Smoke gets in your eyes. Or is it your ringpiece?

Match report by Nixon Mueller III
On their phones,sniggering at each other’s jokes, skulking disconsolately around the far side of the ground, loitering by the dug outs, moving on to the Town End, dressed in puffa jackets and trainers with no socks and at least one face like a smacked arse.
Yes, some of the players excluded from the matchday squad were giving it the Kevin and Perry treatment this afternoon, looking a lot like a posse of disaffected yoof roaming the town on a Saturday afternoon, wondering what to do. Which was, in effect, what most of them were.

A former Maidstone manager once read a report on this site in which we pointed out that a player who’d been dropped from the matchday squad was checking his phone in the VIP area while the game was underway. The player (no names, but he had a Greco-French background) was disconsolate about being dropped and we hadn’t meant to drop him in it, but it was taken as a sign of a lack of professionalism and he was moved on soon afterwards.

Compare and contrast to this shower. They (allegedly) don’t like the training sessions and (allegedly) revolted because the new management wanted them to get on the team bus to Sutton. This might be because the management wanted them to look like professional footballers as opposed to a gang of ASBOs. This apparently once happened to Jonathan Woodgate, who didn’t want to make an hour-long journey to Tottenham’s training ground to get on a bus to an away match at West Ham, when he lived in a flat a couple of miles away from the Boleyn Ground.

He didn’t get away with it and he was Jonathan Woodgate. Romario did get away with swinging the lead at PSV when Bobby Robson was manager, but as Robson pointed out, he was Romario. He could spend the night before a match up to his eyeballs in champagne and clunge and still score a hat-trick the next day. If your sole contribution to the cause is giving away first-minute penalties and missing sitters, you might want to think twice about (allegedly) refusing to play because the management haven't blown the required amount of smoke up your ringpiece.  

Today’s match was a no win situation. It was absolutely fucking freezing, the mood was miserable and 1900 still turned up, which even allowing for a few no-shows from season ticket holders was remarkable: 600 more than turned up for the Gravesend v Dover derby on Monday, 550 more than made it to Hayes Lane today and 700 more than were at “The” Crabble. It was, in fact, the fourth highest attendance in the league after Orient, Hartlepool and Wrexham.

Aldershot brought nearly 200 which was some achievement given that their fan base is nearly as disconsolate as ours. We were actually the better team in the first half and Turgo twice put the ball on a plate for Romain, who was twice thwarted from barely a yard. The difference in the second half was that Aldershot scored twice from long-range efforts. Turgo was taken off when it was 1-0, which was questionable because it probably reduced our chances of getting an equaliser, but if he hadn’t been taken off would people have been complaining that Dale didn’t get a chance? Someone complained that Dale hadn’t been given a numbered shirt but I guess the budget for that particular department was blown sometime around the time we signed our 40th or 50th player of the season.

Christ. It was all so much better in the old days, wasn’t it? Here's a tweet from Tristan Lewis, which people have been queuing up to like and agree with.
Except one of those wins was against Oxford in the FA Trophy and  if we’re counting cup competitions as well, it’s five wins and seven draws out of 22 matches. That isn’t great either, but under Wheeler it was P21 W7 D4 L10, which isn’t a lot better. Wheeler, it hardly needs to be pointed out, had a budget that had gone by the time JS2 and HH came in. For the record, when JS1, who this week parted company with Margate under equally bewildering circumstances, was sacked our record was P7 W2 D1 L4, but we weren’t in the relegation zone.

The problem, once again, seems to have been the timing. It might well have been a smart move to let TS and SW carry on for a while because JS2 wasn’t ready to start work in January and now we’re in a situation where Hak is already getting showered with shit.
This industry is a joke. JS1 has already left Margate, Lovell has been bombed out by Scally. The Fleet fan base is in denial. Getting rid of HH and JS2 without giving them a chance to show what they can do with their players would confirm us as fully paid-up members of this same circus.

This club gets under your skin. People care. Relegation hurts, as does the feeling you've been rejected. This would explain why Southall and Lewis have vented on social media. The difference is that now that all of this madness is, mercifully, over, Southall can reasonably turn around and say he was part of a management team that got us promoted twice, kept us up twice and has, since he was mutually consented out of a job in the summer, kept Dover up with a platoon of players we released.

Lewis's tweet includes four carefully selected pictures, so it wasn’t fired off spontaneously in a post-match rage. And who exactly was holding Wheeler’s hand during the four months he had in charge? Who was on the sidelines as we tried to game the officials, with a spectacular lack of success? Who allegedly started a text to JS1 with the words: “Hi Ledge” as they tried to manage the blow back from Mess-gate, (allegedly) denying that Wheeler had said the things he was on tape actually saying?

It’s been glaringly obvious for months that the team lacks any leadership on the pitch. So who shipped out Stuart Lewis, Alex Finney, Lee Worgan and Seth Nana Twumasi? In their place we got Walton, who screams at young players for making mistakes and gets into arguments with the crowd (which, admittedly, isn’t difficult during a season like this). We also got Cassidy, who’s seen less action than Liam Fox’s wife since he came back. Which member of the coaching staff was allegedly making a list of people who “liked” tweets that incurred the management’s displeasure? Why did the management display almost Soviet levels of paranoia about criticism? Who was the “snake” referred to in Mr Freeze’s caustic Tweet when Wheeler was finally sacked?

So yeah, we’ll never know what might have been but let’s not pretend they weren’t part of the culture that dropped us neck deep in the shit in the first place.

The Towering Jurassic Poseidon Adventure

BROMLEY 1 MAIDSTONE UNiTED 1 (Maidstone win on penalties)

Match coverage by Reverend Scott
Did you watch the Kermode special on Disaster Movies last night?
Specifically the bit where, as the disaster unfolds, the main character always finds he (or Kate Winslet) is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t?

When you’re bottom of the league, every decision you make is wrong. Praise the players? Blowing smoke up the arse. Slate the players? You picked them motherfucker! Plan for next season by scouting a player? Be nice if you turned up every now and again! Manage the team? What’s the point when we’re down anyway, go and scout a player!

Something has been bothering me about Maidstone United for weeks now but it was only yesterday at Sutton, that I worked out what it was. It’s the sheer, flesh-crawling awkwardness of it all. Relationships have broken down. There's a permanent air of mistrust. Accusations and counter-accusations are flying. And that's just the stewarding.

An hour before kick-off Hak could be seen on the phone, near the corner flag. What he was saying was inaudible, but judging by his body language I pity who was on the other end. Maybe he was wondering why a rumoured £900 a week player allegedly hadn't bothered to turn up? Maybe he was wondering why the club had hired a coach for about six people. Or maybe he'd turned his phone on and started reading the reviews.

He looked regally fucked off. Being involved with two clubs, both of whom are relegated in the same season, isn’t a strong look on your cv or LinkedIn profile and if you feel like using this to make the bloke look like a cunt, then go ahead. Is this fair however, or has he been shunted in front of the press at every opportunity, like a cabinet minister being told to eat the shit for someone else’s fuck ups?

His recent appointments read like those of a nurse forced to clear up after patients who’ve shat their beds and have no intention of thanking him for it. His overall record isn’t bad at all if you check it out, but after three months of working with this squad his early enthusiasm seems to have been steadily drained. The remark at the end of the TV interview about JR, saying he came off because he “couldn’t breathe” could hardly have been more withering.

There’s clearly a massive disconnect between how good the players think they are and how good the management think they are. If you couldn’t be arsed to go to Bromley, perhaps deterred by the journey or the newly fash security (and the newly fash catering arrangements,) you might well have watched the live facebook stream of the final instead.

There was no actual commentary, but a couple of “Kent Football types” were positioned near the camera and the microphone was picking up their riveting conversation. At one point it did actually get interesting, however, as they started talking about Mister Freeze. “You know what he’s like,” one of them said, before adding a couple of things perhaps best not repeated and saying: “There’s no way he’s going to be there next season.”

A day later an interview appeared which could have been taken as a classic “Freeze: I’m off,” tabloid story, or a negotiating technique, with its killer “it’s tough having a relegation on your cv line”. Whichever, even someone with Nadine Dorries’s IQ could probably have worked out this was what was riling Hak during the Braintree post-match interview.

And this isn’t to single out Mister Freeze, who was at least being honest rather than giving it the old “wait and see” bollocks. It’ll be a major surprise if anyone other than Embers, Amaluzor and possibly Lewington makes the cut for next season. It was also interesting to see Anwar on the bench. The rest will either fuck off or be fucked off and you can @ them all you like, but the only ones I’ll miss are already long gone.

The post-match celebrations at Bromley were a classic example of the Kermode dilemma. Celebrate too much and you look as desperate as Gillingham did in the semi-finals. Don’t celebrate enough and it looks like you don’t give a shit. Thanks to the KCFA’s decision to lock our fans in Colditz on the opposite side of the ground to the presentation, the actual trophy ceremony went down about as well as a Benjamin Netenyahu tribute act at a Momentum meeting. (No letters please.)

The euphoric high of winning the KSC lasted until Friday when Braintree came with a team that Hak built and scored a piss-takingly early goal, before killing us off five minutes from time. Their fans sang “sack the Hak” and I couldn’t honestly tell if any of ours had joined in, but given that #OleOut was trending a few days later it wasn’t a surprise that a couple of of our less forgiving fans (cough) were already telling him to go.

With Hak, however,there is another element. Friday was national “stop being a racist cunt” day and the general idea was that footballers would join a social media protest because of all the abuse they’ve been getting. From racist cunts.

It didn’t really work. Chris Smalling, for example, has been getting abuse for being both unable to mark Lionel Messi and black. From racist cunts. Other players who joined the protest received abuse, from racist cunts. And here in the‘Stone someone thought this would be an appropriate day to go on facebook and label our first team coach a “fat, Turkish wanker.”

According to his wki page, Hak was born in Enfield, but has a Turkish Cypriot background and as such is the first ever Maidstone United manager/head coach for years (possibly ever) to come from a minority. This was always likely to be a problem with our troglodytic lunatic fringe, but the only thing you can say about Maidstone’s racists is, to borrow a line from Reginald D Hunter, they’re not very good at it.They lack the organisational skills and the discipline. The fash in this town quietly channel their rage by reading the Mail and getting hot flushes when Meghan Markel appears on the tv, but they tend to be too apathetic to don their jackboots and join the DFLA.

So was the Hak remark racist, or merely xenophobic? Whatever, if you’re starting that shit, you can fuck off out of this club right now and never comeback. Fuck you, fuck everyone that “likes” your post and fuck your indignant, wounded denial that you aren’t being a racist and that you’re somehow the victim in all of this and that the PC brigade (aka the anti-racist-cunt brigade) are out to get you, because you haven’t been misunderstood at all. YOU ARE JUST A CUNT.

Was Hak aware of this? No idea, although I’d be amazed if he hasn’t been subjected to it in the past. Aware or not, by Sutton he was an angry-looking man, barely mollified by the last-second equaliser. I don’t, incidentally, buy the idea that the Desmond was either fortunate or undeserved. We played well enough after going behind, missed two clear chances in the first half and would have equalised anyway had Eastmond not mystifyingly decided to “do a Suarez” with well over half an hour left to play.

We pissed away the momentum, but stayed in it, might have had another penalty when Embers was nearly kicked in the face and then did get one right at the end when the same player was shoved over with so little subtlety the home side barely bothered to protest. Credit to Turgo for having the couilles to score for a second time and good luck to him wherever he ends up next year.

There’s one game left, but it’s time for the credits to roll. Who to cast in this Maidstone United 2019-20 disaster movie? JS1 is Leslie Nielsen in the Poseidon Adventure, warning his superiors they need more ballast before getting engulfed by the tidal wave. We can still hope JS2 might be Gene Hackman (hopefully with a happier ending) and Hak might yet be a heroic survivor like Steve McQueen in the Towering Inferno. Equally he might get munched down like Bob Peck in Jurassic Park, where Bill Williams plays the agonised Dickie Attenborough role.
Wheeler is the mayor of Amityville asking us to get back in the water, or the lawyer who promises a fortune and gets eaten on the toilet.

