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.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United

Part 12: 2005-06
Exceptional is the football club that has avoided a financial crisis since the game reaped the neo-liberal economic whirlwind sowed in the 80s which is still with us today.
The whistling sound of impending upheaval had been growing, reaching a crescendo in December, and was inevitably accompanied by a disastrous season on the pitch.
The heart of the problem was the absence of a financial benefactor to make good the deficit between the revenue earned and the costs required to compete in the Conference South. A solution was pursued to release the property value of the ground with negotiations taking place with Tesco to sell them York Road and move to an alternative site on the other side of the railway line owned by Thames Water off Stafferton Way.
However by the summer of 2005 the deal was dead, with the absence of end of year accounts at the AGM reflecting the black hole in club’s finances. A small financial injection from a groundshare deal with homeless Slough Town also foundered as the Rebels elected to stay at Windsor. The club’s officers continued to search for an answer to the mounting crisis, with an approach to former Chairman Roger Coombs to return, which again came to nought.
All of this left manager Dennis Greene with something less than a shoestring budget with which to build a squad, and on the opening day at Sutton United, only three players from the previous season remained in the line up. The match was over as a contest before half time, finishing 4-1 to the home team, and by the end of August only one point, against a ten man Newport, had been earned. Matters barely improved in September, Greene’s position placed in further jeopardy when a threatening message was sent from his forum account to a prominent supporter.
A home defeat to Yeading proved to be the final straw, and little more than 48 hours later Greene was replaced by Carl Taylor (pictured right) who had been a popular assistant manager to Alan Devonshire.
This was Taylor’s first job as number one but he brought with him Tony Choules who had previously had extraordinary success at Northwood, and worked with Taylor at Hornchurch the previous season. The pair had plenty to do with a vital match at fellow strugglers Carshalton the following Saturday.
With some players departing in Greene’s wake, there were six debutants in the starting line up at Colston Avenue, with one of them, Dominic White (pictured top), scoring the only goal of the game.
The win boosted morale throughout the club but had no lasting effect. The FA Cup and Trophy were exited at the first time of asking, and a second league win, this time at Dorchester was followed by two thumping defeats by an aggregate score of 12-1, the first of which seeing 8 goals shipped at Bognor.
The poor form was still outstripped by declining finances, with the club now reliant on sponsors Pharmalink to maintain the weekly playing budget. Although the previous year’s accounts were finally accepted at a stormy egm in October, the members club was clearly no longer viable and rather than continue to plug the gap, Pharmalink made an offer to takeover.
Such was the desperation for this to go through, a virtual death notice was placed on the back page of the Maidenhead Advertiser ahead of another EGM with one item on the agenda: to wind up the members club and replace it with a new Limited Company funded by Pharmalink.
With the scale of the club’s debt at last out in the open, there was a sense of disbelief which soon turned to anger at the way it had been covered up although I had inadvertently discovered how serious the problem was when I received a final demand from the Bank via the website mailbox.
With the very future of the club at stake, the members had little option but to accept the Pharmalink offer, with the vote carried with just one nay and a few abstentions to fold the members’ club.  
Although the manner of its passing was by necessity hasty, in truth the Victorian ideal of a club run by and for members had long outlived its utility. There were neither elected officers with deep enough pockets to subsidise semi-professional football nor a membership able to hold them to account. The long term security afforded by limited liability was long overdue, and with a group of 21st century Entrepreneurs ready to take the club on with all its manifest problems, it really was a case of the darkest light being before the dawn.
Una Loughrey was the new chairman, with husband Peter Griffin (both pictured left), brother Stephen Loughrey along with his wife Suzanne joining her on the new board of directors together with existing club officers Bob Hussey, Ken Chandler and Paul Carney.
With off the pitch matters settling down, Carl Taylor was provided with the funds to mount a relegation fight, with a first home win of the season coming at last in early January. Two more soon followed at York Road and at the end of February a win at Yeading saw the Magpies clear of the bottom three and in with a real chance of survival.
 Unfortunately everything fell apart from this point, as Taylor’s naive faith in a disparate but talented squad to execute his complex game plans crumbled as the season reached its climax. There was to be no last gasp battle for safety this time as relegation was confirmed by Easter. The sorry shambles of the team was exemplified in the final match at Histon when Chris Wild and Nana Badu failed to turn up in time to play, meaning coach Matt Gore (pictured right) had to make an impromptu debut. Only a last minute penalty save by Chico Ramos stopped the Magpies goals against column finishing on 100.
There was however an odd postscript to the season which almost saw United decide the title when it was discovered that midfielder Solomon Taiwo, who only played the first six matches of the season, had not received international clearance having previously played abroad. He went on to sign for champions Weymouth who also didn’t check his status and almost cost them the points which gave them the title.
Thus Maidenhead also lost the two points gained when Taiwo played. Another depressing statistic, outdone by the total of 63 players who wore the black and white stripes that season. All of which was dwarfed by the massive debts which almost blew the club away before the white knights of Pharmalink arrived in the nick of time. Things could only get better.
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


Lenny Baryea said...

Hi Steve, another interesting read. Pretty certain, though, that it was Dean Bradshaw - not Nana Badu - who turned up late, with Chris Wild, at Histon.

Steve said...

Come to think of it Nana Badu never turned up at all!