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, 28 April 2013

Out with a whimper

A welcome stress free trip to Billericay yesterday due to the rare occasion of Maidenhead United being safe on the final day of the season. As such it was carnival time with the welcome tradition of the final away trip made in fancy dress. Despite the reservations of some this to me is a perfect antidote for the overbearing pomposity of those who cannot acknowledge that football is nothing more than a leisure pursuit. It also demonstrates a refusal to conform to the half scarf, full kit wearing consumer identity becoming depressingly familiar throughout the English game.
Although the Magpies could not match the marvellous penguins of Hartlepool United (above) , there was a good showing in a range of outfits, including two Noddy Holders. 
Don't fear the reaper
On a more serious note, with Billericay already relegated, the services of the Grim Reaper were still required and he spent the train journey silently meditating under his cowl to prepare for the solemn rites which he would have to perform that afternoon.Arriving at Billericay we had plenty of time to enjoy the High Street with its many pubs. Everywhere we went we were greeted warmly aside from the woman who was worried about the soul of the reaper and wanted to open his heart to Jesus which was worrying as I would have thought she would have been aware of the key role he has to play at Armageddon as detailed in the Book of Revelations. The raggle taggle army of Maidenhead fans ebbed and flowed towards the ground with unfortunately the final walk to New Lodge being showered with rain. Inside the ground just ahead of kick off it was clear that this would be a match too far for United, with Curtis Ujah injured pre match leading to Tom Gilbey being called into the team in what was the definition of a makeshift defence. Having something of a point to prove after their narrow defeat at York Road in February, 'Ricay were on top for  most of the game, Billy Lumley being called into action early on to tip a Jay May shot over the bar in the fifth minute. With just over a quarter of an hour gone May went on to score what proved to be the only goal of the game when he took advantage of a defensive mix up to smash home the winner off the cross bar.
The Great Dictators
As befits a relegated team, Billericay weren't exactly solid at the back but Maidenhead spurned a golden chance to equalise when following some good work from Daniel Brown and Reece Tison-Lascaris, Chris Flood somehow managed to snatch the miss of the season from Richard Pacquette's grasp by ballooning the ball over from virtually under the crossbar. It really did seem easier to score. Later in the half Michael Pook had a free kick tipped over the bar but Billericay could well have doubled their lead just ahead of the break when a Lumley block fell to an attacker who blasted the ball wide.
After the interval the game continued in a similar fashion, but as the half drew on Maidenhead fought harder to find an equaliser, a lovely pass from Brown putting David Pratt in the clear only for his shot to hit the cross bar with seventeen minutes remaining.
Cum on feel the noize
A late free kick cried out for the watching Alex Wall to leap onto the pitch and score but it was somehow appropriate that the game finished 1-0 to Billericay to leave Maidenhead in a final place of fourth bottom. A win would have seen the Magpies rise to fourteenth but this would have been a false reflection of a season which promised much in patches but sadly only served to deliver a fourth consecutive campaign of struggle. Many a time over the last nine and a half months, the comment "we're a top ten team" has been made. That may have been true on the occasion of some of the better performances but the league table doesn't lie.The fact is that better discipline and fitness has led to the improvement required to stay up, but without consistency the feats of the similarly supported and funded Weston-super-mare in challenging for the play offs are far away.The first priority must be to build a defence which is capable of lasting the season to avoid the problem caused by patching it up with loan signings and itinerant players looking for match fitness to secure a move. Today's signing of Curtis Ujah is a step in the right direction. All things being equal the first eleven might be good enough on paper for this level but without the fringe players challenging for places its all too easy to slip into the losing runs which are an unfortunate trademark of Drax's reign at York Road. A positive element of the Conference South which has now developed is that all the sleeping giants in the feeder leagues seem to have risen back to their natural level leaving a division divided into three: those with serious title ambitions with the appropriate support and infrastructure, those whose status is secure and the stragglers. This has seen the division take on the characteristics of the Isthmian League Premier which preceded it, Maidenhead's position in the latter group at least helped by the fact that the newly promoted clubs also look destined to struggle. With this likely to continue next season, the club must prioritise the two FA competitions. As the team is likely to lose more league games than it wins, cup runs in these national high profile competitions are vital to raise the morale of everyone at the club. The prize money is not to be sniffed at either. The best eleven must play in these games, regardless of up coming league fixtures, with midweek games being moved where possible to accommodate proper rest and recuperation. A little bit of glory goes a long away in salving the pain of dropping points week in week out.
Where's Wally?

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