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.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Day Out At The Palace

An early postponement at York Road presented the opportunity to catch up with a friend going to Crystal Palace to support Reading.  The convenience of a direct train from Shepherd's Bush to Selhurst added to the rare luxury of being able to pay cash at the turnstile (sorry box office adjacent to the turnstile) to watch professional football  meant this was too easy an opportunity to pass up.  A train full of rugby fans made this an unlikely rush hour and any doubt as to who I would support at Selhurst Park evaporated when a crafty Eagle sneaked in front of me to pinch a seat then proceeded to use the one next to him to unfurl his copy of the Daily Mail and use it as a repository for the salad from his sandwich, presumably having read how it would give him cancer.
Loyalties sorted I arrived at Selhurst and promptly bumped into one of the Twyford Royal Magpies and then as if my arrival at the ground was expected was interviewed by a mysterious organisation called winkball.

Pre match pleasantaries over and done with I finally got to the Arthur Waite stand and was disappointed to find that the away end had been moved to the bottom of the hill next to the family stand, well away from the Holmesdale Ultras.  On the other hand this meant I had now completed the set and sat in every section of this part of the ground.  
You have to give Crystal Palace credit for creating an atmosphere at games at a pitch well above what you would expect from an average crowd of under 15,000 although I'm not sure what the pre match parading of an Eagle does to create more noise.  My desperate hopes that it would ignore its handler and perch on the stand until the game started, then divebomb the players were sadly unfulfilled.  Let's hope Palace can renew their rivalry with Brighton next season to present the opportunity of some primeaval bird fight with a seagull.  Bird brained antics aside the Palace fans always get behind their team whatever their standing so despite the obvious limitations of Selhurst Park I was surprised to read throughout the programme how keen everyone was to move to the Crystal Palace athletics stadium.  Aside from the pedants delight of actually playing in Crystal Palace this could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and ending up in a sterile stadium.
As to the game, well it lived up to the Championship's reputation for hurly burly goalmouth action in 3-3 draw which fairly reflected the play.  Neither side could defend with Reading being first to prove this point by losing possession in the centre circle then allowing Darren Ambrose to storm towards goal unimpeded and pick his spot to score within a minute of the kick off.  This was all the incentive Palace needed to tear into the Royals and in an uptempo start the home team should have had the game won with the first twenty minutes. Former Everton starlet James Vaughan was a real thorn in the Royals side severely exposing Shaun "short" Cummings.  The lead could have been doubled when a Danns shot was scooped from what looked like behind the line by keeper McCarthy, and Danns soon made up for this by scoring a second.
On the rare occasions Reading got forward Palace looked equally shaky at the back and were given a lifeline when Shane Long was brought down in the penalty area then converted the spot kick.  Palace were then awarded a penalty themselves within a minute of the restart but a McCarthy save from Ambrose changed the game and from here on in Reading took charge.
In the second half it look like being a question of when not if Reading would equalise and therefore it was no surprise when a spritely run and cross from Long was smartly finished by Jimmy Kebe to prove my pre match call about his precocious talent..  Palace manager Dougie Freedman reacted by substituting the fading Vaughan with Jermaine Easter, which soon paid off when Easter scored the goal of the game with a volley.  However Palace keeper Julian Speroni was now limping heavily and this was finally exposed by the head of Noel Hunt to equalise and seal a point which although well deserved would have pleased neither team.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Cards sharp

