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.

Monday, 14 May 2018


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United

Epilogue: The last twelve months
When promotion started to become a reality last season, I was often asked how worried I was about playing in a national division. My reply was one of uninterest. What mattered was enjoying the glory of winning the title. Anything that came as a result would be sorted out in due course.
Thus the day I stepped onto an open topped bus to tour the streets of Maidenhead with the champions will live long in the memory. It was a day to enjoy the moment of being associated with the best, made complete by the return of Dave Tarpey, fresh from turning down a move to Coventry City.
This summer of celebration continued into the following pre season by winning the Berks & Bucks Cup in July.
In the meantime there had been two important additions made to the squad in centre back Jake Goodman and prodigious midfielder Harold Odametey. Also striking options were strengthened by the return of Adrian Clifton and Jake Hyde.
Off the pitch almost five hundred season tickets were sold, more than the total opening day attendance of the previous season. The ground was augmented by the Devonshire hospitality suite, and new food and drink outlets, including one for the new away end in front of the Maidenhead Advertiser office.
The publication of the fixture list brought home the nature of United’s brave new world as the season started with a run of matches against former Football League clubs.
Many were reticent about our chances and were keen to peddle a survival narrative but I was confident of a mid table finish as the team carried through their title winning momentum.

That the club now had a higher media profile became clear as I sat on a beach in Costa Rica and tuned into live commentary of the first home game against Wrexham. Then, on my return to the UK I had to get to the next game at York Road a little earlier than usual as BT Sport had chosen the match against Hartlepool for their lunchtime live broadcast.
Fortunately, after a stuttering start, my arrival coincided with the match the Magpies season clicked into gear, comfortably beating Hartlepool with Tarpey announcing himself on the National League stage with two goals. The following Tuesday, Tarpey hit four at Fylde and he was hot property again. A deadline day move to Barnet for a club record fee again saw the doom mongers out in force but in the next match United won at table toppers Sutton to firmly dispel any thoughts that they were a one man team.
Now nicely settled in mid table the season became a fantastic journey, with wins, defeats and draws in equal measure as the Magpies visited hitherto unknown parts of the country.
Memories were made most matchdays, even if it was for peripheral highlights such as the Three Pigeons pub in Halifax, or the time the supporters made it to Torquay way ahead of the team after the coach driver refused to avoid a traffic jam.
A home match against Aldershot, saw six goals shared in a thrilling draw and proved to be a swansong for terrace hero Dean Inman as he came off the bench to equalise before accepting the non league deal of a lifetime to sign for Billericay.
One aspect of higher status was only having to play one FA Cup qualifier although a very late winner was required from Ryan Upward to set up a first round trip to Coventry, an occasion when James Comley commanded the stage only for the team to slip to a defeat.
Although the squad’s talent wasn’t in question, this was a league of fine margins with no easy rides as Eastleigh showed when they retrieved a two goal deficit with minutes remaining in November.
With the matches coming thick and fast there were chances for fringe players such as Sam Barratt, Remy Clerima, Max Kilman, Christian Smith to establish themselves, with fellow midfielder Upward also coming to the fore.
An epic trip to the north east two days before Christmas saw the double completed over Hartlepool courtesy of the masked assassin Sean Marks.

The New Year started with the promise of a Trophy run but despite a triumphant return to Halifax, in the last sixteen Stockport went one better than Eastleigh as the Magpies let slip a 2-0 lead at Edgeley Park to lose the replay in extra time.
Despite the mid table position being maintained, doubts once again started to creep in about sliding league form, the erection of anachronistic fences on the Bell Street terraces, a visual symbol of the less attractive aspects of the National League.
Eventual champions Macclesfield were pushed all the way into stoppage time at Moss Rose before they finally finished ahead against United who had held their nerve for over three hours against the division’s best team.
Everything came crashing down though at Gateshead as I had the displeasure of describing every goal of a 7-1 humbling to BBC Berkshire listeners. However just when the season threatened to get interesting at the wrong end of the table, Alan conjured up the spirit of the champions to win three home matches in eight days against Woking, Dover and Sutton before ending the away campaign perfectly on Tuesday night by beating Orient to guarantee a top half finish.
All in all a perfect end to this series and a true measure of the contributions of Peter Griffin off the pitch and Alan Devonshire on it, and one totally inconceivable way back in 1994.
Over the summer there will be improvements to floodlights, the pitch and hospitality facilities, but as the club is required by the league to show gradual progress towards developing a 6,000 capacity stadium with 2,000 seats, challenges on a whole new scale will present themselves.
In twelve months time the question of whether to go full time will become ever more insistent, perhaps a pivotal moment in the club’s long and proud history.
In another twenty three seasons time will I  view this as a high water mark or the start of the next volume of memoirs? Only time will tell but whatever happens I’m sure it will remain an altogether more splendid kind of life supporting the Magpies.
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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