In the spotlight: Maidstone United

In the spotlight: Maidstone United

Fact File

Full Name: Maidstone United Football Club

Year Formed: 1992

Nickname: The Stones

Stadium: Gallagher Stadium

Capacity: 4,200

2021/22 Finish: First in the National League South

Review of the 2021/22 season

The 2021/22 season was one where the Maidstone United staff, players and fans were hoping to return to the fifth tier of English football. The Stones got off to a brilliant start going the first seven games unbeaten however, they followed that with a six-game winless streak. This lit a fire in the Maidstone squad as they didn’t taste defeat again in the National League South until the end of February when they lost to fellow title contenders, Dorking Wanderers. The Wanderers looked to take the title race right until the very end, but Hakan Hayrettin’s side proved to be too strong. They only lost twice more before the end of the campaign as they won the other 11 games and strolled to the National League South title – beating Dorking to the crown by six points.

Manager – Hakan Hayrettin

Hakan Hayrettin had a 13-year playing career with the highlight coming when he won the FA Trophy with Wycombe Wanderers back in 1994. The former midfielder took his first managerial job at Waltham Forest in 2003. He had a successful spell at Grays Athletic in the early 2010s as he won promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division with a club-record 102 points. Stints at Luton Town (as a coach) and Braintree Town followed before Hayrettin joined Maidstone United in 2020. A successful 2021/22 season saw the 52-year-old guide the Stones to the National League South title.

Star Player – Joan Luque

The Spaniard started his career in his native country – starting his youth career at FC Barcelona (his hometown club). After having stints at several different clubs in Spain, Joan Luque moved to England in 2017, signing for Heybridge Swifts. He moved around a few sides around the south of England in the years followed as he played for Bromley, Concord Rangers and Dagenham & Redbridge. It was at the Daggers where he started to show his worth in the fifth tier – even scoring in a 1-1 draw against Chesterfield. Luque had brief spells at Maidstone United and Weymouth before once more signing for the Stones at the start of the 2021/22 season. The move proved to be a fantastic one for the winger as he scored 22 goals in 37 appearances as Maidstone won promotion to the National League.

Overall Head-to-head Record

P2   W1   D1   L0

Since Maidstone United’s re-formation in 1992, the two clubs have only crossed paths on two occasions – both coming during the 2018/19 season. Blair Turgott put the Stones ahead in the first fixture, but Marc-Antoine Fortune’s equaliser was enough for a share of the spoils. As the season was nearing the end, the two teams met for the second time that season. Bradley Barry’s opener was cancelled out by Turgott. However, the Spireites went in all guns blazing in the second half as a Wil de Havilland own goal and a goal from Scott Boden and Laurence Maguire secured a 4-1 victory at the Technique Stadium.

Played for both – Jerome Binnom-Williams

Jerome Binnom-Williams is no stranger to both Maidstone United and Chesterfield. He signed for the Spireites in 2017 as the club looked to bounce back after relegation from League One. Unfortunately, Binnom-Williams would be part of the squad that suffered relegation to the Vanarama National League. The full-back spent another season at the Technique before moving onto fellow fifth tier side, FC Halifax Town. After a spell at The Shay and at Barnet, the 27-year-old moved to Maidstone United at the start of the 2021/22 campaign. It was a hugely successful one for Binnom-Williams and co as the Stones won promotion from the National League South.