Friday, 17 October 2014

September 2014

Bottomed out?

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.

Friday, 26 September 2014

August 2014 (Part 2)

It might as well rain until September...
The second half of August turned out to be as miserable as the first, with poor results on the field - and I don't just mean watching Easington! Ironically, though, the most despondent I felt about any scoreline was one of the few successes - City's 2-1 win over Lokeren. And that's because Jordan Remacle's strike for the visitors just after half-time proved enough to send them through.

Saturday, 23rd August
CML North Division
Easington United 0 Clay Cross Town 2

The start of the Bank Holiday weekend and the start of a busy few days of live action. Clay Cross arrived after an indifferent start and with members of their management saying they were in for a bottom half finish this term. Such comments would appear to be slightly off-mark given their recent run!
As for us, this was a battling display and one we all felt deserved more than another home defeat. My official view on it can be read here.
The brief Clay Cross match report is here.
All pictures (which are also available on our Facebook page) are courtesy of Burt Graham, as are all the Eastenders action shots this month.

Monday, 25th August
CML North Division
Easington United 0 Appleby Frodingham 4

If Saturday's performance had offered encouragement, this was like a kick in the knads! This was easiest the poorest display I'd seen so far this season. And the weather was kack. And I got a bollocking in the pub for lack of players going back. Happy bloody Bank Holiday. Not. Read about it here. View the pics here.

Tuesday, 26th August
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United Reserves 3 AFC Preston 2

Ah, an oasis of optimism amid a sea of despondency! Not that I got to savour it - the Stiffs being already three goals to the good by the time I got there. Gav's header (pictured) and a couple of excellent strikes from t'other 'Kettle, Mark, put the Reserves in command against their First Division opponents. The ex-Amateur League side fought back well after the break - aided by a constant shake-up of resources by Clarkey - and Daniel Collier was one of two scorers for the visitors...looking a stone or two bigger than he did before he left us for the ERCFA Defaulters List :-) 
You can see if you think I'm right by viewing the pictures here.

Wednesday, 27th August
Pre-Season Friendly
Sporting Withernsea Wolves U18s 2 Olympic SSC 1

The long-term future of our club could well be dependent on the progress of our official Club-Link partners Sporting Withernsea Wolves. Therefore the launch of an Under-18's side to complement their U16 and U14 teams should - hopefully - be to our benefit. And on this evidence, there are some handy young players about. Goals by Jordan Medcalf (pictured) and Korben Harman clinched a first day win over their open-age opponents. 

Thursday, 28th August
UEFA Europa League Play-Off Round, Second Leg
Hull City 2 KSC Lokeren 1
(Agg: 2-2; Lokeren win on away goals)

Two tweets I posted in the immediate aftermath of this gut-wrenching result probably sum up my feelings best. The first read: "Home. Bitterly disappointed and angry that it's een as some sort of blessing. It's not. It's a missed opportunity. #TypicalCity #hcafc". It received 413 views, 8 retweets and 6 favourites. I think I'd made a good point!
I added a second tweet before going to bed: "On purely selfish grounds I'm also gutted that I won't now get the chance to sing #CaravanofLove on a Europe-bound ferry full of #hcafc fans!" 
And in the morning I posted this on Facebook:
"Well, it doesn't feel any better this morning but I refuse to blame Bruce for last night. True I'd like to have seen a "stronger" starting XI but even with the team he fielded City should have done better. But we simply weren't good enough. I don't think I'll ever see Aluko have as poor a 90 mins as he did last night; he wasn't the only one. But what really winds me up is people saying we should concentrate on the Premier League. Sums up all that's what wrong with English football - the money of the PL. I grew up watching Sportsnight showing the likes of Leeds & Liverpool involved in big European games. The atmosphere & excitement was tremendous.We could have had a proper taste of that - certainly the aperitif we did experience was promising. Still, if people would rather visit Stoke, Leicester and Burnley than go to the likes of Milan, Brugge, Eindhoven, Monchengladbach etc then they've got their wish - I know which I'd have preferred having the chance to do."
I think I made my point. City going out of Europe had really p____d me off!
An official account of the night's events can be read here if you can bear to do so. I can't. Still.