Well beaten by Woking last night even though the score was only 1-0.  They looked a class apart from Maidenhead and I would imagine it would have been clear to a neutral which team which was aspiring to the play offs and which was battling relegation.
Garry Hill seems to have invigorated Woking and with the incentive of last season's play off final disappointment they look a really good bet for promotion.
As for Maidenhead on the positive side the players continue to work hard to remain in contention for points but every defeat must sap the confidence that little bit further.  This is nothing like Carl Taylor's relegation season when twice as much money produced heavy defeats week in week out, nevertheless the corner that needs to be turned is still nowhere to be found.
Matters have been made worse by Mark Nisbet's dismissal.  With him on the pitch the defence looked capable of holding firm, he will now presumably receive a three match ban starting in a fortnight inconveniently timed to coincide with fellow defender Jamal Fyfield's return to York at the end of his loan.
The fixture list is also taking a bizarre turn, six out of the next seven league fixtures are at home (there are also two other home games during this period), followed by four away games.  As with the 1997/98 it could well be that two late seasons games against Hampton could well seal the fate of both clubs although this time relegation rather than promotion is at stake.
An odd postscript (which ironically prevented one) was the referee's decision to reduce the stoppage time to 100 seconds after initially indicating five minutes which seemed reasonable given a half which included five substitutions, a protracted goal celebration and foul/handbags/double sending off incident which itself must have taken two minutes to sort out.  Still as one Woking fan pointed out the extra time could have increased the score to 2-0 and made United's goal difference even worse!
I also spent some time yesterday at the Hammersmith and Fulham archive doing some research for Mark Smith's latest edition of Maidenhead United's history.  I was specifically looking for details of Maidenhead's games against Shepherd's Bush at the turn of the twentieth century.  Maidenhead were regular visitors to West London at this time and at least one of the games was played at Loftus Road, presumably on the same site as the current QPR ground.  I was really lucky to find this information as the centre will be permanently closed next week as part of the cultural vandalism being wreaked on the borough by the local council whose shock doctrine philosophy views even David Cameron with suspicion as a dangerous pinko liberal.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Fall of the House of Windsor

