With our fourth new signing in the bag, the name of Bird is the word on the lips of Maidenhead United fans this week. The 6’ 4” Berkshire-born marksman has joined the club after a prolific season with our Vanarama National League rivals Dover Athletic, a move which the man himself described on Twitter as “coming home”.
We caught up with Ryan after the transfer was completed and it is clear that Maidenhead had some competition for a sought-after proven goal scorer: “I had a few offers, I spoke to them all & chose Maidenhead. They have had 2 great seasons on the bounce and looked a good strong side when I played against them last year. I spoke to the Gaffer & he made it clear that he really wanted me, so it was a no brainer for me.” Bird will be well known to Maidenhead fans as a dangerous opponent who scored against United in the draw at Crabble last season. But how does Bird himself describe his natural game? “I would describe myself as big, strong, hardworking and I always back myself to score goals if I get chances. I love getting on the end of crosses coming into the box. I am a team player, I don’t mind working hard for the team.”
30 year old Bird brings a wealth of experience from National League level and also the EFL, where he enjoyed spells with Portsmouth, Yeovil and Newport. Ryan however started in local football with Burnham and his time at The Gore has clearly shaped the prolific career which has unfolded since. Bird explains: “My last season at Burnham was amazing, playing with all my mates, we won the league and I scored 45 goals in 45 games. I started playing there at youth team level with my friends and ended up in the first team when I was 16 and just carried on playing there.”
Those goal scoring exploits alerted the attention of Portsmouth and as you would expect from a player who boasts such an impressive CV he has plenty of highlights from his career to date: “One was definitely scoring at Wembley and winning the FA trophy with Cambridge United. Also scoring for Portsmouth at the Fratton End in front of 16,000 fans, there isn’t a better feeling. Another highlight was definitely the part I played in helping Newport County stay in the Football League. When I signed we were 12 points below 2nd from bottom in January & we survived on the last day of the season.” It isn’t all a glamorous lifestyle though and it is clear that a return to his Berkshire roots was a factor in signing a deal at York Road when he discusses low points of his career: “Definitely time away from family & friends, training on Christmas Day & things like that. I’ve travelled a lot and it’s hard sometimes.”
Bird of course faced the Magpies just last season and the famous team spirit impressed the new man. “I would describe Maidenhead as ‘hard to beat’. We drew and lost to Maidenhead last year and they scored both goals in the last minute. That’s the sign of a team that never gives up and always gives 100% until the last kick!”. And settling in at York Road should not be a problem for Ryan as many of his new teammates are familiar to him: “I know Alan Massey and Jake Hyde and I also played with Ayo (Obileye) at Eastleigh 2 years ago. So did Bird canvass the opinion of his new team mates as well as friend and familiar face in Harry Pritchard when signing for the club? “I didn’t really ask them much to be honest, but when I did ask them they spoke highly of the club”
As for targets for the season ahead, Ryan has little doubt in his own ability to well and in the potential of his new side: “I scored 20 goals for Dover last season, so I would like to try and beat that tally if I can. I also believe we could try and push for playoffs. The team is definitely good enough to do so. So we will see what the season brings!”
Updated 21:34 - 13 Jun 2018 by Steve Jinman
Now Ryan has joined us, why not be the next new signing for Dev and buy one of our great value season tickets? Visit https://maidenheadunitedfc.ktckts.com/brand/season to sign up today!