Friday, 29th August
Super League
Hull FC 28 Hull KR 0

I must have really upset the "big man up top" given this latest setback. As if City's European exit and our current travails at First Team level weren't already seriously testing my faith in sport, Rovers then decided to put on perhaps the most gutless derby performance I have ever witnessed. From the highlight of a nice pint of Leeds Bewery Pale in Pearsons things went downhill quickly. Persistent drizzle ensured we were soaked by the time we'd walked from Prinny Ave to the dry environs of the Upper West at the KC. The walk back, after watching THAT, was even worse. Still, we and most of the Rovers contingent stayed to the end; yes, a small percentage emulated the "Wigan Walk" but compared to the black and white exoduses I've seen at previous derby games, the Rovers fans' loyalty was to be applauded. The only consolation was that a good side would have put 60-70pts on us!
So, no Play-offs for either Hull side this season. About sums things up nicely. Dullers can read about it again here.  Picture courtesy of the Hull Daily Mail.

Saturday, 30th August
CML North Division
Welbeck Welfare 2 Easington United 1

Buying a new car in Evans Halshaw meant I avoided seeing the most predictable result of the season - a second successive loss at perennial basement club Welbeck. I think I'd known all along that the day would end in disappointment - whether I made the effort to go or not. And, following the City and Rovers results, well, don't they say things come in three's? Even the prospect of finally getting to see the completed new development at Elkesley Road (pictured) wasn't enough to sway me.
As it was, I caught the result via Facebook in the car showroom, just prior to heading off for a lovely tea at the Home Farm. It was the climax of a "family day" I'd promised Mrs Slush at the end of a sporting week/month.
I think I made the right choice.
A report of sorts can be read here.

So, August 2014 - a month to forget. Roll on September...I think!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

August 2014 (Part 1)

What price loyalty?
"I don't mind seeing any player depart the club to better himself...But this triggered something of an exodus and I really struggle to see the thinking behind the decision of other players to leave. Throw in rumours of a couple of lads who are "not feeling football" at the moment and I start to despair about not only our fortunes but the future of local football in general."
The above is an extract of my programme notes for the opening league game of the season against Thoresby Colliery Welfare. they were written in a week that had seen it confirmed that Sam Huteson, Lewis Andrew and Jordan Hart were not intending on committing to the club for the new season. They followed Paul Morrill, Danny Blount (both Hall Road Rangers), Charlie Dixon (Beverley Town via Selby Town) and James Robinson out of the club. Thankfully Jordy would reconsider a few weeks later but his return would be offset by the loss of Stef Radley. With Tom McLaughlin injured and Jamie Cousins absent, it meant only six members of the South Holderness Cup Final squad from three months earlier would be in the squad that began the following season. Making this all the more unacceptable to me was that we'd based our decision to stay in the CML largely on the pledges those same lads had made to remain at the club. Ah well...

Saturday 2nd August
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United 0 Sculcoates Amateurs 5

Due to a well-earned, pre-planned weekend break, AG wasn't at Low Farm to watch his side's final warm-up game. It was probably as well. This was embarrassing. A young Sculcoates side showed how a team should perform after several weeks' training and playing together. We on the other hand looked a rabble, which perhaps wasn't surprising given the fact that (a) attendances at training at had been p!ss-poor therefore fitness levels were way below expectation; (b) the squad again included a number of new or guest faces; and (c) any pre-season optimism among the regulars had already been tested to the full by news of the summer departures. It promised to be a long, hard season.

Thursday, 7th August
UEFA Europa League 
Third Qualifying Round, Second Leg
Hull City 2 FK AS Trencin 1
(Agg: 2-1)

What would turn out to be a fine weekend on the sporting front began in exciting fashion courtesy of City's first ever home competitive European tie. Helped by a superb ticket price (£10/£5 concessions, which included a free match programme) and glorious weather, a 21,000 crowd (the capacity affected by extra segregation required for unreserved seating games) provided a superb atmosphere.
However, within minutes of the start it was the 100 or so Slovakian supporters making all the noise after they'd taken a shock lead. I wasn't worried at that point. Even less so when Elmo headed City level. But as the second half wore on and it started to dawn on many that the away goal was now looking good to end City's first foray into Europe ridiculously early, that awful feeling in the pit of the stomach began to be experienced. Then up stepped Sone and all was right with the world again.
Aside from the result, the biggest plus of the night was the atmosphere, which has undoubtedly been helped by the movement of City fans to the North Stand. The singing joust between this new vocal area and their former partners in the East Stand was excellent, while even elements of the Upper West (where Brim and I sat) got caught up in the "Come On City" chants that reverberated round the stadium in an increasingly tense second half.
Reaching new heights? #CityinEurope
As mentioned in July's blog, hopes of seeing either part of City's first tie in the Europa League had been threatened by a pre-planned family trip to the Corrie studios and Liverpool (a birthday treat for the Younger Slushette).
Thus I'd begun the day of the home leg on a coach that took us from the Ramada hotel in Haydock to Liverpool where the delights of Albert Dock awaited. My pre-match preparation began outside The Pumphouse with a lovely pint of Liverpool Organic Brewery Best Bitter (though not quite as impressive as the previous night's Moorhouse's Blond Witch), while the night ended with me dreaming of drinking several more continental beers al fresco in far-off places over the coming months...
Picture courtesy of the BBC whose report can be found here.   

