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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Polonia commemorate the Warsaw Uprising

Ahead of their first home game of the season on Saturday evening, Polonia Warszawa supporters unveiled a fantastic banner to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the heroic Warsaw uprising by the Polish resistance  AK (Armia Krajowa/Home Army) against the occupying German Nazis, an ultimately doomed attempt to reclaim control of their capital city ahead of the advancing Soviet Red army.
This is an annual event as can be seen from the pictures of past displays, and rather gives the lie to the travesty of journalism which was the Panorama "Stadiums of Hate" documentary shown ahead of Euro 2012 with the intention of inspiring a moral panic in the UK about the nature of Polish football supporters.

Derby Day

With Maidenhead United and Staines Town meeting three times in the last four seasons on August Bank Holiday, this fixture is starting to acquire the welcome hallmarks of a local derby, and why not given the proximity of the two towns, not to mention the clubs' similar stature.
Yesterday's game certainly lived up to this billing, a close affair which could have gone either way although the loser would have felt duly aggreived at leaving with nothing.
Defying the wet forecast by playing in sunshine throughout, Staines, followed by a large entourage, started brightly putting the ball in the net in the tenth minute from an offside position. Star of the show David Wheeler then cut in from the right wing and forced Billy Lumley into a good save low down. Wheeler was the only survivor from last season's Staines squad which had spent most of the season in the relegation zone, and it was easy to see why he had been kept on by new manager Marcus Gayle.
Although Maidenhead started to have more of the game as the half hour mark approached, Lumley was beaten by a Teddy N'Goy header only for debutant James Regis to clear the ball off the line. It was another familiar player, ex Magpie Max Worsfold who created the games' opening goal, charging down a clearance, the loose ball finding its way to Wheeler to score.
Exhibiting the resilience which has been a salient feature of their play this season, the Magpies equalised within five minutes David Pratt heading in at the far post from a Michael Pook right wing cross. It was United that went on to finish the half in the ascendancy a Lee Barney cross from the right flying past the goal just out of the reach of Alex Wall at the stroke of half time.
After the break the game remained an even contest although relatively free of incident except for an Elliot Godfrey shot out of the blue which rattled Lumley's crossbar. With fifteen minutes left the substitutions began to take effect presenting both teams with an ideal opportunity to win the game. Firstly Tony Garrod raced into the clear but with only Lumley to beat, Garrod pulled his shot wide. From the goal kick Reece Tison-Lascaris broke free in similar fashion and this time went round the keeper to shoot on target only for a defender to get back and clear.
A draw then was a fair result and reflects a cagey opening month in the league with no team either with a 100% winning record or pointless, and 20 of the 43 games ending level. Monday also showed the robustness of the Magpie squad with Regis and Barney slotting in seamlessly to cover for Saturday's injury victims Harry Pritchard and Devante McKain, with the extra freshness of Staines, who had their game on Saturday abandoned after just eight minutes, not being a factor in the result.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Here Comes The Yak Attack

