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, 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.

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