Friday, 8th August
Barney Moverley Memorial Trophy
Easington United Reserves 1 Roos AFC 1
(Easington won 3-2 on pens)

This was perhaps the first sign that once again I had failed to take into account this club's willingness to thrive in adversity. Despite Roos manager (Gazette sports editor) Les Sennett's attempts to pin this result on the the inclusion of "first teamers", it was instead a cracking performance by a predominantly inexperienced Stiffs side against opponents who would appear to be signing everyone and anyone locally (including one of our departing dirty dozen ;-) ).
True the likes of AG, Smalls and Wilks (via the bench) all figured but this was because none could play in the league opener and therefore they had to plug gaps left by those called up to take their place the following day. And anyway, Graham in centre-mid and Smalley as a flying winger? It was hardly playing "ringers"!
In the event the Stiffs showed excellent resolve to withstand an early onslaught from Roos before cancelling out Tony Everett's opener via Tom Emerson's close-range finish.
After a second 45 minutes had brought no further goals, the tie went to penalties wherein Stiffs keeper Pagey proved the star. Smalls stroked home the decisive fifth kick to ensure the trophy remained at the Farm.

Saturday 9th August
CML North
Easington United 2 Thoresby Colliery Welfare 0

Lee Tryner, manager of highly-fancied visitors Thoresby, later described this as the "kick up the backside" his players required. He was right - they've gone on to win all their subsequent games!
But for us, this opening day win was almost immeasurable in terms of its effect on morale. As reported by groundhopper 'Cod of the North' on the Tony Kempster forum, one of our players was even heard to mention "We're going to get hammered" as the sides lined up for the 'Respect' handshake. And it's very true that on seeing the list of names selected for this opener, several lads had expressed doubts about an ability to compete. But once again, they didn't allow for that East End ability to defy the odds.
And so after a gritty rearguard action for much of the game, two goals in four second half minutes eventually proved crucial and gave everyone the lift required to take into a difficult first month's fixture list.
Along with the previous evening, this win had to be seen in the wider context of another bloody awful summer.
Oh, and I want it placing on record that I stood by my pre-match prediction: Thoresby will finish this season in the top two.
A detailed match report and pics can be found here. There are also pics on the club's Facebook page. The Thoresby account of events can be found here

Wednesday 13th August
CML North 
Easington United 0 Westella VIP 6

The one thing you don't need to do when playing a free-scoring side like title favourites Westella is concede within the first two minutes. Then concede again within the first ten. A third before the break meant this game was as good as done with over 45 minutes still to play. What annoyed Andy even more was that five of the six goals originated from our mistakes. You could say Saturday's opening day lift had been consigned to memory in double-quick time.
For a full match report read here. Pics can also be viewed on the club's Facebook page. Westella's account can be found here.

Saturday 16th August
CML North
Glapwell 3 Easington United 0

Glapwell is one of the tidiest grounds in the Central Midlands League North Division. It's also one where - apart from an opening day win back in 2012 - we haven't done particularly well. And this was to be the case again as another side stretched by absences managed just two shots on target in a gruelling ninety minutes. We didn't help ourselves by again conceding early and it has to be said the effort was there for all to see. But effort will only get you so far in this league.
Our report can be found here, the Facebook pictures here and Glapwell's own report here.

So, one win and two defeats as the Bank Holiday weekend approached. We had two scheduled games, Saturday and Monday. Perhaps crucially, both were at home. However, of more concern was the fact that we were again set to be without a host of players...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

July 2014

Twelve months on and it's the same old story...
As I write this we are approaching the end of August and the sense of Deja Vu from this time last year is overriding. That may seem daft inasmuch as we didn't actually begin our 2013/14 Central Midlands League campaign until the last Saturday in August, whereas this season we actually kicked off on time. However, without spoiling the next blog, at time of posting this the trip to bottom side Welbeck Welfare this Saturday (the 30th) almost represents a watershed in the season.
This is because for the second successive season we have entered the new CML campaign with a squad decimated by the loss of players who the management had previously been assured were confident had pledged themselves to the cause. what made this worse was that it was done on an almost drip-drip effect, with the last of six players announcing their departure some four games in to the new league season. There's little wonder then that the end of August finds Andy G in as low a mood as I've known him to be where football is concerned. And, sadly, the signs were there in pre-season
On top of our problems at Low Farm, my only trip to watch Rovers this month proved a disaster. Thank God for Yorkshire creekit!. Oh, and the prospect of #CityinEurope!  

