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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 17: 2010/11
As a new decade got underway, Maidenhead United found itself at a crossroads. Established at Conference South level but without the infrastructure to actively pursue promotion, the target was to maintain divisional status whilst continuing the fruitful process of developing players for transfer higher up the ladder. Although seeds of the fully fledged community club which would emerge later in the decade had started to bloom in the form of a Ladies team, the Junior Magpies scheme providing free entry for under 16s and a genuine development team for under 23s, there was a long way to go before this would feed through to bigger attendances which for the meantime hovered around the 300s. In addition, although the case for a new stand was uncontestable, it would take a few drafts before a plan of sufficient quality and value was found for the ideal location.
The youthful squad which promised so much during the previous season was augmented in central defence by Andrew Fagan, whilst Ashley Nicholls returned to provide experience in the centre of midfield. Steve Williams replaced Chris Tardif between the sticks.
All went well to begin with as the season started with a terrific win at relegated Ebbsfleet, Martel Powell coming off the bench to score on his debut despite the Magpies being reduced to nine men. This was followed by three more wins in August including a 2-0 victory at the new big guns in the division, Woking.
This impressive start could not be maintained but the football remained entertaining if a little frustrating when a 2-0 lead at home to Staines was squandered in stoppage time, as the Swans equalised then won the game. League form deteriorated as the fruitful left wing partnership between Jamal Fyfield and Sam Collins was broken when the former was signed by York City leaving the latter as a shadow of the player who had won the 2010 player of the year award.
Fans were initially distracted by a brief but enjoyable Cup run which ended in defeat in the final qualifying round at Forest Green Rovers after an unforgettable day out at Cinderford at the previous stage. United then crashed out of the Trophy with a humiliating defeat at home to lowly Uxbridge on a day to forget for rookie goalkeeper Dexter Burt.
This sparked a mini response in the league with a run of five matches without defeat starting at Dover as a forward line boosted by the veteran striker Cliff Akurang squared the match at Crabble with two goals in the last ten minutes. This was topped by a superb 2-0 win at Bromley at the end of December, Nicholls sealing the points with an exquisite chip from the edge of the penalty area.
Two days later the New Year started with a more accurate taste of things to come though as despite opponents Basingstoke going down to ten men in the opening stages, and Alex Wall then giving United the league, ‘Stoke rallied to take a well deserved point away from York Road.
The win at Bromley proved to be the last league win for over three months, a run lasting seventeen matches. As the club celebrated its 140th anniversary with a representative match against 1870s FA Cup rivals Oxford University, the spectre of relegation loomed large.
Chairman Peter Griffin loosened the purse strings in a bid to change fortunes on the pitch as Drax imported a string of experienced heads in the form of Leon Solomon, Jon Scarborough, Grant Cooper, Nevin Saroya, Will Hendry, Anthony Thomas, Jefferson Louis and Craig Faulconbridge although it was a young winger on loan from Aldershot, Max Worsfold who was to have the biggest impact.
A point at Hampton stopped a run of nine straight league defeats and gave cause for optimism as April began with a trip to bottom markers Lewes. However in an awful match with virtually no shots on target at either end, the Rooks won the game with a penalty and a return to the Southern League beckoned for the Magpies.
Little more than 48 hours later I travelled to Basingstoke with next to no hope never mind expectation, an attitude confirmed when the home team took a two goal lead after only ten minutes. By the hour mark though the Magpies led 4-3 then hung on for dear life to the elusive win, a late Williams penalty save  securing the three points.
A point at home to Hampton was followed by a first league win at York Road since August when a Will Hendry goal defeated Eastleigh to leave the away fans calling for their manager’s head.
United then escaped the relegation places thanks to the goal of the season from Worsfold in stoppage time at Thurrock. Another later winner, this time from Ashley Smith at Staines stretched the margin of safety to four points but a point in the penultimate match at home to Dorchester left the relegation trap door open on the final day of the season.
The required point was not forthcoming but defeat to Dartford was matched by a similar failure for Thurrock meaning the Shoppers took the final relegation spot.
Such was the skin of the teeth nature of another great escape for Drax, the small matter of the defence of the County Cup was almost an afterthought. Having sailed through to the final against Wycombe at Chesham, a crazy first half saw United retrieve a two goal deficit by half time and after a more sedate second period the Chairboys finally won by the odd goal in five seven minutes into stoppage time to avenge a similar defeat twelve months earlier.
End of season thoughts though were very much concentrated on the way the club had gone backwards in the league, with a summer of serious repair work required by Drax to improve his squad.
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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