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.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mick Jones resolves culture Clash

Spot the ball
As a new town, on first reflection Crawley seems to be quite incongruous in its Sussex setting, but unlike its ugly sisters over the border in Hampshire, things have turned out rather well not just for the town but also its thriving football club.
Helped by a backdrop of early summer sunshine Broadfield stadium proved to be the ideal location for a meaningless end of season middle of the table lower division match between the hosts and Preston North End.
The short walk to the ground provoked the thought that this was the town, Basingstoke wanted to be, the approach to the stadium lined by appropriate art and accessed by a pedestrian subway which hardly evoked the dystopian terrors associated with its counterpart in Wolverhampton.
No subway army to watch out for
Being a modern football ground, cash was not accepted at the turnstile, but purchasing admission via a short walk around the main stand to the ticket kiosk was simple enough with a programme rounding up the charge to £20. This part of the stadium was the showpiece with the Blue Square Bet Premier Champions sign still proudly displayed two years after the Red Devils left non league football.
No beer in sight of the pitch
The tidy away section of the ground, catered fully for the visitors, even including a bar modeled on one of those hastily erected smoking areas which sprung up in pubs all over the country when the smoking ban came in. This clever erection allowed beer drinkers to comply with the "no alcohol in sight of the pitch" dictum whilst still remaining firmly in the ground which only served to illustrate how ridiculous this rule is, as once  I had finished my reasonably priced half litre of Carlsberg (the metric measure only serving to increase the feeling I was at a game in Europe), and with the alcohol still coursing through my veins I managed to avoid the incredible hulk like transformation into a football hooligan as the pitch came into view within a couple of short steps.
The stadium itself showed little signs of its non league past with the main stand being flanked by two terraces at either end. However the gazebo which ran the length of the opposite touchline was not obviously temporary although pretty much a bigger version of the kind I'd last seen at Truro.
Nice gazebo
As the teams warmed up I was pleasantly surprised to see former Magpie manager John Dreyer leading North End through their paces. I assumed he had followed sacked manager Graham Westley out of the door , but it was good to see he had broken his link with the Stevenage boss and had now paired up with new Preston manager Simon Grayson.
Tumble takes the warm up
The build up to the game had been so laid back it was shame it had to kick off. From the start Crawley, wearing a smart modern take on Southampton's classic 80s Patrick kit, took control with some slick passing which quickly bewildered a leaden footed Preston defence. A goal came early, Mike Jones' strike from distance bouncing unkindly over the dive of goalkeeper Thosten Stuckmann. Crawley continued to dominate and should have pressed home their superiority with at least another goal. Preston offered little in return beside hopeful long balls up to lone striker Jack King (ex Woking and Farnborough), thus as Crawley's early burst faded the game became a dull affair, worse in comparison to the non league fare I'm accustomed to, due to the faster pace.
After the break Preston's tempo saw them make inroads into the Crawley penalty area on a regular basis, and they looked capable of an equaliser, particularly when winger Lee Holmes entered the fray. Indeed Crawley were only saved by the cross bar from a King header, and Preston were denied a good claim for a penalty when a defender hauled down his man on the blind side of the referee.
Still based on the first half a draw would have flattered Preston and its clear Grayson has a lot of work to do to transform Westley's squad into a promotion chasing outfit next season. Crawley continue to progress with what will be their highest ever finish. Assuming they will build on an impressive base of 1,700 season ticket holders they could well be challenging for the play offs next season.

1 comment:

Lenny Baryea said...

A good read, was this.