Who is Maidstone United, Darlings of the 23-24 FA Cup?

Carter Lawson · Profile
Who is Maidstone United, Darlings of the 23-24 FA Cup?

(Photo at top by Skyshark Media via Shutterstock)

Who is Maidstone United?

Lots of non-British people are asking this question these days, as this club from England’s sixth tier, the National League South, has made the 5th Round of the FA Cup.

They are the first team from that far down the English league pyramid to make it this far in the FA Cup since 1978!

So in advance of their game at Coventry City of the Championship, four tiers above them, let’s get to know this little club that is reminding us all of the “magic of the cup.”

Maidstone United Location: Maidstone, England, which is about one hour southeast of London by train.

Maidstone United Contacts: maidstoneunited.co.uk, +44 01622 753817,

Maidstone United Nicknames: The Stones

Maidstone will be wearing their away kit in FA Cup 5th Round at Coventry — here modeled by former player Mark Marshall in 2023. (Photo: Superphoto200 via Shutterstock)

Maidstone United History: The original Maidstone United was founded in 1887 and primarily played in the Kent League up until WWII. Following WWII they joined several leagues including the Corinthian, Athenian, and Isthmian Leagues.

In 1972 they joined the Southern League, which was the major semi-professional league in southern England. In their first season they missed out on promotion by one spot after finishing third. The next season they finished top of the league and were promoted to the Southern League Premier Division. The next several years they continued to play well and had several top 5 finishes.

In 1979 they became founder members of the Alliance Premier League, which is the current fifth-tier National League, and they went on to win the league title in 1984 and 1989. Following their second league victory they gained automatic promotion to the fourth tier of English football.

By the early 1980s, the club had begun to have serious financial problems after spending a considerable amount of money to get into the Football League. The club’s form also continued to struggle, which led to a decline in attendance. The club then took a massive gamble by purchasing a piece of land east of Maidstone for £400,000 in an attempt to build a new stadium. However the plans were turned down and as a result the club was forced to put all of its players up for sale prior to the 1991-92 season. Shortly later the entire club was put up for sale, but due to their huge debts, no stadium, and poor results, the interest in the club was minimal.

Prior to the 1992-93 season, there was a suggested plan to merge the club with the Newcastle Blue Star, but the Football League rejected the plan, saying the club needed to remain in the county of Kent. Because of this the club was forced to withdraw from the Football League and went bankrupt.

They had to restart in the Fourth Division of the Kent County League, with games were held on the old Maidstone United training ground. By 2001, Maidstone were granted promotion to the Kent League and won it in their first season, but were unable to be promoted due to them having lease issues with their home ground. They would have to win the league again in 2006 to gain promotion to Step 4 of the non league pyramid, joining the Isthmian League Division One South. During this year the club also secured a 99 year lease for the land on which they wished to build a stadium.

Maidstone were in the Isthmian League from 2006 to 2015, which is when they won the league and were promoted to the National League South. The next year the club gained promotion again, this time to the National League at tier 5 of the pyramid. After 3 seasons in the National League they were relegated back to the National League South in 2023.

Gallagher Stadium Main Stand

The Gallagher Stadium (phot by Nonleague123, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Maidstone United in the 2023-24 FA Cup

During the 2023-24 FA Cup, Maidstone United have made a historic run, reaching the 5th round for the first time and becoming the first club from division 6 or lower to reach that round since 1978.

Their journey started in September’s Second Qualifying Round, when they won away to Steyning Town of the Southern Combination Premier Division, tier nine. In the Third Qualifying Round they went to 7th-tier Winchester City of the Southern League Premier Division South, winning 2-0. They had to travel again in the Fourth Qualifying Round, this time winning winning 2-0 again at Torquay United, also of National League South.

That got them to the FA Cup First Round Proper, where again they had to travel, this time to Chesham United of the Southern League Premier Division, where Maidstone again won by 2-0. In the Second Round they finally got a home game, beating Football League opposition in League Two Barrow by 2-1. The Third Round saw League One’s Stevenage fall at Maidstone by 1-0.

It’s in the Fourth Round Proper where the Stones really made news, going away to Championship promotion contenders Ipswich Town and winning 2-1.

They will be at Coventry City on February 26, with a sell-out away end of 4,800 Stones fans in attendance. That’s 600 more than their home stadium (at the top of this post) holds!

Maidstone United 2022-23 Season: 24th in the National League (relegated), FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying.

Maidstone United 2023-24 Season: National League South, FA Cup 5th Round (so far)

Maidstone United Rivalries: Maidstone have a rivalry with Gillingham, who were the only other Kent club to join Maidstone in the Football League. However, this rivalry was mainly with the old Maidstone, as the new Maidstone has only played Gillingham 3 times since they were created.

Another rivalry that Maidstone shares is with the Tonbridge Angels. In the 1970s these two clubs met regularly in the Southern League before Maidstone was promoted to the National League. After Maidstone’s recreation, the two met in the FA Cup in 2002-03 and began to play each other regularly in the Isthmian League between 2007-2011.

Women’s Team: Maidstone United play in the South East Counties Womens Football League.

Stadium: Maidstone United plays their home games at Gallagher Stadium in Maidstone, Kent, England. The stadium opened in 2012, but it had been a project in the making since 2004 when their application for a stadium on the land was granted and again in 2006 when the lease was finalized. A change in the club ownership in 2010 really pushed the efforts and financing for a new stadium and in 2011 construction finally began.

Maidstone United Tickets: Tickets can be purchased for £7 to £17 directly from the club. Visit Maidstone United’s ticket page for more information.


Written By Carter Lawson
Carter Lawson, Content and Social Media Director · Profile

Post Comments

  • Avatar for Carter Lawson Frank says:

    Carter you are my contact person when I start buying tickets to next season’s fixtures.

    This is a very fun article, I love the history. Clearly a job well done Carter. Thank you.

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