* PS. The question of whether or not anyone should apologise for this admitted clusterfuck of a year perhaps hinges on whether you think a complex problem years in the making can be attributed to a single handy scapegoat. Or perhaps whether you think relegation is some kind of impeachable crime, up there with treason and slopbadgery.

Let's just say this: If you were unlucky enough to attend a West Maidstone primary school during the 1970s or 80s, you may well have had a religious zealot for a headmaster, teacher,or if you were exceptionally unlucky, both. Remember the lecture about admitting your crimes? “I’d much rather you told the truth about it now!” Yeah, of course you fucking would. Because that’s EXACTLY how it works outside the fucking school system,isn’t it.

“Sorry Doctor, I seem to have accidentally spunked two million pounds on a failed effort to get us promoted.”
“That’s all right Reg, don’t worry about it.”

We are Maidstone United. And #ThisMeansMore

Match coverage by the Liverpool FC Social Media Team

They have stadia.
We have a cathedral.
They have players.
We have demi-Gods.
They have fans.
We have disciples.
They have pitches.
We have the Elysian Fields.
They have managers.
We have high priests.
There is no point in them existing.
There is only us.
Delete your account.
Football is over.
We won, forever.

Mmm? Sorry, just putting the finishing touches to the opening poetry montage for the new Netflix series, "Maidstone Means More" which I'm working on with the producers of The Disappearance of Madeline McCann.

Well that was a genuine first ladies and gentlemen: the first game ever played by a Maidstone United side who knew they were relegated before kicking off. We've played a few dead rubbers (and if you walk down Heroin Hill to get to the game you've probably trodden in a few) but fewer deader than this. Officially 1,471 fans turned up but that sounded like, to quote Stewart Copeland, "complete bullshit."

Outside a steward, perhaps yet to attend the appropriate course, was blocking a turnstile and telling one of the operators: "I mean fuuuuhkin 'ell, all I did was tell 'im that one was closed and he gets all fuuuhkin moody wiv me." Inside it was difficult to tell if it was darker than usual, or if it just seemed dark because the light was being absorbed by the banks of empty, black seats in the Main Stand. There was even room to swing a cat in The Elvis End, although this isn't recommended in the current climate. And almost everyone was talking about "the interview" although as one person put it: "They left out the bit about (DELETED FOR LEGAL REASONS)."

We actually started brightly, but after 45 seconds Barnet made the most of some absolutely Mark Francois level defending to take an undeserved lead. The striker glided across the edge of the box as unmolested as someone who'd never met Max Clifford and pinged an admittedly impressive shot into the far corner, prompting almost everyone in the home areas to say: "well that just about sums it all up."

A bumming looked imminent and probable. The away fans playfully sang: "Still out." When Walton, already breathing rectally, was injured midway though the first half it felt like a hammer blow and indeed, Barnet never recovered. (BOOM, BOOM). Liberated from the fear of incurring his puce-faced rage every time they accidentally found themselves five yards away from where he'd pinged the ball, his team mates started to spray the ball around. The realisation crept in that Barnet were actually "shite."

Weird things happened. Cassidy was forced off with an injury, which was the first time most of us had even noticed him. In a squad Wheeler-rammed with Sutton and Billericay rejects, Taylor, whose presence in the England C squad had prompted one Elvis Ender to say: "we all know what the c stands for," started to look almost decent. Mister Freeze actually is decent, when he's fit.

And then there was Amaluzor, who began to tear the arse out of a Barnet defence held together by Dan Sweeney (and arses don't come much bigger than his Unsworth-esque natal cleft). Running straight at them and shitting them right up he won a penalty which Turgo subsequently fucked up by waiting for the keeeepaaaaah to move and hitting it straight at him when he stood his ground.

It was a depressing moment, especially because, as is standard, half the ground had celebrated the award as if he'd already scored, but credit has to go to the team for the way they responded in the second half. The equaliser came via a clever move finished by Amaluzor who found the bottom corner and then cupped his ears to his former fans.

With 20 minutes left Cozy floated in a free-kick and Mister Freeze headbutted it into the opposite corner. Amaluzor then came close to what would have been a brilliant third and we survived a couple of scares towards the end, by which point everyone was getting reacquainted with the feeling of what it was like to be in the lead. Some of us were even enjoying ourselves. Remember that?

"I heard he's on a Double Kedwell, every week."

Match "report" by There's Nothing Wrong With John Redwood That A Frontal Lobotomy and a Buzz Saw Wouldn't Cure
It was a shit idea. It was obviously a shit idea, but it was a popular idea with the wankers. Some us said, “hang on this, is a shit idea” but in the end, the people who made the decision went with the wankers. Now we’re an embarrassment, a laughing stock, a shadow of what we once were. We’ve lost face, we’ve lost status, we’ve lost influence, we’ve lost a lot of money and all the wankers who were saying: “this is a great idea”are either silent, or trying to blame anyone but themselves, while the rest of us are left to pick up the pieces.

And frankly (yes, here it comes) it hasn’t been a great time to be a Maidstone United supporter either, but let’s keep it sensible. If you’re under 18 this might seem like the end of the world, but really it isn’t. Every club gets relegated every now and again. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. Don’t be happy about it, but don’t start crying into a Sky Sports camera until your facepaint runs.

We should win more than we lose next season, which’ll be a novelty after the last three years. Among our more sensible fans the discussion today hinged on when we “knew” the game was up. The flippant answer was the summer, which was when the initial damage was undoubtedly done, as we recruited dross, while releasing J’ai Raison and passing on Bobby Joe Taylor. The infamous Terry Casey quote about giving the fans “hope” has aged about as well as the Mail’s “new Iron Lady” front page but when JS2 came in I genuinely thought we stood a chance, which is evidently more than JS2 himself thought.

For many the Halifax game was the moment any hope of avoiding the bottom four ended. Since then the only chink of light has been the cheering thought that Gravesend might go under and that if Gateshead went with them it might mean a reprieve for whoever comes 22nd. We’re now seven points behind even Aldershot and avoiding the humiliation of finishing bottom now seems the best we can aim for.
The game was what you’d expect. We were lucky to be only 2-0 down at half-time, although luck is a relative concept when the opposition aren’t so much making their own luck as buying it. Depending on who you listen to this was either an embarrassment, or a genuinely brave performance against a team who might well be in the Football League next year.

The self-styled "Top Scout" stationed in the Elvis End was in the former camp, judging by this tweet:

Right. So he was on the phone. A bit like George Graham used to get on the phone to Theo Foley or Stewart Houston from the director's box when he was managing Arsenal to multiple trophies. Not unlike Alan Walker used to phone Lloyd Hume from the stand at Bourne Park and we ended up getting promoted in successive seasons. If you really were a top scout, why are you behind the goal with the scum like us? Are you hoping to flog a player to Hakan any time soon? Would you have preferred it if they'd communicated by semaphore?

What did Britain’stop talent scout think was going to happen? Three goals in the last 15 minutes, followed by a clean sweep of the remaining fixtures, while every single one of rivals collapsed? We’ve been as good as gone for weeks.

Here’s a joke. The difference today was a striker who’s on four large a week, or a “double Kedwell" as it’s sometimes known (take a moment to process that image. Now move on). Salford lost 32k a week last season, roughly the amount Gravesend owe for their training facilities at K Sports. Maybe they'll be renamed KY Sports in honour of the treatment they're getting from the Doctor.

Whatever, their four grand striker was the difference between it ending 2-0 or 0-0. They sang “going down,” which was harsh but accurate, “Salford till I die,” which was worryingly unambitious and “Red Army” which was curious given that they barely filled a minibus, although this admittedly may have been a Mancunian joke as they are virtually undetectable.*

The second half wasn’t disgraceful, but that, perhaps, is the story of our season. We gave it a go and had an effort cleared off the line at a time when pulling a goal back would have shat them up a little, but we were always at arm’s length.

Again, depending on who you listen to, we were either committed or gutless, but there’s a thin line between “showing passion” and embarrassing yourself by screaming at anyone who happens to be in earshot, or indeed, the entire Main Stand.

Interviews, and the fall out from them, have dominated this season. Dawes getting launched after Boreham Wood. Wheeler power-pointing his way into the job and then blundercunting his way out of it. The aforementioned Terry Casey “hope” quote, Oliver’s ventriloquist act when he apologised on Wheeler’s behalf, Tristan Lewis sticking the knife in to Wheeler, Walton talking his way into a coaching position because JS2’s daughter liked the way he sounded on Stones TV, JS2’s Friday epics and now Hakan’s final obliteration of the Wheeler era.

“You can never, ever say anything about a previous manager,” he said, before doing just that and calling the recruitment "shocking". The truth is you can say whatever you like about the previous manager and as long as it’s accurate. "Would you say that to his face?" is the usual line you'll hear after a quote like that. I would pay handsomely to see them have precisely that conversation and one of the many regrets of this season is that no one filmed the Dawes-Wheeler summit after the Bromley match.

Will he get the chance to tell him next year? Probably not. There are significant upsides to being in National South, chief of which is there’s no need to go to Boreham Wood next season. No need to go anywhere near M6. No need to work out which way you want to go round fucking Birmingham. True, the FGC (Fat Gammon Cunt) from Havant and Waterlooville will still be knocking around, but we’ll also be playing Dorking and possibly Tonbridge, Haringey or even Merstham, possibly Welling, probably Dartford and very probably Billericay, where Wheeler is busy working his magic as they plummet away from the play-off places. Can’t imagine the reception he’d get here next year being anything other than ripe, although the chances are he’ll be busy revising his LinkedIn profile well before then.

*This has been included in the hope it riles an outraged Salfordian Independencia campaigner.

"Can we pay you every week?"

Match "report" by VVS Laxman
Nothing sums up this era quite as accurately as the sight of a gang of fucking idiots in charge of something way beyond their competence create a clusterfuck, before watching the same shower of floundering shitheads start blaming everyone but themselves for what’s happened.

“We’ll never play you again,” said the Gravesend fans and we’ll come to that in due course, but the actual match, however, seemed almost incidental to all the shit going on. Gravesend haven’t played in Maidstone on a Saturday since the Thatcher era and the whole atmosphere was a throwback to that era when officialdom treated the fans like scum.

It was obvious no one was expecting the away end to get as full as it did. This was veering into some seriously dubious territory for reasons that shouldn’t need repeating here, so letting them spill onto the chevroned area was sensible, but you can’t then threaten to ban a home fan for doing the same thing unless you’re blind to the double standard.

The stewarding of the segregation zone currently aggravates rather than alleviates. The wankers on both sides flocked to the fabric for the chance to make threats they’d never have to make good on and the gilets jaunes stood at the bottom of the steps instead of flanking the cordon and threatening to enforce the ground regulations. They didn’t even notice the pitch invader at the end, who sprinted on to the 3G, ran around waving his arms and jumped back into the home end completely undetected.

Now here’s another uncomfortable truth. Some of our fans are cunts. Not many of them, but there are a few, including a couple of violent sad cases who are desperate for the slightest excuse to kick off at anyone for offences real and imagined. There’s ample justification for banning these fucknuggets, but why go to the hassle there are easier targets around, like people standing in the wrong area at the wrong time, who you can then demean, lecture and threaten to ban?

Christ. Anyone else feel they’re drowning in a tsunami of bullshit? Earlier today I listened to an apparently sentient being claim that everything was stable at Stonebridge Road, bright future etc, etc. The human brain really is capable of incredible feats of mental gymnastics, isn’t it?
If that’s true, why did Gravesend face a winding up order in the week? It was spun as a “formality” by the club’s official social media account, but it was the equivalent of listening to the sort of pundit you get on BBC News who's hired to give “balance” by claiming that burning deck he’s standing on just proves how seaworthy his ship is.

Businesses don’t get served with winding up orders unless there’s something seriously wrong. We’re going down, yes it’s true, but one of the reasons we’re going down is because so many clubs in this league are on the juice. Back in the summer two of our best players went to Eastleigh because they were “ambitious.” Gravesend meanwhile allegedly signed a player for tens of thousands of pounds and then left him out of the squad.

