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Maidenhead United: Traveller’s Tales

Posted by Rob Brown
Posted on Sun 23 Jan 2022
Posted in News

Dawn was just breaking as we left Halifax; the skies were a blend of orange and turquoise with the dual Emley Moor TV masts standing proud on the horizon, their red lights were still bright in the distance. The usual suspects were chatting away, and we had 212 miles ahead of us. Football isn’t just 90 minutes, it’s a full grand day out.

There was chaos in our usual breakfast stop, a Wi-Fi problem had meant that our order had been lost and when the waitress returned to give us the news, we had to recite our order without the aid of a menu. Soon, four rounds of toast arrived, that we didn’t order, four extra sausages arrived that we didn’t order, and four rounds of tomatoes were missing. We were the lucky ones, Larry the Lorry driver on the next table had extra melon and yogurt on his table, he looked crestfallen to say the least.

Traffic was reasonably light as we continued our journey South, and we reminisced about that day out in Brackley has we passed by. Before long we had found a car park right next to the ground and were met by a man wearing a Halifax Town shirt. His journey to the game was just 12 miles, and he told us all about the transformation of the town with the development of Crossrail, his house near the river Thames and his links with the Shaymen. He very kindly followed us across the car park as we arrived to make sure we knew we couldn’t park there for more than two hours. It did seem rather too easy to find a spot, but we decided to risk it anyway.

I didn’t think we looked that suspicious, but we’d only just left the car park to be greeted by the Maidenhead United safety officer. ‘It’s segregated today,’ he told us after a few pleasantries, ‘You’ll have to use the away turnstiles.’  He told us about the planned invasion of hundreds of travelling Shaymen he was expecting. He continued to explain that he was hoping that segregation wasn’t going to be needed but, in the meantime, we had to walk down the end of this road, turn left, go to the end of that road, turn left again, go past the railway station, turn left again… It seemed about three miles round, but I guess you can’t take too many chances with a carload like us, especially more than two hours before kick-off.

Maidenhead’s ground is proper old school. They are celebrating 150 years at York Road this season, it’s the longest continually used ground by the same team in the world.  The pitch has a sizable slope, there’s a bit of terracing behind the goal at the bottom end and giant black and white letters of the club’s name cross the corrugated iron shed at the top goal. There’s a modern 550 seat stand on halfway and a few bits and bobs of terracing and changing rooms on the other side. It’s got a tea hut in three of the four corners of the ground, all selling decent food and drink.

At half time the Shaymen were losing 1-0. The team had started well, playing uphill but midway through the half, had to make a substitution. That seemed to be the catalyst for Maidenhead to take control and they scored soon afterwards. The home side are full of big players and didn’t really seem under threat from that point onwards.

The second half was similar, the expected travelling hundreds of Shaymen turned out to be around 120 and we were free to wander after segregation was lifted.  We gathered at the bottom end of the ground, cheered a few corners but it never really looked like it was going to be our day.  In all the times we’ve vised the ground, I don’t think we’ve scored in that bottom goal, not in recent years anyway. By the end of the game, we had maintained that record and finished the game in a single goal defeat. As we left Maidenhead fans sang’ You’ll be back again next year’ and it was nice to hear they appreciated our visit.

Driving back, it was dark and very quiet in the car but we’ve already got our tickets for Dagenham next Saturday, it just £9.99 for an adult as they celebrate diversity day. What a great gesture, can’t wait.

Goals on the road 19, miles 5810, c’mon Shaymen!

Read more posts by Rob Brown