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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 15: 2008/09
Despite a best ever Conference South finish in 2008, survival was seen as a scant return for the investment in the playing squad. However an unbeaten run in April to secure safety would act as a foundation for a season when United would raise the question of promotion.
Top score Manny Williams moved up to the Conference with Woking but a replacement in Richard Pacquette (pictured right) was already in situ, and he was joined up front with exciting young talent Mustafa Tiryaki (pictured left).
Their supply route would be provided by classy left winger Dale Binns whilst the defence was shored up by new goalkeeper Shane Gore and full backs Tyron Smith and Narada Bernard. Ashley Nicholls improved the central midfield with his tireless running from box to box.
The Magpies hit the ground running, a Lee Newman brace at Bromley securing an opening day win, and the first three points of seventeen earned from the twenty available in the first seven matches. The last three of these at Fisher Athletic on September 1st, saw United hit top spot in the Conference South for the first time.
This set up a top of the table at resurgent Wimbledon, the Dons disabusing United of any title notions with a comfortable 3-1 win.
For once there was little joy in any of the knockout competitions but the pleasure derived from watching improved league form week in week out meant this was shrugged off.
The team peaked perfectly on my birthday, destroying Worcester City 5-0 at York Road, new signing Rocky Baptiste notching his first goal for the club. This set up a real promotion clash with Chelmsford City for the next match at York Road, a crowd of almost 800 turning up only to once again see the Magpies found wanting when it came to a stiffer test, the Clarets winning 2-0.
At the turn of the year though, the playoffs was very much a realistic target and a plan was hatched to renovate the existing stand to ensure it could accommodate the five hundred seats required to meet the criteria to qualify off the pitch.
However heavy snow at the start of February stalled the season, and in the unexpected winter break Chairman Peter Griffin announced three decisions which would have consequences for both the short and long term future of the club. Firstly he decided to cut the playing budget. Initially this only led to the departure of Dale Binns to Hayes & Yeading United, and a loan to Histon of top scorer Richard Pacquette to test his Conference potential, but it signalled the break up of a promising squad over the summer. This naturally led to  a second decision not to install the extra seats in the stand and therefore ended any interest in the playoffs. Finally after three years of discussion with the council, it had become clear that planning permission for a new ground in the Maidenhead area of the standard required for the Conference and beyond would not be forthcoming. Therefore Griffin announced that the club would no longer seek to move away from York Road, bringing to an end twenty five years of speculation.
The air of initial disappointment around the club at losing the opportunity to seek promotion was compounded by the confirmation that popular striker Lee Newman had been jailed for drug dealing. However as the season drew to a close results matched those at the start, helped by the burgeoning talent of Tiryaki, as five wins and two draws in seven matches meant the final game of the season at home to Hampton would offer the possibility of a top five finish. This hope ended when Pacquette was sent of early in the match, as the Beavers secured their runners up place with a 3-0 win.
The fledgling partnership of Pacquette and Tiryaki which saw both of them score prolifically quickly came to an end as they were snapped up by York and Havant respectively. They were joined on the way out by player of the season Ashley Nicholls who moved to Bishops Stortford to herald a summer of rebuilding with tighter purse strings for Johnson Hippolyte. Having at last consolidated their position in the Conference South and at York Road, another milepost was reached in stabilising the club as a traumatic decade started to draw to a close. With average crowds breaking the 400 mark for the first time in a generation thanks to winning football, the dilemma for the club was how to develop hand in hand the playing side with a ground fit for the twenty first century.  It was a problem that would take six years to solve.  
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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