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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, 25 January 2009


Some aspects of British sport seem to have little point to them but at the same time their demise would lead to an outcry by those who don’t actually have any real interest in them.
A list would include events like the Boat Race and County Cricket, and perhaps the lower divisions of the Scottish League. Watched by similar numbers to English non league football and dwarfed in scale by the Scottish Junior system, the clubs are nevertheless regarded fondly by many who could scarcely find them on a map.
One team which spent most weeks going literally pointless at the start of the decade was East Stirling. With no relegation from the bottom division, the 'Shire bounced along in the basement, with little hope or expectation of even reaching second bottom, with Chairman Alan Mackin imposing a maximum wage of £10 per week.
Naturally things gradually got worse and in 2003/04 the Shire found international notoriety when they went 23 games without a win. With bookmakers refusing bets on Shire to lose, a record equalling 24th match without a win was avoided on the last day of the season when Elgin City were beaten in the full glare of publicity.
This infamy prompted sportswriter Jeff Connor to write a fly on the wall book about "a season with Britain's worst football team". The offer of £2,000 gained Connor access to all areas of the club for the 2004/05 and his reflections form a mildly diverting read.
The reader is deluged by the farcical events Connor encounters which seem more like Carry on Football. We meet a septuagenarian director who vetoes everything to spite his colleague, a Chief Executive who insists he is the manager, a manager who believes this is the first step of a great managerial career, supporters who insist on travelling to all games by public transport whatever the cost and a host of players hoping to get their lucky break.
Weight is given to the Manager Dennis Newall's ambitions at least as none other than Alex Ferguson started in the manager's chair at Firs Park. He soon left to bequeath on the Shire the curse of the lesser talented brother as his sibling started a trend for names such as Durie and Rae to be signed.
Unsurprisingly Connor is not the only person lured to Falkirk by a morbid fascination for a moribund football club and he recounts the arrival of a succession of lads' mags to poke fun at the unfortunate shire. The value of being good at being bad does pay dividends when Littlewoods lavish the club with sponsorship but this rather queers the plot when Dennis Newall wins the manager of the month award for November. Coming in the wake of three months when only two points were earned this was some achievement for the cigar smoking Newall who at least shared with his illustrious predecessor Ferguson a penchant for the hairdryer treatment. Unfortunately despite being wheeled out virtually every week it had little effect and well you can guess where the Shire finished the season.
Although the prose would have benefited from a clearer structure, it is worth a read to dig out the anecdotal gems which any non league fan would recognise. As a postscript East Stirling finally achieved their aim to finish second bottom last season at the sixth attempt. Sadly this proved to be the last at their Firs Park home with its infamous Land of Leather wall at one end, due to the pitch no longer being big enough to meet SFA requirements. However the move into a groundshare with Stenhousemuir seems to have worked wonders with the Shire sitting in fifth position.

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