"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 1 May 2023

Away Day Diary: Gateshead 4-0 Maidenhead United (29/04/23)

 Fancy Dresslemania XXI

Given that we'd lost 7-1 on my hitherto one and only previous visit to the Heed, I wasn't overconfident of securing another National League season on the sixth anniversary of our title win at Margate and promotion to this level, despite the fact we had a three-point and seven-goal advantage over Torquay (who were at home to champions Wrexham); still, the Macleods and I left Maidenhead  in good spirits and wearing everyday clothes  on the 10am train and arrived in Newcastle on schedule after a pleasantly uneventful journey via King's Cross

A noticeable drop in temperature – not that you'd be able to guess, judging by the female flesh on display! – as we walked in light rain, past the Crown Posada (GMOSC 'Pub of the Year' in 2018), to our Travelodge (significantly more expensive when I booked in March than when I'd first checked the prices in mid-January – thanks, National League and BT Sport!); a quick change into our costumes, (the trek to our room – over an internal bridge! – took as much time as anything else), and photos uploaded to social media, before we crossed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and walked, through a near-deserted industrial estate with views of the Tyne, to the Schooner

Titanic's Plum Porter was on, and thank goodness for that because the team news indicated we were down to the bare bones (De Havilland, Remy, Barratt, ANG, and Kane Ferdinand were all out); still, it was good fun in there as an increasing number of away supporters gathered in fancy dress ahead of the 17:30 kick-off

Excellent noise from the travelling horde throughout the game, but, sadly, the on-field performance from those representing Maidenhead was a figurative whimper: we created some presentable chances (e.g. Acquah shooting over when through on goal), but Gateshead – with their 20-year-old Middlesbrough loanee to the fore – were a cut above and probably would've won comfortably even without the aid of (1) an astonishing own goal from Zico and (2) our defence parting like the Red (and Black) Sea, within a couple of mad minutes, shortly before the break (3-0)

Seven goals conceded once again didn't seem out of the question during a 'backs to the wall' second half – even those supporters with a more positive outlook than me might've been fearing the worst when news came through that the Gulls were ahead ... only for Elliot Lee's 80th-minute equaliser to belatedly steady the nerves ("Ryan Reynolds, you bought the *right* club!"); there was a weird vibe at the final whistle, as relieved celebrations at ultimately achieving what we set out to do at the start of the season were clearly and understandably tinged with annoyance at how we'd performed on the final day and down the home stretch more generally

Hey ho, to the Schooner  top pub, with welcoming staff and punters  for more pints and more songs: "Torquay's going on a National South Tour," "Where's your lucky egg?!" "Charlee Adams is the best on Earth," etc.

Everyone (more or less) who was staying in the Toon agreed to meet in Popworld, but, as it happened, after a round in the Wetherspoons on the Quayside (the bouncers wouldn't permit entry to Buster Gonad's gonads), we ditched that idea: the Jamaican bobsleigh team had exited, just as we were contemplating joining the queue, and said it was seemingly impossible to get served at the bar, so instead we went across the road  a few of us, at least, still in fancy dress  to Smokey Joe's Cosy Joe's, which did the job (and some)

A truckload of I-SPY points if you can find a photo of me in CJ's without drink spillage down my top! It was that sort of night (and, TBF, less-than-optimal peripheral vision in a busy club does not a good combination make!)

Dev's got work  a lot of work  to do this summer, but for the moment, the focus should be on the fact he's kept a part-time football club, with a budget approximately half that of the bottom side, in the National League for yet another season; that's as impressive as Fancy Dresslemania XXI was enjoyable, at the end of the day

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