"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

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

The Six (6) ~ Samuel Thomson Plumbe

Sunday 14 February 2021

Magpies on song

Two long-time Maidenhead United supporters have teamed up to record an unofficial charity single, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first football match at the club's historic York Road ground.

'Two for Joy', by KSG & The Sunshine Man (aka Matthew Foster and Gordon Sweeney), will be digitally released on Tuesday 16th February - 150 years to the day since Maidenhead defeated Marlow - with proceeds donated to the Maidenhead United FC Community Trust (as part of the #Magpies150Challenge initiative).

"I first wrote lyrics for a Maidenhead United song in 2012," said Matthew, "but there have been several rewrites since; to incorporate moments such as James Mulley's famous goal at Port Vale, and winning the Conference South title at Margate.

"I'm not musical at all - as those that listen to the song will probably work out for themselves! - and so I tried to persuade my brother-in-law in Bristol to record it, plus a local punk band, but nothing materialised. Then it dawned on me that Gordon - whom I'd been standing next to, on the terraces, for years - is an electronic music producer in his spare time and was previously the resident DJ at The Honeypot. At the beginning of last year, I asked for his help; my new goal was to release something to mark the 150th anniversary of the first game. He said to email my ideas across, so I recorded the lyrics and some humming, basically, using my iPhone.

"He subsequently described his initial workings on the track as sounding like Aphex Twin meets Radiohead! Intriguing, but not quite what I had in mind! After referring him to particular songs by The Fall, Goldie Lookin Chain and Beastie Boys, things started to come together. A lot of credit must go to Gordon, to be honest, for making some sense of it all!

"It certainly doesn't sound like your typical football song, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's for charity, at the end of the day, and so I'd urge all to buy a copy; Maidenhead supporters especially. I hope some will like it. At the very least, newer/ younger fans might be encouraged to look up some of the legends of yesteryear, mentioned in the lyrics.

"I think that York Road is a special place. My late Grandad - who was a Magpies fan for more than 60 years - first took me, when I was a toddler, in the mid-80s; while my Mum, who sadly passed away last October, was also a regular in times past. I, for one, will be heartbroken when - as seems inevitable - the ground is sold for development, so am really pleased that Gordon and I have been able to produce a lasting tribute."

'Two for Joy', by KSG & The Sunshine Man, will be available to download - as of Tuesday 16th February 2021 - from iTunes and other popular music platforms.