About Me

My photo
Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #5 - Hugo Meisl

As a middling European nation, Austria have never touched the heights of peers such as Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Netherlands at club or national level, however this might have been very different but for the rise of Nazism which destroyed the great Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s created by Hugo Meisl.
Meisl was born in Bohemia in 1881 and after moving to Vienna in his youth initially pursued a career in banking but switched to work for the Austrian Football Association, after becoming a top class referee, officiating internationals and at the 1912 Olympics.
As an administrator he pioneered the establishment of professional league football in Austria in the early 1920s and also created the Mitropa Cup, one of the first international competitions for club sides in Central Europe which lasted until 1992, and the Central European International Cup for national teams. These competitions were effectively the forerunners of the Champions League and the Euros.
Appointed coach of the Austrian national team in 1913, and assuming full control in 1919, Meisl was also an innovator on the pitch, working with other men who made modern football such as Herbert Chapman (#4), Vitorio Pozzo (#10) and Jimmy Hogan (#7). Working closely with the latter, he was keen to keep the ball on the ground encouraging crisp passing. Using the successful Scots team as their template, what followed has been cited as the first example of total football which Austrian Ernst Happel (#20) exported to the Netherlands in the 1960s.
As the 1920s drew to a close Austria became the pre-eminent European team and in a twenty month period from April 1931 went on a fourteen match unbeaten run which included winning the Central European International Cup with a 4-2 win over Italy. This run also featured the first ever win by a non-British team over the Scots who had earlier been Meisl’s source of inspiration.
Fielding one of the leading players in the world, Mathias Sindelaar, known as the paper man (Die Papierene) for his slight appearance which saw him ghost through challenges, Austria were naturally favourites to win the first World Cup to be played in Europe in 1934 in Italy.
A tough quarter-final win over rivals Hungary, came at the cost of losing Johann Horvarth to injury. They then faced a determined host nation in the semi-final who took an early lead, and then desperately held on to it on a heavy pitch which hampered the Austrians’ passing game. The Italians won the match 1-0 and went on to win the Cup by beating Czechoslovakia 2-1. Austria finished fourth having lost the play off to Germany 3-2.
Two years later Meisl took his team one step further to the Olympic final in Germany. In the run up to the 1936 games, Austria became only the fifth non British team to beat isolationist England with a 2-1 win in Vienna. At the finals a quarter-final defeat by Peru was annulled by the head of the host state, Adolf Hitler, which led to the Peruvians’ withdrawal. Italy again proved to be Austria’s nemesis, winning the final 2-1, the runners up spot remaining Austria’s best achievement to date.

Meisl died in 1937, and within a year his Wunderteam had been broken up by the Nazis in the wake of the Anschluss. After qualifying for the 1938 World Cup in France, the country was annexed by Germany in March and within two weeks the Austrian FA was abolished, with Germany now representing the whole territory at the finals as FIFA accepted Austria’s withdrawal. The Austrian team were all eligible for selection for Germany but were given one last outing in a “reunification” derby. This was supposed to finish in a draw but wearing a special red and white kit to assert their national identity the Austrians eased to a win with two late Sindelaar goals. Having celebrated vigorously in front of the watching Nazi leaders, Sindelaar went on to deliberately miss a further chance. He further demonstrated his refusal to bow to fascism by refusing to play for the new national team and was found dead in mysterious circumstances in 1939. He was voted Austria’s Sportsman of the century in 2000.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #4 - Herbert Chapman

