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 in December 1870 against Windsor Home Park. The York Road site is now officially acknowledged as the oldest continually used football ground in the world, eclipsing Northwich Victoria's old claim by several years. The Club were one of the original 15 entrants for the first ever FA Cup competition in 1871-72. Maidenhead Norfolkians, meanwhile, were founded in 1884 and amalgamated with their neighbours after the Great War. The “United” suffix was adopted two years later.
Maidenhead moved to York Road in 1871 after playing their early matches at Kidwell’s Park, which later became home to the Norfolkians until the merger. As Kerry Miller recalls, at that time the site was much larger, with the pitch at ninety degrees to its current position. One goal was close to the railway line, which todays runs parallel to the far touchline. A thatched pavilion was provided in one corner.
As one would expect for such an old ground, York Road has experienced more than its far share of ups and downs during its long history, including fire and an abandoned clubhouse project that almost ruined the club in the 1990s.
In 1922 a 500 seat wooden stand was erected on the north side of the gound, along the near touchline. Banked terracing on all four sides utilised old railway sleepers which gradually made way for concrete. The far side of the ground was the first to benefit, including the creation of a tea bar, which now serves as the Club Shop.
In 1935 the Supporters’ Club raised sufficient funds for the building of a further covered enclosure along the Railway touchline. Sadly the wooden stand, which featured a fine gabled roof, was gutted by fire in 1986 and demolished, leaving a tell-tell gap in the concrete terracing on either side. Following the fire 100 seats were added to the enclosure on the Railway side, with more acquired from Millwall’s old ground at The Den. Looking closely from behind and the sides at what now serves as the main stand, one can clearly see how the original enclosure has been adapted for its new purpose. Sadly however, the view is very much a low level one, and obscured by numerous supporting pillars.
In 1974 there were grandiose plans to develop a new clubhouse on the north-east side of the ground, necessitating levelling of the terracing in that corner of the ground. However, the building was never completed, and the shell of the structure remains as testiment to a project that almost crippled the club. These days the area is used for contract car parking in the town centre from which the club derives valuable income. Instead, more modest facilities are now in place on the site of the old stand.
Both ends of the ground are terraced. The original terracing is still in place behind the west goal (the Bell Road End), where there are two large covered areas providing the requisite shelter. The current tea bar stands at the near corner but of particular interest at this end of the ground, is a mural painted onto the wall at the opposite corner, depicting various stages in the club’s history. In recent years the eastern end of the ground has been updated, with the addition of shallow terracing and a covered area behind the goal.
York Road may not be blessed with excellent sightlines and spectator facilities, but remains a typical Non League ground that bares the tell-tell signs of a chequered past. For this reason alone, to my mind it is far more of a pleasure to visit than so many modern soul-less grounds that are becoming increasingly predominant.
Exit the M4 at Junction 7 and take the A4 to Maidenhead. Cross the bridge over the Thames and turn left at the 2nd roundabout, passing through the traffic lights. York Road is the 1st turning on the right, and the ground is approximately 300 yards along on the left.
Maidenhead (BR) approximately 400 yards.