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Maidenhead United flashback: Change is in the air as the Magpies give Drax the perfect send-off

Monday May 4, 2015. A day of great celebration, but one which marked an even greater change.

This weekend’s Maidenhead United flashback takes us to Chesham United’s Meadow Ground for the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final between the Magpies and the Ducks.

On the pitch this was something of a stroll for Johnson Hippolyte’s Magpies in his final match in charge.

A procession which, on a fine spring afternoon, went entirely to script for Maidenhead and their departing manager, so much so that Hippolyte’s son, Jonathan, rounded off the scoring in the second half.

It was the perfect send off for Hippolyte, and, although he was very much liked by everyone inside and outside of the club, most agreed it was time for a change.

‘Drax’ – as he was affectionately known – had produced some exciting Magpies teams over the years, using his extensive contacts book to bring in some top players, including the likes of Dave Tarpey, Adrian Clifton – and ex-Premier League star DJ Campbell – to name but a few.

He was also nurturing the likes of Harry Pritchard, Sam Barratt and Ryan Upward, bringing them through the ranks and improving them as players. He later argued that he had left the club in a better place than when he arrived, and, in many ways, you could say that he was right.

The club were still in the Conference South, despite many skirmishes with relegation in the previous seasons. And, in this season they’d stayed up once again, finishing fourth from bottom and well clear of the bottom three.

But, in all those eight seasons he’d never managed to solve the team’s biggest weakness, its defence.

However, there was one man in the crowd for the cup final that day who would put that defence in order, and he managed to do so startlingly quickly.

For the celebrations on the field should have been matched by the excitement at what was happening behind the scenes off it.

After eight-and-a-half seasons in charge, Drax had been told by chairman Peter Griffin that he would be leaving at the end of the season, so this final was his swansong.

After making that decision Griffin reached out to former manager Alan Devonshire, who had departed Braintree Town three weeks earlier.

Devonshire, it was rumoured, was in the ground that day to run the rule over his new squad and, against lower league opposition, he must have been impressed with what he saw.

A deal was struck between him and the club around that time, perhaps that very day, and Devonshire was announced as the new boss the following week, returning to York Road with ‘unfinished business’. I think it’s fair to say that he’s concluded that business – and then some – but Dev remains at the helm and is still striving for more, having taken the club into the National League.

As for the action that day it was fairly one sided, as you might expect. Danny Green (what a lovely player he was on his day for Maidenhead by the way) gave the Magpies the lead direct from a corner – outwitting his namesake, Dan Green, in the Aylesbury goal. He then doubled the side’s advantage with a firm finish from just inside the area. Adrian Clifton – who would return to the club several seasons later and play a big role in keeping the club in the National League – headed home Dave Tarpey’s corner (he was more of a winger back then) to make it 3-0. Then, the icing on the cake for the Hippolytes, as son Jonathan touched home Green’s low cross to give Dad, Johnson, a wonderful finale.

Green and captain Mark Nisbet lifted the cup together after the final whistle before Drax was showered with champagne on the pitch. One suspects that Dev had already long departed the ground by that point, allowing his predecessor his final moment of glory. We didn’t know it at the time, but as we all departed Chesham that Bank Holiday Monday afternoon change was a comin’.

*See below a match report from the day.

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Maidenhead United 4, Aylesbury United 0

(Berks & Bucks Senior Cup Final, The Meadow Ground, Chesham).

THERE were jubilant scenes at Chesham United’s The Meadow ground as Johnson ’Drax’ Hippolyte signed off as Maidenhead United boss with a win in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final.

The Conference South side proved much too strong for Aylesbury United, who were dispatched 4-0 with goals from Danny Green (two), Adrian Clifton, and Jonathan Hippolyte.

United shaded an even and open first half, on a bobbly The Meadow surface and took the lead on the half-hour mark when Danny Green deceived his namesake Dan Green in the Ducks’ goal with a goal direct from a corner.

Having disappointed for much of their season the Magpies’ form has improved of late with the side winning two and drawing three of their final seven league games.

Hippolyte opted for the strength of Jacob Erskine up front over Stefan Brown and for Mark Nisbet in central defence instead of DeReece Vanderhyde, who the manager had named the young player of the season.

With the score at 0-0 Maidenhead could have fallen behind but Paul Edgeworth failed to find the target after shanking his connection to a right-wing free kick.

Jacob Erskine came close with a shot that deflected wide in the 10th minute and really should have doubled the Magpies lead after Green’s opener at the end of the half but missed the target when presented with a free header five yards out.

Clifton was at his powerhouse best for the Magpies and could have extended Maidenhead’s lead when he slipped the ball past his marker and struck the inside of the post from the edge of the area and the ball rebounded to safety.

The second half burst into life when Jason Blackett went down under Harry Pritchard’s challenge but the referee waved away Aylesbury appeals for a penalty and within minutes the Conference South side were 2-0 up thanks to Green’s firm finish from just inside the area.

Aylesbury’s Greg Williams came close to halving the deficit but failed to scramble home Blackett’s cross under pressure from Nisbet.

United well and truly killed off Aylesbury’s challenge when Clifton got the goal his performance deserved, heading home Tarpey’s corner in the 70th minute and Jonathan Hippolyte came off the bench to provide the perfect post script to his father’s final game when he touched home Green’s low cross in the final minutes.

A comfortable win saw United crowned champions and Hippolyte was showered with champagne by the players after signing off his eight and a half year reign with a final piece of silverware.

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Maidenhead United: Putnins, Solomon, Pritchard, Hunt, Nisbet, Downer, Green, Clifton, Erskine (Hippolyte), Upward (Brown), Tarpey (Barratt).

Attendance: 411

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