Supping pints of Thatcher's Gold, sat in the Thatched Cottage with the wife and Junior, I suddenly had an urge to make chilli con carne for dinner; United had been reduced to ten men as we left the pub in search of ingredients
Onto the Co-op near the Foresters, as Wessex Way didn't have any mince; I checked my phone and was pleased to see that, not only was it now ten-a-side, but we'd taken the lead through Moses Emmanuel
Less than ten minutes later, having walked through the front door and switched on Final Score (after putting the mince in the fridge), we were 3-1 down!
Into pole position for the worst officials of the season, wrote Macleod (M) on twitter - yikes!
Head-scratching line-up once again - where was Ryan Upward? - while injuries (James Mulley and Christian Smith; plus Upward, presumably) and suspensions (three-match ban now for Adrian Clifton) continue to mount
Understand that we cannot further extend Emmanuel's loan, so suspect he'll soon be returning to his parent club (I doubt that we'll sign him permanently as [1.] he hasn't pulled up any trees and [2.] his reported wages at Sutton are eye-watering); reinforcements - one new striker, at least - must surely be on their way (#announcekabamba)
List - not particularly long - of other signings that I'd make include a new right-back, which would allow Remy Clerima to move more permanently to centre-half
Loud, on-pitch bollocking for the players, from Dev at the final whistle, but we shouldn't be too disheartened: still closer to the play-offs than the final relegation place … although reaching our 'safety' target of 50 points cannot come soon enough (PS. Chilli con carne was as disappointing as the performance/ result.)
How much of an aberration was the Shaymen's performance against us at their place? They entered the return fixture a relatively lowly 16th in the table, yet remain the most impressive side that I've seen us play
Away day of the season, thus far? Hartlepool (and Fylde?) will understandably garner many votes but, for me, Halifax in September currently gets the nod despite our defeat (I'm biased: it was my birthday and I got to sit next to Diane from Donny on the train back from Leeds!)
Landmark announcement, in the week, that this game would be the first of many upcoming live commentaries from BBC Radio Berkshire; remarkable in the sense that, until very recently, Maidenhead United barely got a mention on there … unlike Basingstoke Town, who aren't even in Berkshire!
In-laws arrived, ahead of Junior's birthday on the Sunday, as I was listening to Adam Whitty and Daniel Darlington on the iPad; coincidentally, one of my personal highlights of this season was listening to BBC Cumbria's commentary of Barrow vs Maidenhead in August, supping the Rev. James whilst sat in glorious sunshine in my in-law's back garden (the co-commentator that day - John Goodwin - was pure comedy gold: "He [Carl Pentney] couldn't keep pigeons" was one memorable line!)
Former Humpton striker Nicke Kabamba was strongly rumoured to be signing for the Magpies but instead joined Aldershot, on loan from Portsmouth, and scored the winner on debut
A draw is probably about right, summarised Dan Darlo on the comms, with Maidenhead having the better of the first half - Moses Emmanuel missing a header when it seemed easier to score - and Halifax coming on strong in the second; to be expected, I suppose, bearing in mind that they had the luxury of bringing on Tom Denton and Matt Kosylo - both excellent, back in September - whereas Dev could only name four replacements … and these included James Hammond and Ryan Peters #barebones
X is, of course, the Roman numeral for ten; our next league win will be our tenth of the season and, similarly, our next league defeat will be our tenth (interesting to note that Braintree Town - Dev's previous club - were relegated from the National League last year, finishing in 22nd place, despite winning 13 [XIII] games)
Club that Maidenhead United has faced most often? I'd have guessed Marlow, but the actual answer is Chesham United (unless - unlike 'One For Sorrow, Two For Joy' - you count Slough/ Slough United/ Slough Town as a single entity!)
Here's an idea, Berks & Bucks FA, to make your 'prestige' competition less of a snoozefest: combine the Senior Cup and the Senior Trophy, and seed the entrants (Magpies fans of a certain vintage speak fondly of visiting the likes of Wolverton; nowadays it's seemingly the same opponents year in, year out)
Entertaining night, though,
at this stage last season in last season's Quarter-Final (which took place in November!): our 2-1 victory at Marlow was great fun ('wonderkid' Josh Kelly - currently breaking equalling records, on loan at Walton Casuals - with a late winner in front of the noisy travelling horde)
Slough Town's new ground - Arbour Park - was the venue for the 2016/17 final, held over to the 2017/18 pre-season; I wasn't particularly impressed by the stadium as a whole - a decent stand, admittedly, but two very basic ends - and hope that we don't have to visit again anytime soon
Has a Maidenhead United side ever won a penalty shoot-out at York Road?! I've definitely witnessed two defeats: FA Youth Cup tie vs Torquay United in 2014/15 and Full Members' Cup tie vs Basingstoke Town in 1991/92 (the latter featuring John Smeulders and mentioned in the Torquay blog post)
A number of our Youth products made debuts for the first team on Tuesday night (incl. Josh Masters; I used to play with his Dad, back in the day, for Maidenhead Boys! #feelingold), which is a good thing, but bona fide additions to the first team squad remain conspicuous by their absence :-(
Macclesfield out of the Trophy, thanks to a Matty Kosylo header; our league game at Moss Rose will now go ahead on 24th February, as scheduled, unless we can overcome - for starters - Kosylo's Halifax at the Shay on Saturday …
(Match highlights XXX)
How many times am I going to have to think of sentences beginning with the letter 'X'?! After home and away league games vs Wrexham and Halifax, I thought/ hoped that I was done; instead, watch us win the FA Trophy, qualify for Europe (resurrection of the old Cup Winners' Cup … the Trophy Winners' Cup?), and get drawn in a group with Ajax, Auxerre, Xanthi and Xerez!
