One of the murals on the wall on York Road shows the oldest continuously used senior football field in the world from the same club
At Maidenhead United, the pressure on Chairman Peter Griffin is different.
The Magpies, founded in 1870, will celebrate their 150th anniversary on Tuesday evening against Stockport County on York Road – the oldest known senior football field in the world, which is continuously used by the same club.
For Griffin, it’s not about winning leagues or promotions or winning big-name deals – it’s about maintaining the club’s long history.
“When you’re in a club like Maidenhead, you are aware of the past and your responsibilities,” Griffin told The NLP. “The first responsibility is to make sure that you hand things over to the next generation, the next people to run them, in better shape.
“In a historic club like this you can feel the weight, but that’s also a real privilege. It’s definitely what I love about the club as much as I love the soccer team. “
As traditional as a non-league stadium, York Road has been going strong since the inaugural game against Marlow on February 16, 1871.
Tuesday’s landmark game will be different than usual, of course, but Maidenhead is trying to beat its 1936 attendance record of 7,989 for an amateur cup match with Southall by having a “virtual crowd” on their match stream adjusts.
When Griffin took office in January 2006, Maidenhead was relegated from Conference South four months later, but recovered on the first try. They maintained their Step 2 status while clearing the club of their debts, then won the title under Alan Devonshire four seasons ago.
Griffin remembers 200 people in his early days which grew to an average of 1,300 last season.
The progress on the pitch was evident. The club now trains on Monday and Tuesday mornings as well as Thursday evenings, which means boss Devonshire has been able to attract players with a full-time mentality and they are battling for a play-off spot in the National League.
York Road has been modernized over the years with new stalls, a five-on-five court, hospitality areas, new toilet blocks, and a bar, but has retained its legacy. But now Maidenhead is looking to the future.
The club intends to come up with plans for a new stadium in the coming months, which will run for 999 years after the city council approves the sale of land in Braywick Park, and which will be funded by the York Road site, which is being redeveloped on sale is.
“Maidenhead town center has been completely rejuvenated and there are a number of projects that are in the pipeline,” said Griffin. “Since we were in the city center, we had two options, either to modernize the floor or to use it and move.” We are housed in our traditional historic house where we have very little floor space and it costs millions to do more with it do.
“It was about weighing the options or we can get a really decent place near the city center, which is what we want to do to get fantastic facilities.
“That makes the club long-term and means that we are not only debt-free, but also self-sufficient. It’s a really big feat if we can do this and leave it to the next generation because we know it will be safe for the next 150 years and that is our legacy.
Tickets for Tuesday’s stream are £ 10 and can be purchased at https://ticketpass.events/WSlP
The rise and fall of Maidenhead in the Southern League
In May 1894 Maidenhead FC was invited to join the second division of the new Southern League. A week later, the club’s Club W Club hosted a meeting of member clubs at the Billiter Coffee House on Fenchurch Street to set the games for the 1894–95 season.
Maidenhead played his first game in the Southern League on September 8, 1894 in York Road, beating Sheppey United 2-1 in front of around 250 spectators.
However, the club resigned from the Southern League after the annual general meeting of the competition in 1902, where it had been agreed to increase the subscription to the league to five guineas.
The club were furious and decided to pull out, but the Southern League fined the club £ 20.
Maidenhead appealed when club secretary William Walton appeared before the league’s appeal committee in February 1903.
The appeal was not upheld but the league reduced the fine to £ 5 at a cost of £ 2.2.
York Road record visit
York Road’s attendance record was set on March 7, 1936, when 7,989 spectators watched the quarter-finals of Maidenhead United’s Amateur Cup with Southall.
A goal in the second half was enough for the Spartan League hosts, who had won three rounds to reach that stage, to hold their own against the Athens League side.
Sir Matt Busby trains the UK Olympic team on York Road
When Great Britain hosted the Summer Olympics in 1948, the British soccer team – headed by Manchester United boss Sir Matt Busby – used York Road as a training base.
The team stayed at the Grove Hall Hotel in Twyford and drove the short distance to train mornings and afternoons on the ground.
Busby praised Maidenhead’s hospitality and said: “Maidenhead can be very proud of its excellent grounds and accommodation … to the credit of the club and its supporters.”
Lights, cameras, action on York Road!
York Road has seen a lot of action over the years – even in front of the movie cameras!
In November 1951, the floor was converted into a film for “The Card,” starring actors Alec Guinness and Petula Clark and produced by Pinewood Studios.
Local footballers were paid £ 2 for one morning’s work as the foundation for the conversion to the home of fictional Bursley FC, while members of the audience were used as extras for Maidenhead’s Corinthian League clash against Maidstone United.
The field was flooded to create the effect of a rainy afternoon and the Magpies later fought on the surface, falling 4-2 to the Stones after Petula Clark “started” the match.
Maidenhead United 2-1 England
In 1969 Maidenhead United celebrated its 100th anniversary a year earlier.
On September 9th, a match against an English amateur XI took place on York Road to commemorate the anniversary that the Non-Leaguers had won 2-1.
English coach Charles Hughes said: “Maidenhead’s teamwork was far superior.”
New club crest
Maidenhead celebrated its 150th anniversary with the design of a new club crest, the origins of which go back to October 1870.
The club involved its supporters in developing a refreshed club badge that will be suitable for the next 150 years.
The Magpies 150 Challenge
Maidenhead United celebrated its 150th anniversary by trying to raise £ 150,000 for 15 local charities.
The Magpies 150 Challenge is an activity based on the numbers 1,5, 15 or 150. For example, CEO Jon Adams ran 150 km around Maidenhead and Windsor in seven days in June.
Donations can be made through the Magpies150 website or by setting up a donation page on Just Giving or Virgin Money Giving. More information is available at www.magpies150challenge.co.uk
Two longtime supporters have teamed up to record an unofficial charity single to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first soccer game on York Road.
“Two for Joy” by KSG & The Sunshine Man (Matthew Foster and Gordon Sweeney) will be released digitally on Tuesday. The proceeds will be donated to the Maidenhead United Community Trust as part of the Magpies 150 Challenge initiative.
“I wrote lyrics for a Maidenhead United song for the first time in 2012,” said Foster. “But since then there have been several paraphrases. Include moments like James Mully’s famous Port Vale goal and winning the Conference South title in Margate.
“It certainly doesn’t sound like a typical football song, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It may not be for everyone, but ultimately it is for charity, and that’s why I urge everyone to buy a copy! “
York Road dogs
In 1970 York Road went to the dogs – literally!
Dog racing came to Maidenhead’s home ground in May of this year. Eight meetings were scheduled for the off-season, led by local owner and trainer Roy Furby.
The grass runway circled the field of play, but was affected in some places due to lack of space. Entry was four shillings, including a racing ticket.
Two decades later, Whippet races hit York Road and drew around 220 spectators – the following day only 219 turned out for Maidenhead’s game against Ruislip Manor.
The legend of West Ham United has equal status with Maidenhead United for his two dugout spells.
The former winger first joined the club in 1996 and became a joint manager with Martyn Busby. However, Devonshire soon took over and won the Isthmian League Full Members Cup – the club’s first silver coin since 1970.
Maidenhead reached five more cup finals under Devonshire in the following six seasons and won promotion to the Isthmian Premier League in 2000.
He left the club in 2003 and did well with Hampton & Richmond and Braintree Town before returning to the Magpies in 2015.
During his sophomore season at the club, Maidenhead became Conference South champions – the club’s first title since 1962 – and was promoted to the Premier Division for the first time in its history.
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