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Maidstone United

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Maidstone United

This article is about the current incarnation of the club. For the incarnation that existed from 1897 until 1992, see Maidstone United F.C. (1897).
Maidstone United
225px
Full name Maidstone United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Stones
Founded 1992 as Maidstone Invicta
Ground Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone
Ground Capacity 2,226 (442 seated)
Owners Oliver Ash & Terry Casey
Chief Executive Bill Williams
Player-manager Jay Saunders
League Isthmian League
Premier Division
2012–13 Isthmian League
Division One South, 2nd (promoted)
Website Club home page
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

Maidstone United Football Club is an English football team based in Maidstone, Kent.

The current club filled the void left by the old Maidstone United, which was a member of the Football League between 1989 and 1992. That club was forced out of the league through bankruptcy but the nucleus of a new club was built around the youth squad. Maidstone Invicta were originally a youth team but made the step up to adult football in 1992 being elected to the Kent County League Fourth Division in 1993 and subsequently progressed through the non-league pyramid. They changed their name to Maidstone United in 1995. They currently play in the Isthmian League Premier Division having been promoted from the Isthmian League Division One South in 2013.

Maidstone were without a stadium of their own from their creation until 2012 when the Gallagher Stadium, located near Maidstone town centre was opened at the start of the 2012–2013 season.[1] They shared grounds with Dartford, Sittingbourne and Ashford in the interim.

History

1992–2001: The new club and Kent County League years

Maidstone Invicta were a originally a youth club and were 'taken over' within days of the Football League side folding. However, the lack of a suitable ground meant the club was effectively relegated seven divisions to the basement of the footballing pyramid and joined the Fourth Division of the Kent County League for the 1993–94 season.[2] The club's home games took place on the original Maidstone's reserve and training pitch, next to the original London Road Stadium. Initially Jim Thompson ran the club, but was banned from football for his part in the demise of Maidstone and Dartford and Paul Bowden-Brown took over as Chairman – a position he retained until 2010.[3]

The newly created Kent County League side was formed with the nucleus of the original club's youth team – and comfortably won the Fourth Division of the County League under the stewardship of Jack Whitely and Bill Tucker. They also managed to win the West Kent Challenge Shield and the Tunbridge Wells Charity Cup. During the close season of 1994 the club managed to gain promotion to Division 2 of the league after restructuring. The club went onto win Division 2, picking up the Kent Junior Cup on the way. However, the Stones, who had returned to their original guise of Maidstone United in 1997, took four years and six managers before finally winning promotion to the Kent County League Premier Division with former Stones player turned manager Jason Lillis leading the club to the Division One title. The 1999–2000 season saw Maidstone's début season in the Premier Division, with the team finishing in a respectable third place. The next season saw the club, which was now managed by another former Maidstonian in Matt Toms, successfully apply to become a senior club and finish second in the league. These factors now left the door open to seek elevation to the Kent League (with the County League being a step-7 league and the Kent League being a step-5 league, direct promotion was not possible).[4]

2001–2006: The Kent League years

The club's application was accepted and the Stones started the 2001–2002 season in the Kent League. However, the club's ground in Maidstone was nowhere near Kent League standards so the Stones agreed to share Sittingbourne's Central Park stadium while trying to overcome various legal obstacles in the way of a move to a new ground in the town at James Whatman Way.[2]

In its first Kent League season since reformation, Maidstone won the Kent League and Cup double under the management of Jim Ward. However, the club could not gain promotion to the Southern League Eastern Division because of problems with the lease on Central Park. The lease problems were not solved and during the 2002 close season both Sittingbourne and Maidstone moved out of Central Park to a new ground, named Bourne Park, which was built on the same complex using the old training pitch.

