Maidenhead United 2-0 Bromley
It was decided back in mid-March that Macleod (M) and I would be attending this fixture, as James of the LCG was moving back to Essex and plans were afoot to send him off with a few (pre and post match) beers. As it would transpire, this was arguably the Conference South 'match of the day' - a massive relegation six-pointer between two sides who had plummeted down the table in recent weeks.
Bromley sat rock bottom of the (Football Web Pages six-game) form guide, with two wins and eight defeats in their last 10 league games (with a minus 11 goal difference during that span and just one goal scored in their last seven). Drax's Boyz had fared little better - 10 losses in 11 games (including eight consecutive defeats) accounting for their now-annual slide towards the danger zone ... and, in all likelihood, preceding another multi-year contract extension for the manager (#stability).
United knew, however, that three points at Fortress York Road - and neither Hornchurch nor Billericay Town winning, at Sutton United and Weston-super-Mare respectively - would see them escape the drop and enable the KSG (and others) to enjoy a stress-free Fancy Dresslemania XIII at Billericay the following weekend.
Brandy & Cigar-time beckoned.
No further incentive required, surely?
After missing the Magpies' remarkable win over Havant & Waterlooville - earlier in the month - due to a cold (don't worry, Macleods M and P have already given me more than enough stick about that!), I was rather looking forward to the game as I awoke on match-day morning; excitement that manifested itself in a discussion - initiated by the posting of several videos on various social media sites - about how Maidenhead United should have their own pop song-cum-randomly adopted club anthem (à la You'll Never Walk Alone, Sunshine On Leith, Paper Roses, Delilah, Blue Moon or - IMO, the greatest of them all - Goodnight Irene).
Songs from Morcheeba, Max Bygraves and D:Ream were suggested, but it came down to I Think We're Alone Now (originally by Tommy James & The Shondells, as I discovered only yesterday) vs Modern Romance's Best Years Of Our Lives. Macleod (M) and I would take the executive decision* that - at least until someone (On Trial UK perhaps?) records a cover of the latter, as good as Snuff's cover of the former - it is I Think We're Alone Now that gets the nod. All together, then, scarves aloft -
"Children behave. That's what they say when we're together. And watch how you play ... "
*We also agreed that the Magpies should run out to Doves' Black & White Town; infinitely superior to Final Countdown by
Europe Laibach, that we were once subjected to.
After greetings from (an injured and so non-playing) Mark Nisbet - wearing a fetching pink tie and shirt combo - and Bobby 'the Daddy' Behzadi's brother, I met Macleod (M) in the Club Shack (the LCG's call, BTW). Needless to say, not many others were present. Indeed, I would think that the wooden shed on display in the garden section of your local Homebase probably has a more-welcoming interior and livelier atmosphere. We couldn't even take advantage of the glorious sunshine - by sitting on the benches outside - as the tannoy was excessively loud ... and belting out sh!te like Mumford & Sons and Scouting For Girls. At least the Guinness now comes out of a can (as this blog suggested it should, after a visit to North Leigh back in January 2011).
Soon enough we were joined by several others, also intent on sending James off in style; both familiar members of the LCG as well as some new faces (including one gentleman who thought that Maidenhead were nicknamed the Generals!). LCG Dave had arranged for James to be mascot for the day. The sight of the big man - in a tight-fitting black t-shirt and shorts, holding hands with captain Michael Pook, as the teams emerged from the tunnel - was one to behold! "Brommerley, Brommerley, Brommerley" chanted the away fans surrounding Mr Logic and I. "Where's Brommerley?", I asked them. No answer.
The Magpies were attacking the Canal End in the first half and were on top from the very start. Former Bromley - former everyone? - striker Richard Pacquette had already shot just over (the stand) before we took the lead; some truly dazzling wing-play from Harry Pritchard setting up PoY-elect David Pratt for an easy tap-in. Despite the away side drawing level soon after - with a slight variation on 'free header at the far post' - Maidenhead looked up for it and remained dominant. Curtis Ujah was solid in defence - certainly more solid than the Bromley centre halves - while Pritchard and Reece Tison-Lascaris were causing all sorts of problems.
The latter would put the Magpies back in front, calmly rounding the keeper and finishing neatly before sweaty high fives with the fans - including your's truly - behind the goal. Macleod (M) had predicted a 6-6 draw before kick-off and such a dizzying amount of goals didn't look beyond the realms of possibility as a Pritchard free kick fizzed just wide and then the same player hit the crossbar. Maidenhead - who could have had a couple of penalties ("the referee killed us" ... perhaps not, having just watched the match highlights) - should have been leading 3-1 at half-time but Pacquette was slow to react and so another good chance went amiss (it truly beggars belief that Pacman is on contract until the end of NEXT season).
During the break, I would purchase a retro badge collection set from the Magpies Megastore while Statto would joke with Macleod (M) about Ebbsfleet's recently-confirmed relegation (themed fancy dress away day, anyone?). Discussions with Rainey would conclude that - despite his repeated claims to the contrary - Drax is a lucky manager (no bad thing, of course); what would have happened, for example, if our plethora of on-loan centre halves had been recalled a week after, rather than a week before, the transfer deadline?
Into the second half and Maidenhead picked up where they'd left off; Pritchard - comfortably the game's best player - forcing a decent save from the Bromley keeper. I commented to Macleod (M) that we needed a third goal. Almost as soon as the words had passed my lips, Pacquette powered in a free header from a corner. Our first goal from a corner this season, according to CSG (although Gordon noted, on Tw@tter, that Pritchard had scored directly from one at Welling). "Right side, give us a song" sang the LCG, to our left. "If you're going to Billericay/If you're going in fancy dress", "How bad must you be, you're losing to us" and "Are you Maidenhead in disguise" featured in response.
The Magpies had a goal (correctly) disallowed and Bromley were reduced to 10 men (their captain sent off, I'm not sure what for - foul and abusive language?) before the deficit was reduced to a single goal. A nervy finish? No. 4-2. Pacquette couldn't miss (!) after more good play from RTL. "You are my Bell End" preceded a thunderous, 10-minute plus "Johnson Hippolyte's Black & White Army" (aptly started by James, chiefly augmented by Murdo - bass (voice) - and with LCG Will on stand-banging duty).
"We love you Maidenhead", "We are staying up" and much (well-deserved) applause at the end. Blasts of "Oh Signor Gore" (the man himself was present) and "We remember Histon" (Chris Wild, please note). News that Hornchurch had lost at Sutton. Billericay (featuring the aforementioned Wild) were drawing 0-0 at Weston in a delayed kick-off. Brandy and cigars at the ready!
A couple of drinks in the Anchor (where we learnt that the attendance was 422 - a season high ... make of that what you will) before Macleod (M) and I again met up with the LCG - and a seemingly ever-increasing amount of James' family and friends - in the Bell (from where, apparently, a couple of paralytic Bromley fans had recently been ejected). Pizza and more drinks. Someone had a Midouri-based cocktail (#stillgame). Tales of Whitley Bay ("Oh Logic pulled ... "). "Billericay lost!" "Diamond Lights is coming?!" "There he is!" Macleod (P) would also join us - and I would belatedly discover that I'd spent the day in the company of a work colleague's other half - before the KSG bade a fond farewell to a Smokey's-bound James (until next Saturday, at least) and headed back to the Anchor. 37 12 on the jukebox. Bang tidy!
Credit where it's due, the manager had called it -
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