At the end of a week when not only Arsene Wenger’s 20 year reign at Arsenal is being celebrated, but also many of his English peers are in the dock for their shortcomings on and off the pitch, it’s a relief to reflect on the life of an Englishman who as well as turning Arsenal into a leading English club, was also an iconoclast who was involved in many innovations which soon became common practice and tradition.
As every fan should know he created not one but two teams at two different clubs which won three English titles in consecutive years. Great enough to compare to Liverpool and Manchester United’s similar feats in modern times, but greater still when you consider Huddersfield Town and Arsenal had won nothing when he arrived at Leeds Road and Highbury respectively.
Tactical innovation was at the heart of this success, which as well as the radical W-M formation, extended to fitness, kit design, marketing and the colour of the ball. All this from a man who despite a modest playing career, created the concept of the manager as we know it today.
The son of a Yorkshire coal miner, Chapman’s intellect gained him a place at Sheffield Technical College studying mining engineering. Aptly for a sporting family, he was one of eleven children, with his younger brother Harry winning the League and Cup for The Wednesday. An inside right, Herbert had a long route to the top, starting out in the Kiveton Park Colliery youth team before moving into the Lancashire League. A brief spell with elder brother Tommy at Grimsby Town was followed by a return to non league football. The precarious balance between developing his career off the pitch and maintaining his progress on it meant he switched between amateur and professional status with Sheffield United and Notts County, and at the age of 29 eventually decided to finish his playing career to pursue his career in engineering, after ending the 1906/07 season with Southern League Tottenham Hotspur.
However before the summer was out he was tempted back into the game as player-manager of Northampton who had finished the previous season bottom of the Southern League. Reflecting that "No attempt was made to organise victory.", and  "a team can attack for too long", Chapman set out about to create a radical counter attacking system, withdrawing half backs (midfielders) to create space for his forwards. Signing players to suit the system, Northampton were Southern League champions in 1909 but could not move up to the two division Football League. Naturally Chapman proposed the Football League expand by two divisions but this did not happen until 1920. In the meantime Chapman returned to his native Yorkshire to manage Leeds City.
Arriving at Elland Road in 1912 with the club facing re-election to Football League Division Two, Chapman took Leeds to fourth place in the final season before World War One. For the duration of hostilities Chapman worked in a munitions factory and following the armistice decided to formally resign from the club and take a job in the mining industry. Unfortunately when the league resumed in 1919, an accusation of financial irregularities by a former player was met with a blunt refusal from Leeds to comply with the resulting investigation and they were expelled from the league, Chapman receiving a life ban along with other club officials.
The ban was eventually overturned, given Chapman was not at the club when the charges were made, and following redundancy, returned to football as assistant manager at Huddersfield Town in 1921. Within a month Chapman took over as manager, introducing his tactics of strong defence and fast counter attack, signing players to fit the system including wingers who were instructed to make passes which split the defensive line, rather than heading for the byline and cutting the ball back. Little more than a year later Huddersfield had won their first major trophy by beating Preston North End at Stamford Bridge to win the 1922 FA Cup.
Using a complex scouting network to further improve his squad, the Terriers won their first league title in 1924 which they successfully defended in 1925 but before they made it three in a row, Chapman had moved to North London.
Arsenal chairman Henry Norris was an ambitious man, having already moved the Gunners from Woolwich to Highbury, and inveigled them into Division One. He doubled Chapman’s salary and allowed him to sign Charlie Buchan, one of the leading strikers of the era. With the offside law changing to the current one in the summer of 1925, Chapman fined tuned his tactics to create the WM formation, a 3-4-3 structure, the centre half now withdrawn into defence along the two full backs, two inside forwards joining the two remaining half backs in midfield. This was in stark contrast to the conventional 2-3-5.
As ever Chapman found himself with the job of transforming a team used to the wrong end of the table and as always he had an instant impact, Arsenal finishing a best ever second to triple title winners Huddersfield. Twelve months later the Gunners reached Wembley only to lose the FA Cup Final to Cardiff. This coincided with the club becoming embroiled in a financial scandal which led to Norris being banned and subsequently allowed Chapman more control at the club. The next two seasons saw Chapman carefully build his team with judicious signings, including David Jack from Bolton at a reduced price after Chapman slowly inebriated the Trotters’ directors whilst he drank alcohol free gin and tonic.
Arsenal reached Wembley again in 1930, and as Huddersfield were the opponents Chapman suggested that both teams walk out together, another first which we will see again today. Arsenal won the Cup and in 1931 added to their first ever trophy with a league title. They won three in a row from 1932-5, another Cup in 1936 and the league again in 1938, so that by the end of the decade they were firmly established with the status they hold today as one of the leading English clubs.
Sadly Chapman did not live to see all of this success, dying of pneumonia in January 1934, having cast the die for the club’s future. As well as creating a strict training regime focused on fitness, using professional physiotherapists and masseurs, he advocated white footballs, numbers on shirts, and changed Arsenal’s kit to a brighter red with white sleeves and blue hooped socks, all to sharpen focus on teammates and the ball. Off the pitch he installed floodlights, the Arsenal clock and scoreboard, designed new turnstiles, and renamed Gillespie Road underground station, all to attract more support.
Whilst at Northampton he had signed black player Walter Tull, and would have signed European players for Arsenal had he not been blocked by the FA. He organised friendlies against teams from the continent and made contact with some of his foremost foreign peers.
Insisting on having sole control of team affairs, unlike the selection committees at other clubs, Chapman introduced a weekly team meeting to facilitate discussion of tactics amongst his players, and team building activities such as golf days. Although his team were knocked as “Lucky” or “Boring” for their economical but ruthless use of possession, they could fairly be described as free scoring with as many as 127 goals in the first title season of 1931, perhaps in the style of Leicester City’s 2015 league winners.
He left the club top of the league despite having already started to rebuild his successful squad to ensure their dominance would remain until it was interrupted by World War Two. The biggest tribute though came in November 1934 when a record breaking seven of his Arsenal team were selected to play for England against world champions Italy at Highbury. Needless to say England won 3-2.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #3 - Charles Miller

