About Me

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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.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The Road To Wembley Ends Here

Setting out from my West London home at 10.30, the feeling this year for our first round tie was very much expectation in contrast to the hope that we took to Stafford twelve months ago.My rendezvous with my travelling companions for the day was Victoria station, once Britain’s gateway to Europe via the Orient Express, but today perhaps the start of a Maidonian journey which had not been made for 121 years.I located friends Murdo, Craig, Callum, Foz and Terry, who had successfully negotiated Swansea’s Jack Army and their police escort at Paddington. We contemplated the bad omen of the cancellation of our scheduled train as we waited for the final member of our party, Keith who had travelled down from Lancashire.A phone call from Paddy to say that he had just landed at Heathrow from Glasgow, and would be following us on to Sussex, left us to ponder the events that we had witnessed at the club over the last twenty years.Words such as arson, relegation, rebirth, promotion and cup glory sprang to mind as we boarded the 11.32 for Horsham. As the train pulled out of the station and crawled over the Thames, Murdo announced that the buffet was open and distributed products from our sponsor Carlsberg.Arriving on time at 12.25 we ambled out of the station listening carefully to directions to the ground from a member of staff which were completely ignored as an empty pub was spotted. On entry to The Bedford we had a bit of luck as Craig happened to order the round his fellow countryman behind the bar offered a “Scottish discount”. We then settled down to watch the North East derby, regular cutaways to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley leading to derisive cries about him ignoring the Magpies on the doorstep of his Thames Valley home.Having finished my strictly nutritional pint of Guinness, I then opted to head for the ground. Another suggestion that perhaps it wasn’t going to be my day came when the turnstile operator had thrown my ticket away. Locating my fellow directors I got the team news and headed for the boardroom, my opposite numbers giving me the customary warm Sussex welcome.The importance of the day was highlighted when a member of the Horsham team that faced Tommy Lawton’s Notts County in the first round in 1946 appeared and was photographed with the “boot lace” ball used on that day. Other Sussex celebrities to appear were Bognor’s legendary manager Jack Pearce and cricketer Chris Adams.As kick off drew near I made a circuit of the ever filling ground taking time to talk to my fellow supporters for whom away travel is a given. Settling down in the directors box, the first half looked like finishing in Maidenhead’s favour despite the awful pitch before Nigel Brake’s Radfordesque strike right on half time saw the hosts take the lead.A big effort was required by the Magpies in the second half so to do my part I rejoined the mob in the cowshed and prepared to urge Maidenhead to victory. The vocal support never wavered but the game slipped out of reach and at the final whistle I was left feeling as flat as I ever have been at a Maidenhead game. As the Horsham fans enjoyed their moment in the spotlight the Magpies trailed silently out of the ground. I made a point of shaking Hornet’s Chairman Frank King’s hand and wishing him luck for the next round, before making a beeline for the Bedford.Back in the pub the recriminations began as we all vented our spleen over the usual issues of tactics and team selection. Joined by President Jim, we chewed the fat with some opposing fans for a while before restocking the buffet and heading home about 8 pm, wondering if Foz would be correct when he predicted that we could be rueing this golden opportunity to progress to the second round when we are old and grey!

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