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James Whatman Way

Stones story told in new book

Maidstone United have teamed up with local author and lifelong Stones fan Fred Atkins to produce a book as part of the Stand up for the Stones campaign.

The book, Exodus: Maidstone United 1988-2012, tells the story of the 24 years the club spent without a stadium of its own and profits after production costs will go to the fund for a new stand at the Springfield end.

“Maidstone United experienced more intrigue in those 24 years than many clubs do in their entire history,” Fred explained. “You’ve got all the elements needed for a thriller.

“On one side there’s treachery, incompetence, media manipulation and poisonous local politics. On the other it’s about faith, redemption and ultimately an unexpectedly happy ending.”

The story starts in the 80s when Maidstone United were known, without deliberate irony, as ‘the Manchester United of non-league football’. It covers former chairman Jim Thompson’s attempts to get the Stones into the Football League and the unintentionally disastrous consequences of his success.

The full story includes the:

  • demise of the old London Road ground
  • Conference Championship in 1989 and the three seasons in the Football League
  • Woodcut Farm Stadium saga
  • abortive Mark English takeover and the absurd plan to move the team to Newcastle
  • painfully slow rebirth as Maidstone Invicta in the Kent County League
  • resurrection under Jason Lillis and the Kent League triumphs under Jim Ward, Alan Walker and Lloyd Hume
  • near-collapse in 2010 that led to the Ash/Casey takeover
  • return to the Gallagher Stadium in 2012

The book is 70,000 words in length and includes a series of images and graphics, many courtesy of the club photographer Steve Terrell and the Kent Messenger.

Club co-owner Oliver Ash commented: “This beautifully-written story will appeal to Stones supporters and football fans in general. You couldn’t make it up that’s for sure.

“For fans of the club who don’t know some of the intrigue and strange goings-on of those times, they will find themselves reading and nodding their heads in disbelief at the same time.

“Fred Atkins is the only writer who could have told the tale with such passion, knowledge, attention to detail and a satirical style we know and love.”

To maximise revenue for the Stand up for the Stones fund, the book, which is priced at £10, will only be available direct from the club. A limited number of copies are being produced and more will be ordered if and when there is demand.

  • Pre-order and pay for your copy at the club shop this Saturday afternoon or log on to the online Stones Store for home delivery*.

Fred, a former Kent Messenger sports editor, has written three books previously – two about Arsenal Football Club and one on the Tour De France when it came to the garden of England in 2009. His Amazon author page can be found here.

* – You are pre-ordering this product. The book will be posted when stocks arrive with the club.

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