"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 26 February 2024

Away Day Diary: Altrincham 1-3 Maidenhead United (24/02/24)

After two undeserved away defeats (the second of which was to a 98th-minute winner!) followed by two *not* undeserved home defeats (Southend more disheartening than Oldham, despite the respective scores, as the Latics are  or were  in good form and looked half-decent), my enthusiasm levels ahead of a second Saturday trip to Moss Lane were low; not helped by heavy rainfall in the preceding days leading me to think that the Robins' notoriously poor pitch would result in a postponement and, essentially, more money wasted on advance, non-refundable train tickets (a la Halifax in January)

Looking out of my bedroom window before leaving home for the 07:15 meet with Macleod (M), I was somewhat surprised to see frost; there was also thick fog as we passed the Home of Football on the fast train to Paddington (with Ryan D. for company, albeit on his way to work), which preceded a double-digit-minute wait for a tube and therefore a more-hurried-than-should've-been-necessary walk from Euston Square to catch the 09:13 from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly (with carriages full of replica shirt-wearing Man United fans).

Two primary reasons for our quick round of drinks in the Wetherspoons upon arrival in sunny and relatively tropical Alty: (1) it was open before midday; (2) to meet TWS and co., who  as they'd told us they would be, in the Vine in the early hours of Wednesday morning (losing to Southend hit us hard!)  were on the 05:56 train from Maidenhead, and in the pub shortly after 9 am! (Steve H., Chris Rad. and Calum had joined us at Stockport, while Rainey happened to leave the Altrincham Central Travelodge as we walked past.)

Research/ nosiness had led me to peruse the Google Images of Libero in the days preceding  I'm glad I did, as it meant I recognised the owner (?) on his way to belatedly open up as we were walking in the other direction after reluctantly accepting that it was closed: this football-themed bar is small but mighty; laughs all around as Wilson ordered a grapefruit Radler and confirmed he liked it before realising it was only 2.5% proof!

Into SWIG next, even smaller than Libero; a warm welcome from the joint-owner, who played The Smiths' self-titled debut album on Spotify as requested by Macleod (M) and supplied us with some moreish and interestingly-shaped jalapeño-flavoured crisps ... as well as more beers, obvs., with Macleod (M) and I drinking Factotum by Pomona Island.

NEW CENTRE FORWARD ALERT! Confirmation of Tristan Abrahams arriving to save our season  trust Maidenhead United to (1) sign someone whose debut had to be delayed by a suspension and (2) officially announce the transfer only *after* he's appeared on a team sheet!  offset our collective disappointment with the Beacon: a much better beer selection in 2021, when it was called Pi.

Certifiably insane is how I would've described someone predicting anything other than an Alty win, especially after we'd gone one-nil down early on (they had the second-best recent home record in the league; as mentioned, we'd lost four on the bounce), but the Magpies stunned me and most others by rallying to take all three points, and deservedly so! Remy Clerima – 13 years on from scoring against the Robins in a 3-0 away win for Histon, as seen by 71.98% fewer people than were at Moss Lane on Saturday! – was the best player on the pitch (two great blocks to go with the assist for Reece Smith's goal and a towering leap for our game-killing third); Kevin Lokko won countless defensive headers and scored again (two in two now); both all three dogs of war fought tirelessly in midfield ("Ah Pettit, Pettit good!"), the wide men were dangerous (Smith back amongst the goals is potentially huge for us); and last but by no means least, Abrahams – the scorer of Grimsby's consolation at Fancy Dresslemania XX, which Willie T. informs me is the last time we won 3-1 away – was lively and seemed to cover more ground in 88 minutes than our other centre forwards, so far this season, put together!

Hiking to the alcohol section of the massive Tesco's Extra for a carry-out (including four bottles of Plum Porter for £7), we passed an eye-catching collection of garden ornaments and then a cat dozing atop a Timpson's key-cutting machine; we then headed to the Unicorn again ("What's more surprising – Maidenhead winning 3-1 away or us going to the same Wetherspoons twice in one day?!"), because (1) the Cheshire Tap was extremely busy with those watching the egg-chasing and (2) the beers – I liked the Cheshire Gold – were decent enough.

Avanti West Coast awarded a new long-term contract is one of the government's biggest cock-ups of recent times, which is obviously saying something! The train operator's service (or lack thereof) is utterly appalling, and I already regret booking with them for next month's trip to Rochdale.

Match of the Day was showing in the pub on the platform at Paddington as we waited for the last leg of our train journey home (on which it would transpire, we sat alongside Alan Massey's centre-back partner from Penn & Tylers Green Juniors!); we loudly serenaded the replay of Fulham's 97th-minute winner at Old Trafford with a fresh ditty to the tune of Saturday Night by Whigfield, and, of course, "Theres only one MUFC!"  this was undoubtedly one of those away days that acts as a timely reminder of why we make the effort.

(BBC report; match highlights  ft. some noteworthy goal celebrations, and footage of me at 1-1 with my head in my hands that my boys probably aren't alone in finding funny)

No comments:

Post a Comment