Saturday 5th July
Hull United 6 Easington United 1

The first signs that this could be another difficult summer came on a glorious summer’s afternoon at Dene Park. I’d had a bad feeling about this game against the former St Andrews FC from Wednesday of the week leading up to it; the evening that Jamie Wood and Jamie Barnwell of the club were guests on Radio Humberside’s Sports Talk Extra.
On the programme in question the two stalwarts of the local game told presenter James Hoggarth of their ambitious plans to eventually make Hull United the city’s second professional club. And I thought this would be a nice gentle starter...
Making things worse was the fact that the traditional rival attractions of summer meant Andy G was forced to field a somewhat depleted squad. Throw in a home side that included a few “stars” of the local game, a sweltering afternoon and a horrendous Dene Park playing surface (check out the pics) and a 6-1 defeat perhaps doesn’t seem too bad!
Not that I had to suffer it first hand – the annual corporate day at nearby Beverley Races meant I was cushioned somewhat from the sharp end. 
Having since seen 'The Citizens' establish early supremacy in the Humber Premier League and play in front of a reported crowd of 418 at their first home league game, who's to say this rather inglorious day at Dene Park may turn out to be the first part of a truly big chapter in the story of football in Hull...

Saturday 12th July
Easington United 4 Hall Road Rangers 3

Fast forward a week and I was at Low Farm to see a stronger Eastenders line-up overcome Hull United’s ground-share neighbours Hall Road Rangers in an exciting affair.
On another warm day (despite the constant threat of sea fret never being far away) things looked bleak when the visitors – who included former local Mozzer in their ranks – went two up. Despite Eli’s wonder strike just before the break, the game again looked lost at 1-3. But then Rangers keeper Ryan Ramsden fumbled a cross under pressure for 2-3 and Frosty’s quickfire double secured a morale boosting win.    

Friday 18th July
The UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round Draw
FK AS Trencin (Slo) or FK Vojvodina Nur Sad (Ser) 
v Hull City (Eng)

At first glance it may seem strange to include a televised cup draw as part of what is in effect a diary of live events. But this was the first ever European competition draw involving the Tigers and so wasn’t to be missed. Unfortunately though it was; thanks to work collegue Mike’s phone ringing at precisely the time the two guys conducting things via the live stream announced who we’d got! For a while afterwards all I knew was that we had the possibility of a team beginning with V from somewhere in eastern Europe.  More importantly I learned that the second leg would be at the KC Stadium on Thursday 7th August and may therefore impinge on the Slush Family’s forthcoming trip to the Coronation Street studios!

Sunday 20th July
Super League
Hull Kingston Rovers 18 Salford Red Devils 38

As supposed “treats” go I suspect my mate Matt might say this wasn't the best. A child-free Sunday afternoon spent watching the Robins from the old school surrounds of the East Stand at the KC Lightstream Stadium should have been something to enjoy; in the same way that the Easter Derby had been. Given that Rovers had also been impressive in their last home outing, when destroying leaders St Helens in Chris Chester’s first game as interim coach, and that they’d held Grand Final favourites Leeds 0-0 for an hour at Headingley the previous weekend, hopes were high that we’d be far too hot for the visitors to handle. Fortified by a pint and half of over-priced black stuff (I was driving) things didn’t seem too bad at the break. True it hadn’t been a classic but Rovers led 12-4 and probably should have been further ahead. Both sides looked average and Salford had hardly shown signs of what was to come.
Then Dave Mack turned to me and said, “My only worry is that we haven’t got enough points on the board”. The rest, as they say, is history; described in far better form than I can do by the BBC
Suffice to say it was a painful drive home.
Picture courtesy of Hull Daily Mail

Wednesday 23rd July
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United 1 Hessle Sporting Club 2

On the face of it this is a poor result against a side that finished adrift at the bottom of Humber Premier League Division 1 the previous season. But then you consider the following factors:
1)      Hessle have undergone a major transformation since the end of last term and looked on this evidence to have recruited well
2)      We’d intended this game to be a “mixed bag” of prospective first and second teamers therefore the team was more an Eastenders AnXI than a full bifta
3)      By now we’d been beset by rumours of players either jumping ship or simply not bothering this season, leading to a pessimistic mood in the camp
Still, when Wilks lashed home from 25 yards on the stroke of half-time to give us the lead, all appeared hunky-dory. Sadly Hessle fought back to sneak matters late on.  

