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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.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United
Part 5: 1998-99
Having come tantalisingly close to promotion a few months earlier, the mood around York Road definitely had an air of “one more heave”. The squad had been strengthened by the signing of prolific striker Michael Banton and a brace on his debut in a 4-0 opening day victory at Canvey Island, clearly stated the Magpies’ ambition. The scale of the win was helped by an early injury to Canvey goalkeeper Brian Horne, but it was the bad back of his opposite number Trevor Roffey which was to have a lasting impact on United’s fate this season, which ended with the Islanders as champions.
Since signing for the club in December 1992, Roffey had been the undisputed number 1 at York Road, missing only one match since Alan Devonshire took over sole control of the team in March 1997. Club captain, Roffey had hoisted the Magpies’ first silverware in a generation, but suddenly his career was all but over.
A replacement was sourced by new assistant manager Carl Taylor in the form of Michael Bolger but the hapless youngster couldn’t make the grade, and most of Banton’s goals were in vain as United slumped to five defeats by the end of September.
Solace was sought in a promising FA Cup run which included a thumping 5-0 win at Uxbridge which was much enjoyed by the United players following the ungracious way the Reds had celebrated a league victory at York Road in August. This brought Conference opposition to York Road for the first time in the shape of Kingstonian. In front of a bumper crowd of 717 the Magpies went toe to toe early on exchanging goals with the Ks, before West Ham bound Gavin Holligan inspired his team to stretch the gap and see them run out 4-2 winners.
Bolger’s last appearance in the green jersey was a Full Members Cup defeat at Worthing, where he sustained an injury which saw veteran outfield player Dave Harrison taking over in goal for the next match against Yate in the FA Trophy.  
By now helping out Alan Devonshire on the coaching side “Harry” assured his legend status at the club by playing every minute of the Trophy tie which was won with a Peter Terry goal in the final minute of extra time in the replay on a very wet night in Gloucestershire.
This provided the time to sign a replacement for Bolger, and the services of Garath Ormshaw were secured on a loan basis from Crystal Palace. Considered by many to be the best Maidenhead goalkeeper of the era, Ormshaw’s arrival coincided with an upturn in form with only two of his eleven appearances ending in defeat. Unfortunately his first match was also Banton’s last as, like Roffey, the ageing striker succumbed to injury having scored sixteen goals in nineteen appearances, and although new signing Freddie Domingos marked his debut with a goal, it was the only time his acrobatic celebration was put on display.
Ormshaw’s stand out performance was at Wealdstone on New Year’s Day. Chuk Agudosi and Mick Creighton had given United a comfortable half time lead at the Stones then home of Edgware. Following the restart though, the Stones threw absolutely everything at Ormshaw who pulled off a series of spectacular saves to keep a clean sheet against an equally spectacular backdrop of a thunderstorm complete with lightning bolts. This was also the first meeting of Maidenhead and Wealdstone fans who after breaking the ice post match in the White Hart pub have got on famously ever since.
Due to the terms of his loan, Ormshaw could not play in the FA Trophy, but his long term replacement Kieron Drake kept a clean sheet on his debut at York Road in a 1-0 win over Clevedon Town to ensure the annual visit to Aldershot continued as they were drawn out of the hat in the next round. In a tight game, Drake was only beaten by a Garry Abbott free kick, but in a season of league disappointment, this was not to be the last chance Cup glory.
The key problem which persisted in the league was home form. The travelling support was rewarded with one of the best away records in the division but only a few home league games ended in victory, two in early autumn and a final one in February against eventual runners up Hitchin Town. To say the league season petered out was something of an understatement. United did finish just above halfway in eleventh place but in April the Magpie faithful suffered back to back goalless draws against Croydon played out in front of a grand total of 188 spectators over the two matches. In between just 83 turned up at York Road to watch a defeat to Yeading, with those staying in rewarded with the live coverage of Manchester United’s awesome comeback in Turin en route to winning the Champions League.
Fortunately Alan Devonshire’s ability to produce Cup runs meant there was much to cheer in the latter half of the season. Following enjoyable runs in the FA Competitions, the Magpies made it all the way to the Isthmian League Cup semi-final. Michael Banton was required to come off the bench to fire United to an extra time win against lowly Lewes at York Road in September, with the next minnows Croydon Athletic comfortably despatched in South London in November. This set up a belter of a tie with Slough Town coming to York Road in February. Slough were then in the Premier Division, with serious intentions to recover their Conference place lost the previous summer due to ground grading. New chairman Martyn Deaner had repeated his trick at Newbury by signing a string of ex Reading players, but on the night it was Slough resident Mick Creighton’s two goals which were the difference between the clubs in a 4-2 win for the Magpies.
This brought Sutton United back to York Road, and as with the 1997 Full Members Cup Semi-final they left defeated, this time by the odd goal in a nine in an absolutely thrilling tie, Agudosi celebrating the extra time winner by dropping his shorts.
The semi-final against a Boreham Wood team featuring Kerry Dixon was a two legged affair, and after a 3-2 win at York Road in the first leg, Wood completed the job at Meadow Park with a 1-0.
Still the Magpies were left with the defence of the County Cup. Progress to the semi-final at Windsor was smooth but a stormy night at Stag Meadow ensued with Maidenhead’s 3-1 win being tainted by accusations that a  Magpie player had racially abused a home player to spark an incident which turned the game in United’s favour. All this meant that once again the season would end with a cup final. This time Chesham was the venue, and Wycombe the opponents. With the score level at ninety minutes, extra time was required. Throughout the afternoon the Chairboys fans vocally suggested Garry Attrell should be drawing his pension, but the winger had the last laugh in extra time, inspiring United to a 4-1 win, whilst taunting the Wanderers’ fans by slapping his head.
Thus another exciting season under Alan Devonshire ended with me invading the pitch to celebrate more silverware, this time it being Tim Cook’s turn to hoist the Cup. A grand day out but promotion remained the ultimate goal.      
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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