It’s fair to say I don’t usually point out any of the daft things the usual suspects get up to on a grand day out, but after picking them all up at 8.00 am I soon began to wonder just who these people are that sit in the car week after week….
The first hour of the journey was like travelling in a parallel universe. As usual everyone seemed full of beans and excited with all the standard topics in full flow, team news, recent results and league position whilst Tesco Pete continued to chase imaginary monsters on his mobile phone. The only problem was that all three suspects were, in their own imagination, heading to different grounds. It began with the Greetland Shayman talking about a plastic pitch, then Tesco Pete on about the Dartford Crossing, it seemed only the Ripponden Shayman had managed to work out what day it was and match it to the fixture list; Bromley, Maidstone or Maidenhead, we could have gone anywhere if they were driving!
It was modelled on an old church hall, big vaulted roof space, wooden floors, pews and temporary electric heaters dotted around the keep the customers warm. With New Year’s resolutions in full swing the usual breakfast list and venue went out the window. The recommended full English replaced our usual ‘all you can eat’ option, continental choices and concrete vegetarian sausages became the ‘healthy’ choice, whilst the Greetland Shayman’s favourite waitress was replaced by a bloke called Dave. It’s fair to say our new breakfast venue wasn’t a hit. It was only shortly afterwards when we were back on the motorway when the Greetland Shayman realised he’d not paid for his breakfast either, I guess his mind was on other things!
Maidenhead’s York Road ground is situated right in the middle of the town centre amongst the shops and usual busy daily life. Opened in 1871 it has a plaque confirming it as the oldest continuously used football ground in the world. The ground has a new stand that was opened in 2014 with 500 covered seats down the side of the pitch; behind both goals are covered terraces, one with corrugated iron sheets making up the back of the stand painted in broad black and white stripes with letters 10 feet high spelling the name MAIDENHEAD UNITED. The London to Bristol railway line runs high on an embankment above the main stand with trains every few minutes.
Half time and it was goalless, the Shaymen were playing up the sloping pitch and chances were few and far between. Maidenhead had the best of the play as Sam Johnson did well in the distance to keep the scores level with a few important saves. Without segregation we were free to wander to the far end of the ground for the second half. The locals were friendly and with three refreshment huts available in three corners of the ground everything was relaxed and well organised.
The second half was more entertaining; both teams created more chances and as the game went on the Shaymen looked more likely to pinch a winner. A strong following of around 130 travelling Shaymen provided good vocal support with many of the southern based fans in attendance. The referee’s whistle blown for a dead ball just before Scott Garner put the ball in the net was the closest we came to see a winner. But a goalless draw was a fair and well applauded result at the final whistle.
Driving back and we’ve clocked up around 1000 miles in a week on the road with two goalless draws and two points in the bag. The feeling on terraces was positive though, with one fan saying it’s another good point towards safety and the team look solid. The Ripponden Shayman was cautious though, after years of supporting the Shaymen he’s still quizzed about just how enjoyable a nil-nil draw can be when he gets home….
Next up we’re back down south to Bromley, if you see any of the usual suspects please let them know!
Total miles on the road this season: 5116, total goals on the road: 12.
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