"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 20 September 2023

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Southend United 2-0 Maidenhead United (19/09/23)

Sadly, my father-in-law hasn't been in the rudest health of late, so I was sitting in the living room of his house in Monmouthshire as my wife visited him in the nearby hospital when news came through Charlee Adams had missed a 95th-minute penalty that would've earned the Magpies a draw at home to Boreham Wood, and the Shrimpers  their squad already down to the bare bones due to injuries and an ongoing transfer embargo  had two men sent off in a 3-0 defeat at York, setting up an intriguing game at Roots Hall on the following Tuesday night; I initially replied to Macleod (M) that I wouldn't be available to travel to Essex, but that changed when my wife returned home on Monday afternoon after a week away to relieve me from babysitting duty and allowing me to join him and Rainey on the train from Maidenhead, shortly before 5pm

Our thoughts, as we passed Rayleigh on the (initially packed) train from Stratford, turned to Essex nightclubs, with Rayleigh's own Pink Toothbrush, the Pink Cockatoo next door to Barking FC's ground, and TOTS (Talk of the South) in Southend, all getting a mention; time for a quick drink in the Railway close to Prittlewell station, where TWS et al. were playing pool on a table overlooked by some choice replica shirts from yesteryear, before ticket collection and kick-off

Understandable anticipation ahead of the home supporters' planned protest in the 25th minute, which ultimately consisted of some objects (including plastic toy rats) thrown onto the pitch and chants of "We want Martin out"; "I've seen worse protests in the toilets at Stripes," "Those drink breaks at Bromley, the other week, lasted longer," and "Get on the f**kin' pitch, you cowards!" just some of the feedback from the away fans, who collectively seemed the angrier set of supporters!

The referee (Stephen Parkinson) was not – repeat, not – the reason why we lost this game, but I will still mention that he was shite; every 50/50 decision seemingly went against us, and I'd like to have another look at (1) the tackle for which their player only got a yellow card, and (2) a possible foul on ANG, in and around their penalty area in the first half

Huff and puff from the away side  the Magpies worked hard and defended reasonably well, if a little desperately at times  but we lacked quality on the ball, barely managing to string more than three or four passes together and squandering possession with annoying regularity, often with a hurried punt forward to no one in particular; we were well-beaten by the better team, simple as that, with the goalkeeper our best player by some distance and theirs having little or nothing to do

Even though the Shrimpers were only able to name two substitutes  with the aid of two players registered on the day (including a keeper whose most recent start was in the Premier League and reportedly had players playing out of position, they're still a full-time, ex-Football League club able to call upon the likes of Jack Bridge (who opened the scoring, effectively ending the contest, with a 72nd-minute penalty), Harry Cardwell, Cav Miley, and Wesley Fonguck – quality players at this level who would walk into the Maidenhead XI; the pervading thought that this was some kinda miracle win is, IMO, as off-target as the first-half protest

Nice to see the eminent Sean Marks stood amongst the 33 (embarrassingly few) away fans  talking with Alan Massey at halftime and, at the final whistle, with Alan Devonshire (who made some interesting, largely unprompted comments)  although, as someone half-joked, it would've been preferable to have seen him on the pitch wearing black and white stripes; we've now managed just seven goals in ten games, a problem  not solely a striker problem, BTW  that will inevitably result in a soul-destroying relegation unless remedied sooner rather than later

Diagnosis of a rare and aggressive form of cancer affecting ex-Magpie captain Darti Brown – not my favourite player, but part of our fondly-remembered 2006/07 promotion-winning side and scorer of a memorable consolation strike during a resounding B&B Cup defeat at MK Dons – puts football, if not everything else, into perspective

Monday 11 September 2023

Away Day Diary: Bromley 4-1 Maidenhead United (09/09/23)

Birthday alert! Memories of the legendary train journey back from Halifax on this day in 2017  Frozen cake, washed down with a slurp of Smirnoff  as I woke early for my first 5K run since returning from a holiday in Crete and prepared to attend my first game since the Magpies won at Dorking in August

Refereeing duty  a potentially explosive MUFC U17 game at 9am  accounted for our later-than-usual planned departure time (11:26), one that we stuck to even after a downgrading of the threat level gave Macleod (M)'s whistle the morning off; no GWR trains in and out of Paddington (which seems to be a theme, THESE DAYS), but we were able to use the Lizzy Line, and then the Jubilee and the Victoria, to rendezvous with another birthday boy at the Victoria Taps

Our plan, I think, was to stay there until catching the latest possible train ahead of kick-off, but our pints were expensive and nothing to write home about (although I enjoyed having Tiny Rebel's Clwb Tropica on tap), so we instead decided to head to a micropub in Bromley that Jerry suggested; an eclectic mix of songs (including Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson) played – annoyingly loudly – on the phone of one of a group of teenage girls as we passed Battersea Power Station on a train bound for Margate and beyond (prompting recollections of that glorious, title-winning day back in April 2017)

Macleod (M) had predicted on the hot and sweaty walk to Maidenhead train station that the match  live on BT TNT Sports, lest we forget  would likely be decided by a mistake as we were fried alive on their crappy away terrace exposed to the elements on the hottest day of the year, and he was partially correct ... although he couldn't have foreseen that after Sam Beckwith's non-existent headed clearance had lead to Michael Cheek (who else?) opening the scoring, the Magpies XI would subsequently wilt as embarrassingly as they did  an utterly woeful team performance that, worryingly, triggered painful flashbacks to pathetic capitulations at Scunthorpe in January and Dorking in March

Little or no noise, understandably, from the travelling horde as the game wore on; make-your-own-fun-time was proposed but quickly shot down, and Macleod (M) was – unusually for him – on his way as soon as the final whistle sounded, waiting with a pint (and an open tab) when the rest of us caught up with him back at the newly-refurbished micropub

England on TV vs Ukraine (football; a good job – in hindsight, and despite "a lifeless, dreary and conservative display" from Jordan Henderson et al. – that Rainey was at the Tarczynski Arena in Wrocław and not the Reloc8 Em Community Stadium in Bromley) and then vs Argentina (egg-chasing World Cup), as I supped cold Italian lagers, Macleod (M) ordered not one but two cheese and charcuterie boards, and news filtered through that there were still no trains in or out of Paddington (perhaps a different problem than before, it wasn't easy to keep up); one suspects that the Cork 'n' Cask might be harder to get into next season (if MUFC manage to avoid relegation) as its popularity is bound to increase if the hospitality we received on Saturday is any indication – post-match in there was, by some distance, the best part of the day

Yours truly was resigned to not getting home or having to go via Reading or High Wycombe or somewhere, and so ordered another pint in the pub on the station when we arrived at Paddington, but Craig was right to point out that the 22:50 to Didcot (first stop, Maidenhead) *was* running, which was a relief; so ended another good (birth)day out tainted by 90 minutes of football