It’s tempting to wonder what would have happened if Garry Hill had been given the job ahead of Wheeler. He might well have shithoused us to safety but the board were reportedly wary of his Redknappesque lack of interest in the finances, which is especially ironic given what’s happened at Stonebridge Road, where trust between players and board is rumoured to be close to zero, because wages are habitually paid late. If Hill has united his squad against a common enemy, his and their bosses, he may well be a lot cleverer than he looks.

The HOF meanwhile has the manner of a benign vet telling a heartbroken child her favourite pet needs to be put to sleep. Almost everything the new management duo have said since arriving has had the unspoken subtext: “We’re fucked. We can’t say it publicly, but we aren’t getting out of this and as far as we’re concerned this is pre-season planning for 2019-20.”

We lost, as most of us expected we would. It wasn’t disgraceful, there really wasn’t a lot in it and we may well have been robbed by a shitgibbonistic refereeing decision ten minutes from time, but it was another miserable afternoon and by now which of us doesn’t long for it all to be over?

The game itself was a classic of the struggling-side against non-struggling side genre. They really didn’t look any better than we did for the full 90 minutes of normal time, but what usually happens in these situations is a single bit of quality making the difference. Midway through the first half we managed to brilliantly convert defence into attack.They pinged the ball about quite neatly, we missed the chance to Row Z the motherfucker and they scored. For the rest of the game they sat on the lead. We sulked for about 10 minutes after conceding then put up a bit more of a fight, although everything is relative.

Let’s stick the neck out here and say that at least one of today’s selections was made with next season in mind and the need for the management to see what the player had to offer. The answer was “fuck all.” This is the only rational explanation for Embers languishing on the bench for over an hour, because when he came on he properly shat their defenders up.

Ten minutes from time he was goal side of his attacker when the referee decided to pull play back for a free-kick near the halfway line, lobotomising our best chance of the afternoon. He was about 50-50 to score from that position and another attack was neutralised when a defender collapsed in a heap claiming his head was injured. Maybe Dr Abdullah’s wallet fell out of a passing private jet and landed on his skull?

The second goal came in injury time. It was an absolute Andrea Leadsom, a long thrown bouncing in the box and getting headed home from a yard out by a striker who reportedly cost north of forty large in transfer fees alone. The only consolation was that at least it wasn't the Fat Man, who rolled on for the final minutes looking like he was playing a vets match.

I left the EPIAC at 5pm feeling genuinely lowered by almost everything I’d seen and heard, not knowing if we’ll ever play them again and hoping the next time we meet it’s when they’re on “pan y agua” which for the non cycling fans among you is the term Tyler Hamilton used to describe having to ride the Tour de France without first ingesting industrial quantities of performance-enhancing drugs.

Cheers. 500 likes please guys, yeah?

"The best ten minutes of their lives ..."

Maidstone win 4-2 on Richie Benauds
Match "report" by There's Nothing Wrong with Andrea Leadsom That A Good Scissoring Wouldn't Sort Out 2
A riot wagon was parked outside Maidstone East. Random searches were conducted on the gate, the term “random” here being broadened to mean anyone wearing anything from Burberry or Stone Island, which seemed fair enough.
The atmosphere was oppressive but the crack security team failed to spot Chris “The Full” Willis entering the away end and making his way to almost exactly the same spot where he nearly combusted with rage last year.

There were reports of old codgers wanting to fight in railway station car parks, while fans too young to remember Jason Lillis’s second spell with Maidstone, let alone his first, were making the gesture of Onan over the security zone.
Missiles were thrown, physical and verbal. Males who’ve never had sex with anyone outside their extended families used the term “slag” to describe anyone female who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Why are there so many coppers here?” asked one fan.
“Eh? Because these people are fucking insane,” came the reply.
If the coppers weren’t there, what do you think would have happened? It would have made the 3am dog run on Gabriels Hill look like a croquet match. This was the Kent Senior Cup. The actual Kent Senior Cup, a competition run by an organisation so backward it once set up a 476-man commission to investigate whether it was inefficient. Even the finals usually struggle to get bigger crowds than you’d get for a bordello where the employees all look and more crucially sound exactly like Theresa May.

The Elvis End was split into three with a demilitarised zone in the middle.
They sang: “Going down.” We sang: “So are we.” They sang: “Down with the Braintree.” Is that a thing? Going down with The Braintree? As opposed to any other Braintree? Then they sang: “What time’s your paper round? ”Excuse me? “What time’s your paper round?”
No me neither. What possible reason could you have for wanting to know that? Unless you’re a massive nonce.

What is it with these boys? Is it the air? Was the cry of “back to school tomorrow,” abuse or jealousy? Christ what an evening. What a slightly sinister and yet surprisingly uplifting evening. You could see most of the players were thinking: “what the fuck is this?” Some of them clearly liked it. Others shat themselves. Hak said it reminded him of an Istanbul derby, which is actually saying something. Paxo played like someone who was either determined to prove the HOF wrong or engineer a move. Perhaps both. Donnellan looked the part. The defence didn’t.The shock opening goal was down to a Liam Fox at the back. They celebrated with a verve not seen in the county town since … well the equaliser in last year’s quarter-final in fact.

It might have been the best ten minutes of their lives, until Elliot inconsiderately equalised, heading in a Meredith cross from the right. Cue lots of guffawing and absolute scenes in the Elvis End, where our own yoof battalion began to return some of the “pelters” they’d been given. From this point on normal service resumed for a while, but there’s always the temptation to the foot off the gas against lesser opposition and just before half time we had another absolute Dominic Raab at the rear, making it 2-1 and cueing the biggest celebrations seen in the Elvis End since the eighth minute.

It felt a bit churlish to begrudge them their moment and they were able to savour it for the entire half-time interval and two minutes of the second half. Then Amaluzor got goal side of his man and pinged the ball into the far corner, where it bounced off the stanchion. For a moment there was silence as everyone wondered if it had actually gone in and then the scenes resumed. It was pretty even from then on and ok, hands up, you shouldn’t need penalties to beat Gillingham, but it’s one of the biggest clichés in football to say that a shoot-out is a lottery. It’s a test of nerve, arsehole, spunk and balls and two of their players visibly wilted under the pressure, with one of them Kedwelling an effort all the way to the back of the Elvis End.

In fairness to their players, they came as close as any Gillingham side has to beating us in 29 years (...) which must have been some consolation to their desolate fan base as they unhitched their horses for the sad limp over Blue BellHill. For us it was merely a decent work out ahead of Saturday’s clash with Gravesend &Northfleet.

Assuming they still exist in 48 hours time.

"Your turn with the revolver, Mr Walken ..."

Who wants informed,balanced football reportage?
Yeah, like fuck you do! Who wants murky unsubstantiated gossip and unbridled, vindictive joy?
You do? Well keep it right here muvvahfuuuuuuckurrrrrr!

Ok, here goes ... Rumour #1
According to“reliable sources” Havant’s directors were told they’d be barred from the board room today unless they removed their ties. This was, allegedly, because one of our directors was refused entry to the H&W boardroom back in November, because he wasn’t wearing a tie, when all he’d wanted to do was use the kermit. It’s alleged one of said H&W directors took his tie off and wore it around his forehead like Chistopher Walken in the Deer Hunter. If true* this is petty, small-time, point-scoring, churlish, childish and puerile behaviour. Which is just how we like it!

Rumour #2
According to a very reliable source, someone high up the H&W food chain allegedly “did a Martin Tyler” by saying the pitch was shit as soon as they set foot in the ground.

Rumour #3
According to another “reliable source” a member of the H&W crew allegedly looked at a small pool of water on his seat, allegedly looked disgusted that no one had cleaned it up, allegedly said “thanks, but your facilities are crap” to the person who fetched a paper towel for him, before allegedly telling a steward he’d throw the person who’d provided said towel over the gantry if he spoke to him like that again, after said person had allegedly tartly replied: “Well you’re going to have a long afternoon then.” According to our source, Individual 1, as we’ll call him, allegedly proceeded to complain that it was the worst welcome he’d received at any ground this season. What was he expecting, ketamine and hookers? Do you turn into Alan Whicker after a few months in the National League? He then, allegedly, loudly said: “We’ll be going home with the three points.”
How did that work out girlfriend?

Incidentally, it’s pretty fair to say that threatening to throw someone off a gantry in front of half a dozen witnesses constitutes “threatening behaviour” as outlawed under ground regulations (don’t try it in the Elvis End kids). Still, I’m sure the steward had excellent reasons for not immediately ejecting him from the venue and reporting him, before banning him from the ground, à la Willis.

The chances of us staying up may only have risen from around one in a hundred to something around the five percent mark for all these reasons and several more, this has to be the single most satisfying result in what has otherwise been an absolute Eddie Powell of a season.

Early doors Donnellan shoved Bradbury by the bench area. The referee waved play on. See what happened there Lee? Elliott didn’t fucking touch you back in November and he got sent off because you whined like a sleazy, pissy, slightly overweight bitch.
Today Doners actually shoves you and nothing happens.
Karma 1 ShithouseManager 0.

It got better.

“Why are we signing players from Herne Bay?” was the complaint on more than one set of chapped Maidstone lips less than a fortnight ago. Today we found out why. Quite aside from the fact that some us spent a decade looking up at Herne Bay and regarding trips to Winch’s Field as the best day out of the season, the answer was something along the lines of: “because this Bearsted boy did more in an hour than some of his predecessors managed in an entire fucking season, that’s why.”
Why go to a rip-off warehouse in Essex when you can pick up a local bargain? Wow, he runs. He pulls defenders out of position. He forces errors, he chases lost causes. He even sticks the ball in the fucking onion sack!

He put a half-chance wide early on, then lost his defender, sprinted onto a Turgo through ball and dinked it over the keeper. 1-0. “How does it feel?” Who even remembers? We hadn’t been 1-0 up at home in the league since Wrexham, four solid months ago. We hadn’t been 2-0 up since Gateshead in September 2017 and yet three minutes from half-time Iniesta 2 split the offside trap and Cozy finished.

We hadn’t successfully held a two-goal lead at home since Woking at the start of last season so no one was getting too carried away, but the second half was enjoyably uneventful. Either H&W were absolute gash, or we made them look it. Quiggers looked like the player he’d looked like for his entire Maidstone career, bar five seconds at Dagenham, the turning circle of the QE2, the movement of a Jurassic coast line, the touch of Dave Lee Travis. His team mates were second to every ball while some of players who’d been inept last week were transformed.

Lewington made one great save before an offside flag denied them a goal late in the second half. Losing Davo to an injury was a bit of a bastard. Otherwise we managed the game, sucked out the sting and probably should have scored more.
We’re still ten points from safety, but only six behind H&W, whose afternoon ended about as well as Christopher Walken's did when the bullet entered his skull. An amusing scenario emerges where a team gets relegated for financial shitgibbonry (and there are at least two candidates) and the team fourth from bottom gets a reprieve ...

*It’s true..

Solihull Moors v Maidstone United.
Absocuntinglutely LIVE!


Solihull score in second minute of added time. And we are gangfucked in the last remaining orifice. That's it. We're out of here. With one last FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKK.

90: Three minutes of Sir Alex time.

88: WDH with a block, Walts with a tackle, Embers with a shot from a tight angle. Belated signs of arsehole.

84: Wishart with a challenge that has the home fans yelling "Off! Off! Off!" Away fans show admirable restraint not to join in.

78: Embers immediately shows movement and ambition, gets a shot off, good save by the keeeeeepaaaaaaahhh.

77: "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

75: Turgo off, Embers on.

73: Muldoon with a textbook free-kick. The textbook in question being "how to take a shit free-kick." Thierry then makes a reaction save to stop it from getting worse.

70: Turgo breaks down the left, crosses but Beck can't get to it, or keep it in. Arse biscuits.

67: "I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

63: Powell, a foot from the byline, decides to shoot from a free-kick. It goes as well as you'd expect, with half a dozen players in the box wondering why they bothered.

