"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

Monday 8 August 2022

Away Day Diary: Notts County 3-0 Maidenhead United (06/08/22)

Night outs  stopovers  during the 2022/23 season were a hot topic throughout the last campaign and were discussed at length during the Lord Grenfell beer festival in late June, with Manchester (Oldham Athletic), Newcastle (Gateshead), and Nottingham earmarked as three definites; the fixture computer abacus subsequently handed us Gateshead (A) on the final day (#FDXXI), Oldham (A) two weeks before that, and Notts County (A) as the first game of the season!

Our original plan was to stay in Nottingham on the Saturday night before hotel prices ultimately dictated we would go up on Friday and back after the match, especially as I was the only one that had to worry about booking time off

Taxied to Maidenhead station by Macleod (P) in good time for the 13:54 departure; news that Craig had forgotten his CAMRA discount vouchers was the first of many 'bad juju' moments that clearly indicated there would be no repeat of last season's opening day win at Halifax (after which we made our debut on Tik Tok!)

The Parcel Yard at King's Cross for a swift drink before the train to Nottingham; £7.05 for a pint of Neck Oil is, Macleod (M) thinks, the most expensive he's ever bought (at least in the U.K.) #badjuju

Stag parties galore, checking in at the Travelodge; only one tiny lift was working, and our room was on the seventh floor #badjuju

Chris N  Craig's Clydebank-supporting mate; long-time Nottingham resident – and the Smiths (nearing the end of a two-week holiday spent visiting places such as York, Durham, Whitley Bay, and Lincoln) joined us in the Kean's Head (as Murdo and I enjoyed chicken chorizo dopiazas for dinner), before a bar crawl that went as follows: Kilpin Beer Cafe (pints of Kriek Boon as Arsenal won at Crystal Pauli), Curious Tavern (incl. half a pint of a 12% ABV Navigation ale that tasted like tabasco sauce and served by a barman from Savannah, Georgia), Lost Property ('a dimly lit penny-top bar & cocktail speakeasy decorated with parrots, glitter balls and suitcases'), and Mojo (#memorykindahazy)

Off to the intriguingly-named Lady Bay, specifically the Poppy & Pint, for breakfast on Saturday morning (after meeting with Steve H and jumping into a taxi at the station); decent beer and food, sat in a sun-drenched car park overlooking tennis courts

Unless you like Castle Rock Brewery, you might go thirsty in these parts: Stratford Haven is another of their pubs  reached after a pleasant stroll through Bridgford Park  and is perhaps my favourite of the lot (so far)

Next stop, after walking past and then over Trent Bridge  against the flow of cricket fans (or not, as the case may be) heading in the opposite direction  was the Embankment, where my delight at spotting a black and white striped Vandanel shirt was soon tempered by news of our starting XI (if your takeaway from last season was that we needed to bench Alan Massey and name Kane Ferdinand as captain, then I don't know what to tell you)

The less said regards the football, the better, as it was over as a contest as soon as the home side took a 22nd-minute lead; our squad looks weaker to me than last season, and, without reinforcements (a striker and a CM), I can't see anything other than a long and possibly fruitless battle to avoid relegation finishing bottom

You should think twice before jokingly ordering "the strongest beer they've got" in the otherwise excellent Vat & Fiddle! A quick half of an 8.5% fruit sour in the BeerHeadZ micropub next to the station was more agreeable, though, ahead of the journey home (which included a brief chat on the tube with a couple of replica shirt-wearing Leeds fans who were travelling from Elland Road back to Weymouth!)

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