"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 6 April 2022

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Wealdstone 0-0 Maidenhead United (05/04/22)

When Mark Steward asked us in Stripes – I think it was after the win vs Bromley over Christmas – whether we thought the upcoming home game with the Stones should be unsegregated, our answer was a firm 'yes': OK, so their yoof has an unruly reputation, and the MUFC kids (usually seen at York Road on Tuesday nights, albeit only when Reading aren't playing at the Madejski) are no angels, but we'd make sure to keep ours in check – change Ends, don't be knobheads, etc. – and would naturally expect the Stones lot to do the same ...

Even though we'd discussed and quickly concluded that supporters shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of their clubs, WFC subsequently crying off with COVID-19 – not for the first time  had left a sour taste and, IMO, put our long-standing Fanfreundschaft under hitherto unprecedented strain

A situation made worse when WFC (1) postponed their rearranged home fixture at short notice (waterlogged pitch, despite no inspection required earlier in the day) and then (2) won 2-0 against the Magpies  we were missing Dan Goalie, Remy, and WDH  in the rearranged game at York Road

Limp defeat at Solihull Moors on Saturday had left me questioning whether I could be bothered to attend the re-rearranged Ruislip Manor game, but one or two of their fans seemingly love nothing more than to mock our away supporter numbers (quality, not quantity, as my old Maths teacher used to say), so I duly rescheduled some work meetings and sorted out childcare

Direct, 16:42 train to Paddington – following a lift to the station from the kindly Macleod (P) – saw us supping pints of Salopian's Oracle and Harvey's Sussex Best in the Thornbury Castle, just over an hour after finishing work; talking points on the journey up and then in the pub included whether we'd sacrifice National League status for a winning appearance at Wembley Stadium ('no'), countries prefixed by 'The' (officially there are two), Fred Armisen (aka Russ Nightlife in Toast of Tinseltown), and favourite songs by The Pogues ('Fairytale of New York' was met with short shrift)

Stop-start journey on the Met line  we dashed onto the wrong tube train at Harrow-on-the-Hill; had to change and double-back at North Harrow  but still time for a couple of pre-match liveners (Vale Brewery's Jekyll & Hyde was decent) in the J.J. Moon's close to Ruislip Manor station; a sizeable number of Magpies in attendance, including birthday boy Scunthorpe Dan Cornwall Dan

The ground  "they've made a shit one even worse"  layout being what it is and 'newbies' unaware of Non-League etiquette might be justifiable excuses for the sheer number of Wrong Enders, in which case WFC should've segregated ... from the start rather than at half-time! #noddy (If either side had scored in the first half  Kane Ferdinand hit the bar from a tight angle; Nathan Ashmore made a great save  then there would've been carnage, and no doubt people would've been moaning once again about crying children à la Ebbsfleet in 2010 and Maidstone in 2017.)

Our previous visit  albeit without fans in attendance  resulted in a 6-0 away win, and we almost had enough chances to score that many again: Sam Barratt hit the woodwork twice after the break  the second one apparently a fine fingertip save by their keeper Beaker from the Muppets  and the ball generally wouldn't fall for us in front of goal (their six-yard boxes are in a worse state than ours, believe it or not)

Not one but two Magpie supporters featured in the programme, which helped pass the time on the return journey; as did responding to some of their yoof on Twitter (including one 'L7 referee'  a tool, but clearly not the sharpest  who opined that Ruislip to Maidenhead is a 'long trip' and York Road is a 'shithole of a place' LOL)

Eleven points clear of the final relegation spot after King's Lynn Town's latest win, with our next two games against the bottom two (Dover away; Weymouth at home)  what could possibly go wrong?!

