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Looking back at Maidenhead United's proud FA Cup history

Maidenhead United take part in their ninth FA Cup First Round since the First World War this weekend. Reporter Will Taylor takes a look at the Magpies' history in the competition.

The Magpies will be hoping to add another entry to their records this weekend as they look to progress to the FA Cup Second Round for the first time since 1886/87.

Alan Devonshire’s men face League Two side Coventry City away on Sunday, in the club’s ninth First Round appearance since the First World War.

Maidenhead competed in the inaugural FA Cup in 1871, when they beat Marlow 2-0 at York Road on Saturday, November 11.

Both teams were among eight to play in the nascent tournament’s First Round.

The Advertiser covered the game the following Wednesday in a lengthy account which shows match reports have changed quite a bit in the past 146 years.

The report says: “Half-past two was the time fixed upon to begin play, but owing to the Marlow men being so backward in coming forward, it was twenty minutes past three before all were ready, and even then there was a delay, for the Marlow ‘eleven’ turned out to be ‘twelve’, one having consequently to put his coat on again.”

It wasn’t until the second half that Maidenhead’s Young opened the scoring, later notching another after he ‘again, persuaded it in and out amongst sundry obstacles, and again made for the right spot’.

Marlow responded by ‘thinking this was no joke’ and ‘led off with a will, looking like mischief’.

Later, Maidenhead’s Lloyd set off down the pitch ‘making one believe he was going into the Navy instead of the Army, so well was he up in navigation’.

The Marlow players then ‘tried all they knew to wipe off part of their defeat’ but the match finished 2-0.

The report ends: “Time being soon after called, this spirited match came to an end.

“We should have been glad to particularize more fully some of the individual play of the Marlow men, but did not know who they were at the time.”

Maidenhead did not manage to get past the next round, however, as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to a side called Crystal Palace on Saturday, December 16 that year.

That is a different club to the Premier League team today.

Club historian Mark Smith said that loss ‘was the only defeat Maidenhead suffered in 19 matches that season — they were known at that time as ‘The Invincibles’.

But it was following season when they would really shine, reaching the Fourth Round – which at the time was the round before the semi-final – against eventual runners-up Oxford University, who beat them 4-0.

The club would reach the Fourth Round twice more.

Today’s Magpies have a job on their hands replicating that performance, though fellow National League side Sutton United made it last year and beat Leeds 1-0 before losing 2-0 at home to Arsenal in the Fifth Round.

Just like 146 years ago, the Advertiser will be at the First Round tie with Coventry.

Sports editor Graeme Copas and sports reporter Daniel Darlington will be reporting from the stands – though perhaps more succinctly than the Advertiser’s 1871 style  — with photographer Ian Longthorne on the touchline.


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