As the best thing about Gander Green Lane is the name, I opted out of my annual trip to Sutton and decided to make the short trip up the Piccadilly Line to Rayners Lane this afternoon to watch the Reserves defend their 100% winning start to the season against the team above them in the table on goal difference. As the rain started to get heavy I turned into Rayners Lane and realised I was visiting a club named after the road it was located in, pleasingly small time enough for the Hellenic League Division One East, a division which seems to be offering Maidenhead United Reserves the required opportunity to play regular competitive football against mostly senior teams.
On arrival at Tithe Farm it appeared an honesty system was in place for admission with anyone free to walk into the ground with the gatewoman at the far end by the car park so after a brief look at the pitch I opted to walk round to the dressing rooms and hand over my £5 for a programme. Having copied down the team changes which included some interesting interpretations of the Maidenhead line up (Timi Shlako and JonathanYipriye), I headed for the only shelter, the two mega dugout style constructions appropriately positioned behind each dugout. Having been greeted by Sam Lock with the words "we've got  a bit of a defensive crisis", I was soon joined by the entire Maidenhead United squad as they sought refuge from the hailstorm for their pre match team talk.
The teams calmy warm up before the storm
As the hailstones gave way to thunder and lightning fears of a postponement were raised, but the rain stopped in time for the players to make their way back to the dressing room and put their shirts on whilst the official checked the playing surface was ready for play. A decent pitch took little time to drain and so the game kicked off just ten minutes late.
Fielding a makeshift back line with just one fully fit first choice defender on the pitch, Sam opted to play Ashan Holgate just in front of the back four, and Jonathan Hippolyte as a lone striker, but the Magpies fell behind in the eighth minute when who else but former Magpie Lawrence Yaku cut in from the right wing and fired home the opening goal from the edge of the box. Having had a sniff of first blood Rayners Lane sensed a chance to take advantage of United's defensive frailty but the Magpies held on, Joe Crook clearing when goalkeeper Michael Pearce was beaten, Pearce going onto parry a Yaku shot with the follow up finish ruled offside.
Maidenhead held on though and soon the hard work of Jamie Connor and Kyle Lucas in the midfield began to pay dividends, a great ball from the former putting the latter clear only for Lucas to fluff his shot wide. Lock was then forced into another defensive change as with ten minutes to go before the break Crook was unable to continue. This led to Holgate moving into Crook's central defensive role, whilst Marcus El-Azizi came on to supplement the attack. Maidenhead then had their best passage of play, ending the half strongly, a Lucas shot being saved by the outstretched hand of the Scott Tarr lookalike in the Lane goal, Dominic Cassells.
The interval provided the opportunity to complete a cheap afternoon out with a cup of tea in a proper mug with a hot sausage roll for the bargain price of £1.40. With the sun now shining I remained on the changing room side for the second half where I had the dubious pleasure of background chatter from a world authority on football, UK railways, the English exam system and middle distance running. Meanwhile the teams returned to the pitch with Rayners Lane clearly deciding to go for the jugular, Pearce pushing wide a Sullivan shot within three minutes of the restart, but left helpless to stop Yaku's second goal at almost exactly the same stage of the half as his first. Cutting in from the left this time, Yaku applied a delightful finish with the outside of his right foot to curve the ball around Pearce but inside the far post. The sprightly striker gave every indication that he could still play at a higher level, and a pleasant reminder of the form which saw him score 63 goals in three seasons at York Road.
Maidenhead continued to work hard to try and find a way back into the game but if they weren't frustrated by the resolute Rayner's Lane defence, they found themselves on the wrong end of some poor decisions from an inconsistent referee.
As the game drew to a close Rayners Lane sealed their win with two more goals, firstly through Ryan Upton who tapped in Liam Hinds' cross before inevitably Yaku completed his hat trick taking advantage of Pearce's tardiness in collecting a loose ball, to nip in and deliver the ball into an empty net. Maidenhead were denied a deserved consolation when El-Azizi's shot was pushed wide by Cassells.
The final whistle heralded the return of the rain and my swift exit. With their status as favourites to win the title Rayners Lane delivered in their first home game by clinically moving the ball forward quickly to expose Maidenhead's defensive shortcomings. To their credit United retained a solid sense of purpose and a commitment to good football, and I'm sure with a full strength team it would have been a different story. Aside from Connor and Lucas, other players to catch my eye were left back Jordan Chandler, and substitutes El-Azizi and Pederam. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