The 2002–03 season saw Maidstone enter the FA Cup for the first time since reformation, and the club was featured on BBC Sport's 'Road to Cardiff'.[5] The club reached the 2nd qualifying round of the cup, with the highlight of the run coming in the form of a 3–2 win against old foes Tonbridge Angels, with Steve Butler bagging a hat-trick against the Southern League East outfit.[6] In the league, the Stones looked destined to win a second successive title but after a poor run-in, coupled with the withdrawal from the league of Faversham Town, the club bizarrely lost the championship by 0.14 of a point (the League Management Committee decreed that the title would be awarded to the club with the highest earned points per match average, so with Maidstone and Thamesmead Town achieving 63 points from 30 games, the unusual situation arose that the championship was won by Cray Wanderers with 62 points from 29 games).[2] The Stones did pick up some silverware that season, winning both the Kent Senior Trophy and the Kent Charity Cup, but this was overshadowed by continuing lease problems, which meant another attempt to gain promotion to the Southern League was knocked back.

The years 2003 till 2005 contained two indifferent seasons for the Stones, on the pitch at least. Both campaigns saw the club finish 4th in the league, although this disappointment was offset somewhat by reaching the third qualifying round of the FA Cup in successive years. Off the pitch, the club took a huge step forward when in November 2004 it successfully applied for planning permission to build a new stadium at James Whatman Way.[7] However, construction of the stadium could not begin until a lease for the site was agreed with its owners, the Ministry of Defence.

The 2005–06 season saw Maidstone, now managed by Lloyd Hume after a spell in charge from Mal Watkins, win the Kent League title. They spent the season toe-to-toe with Beckenham Town before securing the championship on the final day of the season. The title win meant the club finally gained promotion to Step 4 of the non league pyramid, joining the Isthmian League Division One South. However perhaps more importantly, the club's bid to return to Maidstone was another step closer when a 99-year lease was signed for the land at James Whatman Way, meaning the club was now free to start building on it.[8]

2006–present: The Isthmian League Years

Maidstone, who were now managed by Lloyd Hume and Alan Walker in a joint capacity, surprisingly managed to win the league at the first time of asking, gaining promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division. However the overwhelming success on the pitch was overshadowed by little visible progress being made in the building of the stadium at James Whatman Way.

Before the 2007–08 season had even begun Alan Walker was involved in a freak accident at a coaching course in Belfast which left him temporarily paralysed.[9] Walker made a valiant recovery however, and was back walking and in management by the start of the league season.[10] Maidstone struggled in the new surroundings of the Isthmian League Premier Division and spent the majority of the season near the foot of the table, however they avoided relegation after beating Folkestone Invicta 1–0 on the last day of the season, a result that relegated Invicta in Maidstone's place.[11] In other news 25% of the club was sold to businessman Oliver Ash in February 2008.[12]

The 2008–09 was another tough season for Maidstone. The squad who came so close to relegation the year before was largely dismantled with a whole raft of new players replacing them. During the close season it had become increasingly apparent the club could not afford to field a competitive Isthmian Premier team and fund the building of a new stadium, so with what limited funds the club had seemingly tied up in paying new players it was decided to try and fund the construction at James Whatman Way by bidding for a £1.2million grant from the Football Foundation. The bid was turned down in October 2008[13] and the club was subsequently put up for sale by chairman Paul Bowden-Brown.[14] However no takeover was forthcoming and as a result of this the club had no choice but to halve their wage bill from £6000 to £3000 per week. The majority of the players took a paycut and led Maidstone to their best league finish since reforming, finishing a comfortable 15th in the Isthmian Premier table and reaching the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup.

During the 2009 close season Maidstone moved from their temporary Bourne Park home in Sittingbourne to Ashford Town's stadium, The Homelands, citing lower rent and a deal to receive a percentage of refreshment takings as the reason for the move. However the move only increased Maidstone's financial woes due to a sharp drop in attendances, and in December 2009 it was revealed two months of staff pay was to be deferred to the end of the season, a move that led to Alan Walker and Lloyd Hume resigning as managers of the club.[15] Reserve team boss Pete Nott stepped up to the first team managers role and led Maidstone to an 18th place finish, avoiding relegation with a game to spare.