The Dressing Room after the 2001 win
Finally wound up in the high court on February 2nd, Windsor were naturally one of the Magpies greatest rivals although attempts by the local media to whip up some passion along the lines of "Battle of the Borough" never really took off.  There was little animosity between either club, apart from the understandable frustrations when Dennis Greene moved from Stag Meadow to York Road and proceeded to take many Royalist personnel with him.
Stag Meadow itself was a pleasant enough ground, backing onto Windsor Great Park, although the proximity of the tea bar with its oily smells to the clubhouse meant I preferred to drink in the pub opposite.  The supporters were full of the usual characters, the sandal wearing "Jesus" giving an added edge to a winter game with the hope that he would stick to his open toed footwear in the snow, whilst there was always a vociferous minority to lend some atmosphere although at one point in the mid 90s the young ultras gave cause for a wry smile as they chanted for reasons I forget "We hate Tories" at the Maidenhead fans whilst standing in front of a sign saying "Support the Royalists".
Older generations of United supporters tended to regard Windsor as little more than a village team as post war the big local derbies were always against Wycombe and Slough.  My lifetime coincided with Windsor's best spell though and during the 80s they were very much the senior team in the borough, at one stage being two levels ahead of United, as the Royalists enjoyed a spell in the Isthmian Premier Division whilst the Magpies tumbled down to Division Two South and an embarrassing league derby with Flackwell Heath.  Indeed I can recall striker Mickey Creighton, who played for both clubs recounting the time when he was part of the Windsor squad which took Bournemouth to an FA Cup 2nd round replay with a home tie against Manchester United awaiting the victors.  Harry Redknapp's Cherries won the rematch 2-0 at Dean Court and of course famously beat the Cup holders by the same score in round three.
Thus it was quite exciting when promotion for Maidenhead and relegation for Windsor brought the clubs together in Isthmian Division One and rare Boxing Day clash at York Road.  I can still remember the crisp morning kick off in front of a sparse but passionate crowd.  The Magpies ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.  My chief memory of the game though is Mark Franks consolation goal, which he celebrated with such vigour with the Royalist fans that he was booked!
The reverse fixture was one of those disappointing Magpie flops which sadly continue to this day.  Windsor managed by ex Maidenhead manager John Clements won a dreadful game 1-0 despite having spent two thirds of the game with ten men after one of their defenders opted to punctuate the silence by insulting the linesman in the vilest way possible. These three points were not enough to save Windsor from relegation so the rest of the clubs' meetings up to Windsor's recent demise came in Cup competitions, chiefly the County Cup, and annual friendlies.
The first of these clashes was in 1996 when goals from Paul Dadson and Garry Attrell at Stag Meadow gave United a comfortable victory and set up a semi final tie at home to Aylesbury United, the fall from which I'm still in therapy for, but that's another story.  The real talking point from the Windsor game came a few weeks previously when the match was scheduled only for snow to fall ahead of kick off.  I sat with other supporters in the Queens Arms (now Noctors) awaiting news of the inevitable postponement with only Roy Bannister's tale of getting his house fitted with new carpets for entertainment.  When the game was called off the night was in full swing to the extent that proceedings moved to the Anchor although we were in too much of a stupor  to remember the main TV event that evening when Jarvis Cocker waved his arse at Michael Jackson.
Two years later Windsor again provided the quarter final opposition although they seemed to have upped their budget as one Maidenhead fan solemnly told me that Ted Danson and Greg Norman would be lining up for the Royalists at Stag Meadow.  With Maidenhead riding high in the league another easy win was in order but Windsor were the better team for most of the game and with seconds of extra time left were leading 2-1, only for Chuk Agudosi to pop up and score a scarcely deserved equaliser.  The replay (remember them) went to form with a Garry Attrell hat trick leading United to a 4-1 victory and putting them on track to win the County Cup for the first time in a generation.
Cup holders Maidenhead were to again travel to Stag Meadow twelve months later, this time at the semi final stage.  Again underdogs Windsor looked to be on course for an upset until the game turned on a nasty incident when a racial insult was made by a Maidenhead player to one of his opponents.  This sparked an inevitable fracas which led to Windsor losing the initiative they had created, United rather shamefully going onto win the tie 3-1 and eventually retain the Cup.
The next semi final clash came two years later, this time at York Road with the Magpies now promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division.  As usual Windsor weren't intimidated by the higher tier opposition and at times outclassed the Magpies.  This was a breathtaking tie with the game flowing at great speed from end to end. With Windsor losing their nerve in front of goal, Matt Glynn gave the Magpies the lead with a spectacular effort.  A Dennis Greene penalty seemed to have given the Royalists an extra thirty minutes to claim the game only for Lee Channell  to sneak a winner in injury time.
FA Cup celebrations
Perhaps emboldened by a string of near misses, ahead of the next semi final meeting, at Stag Meadow in 2003, Greene, by now Windsor manager made a number of ill advised predictions in the local press about the final score.  With the team talk ready made, Alan Devonshire's made short work of the tie, a Lawrence Yaku hat trick building a 5-0 win with a performance so dominant that reduced Windsor captain Dave Carroll to respond to the taunting Magpies by petulantly slamming a free kick into the wall.  Once again Maidenhead went onto win the Cup in what was to be Alan Devonshire's last game as manager, ending his reign with a near perfect record against the men down the A308.
Devonshire's successors were unable to match his County Cup collection but at least kept the Royalists in check.  John Dreyer won a tight FA Cup tie 2-1 in October 2004 in a fiery derby which saw eleven bookings.  Future Crawley hero Jamie Cook gave United the lead from the spot, but a spectacular second from the winger was chalked off as it was from a drop ball, Cook being cautioned for ungentlemanly conduct.   With Windsor then going down to ten men, a Barrie Matthews goal seemed to seal the win but the goal of the game from Peter Holsgrove led to a nailbiting finish.
Ironically following Dennis Greene's move from Stag Meadow to York Road, the clubs didn't meet during his time as United manager.  Carl Taylor was in charge when the team renewed County Cup hostilities in the autumn of 2005 and in the worst season of my Magpie watching the game provided a rare bright spot.  Windsor contested the game well taking an early lead and pulling the score back to 2-2 just after half time, however the Magpies were just too strong with Stephen Hughes, a Lee Newman brace and the goal of the game from Northampton star Abdul Osman easing United to a 4-2 victory which had a farcical coda when the verbose Taylor was sent from the dugout in the dying minutes.
The following season Johnson Hippolyte had moved into the hot seat and comfortably completed his Royalist rite of passage with a 2-1 win at Stag Meadow with even a weakened team, containing a central midfield pairing with a combined age of 80, being too much for Windsor.
With such a long run of victories, even the most die hard of Windsor fans must have despaired of ever beating the Magpies so its perhaps fitting that the last meeting saw Windsor beat the bogey to win the 2009 County Cup semi-final 1-0.  For a change it was Maidenhead who squandered a golden opportunity to win when Bobby Behzadi missed a late penalty, with Windsor seizing the day with a winning goal from Adam Wallace.
So Windsor had the last laugh as the record books will show they hold the honour of local pride until such time as a reformed team can rise far enough up the pyramid to take on the Magpies in competitive mode once more.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Puff and Blowers