Sunday 3 April 2022

Away Day Diary: Solihull Moors 3-1 Maidenhead United (02/04/22)

Steve H aka the Sweetie Blinder aka Solihull Steve, had moved back to the West Midlands in November 2017 after 24 years in Maidenhead; he was banging on at me about attending this fixture most of the way to Wrexham in January, but I wasn't keen as I'd (1) already been to the ground (with him and the Macleods, to watch Castle Vale  Steve's boys  win an Endsleigh Cup Final vs Cadbury Athletic in May 2009)  so am well aware that it's in the middle of nowhere  and (2) earmarked our visit to Dover (our last there for some time?), the following Saturday, as my preferred 'early April away day'

On my wife's birthday night out in M@rl*w, mid-February, after more than a few cocktails, she'd unexpectedly given me the green light to attend both! That too-good-to-be-true plan lasted for a few weeks before my school friend Alex  who'd dressed as a rugby player for #FDV at Newport  unknowingly re-arranged his 'big birthday' party to clash with Dover; so no Breakwater Brewery Taproom for me (I haven't been to Crabble, on a Saturday, since #FDXII), and, instead, Solihull's pubs would have to pick up the slack

List of conversation topics on the walk to the station/ the 08:30 from Maidenhead/ 09:15 from Reading/ 10:31 from Leamington Spa included: ranking the worst National League away days, Royals @ Tykes, the GLC sea shanty about 'Paul Weller' haircuts, NHS waiting lists, a hotel room in Bogotá, Seattle, Settle, the odds of Dover beating us 4-0 next weekend, a pre-season friendly at Racing Club Warwick (August 1995; Mickey Creighton with the only goal; 45 people saw it), and the plight of Worcester City

Into Dorridge, and the (Nottingham) Forest Hotel, just before eleven: meet with Solihull Steve, pints of Silhill Brewery's Gold Star, and the inaugural game of Starting XI Bingo (G.M. was ultimately victorious)

Hike  past John McGinn's house (according to Solihull Steve Stalker Steve)  to Knowle & Dorridge Cricket Club, where G.M. and I bested a couple of local kids at Pool; discussion re the best John Denver Best Ofs, Beavertown pint glasses (or lack thereof), the weather (sleet one minute, sunshine the next), and Tim Vine's earworm

Unreal to think that Soli the Moorkat's boys could be playing in the EFL – against football behemoths like Bristol Rovers, Exeter City, and Sutton United – next season: chants of "More tents than Glastonbury" and "More noise at M@rl*w" were both apt

Lackadaisical first-half performance from the Magpies summed up by a second goal for Andrew Dallas ("Berti Vogts should get him in the Scotland squad") that had me wondering if Nathan Ashmore actually hates Maidenhead rather than Ebbsfleet (UPDATE: apparently there *was* a deflection; so, yes, I believe that he does, in fact, hate Ebbsfleet)

Lead halved by Josh Kelly  "We scored a goal!"  shortly after the break, sparking jubilant celebrations from the 61 away fans and greeted by a massive overreaction from the stewards: one imagines that supporters of Stockport, Wrexham, and the like don't get similarly reprimanded for stepping on yellow lines (The horror! The horror!)

Maynard (on loan from Salford City) and Howe were excellent at the back for the home side, but it was infuriating how often  and how easy – they and other teammates went down under the slightest contact; the incompetent  I'm being polite  referee was quick to blow for them, yet waved play on as Ryan Upward (stretchered off; hopefully OK), later Shaun Donnellan (in the build-up to the game-clinching third ... another deflection), was floored

Our taxi was waiting at the final whistle and delivered us in good time to Sommar Tap & Lounge: pints (Gorilla on a Drum Set), pizza (tasty), and pierced nipples (it was cold, clearly)

Oops! A can of lager  untouched, in more than one sense  fell off a table on the 18:45 train from Solihull and soaked a fellow passenger's Selfridge's shopping bags as Macleod (M), our Africa correspondent, discussed The Gambia and surrounding countries with a care worker (not his) en route to a night shift in Leamington

Rainey on an escalator at Reading – my entry for this year's Turner Prize – followed another chaotic CrossCountry journey (we had an enforced change at Oxford this time – G(andermonium) & Ts in hand – after Villa fans had reportedly misbehaved at Wolverhampton); Macleod (M) and I walked straight home upon arrival in Maidenhead, and I was reading books ('Dear Zoo' and 'Go Jetters: Antarctic Adventure') to Son #2 – still awake! – shortly after 10pm

Stones away on Tuesday night? Meh. #SeasonFizzlingOut