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In The Beginning
The origins of senior football in Maidenhead can be traced back to October 1870 with the formation of Maidenhead Football Club, who subsequently played their first-ever fixture on December 17th, 1870 against Windsor Home Park at Bond’s Meadow near Maidenhead Bridge. On Thursday, February 16th, 1871 the club played their first game on the York Road site against Marlow. This ground, which was then shared with the cricket club, is now officially acknowledged as the oldest continually used football ground by the same club. Maidenhead was one of the original 15 entrants for the first-ever FA Cup competition in 1871/72 and the following season reached the last four before losing to Oxford University. Maidenhead reached the quarter-finals in the next two seasons, but in 1876 did not enter, although this was the only season they failed to participate. They also entered the first ever Berks & Bucks Cup competition in 1878 - winning the competition for the first time in 1895 - and the first FA Amateur Cup in 1893. The adopted club colours were Red & Black, initially worn as halved shirts, but changed to stripes in November 1905.
The early years
Maidenhead FC merged with three sides before the Great War. Maidenhead Excelsior was founded in 1877 and joined forces with the Red & Blacks in 1885. Maidenhead Temperance – originally known as Maidenhead Band of Hope - amalgamated with the club in 1891 and Boyne Hill FC did likewise later that year. After many seasons of playing friendlies and Cup matches, Maidenhead FC became founder members of the Southern League in 1894 but competing in Division 2 with the likes of Watford, Brentford, Fulham, and Brighton proved too demanding and the club consistently struggled. Eventually in 1902, after eight years of membership, they resigned and joined both the West Berkshire League and the Berks & Bucks League. In 1904 Maidenhead became members of the Great Western Suburban League where they remained until the outbreak of the Great War. The side also won the Berks & Bucks Cup in 1895, 1896 and 1912.
Spartans and Corinthians
At a meeting in April 1919, the two remaining town clubs – Maidenhead and Maidenhead Norfolkians (founded 1884) - decided to join forces so the Norfolkians were incorporated into the Maidenhead club. There was an immediate success in the first season of structured league football as the club, still known as Maidenhead FC, won the Great Western Suburban League in the 1919/20 season. In July 1920 the suffix "United" was added but, more importantly, the same year the freehold of the York Road site was purchased for £1,450 from William Grenfell, later to become Lord Desborough. Two years later the club joined the Spartan League and the 500-seater grandstand – at the time considered one of the best of its kind - was opened by Club President, Ernest Dunkels.
Maidenhead United won the Spartan League title three times during their nineteen-year stay. In the 1929/30 season the club’s goal-scoring record for a season was set when Jack Palethorpe notched 65 goals in 39 games, including an individual post-1919 record of seven in one game against Wood Green Town. Jack went on to play for many league clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and scored in the Owls FA Cup win in 1935. In 1936, Maidenhead reached the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup losing 4-1 to Ilford at West Ham in front of 18,000 spectators. It was during that season that the record attendance for a Maidenhead home match of 7,989 was set when Southall visited York Road for a quarter-final tie in March. During the Second World War, the club competed in the Great Western Combination.
In 1945 the club became founder members of the Corinthian League. After many seasons of relative mediocrity, fortunes changed under the guidance of ex-Brentford forward, Len Townsend, and then former Slough Town manager Jimmy Price and the Magpies enjoyed the first real “purple patch” in their history. In seven seasons between 1956 and 1963, the club won the Corinthian League title three times, were runners-up twice, and also reached the third round of the FA Amateur Cup in 1960, losing to West Auckland at York Road in front of a post-war record attendance for a Maidenhead game of 5,597. As well as County Cup, County Benevolent Cup, and League Memorial Shield successes during this period, the 1st round proper of the FA Cup was reached in 1960 (losing 5-0 away to Colchester United), 1962 (losing 3-0 at home to Wycombe Wanderers) and 1963 (losing 2-0 to Bath City at York Road).
Athenians and Isthmians
In 1963, United joined the Athenian League finishing a best-placed 3rd in 1965/66. In 1973, the Magpies were elected into the newly created second division of the Isthmian League. They made a concerted effort to achieve promotion to the Premier Division in 1979 and 1980 when managed by Geoff Anthony (finishing 3rd on both occasions), and then again in 1985 under Brian Caterer and Colin Lippiatt, when they finished 4th. They remained in this division until 1987 when the Club suffered relegation for the first time in its history, and the dark days were made worse with the destruction of the main grandstand following an arson attack in December 1986. It took four seasons to get out of Division Two South, and this was achieved under the guidance of Martyn Spong in 1991. An Isthmian League record of 13 straight wins at the start of the 1990/91 season was the springboard to success, but the club lost out on the title to Abingdon Town on the last day of the season. During this season, however, the team established a club record of 19 league games without defeat. Following the unexpected departure of Spong to Enfield in the summer of 1991, Gary Goodwin, John Clements, and then John Watt took on the manager’s job with generally moderate results and the club regularly finished in or around mid-table.