As explained in part 2 it was in Argentina that football first took root in South America. Inevitably Brazil was not far behind and again it was Scotsmen who played the leading role in developing perhaps the world’s foremost footballing nation.
The predictable title of father of Brazilian football is commonly attached to Charles Miller (pictured) and as you will read he certainly played the biggest role in establishing the sport. However it is Thomas Donohoe, originally from Busby in East Renfrewshire, who organised the first match.
A dye expert, Donohoe arrived in Bangu, a suburb of Rio De Janeiro in 1893. In April the following year he organised a five a side match. Aged 31 he became part of a small British community in the neighbourhood but missed playing football so when he invited his wife and children to cross the Atlantic he asked them to bring a football which was then used in the first football match to be played in Brazil on a field next to the textile factory where worked, with the British factory workers making up the teams.
Sadly a manager at the factory banned all games for fear of a detrimental effect on the workforce. Thus the fledgling game in Bangu was still born and football did not return for ten years but they still continued to innovate as in 1905 the new Bangu Atletic Clube included Francisco Carregal, the first black player to play for a Brazilian club.
Thus it was left to Charles Miller, based a few hours down the coast in Sao Paulo, to establish the first league having arranged the first eleven a side match in Brazil in 1894, a few month after Donohoe.
Miller was a Sao Paulo native with a Scottish railway engineer father, and a Brazilian mother of English descent. He was sent to Southampton to complete his education, and whilst at school he played for and against Corinthians and St. Marys, the clubs now known as Corinthian Casuals and Southampton respectively.
Miller returned to Brazil, aged 21 in 1894, bringing with him two footballs and the Hampshire FA rule book. In April 1895 he organised a match between British workers of the Sao Paulo Railway and the Gas Company, acknowledged as the first proper football match to be played in Brazil as opposed to Donohoe’s small sided affair. He went onto set up the Liga Paulista and the Sao Paulo Athletic Club for whom he featured as a striker and won three consecutive championships from 1902. To this day the state championship remains the foundation of the Brazilian game.
The club had folded for good by 1912 but he left his mark on Brazilian football by suggesting the name Corinthians for another Sport Club Paulista. Corinthians remain one of the foremost clubs in world football.
Other notable figures in early Brazilian football include Oscar Cox and Harry Welfare. Cox was born in Brazil but as his surname suggests had English ancestors. He introduced football to Rio De Janeiro and founded Fluminese. He learned his football whilst being educated in Switzerland, and like Miller, returned aged 20 in 1901to set up the first match in his native city. Hearing about Miller’s efforts in Sao Paulo, Cox went on to set up fixtures featuring teams from each city.  In 1902 he founded Flu, a club Welfare would go on to star for as a striker.
Born in Liverpool, Welfare played professionally for both the Reds and Tranmere but aged 24 decided to emigrate to Brazil. A teacher, Welfare joined Fluminese and went onto score 163 goals in only 166 appearances. After a decade of service he was elected a life member of the club.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #2 - Alexander Watson-Hutton

