"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 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)

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