An all too early trip to probably the best located club in the Blue Square Bet South, Bath City. Fortunately for me the evening kick off was no problem and I was able to set off from Paddington just after lunch to give me plenty of time to wander round the tourist sites. Torrential rain forced me and my travel companion into the pub though and a more traditional pre match warm up of several pints of premium continental lager ensued.
Wandering out onto the magnificent covered terrace in the fading daylight I took in the familiar view of old school floodlights and Somerset countryside. Although I guess it must be expensive to maintain, Twerton Park is a real gem of a ground and hopefully will be around for a few years yet.
Multiple Magpies and a pig
Ironically in terms of results at Twerton Park, Maidenhead had lost all four matches against Bath City but won all three against Team Bath. In short the team wearing black and white stripes won every time. Indeed Bath City are appropriately the only home team I have seen win at Twerton Park as back in 1989 I saw Reading firstly hold and then in a second replay beat tenants Bristol Rovers in an FA Cup tie.
Sadly the result went true to form last night with like Saturday at York Road, the home team deserving the win but being a little flattered by the final scoreline.
Maidenhead carried on where they left off on Saturday, with only Lee Barney missing through injury from the opening day starting line up. After a bright United start though it was Bath who took the lead with their first purposeful attack in the 7th minute when Aaron Brown flew down the left wing and delivered a cross for debutant Kurtis Guthrie to finish with a flying header. Bath manager Adie Britton had clearly captured the zeitgeist by electing to give the Fellaini haired Guthrie his first start but he was forced into his next two decisions as Bath lost two players through injury by the twenty minute mark. This enabled Maidenhead tp exert some pressure but there was no end product for the 20 Magpies strewn behind the goal to cheer, which must have kept the Bath mascot a pig, happy having decided to join us
The arrival of the Logician midway through the first half signalled a period of Bath dominance which they capped with a second goal nine minutes ahead of the break. This was a replica of the first, Guthrie going one better than his Moroccan lookalike. This time it was Kerry Morgan's turn (on for the injured Brown) to deliver the cross from the left for Guthrie to head home. 
As the first half drew to a close Maidenhead gave notice of a resurgence when a sharp shot from Paul Semakula drew a great save from Bath goalkeeper Glyn Garner. All in all a bit of a shock to the system after Saturday with Bath showing all the hallmarks of a team used to playing at a higher level.
With nothing to lose in the second half Maidenhead gave it a real good go keeping Bath pushed back in their own penalty area. Derek Duncan was first to threaten with a free kick after eight minutes which Garner tipped over the bar. As with Saturday the substitutions inspired a goal. This time it was Harry Pritchard who made the difference swinging in a corner from the right which was met at the far post by the head of Daniel Brown.
This had the unfortunate effect of rousing the ire of Guthrie again and within two minutes he had a shot well saved by the feet of Billy Lumley. Maidenhead continued to press for an equaliser and the match was decided by a sucker punch of a Bath counter attack. Inevitably the ball again came from the left this time from Morgan's substitute Noah Keats whose ball put Guthrie through on the keeper, the striker making no mistake with his finish to seal his hat trick.
Maidenhead continued to work hard for a way back into the game a close range effort from David Pratt drawing a fine reaction save from Garner and as we wandered off into the teeming rain to find our taxi we were left to reflect on an evening when the clinical finishing off a striker sure to make a name for himself this season ensured United's sorry run against Bath at Twerton Park continued.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Magpies take it to the 'bridge

