York Road and Maidenhead United FC logo

York Road, Maidenhead

Maidenhead United FC vs. Stevenage FC

What is it about 'the beautiful game' (and I've seen games that have challenged that term) that incites such rage in people? At the end of the day, it's just a game. And this game in particular was a friendly.

Sign outside the York Road football stadium
York Road caters for those in the area without the internet.

The appeals and frustration guided towards the referee at his failure to award Maidenhead a penalty in the 8th minute in a game that meant absolutely nothing left me shaking my head in disbelief. Why can't people just chill out and be friendly? After all, it's in the name.

Confirmation of York Road's status in history
York Road is old, probably.

I've watched a lot of football. I love the game. I'll celebrate a goal (I'm a Reading fan so those are few and far between), but joining the mob frothing at the mouth, with desires to lynch the referee over every single decision in the other team's favour (because we all know that they're never right)? Fuck that, it's just not that deep. Why can't people watch the game objectively?

A view towards the main stand and Bell Road stand at York Road
In case you were ever unsure of who plays here, the Bell End spells it out for you.

York Road has a lot of qualities going for it. It retains all of the charm of something assembled in a time before television, cars, Queen Elizabeth II, roads and running water. As much as they try to bring it into the 20th century, it's probably not long for this world. But this is what football is all about. This was the place I started to fall in love with going to games all over again.

A view towards the Canal End and artificial turf at York Road
A look back at the cage and Canal End, where many a shot has ended clearing.

Modern toilet facilities? Nah, who needs those when you can just whizz into a hole in the ground. Drinking in view of the pitch? Perfect. Then they went and spoiled it all by getting promoted. Maidenhead's rise has been nothing short of impressive. That they've manage to secure their place in non league's top tier for a third season, is even more impressive.

A throw in during a game between Maidenhead and Stevenage
Another promising attack thwarted by having to take a throw in.

But unlike the first season, where I remain convinced that they had an outside shot of accidentally getting promoted had Dave Tarpey not been sold, the second season was far more of a slog. With a new cast of players not living up to their predecessors, and a manager who seems to have a phobia of right wingers, the team has been a little disjointed and worse, lacking quality and goals.

A view towards the Maidenhead town centre from the main stand at York Road
A view of the Maidenhead skyline. Like Wembley's, it's dominated by cranes.

All of that, plus the nagging feeling that enough time has passed that I should give Reading another go, has meant that this game would act as Maidenhead's final attempt of the summer to buy my love.

I still can't see where the goals are going to come from, and the team looks as disjointed as ever. But it could be worse, they could be Stevenage. Sure it was a friendly, but they didn't have to wait until 80 something minutes had passed before even attempting a shot at goal.

Danny Whitehall lines up a free kick for Maidenhead United
Just before the ball curled straight into the top corner.

Danny Whitehall, no stranger to fifth tier action having spent time at Bugeaters FC in Nebraska (hang on, he came from the fifth tier of US soccer?!?), settled the score with an impressive free kick, I even caught a photo of it. But was it enough to convince me I should come here 23 times next year? I guess I have a decision to make.

Sunset at York Road
At least the sky looked pretty.

Still, I was safe in the knowledge that with a small crowd on hand that I'd be able to make a quick dash out the town centre and be on the M4 home in no time. Nope, of course that was closed too.

Useless information about York Road

Address: York Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1SF
Capacity: 4,000
Pitch Type: Grass
Ticket Price: £10
Programme: £3, 32 pages

Maidenhead United 2019/20 season programme