Maidenhead United fan, 92, celebrates promotion after following club for more than 80 years

Reporter:

James Harrison

1

Goals galore, hundreds of supporters craning for a view of the action and a team riding high on the back of a stellar run of results.

It’s a theme that has become familiar to fans of Maidenhead United since the season kicked off in August – not to mention a welcome change to the struggles of recent years.

Last month saw more than 3,000 pack into the side’s York Road grounds for the National League South’s penultimate game of the term.

But for Roy Hole, even that massive crowd paled next to some of his memories of more than 80 years following the Magpies.

“I started going there when I was about 10 years old, in 1934,” said the 92-year-old grandfather. “My first major memories were the 1935-6 season, when the team got through to the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup.

“And my outstanding memory there was the game previous to the semi-final, when they played Southall and there were 8,000 people in the ground – there were people all up the railway bankings and in the trees.

“And they thought 3,000 a few weeks ago was good.”

A 1-0 victory was enough to set up a semi-final against London club Ilford, who had forced their way through to the next round after a 7-3 goalfest of a replay away to Cockfield.

The meeting between the two was scheduled to be held at Upton Park, former home of West Ham United.

Such was the interest in the match that a special train was arranged to take Magpies fans directly to east London, although the travelling support will have been disappointed with a 4-1 defeat.

Ilford were later beaten in a final replay, also at Upton Park, by Casuals on May 2, 1936.

Throughout his years on the terraces, Mr Hole was often joined by his parents George, a motor mechanic, and Vera, a cinema pianist, as well as wife Marjory and their sons Stuart and Simon.

The ups and downs of so many decades means he struggles to remember too many specifics.

But he does have distinct memories of supporters chanting ‘chuck ’em in the canal’ towards ineffective match officials, a reference to the nearby York Stream.

He also recalls a trip to Stafford Rangers in the first round of the FA Cup in 2006 when, at a service station, the supporters’ coach left without him and he travelled the rest of the journey with club chairman Peter Griffin.

Saturday’s victory over Margate secured Maidenhead’s promotion to the National League for the first time, capping an historic season for the Magpies.

Mr Hole added: “It’s not all been bad [over the decades] but there’s been such a rapid improvement over the last couple of years.

“You just consider that the gates for the first couple of matches this season were only about 300-400 and then averaged about 1,000 by the end.

“It’s just amazing where all the people have come from, but success breeds success.”

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  • D Abbott

    15:03, 09 May 2017

    Please forward message to Roy Hole. Glad to see your picture, you are looking well. I have moved to Hazlemere, High Wycombe 6 months ago. Just wanted to let you know that I think of you from time to time remembering or conversations "Now Then!" All the Best David Abbott

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