Watching the 1986 World Cup Final I was struck by the surname of the first Argentinian goalscorer. It was Brown, and as I found out when researching this article thirty years later, his name is evidence of the lasting influence of Scotland on the development on one of the world’s footballing super powers and indeed the South American continent’s football as a whole.
This is hardly surprising when you consider the influence of the British empire on that part of South America in the nineteenth century and I think it’s rather appropriate given the footballing relationship between Argentina and England, that it was men from the auld enemy Scotland who built the foundation for La Albiceleste, chiefly a man from the Gorbals, Alexander Watson-Hutton.
Destined to become known as the father of Argentinian football, Hutton, the son of a grocer was orphaned before he reached the age of five. Incredibly he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Philosophy and found his vocation as a teacher. The earlier death of close family members from Tuberculosis, colloquially known as consumption, is thought to have led to his desire to seek a new life in warmer climes, so aged 31, in 1884 he began an appointment as rector of St Andrews School in Buenos Aires, which had been founded by the first wave of Scottish immigrants in 1838 and still exists today.
Hutton was an adherent of muscular Christianity, the belief that sport, especially as part of a team, has spiritual value. His preferred form of sporting expression was association football which was initially at odds with his fellow expatriates’ preference for rugby. When it became clear that the presence of football on the curriculum of his school was unwelcome, he elected to resign and found his own institution, the English High School of Buenos Aires which quickly flourished.
With football now at the heart of the curriculum, Hutton persuaded William Waters, the son of his old landlady back in Scotland to join him and bring a bag of leather footballs. ‘Guillermo’ Waters went onto become a successful importer of sporting goods to South America but before that captained St Andrews Scotch Athletic Club to the Argentine Association Football League title, the first such competition to be held outside of the UK.
The team consisted entirely of Scots, as did runners up the Old Caledonians which predominantly featured employees of a British plumbing company, Bautaume & Peason, which was laying a new sewage system in Buenos Aires. The league soon collapsed but it was Hutton who re-established in it 1893, a body regarded as South America’s first national football association, the eighth oldest in the world. Hutton was President and refereed games.
When the Argentinian government made PE compulsory in all schools in 1898, football spread in popularity amongst the native population. Hutton founded the Club Atletico English High School for his pupils, ex-pupils and teachers, and joined the new second division of the Argentinian League. Over the next decade, Alumni as they were known, dominated the national game winning ten first division titles between 1900 and 1911. A star member of the team was Hutton’s son Arnold, better known as Arnoldo who not only became an international footballer but also represented Argentina at cricket and polo.
Another Gorbals boy, tea magnate Thomas Lipton gave Hutton junior a chance for more glory when he donated the Copa Lipton, a trophy to be played for annually between Argentina and Uruguay, Arnoldo scoring in the second game in 1907 which Argentina won 2-0. In 1910 the competition was expanded to include Chile, and renamed the Copa Centenario to commemorate the 1810 Argentinian revolution. Arnoldo scored in the final again as Argentina lifted the trophy that was in time to become the Copa America.
Alumni’s strength was augmented by seven members of the Brown family, whose ancestors had left Scotland as early as 1825. Five of the Browns also won regular caps for Argentina but in 1912 Hutton decided to disband Alumni. This marked the end of the British period of Argentinian football, giving way to futbol criollo, the indigenous population setting up more familiar clubs such as Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Hutton died in 1936, just six years after Argentina had finished runners up to Uruguay in the first World Cup final. His role in the early development of the South American game is not forgotten with the Argentinian FA’s library being named after him and a 1950 film, Escuela de Campeones commemorating the story of his great Alumni team to celluloid.
The Scottish and by definition Hutton’s influence continues to be represented in Argentinian Football with 1986 goalscorer Jose Brown being a directed descendant of the Caledonian pioneers. Following his retirement he has become a successful domestic coach. If it wasn’t for Hutton’s persistence perhaps it would have been as a rugby player that Brown would have found fame.

