04:00PM, Thursday 15 October 2020
Jeff Stelling at Maidenhead United on Saturday. Photo: Darren Woolley
Supporters may be prevented from attending Maidenhead United matches right now, but there was one familiar face inside York Road for Saturday’s visit of Hartlepool United.
Jeff Stelling, the well-known presenter of Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme, took advantage of a rare Saturday afternoon off to see his beloved Pools’ side in action. He wore his Hartlepool facemask throughout but you could sense there was a broad smile underneath it after the visitors recorded a 4-0 win.
He was also gracious enough to acknowledge Hartlepool had ridden their luck before taking control in the second half.
“After the first 40 minutes I enjoyed it,” he said. “But we were really poor in the first half and Maidenhead were unlucky not to be two, maybe three goals in front. They had chances that weren’t just half chances, they were clear cut chances.
“We never got going, but then we had a stroke of good fortune with the own goal just before half-time and took advantage of that in the second half.
“In the first 20 minutes of the second half we played well and put the game to bed and that was really encouraging.”
Stelling also said there was very little logic to fans being barred from grounds at Maidenhead and Hartlepool’s level. He’s a vocal backer of the ‘letfansin’ movement and doesn’t want to see clubs deprived of their ‘lifeblood’ for no good reason.
“I’m obviously disappointed for the Maidenhead fans,” he said. “That they can’t come and watch their side, but I’m disappointed for our fans as well because, on a day like today, we’d have brought a few hundred down here and it would have been a fantastic atmosphere. It’s just one of those things at the moment. The fans can watch games on a stream but the sooner they let fans back in the better.
“There is no logic to it at all. I only hope that in the coming weeks things do change. Maidenhead, Hartlepool, whoever you are, we need fans in. We need the income that they bring as well and clubs in this division are being deprived of that life blood for no logical reason.”
Based on their first half performance, Stelling also believes Alan Devonshire will keep the Magpies up this season.
“Survival is the name of the game and it’s impossible to judge at the minute,” he added. “On the basis of that first 45 minutes you’d say yes, they’ll survive. If they’d have taken their chances they’d have been out of sight.”
Stelling’s side Hartlepool went on to draw 0-0 with Bromley on Tuesday night and remain top of the National League.