I always look forward to a trip to Welling's Park View Road ground but my journey to South East London was so problematic I should have envisaged that it would be a far from enjoyable afternoon.  With all the tubes closed for engineering, Hammersmith was gridlocked with rail replacement buses and having persuaded the driver to let me off the bus rather than sit in traffic for half an hour I had to wade through the half term crowds visiting the museums at South Kensington before I just managed to get the last train from Victoria able to get me to Welling by the early kick off time caused by the Wings' floodlight problems.
Alighting from Welling station at 2.16 a lack of taxis meant I opted to jog the normal twenty minute walk down the High Street and the hours spent in the gym have obviously paid off as I halved the time in Roy Castle style to take my seat ahead of the teams walking onto the pitch.  Thus I had little time to ponder whether I was in London (Zone 4) or Kent (DA postcode).
Park View Road is a great ground due to the proximity of the excellent pitch to the surrounds.  Some people might moan about a lack of covered standing but Henry Blofeld for one would be delighted at the chance to watch the game whilst watching a stream of red double decker buses pass by the ground at the Park View Road end.  Add in the warm welcome and hospitality from the likes of club President Eric Brackstone and you have the makings of a great afternoon at the match.
The game itself kicked off in more ways than won as both teams tore into each other as if it were a derby and it was no surprise that eight names entered the referee's book, four from each team.  I think this secretly delighted most of those seated in the main stand who judging by the smiles on their faces relished the opportunity to bait the Maidenhead bench and match officials throughout the game.  With the "Big Society" very much in the news David Cameron could do worse in his search for the definition of his big idea than taking in a Welling home game because patrons get good value for money in the main stand as they not only can watch the game but also get free primal scream therapy, with the atmosphere making it nigh on impossible not to unleash ones frustrations pent up during the working week. I was particularly pleased that one of the leading exponents in hurling vitriol at the men in black (and black and white) was someone who I had blogged about in the reverse fixture for  urging the Magpies to "get on with it, its a man's game"!
As to the main action, Maidenhead's game plan essentially worked but two individual errors cancelled out all the hard work that went into Alex Wall's superb volleyed goal. Thus Maidenhead tumbled into the bottom three with all hopes resting on the fact that for most of every game this season one or even three points are  within the Magpies' grasp.

Pass Masters

So much has been written about the Arsenal win over Barcelona that there seems little left to say about the game result.  However as much news ink and band width has been spent in miserly mood, shaking metaphorical heads about away goals and revenge at the Nou Camp the main point about Wednesday night has been missed.  It was simply a joyous occasion and a wonderful spectacle to be involved in.
Perhaps it also marked a shift in Arsenal's status as it most certainly felt like a European occasion with little connecting it to English traditions.
Maybe this was due to the fact that I arrived at the game on the Eurostar from Brussels.  With little point in crossing London and back to go home I opted to grab a bite at the architectural marvel that is St. Pancras International and with plenty of time in hand decided against the crush of the tube in favour of the 91 bus.  This proved to be a prescient move as from the top deck travelling up the Caledonian Road the stadium was framed perfectly by the London skyscape, and as it drew closer the spotlights beamed into the sky to create a stellar ECL logo gave little doubt that Ashburton Grove was the place to be.
The free flags (as seen above) given to everyone in a home seat were no match for the waving of a red and white bar scarf but the huge red and white banners raised behind each goal really added to the carnival atmosphere.
The noise itself didn't seem quite as intense as at the corresponding fixture twelve months previously, a sign perhaps of the more equal nature of the contest compared to Barcelona's 2010 mauling of a badly depleted Arsenal.  Of course you will be sick of hearing by now how Jack Wilshire came of age in this game, but what about Laurent Koscielny giving his best performance in an Arsenal shirt, probably helped by the fact he wasn't faced by a physically domineering centre forward.
Being sat above the Barcelona fans compensated for all the goals being up the other end with Arshavin's instant strike winner really taking the breathaway of all at the Clock End.
All that was left to do was to wander through the side streets to the Holloway Road along with 60,000 other Gooners buzzing with excitement at being Kings of Europe for one night at least whilst hoping that the spirit of George Graham's 90s defensive fortress of Dixon, Bould, Adams and Winterburn can be revived in Catalonia in March.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Home horrible home

