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.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The King's A Leon

The fourth and final qualifying round of the FA Cup must be the best day in the Non League calendar. If you're lucky enough to still be in the competition you can wallow in all the hopes and dreams of glory to come in the competition proper in the knowledge that the tie you must win to get there offers a realistic chance of success. Everyone travelling to see a Cup tie yesterday must have done so in the hope that their team would win or at least be in the hat for the next round. Everyone would have had a team in their head who they wanted to draw in the first round. Everyone would have had a least of flutter of pride at the stirrings of extra media attention.
All this was true for me as I set off on the short journey to Farncombe to see Godalming Town host Maidenhead United for the right to join the forty eight Football League Third and Fourth Division clubs. So although inconvenienced by joining a train jam packed full of Chelsea fans at Shepherds Bush, I could only smile as they whined about "glory hunting" QPR fans from the previous week's match. Pausing to check Twitter as I waited for the the train at Clapham Junction a wry grin crept onto my face at the chutzpah of the nation's favourite Spoonerism Jeremy Hunt who billed the match as Culture Sec v Home Sec in reference to the Gs and Magpies' MPs.
Arriving nice and early I was stopped by the day's fourth official Dele Sotimirin, who had travelled on the same train and needed directions to the ground. I accompanied him part of the way, filling him in on each club's form before stopping off midway to Wey Court at the Freeholders, a welcoming pub from which to watch the day's support act, the Chelsea v Arsenal game, in the company of a flock of Royal Magpies who had eschewed a trip to Selhurst Park in favour of cheering on United.
Suitably buoyed up by proceedings at Stamford Bridge, an experience enhanced by being in a pub full of Chelsea fans in Ashley Cole's home town, next stop was Wey Court home of Godalming Town. The Gs have had a short but labyrinthine history encompassing name changes and an admirable approach to ground development using second hand structures no longer required by other clubs. Their recent elevation from county league football was plain to see by the limited but tidy ground which was just right for the game as the crowd stringed themselves round the perimeter in an unbroken chain one person deep.
With the tie being Town's first at this stage they had rightly received plenty of attention from the BBC and the FA, and their excellent form going into the game, particularly the recent defeats of Worcester and Kingstonian suggested they had more than a puncher's chance with some of their names on their team sheet being quite familiar with Alliance South football. The home manager was keen to play up the kidology saying the pressure was all on Maidenhead, but the Magpies shouldered this well dominating the opening stages . However with no end product to United's attacking endeavours, Godalming visibly grew in confidence.
Town twice went close with headers but their failure to hit the target was soon punished as Maidenhead responded by scoring twice. The first in the thirty first minute saw Ashan Holgate hold up a Bobby Behzadi free kick before laying the ball off to Martel Powell to fire home the opening goal of the game.With seven minutes to go before the break Leon Solomon made it two with an extraordinary finish from the left wing, the ball sailing over the goalkeeper's head into the top right corner, as good as any chip in from the fairway on the adjacent goal course.
Stunned by the prospect of an exit in their seventh FA Cup match this season it was clear Godalming's response after the restart would be crucial in helping them to maintain a toehold in this season's competition but they hadn't even got out of the blocks before Maidenhead made it 3-0.
Within seconds of the second half kick off, Solomon hared down the left and delivered a cross which Anthony Thomas launched himself at but could not even give it the eyebrows, nevertheless the ball hit the back of the net again.
Godalming refused to give up but with Sam Beasant equal to any of their attacking efforts the Magpies were the only likely scorers. So with twelve minutes to go Solomon completed a hat trick finishing a well worked exchange of passes with Holgate. A rout now seemed inevitable particularly when Manny Williams pounced on a slip by the hapless keeper to make it five. Deep into injury time though the Godalming number one restored some pride with a great double save from Will Hendry and Holgate. The final whistle soon sounded to cue elation from the black and white ranks at another first round appearance.
As we trailed home on the train, talk was naturally about Sunday's draw. Surely Maidenhead will overturn a run of five consecutive first round draws against non league opposition even if we don't get the likes of Charlton or Sheffields Wednesday and United. The wonders of social networking saw me meet up with @OrientMeatPie on the train, think we would both settle for the Os visiting York Road in November.

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