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.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Branch line football

I always enjoy a trip to Marlow's ground and not just because I've seen Maidenhead win two cup finals there.  Its set up its pretty much ideal for a club of its size and status with sizeable covered terracing behind one goal and along one side and marvellous old stand to sit in.  With concrete terracing all around and a homely bar under the stand if ever you had to show an visitor from Mars what non league football is you could do worse than taking them to Oak Tree Road.
The walk from the station also provides plenty of opportunities for refreshment, particularly if you go via the high street so once I was assured that weather conditions would be favourable to the game going ahead I had no hesitation to setting off for the game despite the low key nature of the competition.
The County Cups are surely an idea that should be consigned to the dustbin of history.  They have been eclipsed by virtually every other competition and I would suggest that with so few teams in this one (12) that it be relegated to a pre/early season tournament so its out of the way before the real stuff begins.  It could be finished in two weeks and allow the more senior teams to try out youngsters and fringe players with the real incentive of making a bid for regular first team football at the start of the season.  Also most of the competing teams play each other preseason anyway, this way an admission charge is justified.
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Maidenhead won the game as comfortably as the 5-1 scoreline suggests although there were a few jitters when Marlow took the lead through Adam Dickens. United's quick response through Kieron St. Aimie and a Cliff Akurang hat trick reflected their seniority and it was a surprise that only Lee Barney added to the score once the game was as good as won, certainly the youngster's freakish goal capped the evening as those of us behind the goal were presented with a rueful smile from goalkeeper Watkins as the ball sailed over his head into the net.  After his mercifully short spell at York Road it was good to see the Magpies on the receiving end of his munificence.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Piping Mad

Yesterday's game at York Road was somewhat overshadowed by the midweek theft of the club's hot water system which not only threatened to add to the long list of postponements caused by the bad weather but also added a hefty bill to add to the financial problems caused by the loss of revenue from lucrative games against the likes of Farnborough and Woking which were casualties of the winter weather recently.
A shame as the game was entertaining one, Thurrock finishing on top thanks to their usual up tempo approach and clinical finishing.  David Olima scored the pick of the goals with his late strike for the Essex club's third which  sealed the points, but the other two were also notable for being well worked goals created by man of the match Matt Bodkin.  At the other end Joe Woolley made a crucial save from Marcus Rose when the score was one nil, which following an Ashley Smith shot which hit the crossbar proved sufficient to keep his team's lead and withstand the Magpies comeback with a penalty from Kieron St. Aimie.
All credit to the new Thurrock management team for turning the club around with three straight wins following the departure of Greg Lincoln after thirteen goals were shipped over the New Year weekend.  Maidenhead meanwhile are left with a County Cup game on Tuesday night to revive their fortunes.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Jimmy Jimmy

Yet another blank Saturday for the Magpies so I opted to join a friend with a Reading season ticket on the road to Doncaster to take up the offer of a bargain £15 entry price at Rovers.  Travelling up the M1 it felt like legions of football fans were on the march as we passed coaches and cars bearing the favours of Oxford United, Leeds United, Stevenage, Hull City and Newport County.
Doncaster's  Keepmoat Stadium like most out of town grounds is handily placed for the motorway with plenty of parking in the adjacent industrial area.  The ground is next to a shopping outlet centre which was cunningly situated to draw us towards the ground only to find there was no way to access it.  One detour later, we arrived at the stadium.  Set in the midst of manmade grassy knolls and lakes, its a one tier version of the identikit all seater all covered wraparound stadia which are now common in the UK.  Its stand out feature is the floodlights, which unlike most other new grounds which simply bolt the lights onto the roof, are mounted on mini pylons in the European style familiar to anyone who used to play Subbuteo.
The away end is entered through the usual breeze block cavern containing food, drink and gambling outlets.  With a strong wind blowing we opted for shelter before taking our seats just before kick off.  This gave us the opportunity to discover that the "club that plays the best football in the division" as boasted about in the programme, is based on a philosophy that permeates the club even down to the humble drinks kiosk operative.
Having worked out that alcohol was cheaper than the pastry wrapped offerings, I asked for two half litre bottles of lager and was amazed at the teamwork on display.  Two staff remained still as they were in charge of pouring beer, one took the bottles out of the fridge, handed them to the supervisor (as designated by his suit and tie) who removed the caps before handing them to the cashier for exchanging with me for £6.
This tea bar teamwork foreshadowed the game's opening stages which was dominated by the home team, a three man central defence allowing the full backs to lap the midfield and support the lone striker.  The intricate interplay couldn't quite fashion a decent chance though and once Reading found their rhythm and tempo, they took charge. Hitherto having settled for hopeful punts up the right wing to the Royal playmaker Jimmy Kebie, Reading took the lead with a quick move via the same route which instead took the terrestrial option.
A sharp interception by Jobi McAnuff was followed by a sharp pass to Kebie who played a perfectly timed through ball for Shane Long to run onto, collect and score.  A very strong wind threatened to spoil the game but apart from making Neil Sullivan look a bit foolish when his kick outs blew into touch, it mattered little.
Reading dominated the second half, Kebie doubling the lead with a similar move to the one that broke the deadlock, only this time the Mali international scored himself with an exquisite lob as Sullivan found himself struck in no man's land.  Doncaster seemed to abandon hope at this point, throwing on all their subs, reverting to a more conventional 4-4-2 set up and their day was summed up when a Matt Kilgallon clearance was deflected into the net by McAnuff.  This prompted a mass walk out by the Rovers fans, whilst the travelling Royals hailed their leader Brian McDermott who "used to manage Slough but he's a Royal now".