The York Road misery continued yesterday with a home defeat against struggling Lewes meaning this season is fast approaching the depths of 1998-99 and 2007-08 plumbed by those Magpies who do not travel away.
The game was open but neither team had the confidence in their ability to stamp their authority on it. Both teams adopted stereotypical roles, Maidenhead exerting sustained pressure whilst Lewes looked dangerous on the break.  In the end it was Lewes who broke the deadlock with twelve minutes remaining, and once ahead there was only one destination for the points.  This led to unconfined joy from the Lewes contingent with the result offering relief from their wretched season so far and hope that they may yet dig themselves out of the relegation mire.  This contrasted with the despairing Magpies who slipped one place to hover nervously over the trap door with no corner to turn in sight.
Aside from the match of the day it was interesting to hear from Windsor officials about the short term and possible long term destinations of their squad.  The presence of Willie Wordsworth left everyone wondering who he was scouting. On the way home I met one of the linesman from the ill fated Farnborough game who had been in the middle at Uxbridge.  One interesting point he made about refereeing was how he encouraged players to talk to him close up rather than shouting from ten yards away, a clear demarcation which illustrated how players end up with cautions for dissent.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Goodbye Boil

England lost one of its greatest allrounders when Trevor Bailey died last week.  Although he was somewhat the antithesis of all action successors Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham his international record speaks for itself, passing the all rounder's test of having a higher batting average than his bowling average.
One of the last cricketing amateurs he was also a fine non league footballer, playing for Leytonstone and winning the Amateur Cup with Walthamstow Avenue in 1952 (pictured above, Bailey on the far right).  The following year he was part of the Avenue team that drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford in a Fourth round tie, losing the replay 5-2 at Highbury.  With far from corinthian Crawley Town making the same trip north next week, Bailey's passing is reminder of a very different age.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Platini's Spirit Level

An elephant appeared in the room when Roman Abramovic reasserted his status of having the biggest yacht in the marina by splashing out £50 million on Fernando Torres.  The pachiderm was reminding us all of Michel Platini's much touted fair play rule which will limit a club's spending to 60% of its turnover from the start of the 2013/14 season, on pain of being banned from European competition.  With sanctions against clubs based on financial statements from the 2011/12 and 2012/13 reporting periods, this really requires the immediate attention of the bean counters at Europe's top clubs, with Arsene Wenger for one salivating at the thought that his parsimonious attitude to the transfer market will at last bear fruit.
Naturally this has cause much excitement in some quarters as it promises to reverse the trend which has seen the Champions League become the sole province of a select band of clubs based in England, Germany, Spain and Italy.  Although it will not see a return to the purity of the original European Champions Cup which effectively took a whole season to qualify for as one country's sole representative, it does bring the potential to bring a greater plurality of clubs to the competition.
As such this captures the zeitgeist of the recent trend to question the level of inequality in the modern world and take a constructive step to redressing the balance.  This is best articulated in "The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better" by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, one of the most thought provoking books of the last twelve months. The book argues that for a range of outcomes such as crime, health and social mobility, more equal societies are better places to live than ones where wealth is more disparately spread.
Can this work in European football?  American gridiron certainly has a good effort with its draft system whereby the weakest team in any particular season gets the first pick of the best college players. This of course works as there is no relegation from the NFL making it easier to plan long term.  The European disease which is particularly virulent in England and Spain sees clubs all too eager to mortgage their future on a host of expensive signings in the hope that they will bring success so it will be interesting to see if this changes at all.  Perhaps it may just lead to clubs signing younger players before they come too expensive and effectively hoarding talent, particularly with the double whammy of the new rules about home grown talent.  This would be one example of moral hazard as clubs set their best legal and financial minds to finding a way round the rules, with rumours already circulating about the best way to boost turnover to allow more spending by for example donors lashing out on ridiculous sponsorship deals to inject cash into the club.
Still with Europe firmly locked into the new austerity caused by the last decade's financial crisis, maybe this is a good time to introduce the new rules. Barcelona's recent comment that £50 million was too much to pay for a world class striker suggests it might.
There does seem to be nothing to stop Platini introducing the fair play initiative as its promise of a wider spread of riches virtually guarantees his re-election in March thanks to the one country one vote democracy of UEFA.  Indeed they have already benefited in his first term with teams from Israel, Denmark, Switzerland, Slovakia and Serbia making a rare appearance in the Champions League group stage.  In addition just before Christmas Uefa announced a €300,000-a-year increase to all member associations which naturally is more welcome in the poorer nations. 
Will the initiative have the desired effect?  The halycon days of the competition were during a time when Europe was split in two with the Easten bloc countries able to compete for honours as their regimes ensured all the best footballing resources in the nation were funnelled into one or two clubs.  At least those clubs who have maintained a presence at the top of their national table due to the largesse of a benefactor maybe able to  follow the likes of Shaktar Donetsk and Zenit St. Petersburg and make it to the top table on a regular basis.
However another Platini initiative to centralise the bidding for TV rights to screen European competitions maybe the trigger to create the oft mooted European Super league.  Whatever happens the next decade of European club football promises to be more interesting than the last.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Born of Frustration