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #1 - C.W. Alcock

On thinking about a series of programme articles to span the season I ended up channelling Rudyard Kipling via CLR James viz “what do they know of Maidenhead United who only Maidenhead United know”, and helped by a subscription to the Blizzard, have decided to write twenty five thumbnail sketches of footballing innovators who have had a lasting impact on the global game.
I begin the series with a man who has become known as not just someone with a lasting influence on modern football, but is also described as the “father of modern sport”, Charles W Alcock. This is fair comment given he had a hand in the first FA Cup, the first football international, the creation of cricket’s county championship and the first test match between England and Australia which of course in time became The Ashes. He was not just an administrator but a player and tactician of a note years before the concept of the manager coach became an established role.
Born in Sunderland in 1842, he moved to Chingford at an early age, being educated at Harrow, the famous footballing public school. Eschewing the family shipbroking business he became a sports reporter and looked to carry on his playing career as a centre forward by forming The Wanderers in 1862, a club created for Harrow old boys. A year later the Football Association was created with Alcock joining the committee in 1866, publishing the first ever football annual two years later. He was appointed FA Secretary in 1870, making his mark by organising the first international match between England and Scotland in March of that year, captaining England at Kennington Oval in a 1-1 draw against the Scots.
This was the first of five games leading up to what FIFA have since recognised as the first official international which was played at the West of Scotland cricket ground in Partick, Glasgow in November 1872, the earlier matches being discounted as the Scotland team were all London based and selected by the English FA!
In the meantime in 1871 Alcock proposed:
 'That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete'
Based on Alcock’s experience of inter-house knockout football at Harrow, this turned into the world’s first national football tournament, the FA Cup, with Maidenhead and Marlow two of the fifteen clubs which entered the first competition. Alcock went onto captain The Wanderers to victory in the first ever FA Cup Final, beating Royal Engineers 1-0. Following retirement, Alcock refereed the 1875 and 1879 finals.
Alcock was as much an organiser on the pitch as off it. Having become in 1866 the first player to be penalised under the new offside law, he went onto become a leading advocate of the “combination” (i.e. passing) game which advocated teamwork especially defence linking with attack. This had been developed by the Sheffield club formed in 1857 and reflected Alcock’s lack of class prejudice. Unlike many of his former school mates who sought to denigrate the status of professional clubs like Sheffield from the north who favoured team work, in favour of individualistic amateur clubs who saw football as self-expression with players taking it in turns to make solo runs, Alcock argued that professionalism in sport was not a problem, rather that shamateurism or in his words “veiled professionalism is the evil to be repressed”.
Alcock continued as FA Secretary until 1895, combining the role with that of secretary of Surrey County Cricket Club. It was in this latter role that he organised the first England v Australia test match in the northern hemisphere in 1880 and formalised the County Championship in 1890.
The FA Cup, international football and professionalism, the first two suggested by Alcock and the latter strongly supported by him in the face of wholesale opposition from his peers, prove him most surely to be a man who made modern football.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Not Art - A Story of one woman's football obsession.

The irresistible rise in the importance of the role of women in football, has to date been largely reflected by their participation in the game. This is understandable given it was only in 1971 that the FA lifted their ban on women's matches being played at any affiliated club, a jealous measure originally introduced in the face of crowds of over 50,000 being drawn to watch Dick Kerr's Ladies team in the 1920s.
The lifting of the ban had been preceded in 1969 by the formation of the Women's FA and quickly followed  by introduction of the Women's FA Cup and national team. In more recent years the astoundingly obvious move to introduce the game into schools to replace the likes of hockey has led to the current, more equitable, state of affairs with extensive media coverage.
Increased participation has naturally been reflected by a greater presence in all aspects of the game, with writers such as Amy Lawrence following the trail blazed by Julie Welch, but despite the boom in football literature a paucity exists in telling the stories of women, such as Helen 'The Bell' Turner, who have watched the game throughout it's history, in contrast to the shelves of memoirs detailing the male experience. 
Fortunately, with thanks to blogger Beyond the Last Man, I found one such example, Not Art by renowned Hungarian author Peter Esterhazy. An autobiographical novel, it tell's the author's story of the relationship with his mother who is obsessed, more so than her son, with football. Unlike his preceding work, Journey to the Depths of the Eighteen Yard Line, Not Art has been translated into English by Judith Sollosy, although in line with the Hungarian language's reputation as the most complex in Europe, it is quite a difficult read as the writing jerks jazz style from the narrative to the author's present day thoughts on often unrelated topics.
The novel begins with Esterhazy talking to his mother on her death bed, where she insists on him talking her through the intricacies of the offside rule. We quickly learn though that it's the son who has spent his life as a student of the game, taught by a woman with an epicurean appreciation of the Hungarian footballing values established by the Magnificent Magyars of the 1950s.
With the help of footnotes, the novel paints a picture of life growing up in post war Hungary and its troubled status in the Soviet bloc represented by a father distanced by his relationship with the secret police and an aristocratic mother working in a factory. The latter's dominant voice is constantly projected through the prism of football, peppered with references to the likes of Jozsef Bozsik, Zoltan Czibor and of course Ferenc Puskas who we learn is known ubiquitously in his homeland as Junior.
The joy of the novel is perfectly captured in the retelling of a family anecdote where mother comes across teenagers Puskas and Bozsik playing with a rag ball on a patch of wasteland next to a factory. Spotting the poor state of the ball she insists the boys turn around whilst she whips off her stockings to refashion it, thus demonstrating her absolute commitment to the game which would be rewarded when the boys became prominent members of one of the greatest national teams the game has ever seen.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Yesterday's Hero