Saturday 25th July
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United Reserves 1 Grange FC Cobras 5

On first evidence it would appear that John Clarke is going to have the same problem at Reserves level that Andy has with the First Team squad. This was a thrown-together Stiffs side, depleted by various absences, and in the event no match for a decent Hull Sunday League outfit - and that despite having the fillip of a Tom Emerson opener just before half-time.
However, the main story of the game was the "High On Life" character brought to the game by Gavin, ostensibly as a centre-forward but who first half proceeded to fill the vacant goalkeeper's position! His performance over the 90 minutes had to be seen - or rather heard - to be believed!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Brief Encounter

England’s latest World Cup stay was shorter than a holiday romance

Averaging three goals a game over the first week of the tournament, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has already established itself as the best such competition in years.  With a refreshing absence of the cagey affairs one normally associates with the group stages, teams literally threw themselves forward – witness the second half of Germany v Ghana. It's a trait that has hitherto continued into the knockout stages - witness Belgium v USA!
And it has to be said that even England joined the party, albeit briefly.  The opening game against Italy had me more excited than at any World Cup since France ’98.  Rarely, if ever, have I watched an England team so committed to attack and carrying as much pace going forward.  Unfortunately, mistakes and lapses at the other end – so often in the past the bedrock of England’s usual progress to a quarter-final exit – meant the game was lost.
Six days later a 2-1 loss to Uruguay and Italy’s defeat by Costa Rica confirmed England’s exit at the group stages of a World Cup Finals for the first time since 1958.  The following Tuesday Roy Hodgson's team were on their way home.  They had taken just the one point from three matches; ironically that coming from a 0-0 draw against group winners Costa Rica who had already accounted for most people's favourites, Uruguay and Italy.
While I watched the Costa Rica "dead rubber" in frustration from the comfort of my armchair (I didn't see the point in again wasting money at the pub), several thousand England fans had made the costly trip to South America, many arriving after their team's elimination had already been confirmed.  As such their loyalty is to be commended, especially the 7,000 or so in Belo Horizonte who stood for ages after the final whistle of the final game hailing their, erm, heroes...
"The scenes afterwards in Belo were also superb. A poor team being supported until the end. Congas, new songs, and upbeat support. Fantastic. Homages to Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Hodgson and the rest of the side that 'the man in the pub' would never understand. Support unquestioned. Thats not to say England fans are happy with performances. Not good enough. One day we will be back though. Support still stays until then." Dean Cornish (England fan) via Twitter
Of course, despite the pre-tournament lack of expectation from what had been agreed beforehand by public and punters was a squad selected with the future in mind, the knives were being sharpened as soon as Suarez struck home his decisive second in Sao Paolo.  
Soon we had the usual outpourings of hurt, frustration and anger on the various platforms available.  Twitter went into overdrive as did the various radio phone-ins.  BBC 5 Live, a station that does these tournaments so well, suddenly became a no-go area for those of a nervous – or in my case pro-Hodgson – disposition.
This for me was the most disappointing aspect.  Aside from the usual suspects and those with an anti-Hodgson agenda (step forward the majority of football writers at The Daily Mail) most observers had seen much to take comfort in from England’s first game and accepted that overall progress was being made in the right direction.  Yet all of a sudden pundits and public alike reverted to the usual hunt for scapegoats.  And most looked no further than the manager.  Or Rooney.
This annoyed me.  For whereas the exits at Germany 2006 or in South Africa four years ago had me totally fed up with the state of the game in this country, this one left me far more philosophical - as well as far less inclined to direct the sort of fire at Hodgson that Capello's stewardship had more than deserved.
The problems with England go - and have gone for years - much higher than the manager. And while I often find him opportunistic, I have to agree with Chris Waddle (often the BBC's critic-in-chief on these occasions) when he rants about the Premier League and the lack of quality grassroots coaching, not to mention his fears that none of the exciting crop of youngsters will kick on for Euro 2016.  Indeed, Paul Hayward probably hit the nail on the head most accurately in a fine piece for the Daily Telegraph, which looked beyond the manager when apportioning most of the blame. 
Thankfully, he wasn't alone in this.  Henry Winter is consistently on the ball in his appraisal of the national team and remained so this time, first by acknowledging that Hodgson remains the only man capable of trying to tackle the "impossible job" then offering up further advice on the way forward.  And, praise the Lord, even the Daily Mail has at least one man standing up for the beleaguered boss!
In short, I think Michael Owen summed things up as well as anyone in this quote from a piece for the Daily Telegraph:
“You can analyse his tactics as much as you like, but ultimately both games were lost due to a combination of wasteful finishing at one end and a more clinical approach at the other, aided by our defensive mistakes. Unlike in South Africa, we did not bore the rest of the world, and there was no great systematic failure like we witnessed against Germany in Bloemfontein.
“England have not been completely overrun or outplayed for prolonged periods. Quite the contrary, both matches ebbed and flowed. We just do not have enough world class players to make a difference in the way Luis Su├írez did for Uruguay.”
In Roy we (still) trust. Roll on the Euros!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A full house