60: We celebrate 15 full minutes without conceding. #InThisTogether #TeamworkMakesTheDreamwork

50: A shot! Beck curls one over, but still, baby steps. Walton arguing with Thierry after he fails to come out for a long ball. #Standard

46: We're underway again, waiting to see just how Chris Grayling it can get in the second half.

HALF-TIME: 0-4. "What do you say to your team mates, if you're one of the leaders in this Maidstone side Adam?"
"Well that's a difficult question to answer, As I BLATANTLY DO NOT EXIST."

43: Commentator apologises for a cry of "fucking hell" picked up by the pitchside mic. Quite right, absolutely disgusting behaviour.

40: Also giving it the "Wheeler is renowned to be an excellent coach" line. Yeah, on his fucking LinkedIn Page maybe. Top arsehole.

38: Adam Virgo suggest we lack an identity. Au contraire Adam, we're an absolute bunch of cunts.

35: Glue factory reportedly making a seven-day approach for Wishart.

33: 0-4. Oh fucking hell. Wishart gives away a penalty. They score.

30: A pleasing couple of minutes, as Solihull fail to score.

26: 0-3. Own goal from WDH. KILL US NOW.

22: Another free-kick for Cozy, from 45 yards. He shoots, or at least seems to and it goes straight through to the keeeeeepaaaah. This followed a three-minute delay for an injury to a Solihull player, the most enjoyable three minutes of the match so far.

18: Free-kick to Maidstone. Aimed straight at the keeeeepaaaaah. No one even near him. Wank.

14: 0-2. ABSOLUTE CUNTS! Free-kick, through the wall. Who built that fucking wall, Mister O'Reilly from Fawlty Towers?!
Commentator suggests there's a nervousness about our defence. The simpler explanation is that we're just shit.

9: 0-1. It's going to be a long fucking evening ... Hilton loses Wishart with the ease of a 19-year-old dodging a lecherous pensioner at a wedding.

7: Rope-a-dope stuff, from the Stones, absorbing the early blows. Coiling, ready to pounce. Embers is apparently the 56th player to appear in a Maidstone Squad this year. Maybe if we play all 56 at once we'd have a chance?

2: Great save, already, by Thierry, then a goalline block from Wishart.

KICK-OFF: We're underway! #COYMFS!!!!!!!!!

PRE-MATCH INTERVIEW: "We are where we are for a reason," says Hakan.
And we all know what that reason is ...

ELSEWHERE: In an act of admirable trolling, two ex-Maidstone players, Alfie Pavey and J'ai Raison have scored for Dover, who are 3-0 up, against Braintree, while TWM has saved a penalty. Why that man is not still with the club in some capacity is ... well it's no fucking mystery, but it's still a minor scandal. The gap is a manageable 13 points.

TEAM NEWS: Thierry, S Donnellan, WDH, Walton, Wishart, Muldoon, Iniesta 2, Cozy, Beck, Turgo, Romain. Subs: Ray, Don, Jeremy, L Donnellan, Embers
Someone get Tim Flowers some Imodium.
Surprisingly no place for Davies after Tuesday night, when he bollocked a team mate for not being in the VIP gantry of the Main Stand, where he'd expertly pinged a 60-yard pass.

GENERIC PREAMBLE BOLLOCKS: Our record against Solihull Moors is, let's be brutally frank here, absolute gash: P5 W0 D1 L4. F4 A12.
In 2016-17 we lost 4-2 at home and 2-0 away. Last season we drew 1-1 at home (due to two crap offside decisions), lost 2-0 away. This year we lost 3-1 at home, after conceding twice in the first eight minutes.

There's room for optimism today, however, as the two sides are only separated by 42 points and because of the rip-roaring form we displayed against Stockport on Tuesday night, when we completely outclassed our opponents, only to run out of the steam in the final 88 and a half minutes.

The fan base is torn between people who are angry that we're about to get relegated and need a blood sacrifice, and fans who've accepted we're going down and are looking forward to the easier away days in the South Division. Almost no one thinks we're going to stay up, but there has to be at least a one in a hundred chance. Maybe even one in fifty. Shithouse a point today, win six or seven of the last 11 games and it might be enough.

Is it likely? Is it fuck. It is, however, only March 2nd. Just eight years ago Andy Ford was our manager, clinging on until March 15th before he abandoned ship. Incredibly, Bill Williams thrice tried to get him to change his mind and arguably the best thing Ford ever did for Maidstone was to refuse.


OTD 2002: Kent League: Faversham Town 2 Maidstone United 3 (Marshall, Jamie Kempster, Sinden pen) Att: 330

OTD 2004: Kent League: Maidstone United 2 (Austin 27, Sinden 64) VCD Athletic 1. Att: 219 at Bourne Park
Maidstone United: Hudson, McCabe, Barton, Edwards, Davis, Yianni, Corbishley (Griffen 71), Hogg, Sinden (Buglione 71), Austin (Davey 82), Bradbrook. Subs not used: Lacy, Hemens

OTD 2010: Isthmian Premier: Maidstone United 1 (Hockton 54) Billericay 0
Maidstone United: Walker, Ulph, Edge, Hawkins, Darlington, Stone, Elliott, Bodle, Gonnella (sub Mooney 84), Hockton (sub Rowland 84).
Att: 177 at Homelands

OTD 2013: Walton & Hersham 0 Maidsone United 4 (A Olorunda 42, 45, King 50, 79)
Maidstone United: Deren Ibrahim, Tommy Osborne, Tom Mills, Steve Watt (Jerome Sobers 67), Graeme Andrews (Ian Draycott 80), Tim Olorunda, Michael Phillips, Rory Hill, Ade Olorunda (Shaun Welford 61), Stuart King, Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Kaiyne Woolery Charlie Mitten.
Att: 248

And if you really want to fud yourself senseless with nostalgia, take a look at this, perhaps the best surviving footage there is of the old ground, taken from BBC's Grandstand back in 1984 when Kent Invicta played Castleford. Skip forward about 90 seconds.

Hope dies. On its arse.

Match "report" by GARTH PAXMAN
The only conversation I ever had with Albert Siggery, who passed away earlier this week, came at a supporters meeting at the Russell Hotel, during the wilderness years. He was sat in the row behind me and we were talking about one of the many fundraising ideas that died a death during that era. “I’m happy to give Maidstone United Football Club a thousand pounds of my money,” he said, before adding the kicker, “I just want to know where it’s going.” He seemed quite annoyed, but this was apparently normal and in hindsight he had a point. In that era handing the club a grand was like flushing it down the Junior Hoilett.

I only knew him in the way you know people “at football” but he seemed to be at his happiest when Maidstone United were making him unhappy. And by Christ, did they give him a send off last night. Back in 2007 he'd wanted the club to sack Alan Walker after he’d won the league at Walton, so if he was up there watching this he must have been ecstatic.

Hands up, who thought we were favourites? I thought it was probably 55-45 that we’d win and that view was vindicated as we tore into them from the kick-off. Then, after 90 seconds, the momentum shifted. 55-45 became 40-60,before becoming 30-70 at half-time and 20-80 when it became clear that bringing on an unfit Turginator was an act of desperation because so many of his fit colleagues were so far out of their depth they might be serious candidates for the job of defence secretary.

When they scored after 65 minutes it was 10-90 and after the second it was something like 0.01 to 99.99. Iniesta 2, one of the few players other than Lewington who didn’t stink the stadium out, made an early break that fizzled out, but at least allowed a fleeting feeling of optimism. Then hope died, on its arse.

Some of our players can play, some of the time, but hardly any of them can play all of the time and some can’t play any of the time. Others turn it on for ten minutes and go AWOL for the rest of the evening, making them only fractionally better than useless. Against Stockport we had too many who are on their way down the pyramid, falling out of the shitcunt tree and hitting every branch on the way down. The defence was Liam Fox. The midfield was as weak as vegan piss. The strikers would have got better service from the RyanAir “Fuck You” desk. The passing was absolutely Chris Williamson.

The only surprise was that it took them 65 minutes to score, though when they did it was due to an absolute John Nurden at the back. Three defenders around one fucking attacker and he still manages to square it, for the a team mate who was where at least one of those defenders might have been.

Stung into action, we managed our only serious effort all night, when Iniesta 2 forced the keeeeepaaaaaaaah into a sprawling save, diverting the ball away from the bottom corner. The outside chance that we might shithouse an equaliser kept us going for a while, but in reality they looked a lot more likely to score a second and after hitting the bar from 35 yards, they opened us up like (CENSORED)’s thighs to make it 2-0 and send most of the 1100 in the ground to the exit.

The third was a backpost header after another Dominic Raab at the back and Stockport were clapped off by the handful of fans who stuck it out till the end. This was a nice touch, although it did reflect how completely Rees-Mogged we were by that point. Otherwise the silence was Wheeleresque. Hak pointed out that if we’d had the injured players available it might have been a different story, which is true but veering into Aunt-with-bollocks-territory.

Christ. Oh well, at least we can concentrate on the relegation battle (yeah ....) and the cup-tied players, half a team's worth of them, will be back for Solihull. Tim Flowers must be shitting hot bricks.

Not tonight Mrs Giggs, there's an FA Trophy replay on

No sign of the cunt. No sign of the ponce. No sign of the one who was ramming his brother’s wife. No sign of any discernible talent, which is why they were beaten like a ginger stepchild that’s just been named Oldham manager. Maybe they were all watching the BOC vs the other BOC on tv, thinking: “ooooh, it was better than this in my day,” and dribbling Bishop's Ringpiece onto their cardigans.

The HOF too, was nowhere to be seen, although his record, in absentia, is played three, won one, drawn two. Imagine how we’ll do when he puts in an appearance on a match day?

This was probably the most enjoyable match of the season so far (no, go ahead, after you) as we controlled the game throughout and no one mentioned the r-word. Players who needed confidence got it, Paxo and Powell dovetailed nicely, there were cute backflicks around the edge of the area and one Zidane-like moment from Iniesta 2, which someone is hopefully turning into a GIF.

Admittedly it was against a team who may as well have had the words “we couldn’t give a shit” plastered across their shirts. Who knew Salford were this big time? Three rounds from Wembley, 11 large worth of prize money on offer and they field a team not much stronger than the one Dover sent in the Kent Senior Cup. The 17-word match report (just over one word per fan) on their website described at as a “spirited”performance from a young side and it was garcons against hommes all right.

Apparently 15 away fans attended and in an outbreak of sanity someone decided it wasn’t worth segregating them, giving the atmosphere an Isthmian League feel that was matched by the standard of the opposition. It felt like 2014 again, when we were playing the kind of team who turned up knowing they were going to get bummed. Adding to the feeling that it was amateur night, the keeeeeepaaaaah was wearing an all amber shirt, which the referee didn’t seem to think clashed. (If only the stewards were so understanding towards innocent shift workers).

After nine minutes Cozy floated in a cross for Inesta 2, who timed his arrive ((c) BigRon, God rest his accidentally racist career) at the far post perfectly to make it 1-0. Muldo went close to a second, Iniesta 2 hit the bar from a tight angle and the only mystery was why we weren’t further ahead by half-time. Salford did have one chance when some weak fisting by DCH left them an open goal to aim at, only for the attacker to show the touch of a Neverland-era Michael Jackson.

The second half was even easier, as Salford repeatedly heaped pressure on themselves by clearing the ball straight back to whichever of our players happened to be lurking 30 yards out. Eventually Romain shot between adefender’s legs for the second and just before the end JR swung in a corner that eventually went in off WDH.

For added nostalgia the next round is at Stockport, where we last played on October 1st 1990. That was another of the great “what if” moments in the club’s history. If we’d won we’d have gone top of Division Four, but instead Mark Beeney was sent off, we lost 1-0 and we’ve never been as high since.
There’s unfinished business from the 80s and the violent replay at Burton to deal with. If we’d won that the semi-final would have been against Dartford, then managed by Peter Taylor.

