The first time we heard of Maidenhead United was when John Dreyer left us to manage ’em in 2003. But that’s just one part of the tale. Of course it is. Even we can’t waffle on about a minor moment at the end of the 2002-3 season. What we can – and are actually going to – look back on instead, however, is our head-to-head with the Magpies. For our older fans, it might be one you already know. For our younger fans, settle in. You may learn something.
As the date on their badge suggests, the Magpies have now been with us for more than 150 years; last year’s coronavirus-riddled 12 months rather spoiling that impressive milestone. And, because they moved into their current York Road stadium one year later, they hold the honour of the “oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club in the country“. Even got a plaque to say that – presumably in a far snappier way.
Does the road that gives the ground its name even run to York, though? Questions might need to be asked there…
Anyway, the Magpies are also part of another great piece of footballing trivia. In the 1871-2 season, they were among the first-ever 15 teams to take part in the FA Cup. But they’re yet to go better than the quarter final stage. And we’d reckon that wait is going to go on a little while longer yet. And while we’re in the late 19th century (still), the club also had the (less prestigious) honour of being founder members of the Southern League.
That didn’t last long. After struggling at the wrong end of the table for eight seasons, the Magpies dropped down into the West Berkshire League in 1902; winning the title in their debut campaign and then coming second in their second.
Why do we know the Magpies?
In 1904, the club moved into the new Great Western Suburban League with Maidenhead Norfolkians. After World War One, the two would become one; merging in 1919 to create the Maidenhead United we now know (the previous side were simply Maidenhead before that). In the years leading up to – and beyond – World War Two, the club started to climb up the ladder; playing in the Spartan, Corinthian, and Athenian Leagues.
In 1973, the Magpies took the next step; joining the Isthmian League for the first time. At first, you’d find them in Division Two. In 1978, however, it was renamed Division One. It’s not like promotion was on the cards at that stage. Seventh was the highest they’d ended any season to date – and that was in a division comprising 16 sides. But they stayed put at that level all the same. And that’s why we’d eventually come to meet them.
How to get to Maidenhead United – Travel Information – Distance: 49 miles
Make your way down the A1(M) and around the M25 to Junction 15 for the M4. Take the M4 west towards Reading and Wales, but relax – you ain’t going that far. Instead, you’re only travelling as far as Junction 8/9 before coming off the motorway.
At the roundabout at the top of the slip road, take the third exit. This brings you onto the A308(M) for the centre of Maidenhead. At the end of this rather short motorway, take the first exit at the roundabout for the A308. After a mile, take the third exit.
Go past the retail park on your left and down towards another roundabout. Just before you get here, however, take the sharp left onto Forlease Road. Head under the railway bridge and take the first exit at the next roundabout. The ground is along here on the left.
Only players and officials are able to park at the ground on a matchday. And there’s no street parking close by either. So, you should use one of the many local car parks in the town. A list of these can be found on the Magpies’ website.
Services to: LONDON PADDINGTON
It shouldn’t matter too much which side of the station you exit. Just make sure you end up on Braywick Road; the one that goes under the railway just before the station. From here, don’t go up Bell Street. Instead, go past the Travelodge and up Queen Street, then round to York Road on the right.
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