A 'Top 20' makes the CML North just like the Premier League!

The constitution for next season’s Central Midlands League North Division has given us a full complement of 20 teams, meaning some 38 league games to be played between 9th August and 16th May.  Wow!
The full house comes courtesy of four new teams coming in, while champions AFC Mansfield follow in the footsteps of Dronfield Town in having gained promotion to the Northern Counties East League.
Of the four newcomers, Appleby Frodingham's relegation from the NCEL offers us a short hop across the Humber Bridge to the Brumby Hall Sports Ground.
Another name familiar with the NCEL is Dinnington Town.  Unlike Appleby Frodingham, however, the South Yorkshire side were not relegated but instead resigned due to ongoing problems with vandalism at their Phoenix Park home.
As reported in the Worksop Guardian it was a sad end to Town’s life at Step 6 but, hopefully, the new club's return to where their forerunners began life in 2000 might signify another upturn in fortunes.
Of the other two new teams, FC Bolsover would appear to have some connection with Sunday League side FC Brimington who many supporters may remember from the old CML Premier Division days. 
As for Bilsthorpe, they’re a Charter Standard club with several junior teams in tow who happen to play at Eakring Road, once home to FC 05 and one of the finest playing surfaces in the competition.
So, overall, it’s good news for the competition.  However, given our lack of floodlights and Low Farm’s susceptibility to standing water, anything like a severe winter will no doubt prompt a sharp intake of breath from our Committee!
My only hope is that new fixture secretary Tony Baugh will set out from the start to allocate us midweek away games at those clubs fairly local to us who possess lights.
Last season, only the away trip to “neighbours” Westella Hanson was allocated a 7.45pm kick-off.  Visits to fellow Yorkshire clubs Brodsworth, Kinsley Boys and Askern, along with nearby Harworth Colliery, were all allocated Saturday dates, leading to something of a fixture pile-up in April and May.
Don’t get me wrong, we were partly to blame due to starting the season late following the countless problems we experienced last summer.  And for simply allowing us to do this we will forever be grateful to the CMFL committee.
That said we did immediately offer to “go anywhere under lights” with the obvious caveat that we’d prefer to avoid the months of January and February when the weather could not only threaten games at short notice but when travelling such distances can become slightly more hazardous.  For whatever reason, these fixtures never happened. I've got a feeling they will this time round!
So, here we go again.  Our fifth season in the Central Midlands League and easily set to be our longest.  Here’s hoping it’s a memorable one.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

June 2014

Saturday 7th June
Deano delights at the Do

After troubled campaign on the field of play, at least we ended it on a real high off it, thanks in no small part to Hull City legend Dean Windass and that well-known Master of Ceremonies Mally Lord who between them provided an excellent night's entertainment at The Northfield Country Club.
A full list of the night's award winners can be found here. Unfortunately, no photos are to be had thanks to Shotgun Burt's decision to video the who evening's entertainment and not just the speeches ;-)  
In one of the few pictures Burt did manage to take (above) the star of the show is seen presenting an autographed 2008 Hull City Wembley Play-off Final shirt to winning bidder Craig Stephenson aka Jack Duckworth!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

May 2014 (Second Half)

