Continuing to live the dream with City; Cottaging memories; top tipples; rallying round the Robins & Saturday wasters...
I don't know what's more surprising as we enter March - Hull City in the draw for the FA Cup semi-finals (hurrah), Hull FC joint-top of Super League (boo) or Easington United in third place in the Humber Premier League (double hurrah)! I certainly wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to which of these facts will still ring true come the start of April.
I've managed a couple of City games since Christmas - both unfortunately ending in defeat (Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers). And if I'm honest the latest of these did have me thinking that the Tigers' "Premier League Adventure" may well be set for an early finish. But, hey, along comes the "Angolan Goal Machine" (sic) at Craven Cottage and things start looking up again.
The aforementioned Cottage is my favourite ground in London and was one of my fave away trips during the days when I was a regular City watcher. Accompanied by one of the more pleasant walks to a ground it's possible to experience, I also recall it as one of the friendlier venues to visit at a time when trying get a drink anywhere near to an away ground came with a serious health warning. I still wince though when I remember City throwing away a three-goal lead at the ground in 1992!
For my sins I forsook the live experience of the KC for the cosier confines of The George & Dragon in Holmpton for City's recent games against Spurs and 'Sheff Unarted'. While the defeat by the former was made slightly more bearable by three very nice pints of Daleside "Old Leg Over", the hard-earned cup win over T'Blades compensated for it being my turn at the wheel and therefore allowing just the solitary pint of "Landlord" to pass my lips.
The George & Dragon also provides Tetley on cask - which is something the village of Easington failed to do for the first time in my lifetime last month. Following The White Horse's switch to John Smiths, The Neptune had been the sole provider of the ale on which I was brought up. But last month publican Paul decided to switch over to "Sleck Dust" from the local Great Newsome set-up and so Joshua's famous logo disappeared from view for the first time in my living memory.
Beer-wise, post-match at Easington away games has been slightly more interesting in recent weeks. Hornsea's Hollis Recreation Ground clubhouse now provides "Wold Top Bitter" on draught which tasted all the sweeter given our hard-earned 2-1 win; while the "Monkman's Slaughter" in the Gardeners Arms on Cottingham Road seemed an appropriate way to follow our 8-1 mauling by Chalk Lane back in January - it certainly dulled the pain of defeat for a short time anyway! The only disappointment during our recent run of away trips was the lack of Tom Wood's "Wagoner Ale" in the Lucarlys Clubhouse at Cleethorpes Town - it had sold out during lunchtime.
Of course this search for fine ale has been encouraged recently by the wonderful series "Oz & James Drink to Britain", just finished on BBC2. The first instalment, in which they undertook a "real ale pub crawl" by train through the West Riding particularly interested me. As a fellow afficianado acknowledged afterwards, however, had the series been on ITV we might have been given more details of the actual brands on offer! Still, if it means having to undertake a fact-finding mission of our own then...
Worrying about the quality of ale wasn't my first priority at Craven Park on Sunday just gone. Keeping warm and dry came some way above that given a horrendous build-up to the game that saw freezing temperatures, wind chill and showers of rain and sleet. Thankfully come kick-off the clouds peeled back to leave a sunny afternoon, topped off nicely by a 31-18 win for the Robins. It was eldest daughter Emma's first game of the season - not sure she'll want to rush back given that she spent the last fifteen minutes huddled as tightly as she could into my shoulder on the hopelessly exposed North Stand. Oh, and a nod to the Wakefield fans I spoke to beforehand as we sought shelter from the elements - a nicer set of people I couldn't have wished to meet (and they had some good tips on where to drink when over their neck of the woods!!).
Back to football and hopefully the weather will be in slightly more favourable mood this Saturday when we entertain leaders Reckitts at Low Farm. Back in January we claimed a real morale-boost when winning the away fixture 4-3. However, they're on a roll at the moment and we're in for a very tough game this weekend.
Saturday's a first for us inasmuch as the Reserves are also at home. Usually we have the Casuals for company on HPL match days, with changing facilities on the "Pitch Across The Ditch" not really appropriate for Premier Division football. But following a bit of a cock-up with the fixtures, the Stiffs will now "slum it" for a couple of Saturdays. In fairness they'll be chomping at the bit to play given a long-overdue second league win of the season last weekend. I was really pleased for Smalls and Dawsey as they've had a rough time of things this season, particularly when it comes to players letting them down. Even more frustrating is to learn that some of these "absentees" have since been spotted playing for other clubs. This really galls me. Yes, all clubs have at one time taken some one along to make up the numbers but to continually play somebody who you know is registered to another club, while that same club is struggling to field a full eleven, seems pretty deplorable. As for the individual, why not come clean and ask for a transfer? Doing it on the quiet is simply a coward's way out - and you should know that "The Holderness Bush Telegraph" picks up everything eventually!!
Finally, last month saw us kick off our new Eastenders Development Group fundraising events with "A Night at the Dogs" at Hull Greyhound Stadium ("Boolevard" to me and thee). A cracking night was had by all (the missus even backed a couple of winners) with my only complaint being, yep you guessed it, not a decent ale pump in sight!! Still, you can't have everything.
See you next month.