Yes, the quarter-final stage is when you can get properly tumescent for this competition. Provided you're not busy getting tumescent for the wife of someone who will subsequently extract their revenge via the medium of a bookmakers advertising campaign.

No HOF, No Hassle

For an hour of this match we attacked in the same way Sir Christopher Chope MP might wander round the changing rooms of a municipal leisure centre, with mirrors on his toe caps. Desperate for a glimpse and with no chance of actually scoring.

We probably were lucky not to be two or three down and out of sight, but for the first time since Gravesend away, back in October, we managed to get a point after going a goal behind. It was also the first time since Wrexham that we haven’t been beaten at home and let’s be honest, it’s the first time we’ve deserved a draw.

“We didn’t turn up,” has been a refrain on too many occasions this season. Today John Still literally didn’t turn up and we still drew. The mystery of why he was called “Head of Football” and not “manager” was thus solved, as it’s more expedient for a HOF to head for the West Indies (if that's where he's gone) in the middle of the season than it is for a manager.

Hey, fuck it, who cares? If he booked it before agreeing to to take the job, at 68 how many more chances is he going to get to watch England absolutely Kedwell a test series in the West Indies? Not everyone was happy about it (Disgraceful! shrieked one forum user) and it probably was a missed opportunity to get the ground pumping, to mark the emotional return of the King to manage the team in Maidstone for the first time since 1988. It actually felt a bit like the Walker/Hume era, where one of them would jet off to Cyprus or wherever, but better Still managing via telephone than Wheeler in the flesh, right? And I doubt anyone’s volunteering to tell Hakan he lacks presence on the touchline.

Unfortunately we started like Wheeler was still in charge, a team of strangers still getting to know each other and backing off, against a team capitalising on that whole don't-want-to-support-a-team-owned-by-a-rapist-or-with-a-manager-who-shoves-a-lit-cigar-in-your-eyeball-and-Ched-Evans-up-front thing that's going on in and around Blackpool right now. The new keeeeeeeepaaaaaaah (and yes, we’ve lost count) looked tidy, although his distribution was, as one of our Twitterati generously suggested, shitter than that of a DPD van driver. (This is saying something. Let’s take a brief diversion here to say that in the unlikely event the DPD driver who was zig-zagging in and out of traffic on a Sunday last October, on the A229 towards Staplehurst, is reading this, we hope you drown in a vat of the anchove-sharp effluvium that seeps out of Sarah Gove’s thighs. Cheers.)

Right, yeah, the actual match … Ok, midway through the first half Henry, maybe slightly off his line, palmed a shot on to the bar and was about to gather it when he was clattered accidentally by their striker. That was a let off, but then we fell victim to a bit of macho refereeing as the middle-aged man in the middle pulled rank on the woman young enough to be his grandchild (in certain of the town’s more exclusive residential developments,) running the line. Davies turned a cross into his own net. Fylde celebrated, but the lineswoman had her flag raised, because the attacker putting Davo (what other nickname is he going to have?) under pressure was offside.

Dartford, Whitehawk, Dagenham and now Fylde. “Well whingeing to the referee doesn’t change anything ….”
Yeah, in a dog’s arse it doesn’t. Was he interfering? Would Davo have put the cross into his net if he hadn’t been there? Was he active? Or was he, like Schrodinger’s Paedophile, both interfering and not interfering? From the moment he walked over to her like a double-glazing executive about to confiscate his daughter’s car keys, we all knew how this was going to end.  

0-1 and the familiar feeling of what the French call “le weapons-grade shitcuntage” set in. We survived till half time, wobbled a bit puertos tempranos in the second half and then stabilised, thanks at least in part to Robinson, who came on and showed us what he can do when the ball isn’t aimed two-feet over his head a giant centre-forward.  

Wishart, also seemed to find himself, finally looking like the player he was at Sutton. He mugged off some slag in midfield, surged forwards and played in Robbo, whose shot was bundled over the line by a defender who wasn’ t under pressure from any apparently offside attackers.

1-1 and from then on we looked decent. We even head the best of the chances, when Muldo’s free-kick was headed goalwards and tipped onto the bar by the keeeepaaah, but after three months of getting absolutely Graylinged at home it was a relief to see them waste the couple of late chances they created.

We’re on an interstellar space cruiser, due to crash land on a planet made entirely of shit. Such is our shitward momentum that we may not pull out of the dive in time before the craft Rees-Moggs headlong into a world of excrement, but at least the controls have been wrestled from the lunatic plotting a course for the planet core. If we can play like this when the HOF is away, how will we do when he actually makes the touchline?

Tonight we're going to party like it's 1989

Well it’s out there now. In the social media age, the old methods of embargoing a story (“print this and I’ll break your legs”) don’t work anymore, and they certainly don’t work when the club whose manager you’ve half-inched fire a torpedo into your carefully co-ordinated PR strategy.

Barnet’s statement was curt. Braintree’s was a parting “fuck you.” And why shouldn't they feel fucked off?

If you’re younger than 35 the only way you’ll understand what some of us are feeling right now is if Jay Saunders returns as manager in the year 2048. John Still was only our manager for a season and a half, but he built the best Maidstone team most of us had ever seen, won us automatic promotion to the Football League and as a reward was made a derisory offer by the fucking idiots that ran the club in 1989, one so low it forced him to resign. The board wanted an “experienced” manager and hired Keith Peacock, who they fucked over 18 months later.

Still has been proving the bastards wrong ever since, though when he spoke to Stones Live a decade ago he said: “you never know” when asked if he might return one day. It seemed unlikely at the time given that we were on the brink again in the seventh tier and he was taking Dagenham into the third via a Wembley play-off final, and yet here we are.

The only problem with this appointment, therefore, is the timing. Disclaimer: Some of this is first hand, much of it is second hand, even more of it is third hand and some of it is pure surmising, although when this is is the case we’ll say so.
Back in the summer Dawes was on the brink of accepting an offer to join Macclesfield and taking TBB with him, when he changed his mind and decided to stay. Why he changed his mind depends on who you listen to but given what followed almost everyone involved now probably wishes he’d taken the job, except possibly Sol Campbell.

The relationship between owners and manager was deteriorating rapidly and the almost paternal goodwill that had built over seven years evaporated. Other flashpoints occurred. Too many people seemed to know Nicky Southall was getting bombed out before Southall himself was told. The manager allegedly wanted the software used by other every other club at this level (other than Solihull Moors apparently) to monitor player performances the opposition and the club allegedly baulked at the price they’d negotiated.

Against Boreham Wood it came to a head, as the Wood players seemed to know exactly what our players were going to do, before they knew themselves and the crescendo of booing that greeted the Paxman substitution marked the moment when the manager seemed to have definitively lost a significant section of the crowd.

For the first time in seven years regime change became a serious discussion and the directors almost talked themselves into the idea of sacking the manager. They then did so without having anyone lined up to replace him.

In mid-September almost none of the logical candidates were available. Peter Taylor had just taken over at Dagenham and while reportedly tempted, said he couldn’t walk out on them just a month into the season. Still was equally new to his role at Barnet, Chris Kinnear was still hanging on at Dover and Andy Hessenthaler was apparently locked in at Eastleigh. Adrian Pennock was allegedly offered the job only to turn it down and the rumoured applicants were either non-league journeymen like Gary Owers, or men who came with baggage like Garry Hill.

Eastleigh were (we’re told) approached for permission to talk to Hessenthaler, the outstanding Kent-based candidate and someone who, as it transpired, was keener than anyone thought to return to his home county. Here we have to surmise that the club baulked at the cost of negotiating his release and they went back to a left-field option: the 30-year-old Harry Wheeler.

One former employee allegedly warned them: “Whatever you do, don’t employ Wheeler. ”Other comments included “all he did at Welling was put the cones out” and another source suggested that he was an “arrogant wanker.”

Comments like this, however, aren’t exactly uncommon on the circuit and Wheeler had an interesting track record, having won the treble for Billericay. They may have been financially doped, but if he could cope with a chairman that Trumplike and still hold a team together, he had to have something going for him. He was a plausible interviewee, sounded knowledgable and made all the right noises about learning from the likes of John Still. With no one else offering any real inspiration,he was offered the job.

In hindsight this was obviously a mistake, but how many of us, sitting in the directors’ seats, can honestly say we wouldn’t have made the same decision, taking a chance on young manager who’d done well at a lower level?

Just as Napoleon once said he preferred lucky generals, Wheeler, seemed to be a lucky manager, shithouse-ing victories at Braintree and Aldershot. It’s also easy to forget that right up until the Havant &Waterlooville game, Wheeler was, on the face of it, doing a reasonable job.
The alarm bells started ringing after the quote about “ruthless people” being the only ones in life who succeed. It was patently bollocks, but he seemed to believe it. All managers need to release players, but there are ways of doing it. The non-league circuit isn’t that big and word was getting around about Wheeler’s methods. Unlike Saunders, who was astute in using social media to interact with fans, he seemed aloof. He was equally distant with reporters, the kind of people who can do you favours when you need them if you help them out.

The “mess” story effectively finished him. The remark itself wasn’t a hanging offence, (in fact it was arguably an accurate summary of the state the club was in) but the way he shat on so many players and the way he subsequently handled it, through a denial that didn't stand up to scrutiny, was terminal. The club stood by their man but ended up getting an egg bukake.

Experienced managers say much worse than that when the tape recorder is switched off. Even if they’re on the record most reporters will obligingly bury an intemperate remark, on the understanding they’ll be given something else.

He should have gone after Gateshead and by Dover it was embarrassing, watching him lash out at the fourth official. The photo of the players jumping for joy, released on the day he was finally bombed out, was a picture that said ten thousand words, most of them with four letter roots.
Appointing Lewis and Walton for a month was a fudge, but it was a clever fudge, buying time and avoiding the panic of August. They won two games away most of us expected to lose and lost three at home when we hoped for more.

Still has too many qualities to list here, but one of them was that he was always able to spot a player, like Mark Gall or Warren Barton. This might be too late, but it gives us a chance. And for anyone interested, the last time he managed us was May 6, 1989. We won 1-0 at Runcorn and the team was Beeney, Berry, Hill, Pamphlett, Jacques, Beattie, Golley, Stewart, Gall, Butler, Ashford, with Charlery and Roast the subs.

Selected highlights from the charts on that day? Guns'n'Roses Paradise City at number 40. Don't It Make You Feel Good by Stefan Dennis was at 39. De La Soul, Me Myself and I was at 22, I Beg Your Pardon by Kon Kan at 15, Lullaby by the Cure at 11, Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil at 9 and at Number one? Eternal Flame by the Bangles ...


As royally fucked as a Kia on a Norfolk A-Road.

Match "report" by Innocent 28-year-old driver's Insurance Premiums
Christ. Attending this match was the second biggest regret of the weekend, after seeing Boris Johnson stand in front of a JCB which tragically didn’t kill him. I doubt anyone can have felt as royally fucked as this since a 97-year-old rammed his Range Rover into a toddler at a Norfolk T-junction.

What, too soon?

Before producing this report we conducted a Twitter poll which asked you, the readership, whether you wanted a sympathetic, fluffy report, or full on splenetic rage. The results were conclusive and the will of the people dictates that we go eyeballs out in an attempt to deal with what what we all witnessed this afternoon.

But wait a second. Is that really such a great idea? After a cooling off period, is it right to react with great vengeance and furious anger? Should we in fact heed the words of the Dalai Lama, who believes that if every eight-year-old in the world is taught to meditate, we can eliminate violence in the world within a generation?

FUCK that. The Dalai Lama never saw his team get get beaten 3-0 by the Mongrel MK Dons of East London, who think “our” support is “faaaaarking shiiitt” even though over 2000 turned up to watch this shit, while they brought around 200, or 30 for every club they consumed in that series of entirely unsuspicious mergers that turned them into the Jade Goody offspring a football club where no one has any idea who the fucking father is.

Buddha once said it is better to conquer yourself than it is to win a thousand battles. Bullshit. We conquered ourselves this afternoon all right and I’ll take winning a thousand battles over this feeling any day of the fucking week.