The Devonshire years... part 1
Seven Cup finals + promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division Following John Watt’s dismissal in the summer of 1996, the Club appointed a new management team of Martyn Busby, the former QPR and Notts County midfielder, and Alan Devonshire the former West Ham and England midfielder. Although Busby left midway through the first season, Devonshire guided United to their first Cup success since 1970 by winning the Isthmian League Full Members Cup, and this was to herald the beginning of the club’s second “purple patch”. In each season between 1996 and 2003, Maidenhead reached a cup final, winning five and losing two. After coming agonizingly close to promotion in the 1997/98 season, two years later in 1999/2000, United made another concerted effort to reach the Isthmian League Premier Division. Despite the odd hiccup, on Thursday, 4th May, a 1-0 home win against Champions Croydon guaranteed promotion. A new 700-capacity covered enclosure at the Canal end of the ground was completed in May 2000 together with new terracing on the railway side. In the summer of 2002 Chairman Roger Coombs announced that he would step down at the end of the 2002/03 season and, in April 2003, Manager Alan Devonshire followed suit by announcing his intention to leave the club at the season’s end. Maidenhead finished a best-ever 10th in the Premier Division of the Isthmian League and Devonshire's final game in charge (his 348th) saw the Magpies regain the County Cup by beating Aylesbury United 4-1 at Chesham.
Conference (National League) South and a return to the Southern
The summer of 2003 saw new manager John Dreyer have to bring in virtually a new squad of players and, despite an uninspiring start, Maidenhead secured Conference South football on the last day of the season. This was the highest level the club had played at since the Southern League days in the late nineteenth century. In the 2004/05 season, an indifferent start saw Dreyer replaced by Dennis Greene but the club still finished in a relegation position only to be reprieved following the demise of Hornchurch. Following a somewhat dismal start to 2005/06 season Greene was dismissed and replaced by Carl Taylor. Taylor was briefed with the task of establishing the club in the Conference South, but proved incapable of this and the club finished bottom. In November 2005, a financial crisis loomed. A desperate situation was resolved when the members voted to wind up the existing member’s club, and ownership was transferred to a new Limited Company set up by sponsors Pharmalink Consulting. Taylor was given the backing of the board to continue as manager as the club returned to the Southern League after a 102-year absence, but after a mediocre start to the season, he left the club. Former Yeading manager Johnson Hippolyte, known as "Drax", was appointed and had immediate success guiding the club to their first FA Cup First Round proper appearance in 35 years. The Magpies eventually lost 2-0 at home to Stafford Rangers in a replay in front of 1,934 people. Improvement in their league form took a little longer and in January 2007 the club occupied 18th place. However, an amazing run of 12 wins from the final 14 league games saw the Magpies finish fourth and qualify for the playoffs. The winning run then continued in the semi-final at Kings Lynn with a 1-0 triumph and, in the final played four days later, the Magpies beat league runners-up Team Bath 1-0 at Twerton Park, Bath to return to the Conference South just a year after relegation.
Back in the Conference (National League) South
Upon returning to the Conference (National League) South in 2007/08, Maidenhead achieved a best-ever 6th place in 2008/09 but generally flirted every other season with the relegation places. The 1st round proper of the FA Cup was reached in 2007 but the side was comprehensively defeated at Horsham by 4-1 in front of a 3,379 crowd. In March 2011, the club celebrated its 140th anniversary with a match at York Road against Oxford University. This was a rematch of the 1873 FA Cup tie between with the clubs where a 4-0 home victory for Oxford saw them progress to the final and a tie against the Wanderers. Maidenhead won the 140th-anniversary match 3-1. The 2011/12 season saw the club reach the 1st round proper of the FA Cup where, for the first time, they were drawn at home to a league club, Aldershot Town. In front of a crowd of 2,281, the Magpies took the lead in the eighth minute but the visitors secured a draw with a late goal and won the replay at the Recreation Ground ten days later by 2-0. On the field, the league season ended in bitter disappointment as the club finished in 20th place and was relegated back to the Southern League. However, the demise of Kettering Town saw the Magpies reprieved and they remained members of the National League South. Despite a decent start to the 2012/13 campaign, relegation was always a threat in the final few months of the season but the club eventually finished 19th, one point ahead of the drop zone. In 2013/14, Maidenhead again flirted with relegation and only achieved safety on the last day of the season. In March 2014, the stand on the railway side of the ground – built in 1935 - was demolished and a new 550-seat stand was erected in its place, which opened in July 2014. The 2014/15 season ended with the club again just finishing above the relegation zone and Johnson Hipployte’s nine-year tenure as manager ended with his final – and 445th match in charge - at the 2015 Berks & Bucks Cup final against Aylesbury United which Maidenhead won 4-0. Hippolyte was replaced by Alan Devonshire, who rejoined the Magpies after twelve years as Manager of Hampton & Richmond Borough and Braintree Town.