Saturday was a day ripe for deja vu with York Road hosting a replay of the opening fixture of the 2011/12 season which saw Tonbridge Angels open their first Blue Square Bet South season with a 4-0 victory romp over a sorry Maidenhead United team on a gloomy August afternoon. With the Magpies ending the season relegated then reprieved, and Tonbridge consolidating with a final placing of ninth, the odds on were a similar result twelve months later so it was pleasant surprise that greeted my news of Saturday's win as I spread the word at Pinkneys Green on Sunday.
The win was very much a case of fortune favouring the brave, both in terms of Drax's decision to field an attacking 4-3-3 formation, and later to continue to chase the game with the introduction of substitutes Reece Tison-Lascaris and Harry Pritchard.
In the scorching heat I was expecting a cagey game as the players sought to conserve energy but it was clear that quite the opposite was in store from the off as Maidenhead attacked from the kick off. Then in the seventh minute it was Billy Lumley's turn to shine producing a cracking save to deny George Purcell after he had been put in the clear by Chris Piper.
Any misgivings about Maidenhead's lack of width were allayed by the hard work of the front three who were only too willing to go looking for the ball on the wing and it was very much nip and tuck at the impromptu drinks break taken after half an hour.
As half time loomed Maidenhead took the lead with a well worked goal, a delightful pass from Lee Barney teeing up Paul Semakula to follow up his historic stoppage time strike in the last league game at York Road, with another goal, this time a thumping twenty yard drive giving Lee Worgan no chance in the Angels goal.
With Tonbridge eager to expose any frailties in the Maidenhead defence an equaliser did not look like being long to arrive and before the break Frannie Collin was presented with an open goal only to be relieved of the responsibility for a shocking miss by an offside flag.
Tonbridge needed approximately forty seconds of the second half to level the score, going for goal straight from the kick off. Rory Hill's shot from outside the penalty area could only be parried by Lumley, Collin sweeping home the loose ball from close range.
As with the first half Maidenhead worked hard to get back into the game and just after the hour and an odd passage of events led to the Magpies retaking the lead. Initially David Pratt and Barney combined well down the right wing to send in an incisive ball across the six yard box. This was missed by all concerned but shortly Alex Wall ended up on the deck following a challenge from a defender. After a lengthy deliberation the referee decided no action was required and inevitably it was Wall who found himself in the book when the next United attack saw the roles reversed. This prompted his withdrawal along with debutant Derek Duncan the replacements Tison-Lascaris and Bobby Behzadi going on to play a crucial role with their respective first touches.
First up was Tison-Lascaris, picking up the ball on the right and driving down the wing before cutting into the penalty area and drawing the foul in Attrellesque fashion from Ollie Schulz. Then it was over to Behzadi who blasted the spot kick high into the net to restore the United lead.
Although events on the pitch then settled down tempers boiled over between the two technical areas in a dispute supposedly sparked by which team was supposed to give the ball back after a stoppage.
Maidenhead then opted to sit on their lead and found themselves pushed back into their penalty area time after time only for Tonbridge to spurn a number of headed opportunities. Such was Tonbridge's dominance in the latter stages that goalkeeper Worgan made frequent sallies over the half way line, a move that cost him dear in stoppage time as a long clearance found Pratt (a man in desperate need of a nickname more creative than "Pratty"), who spotting the keeper well out of his goal, lofted the ball over the hapless stopper to seal the points for United.
So a welcome opening day win at York Road for the Magpies, even if the margin of victory was a little unfair on the visitors.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Sid Sings...

The commentary of the late Sid Waddell was music to my ears. A man at ease with both his working class roots and academic achievements listening to Sid describe the darts was a joy to behold, liberally peppering his view of the action on the oche with references from classical civilisation. Here are some of my favourites, with apologies for any lack of accuracy, as I am quoting from memory:

John Lowe, approaches the oche like a snow leopard on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjoro

Alexander the Great cried salt tears when he conquered the known world at the age of 33, Eric Bristow's done it three times over and he's only 27

Fordham, sweating like a hippo in a power shower

He's not a donis he's the donis

You couldn't get more excitement in here if the King, Elvis Presley walked up to the bar and ordered a ham sandwich

They're all here tonight, even some lads in cardigans

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

One [Insert hero here]

Holidaying in Cuba in splendid isolation from the modern commercial and cultural influences of the rest of the world was just the one reminder of planet football. Although sports mad as shown by yet another creditable Olympic medal haul, the Cubans preferred team game is baseball, yet their even greater passion for music has had an enduring influence on British terrace culture.
Wherever you go in Cuba you will find a group of musicians ready to entertain you, and almost certainly their repertoire will include Guantanamera a song which found global fame in the 1960s just as football supporters all over the UK were looking to adopt popular melodies on the terraces and henceforth Guantanamera has provided a handy template for fans everywhere to serenades their heroes.
Although officially a patriotic song with lyrics by Cuba's nineteenth century godfather of revolutionary thought Jose Marti, its origins are a murky affair but there is a consensus that it was originally written as a tale of thwarted love. My favourite version is that it was written by Herminio "El Diablo" García Wilson who was so struck by a barbed retort to one of his chat up lines that he wrote a song about the woman in question, who came from Guantanamo (as in Bay), hence Guantanamera, a suitable template then for the British terraces.