Oooooh why can’t everyone stop being negative and get behind the team?”
FUCK OFF! FUCK OFF, YOU CUNT! I reserve the fucking right to feel fucking fucked off after fucking watching a fucking result like that.

The pre-match rumour was that the Head of Sport Science is going back to Billericay. Nothing personal, seemed like a nice enough bloke, but “Head of Sport Science” is a job title you’d expect in some mid-whack former polytechnic charging £9000 a year for a degree that’ll be about as much use as a stall in Maidstone Market selling novelty Harry Wheeler combover wigs. And as for whether or not we’ll cope without him, do you want to look at the last time we scored a goal that affected the outcome in the last 15 minutes of a league match?

The problem with this team is that they’re good enough to give you a glimmer of hope. They aren’t so obviously fucking awful that relegation is inevitable (there must be at least a five percent chance we’ll stay up) and they’re not absolute cunts either, which robs the casual fan of the ability to relieve the pain of defeat by heaping all the blame on their shoulders. At least Wheeler was so fucking loathsome he offered handy a target for all the pent-up rage.

Most of them can play, some of the time, but hardly any of them play all of the time and they can’t play together, at least not at home. Today they were actually excellent for 21 minutes, but the moment the Guy Ritchie boys scored the air went out of the stadium. This team has a glass jaw. One punch and the confidence vanished. There were three clear chances in the opening 10 minutes and in normal circumstances it would have looked like a matter of time before we took the lead, but these are not normal circumstances.

The goal was clinically taken from a dubious corner and you could see the heads go. We recovered slightly at the start of the second half. Elliot had a one-on-one the keeeepeaaaaah saved but if the first goal was a punch on the jaw, the second went right to the gut. We gave the ball away on the edge of the box, just as it looked like we might force an equaliser. They scored. Walton alluded to the fact that Dagenham &Redbridge & Leytonstone & Walford & Ilford & Fuck Off You Slag FC could afford a striker who earns what four of players are combined, which isn’t bad for a club so bankrupt at the start of the season it was handing round the begging bowl.  

The third was acid in the wounds. We’re the sixth-best supported team in the division and we’re second bottom, because we Jim Thompsoned the managerial situation in August, sacking a manager  without having any idea who could replace him and taking a punt on a man who ran away from the circus and is now back there, the performing seal to an orange ringmaster. We’ve been busking ever since and you can only wonder how we’d be doing if we’d spent the money needed to get Hessenthaler or PeterTaylor.

The deathly silence at the end said everything. No one even booed.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars,” said Martin Luther King. Not strictly true as you can also see them when someone smacks you round the head with a mallet, which is what this result felt like. Although given that he was shot in the head it’s probably in bad taste to mention it.

Two pints of shit and a packet of not funny, please

Match "report" by Woman With Arlene Foster's Rubics Stuck In Her Teeth


Am I tripping? Did someone spike my Bishop’s Ringpiece with LSD? It’s 48 hours since I was struggling to get my head round the revelation that the evil mastermind behind the latest batch of sinister facebook adverts was the writer from “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please,” a man perhaps motivated by the bitterness of losing its status as “Shittest Sitcom of All Time” to Mrs Brown’s Boys.

That was already quite weird. Then came Boreham Wood. Was it a surprise to see The Hunter had gone the full Gammon? No. Was it a surprise to see a football club website get “Gammonjacked”? Even though it’s 2019, the answer has to be “yes.” At least when Chatham Town’s site called for Islamic Jihad a few years ago they could claim they were hacked.

How do you even begin to explain Boreham Wood to someone previously unaware of its existence?
2019, when the Suez crisis looks like a garden party and when Boreham Wood are the fourth top story on the BBC website. Not BBC Hertfordshire, not the non-league football section, but the actual worldwide fucking website.

Nightmares are blending with reality. Last night I could have sworn we took to the field and played like a pack of top arseholes for an hour. It was almost as if we were reaping the rewards for busking our way through the summer before hiring a manager who went through the squad like a dose of polonium. Did I also witness John Still make his way to the VIP gantry without a crowd of admirers kissing the hem of his coat and begging him to come home? Was a Klopptastic first-half performance from a direct relegation rival just a figment of the imagination? Why do nearly 2,000 people keep turning up when we’ve got a home record worse than Fred West’s?  

Hope, evidently. We’d won three out of four, so was it so unreasonable to think we might beat Maidenhead in a relegation 24-pointer?
Apparently yes. We started as clumsily as Charlie Elphicke staggering towards a work experience student. After 10 minutes they scored with a header from a player whose surname sounded like an assassination attempt on a presidential candidate. Within a minute they had the ball in the net again, only for it to be ruled out for a foul and then we somehow equalised via the medium of a left-wing cross from Wassmer, who floated in a miraculously good ball for WDH to head in at the far post.

Game on again. Robbo had a chance he couldn’t quite keep down drift just over the bar, but parity didn’t last long. They were Shipmaning us on the flanks and by the time we reacted we were already Duncan Smithed.  Muldo was roasted like Katie Hopkins hopefully will be in hell for the second goal. Already booked for a shirt tug, he was then sent off for a challenge that on second viewing looked like a free-kick the other way. That was bad luck, but there was no excuse for the vacillation. At 2-1 Mr Freeze was summoned from the bench. Before he could come on they scored again, so he was told to sit down again.

Half-time. A triple change was brave to the point of foolhardy given that we were already down to ten men, but half the team could have been yanked and they wouldn’t have had any reason to complain. Mister Freeze came on and defended like a man still in cryo chamber. 90 seconds after the restart, with no apparent danger, he was mugged by the striker who finished from an acute angle and then started yelling at Ross.

At 4-1, and down to ten men a having-to-cunnilinguate-Arlene-Foster-just-to-survive level of humiliation was on the cards, but not for the first time this season we put up a face-saving and futile show of defiance. WDH scored a thundershithouse after a one-two with Robbo and almost immediately they had a big motherfucker sent off for a headbutt on Romain. At 10v10 with 25 minutes to play a point didn’t seem impossible, especially as Maidenhead backed off and invited pressure.

Iniesta 2 surged into the box but didn’t shoot. He laid it off for Paxo who again didn’t shoot, but took a touch that allowed the keeeepaaaah to block at his feet. Aryan burst into the area and didn’t shoot. And after 20 minutes of hope the rebellion fizzled out and we went back to feeling Goved again.  

How did we get here? It’s a long story. Here’s just one rumour. It may or not be true, but let’s chuck it out there. In the summer Nicky Southall, who has been fairly active on Twitter of late, asked if he was being sacked.“No,” said someone at the club. “We just have to be seen to be making changes.”

We don’t have to make them. We just have to be seen to make them. This translates, more or less, as “we have to throw some red meat to the cunts in the fan base.” And if you’d like to take the concept of cunt-appeasement as a metaphor for these complex geo-political times, please do.

Out of Fritzl's basement, but what happens next?

Match "report" by Show Me On The Doll Where This Man Fucked With Your Head
“Nonce-bastard-cunt-paedo I know where you fucking live me and the boys are coming round to fuck you up you slag!”
Mmm? Oh, just catching up with the facebook page.
What, you want an actual report? On today?
Oh all right then. Let’s do to metaphors what Nick Fandango does with choons in the Spitfire at the end of the season and mix them the fuck up. We’re in limbo. We’re out of Fritzl’s basement, unchained from Hamas’s radiators, on the aircraft to RAF Brize Norton waiting for the debrief and the awkward reunion bunk up with Jill Morell, but still wondering, like Morgan Freeman, if we’re going to make it on the outside.

The paranoia has gone. Volunteers aren’t being told to edit their reports or social media utterances because they sound too negative and the tweet police have stopped counting the likes accumulated by former managers using emojis to lethal affect. (Allegedly). All this is progress. There was even a purge on the facebook group, which was starting to make the Jeremy Kyle Show look like an audience with the Dalai Lama. It’s all coming out, painfully slowly, although Dawes’ interview with Radio Kent barely hinted at the fall out from earlier this season, with Nicky Southall probably saying more in a single, possibly accidental tweet. (There was nothing accidental about that post-Wheeler sacking tweet incidentally, the one that showed the players literally jumping with joy. It says absolutely everything that that came from the official club account).

I turned up wondering if I’d accidentally walked past a gang of the local fash threatening an MP, but it turned out they were wearing hi-viz clothing because they were stewards. Inside the ground the atmosphere was limper than a Gammon’s piece after a 12-hour round trip boozathon to Barrow. The team news was grim, with five players cup-tied, suspended or taken ill, in addition to Turgo, who will apparently be out for a “few more weeks.” Half the season, then?

As performances go this ranks as maybe three or four stars out of five on the “Rate My Shithouse” consumer guide. The goal was great, but for the rest of it we still look like a team wondering when the beatings are going to start again. Jack Richards, one of the released hostages, started for the first time since fuck knows when. Mister Freeze was back and Aryan somehow wasn’t suspended, but the bench was Walton, Strizo and three kids.

Even making allowances for the fact that we were playing without over half the first XI, it was worryingly even. JR dragged an early shot wide. Their player went down in the area in what was either the most sickening dive since Major went down on Edwina, or an absolute Peter Tatchell, depending on the single obscured view you got from a distance of at least 60 metres away. (I can imagine Radio Havant & Waterlooville having a#HotTake on it. Cunts.)

Then, a single bitof quality, as Muldo pinged the ball to the right flank. A bit of Paxmanship saw the ball laid into JR’s path and he drilled it home. Confidence soared for at least five minutes and then we regressed, cunting up an attack just before half-time through a lack of arsehole and allowing them to counter. How the fuck they didn’t score was a mystery but the second half was pretty grim and borderline Wheelerball at times. We had a couple of shots that went straight at the keeeeeeepaaaaah and Aryan yanked one wide, but the three best chances all fell to them and they cunted all three of them up. None of which mattered. We’ve won three in four and we’ll have half a dozen reinforcements back for Tuesday night’s 12-pointer with Maidenhead.

People are moaning about people moaning and we’re slowly returning to normal, or as normal as things can be when you’re on the chopper out of Saigon and wondering if you’ve enough fuel to make it to the aircraft carrier.

"Sharpen the femur and aim for the rubber dinghy"

Match "report" by Trained Gibbon Masquerading As A Media Officer
Do you really want a #HotTake on another fucking defeat, in another fucking Kent derby, this time to fucking Dover? Do you? Really Because I’m fucked if I do.

Here’s a summary. We lost because we tanked in the last 15 minutes. Up until then it was dead even but when Paxman went off we went back to Wheelerball and Dover couldn’t believe their luck. Their substitutions made them stronger, ours made us weaker. The goal was scored from an area George Mac might have been covering had he not had to go off at half-time and it had been coming. The response wasn’t good enough, not enough quality on the box and … yeah whatever. Who’s in the mood to pick over this shit?

The ex-Maidstone boys got a mixed response. Enduring love for TWM, a wanker chant for Acapulco, indifference to J’ai Raison and a cry of “you judas badge-kissing cunt” to Lewis, which allegedly provoked scenes of an 18-rated nature in the Undrinkable Real Ale Lounge. Cue outrage. How do things normally fan out when you call someone a judas badge-kissing cunt?

That said, what did people expect with Lewis? I didn’t get the adulation he was showered with when he played for us, I don’t get the derision he got on Boxing Day and this afternoon. Did everyone forget the play-off final? He was the kind of player who would do anything to help his team and that included cheating to win two penalties. When he left it was disappointing, but at least we’ll never have to hear that fucking song again. He was all right, but he was no Noel Ashford.

We’ll give you a proper #HotTake on the laughs of the last week in due course but for now let’s leave with this thought of peace and harmony. Over 3,000 turned up. This is some achievement and it included a remarkable 375 from Dover. They sang the “Maidstone’s a shithole, I wanna go home,” song which was just #bantz.

So in the same spirit of #bantz let’s say how great it was to see so many of them presumably making the most of their freedom of movement before their town is turned into a permanently gridlocked dystopia, where gangs of feral children use the sawn up rib cages of their dead parents to slash the throats of starving lorry drivers and where the amputated femurs of each first born child are carved into arrow-heads for the surviving natives to fire at any poor bastard who happens to be passing in a dinghy.