In October 2010 the club was taken over by shareholder Oliver Ash and Terry Casey[16] with Paul Bowden-Brown stepping down as Chairman.[3] In November 2010 the club's new directors sacked first team boss Peter Nott and his backroom staff with the team bottom of the table and out of the FA Cup.[17] Former Gravesend & Northfleet manager Andy Ford was swiftly appointed manager,[18] but he could not improve the club's fortunes and resigned in March 2011 with the club bottom of the league and 8 points adrift from safety.[19] Club captain Jay Saunders was appointed caretaker manager until the end of the season,[20] and although he oversaw the team to 5 wins from nine games he could not save Maidstone from relegation.[21] Saunders was subsequently given the permanent managers job.[22]

In the 2011 close season the club returned to groundshare at Sittingbourne's Bourne Park after their two year spell at Ashford's Homelands Stadium,[23] and soon after construction finally began on the club's new ground The Gallagher Stadium.[24] The club finished the season in sixth place, just outside the play-offs.

The 2012 close season saw Maidstone finally come home, moving into the Gallagher Stadium in July 2012. The club opened the £2.6 million stadium with a showpiece friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion in front of a sell-out crowd. After a two-horse race for the Isthmian League Division One South title with Dulwich Hamlet, and regularly playing in front of crowds of 1,500+, Maidstone eventually won promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division after beating Faversham Town 3-0 in the Isthmian League Division One South play-off final.[25]

Shirts, colours and badge

Since reformation Maidstone's home shirts have been amber with black trim. All white was the template used for away shirts, but from 2009-2013 the club wore sky blue. They returned to a white away kit in the summer of 2013.

Unlike some clubs, Maidstone have stayed away from 'logo' type badges, instead sticking to tradition with the same club badge being displayed for their whole existence, aside from some slight changes in colour over of the years. The badge is the same as the town's coat of arms, with the only difference being the town's motto, "Agriculture and Commerce", being replaced with "Maidstone United FC".

Shirt manufacturers and sponsors

Year Kit Manufacturer Main Shirt Sponsor Secondary Sponsor
2000–01 Maidstone Adscene None
2001–02 MIP Pankhurst
2002–03 JOBEC.COM
2003–05 Score KF Concept
2005–06 KM Group
2006–08 Macron Britelite
2008–09 Icom
2009–10 Icom (home only) Knapp
2010–11 None
2011[26] Kent Messenger
2011– Britelite

Stadiums

Main article: Gallagher Stadium

Maidstone United play their home games at The Gallagher Stadium, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1LQ.

After the original club folded, the new Maidstone United played their games on a pitch behind a Mormon meeting house, which had originally been the MUFC reserves and training pitch – just metres from where the old ground had been. Promotion to the Kent League in 2001 meant the club had to move away yet again as the current ground was nowhere near up to standard. The club had earmarked James Whatman Way as the site of a new ground in Maidstone, but until this was built they would have to groundshare outside the town. Maidstone played for a year at Sittingbourne's old Central Park stadium before relocating, along with the "Brickies", to Bourne Park, a converted training pitch behind the main Central Park complex. Unable to generate the funds to build at Whatman Way, The Stones stayed at Bourne Park until 2009, before moving to groundshare with Ashford Town, citing favourable rent and a cut of food and bar takings as the reason for the move. The move to Ashford caused a sharp dip in attendances and the club returned to ground share at Bourne Park for the 2011–12 season; however the club finally moved into James Whatman Way, known as the Gallagher Stadium, at the start of the 2012–13 season.

