Wednesday night’s Football in Berkshire Virtual County Cup Second Round tie between Maidenhead Town and Maidenhead United represents the first ‘cross-town’ derby between the clubs in nearly 35 years.
After the 1919 merger of Maidenhead FC and Maidenhead Norfolkians, there was at last little doubt as to which was the senior club in town. However, Maidenhead Social joined the Hellenic League in 1971 and – having changed their name to Maidenhead Town in 1974 – enjoyed a near twenty-year run in firstly Hellenic and then Chiltonian League football before problems with their ground saw the club fold in 1990.
With the Magpies operating initially in the Athenian and then the Isthmian League during the 70s, 80s and 90s the only realistic chance of a competitive meeting was in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup. Therefore the first cross-town derby since 1914 came about when the County Competition pitted United against Town at York Road on 18th November 1978. Isthmian Division One also–rans United were too strong for promotion-chasing Hellenic Division 1 outfit Town with the Magpies winning 3-0 in front of a season’s best home crowd of 550.
On October 10th 1985 the sides were paired together again, once more at York Road where a somewhat closer affair ensued. 85/86 would prove to be Town’s last ever season in the Hellenic League. They were to finish bottom of the Premier Division with just 5 wins from 34 league matches, but they proved worthy opponents to United this time around. A crowd of 653 – more than double the next highest gate to watch a United home fixture that season – were treated to a thriller with a dramatic ending.
New signing Chris Parks scored a 90th minute winner for the Magpies which meant heartbreak for what the Maidenhead Advertiser reporter described as the “uncompromising Stags”. In a “fast and furious” tie, the hosts made things difficult for themselves as both Mark Harris and Richard North contrived to put through their own net to twice give Town the lead. Gary Attrell – one of few men to be worshipped by supporters of both Slough Town and Maidenhead United – scored the first equaliser for the Magpies after teenage ‘keeper Stuart Walton’s misjudgement had caused Harris’s own goal but a matter of moments later a bizarre 35 yard back pass by North ended up in the back of United net. Mark Biggins at least tied things up again on the stroke of half time.
Into the second period, North scored at the right end but Mark Wilde sent the Stags faithful wild after some more hesitancy from Walton. The denouement of this drama came right at the death as Attrell and Nevada Phillips linked up to send Parks through to settle it. Stags boss Gary Anderson was philosophical: “I’m very proud of the lads, they gave a spirited and gutsy performance”. Magpies assistant manager Colin Lippiatt was more bullish: “We kept them in it through our own mistakes but I think we deserved to win”. Perhaps Lippiatt came to regret his side winning; in the next round United won through by an exhausting 7-4 score line against Chalfont St Peter after extra time before coming unstuck at Loakes Park against Wycombe Wanderers in their next tie.
After a hiatus of nearly 15 years, Maidenhead Town FC was reformed in 2004, moving to the Thames Valley Premier League in 2016 and at the end of 2018/19 the Bisham Abbey-based club were promoted to the TVPL Premier Division. If Town continue to progress through the leagues then maybe the next derby between the two clubs will be real and not virtual!
If you’d like to delve deeper in to Maidenhead’s history, take a look at the Maidenhead Advertiser archive here.