan), our pre-match pub crawl - featuring two new venues and two old favourites - proceeded as planned: the Meandering Bear (we got drenched on the short walk from the station; Macleod [M] was particularly enamoured with the Elland Brewery beer mats), the Grayston Unity (GMOSC Pub of the Year in 2019; the back room - and Guess Who? - has gone, though, which is a shame), the Alex (the Smiths joined us in here, as we sat on the roof terrace to digest the surprising team news, and observe a[nother] staircase to nowhere #bruchsal), and the Three Pigeons aka the Pigeon Centre (now evidently an Ossett Brewery pub; as busy as I've ever seen it)

Lineup was, as already intimated, a shock: I doubt there were (m)any people who could've predicted that the Magpies starting midfield three would consist of newly-signed Trialist B Charlee Adams (MotM, IMO), a 17-year-old on work experience, and Remy Clerima! (The latter should've put us ahead, BTW, after great work from the lively Josh Kelly, but their keeper made a smart save.)

I tweeted at halftime - before a chat with ex-Magpie Danny Whitehall and his Cornhusker fiancée, supporting the stripes Halloween decorations from the cheap(er) seats - that there wasn't a lot in it; opponents that, in truth, both looked like they could do with another week or two of pre-season

Ferdinand, Kane came on for YTS, shortly after an enterprising run from Kelly (later inexplicably subbed) had helped set up Sam Barratt for our equaliser, and the former Woking man capped an energetic cameo with a splendid curling effort - into the top corner, from the edge of the box, in the 90th-minute - to spark joyous celebrations in the away end ("Play the f**king music!"); a raucous "Alan Devonshire's Black and White Army," during five minutes of added time, helped the team over the line

After two swift rounds in the Three Pigeons (including a group photo, and some guffawing re the other National League results), instigating a carriage-wide discussion about gin (surprisingly unpopular; most people seemingly prefer rum) on the much-improved service to Leeds, another couple of rounds in the Head of Steam (Fruli for me - yum!), a shambolic supermarket sweep (Dark Chocolate digestives?!), a slight detour back to the station (my bad), conversations with three Nottinghamshire-based Leeds fans (one of whom apparently has a sizeable Tik Tok following), and an increasingly-arduous tube (!) train- journey to 'Maiden-head', it was past midnight before I walked through my front door; as Macleod (M) had remarked, in the taxi ride home, we'd been out for nearly 18 hours!

XTC's 'This World Over' played randomly on Spotify, over Sunday morning crumpets, although another song by Swindon's finest - not on Spotify, for some reason - would've been much more appropriate, bearing in mind (1) train away days are back, (2) Halifax 1-2 Maidenhead, and (3) I'll shortly be off on holiday #stupidlyhappy

(BBC report; match highlights)

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Ode to York Road

Y is for YOUNGSTER; I was just a toddler when my maternal Grandfather - a Magpies supporter since 1946 - first took me to a Maidenhead United home game (photos suggest that the opponents were Walton & Hersham in August 1985)

O is for ODOUR; to this day, I can still remember the (not unpleasant) smell of the old Grandstand where we'd sit, and I'd play with the Matchbox toy cars that my Grandad had bought me, pre-match, from Woolworths. (The odour in the Gents' toilets, on the opposite side of the ground, is equally memorable ... albeit not in a good way!) 

R is for RAILWAY side; where I'd collect conkers with my younger cousin, during some of the less enthralling matches (long before the trees were fenced), and also where - after the Grandstand fell victim to an arson attack - I'd sit, gobbling sweets (bonbons; Fruit Salad and Black Jack chews) during half-time, with my Grandad and Ray 'not the ex-England captain' Wilkins (who'd often give us a lift to the ground and park his red Peugeot 309 outside the Advertiser building)

K is for KING (of York Road); we all had our favourite players, growing up, and Benny '123 in 232' Laryea cemented his status as mine with a magnificent strike - at the Canal End, if memory serves - vs Leyton Wingate in March 1992 (announced as our Goal of the Season vote winner, I discovered only recently, in Issue 3 of the Shagging Magpies fanzine)

[K is also for KITS; November 2004, specifically, when Newport County's Goldie Lookin Chain -sponsored shirt was afforded an extremely rare outing (one of two), at York Road, in what was the first league game after the sacking of John Dreyer as the Magpies' manager]

R is for RESERVES; my Grandad and I would also regularly watch our second string, at a near-deserted York Road in the early-to-mid-90s, when the first team had an away fixture, and it was always good to see the occasional player - notably Queen's Park cult hero Peter McNamee - make the step up

O is for ON the pitch (and OTT) celebrations, after the promotion clincher vs Croydon, in May 2000; my family (parents, brother, sister) and I are among those that can be spotted, in the video footage of the jubilant scenes, which precede a certain someone 'falling asleep' on the Shelf! (A-level History, at school the next morning, can't have been much fun ... one imagines! *ahem*)

A is for ALCOHOL (following on from the previous entry!); pre- and post-match beers in the Cricketers, the Anchor, and the Maiden's Head, over the years, and of course in Stripes - the venue for Hall of Fame induction nights (photos with the King!), MUSA quizzes (I'm a three-time champion, with the plastic medals to prove it!) and Football Focus (ft. Dion Dublin and Martin Keown, live on BBC One!)

D is for DON'T; as in (1.) these words don't even begin to cover it (so many memories, so many friendships forged), and (2.) "Please don't take my Bell End away"

  • Top, left ~ vs Walton & Hersham, FA Trophy, August 1985 (possibly)
  • Top, right ~ Chairman Roger Coombs presents my Grandad with a commemorative shield, to mark 50 years supporting MUFC, ahead of the FA Cup game with Havant Town in August 1996
  • Bottom ~ A minute's silence for my Grandad - and others, connected with the club, who'd passed away in the off-season - before the opening home game of 2008/09 (vs Bath City)

  • Top ~ The King and I, in the summer of 2007, at the inaugural Hall of Fame induction
  • Bottom, left ~ Rob 'Rod Hull' Saunders vs the Chain, November 2004
  • Bottom, right ~ Peter McNamee; 86 (first team) starts, 11 goals, one particularly memorable York Road red card - together with Molesey's Chris Vidal - in October 1992

  • Top, left ~ Winners of the 2009 MUSA Quiz Night: Bob Popejoy, me, and my parents
  • Bottom, left ~ Yours truly, stood between some of the Hall of Fame photos and the FA Cup, before the Rotherham game in November 2019 
  • Right ~ Mr Logic with a BBC Sport microphone, when the Football Focus crew came to town

  • Top, left ~ Twirling scarves, live on BT Sport, during the FA Cup Replay with Port Vale in November 2015; Alan Massey's opening goal had earlier sparked - perhaps the ultimate - #BellEndScenes
  • Top, right ~ Smiles all around, after our 2-1 win vs East Thurrock in April 2017, as news filtered through that title rivals Ebbsfleet had dropped points at Truro
  • Bottom, left ~ The KSG - or some of us ... and does Willie T count?! - during the FA Trophy match with Stockport in February 2018
  • Bottom, right ~ Bell End, after loss to Ebbsfleet, in April 2017; our Conference South title celebrations would have to wait until the following Saturday