The Football League's greatest names

1. Sammy Clingan - sounds like someone out of Star Trek
2. Angel Rangel - it rhymes
3. Nyron Nosworthy - great alliteration

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Any Port In a Storm

Following the farcical events at York Road which saw the match referee postpone the game at 2.10 due a postage stamp of a wet patch in one corner, I opted to make the most of the bright winter's afternoon and take a brisk walk to the north of town to watch Holyport take on South Kilburn in a Hellenic League Division One East fixture.
I was not alone in taking this opportunity with fellow Magpies snaking through the Aldebury Road estate to climb the stile to reach the footpath which led to the entrance. The ground quickly came into view which was fortunate as the game kicked off early.
After parting with £5 which supplemented my admission with a programme and a drink I saw the visitors hit the post then Eric Hamilton convert the rebound. By the time I collected my complimentary beverage South Kilburn had doubled their lead with a great turn and shot from Thomas Kieron. This may not have been clear to the uninitiated had Holyport were wearing a dark red kit whilst South Kilburn were in light red.
The Summerleaze village ground is as basic as they come, with a pitch ringed by a metal rail, the only buildings being the dugouts and tea bar.  The dressing room complex is down a path.  A small stand is planned which will provide some much needed shelter from the wind which whips across North Town Moor.  Certainly cover is a must as it can scarcely be a pleasant place to watch football in the rain, particularly as there is no warming club house to seek refuge in.  This may also help to boost attendances.  The crowd was just 31, even though it was supplemented by those of us deprived of football at York Road. However one bonus is that the lack of a fence, means we watched an interactive game regularly being required to divert the ball back onto the pitch.
Back to the game and after the shock of going two behind in the first four minutes, Holyport started to show their promotion credentials by slowly clawing their way back in the game, taking the lead by half time.  They were helped by two penalties which seemed to demonstrate that dramatic tumbles were on the menu in training. Dan Rapley converted both but in between was perhaps the biggest victim of a foul inside the box which in this case went unpunished.  The spot kicks bookended a first half Rapley hat trick, his second being the goal of the game when he went on a Ricky Villa style mazy run to equalise.
The second half saw Holyport emerge as comfortable 5-2 winners courtesy of a Carl Reeves header from a well worked freekick, with the scoring completed by Mark Camp-Overy who profited from a comic mix up between defender and goalkeeper.
The game provided a pleasing contrast with what I had witnessed at Arsenal on Wednesday night.  Yes the action was amateurish but nevertheless entertaining even when South Kilburn lost their discipline towards the end, which helped to warm the crowd on a chilly afternoon.  Well worth a look if you require a football fix, just check the weather forecast before you set out.

Boring Boring City

Frustrating night at the Emirates which began with a slow running Piccadilly line which caused me to miss the first two minutes as Robin Van Persie missed the first of a host of Arsenal chances three of which hit the woodwork. Add in a good penalty shout and you have a fair summary of game in which the Gunners did everything but score. This was in the face of obdurate defence from Manchester City who despite the opportunity to go top with a win, opted for an eight man unit to stifle Arsenal and secure the draw. The inevitable result was stalemate and the question if this is what 350 million gets you, how much more will City have to spend to find some attacking ambition.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Unholy Saints

Maidenhead paid for their good fortune on New Years Day with some good saves, bad officiating and a lack of killer instinct in front of goal leading to another winning opportunity being passed up.  Add in some hefty challenges from St. Albans and you have a frustrating afternoon.
This was a shame as a trip to Clarence Park is usually one to be relished.  The swift journey north on the train sped past Hendon's old Claremont Road ground with its impressive floodlight pylons.  This led to reminiscences of a time when trips to Hendon and St. Albans which came with Isthmian Premier Division status were a mere pipedream for the Magpies.  Now Hendon subsist in a groundshare whilst St. Albans nervously await the outcome of an FA financial enquiry which may cost vital points in their battle against relegation.
They retain one player of quality in goalkeeper Paul Bastock and his two first half saves from Alex Wall certainly had a key influence on the result.  The Saints goal came within a minute of centre back Marcus Rose being replaced for United which may have had something to do with Inih Effiong breaking the offside trap to score.  From then on there was plenty of goalmouth incident with St. Albans' overly physical determination to win at home for the first time this season leaving its mark on Ashley Smith amongst others and reflecting manager Steve Castle's career as a bustling midfielder.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Hangover

Very disappointing performance from the Magpies this afternoon, particularly as hopes were high following Thursday night's tremendous win at Bromley.  They played like I felt after night of excess.  For a team that had only scored 14 league goals, Basingstoke looked surprisingly potent, with Matt Warner particularly impressive in the midfield.  The twelfth minute dismissal of Basingstoke goalkeeper Simon Moore was the game's main talking point and it would have been interesting to see what referee Adam Fielding would have done had Martel Powell used the advantage to score.  Instead it was left to Alex Wall to thump home the resulting free kick. Still despite the gift of a goal, a man advantage and a fit Basingstoke reserve keeper stood on the sidelines but not named on the bench, Maidenhead were unable to find a killer second goal and Basingstoke's composed perseverance deservedly paid off at the death to earn a point.  I blame my friend John, a very occasional Maidenhead watcher who six years in has still to see the Magpies win.  Needless to say his first game of the season was this afternoon.