Years Ground
1993–2001 London Road, Maidstone
2001–2002 Central Park (Groundshare with Sittingbourne)
2002–2009 Bourne Park (Groundshare with Sittingbourne)
2009–2011 The Homelands (Groundshare with Ashford Town 2009–10, Sole tenants 2010–11)
2011–2012 Bourne Park (Groundshare with Sittingbourne)
2012– Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone

Support

Maidstone returned to their home town and home crowds surged by 450% to average 1,698 in the league during the 2012-13 season at the clubs new Gallagher Stadium. The table below gives a summary of the attendance figures in all of Maidstone United's league games since the clubs final season in the Kent County League in the 2000–01 season.

Season League Ground Lowest Highest Average % +/-
2000–01 Kent County League Premier Division London Road, Maidstone (n/a) (n/a) 198 -
2001–02 Kent League Premier Division Central Park, Sittingbourne (n/a) (n/a) 298 +50.5%
2002–03 Bourne Park, Sittingbourne (n/a) (n/a) 352 +18.1%
2003–04 208 329 255 -27.6%
2004–05 174 346 246 -3.5%
2005–06 232 573 336 +36.6%
2006–07 Isthmian League Division One South 222 814 432 +28.4%
2007–08 Isthmian League Premier Division 238 1,224 444 +2.8%
2008–09 218 689 388 -12.6%
2009–10 The Homelands, Ashford 128 447 255 -34.3%
2010–11 171 488 311 +18.0%
2011–12 Isthmian League Division One South Bourne Park, Sittingbourne 255 705 377 +17.5%
2012–13 Isthmian League Division One South Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone 1,005 2,305 1,698 +450.5%

Rivalries

Maidstone fans still hold a lot of resentment for Gillingham after the original club's time in Division 4 of The Football League with the Gills in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Aside from the Gillingham rivalry which has lain dormant for many years, Stones fans would generally consider Tonbridge Angels as their main rivals. Back in the 1970s, the 'Stones' and 'Angels' regularly met in the Southern League before Maidstone moved on to be founder members of the Football Conference (then known as the Alliance Premier League). The two clubs were reconciled after Maidstone's reformation, meeting in the 2002-03 FA Cup with the Stones winning 3–2 despite being a division lower than Tonbridge. The clubs have regularly met in the last few years following Maidstone's promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2007, however the clubs have not met in a league fixture since 2011 after Tonbridge won promotion and Maidstone were relegated from the Isthmian Premier Division at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.

Maidstone's support also have rivalries of different extents with Ramsgate, Dartford, Sittingbourne and Margate.

First team

As of 4 September 2013.

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Wales GK Lee Worgan
England GK Charlie Mitten (Player-goalkeeper coach)
England DF Richard Davies
England DF Jack Sullivan
Scotland DF Steven Watt
England DF Jerrome Sobers
England DF Graeme Andrews
England DF Steve Ward (Player-assistant manager)
England DF Tom Mills
England MF Rory Hill
England MF Alex Brown
No. Position Player
England MF Michael Phillips
England MF Jay Saunders (Player-manager)
England MF Danny Lye
England MF Fabio Saraiva
England MF Charley Robertson
England MF Alex Flisher
Jamaica MF Orlando Smith
England FW Zac Attwood
England FW Paul Booth
England FW Frannie Collin

On loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England DF Tommy Osborne (on loan at Hythe Town)

Note the Isthmian League does not use a squad numbering system.

Reserves, youth and community

Maidstone United's reserve side currently compete in Division 1 of the Kent League. Maidstone's youth and community sides are currently members of the Isthmian Youth League and Kent Youth League as well as being members of various local, women's, deaf and disability leagues.

The club also runs an Academy, giving over fifty 16-18 year-old players the chance to study, train and play at the Gallagher Stadium. Players study for a BTEC Level 3 in Sport and a range of vocational football-related qualifications, and also play in the Conference Youth Alliance, English Colleges League and Kent Student Sports Association.

