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, 18 December 2011

A Christmas Gift For You

Long suffering is certainly an epithet that can be applied to Maidenhead supporters in 2011 as those of us who follow the club home and away in the league have had to endure two long winless runs in the Alliance South this calendar year. The first in the New Year was only stopped by a miraculous run of results in the Spring to avoid relegation, the second in the autumn at least offered light relief in the form of cup glory regularly punctuating the league gloom. Thus it was in forlorn hope rather than expectation that the Magpies made their way to Wiltshire clutching at the clichéd straws of a Cup hangover for the home team following their arduous but ultimately successful midweek FA Cup replay at Grimsby. There was also the memory of warming performances of Christmas past with the record breaking win at Hayes Lane a year ago still fresh in the memory.
The trip was also something to look forward to at the end of a long week and having managed to convince the ticket staff at Paddington to sell me a ticket for a less than direct route to Salisbury, I met up with five other Magpies at Reading who had just about made it after Mr Late As Usual lived up to his soubriquet. The Logician redeemed himself by relaying his cultural knowledge en route comparing the height of cathedral spires in Ulm and Salisbury. The latter was only glimpsed as we left the station to look for a welcoming pub with only the Wetherspoons' Kings Head providing satisfactory refuge.
Ignoring the comedy ales on offer (Russian Revolution stout?) I decided pre match conversation would be sponsored by Amstel in an attractive glass which sadly proved less than practical in standing up to a glancing blow meaning most of the third pint ended up on the floor.
The excellent 505050 taxis provided an A team style van to transport us to the out of town ground. Salisbury had moved from their centrally located Victoria Park stadium to the new Raymond McEnhill one in Old Sarum. Old Sarum is a place burned into my brain from school history as the most rotten of rotten boroughs abolished by the Great Reform Act of 1832, an iron age hill fort which returned two members of parliament.
Passing this now heritage site we entered the new development which seemed to consist of a growing estate of eminently respectable faux mansions some of which lined the appropriately named cul de sac which led to the ground, Partridge Way.
The stadium was something of an odd construction, a hotch potch of staircases and rooms backing on to a muddled arena. As we ascended the steps up to the social club we were presented with a poster advertising Salisbury's forthcoming Cup trip to Sheffield in a Bullseye style what you could have won moment.
With admission matching that of Fulham last Wednesday night, a seat (£15), a programme (£2.50) a drink and a bite to eat comfortably broke the £20 barrier. Regardless of value this was in keeping with Salisbury's full time status which at least was reflected by a fair playing surface in view of the recent weather.
Supporter accommodation was lopsided with the main stand roof continuing round by behind one goal to provide covered accommodation. The other half of the ground was just bare terracing, bar a regulation complying small seated stand on the halfway line. Bizarrely much of the terrace was prohibited yellow stripe territory.
The game itself offered several parallels to the last Magpies league win I had seen back at the start of September at Truro. It was a trip west to a new ground, the home team's white kit forced Maidenhead to wear their yellow away strip, both teams tried to play football, and Maidenhead were anchored at the back by the reassuring presence of Leigh Henry and Billy Lumley.
Although the Maidenhead performance didn't reach the level of that in Cornwall, it was accomplished enough to be offered up as an early Christmas present to those who travelled to the game and had suffered many of the defeats in between.
The opening goal saw a seemingly innocuous ball into the penalty area by Richard Pacquette send the Salisbury defence into disarray, Martel Powell deftly despatching the loose ball into an empty net in the 26th minute. Two minutes later Pacquette doubled the lead when picked up defence splitting pass from Powell and beat the hapless keeper with a delightful lobbed finish. This double blow seemed to induce panic in the Salisbury ranks leading to a swift double substitution. This turned into frustration by the end of the half as their inability to offer any threat beyond the odd set piece was summed up by one of the Whites bench being sent off.
The second half provided more goal chances with both sides spurning opportunities to score. Maidenhead looked the most dangerous on the counter attack with Pacquette failing to seriously test the keeper when well placed on two occasions then getting into a tangle with Alex Wall at the far post when a point blank header was on offer. At the other end Lumley dealt competently with the Salisbury efforts being most extended by Tom Fitchett, having to use his feet to parry the shot.
It soon became clear though that the only Christmas cheer was to be had at the freezing open end where the Maidenhead fans were gathered, lapping up the rare opportunity to roar the team onto three points and enjoying the winning feeling at the final whistle before heading for home. Let's hope its not another 105 days until the next time.

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