Only time will tell whether or not this was the month in which the season's low point was reached but it certainly felt that way. Not in terms of performances - the Appleby Frodingham defeat on Bank Holiday Monday already had that particular title wrapped up - but just in the seemingly never-ending loss of players. By the end of September two more had gone through the door marked "Exit", including the club captain.
But, incredibly perhaps, as players continued to leave, those remaining put together the start of an unbeaten run that by the end of the month had lasted three matches. More importantly there was a spirit being generated within the changing room that I haven't seen for some time. Of course, chances are that this group of lads will experience several more "shellackings" before the season's close but, on early evidence, they will not only still all be there to recount the experience but in time will probably do so with smiles on their faces. I'd like to think that regardless of background or place of origin, the class of September 2014 already count as "true Eastenders"...
Saturday 6th September
CML North Division
Easington United 3 Bilsthorpe AFC 8
Those thinking that the season’s low point had been reached in the performance against App Frod or in the result at Welbeck were forced to think again by events a week later when this season’s alleged “money bags”, Bilsthorpe, came to the Farm and inflicted a stunning defeat.
What made the result more staggering was that when new boy Danny Barron marked his debut off the home bench by completing the locals’ rally from two down to 2-2, there were just twenty minutes remaining.
Within two more minutes it was 2-4 and in total, Bilsthorpe went on to score SIX goals in THIRTEEN minutes.
The official account of a remarkable game can be found here.
A full set of photos from the game is also available via our Facebook page.
Tuesday 9th September
CML North Division
Askern 2 Easington United 0
Three nights after the Bilsthorpe battering, we headed off to Askern for our first floodlit fixture of the season. It was also my first trip to Manor Way, having missed the previous season’s game there. What’s more, I was to occupy the technical area in the absence of a right hand man for AG. A return to tracksuit days was in order.
After the usual ‘wacky races’ involved in getting thirteen players and management to Donny via Hull’s “rush hour” had been negotiated, we arrived in good time and ready for action.
What we perhaps weren’t ready for was the sight, or perhaps sound, that would greet us. As Brett Fisk, pressed into service as a substitute, made his way out onto the pitch for the pre-match warm-up he was greeted by a chorus of “You Fat B_____d!” from the grandstand. Moments later, Pasha Brown, another of tonight’s new recruits, had “Beanie from Matalan” sung to him as he and his Judy-knitted bobhat also strode out to the greensward. It promised to be a lively night.
Enquiring as to the source of the noise I was told by a home Committee member that they were local youngsters from the village who’d been present for the pre-season game against a Doncaster Rovers Youth team. The Askern committee had been so taken with the “atmosphere” they created that they’d invited them here tonight for half-price admission.
Totalling between twenty and thirty in number and aged, I would guess, from about fourteen to twenty, they were armed with a drum and proceeded to create what for this level of football can only be termed a cacophony of sound. Not all of it was polite in its tone and it certainly had our aforementioned Club Sec Judy (making a rare trip to a CML away game) desperate for us to score simply in order to be able to throw some noise back in their direction!
As it was, aside from a header from new boy Matty Dixon, which was cleared off the Askern goal-line in the first half, we rarely looked like breaching the home rearguard and a fairly routine 2-0 home win ensued. Still, once again the effort of those in green and yellow could not be faulted and in Kris Fitzpatrick in midfield we may well have found ourselves another "player".
As I sat watching the lads tuck into bangers, chips and Yorkshires in the well-appointed Welfare Club post-match, I commented to AG that things perhaps weren't going to be as bad as I'd feared. It certainly felt that way despite a seventh successive defeat.
The official web site report can be read here.
Our Facebook page pictures can be viewed here.
