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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.

Monday, 14 August 2017


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United
Part 2: 1995-96
Ahead of the first league match of the season I took the short walk from Courtlands to Bell Street season ticket in hand and full of confidence that I was about to witness the first steps of John Watt’s team marching to promotion in what was bound to be a glorious 125th anniversary season for Maidenhead United.
Following the promise of the previous season, Watt had been given the resources to sign experienced players from the division above in defender Mark Harrison, midfielder Tony Dell and strikers Paul McKinnon and Colin Tate. An exciting pre season friendly defeat to the Reading team just denied promotion to the Premier League only raised expectations. Ninety minutes later Barking had won 2-0, one of just four three point hauls all season as they finished bottom.
Never mind there was a much anticipated midweek derby to come at falling fast from grace local rivals Marlow. Hopes soared again as scores of Magpie fans flocked to the patch of grass outside the Plough for a pre match pint and a sing song. Final score 3-0 to the home team.
Never mind the following Saturday saw a chance to kick start the season in an FA Cup tie at Thame United. Final score 4-0 and the road to Wembley had reached a dead end in August.
So began the long final act of John Watt’s managerial career, albeit one that almost had a decent climax thanks to one thoroughbred player who was not ready to be put out to pasture. However Garry Attrell did not arrive at York Road until the new year.
In the meantime Mark Smith provided the opportunity to wallow in the club’s rich history with the publication of his first book looking at the seasons since United came into being in 1919. His research also meant a fine looking striped programme boasted a different Maidenhead line up from the past on its cover for every issue.
The FA Trophy provided a flicker of hope when Colin Tate scored his one and only goal for the club in a 4-2 win at Fareham Town. This prompted such delirium in the travelling faithful that the occupants of supporters car two (of two) persuaded pilot Logic, ably guided by navigator Keith Jackson, to make a seventy five mile detour for a celebratory curry in Southampton.
The next round brought a chance for revenge against Thame. After a 5-0 defeat at York Road, Watt was given a rather farcical points ultimatum for the next three league games to save his job. Losing the first 3-0 at home to Wokingham, another local club on the slide, fate left Watt’s job hanging on another trip to Thame, this time the first ever league meeting between the two clubs.
When the hosts took an early lead at Windmill Road, a sacking looked inevitable but the Magpies turned the scoreline around and although Thame equalised, Maidenhead restored their lead within a minute to lead 3-2 at half time. Within ten minutes of the restart the win was sealed with two more goals, the final 30 yard strike from Kevin Brown after his penetrating run from the heart of defence, remains one of the best I have ever seen by a Magpie.
The 5-2 win secured Watt’s job in the short term but a week later normal service was resumed with a 4-0 defeat at the ubiquitously strange location of Barton Rovers. Light relief was then provided by a game in the snow at Aldershot in the Full Members Cup, the result irrelevant as we marvelled at the sight of an orange ball and cheered on the home fans when the referee threatened to abandon the game unless they stopped throwing snowballs.
A red card for Dell at Chesham ended his undistinguished spell in Stripes and he was soon followed out of the door by Tate. McKinnon and Harrison M were retained as their superior quality was clearly evident, as was the presence of the former’s most enthusiastic supporter, father Jock.
New recruits were signed in the form of my former schoolmate Steve Croxford and the legendary Attrell.
This was Garry’s second spell at the club and he soon found a place in the hearts of all supporters with his dazzling wing play. The rumour that he spent his rumoured £35 a week wage over the bar in Stripes after the game only added to his boys own status. His first home game back saw him inspire the team to a 4-1 win over Marlow as the club began to pick up the points required for another season of mid table mediocrity. Safety was assured with a 1-0 win courtesy of a Croxford header in front of an 1800 crowd at Aldershot.
Watt almost went out on a high though with a rare run in the County Cup. Wins at home to Bracknell and away at Windsor set up a semi-final tie at York Road with the mighty Aylesbury United. The previous season they had hit the national headlines with their Duck walk to a third round tie against QPR. Playing a division higher in the Isthmian Premier they had firm Conference ambitions with talent to match but could not handle a rampant Magpie team in the first half.
On the stroke of the interval Mark Harrison gave his team a deserved lead with a spectacular free kick from the half way line which perfectly embarrassed Gary Phillips in the Aylesbury goal grasping fresh air as the ball looped over his head into the back of the net.
Unfortunately as the players walked off for half time, Garry Attrell was assaulted by an opposition player. Clearly still dazed at the restart, Attrell was subbed, depriving Maidenhead of their talisman. The match officials did not see the incident but Aylesbury’s Gary Smith was replaced at half time. Unjustly remaining at full strength the Ducks equalised, Harrison then scored a second from the penalty spot but another Aylesbury goal took the game to extra time.
A measure of revenge was won when Trevor Roffey saved a penalty to take the tie to a replay but the final whistle left a nasty taste in the mouth. This was the cliched one chance to cause a cup shock. The team had proved themselves up to the task and Aylesbury could only resort to foul means to avoid defeat. Writing this article twenty one years later I can still feel the righteous anger coursing through my veins. The replay was lost 4-0 and to this day the very mention of the word Aylesbury will guarantee to raise ire in Magpies of this vintage.
Red mist descended again at York Road before the season ended, this time in rather more light hearted circumstances. The occasion was an Easter Monday derby against Abingdon. Three late goals from McKinnon and Mick Creighton secured a 4-0 win but when scoring his second Creighton picked up an inflatable sheep from a home fan for a rather candid goal celebration. This crossed a line for Colin Fleet in the Abingdon goal and he had to be restrained by his team mates from confronting Creighton. Any hard feelings soon dissipated though and a few weeks later at the return game, Fleet came out of the tunnel holding another inflatable sheep.
The Watt era ended in the calm waters of fourteenth position in Isthmian League Division One. The time was right for a change and appeared to be the cause of some relief for Watt who despite doing his best with limited resources was much maligned by a section of the Magpie support who would make the weekly request: “Resign Watt and take that clown Sweetman with you”. This was his last post but his assistant Derek went onto be a successful local manager lower down the non league pyramid.
With thanks to Mark Smith’s book One For Sorrow Two For Joy for the statistical content of this series.
To read more about this season visit www.mufcheritage.com

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