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, 9 May 2018


23 Seasons watching Maidenhead United

Part 21: 2014/15

Early in the 2014/15 season as I waited for kick off I stood outside the changing rooms next to long serving supporter Chris Raine (who could write a series more than twice as long as this). He was gazing in awe at the view opposite, and I realised I was doing the same. It was a very visual symbol of a new beginning for Maidenhead United.
The significance of architecture on the environment where we live, work, travel and relax cannot be underestimated and York Road is no different. For too many years the temporary stand had stood as a symbol of a club trying its best to make do and mend, as memories of the original one grew ever fainter, sustained only by trips to Marlow and its similar structure.
What was built in the summer of 2014 was a statement of bold intent, of a club prepared to invest in the future. Nestling under Brunel’s embankment, it stood congruent with the rest of the ground, fulfilling its function admirably by affording over 500 spectators a perfect view of the match and the urban decay of the town centre.
Despite another 18th place finish, crowds rose by 35% as the stand quickly became the adopted home of those who preferred to watch from a comfortable dry seat.  For the rest of us who walked past it, virtually beneath it due to the clever way the first row had been raised above head height, it served as an inspiration that the Magpie train was bound for glory.
This would have to wait though for Drax’s long goodbye. Following another last gasp survival in April, he was allowed to continue in post albeit without a contract. Once again he signed well in the summer, acquiring exciting young attacking talent in Tashan Adeyinka, Sam Barratt, Stefan Brown and Ryan Upward, along with proven quality in Simon Downer, Eddie Hutchinson, Ashley Nicholls and Dave Tarpey. The services of Adrian Clifton and Danny Green were retained, which when allied with Harry Pritchard, Leon Solomon, Mark Nisbet, Jacob Erskine and Reece Tison-Lascaris, suggested a squad well equipped to do more than survive.
As usual the season began well with back to back wins, the first at home to ambitious Sutton featuring a debut brace from Dave Tarpey, who immediately lived up to the expectations raised by many an impressive performance against the Magpies for his previous clubs.
An amazing goal by Eddie Hutchinson at Bromley in the style of Dennis Bergkamp suggested a more entertaining season was in prospect, a notion sent sky high by the arrival of former Premier League striker and Drax protege DJ Campbell. His impact could scarcely live up to the hype that his presence generated but he impressed with his humility as he quietly tried to resurrect his career.
Ten goals in four days in wins against Whitehawk and Weston, the latter featuring the first of many Tarpey hat tricks, meant an early exit from the FA Cup in a replay at Gosport wasn’t overly painful. The defence was bolstered by the arrival of international goalkeeper Will Britt on loan from Southampton and full back De Reece Van Der Hyde, and after a Boxing Day win against tenants Hayes & Yeading the Magpies sat in the relative comfort of thirteenth place.
However the season soon began to unravel as only one league match was won in the next seventeen and FA Trophy hopes were ended in a replay defeat at the financial wreck of Farnborough. Drax chose to publicly disclose that Peter Griffin had informed him that this season would be his last as manager, and although the league experience of Maidonian ex professional midfielder David Hunt helped to steady the ship with eight matches of the run drawn,  relegation once again loomed large on the horizon.
The last of these draws was an eight goal thriller on Easter Monday at home to eventual champions Bromley. Two goals from the freshly capped international Clifton sent United into an early lead only for Bromley to be 4-3 ahead as the game entered stoppage time. A lightning volley from Tarpey levelled the score for the final time, and buoyed up by the equaliser, safety was secured at Weston the following Saturday thanks to two more Tarpey goals. This game had an odd postscript as goalkeeper Ashley Timms, literally left the club when the coach arrived back at York Road, following an altercation with a teammate on the journey back.
Two weeks later the league season ended at Sutton. Way back in August 2007, Drax achieved his first win for the Magpies at this level, with a 3-2 success at Gander Green Lane. Almost eight years later he signed off on his final league season with Maidenhead with a similar victory which clinched a double over the following season’s champions. club captain Mark Nisbet featuring in the line up for both games.
Drax left with a proven track record to pick and nurture talent, the club receiving many a transfer fee as players moved onwards and upwards. He had an ability to motivate players for big games which led to promotion through the play offs, FA Cup glory and some nerve wracking escapes from relegation. His affability along with the entertainment his teams provided (often in a losing cause) attracted neutrals to the club and turned them into fans. However long standing supporters, suffered endless poor home form due to a consistent failing to build a sustainable defence with a goalkeeper. Coupled with a lack of strategic nous, this led to long winless runs when the only tactic was to change the team, creating a revolving door of long since forgotten players.
Happily Drax left on a high, in his final match winning the County Cup final 4-0 against Aylesbury United at Chesham, his son Jonathan Hippolyte coming off the bench to score. Looking on was a man who would have remembered how his final game in charge of the Magpies had been at the same occasion, at the same ground with a similar result against the same opponents. However his thoughts were certainly more focused on how he would reshape the club to which he was about to return.
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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