Now note how much work the phrasal verb “turned into” does in that sentence.

Cheers. Happy New Year.

Like administering a lethal dose of barbiturates

Match Report by Charlie Elphicke's Malfunctioning Frontal Lobe
Well here it is, Merry Xmas and not one single motherfucker is having fun. Did the two late goals against Gateshead keep him in a job, or was it just a question of timing? Did he, in fact, have anything to do with those goals, or were the players taking matters into their own hands? Is it true, as rumoured, that he thought he was getting sacked whatever happened at Woking and picked the team accordingly?

A game isn’t over at 3-1, but it is when a team gives up. With five minutes left at “The” Crabble a long ball drifted through to Dover keeeeepaaaaaahhh Mitch Walker. He controlled it and waited. No one came, so he waited a little longer. And a little longer, by which point even the home fans were feeling awkward. It was like the scene in The Office where David Brent asks the old crew if they fancy going for a drink and after an excruciating silence eventually Martin Freeman, played here by Jack Powell, agrees, out of sheer embarrassment.

Powell ran forward and at least forced the keeeeepaaaah to hoon it down field, although it made no actual difference. Dover won the ball back and we went down without a fight. Actually that isn’t fair: there were a handful of players who gave it a go: including Robinson who mullered himself in the act of scoring the opening goal and Worner who stopped it from being a cricket score.

Swaine on the other hand played like a man who'd left his brain in a chryo chamber for slightly too long as he leapt off the ground to lunge at Stewart Lewis with the score 3-1, picking up a fucking stupid red card. You can read too much into the allegation that he was laughing as he went off, but it’s not a strong look for a player who's just got himself suspended. (*UPDATE: having seen the Stones TV footage it looked like a genuine attempt to play the ball).

Wheeler cowered in the back of his dug out. As he had during the Gateshead match, when the players seemed to be doing it for themselves. He walked straight off at the end, ignoring the 300 fans who’d braved Stalag Luft Crabble Away End, Radio Kent, the Kent Messenger and the club’s own tv crew. He may last till Saturday if no one else is available but he’s a dead man walking. Before today I put his chances of successfully turning this around at around five percent. It now has to be close to zero. He’s been found out. There’s nothing there and the only good news is that it now, surely, has to be over.

Somehow we actually took the lead here. Lewis played an abattoir pass, Robbo stole in and poked it past the keeeeepaaaaaaah, who mullered the living shit out of his knee on the way through. Robbo had to go off, which didn’t help, but for the rest of the half Dover looked like the beatable, relegation-zone occupying team that they were. They looked like us in fact, hoofing the ball to the edge of the box and knocking it into the space where precisely no one was waiting for the second ball.

Romain missed a chance a make it 2-0 before half-time. Shields missed another a few minutes afterwards. “If” doesn’t butter any parsnips. On the hour they equalised, from a corner by Liz, who was the man-of-the-match and the best of a solid ex-Maidstone contingent, including J’ai Raison, another midfielder who’d easily get in this team.

From then on we just lay back and took it. They scored again, but the tactics didn’t change and as they only work when you somehow manage to shithouse a lead in any case, at 2-1 down they are absolutely fucking useless. They scored again and we threw in the towel. It was pitiful. Worner made a triple save and then Swaine made his lunge. The final whistle was delivered with the mercy of a vet taking a much-loved family pet into a backroom and administering a lethal dose of barbiturates. (Or maybe just a cricket bat to the skull, to save money. Get used to it.)

“I’m tired of all the moaning!”Oh yeah? Well, I’m tired of people moaning about people who are moaning. If you aren’t complaining about this you may as well be dead from the thorax upwards. You might be a member of a cult. You may be a cult.

The most pathetic sight of all was when Wheeler surfaced, after Dover had scored one of their goals, to tear into the fourth official for not allowing him to make a substitution. The fourth official was a woman. He ignored the male assistant referee two yards in front of him. We’ve already seen the management’s deflection strategies when they tried to blame the KM for “Messgate” but this was an even cheaper shot, as low as Mourinho when he tried to blame his physio.

Some of the players clapped the fans at the end. Some are trying. Some care.
People are saying we haven’t improved at all since he took over. In reality we’ve got significantly, drastically worse and if something doesn’t change we are unquestionably going down.

Kinnear? Please. MacMahon? Never thought I’d be saying this at the start of the season, but he’d do. Pennock? Yes, forget that tweet about the marzipan dildo, this is an emergency. Swallow a megatonne of pride and rehire Saunders? Obviously. Fuck it, get Bill back out there. Get Barry Watling out of the Britelite hospitality area. He might not have managed in 30 years, but how hard can it be? Matt Toms, Mal Watkins, Jason Lillis, Clive Walker. Even Graham Carr FFS. You could throw a lobotomised orang utan onto the bench and he’d struggle to do worse.

Merry Xmas.

"And in the end, you're completely alone with it all."

Match Report by Chris Grayling Makes A Bucket of Pig-Shit Look Like Albert Einstein
Let’s start with a niche reference, because we’re going to get to the depressing stuff soon enough. The last week reminded me of the scene in the Sopranos when Carmine Lupertazzi Junior is on the brink of brokering a truce between the New York and New Jersey mobs, only to say precisely the wrong thing at exactly the wrong moment and nearly reignite a war. Now if you get the reference that’s great and if you don’t that’s also great, although you should probably go away and watch (or stream! Hey, we’re with it!) the box set before reading any further.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, who didn’t enjoy Bill’s blog on Friday! It made me feel 17 again, which incidentally is the age I was when I can remember reading it the first time.  

“It feels a bit like Jim Thompson’s still in charge,” said someone who remembered the early 90s, when the tone of the club’s communications was always tetchy and it felt like the few hundred who turned up were always getting bollocked for the imagined crimes of the thousands that didn’t.

You have to wonder what JT would have made of Harry Wheeler. The press briefing declaring him as the non-league’s outstanding manager, followed by the dawning realisation that he had, not for the first time in his life, been sold a puppy. A period of agonising over whether he’d dropped a bollock and then the clinical dispatch, over a tearful lunch in a local brasserie perhaps. And all on the club account.

No, things aren’t that bad. This week we lost one of the men who helped us rebuild, Peter Overton, at the offensively young age of 43. He seldom played in front of crowds of over 400 very when he was a Maidstone player so seeing his name and picture on a giant electronic scoreboard was a slightly surreal feeling. So everything that follows comes with due acknowledgement that while we can all pile in and say how shit everything is, it’s nothing to whatever his family, friends and former team mates must be feeling.

Which brings us to the game, after delaying for as long as possible. Not bad for 25 minutes. We moved it about nicely, survived a couple of scares, the new signing was denied in a one-on-one. And then they fucking scored. A bastard of a goal it’s true, a great hit from long range but could someone have closed him down? Yeah, maybe, but this happens. Credit the forward, put that stat about not winning a game after trailing since August 2017 to the back of the mind. We’re still in it, right?

Well we were until they hit the second thunder cunt of the half about ten minutes later. Another great hit, this time lower and into the bottom corner. And this time the air flew out of the stadium, along with the composure and confidence. The team was booed off at half-time, which was inevitable. The football deteriorated, again and Gateshead just picked us off the third midway through the second half, pouncing on error. Does it matter who’s fault it was?

HW spent most of the half sat in his dug out, occasionally mustering some anger towards the fourth official and at one-point conversing with some of the people by the dug-out. Whether it was amicable or not was difficult to tell from the Elvis End, but there was an audible cry of “Wheeler Out!” from someone who couldn’t have been older than eight, followed by a chant of “We’re fucking shit!” from the gang of predominantly teenaged fans slightly to the east. Kids, eh!?

“Ooooh, you’re being so negative, stop moaning! Can’t you say anything positive?”

Well I’ll say one thing for this team, they certainly know how to flick the switch when down by three goals or more! A mini-revival occurred as Cozy came on and it belatedly dawned on us that attacking in numbers might be a good idea. Hell, we even put more than a couple of people in the box and, fuck my hat, Butch scored his second in as many games. George Mac, maybe the only player who looks like he’s improved in the last three months, scored a second and ... was duly subbed for Mister Freeze.

They started to worry and, hey, that seven-year-old certainly went quiet! Yet one last corner fell to Worner, who headed it well over the bar and that was it. Yet another home defeat, with the two-goal revival probably sparing HW a lynching, a sacking or both (although the night is young).

Wheeler is a manager of his time, sold on promises he shows no sign of being able to deliver. The number of believers is dwindling to almost zero and the equation gets more fraught by the week. Stick with him in the hope things get better, or act now before it’s too late? Admit you made a mistake and change your mind, or double down in the hope things won’t be as bad as they seem at first, second and 37th glance?

In September there were no outstanding candidates for this job. Now there are at least three managers available, sacked this season by Kent clubs alone, who are arguably likely to get more out of this squad, including the man he replaced.

“All due respect, you got no fucking idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fucking thing. It's too much to deal with, almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all."
T. Soprano.

Merry Xmas.

Have some of THAT Mr Aguero Vinegar Strokes

Match Report by Nadine Dorries' Lobotomist
Enter the world's greatest broadcaster. A man with an aura. A man of gravitas. A man with a voice more suited to Shakespeare at the Globe than mere sports commentary. And what was his line for the ages?

“What a shit pitch!”

Was it #bantz? Or is he the rudest cunt ever to have set foot in the ground?

Let’s give Martin Tyler the benefit of the doubt and say it was just #bantz. If so, that’s great, it shows he has a sense of humour and it means he won’t mind if we call him a “poor man’s Tony Gubba” or a “Murdoch-rimming agent of Lucifer.” It’s fine, because it’s just #bantz you see. Hey, maybe his words were taken out of context. LOL! ROFL! LMFAO!

Good old Martin Tyler. Good old Aguero-vinegar-strokes Martin Tyler. On a night when the EPIAC was still mopping up the fall out from Clowngate he gave us all something to hate, a target for some rage. As grievances go it’s a fuck sight better than, “they wouldn’t let us rearrange the fixture.”

Yeah, what a shit pitch, but without it what would you have been doing last night? Sitting at home texting your “mates” during Leicester v Man City and wondering why none of them replied. “I know, I’ll give Smudger a ring …” Dials, hears clicking sound. "Oh, he must have it turned off...”

Good old Martin Tyler. “His commentaries will give you goosebumps!” Buboes more like. “Vaaaaardy! It’s 11! It’s heaven!” Because 11, right, rhymes, with “heaven,” yeah? Takes a special kind of genius to come up with that. Even Radio Havant &Waterlooville struggle to reach that standard. You see? It's just #bantz! #LovelyStuff

Christ, what an evening. The weather was absolute AIDS. Almost incessant rain and the wind howling in from the Tovil direction. The crowd was poor, the atmosphere flat and the away support negligible. We went with four centre-backs on the bench and none on the pitch, which has to be some kind of record, although in fairness Walton played in the middle of defence and didn’t do badly.

There were occasional outbreaks of football, amid the hoofing, because Woking left enough room for Shields to work with and these are, after all, not bad players, when you actually give them the chance to play. We went 1-0 up when he floated in a cross that looped into the net via a Sheringham-style back header from Iniesta 2. And we held the lead for five times as long as we did on Saturday, but just before the break Greg Luer, who it was easy to forget played for us last season, rolled the ball to their 11, who scored the kind of goal you don’t score on boggy, grass pitches in December. 1-1. Cunt it.

We stewed on that during the half-time interval and then a minor miracle happened as Jake Cassidy scored an actual goal, turning in a Wishart cross to make it 2-1 and restore peace and harmony to the stadium. It all went quiet. We wasted time. Their number 10 gave someone on the touchline a single-digit wave. Maybe it was just #bantz?

And then they fucking equalised. We give the ball away, the clearance falls straight to their sub and he fucking scores. From then on we looked like we were more likely to lose than win. It drifted to extra-time, Worner made a great, low-one-handed save in the first period and we hung in there until eventually Shields’ quality told. Maybe we should try and like, get the ball to him more often?

