Sunday 10 August 2008

Maidenhead United

Since the demise of the old Northwich Victoria ground a few years ago York Road, home of Maidenhead United, is billed as the current oldest ground in the country to be staging continuous football.
And as grounds go it's certainly worthy of the title, apart from the strange 'open barn' along the side. You'll see what I mean as you go on!
I like this ground. Decent terracing, character rather than all new 'identikit' stands, not far from the train station, & even some old murals on the wall!
What more could you want? From memory they had a decent club shop too.
My last time for a Hamlet First Team game was way back in our promotion year of '91/2; and it was one of our seven consecutive wins at the end of the season that took us up. Still remenisced by the celebration to our goal from one of our fans who picked up a huge waterbutt, used as a dustbin behind the goal, and proceeded to run up & down the terrace with it on his head, as a mad celebration!
Much beer was consumed that day & evening (I was still drinking then) & we were entertained by one of their players in the bar afterwards, who was a member of the Magic Circle, & proceeded to put lighted cigarettes 'through' the Dulwich shirts we were wearing! The few of us who stayed on til late then went out & started drunkenly supporting their under elevens, in a cup final on the pitch by chanting 'come on Maidenhead, come on Maidenhead!'. Only for a little kid to come up to us & tell the four of us: "Excuse me mister. They're both called Maidenhead." Whoops! "Come on Magpies, come on Magpies!"
But this visit, from last season, was for a Reserve Team game. I was in town early afternoon, so headed straight for the ground to take some photos in daylight, as it would be too dark by the time the game came round.
Follow me around this historic ground now.

Here is the entrance from York Road.

Down a driveway to the ground.

Here are the turnstiles

And from the other side.

Once inside I will be walking you round in a clockwise
direction. Here we look towards the bar. And note that
roof to the right of it...
To the right of these parked cars is....

This nice piece of open terrace. I've never known it to be covered,
but I wonder if it ever was in the past? Surely it would be easy to
add a roof to it if it hasn't had one before?

Pass that stretch of terrace are the dugouts, with the changing rooms behind.

A glance across the pitch from here to the main stand.

This is that roof I pointed out, and the strange 'open barn' I mentioned in my introduction! Obviously now a car park, but what was it built for?

In front of it is an enclosure for wheelchair users.

And another look at it from the spectator side.

From here we look behind the far goal for the first time. York Road is a good ground, as far as I am concerned, simply because there is cover at both ends.

The sun shines down, after heavy rain, onto a sodden pitch. The game did play!

A look back down behind the goal from the far corner.

And down the far side, towards the seats. Unfortunately a really crap blurred photo. sorry folks!

This is the stand. Oblviously wuite an old one, but modernised as much as they can.

A look down from the back of it, with the press box in view.

And a glimpse back from the other end of it.

At the end of the terrace past it is the club shop.

And fading away, on the wall at the end, is an old mural depicting both the Club, and the town. I'm not sure how old it is, but i'm guessing it would be late seventies; early eighties at most. Though, in truth, I have no idea. It will be a shame when the weather finally wears it down completely in a few years time.

I've taken photos of it, from left to right:

And, from the side, where we faced the mural, we look to the final side of this ground.

Why can't every ground have a substantial, but not too big, bit of terrace behind the goal like this?

A glance back across to the first side we walked along.

Behind the goal one of those waterbutt rubish bins I mentioned. On my head, son!

Behind it looks like a rusty old tin shed, belying the fact it's a cracking non-league football terrace.

There's a gap in the middle of it, to an extra set of turnstiles, out through another road.

One last glance down the larger covered end

Before we pass the tea bar, in the corner, on our way out. And if you're sitting at home looking at these you deserve to go and put the kettle on & have a cuppa yourself after this 'virtual stroll' around York Road!

This ground may be 'prime centre of town' land, but it will be a real shame if it is ever redeveloped and Maidenhead United relocate to some soulless stadium on the edge of town.


Steve said...

A few comments this excellent photo piece.
Northwich Victoria always held the oldest ground title by default as Maidenhead started playing at York Road in 1871 three years before Northwich started playing at Drill Field.
The stretch of terrace by the dug outs never had a roof on it. But their used to be a fine wooden stand in front of the dressing rooms which was burnt down in the mid 80s.
The open barn is the only fruit of an early 70s nightclub project.
The old stand on the railway side was actually only a terrace until it was hastily converted into seated accommodation when the original stand opposite burnt down.
The mural was actually painted at the time of the visit you mention in the early 90s by two local students.

Rabbler said...

Cheers mate! You've certainly beefed up my comments in the post. Most helpful, thanks for looking in.