Saturday 13th September
CML North Division
Dinnington Town 1 Easington United 1
My good feeling of four nights earlier had all but dissipated as I prepared to board the Pistol Pete Express the following Saturday. With half-an-hour to departure time for our second visit to “Saarth Yarkshire” inside a week, we had just the ten players ready to pull on the fetching white and red away kit. This number included Jamie Cousins, who as it later transpired would be a virtual passenger on the park - not surprising considering that a hospital visit a week or so later would confirm he was suffering with pneumonia at the time! Ironically, he'd done okay at Askern and appeared to be over the worst of the "chest infection" that he thought was actually the source of the trouble!
Not on board "The PPE" were Marcus (working), Matty (working), Brett (wedding), Pasha (playing for his "other club" Patrington), Jordy (away for a mate’s birthday weekender that he’d forgotten about when confirming his availability only two days earlier!) and skipper Sam (“not fit”).
Help arrived in the form of Phil Jackman, ex-Eastender and up until the previous week, striker with NCEL side Brigg Town. He told us he’d been dropped for their game and therefore – thankfully – was ready, willing and available for ours. We had ourselves an eleventh man.
Another former NCEL ground, Phoenix Park ensured that this again had the feel of a “proper” game and although there was no “choir” or drum, the sizeable home support was still very vocal in its own way.
We silenced them briefly with a superb first half strike from Jacko, one that should perhaps have been added to before Mason headed home an 86th minute equaliser.
Still, it was an enjoyable ride home on “The PPE” that evening. The rot had been stopped. The only downside was that a 10-0 defeat for Brigg probably meant we wouldn't get to see Jacko again for a while. Still, I couldn't help hoping that we had at last bottomed out?
Our official report can be read here.
The Facebook page picture album can be viewed here.
Saturday 20th September
CML North Division
Easington United 3 Ollerton Town 1
As expected Jacko wasn't available to play against Ollerton. The Brigg resulted had immediately been followed by the resignation of the manager and our hoped-for saviour had been asked to step up and help the new caretaker out. Oh well.
At the other end of the field Luke Nettleship had been an unlikely hero at Dinnington; one superb goal-line clearance forming the centre-piece of an impressive first run as AG’s central defensive partner. Question was: Could he cut it against better strikers such as Ollerton’s Lee Easom, his likely opponent today? Answer: Yes.
At the AGM, belatedly held the previous week, Chairman Doug had asked for a return to “traditional Eastenders spirit”. In short, this meant a combination of sheer bloody-mindedness on the pitch, a refusal to throw the towel-in and good old fashioned “muck or nettles”, with the occasional piece of good fortune thrown in. And that’s what he got - along with some decent football, which this side is still very capable of.
On a day where the weather matched what was required – constant “mizzle” making spectating an uncomfortable affair – the lads dug in to record a win every bit as satisfying as that achieved way back on the opening day. And it was achieved by a bare eleven. Some lads could barely walk at the end. It didn’t matter. We were three points better off and now unbeaten in two. The revival had some legs...
The full account of an excellent afternoon can be found here.
The Facebook page album can be viewed here.
Saturday 27th September
CML North Division
Bentley Colliery 1 Easington United 1
Let me state this first: on performance level alone we didn’t deserve anything from this game. However, throw in the sort of spirit on show the previous week that was replicated to the full at The Avenue and there’s little wonder that Frosty’s last gasp leveller had me performing a David Pleat from the dugout (click the links younger readers if you're not sure what I mean) .
A day that had begun badly - no working indicators on the bus, further squad depletion (skipper Sam and Jordy now having made themselves unavailable for the foreseeable, Jamie ruled out on medical grounds and Jacko having now got the Brigg asst-mgr’s job on a "permanent" basis!) not to mention a gang of local pond-life at the gates to greet us on our arrival - finished with beer at £1.80 a pint in Rhino’s bar, a superb bus ride back (despite lack of winkers!) and few real ales in Patrington with some lads who I hadn’t seen in yonks. Ah, you could say that September had finished on a bit of a high!
The official report can be viewed here.
The Facebook picture album can be viewed here.
All pictures courtesy of Burt Graham.