A little Cruyff like jink, a floated cross and a classic WDH thundercunt of a header and it was 3-2. After being on top for the best part of half an hour the goal psychologically maimed Woking and we probably should have scored again in the five minutes that remained, but never mind. We were good enough to beat Woking, after 210 minutes of football and as Harry Redknapp once said, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Or was that Gandhi?

Gandhi also said “a man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” This is, demonstrably, bollocks, but let’s not get into that right now. In the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, HW even did the post-match interview and while he could still do with a few tips from his assistant, at least it wasn’t excruciating.

Of course, if you want a real expert, Tyler’s your man. Grab him on the corridor and ask him how he manages to stay ahead of broadcasting titans like Champion and Drury. Will Sky pension him off before the circuits in his brain fail and his inner Scott Porter emerges as he says: “What a shit pitch!” during a live commentary from Wembley?

That’s just #bantz, Martin. Ho. Ho. Ho.
Cheers. Merry Christmas.

Trapped in a self-shat bed?
It's the Woking: Generic Preview Bollocks

A beleaguered blonde leader with a dodgy comb-over lies in a self-shat bed, trapped by his own bombast, his popularity tanking, wondering if there’s any way out and blaming everyone but himself. What a clusterfuck. What a shit-shower. But let’s put aside geo-political considerations for a moment (what, too subtle?) and reflect on the current state of that most powerful force for humanity in the western hemisphere, Maidstone United.

Christ, what a week ladies and gentlemen.

Isn’t great so many people care about us? Isn’t it great we have the pulling power to cause a social media meltdown? Isn’t it great that the numbers of people who give a shit are now into the thousands?

Want a facile, generic anniversary comparison to lend some perspective? On the equivalent weekend a decade ago we were freezing our tits off at Canvey Island in front of 316 people, shithousing a 1-0 win thanks to a Roland Edge free-kick that caught both the wind and the keeeepaaaaahhhh off guard.

This festival of “giving a shit” couldn’t have happened without the men who built the ground. The owners are literally the reason you’re reading this. They’re also human and all humans drop bollocks every now and again.

They don't drop many, but there's a strong chance that the question being asked in that boardroom right now is: Have we dropped a bollock? Or it might be: Just how big a bollock have we dropped? And from what height? What is the splatter rage? Was the bollock dropped in the summer? If so by whom? Or was it in September? Are we in fact struggling to move because of all the dropped bollocks, rolling around JWW like rabbit droppings in the bottom of a can, or is the just a gigantic over-reaction to an innocuous interview?

The conventional wisdom about HW is that he “talks a good game.” He’d probably sound good in the middle of a round of interviews conducted with uninspiring candidates with chequered cvs. He sounded convincing when he was unveiled and he was similarly plausible in the corporate videos.
And yet this week we witnessed the biggest car crash of an interview with any Maidstone manager since 1991, when Graham Carr accused the fans of being “amateurs” at a professional club and what was left of the fan base came to the conclusion that Carr was a top arsehole.

Well, Carr was a top arsehole, in the Iain Duncan Smith class. Almost everyone hated him and one of his few defenders later told me this was because he had a “misunderstood sense of humour,” one he evidently bequeathed to his side-splittingly hilarious son. Yet even Carr had the sense to make his remarks a couple of decades before social media was invented (try not to overthink that one) and he was usually sensible enough to avoid slating his own players.

Wheeler, in two sentences, has managed to alienate almost the entire fan base, the previous players and management and a number of players who he’s still nominally in charge of.

“I think you see probably by the amount of players that went out to teams in the league below and they’re now not playing. I think that gives you an idea. The majority that went out are now not playing or clubs are asking to send them back, so you see what a mess it was in.”

Who does he mean? Loza, who just scored a hat-trick for Woking? Wynter and Coker at Dartford? Efete at Bath? Richards, injured at Tonbridge and back as ballast for the bench so we allegedly don't look too Mickey Mouse for the BBC cameras?

Imagine being a past or present player reading that. The first reaction has to be: “Has he just called me a cunt?”
You don’t want to overreact, so you read it again. “Yeah, I think he’s just called me a cunt!”
You text your erstwhile team mates. “I think he just called me a cunt!”
You DM your old manager? “Did he call you a cunt too?!”
You snapchat your mate who’s out on loan. “He just called me a cunt!”
You think about putting something on social media. You type out the words: “Has he just called me a cunt?” but you think about the fine and end up deleting it. Probably sensible.
Someone else can start it. Someone who won’t get fined.

Enter The Brave Brit, putting his virtual head where others won’t put their virtual feet. The pile on starts with a quote about leaders taking more than their share of the blame when things go wrong and less than their share of the credit when they go right. Too subtle?

BOOM, Dawes goes in with one word and a clown emoji. He’s barely said a word in public since getting mutually consented out of a job, but in just nine characters he sets off a chain reaction. Player after player hits the like button. Reece “The Guvnor” Prestedge, released in the summer remember, defends the man who was in charge at the time. Even Seth, known to be one of the nicest human beings alive, seems stunned. Nicky Southall joins in, with a Tweet about Freddie Mercury writing a son called: “The Great Pretender.” Technically this is untrue, he covered a song made famous by the Platters and written by their manager Buck Ram, but you got the point. I made the mistake of listening to the Roy Orbison version and thought, Christ … a great song, but overwhelmingly sad.

Are we all piling in too quickly? He might just be a young man struggling to cope in an unforgiving industry. And yet like another beleaguered leader in a self-shat bed, he’s in a position where no matter what happens tomorrow, he’s damaged.

I keep reading that the squad is fitter. If that's true, why do we make so little impact in the final 15 minutes? Since September we've scored three goals in the final quarter of an hour, if you disregard goals scored when we were already down by three goals. We've retrieved a single point from a losing position. The man from The Daily Express waded in with a stat: Goals scored by players signed = 3. Goals scored by players released = 9. You're in trouble when you're on wrong end of a twitroast from a news organisation that lives off dead princesses and abducted toddlers.

Are things really going against us? Well the Romain red card at Havant was a joke, the same player had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out against Eastleigh when it was 0-0 and Barrow got away with playing rugby. Against that the winner at Braintree was the result of a “charitable” decision in injury time and we rode our luck at Aldershot. We might be a point or two down on where we should be, but that’s all.

Then there's the question of motivation. Treating every opponent like a "top, top" opponent.

“I’m not going to lie to you, our focus is fully on the league but it’s something we want to do well in and it will be a nice break for us.”
You can't imagine Russell Crowe yelling that on a hillside any time soon. It's a bit Allardyceian, but then we had that after the Oldham game.

Here's an opinion, and that's all it is. In an industry like this, after an interview like that, he's lucky he's got a chance to redeem himself tomorrow. Now would be a seriously good time to start that winning run we need.

Otherwise, as Woking's most famous son nearly sang, you've shat the bed, you'd better lie in it.

Zinger-free, fence-sitting match reportage

Match Report by Joss Ackland's Spunky Backpack
During periodic spasms of boredom I’ll go to the archive, select a random year, see if we had a match that day and if we did, read the report. It’s fine, it passes the time and more often than not it gives a pleasant feeling of nostalgia, which is harmless as long as you don’t fall into the trap of thinking everything was better 16 years ago.

On Friday it was the 2002-03 season and the anniversary a Kent Senior Trophy tie with Crockenhill at Bourne Park. The official gate was 265 but in reality it was almost doubled by a contingent from one of the Vinters clubs. We won 6-0, everyone seemed to have a good time and it’s probable that a fair chunk of those present were also there yesterday. A pre-match conversation with a fellow veteran of that era went as follows: “Is there any part of you that misses those days?” And the answer was,with the single caveat that you at least knew you’d get an uninterrupted view, an emphatic “no.”

Ten years after reforming,2002-03 still felt ground zero, even though we were the featured club on Football Focus’s Road to Wembley. Saturday was a/an (delete according to which century you live in) historic occasion for a number of reasons. The first FA Cup second round tie to take place in Maidstone since 1987 (Kidderminster Harriers). The biggest crowd for a competitive game at this venue. The first time a 3pm kick-off has been broadcast internationally, from Maidstone and the first time we’ve actually hosted Football Focus, which I don’t normally bother with, but is pretty inoffensive when compared with the titanic robo-wank that appears on Sky and the cervical smear test that is “Premier League World” on BT. And Dan Walker might not be Des Lynam, but he’s not a massive arsehole and as this is 2018, the epitaph “not a massive arsehole” is almost something to aspire to.

It was slick,professionally managed and gave a great account of the club to the outside world. Oldham fans were impressed, saying it was better organised than many league clubs. And then we kicked off and the hope slowly flickered to nothing.

It was fairly even until they scored their first goal, a tap-in after the ball was knocked back into the danger area from the byline. From then on it was a struggle and we were reduced to hoping we’d shithouse something from a set piece. Given how fucking terrible some of these were it was no surprise that didn’t happen. Romain did astoundingly well to create a chance for himself out of fuck all when he made a yard of space and eluded four defenders, but the angle was against him and the keeeeepaaaah blocked his shot

The second goal, six minutes from time, illustrated a lot of what’s wrong with our current approach. Cassidy, supposedly a striker, was playing so deep he ended up bailing out the defence by dropping back to make a clearance. Unfortunately he was so deep he played Oldham’s attacker onside and they scored via a deflection off Sir Tom. It says something about the level of expectation that a groan went up when five minutes of Sir Alex time was signalled. It had become an ordeal to be endured instead of a great occasion. Iniesta 2 actually went close in the added time and Muldoon came on and hit the bar from about 35 yards out with the last kick, but something weird is happening.

In the space of seven days, one hour and 55 minutes that elapsed between kick-off at Havant and the final whistle v Oldham, the reasonable optimism generated by the Wrexham draw has vanished. Terms like “clown” are being chucked around. People are already openly questioning HW’s position. Some of the criticism isn’t justified. Saying get rid of HW now before he“destroys the club” is an overreaction: we’re built to withstand a bad managerial appointment or relegation and it’s too early to say this will end as either. With the cup-tied players available we should be a different proposition.

On the other hand,the critics aren’t the usual nutters. It’s interesting how few people are willing to jump in to defend him and as premature as it may seem, he’s invited some of this pressure. Saying we maybe need to be even more direct invited incredulity because the football,frankly, is fucking awful to watch at the moment. We used to, quite regularly, boot the ball up field for the big man, Jay May, Joe Pigott, Delano etc. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but there was at least someone up there and someone playing off him for the knock-downs. Now we’re playing in a rugby style, sometimes lumping it to an area where none of our players are near, kicking for touch and trying to pin them in the corners. You can just about get away with this when you win. It worked at Barnet and to an extent at Gravesend, but it’s grim enough to watch so if you’re Romain,running for 90 minutes while almost permanently marked by at least two players, it must be bloody awful to play. And we have scored the odd goal in the past through little “ticky-tacky” passes.  

There are other things. We used to get “mugged off” because we weren’t streetwise enough with referees. Now there’s a risk we’re goingtoo far the other way. Players are getting deserved bookings for stupid fouls, shoving their opponents in areas of the pitch where there’s no need to. It’s already costing us in terms of suspensions and do we really want to cultivate a reputation as a pack of Hendon-style arseholes?

The manager in 2002-03 was Jim Ward, who knew how to deal with fans, reporters and a chairman who had previous for sacking managers at half-time. This bought him time when things weren’t going well. He was working at Kent League level, but it’s easy to forget, when Football Focus is beamed live from the Spitfire, that this is still a non-league club, where people feel they have a direct connection with the owners, managers and players.

HW comes across as someone who’s already managing a league club. When a manager says he’d take a league win at Barrow over a cup win over Oldham, the first reaction is, really? You’d swap the chance to play a top-flight side and with it the chance to generate enough money to potentially fund a squad that would comfortably keep us up and make a promotion push next season, for three points in front of 100 away fans at Barrow?

The second reaction is: if that’s the case then you’d better beat Barrow.