Up and down the country yesterday it seemed the order of the day was for one team to take a seemingly definitive lead only to be pegged back against the odds by the opposition.  One set of Magpies did this to great acclaim against Arsenal whilst the York Road bunch I was watching was again failed to convert a position of dominance into a win.
Indeed this is fast becoming the story of the season, particularly since the turn of the year with Basingstoke, St. Albans, Boreham Wood, Havant and now Bishop's Stortford all ending up with more points than they might have expected during the game.
With both teams lacking in confidence the key moment of the game came when after Maidenhead had taken charge of the game with two good goals, the first a well worked move involving Ashley Nicholls and Alex Wall which was converted by Cliff Akurang, the second a humdinger of a strike from distance by Daniel Brown.  But within minutes of going two behind Stortford hit back in the psychologically important period before half time when a combination of the wind and misjudgement saw goalkeeper Steve Williams flap at a cross and allow Ross Prestedge to score with a header.
Thus the game remained in the balance in the second half, the only surprise being when Stortford finally equalised that they did not push harder for a winner particularly as the Magpies had lost midfield dynamo Nicholls to two bookings.
All this points to a deficit of confidence and belief in failing to dispatch lesser opposition.  The answer? Continued hard work to keep creating winning opportunities, whilst maintaining composure to avoid anxiety leading to mistakes.  When one opportunity is taken the next becomes easier.  The return of experienced players from injury will also help.
At least there was better news off the pitch with Bob the plumber putting in a long shift to sort out the new heating system which means the Reserves can host their League Cup tie at York Road on Tuesday night.  This was almost moved to Henley Town after opponents Slimbridge refused, unlike Blue Square Bet South clubs Thurrock and Stortford, to accept the temporary shower arrangements apparently citing the Human Rights Act in their defence!
Another positive was that although the crowd was nothing to write home about it was good to see a few familiar faces from Pinkneys Green Cricket Club.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Actively Passive

Despite many viewings and a detailed explanation from a Gooner work colleague I am still at a loss to understand why Everton's goal was allowed to stand at the Arsenal on Tuesday night.  However in a way this made the evening by cranking up the atmosphere and forcing the game to turn into a right battle between two determined teams with the skill to match.  Unfortunately Arsenal's lack of a solid 20 goal a season striker again told against them as countless chances went begging until the introduction of Bendtner and Arshavin, coupled with a change to 4-4-2 and last melted the Toffee defence and instigated a swift comeback to overturn the deficit and claim the points.
Sincerely hope Everton continue to prosper under David Moyes, if only he had the funds to add two or three players to turn them into a consistent top six outfit.  Also glad to see that Marouane Fellaini is as cool as mo' fo' live as he is on the small screen.

Clone Club

Back to Boreham Wood for the first time in over a decade last Saturday, with the memory of a Barry Rake strike on my last visit against then tenants Enfield still vivid in my mind.  On paper it had the makings of a good day out.  An easy journey to the edge of zone 6 by train, then a gentle stroll down the high street to the functional ground.  Maybe events on the pitch have coloured my view but this felt like a trip to mediocre Britain.  The high street was as good a representation of a clone town as you could imagine, with the glimpse of the Eastenders set in a side street hardly lifting the mood with its gloomy aura of faux misery.  A biting north wind made the view of the final destination a welcome sight, and on the face of it the club itself had much to offer with a bar handily placed next to the tea bar.  The fact that it was deserted save for the odd travelling Magpie started to peel back the veneer of functionality to reveal a desperate empty vessel.  Moving into the board room, again this was impressively arranged, with neat modernist furniture set off by some imitation Pollock prints, with the toilets alone bigger than the facilities at York Road and yet I felt like I was about to attend a funeral.
As for the game a video would I guess have seemed quite entertaining with six goals and plenty of near misses, a mini Magpie comeback from 2-0 down before Ian Allinson got to work in the dressing room to inspire his much changed Boreham Wood side to a barnstorming second half which left no doubt where the points were heading. But this was all witnessed by a sparse crowd strung out around the smart stadium, whilst presumably the thousands of inhabitants of the dwellings surrounding it got on with their lives.  Sad to see a club which is so evidently well run missing the human ingredient that makes a football club - passionate supporters.