January 27, 2014 Leave a comment
25/01/14, Rymans Premier. £10 in £2 programme.
Think of Maidstone United and my mind drifts to the late 80’s and that fleeting 3 year period they were a league club. Fast forward 21 years and that club, in a new guise, returns to that town with a new stadium. Numerous attempts to arrange a trip last season falter due to the full diary of a Kent based beer monster/aficionado (and my return to the Leeds United season ticket fold). The new stadium having a “3G” pitch meant no amount of weather issues elsewhere was going to stop this game, marvelous.
Spent a small time wandering the town, less posh and more chav than I had expected for somewhere only a few miles from the Mallings. Popped into 3 pubs in the course of the day, the Style and Wrist or something similar which was a light free old school place, the Flowerpot a real beer drinkers paradise close to the ground and some white wooden hut which was just a disguised “hungry horse” style place. Recommend the Flowerpot for anyone heading to James Whatman Way.
The ground is ultra modern, it reminded me a bit of Chelmsford City a bit and a little of Sutton United (main stand). The main stand is one of those 1/3rd jobs with grass areas to the side, behind each goal a covered area with 3-4 terrace steps and across from the main stand, er just a fence and the tarmac, this was the most disappointing part of the Gallagher Stadium, a little thought and a few steps and that would be a good uncovered standing bit. To be fair though you don’t lack for facilities, clubhouse, club shop, pie shop, sweet shop and the usual toilet facilities all behind one goal.
As has been widely commented on the pitch is 3G, and if the Conference don’t change the rules that will mean Maidstone can’t go up. In terms of aesthetics you could never mistake it for the real stuff but in terms of bounce and how you play football on it I can’t see the problem. Perhaps the solution is this, clubs should be allowed to have 3G at any level but if they want to progress towards the league they are told to be prepared to upgrade to any better systems developed in due course? In the meantime I wish Maidstone United good luck with their campaign to be allowed to play on that pitch if they get promoted.
9 goals, 5 in the first half, must have been a great game? Well no not really, the goal count had more to do with the H&RB goalie than anything else. Not that the goalie had a horrid game, in parts he was outstanding but he clearly didn’t like diving near post or holding shots. 7 different MU scorers also tells you a story and H&RB’s defense. MU looked fitter and are clearly capable of a division higher but they too have defensive frailties. They also have 1900+ home crowds which must be disconcerting if you are used to playing in front of 300.
As the game ended a feeling of impending doom overtook me, the weather broke and before you knew it hailstones and sideways rain decended. I was socked to the skin in seconds! I just about got out of town on a train before the rail system broke down (my companion for the day got stuck on a small branch line, by a branch…for a hour or two).
The Gallagher stadium is worth a visit for the dedicated groundhopper and will stand Maidstone in good stead until they make the Conference premier, however you would worry if it had to accommodate a decent away following or league football. Meanwhile have a extra pic to keep you happy.