A Final Disappointment!
Friday 23rd May
South Holderness Cup Final
Easington United 0 Hedon Rangers 2
And so a season of "marvellous mediocrity" ended in suitably underwhelming fashion - courtesy of defeat in the final of the South Holderness Cup.  And a deserved one at that.
Having progressed to the final thanks to a ridiculous forfeit on the part of scheduled semi-final opponents Skirlaugh, we at least got the "showpiece" clash the competition needed after a "gap year" in 2013 and if it had any hope of matching the excitement of the last such occasion two years earlier.
As it was a decent crowd in excess of 120 saw Hedon clinch their fourth win in the competition thanks to a goal in each half.
From an Easington point of view it was disappointing to see us fail to reach anything like the standard at which we know we can perform.  On the other hand, credit has to go to our opponents, not only for the way they set-up, which thwarted much of our go-forward, but also for their better distribution when in possession and for their excellent defensive effort.
That said we still contrived to create and miss a handful of decent chances, striking the woodwork on three occasions.  And as Hedon duly acknowledged afterwards, had one of these efforts gone in we may well have gone on to win the game.  But that's football.
Looking at things from the competition point of view, it was simply great to have the Cup staged again and hopefully we can build on this next season.
The official match report can be read here.
Extra pictures of the game can also be viewed on Colin Brammer's website and on our Facebook pages here and here.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

One Day In May

Saturday 17th May
FA Cup Final
Arsenal 3 Hull City 2 

The sight of more than 25,000 Hull fans, turning huge swathes of Wembley into a rippling blanket of amber and black, sent out a powerful message to any potential signings tuning in.  The pictures of Bruce urging his players on, of Hull rattling Arsenal for so long, created an enticing advertisement for the club.  “I hope so,” said Bruce.  “That’s always the challenge.  We landed two or three really big ones last summer, Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, and we’ve got to try and secure Jake, if we can.  We’re spending a lot on the academy and its job is to produce some young players.  But that’s for the future.  I’ll probably get the sack when it’s all in place!”  Henry Winter (The Daily Telegraph)

What a day!
Setting the alarm for 5.45am but actually waking up just after 5 o’clock...
Helping Mrs Slush get an excitable younger daughter ready for her own big day – the Brownies 100th Birthday Bash at Wetherby Racecourse - while trying to keep a tab on ‘Social Media’ goings on...
7.29am - the final of fifteen pocket checks – phone, money, tickets...
At 7.30am we’re off – the best trip we’ve ever been on – picking up at Patrington and Hedon – passing 'early start' Rovers fans with flags also out en route to ‘Magic Weekend’ – through Hull and out on to the M62 among countless other vehicles turning the carriageway into “a sea of black and amber”...
9am-ish - First mishap! Too busy talking and reminiscing about midweek trips to Carlisle means we miss the A1 turn-off...
Turn off the M1 near Worksop and soon back on track...
10.15am: second mishap! Miss Grantham Services due it not being sign-posted on the approach to the Grantham turn-off (honest!); arrange to pull-up at the “next available lay-by” and meet up with the Campbell Clan
10.20am - stood supping San Miguel in a lay-by, while acknowledging the honks and cheers of the passing Tiger Nation...
12.15pm – parked up at Rickmansworth
12.20pm – encamped in The Pennsylvanian (Wetherspoons); few pints of Ruddles County £1.99; pub well populated with City...and the odd Arse...
1.30pm – the Campbells depart for the station; we decamp to The Feathers beer garden; decent pint of Castle Rock Pale Ale; sun, smiles and best wishes from the locals, none of whom it seems want Arsene to end his recent trophy drought!
2.30pm – On the ‘over-ground’ from Rickmansworh to Wembley Park, joining in with the singing of a dozen or so east Hull lads in the next carriage; ‘We’re All Going On A European Tour’, ‘Silverware We Don’t Care’ interspersed with ‘When the Red, Red Robin...’
3.10pm – Wembley Park: what a sight!
3.20pm – after an aborted attempt to get in The Premier Inn, decide to sample the sights and sounds of Wembley (sorry, Olympic) Way – great to see City fans have tagged it; wander past Hull CC’s impressive ‘City of Culture’ display..
3.35pm – amazing how many “old school” faces you can bump into on a ten-minute stroll; accosted by a worse-for-wear City fan who tells one of our party: “The only way to win today is to hit the Southern b@stards early, get into ‘em, they won’t like it...” – er, 'Stereotype Alert’ and ironically, the bloke in question had a southern accent ;-)
3.45pm – On Wembley concourse supping a pint of p!ss in a plastic glass, the privilege for which I paid a fiver; ah well, I’d been spoilt up to now...
4.15pm – Take our seats in Block 120. What. A. Sight.
4.30pm – Steve Jordan whips up a storm, helped by plastic rattles, free flags and Elvis’ “Wise Men Say” booming from the speakers...
4.45pm – Leon Lewis leads “Abide With Me”.  I’m a blubbering wreck.  I knew I would be. Love you Mum!
4.50pm – Here they come; F#ck me, Hull City’s players are coming out on the pitch in an FA Cup Final; the hairs literally ARE standing up on the back of my neck; “God Save The Queen”
5pm – We’re off...
5.03pm – Chester. Ecstasy...
5.09pm – Davies. Oh. My. God!
5.16pm – Cazorla. Reality check.
5.48pm – Job half done