A tricky looking tie - regardless of whether it turned out to be Halifax or Macclesfield - and one that I was always unlikely to attend; Craig and Macleod (M) looked into going but were ultimately deterred by train tickets costing £90 each - we'd paid £46 each in September - and instead went to Walton Casuals vs Ashford United (to run the rule over on-loan Maidenhead starlets Josh Kelly and Sean McCormack)
Late notice - we didn't find out that we were playing Halifax until the preceding Tuesday - was actually a good omen: we didn't find out that we were playing them until the Thursday, ahead of our famous Trophy win at the Shay in 2004
In the BDO World Championship Semi-Final at the Lakeside, live on Channel 4 ('please do not swear'), former champion Scott Waites was brushed aside by defending champion Glen Durrant; Waites' home town football team, meanwhile, were on the receiving end of a similar beat down
Fifty-seven was the official away attendance in September; just eighteen this time, which is perhaps not surprising bearing in mind the mitigating circumstances
A brace apiece for Moses Emmanuel and Harry Pritchard; the latter remains one of our most important players,
while the former signs off in style (UPDATE: Moses' loan extended until the end of the season)
X-double-minus was, apparently, '60s slang for something terrible;
Kidderminster Harriers or Stockport County at home, in the subsequent draw, certainly not X-double-minus
(Match highlights XXX)
(Match highlights XXX)
The Cornmarket - a pub that I'd visited with the wife, when we stayed at the Heywood House Hotel for my birthday in 2012 - was our first port of call after arriving into Lime Street station, and meeting with Macleod (C), at half one on Friday afternoon
Roamed around Albert Dock, after checking into the Travelodge, with pints in the Pumphouse (meh) and the Baltic Fleet (decent ale selection, but pub quiet and a bit draughty)
A quick pit stop at the hotel - trainers replaced by shoes (lessons learned after Chester) and gloves/ hats/ scarves ditched (despite the bitterly cold wind) - before we hit Mathew Street (via one of several Wetherspoons)
Night of two distinct halves: in what felt like an instant - and much earlier than you would expect - we went from chatting with a middle-aged couple about the TransPennine Real Ale Trail (in the White Star) to downing shots and singing along to Radio Ga Ga with a party of Britney mask-wearing hens (they were a really decent bunch, TBF, and Legends one of the better venues in an area that can be justifiably described as 'the Magaluf of Merseyside')
Mad Fer It! Gallagher's in Birkenhead is, as Craig pointed out, an early contender for GMOSC Pub of the Year … not that I was able to fully appreciate it: drinking with a group of Caernarfon girls - with accents so strong that you could barely understand them - until 5AM, back at the hotel bar, had seemed like a good idea at the time!
Expected big things from the Tranmere Rovers Trust's Fan Park, at the ground, and it didn't disappoint: flags, scarves, stickers, old replica shirts, vintage turnstiles as tables, chilli con carne, decent beer (or so I'm told) …
Reasonably happy, despite the result, as we gave a good account or ourselves (both on and off the pitch); they'll likely be there or thereabouts, come the end of the season, yet were time-wasting in the corner prior to the final whistle on Saturday
Everton and West Brom fans on our train; one or two of the Baggies were rather rowdy, but good-natured, and the return journey as a whole was relatively painless … I'm pleased to confirm that the carry out Calpol remained unopened!
Coxy (as in Jordan Cox, not David) was a lanky bundle of pace and aggression, and memorable goals (e.g. vs Eastbourne and at Bath), off the bench last season; a shame, therefore, that he left for Concord Rangers in the summer - although understandable bearing in mind that he lives in Southend and is a non-driver - but a shock, this week, when he moved to Basildon United of the Essex Senior League (that's the equivalent of the Hellenic Premier, i.e. Windsor's level!)
Hartlepool United not the only National League club that is in dire financial straits (having lived beyond its means?): ominous news emanating from the Deva Stadium as well
Even though we were tonked 4-0 at Torquay (under mitigating circumstances), our 2-0 capitulation at Chester in September remains the worst Magpies performance that I've seen this season (I missed the 3-0 home defeat vs Gateshead); avenging that result was imperative, particularly as this fixture had been earmarked by Craig - and others, I'm sure - as one of the 'four wins for fifty (points)'
Square pegs in round holes has been a feature of recent Maidenhead line-ups (through necessity as much as anything else), so it was a relief to see something approaching our first choice XI - with James Comley starting - and a reasonably strong bench
Two up within 14 minutes - another Harry Pritchard brace (incl. another expertly dispatched penalty) - and the away side down to ten men … not that you'd know it from the BBC Radio Berkshire commentary ;-)
Easy 3-0 win - the other goal, also in the first half, from the swashbuckling Sam Barratt - was just what
the Doctor Ashley Nicholls ordered
R.I.P.X2: Jimmy Armfield (voted the best right-back at the 1962 World Cup; manager of Leeds United when they lost/ were cheated out of the European Cup Final in 1975; by some distance my favourite radio summariser) and Mark E. Smith (Murdo, for one, is a massive fan of The Fall) #legends