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Maidenhead United's 150th anniversary match will be a 'significant and unique moment'

Maidenhead United play Stockport County tomorrow night (Tuesday) exactly 150 years to the day of their very first match at York Road, when local rivals Marlow FC were the visitors on February 16, 1871.

The serendipitous postponement of their match against County earlier in the season, due to the Hatters continued involvement in the FA Trophy, means that the game will be played on the club’s exact anniversary, a unique occasion in the eyes of the club and one which they hope will attract interest from outside the support of both clubs’ fanbases.

In fact, Maidenhead have set an ambitious target of breaking their club record attendance of 7,989, albeit virtually, by inviting as many people as possible to livestream the fixture.

Alan Devonshire, ex-players, Tony Cottee and Sky Sports Soccer Saturday presenter, Jeff Stelling, have recorded little video messages, encouraging fans and the wider community to watch the game online and join in with the club’s celebrations.

The club’s CEO Jon Adams expects this is the first time a senior club has ever played a league fixture on the actual day of their 150th anniversary and he’s hoping as many people as possible can support the club in what’s been one of their most financially challenging years to date.

Tickets are priced at £10 and are available to purchase here.

Maidenhead are also unveiling a 150th Commemorative plaque ahead of the game tomorrow and this will be shown as part of the coverage of the match.

“In one sense this is a fortuitous opportunity,” he said. “Previously we didn’t have a game on this date but Stockport’s involvement in the FA Trophy meant the original game had to be postponed. We think it’s a great opportunity to share the day with our supporters but also more widely with people who live locally, and also people nationally who might be interested and who recognise that it’s a significant and relatively unique moment.

“I think we’re probably the first senior club that has ever played a game 150 years to the day of their first use of a football ground. It’s an exciting occasion.”

There are few clubs with a longer history than Maidenhead United, and Adams says that Maidenhead and the surrounding region was a focus for the early establishment of the game in England. Marlow FC and Reading FC’s 150th anniversary follow on soon after Maidenhead’s, however, the Magpies still play their football at York Road, which is believed to be the oldest continually used ground by the same club in world football.

Adams continued: “There are older clubs than us, there’s no doubt about that. But there are not many clubs that have reached the age we have. Maidenhead and the surrounding area are a focus for the early establishment of the game within England.

“We were one of the first teams to reach our 150th anniversary in October last year, followed quickly by Marlow and Reading FC this year as well. Locally there’s a rich football heritage and Maidenhead was at the forefront of that. We’re excited to be one of the oldest clubs in the world and we’re excited that York Road is the longest continuously used football ground in the country, and therefore it’s inferred that that’s probably the world as well. It’s an exciting achievement really.”

It’s going to be a challenge to virtually break the club’s attendance record, but Maidenhead is a club that have repeatedly defied expectations in recent years and Adams is hopeful the significance of the occasion will peak the interest of the wider Maidenhead community, of fans from local rivals and even supporters of clubs from further afield,

“We keep setting ourselves ambitious targets but why not set ourselves ambitious targets,” said Adams.

“I think we wanted to capture the imagination of people locally and nationally about the game.

“And I think one way of doing that is to set ourselves a target to see if we could beat our attendance record, albeit it virtually.

“It’s certainly an optimistic challenge, but why not?

“It’s been a really financially challenging season for us, and we wanted to see if we could boost our income for the year by having a really big focus on this game. To see if we could encourage other people to support little old Maidenhead, punching above their weight in the National League. We’ve had hardly any commercial revenue this year really, and we’re one of the few clubs that hasn’t benefitted from even a single game when we were allowed supporters in.

“There’s also the challenges going on with clubs in the National League financing their season and the uncertainty over the continuation of funding. So, we thought it was a great opportunity to try and engage people in that bigger picture, participate in a moment of football history, but also support their local football club.”

Those who purchase a streaming pass for the game will also receive a free commemorative match ticket souvenir. The club have also released a special 150th anniversary edition of the Magpie programme to mark the occasion and these can be ordered from the club website.

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