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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, 12 February 2018


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United

Part 14: 2007/08
Having made an immediate return to the Conference South, the first target was to stay up on the pitch for the first time in this division. Stability off the pitch was also the watchword as the club continued to recover from the lasting effects of the three turbulent seasons that had just passed.
Johnson Hippolyte strengthened his squad over the summer to be better equipped for the higher level, signing goalkeeper Louis Wells, midfielder Wes Daly, and attacking pair Carl Wilson-Dennis and Manny Williams (pictured right). It was the latter who despite his small stature had the biggest impact, scoring thirty goals, a beacon of consistency in a season which promised much but only just delivered the minimum requirement. 
This was reflected in microcosm in the opening match against Fisher Athletic. The chairman’s innovative approach to engaging the local community to support their team continued to develop with this match being deemed “pay what you want”.  A season’s best league crowd of 691 flocked through the York Road turnstiles to see Williams score on his debut, but a classy Fisher outfit, replete with players bound for a bigger stage, won by the odd goal in five. This heralded an opening period of struggle for United with only one three point haul, at Sutton United on August Bank Holiday Monday, in the first eleven matches.
It was at this time that the club heard the news of the sad death of former committee member Richard Jackson who had retired down to south Wales. I had happily taken on many of Richard’s responsibilities since he stepped down from his club duties a few years previously. In no particular order these included the programme, the PA, the telephone hotline and having a stopwatch to hand on the terraces, hoping he saw imitation as the greatest form of flattery!

As with the previous season, it was the Cup competitions which brought light relief from league woe. The County Cup produced a first ever trip to Stadium MK (Jason Stewart pictured above enjoying the room), which although ending in a comprehensive defeat to MK Dons, gave the Magpies a taste of playing in a modern arena which was at the time part of England’s World Cup bid. Ironically the FA Trophy brought AFC Wimbledon to York Road, in front of the only four figure crowd of the season, most of which cheered the Dons to a comfortable 2-0 win.
For the second season in a row, the Magpies reached the FA Cup 1st Round proper, following easy wins over minnows Brockenhurst and Shortwood, before squeezing past Hayes & Yeading United at York Road thanks to the ubiquitous Williams goal. The win came at the cost of a broken leg to Bobby Behzadi which ended his season. Watching the 1st round draw in the clubhouse afterwards, there were rapturous scenes (pictured top) when the Magpies were drawn away to Isthmian League Horsham. This turned out to be a great display of hubris as United yet again failed to make the second round, humbled 4-1 in Sussex, with Match of the Day rubbing in the humiliation by using footage of the Hornets first goal in their opening titles.
League form improved a little but only four games had been won by the turn of the year as Drax continued to shuffle his squad in a bid to find the right formula. The main problem was home form but a publicity stunt at the end of January when a coach picked up the squad at York Road for a drive around the town before the home match against Braintree (pictured left), failed to increase the solitary home league win total.
This hadn’t changed by the end of February and the five consecutive defeats that followed in March meant that the drop was once again a likely prospect. Matters weren’t helped by disruption to crucial trips to relegation rivals Dorchester Town and Weston-super-mare.
United were holding on for a vital point at their fellow Magpies in Dorset when referee Antony Coggins abandoned the match with three minutes remaining due to a waterlogged pitch. The match, rearranged for midweek on all fools day became the sixth consecutive defeat.
The following weekend supporters travelled by train for the six pointer at Weston. This meant they made it to Somerset unlike the team which was stuck on the M4 after a lorry shed its load. The referee refused to wait a minute past 3 pm to kick off, postponing the match despite others in the area starting as late a 4:30 to accommodate the delay.
Everyone returned on a Thursday night for the rescheduled date and in the meantime United had finally come good at York Road, thrashing Bishops Stortford 5-0. Despite then going behind at Woodspring Park, Maidenhead came back to beat Weston 2-1. A third successive win at Havant two days later all but sealed safety, the season ending in an unbeaten run of five matches after the final two games ended goalless.
This late run to survival earned Drax (pictured right) the manager of the month award  for April, thanks in part to temporary signings goalkeeper Chris Tardif and striker Richard Pacquette. Although small beer, there was some cause for celebration for the Magpies at not only surviving on the pitch in the Conference South for the first time in three attempts, but also avoiding a change of manager for the first time in four season, something of a legacy for chairman Una Loughrey to hand over to husband Peter Griffin in the close season.  
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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