Hull’s players, especially Curtis Davies, were magnificent, until tiring.  Bruce demonstrated he is a significant managerial force.  Arsenal were in a battle.  Henry Winter (The Daily Telegraph)

6.17pm - Respect to the Valley Parade 56
6.30pm – Koscielny. B@stard! 
6.54pm – ninety up. Can we really can take anymore of this?...
7.21pm – Ramsey. Didn’t we just know it?
7.30pm – A-l-u-u-u-k-o...aaaargh
7.33pm – Dream over...

For the next few minutes I stood numb.  I wasn’t going to cry, even as Jake Livermore approached the City end looking totally and utterly lost.  Then that overwhelming sense of pride, as the rest of the players came over and moments later as they trudged wearily up the steps to receive their runner-up medals.  Losers?  Never.  Then the Arsenal players went up to receive the main prize.  I applauded.  Not sure they’d have done the same had the positions been reversed.  Let’s get out of here...

7.55pm – back along Wembley Way; songs of defiance fill the air...
8.05pm – Still waiting for our train inside Wembley Park...
8.50pm – back at Rickmansworth...
9.05pm – On the way home...
11-midnight-ish - Ferking roadworks (M1)
1.55am – Journey’s End

The following day I posted something of a rant on a popular Social Media site trying to express the sheer PRIDE I’d felt the day before.  Looking at it now, it still holds true and as such I’ve repeated it here... 
The morning after the evening before and having watched much of the day/game back on the box, my overriding feeling remains one of immense pride at my local team - something that those of you born and bred in these parts who purport to follow the so-called "big" clubs will never truly appreciate. From the "comfort" lay-by stops on the A1 with honks and cheers from fellow City fans to the best wishes of the locals in Rickmansworth and the camaraderie of meeting friends old and new from Hull and East Yorkshire to the full Wembley experience - crying through Abide With Me (as I knew I would), THAT start (!), the Arsenal fightback which has to be admired, the sheer bloody-mindedness of City to the end and the reception at the close for our heroes (which included staying to see Arsenal lift the cup - would they have done the same? Hmm). You can preach all you like about lifelong "support" for your Liverpools, Man Utds, Arsenals - you simply cannot relate to a club in the same way that you connect with that which is LOCAL to you. One decent piece of ITV's coverage yesterday was that with Mark Herman, Garreth Roberts etc showing where Hull City (not Tigers) have come from and what they've been through - you would-be Scousers, Mancs, Gooners from Holderness can never appreciate the experience I felt yesterday of watching MY team representing MY part of the country when taking part in what is still one of the finest showpiece occasions in World Sport. You go on about "plastic" Hull City fans - I don't care whether they've supported City for 5 mins, 5 years or 5 decades - those there yesterday were there to back their local team. And we came so close to really putting the place on the global footballing map. Now to Europe and beyond. Rant over. "Hull, Hell & Happiness".
As expected much of the national media coverage last Saturday focused on Arsene and his nine-year wait for a trophy.  This was evident in the match reports of esteemed writers such as Patrick Collins of the Daily Mail (“yellow and black” FFS!). 
But there were some who were willing to give City more than a passing nod.  Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph and JacobSteinberg in The Guardian.
Locally the Hull Daily Mail’s coverage was extensive as was to be expected.  Their man Phil Buckingham captured the mood perfectly with his blog post for ESPN
Then there were also excellent accounts from Matthew Rudd in City Fanzine Amber Nectar and Rick Skelton for The Metro.
But perhaps the piece that resonated most with those of black and amber persuasion was this from Cole Moreton in The Daily Telegraph.  Simply brilliant.

In conclusion I must concede that to some reading this my actual attendance at the FA Cup Final will sit uneasily.  My days of regular City attendance were curtailed in the early 1990s when I opted to return to the grassroots game.  That said, I’ve still got to Boothferry Park, the KC and the odd away trip when I can and have never lost my desire to see my local team arrive on the big stage.  Being there on Saturday made all those days spent watching poor City sides being systematically taken apart in front of the eyes of me and a few other hardy like-minded souls all the sweeter.  

Next stop the Europa League...

Some of the pictures courtesy of The Daily Mail's "LIVE" report.
Jake Livermore picture courtesy of The Guardian.
Steve Jordan pre-match photo courtesy of BBC Radio Humberside's James Hoggarth via Twitter