The Devonshire years... part 2 – promotion to the National League
Alan Devonshire’s first season back as Manager saw the Magpies reach the 1st round proper of the F A Cup where they were drawn away to Port Vale of League 1. A last-gasp goal from James Mulley secured a 1-1 draw but, in front of 2,212 spectators and a live BT Sport audience, the Staffordshire side won the replay at York Road 3-1. A push for a play-off place in the National League South just ended in failure but the club finished in a very creditable 7th position. Last season, Maidenhead topped the division for much of the season and secured promotion with a 3-0 victory at Margate on the final day to give the club their first Championship trophy since 1961. The average home attendance increased from 482 in 2015/16 to 1,012 in 2016/17 and 3,377 packed into York Road for the penultimate home league game against Ebbsfleet United. Dave Tarpey scored 46 goals in his 45 appearances, the joint-fourth-highest total scored in a season since 1919 and Dev started the 2017/18 season by securing more silverware with the club winning the Berks & Bucks Cup for the 22nd time with a 1-0 win against Hungerford Town at Slough in the final held over from 2016/17 season.
That first-ever season in the National League saw remarkable victories over former EFL clubs such as Hartlepool United, Leyton Orient, and Tranmere Rovers as an unlikely top-half finish was secured. In the five seasons since then, the club has stabilised in the division despite the obvious disadvantages of being a part-time club in a mainly full-time league and they will once again be taking on a whole host of former EFL clubs in the 2023/24 National League.
MUWFC will compete in the FA Women's National South West Division 1 once again in 2023/24, the fourth tier of women's football in England. The team will be managed by Ed Jackson Sankey.
Formerly Burnham LFC, Maidenhead United FC Ladies was newly formed at the beginning of the season 2008/09. In that debut season, the new team enjoyed success after success, winning the Southern Regional Women's Football League Division 1 by a ten-point margin at the first attempt and reaching the First Round proper of the Women’s FA Cup.
For the following four seasons, MLFC built solid foundations competing in the Premier Division and maintaining a position in the top half of the table. The Magpies were League Cup runner-up and Chairman's Cup winners in 2010/11.
In season 2014/15, the Southern Region Premier Division title was won, finishing 14 points clear at the top of the table having won 17 out of 18 league games. The North Hants Cup was also won and the team was also runners up in the Berks and Bucks County Cup.
2015/16, being their first season in what is now known as FAWNL, saw the team achieve their goal of finishing mid-table and the team were once again North Hants Cup winners and Berks and Bucks County Cup runners-up.
Season 2016/17 saw the team finish in 7th place in the table after a tough season full of injuries and postponed/rearranged games. The team competed with a small squad at times but continued to battle and be positive throughout.
Season 2017/18 saw the team finish in 8th position. At the end of this season, the team said goodbye to Kerthney Carty who had been the popular manager of the team since promotion in 2015. The Berks and Bucks Cup final was reached once more but the team suffered a 7-0 defeat to impressive MK Dons at Stadium:MK.
2018/19 was the team's toughest to date, with relegation from FAWNL, only avoided with a victory in the final game of the season thanks to a 1-0 win at Southampton Saints. New manager Jamie Barratt was replaced during the season by George Marsh and Liam Vaughan.
2019/20 saw an improved but truncated season under Nevin Saroya. The tally of league victories for the entirety of the previous season had been equaled by the middle of September and the Berks and Bucks final was once again reached. However, the global pandemic brought the season to a premature close and so the cup final was never played and that trophy still eludes the grasp of Maidenhead United Women.
Season 2020/21 was also abandoned as a result of the COVID crisis, the Magpies having recorded four points from their three FAWNL games played. The team did however record a joint club-record best-ever run to the 1st Round proper of the Vitality Women's FA Cup, defeating Denham United and Fulham Foundation before falling to defeat to Billericay Town.
Season 2021/22 was the most successful season for MUWFC to date. Under new manager Ryan Taylor, The Magpies achieved the highest-ever finish in the FA Women’s National League Division One South West with a sixth-placed finish. Other club records to fall included the most clean sheets in a FAWNL league season (7), the best-ever tally of away victories in the fourth tier of women’s football (4), the fewest FAWNL defeats suffered in a season (8, the previous lowest 10), joint best-ever FAWNL points tally (24) and most frugal FAWNL defensive season (32 conceded – previous best 37). At the end of a fantastic campaign, the players voted teenage Goalkeeper Gemma Harvey as their player’s player of the season and the youngster backed up her popularity amongst her team-mates by winning the Young Female Player of the Season award in the Football In Berkshire awards in June 2022.
Manager Ryan Taylor was forced to step down at the end of the season for personal reasons and Ed Jackson-Sankey took the reins for 2022/23. The first half of the season was a difficult one for a new-look team and prior to Christmas, the side had only three league points to their name. The second half of the season saw things slot into place and an excellent run of form saw FAWNL survival assured with a game to spare.