‘It’s red!’ shouted the Greetland Shayman from the back seat, and in an instant everyone in the car was in uproar, ‘that traffic light was definitely red.’ I had to take their (very loud) word for it, but the only option was to keep going, accelerate, and take the right hand turn into potential oncoming traffic. It was tense, but the temporary lights we (collective responsibility) had just jumped didn’t look like they were three-way controlled. As we screeched around the corner, we were lucky, their lights had only just turned green and we managed to beat them to the end of the roadworks. I received a single dodgy wave and a few glares for my driving skills, I thought that wasn’t too bad coming from the guys on the back seat!
After a healthy breakfast at our favourite Northamptonshire stop, we continued our 210-mile journey south. We managed to avoid any traffic issues and rolled up close to Maidenhead’s York Road ground shortly after lunchtime. After a quick nosey at the ground, the wonderful staff kindly allowed us to use the loos before politely reminding us that the ground wasn’t due to open for another 30 minutes. We then made our way slowly back down the driveway towards the car park.
‘Excuse me,’ shouted a well-dressed lady from over the road, ‘you can come into the club, you just have to ring the doorbell.’ After a few seconds of weighing up our options we agreed to take the kind lady up on her offer. The front door was quite imposing, and the bell had a camera on it too. Inside it was posh, there was a doormat, carpets, wallpaper, even a signed picture of the Queen, and tea was served in proper china cups. ‘Are you CAMRA, members?’ asked an official looking guy on the next table, ‘how about Party members?’ he continued. Suddenly the visitors booked appeared from nowhere. ‘We’ll have to sign you in then.’
Just as the Ripponden Shayman had finished signing his name did we get the good news. ‘That will be six pounds please. We like all our visitors to sign our book, even Teresa May signs it when she calls in.’ Gosh talk about cash for questions, none of us could recall anyone saying, ‘You can come into our club, it will only cost you six pounds.’ We drank our tea in no time and left as soon as possible. Any longer and we would be signed up as full Party members or even elected to be the next Prime Minister!
Maidenhead’s York Road ground is the longest continually used ground in the world, dating from 1871. It’s full of character with its various outbuildings, three tea huts, a giant sign with the club’s name on behind one of the goals, and a seriously sloping pitch. Plans have been submitted for consideration for a brand new ground on the outskirts of the town. The current stadium is perhaps a little outdated in terms of modern football and sits on land worth a serious amount of money. The main line to London rolls alongside the pitch, and no doubt any redevelopment of the ground for housing would generate lots of interest from wealthy commuters.
The first half started well for the Shaymen, they played up the hill and dominated possession. The home goalkeeper touched a good few rising shots over his bar within the first 20 minutes but didn’t have to stop any serious goal bound efforts. At the other end, Sam Johnson made a good diving save but just as half-time approached, Maidenhead scored from a corner with an unmarked player touching home. It was rough on the Shaymen who perhaps had shaded the half.
The second half was more of a challenge, the 120 or so travelling Shaymen gathered at the bottom end of the ground to lend their support, but Maidenhead looked stubborn. A few substitutions, including the introduction of Warburton lifted the spirits. An equaliser came soon after. The ball just crept over the line, just a few yards in front of us, despite the long hand of the goalkeeper and a small deflection along the way. For a few moments we had hopes of a win but credit to Maidenhead, they pushed for the winner forcing the Shaymen into several last-ditch blocks and saves. The crossbar took a serious whack at one point too. The home side were unlucky.
Next up and it’s a late kick off as we’re on the telly for our visit to Aldershot. We must watch out for red traffic lights and politicians this time!
Miles on the road 1353, Goals on the road 3.
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