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, 18 April 2011

The Only Way Is Essex

It's no big secret that Essex is scarcely my favourite football county, however this is primarily down to envy as some of the best non league teams have come from the region in the last 20 years.  From memory at one time the Magpies had as many as nine league trips to Essex with all guaranteed to be a tough encounter with odds against black and white success. Visits to Thurrock, or Purfleet as they used to be known, lived up to this stereotype, and this was very much the case on Saturday with the twist that the game turned into a smash and grab raid by the Magpies to leave their hosts in despair.  Maidenhead goals at either end of the game with Thurrock dominating much of the rest of proceedings outlined the perfect outcome for the away fans.
This felt like a just reward after an arduous journey across London which took longer than the trip to Lewes two weeks previously. Still there was plenty to amuse en route starting with the Manchester City fans who filled the District line train pointing in bewildered fashion at the tube map, thus giving the lie to their lack of recent visits to Wembley. Light blue changed to claret and blue as I arrived in West Ham country at the Stratford building site readying itself for next year's Olympics. A quick train trip through the industrial sprawl of East London ended at Rainham where I got on a packed bus to the ground. Inevitably these were shoppers on the way to Lakeside and I was the only passenger to alight at the Hotel for this key relegation clash.
On the way I was pleasantly surprised by the scenery of rural cottages with views of Kent. After tracking the A13 for a while we left Billy Bragg's gateway to the sea for a detour around the village of Aveley passing the entrance to Mill Field, home of the local football club which can just about be seen from Thurrock's ground. As we did so I wondered what might have been for the Millers who last season reached the Isthmian league play offs under Rod Stringer before he departed with some of the squad for Braintree taking them to the cusp of the Alliance Premier whilst Aveley fight against relegation. I also mused whether the only fanzine that paid the reader to take it was still going. Called "There's only one Reggie Harris" the Aveley zine came with a penny attached to every copy. The team behind it mined a rich seam of surrealism, one of their number once watching a game at York Road dressed as the Pink Panther in protest at the recent sacking of the manager.
Anyway back to the present day and the glorious sunshine seemed to reflect the disposition of the travelling Magpies buoyed by Tuesday night's home win. Pre match talk was full of the possibility that a win could lift United up to fifth bottom and all was going to plan when Anthony Thomas converted a fourth minute penalty.
Thurrock though soon took command with Maidenhead having to dig deep to hang onto their coat tails at 1-1. Their spirit was personified by chairman Tommy South who was at the game in a wheelchair after sustaining serious injuries in an accident whilst carrying out ground maintenance. However once midfield talisman Matt Bodkin departed with cramp their challenge faded, leaving Maidenhead to deliver a killer punchline with a goal from Max Worsfold worthy of a promotion rather than a relegation battle. Still with eight minutes of stoppage time there was plenty of cup style tension but as with the Eastleigh win this was just about dealt with to redeem the pre match hopes of the Maidenhead fans.
Ten points out of the last twelve suggest the force is now very much with United to escape but Thurrock are definitely the best of the other strugglers and I've a feeling that despite the body language on display at the final whistle the season is not over yet for either.

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