York Road is no stranger to the silver screen with our FA Cup tie against Port Vale last November giving rise to memories of the early 1950s when it was used as the setting for a pivotal scene in the Ealing Studios production, The Card, starring Alec Guinness. 
In 1979 the cameras returned, this time for the Ian McShane film, Yesterday's Hero.  This was something less of a cinematic accomplishment than The Card and I only saw Yesterday's Hero for the first time this summer courtesy of the new Freeview channel Talking Pictures TV which specialises in screening what are, quite frankly, pretty mediocre UK produced B movies from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
To be honest you could move Yesterday's Hero a bit further down the alphabet, as its a story packed with cliches as hackneyed as any other football drama. Scripted by Jackie Collins, the story is centred on Rod Turner (McShane) a washed up alcoholic football star playing for Windsor (insert own joke), and features a host of familiar faces from contemporary sitcoms and soaps.
McShane at least had a claim to having the footballing talent required for the role, with his Scottish father Harry having had a long career as a Football League player with spells at Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United. The use of locations and the way real match footage is used is also creditworthy reflecting Frank McLintock's role as football adviser, with the off field action letting the film down.
York Road's role is over and done with in the first three minutes of the film which opens with a shot which pans down Bell Street with a train in  the background. The famous Bell St End then comes into with a handful of spectators watching a game, presumably between Maidenhead (in red) and Windsor (blue and white stripes). I understand the director requested that the pitch be flooded to give it an authentic glue pot appearance, which despite the sizable facility fee rather ruined the playing surface for the remainder of the season and arguably cost the Magpies promotion as they fell five points short in third place.

The action is played out over the intro song, with contemporary Maidenhead players featuring as extras. There are some magnificent shots of the ground, with the cameras on the York Road side. You can see what was the covered terrace on the railway side, plenty of grass beyond the perimeter and some tantalising shots of the stand that sadly burned down in 1986. The wall at the Bell Street end is a pre mural plain, with the scene feeling very recognisable as the club shop, tea bar and shelf come into view,
After the game Turner heads out for a drink with his father and friends at the Ivy Leaf club and the action switches to a concert by singer Clint Simon (Paul Nicholas) and partner known enigmatically as Cloudy (Suzanne Somers), a beta version of Dollar channeling the Dooleys and the Brotherhood of Man.
In the style of Pete Winkleman, Simon is the music impresario owner of third division club The Saints (no location but the players wear Southampton's away kit). who have just won their FA Cup quarter final against Birmingham Rovers at a cost of an injury to striker John Snatcher. Despite the misgivings of manager Jake Marsh (Adam Faith), Simon decides Turner is the answer to the Saints problems and sets out to recruit him at the next Windsor home game.
In the meantime, in between regular sips from a ubiquitous whisky bottle, Turner also coaches boys from a children's home whilst fending off any thoughts of commitment to girlfriend Glynis Barber and hoping for a move to the US from dilettante agent Alan Lake.
Turner meets Simon meet after a game at Stag Meadow, which looks pretty much unchanged 37 years later, and ends up going straight into the Saints semi-final line up to face Hamilton United (wearing the Ipswich home kit). at Portman Road.
All is going to plan, as inspired by Turner's presence, the Saints go into half time 2-0 up with Turner scoring the second. However a half time dram signals trouble with the manager and although the scoreline remains the same, once John Motson has left the post match dressing room celebrations, Marsh issues Simon with a "him or me" ultimatum.
Just in case his fate was in doubt, Turner goes on to punch Marsh at a nightclub later that evening before spending the night with Cloudy, which ensures Barber moves to the Marsh corner.
Returning to the back pages for all the wrong reasons, Turner is shunned by one of the boys at the children home and at last resolves to win his place back, pacing the mean streets of Windsor to get fit. This provides him with a place on the bench at Wembley as The Saints attempt to become the first third division team to win the Cup. Opponents Leicester Forest (in the tricky trees' red) stand in their way and using footage of the actual 1979 League cup final, Forest race into a two goal lead before Saints pull one back just before half time.
Following an unbelievably uninspiring half time talk from Marsh, the Saints do little to threaten a comeback until with eight minutes remaining Tony Keys has to make way for Turner due to injury,
Can you guess what happens next?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Small talk

