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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, 26 November 2017


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United
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Part 10: 2003-04
A radical spirit ran through a season which was to be pivotal in the outlook and fortunes of Maidenhead United Football Club.
New chairman Jon Swan’s first act was to appoint player manager John Dreyer. He beat fellow central defender Paul Parker to the post, with it being felt that the latter was not quite the right fit due to his plans to bring a new squad over from his Essex base.
As it turned out this may have been a better short term option when Dreyer started pre season training with only four members of the previous season’s first team squad remained: captain Brian Connor, young defender Adam Durrant, midfielder Ryan Ashe and contracted striker Lawrence Yaku.
Richie Barnard moved to Aldershot, Matt Glynn signed for St. Albans and player of the year Andy Cook went to Hendon, whilst the rest followed Alan Devonshire to his new post at Hampton.
Off the pitch an FA Financial audit had raised some important matters which required immediate attention
On a personal note I made the decision to return to editing the programme, as well as taking over the PA and the hotline information service. This came with a place on the committee beginning my transition from terrace to boardroom.
On and off the pitch everyone was infused with a clear sense of mission driven by the  plan to create two regional divisions below the Conference for the 2004/05 season. To qualify the Magpies would need to finish in the top thirteen in the Isthmian League Premier Division as well as fulfil criteria relating to the ground and club finance.
It was the former which looking the more challenging obstacle as the team made the opening day trip to Heybridge with a starting line up listing eight debutants, with a further four on the bench including Dreyer and his assistant, Northern Ireland international, Phil Gray.
After seven league matches, the team had yet to win, but had a stylish aesthetic to their play. This was particularly marked in an early season defeat at Kettering’s impressive Rockingham Road ground, which helped to keep the faith until Harrow Borough provided their annual service of donating the first three point haul of the campaign.
This sparked a run of seven wins from the next nine league outings, helped by the reunion of Yaku with his former Northwood striker partner Steve Hale. The duo were able to capitalise on the exciting play on the left flank of full back Brendan Gallen as well as the midfield creativity of Ryan Ashe and Martyn Lee, shored up by the bulwark of Kelvin McIntosh and behind them a new central defensive pairing of Connor and Eton schoolmaster Andy Jennings.
An FA Cup thrashing at Dover didn’t shake the league form, and although the League Cup and County Cup provided no more in the way of success, it was the FA Trophy which provided the mid season highlight.
This run was almost over before it begun, as with ten minutes remaining United trailed 3-1 at lowly Swindon Supermarine but a couple of late goals forced a replay which was won 2-1. This set up a trip in the New Year to up and coming Histon. This time the Magpies won in style 3-1 to set up a home tie against Wealdstone.
The weather then intervened delaying the match until a Tuesday night in February with Stones crumbling to a rampant United performance which saw the Magpies into the last sixteen with a 5-1 win.
After some delay due to weather and a replay, a first ever trip to Yorkshire to play Halifax became the Magpies fate and on Valentine’s Day, Conference opposition were beaten for the first time in United’s history thanks to the double act of Yaku and Hale scoring in a 2-0 win.
Maidenhead’s first quarter-final appearance in a national competition since the 1930s proved to be something of an anti climax. Travelling to eventual Isthmian League Champions and FA Trophy runners up Canvey Island, the tie was over almost as soon as it begun when Andy Dugdale was penalised for a handball on the line in the second minute leaving United a goal behind and down to ten men. Canvey ran out 4-0 winners.
During the Trophy run, league points continued to be collected with the squad bolstered defensively by the twin signing from Egham of Andy Dugdale and Bryan Smith.
As the season entered its final chapter the Magpies were jockeying for position in the mid table pack.  In a bid to get the top half finish required to qualify for the Conference South Dreyer made a triple attacking signing of Ben Hammond from Hemel, Danny Bolt, and Rob Haworth (both from Sutton). The latter seeking inspiration by posting a supporter comment from the club forum labelling him a donkey on the back of the dressing room door.
Form remained patchy with a worrying trend for heavy defeats at home but three straight wins at the end of March including a crucial 2-1 victory midweek at Bedford meant there was still all to play for in April.
0304.jpgHowever just one win in six matches (thanks to a solitary Yaku strike at Hayes) led to a must win final match on May day. Fortunately the opposition were bottom markers Aylesbury United. With shades of 97 and 17, the long relegated Ducks put up something of a fight but eventually succumbed 4-2,  Yaku hitting the twenty goal mark for the season with a brace.
This left Maidenhead in a final position of twelfth and a place in the Conference South to look forward to in August. Qualification was subsequently made more comfortable when Hendon elected not to take their place fearing the financial implications of the higher division.
Maidenhead had already gambled on taking the step up by spending money to the improve squad mid season. As admirable as this ambition was, the long term consequences would be as serious as Hendon’s decision suggested.
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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