Maidstone's youth teams have provided many players to the first team in recent years. By far and away the most successful and high profile product of the clubs youth system is England International Chris Smalling, who spent three years at the club before moving to Fulham and subsequently to Manchester United.[27] Smalling made a total of 16 appearances for Maidstone, and whilst playing for the club he also played for England Schoolboys' Under 18 side. Three other of the clubs youth graduates, Ashley Ulph, Sam Morrison and Rob Carter, have also played for the England schoolboys team.

The club has a strong emphasis on football for the community and all of its teams have the opportunity to train weekly at the Gallagher Stadium. As well as boys and girls teams of all ages, there are PAN disability and deaf teams. United are a Charter Standard Community Club and were one of the first clubs in the country to sign up to the Deaf Friendly Football Clubs pledge.[28]

Club staff and officials

Position Name
Player-manager Jay Saunders
Player-assistant manager Steve Ward
Coach John Brook
Player-goalkeeping coach Charlie Mitten
Physio Andy Hyland
Chief Scout Kevin Waugh
Owners Oliver Ash & Terry Casey
Chief Executive & Director of Football Bill Williams

Notable players

The list comprises former or current players who have made over 100 appearances in a fully professional league or have senior international experience.

For all former and current Maidstone players who have a World Heritage Encyclopedia article see Category:Maidstone United F.C. players.

Managerial history

Main article: List of Maidstone United F.C. managers
Years Name
1993–96 EnglandBill Tucker & Jack Whiteley
1996 EnglandGraham Martin
1997 EnglandMickey Chatwin & Chad Andrews
1997 EnglandNicky Chappell
1997–98 EnglandMark Irvine
1998–99 EnglandJason Lillis
1999-00 EnglandMatt Toms
2000–03 ScotlandJim Ward
2003–04 EnglandMal Watkins
2004–06 EnglandLloyd Hume
2006–1000 EnglandAlan Walker & Lloyd Hume
2010 EnglandPeter Nott
2010–11 EnglandAndy Ford
2011– EnglandJay Saunders

League history

Main article: Maidstone United F.C. seasons
 

Honours

Division One South
Winners (1): 2006–07
Play-off winners (1): 2012-13
Runners up (1): 2012-13
  • Kent League
Premier Division
Winners (2): 2001–02, 2005–06
Runners up (1): 2002–03
Premier Division Cup
Winners (2) : 2001–02, 2005–06
Challenge/Charity Shield
Winners (2) : 2002–03, 2003–04
Runners up (1): 2006–07
Premier Division Winners (1): 2000–01
Division One Winners (1): 1998–99
Division Two Winners (1) : 1994–95
Division Four Winners (1) : 1993–94
  • Kent Senior Trophy
Winners (1) : 2002–03
  • Weald of Kent Charity Cup
Winners (2): 1999-00, 2000–01
  • Kent Junior Cup
Winners (1): 1994–95
  • Tunbridge Wells Charity Cup
Winners (1): 1993–94

Records and statistics

Main article: Maidstone United F.C. records and statistics

Maidstone's best ever league finish came in the 2008–09 season when they finished 15th in the Isthmian League Premier Division. Maidstone's highest every victory came in their first season since reforming, beating Aylesford 12–1 in the Kent County League Division 4. The club's record attendance came at the Gallagher Stadium on 27 April 2013, where 2,305 spectators saw Maidstone play Horsham. The club's appearance record is held by Aaron Lacy who has made 254 competitive appearances.

References and footnotes

External links

  • Official Website
  • Bring The Stones Home – official website for the Stones' return to the town
  • Every match result and League table when in the Football League
  • Maidstone Youth and Community website
  • STONEStv – match highlights from Maidstone matches
  • Stones Live! – Maidstone United's internet radio station
  • Maidstone United unofficial forum

51°16′48″N 0°30′57″E / 51.28000°N 0.51583°E / 51.28000; 0.51583Coordinates: 51°16′48″N 0°30′57″E / 51.28000°N 0.51583°E / 51.28000; 0.51583

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