My small talk q & a from the last programme of the season:

What is your Twitter name?

What is your earliest memory of Maidenhead United?
Seeing the glow of the floodlights from my bedroom window in Courtlands.

Where will I find you on a York Road matchday?
Around the ground

What do you like to eat and drink at York Road?
Tea and Mr Kipling’s finest in the boardroom at half time

What is the most memorable match you've seen Maidenhead United play?
Our FA Trophy tie at Blyth Spartans in February 2001. Unforgettable memories on and off the pitch.

What is the most memorable goal you've seen Maidenhead United score?
Tim Cook’s kick in which became an own goal at Aldershot in 1995, Mark Harrison against Aylesbury in 1996, Chuk Agudosi at Yeovil in 1997, Francis Duku against Sutton in 1997, Chris Ferdinand against Croydon in 2000, Adrian Allen against Aldershot in 2001, Mark Nisbet at Kings Lynn in 2007, Sam Collins against Wycombe at Marlow in 2010, Max Worsfold at Thurrock in 2011, Paul Semakula’s winner against Eastleigh  in 2012, Danny Green at Barrow in 2013, and of course James Mulley at Port Vale in 2015

Who is your favourite Maidenhead United player of all time?
Garry Attrell. When he ran down the wing he should have been accompanied by an orchestra playing Mozart.

What has been your favourite season watching Maidenhead United so far?
This one is pretty good along with 2006/07, 2003/04 and 1999/2000 but my favourite would be the epic 1997/98 season for many reasons, chiefly for the very British sense of plucky failure sweetened by the best County Cup win I have seen, beating a very strong Reading side at Adams Park thanks to an amazing goal from an unexpected source.

What is the best ground you've seen Maidenhead United play at? 
Not so much best as favourites are Penydarren Park (Merthyr Tydfil), Sandy Lane (Tooting & Mitcham United), Twerton Park (Bath City), and The Walks (King’s Lynn)

Other than Maidenhead United who are the team to watch in the Vanarama National League South this season?
Maidstone United are the best team I have seen this season, based on their performance at York Road in September.

Other than Maidenhead United's players who is the player to watch in the Vanarama National League South this season?
Anthony Acheampong (Ebbsfleet United) & Justin Bennett (Gosport Borough).

What are your hopes for Maidenhead United for the season?
We’ve done it – 1st round of the FA Cup and a top ten league finish.

Who is your favourite current Maidenhead United player?
David Tarpey, a Garry Attrell for the 21st Century. More Beethoven than Mozart though.

What do you love most about York Road?
The first view of the ground as my train approaches Maidenhead, particularly if it’s an evening match.

If you were in charge of Maidenhead United for a day, what one change would you make?
Build a bespoke entrance from platform 5 down the embankment through a back door in the club shop.

What is your favourite Vanarama National League South awayday?
Eastbourne Borough. Decent ground and facilities. Lovely people and we usually win.

If you were in charge of non league football for a day, what one change would you make?
Merge the Conference with the bottom division of the Football League, regionalise them as north/south, then start non league with four regional divisions below that.