Easter is so often a defining time in the football season and it would appears to be so again as the Humber Premier League season reaches its climax.
Leaders Chalk Lane host Reckitts tomorrow with the visitors needing to win if they're to maintain a realistic chance of recording their sixth HPL title in nine seasons.
We've played both clubs in recent weeks, deservedly beating Reckitts 2-1 before being edged out by the only goal at home to Chalk. Unfortunately, that result prompted a current run of three defeats, the latest of which came at Barton on Wednesday and was "controversial" to say the least.
Having been on enough of these "grassroots" sites to see the type of "kickings" referees get from people inside and outside the game at this level - and also wary of the fact that my club and the leagues it is a member of have all signed up to the 'Respect' campaign - I'm loathe to be seen to do the same. But, oh dear, our man in the middle on Wednesday was awful. And when your opposition manager apologises for his performance at the end of the 90 minutes AND the referee's assessor struggles to explain some of the decisions, then you know it's not just your own "rose coloured" spectacles you've been watching through.
From my point of view, in addition to the sickener of losing a game in which we'd played really well and probably created the better chances, I've now got the ball-ache of completing an official report on the official concerned - a thankless task that usually serves no purpose other than to make me feel slightly better about things having got them off my chest!
The Barton defeat - which incidentally was accompanied (referee apart) by one of the most open, attacking games of football I've seen for some time - leaves us in desperate need of 3pts at Hessle tomorrow. Most people will wonder why we're so keen given that the Chalk Lane defeat extinguished what little hope we still had of mounting a realistic tilt at the title ourselves? Well, given the fact that we have operated with such a small squad all season, it would be nice to think that the effort put in could be rewarded with a league position that reflects this. Finishing behind the two easily most consistent teams in the league and the reigning champions would provide such a creditable position. Thus a win for us tomorrow and a Sculcoates victory over Beverley would almost confirm top four....and probably leave us thinking "what if" about missed opportunities to take third spot off Scully!
Player-wise, we recently held a meeting to gauge opinions about our course next season. It's no secret that we've had several issues this term with lads whose commitment proved less than full! But, it would at least appear to be the case now that those left on board are keen to take the club forward.
I can't leave the HPL scene without the usual beer mention - and the Neptune have come up trumps in recent weeks with its post-match offering of "Prickly Back Otchan" from the local Great Newsome Brewery. And very nice too!
Anyway, it's Good Friday - which to any self-respecting sports fan in Hull and the East Riding means one thin. Derby Day. In some five hours time I shall be sat among the red & white throng in the North Stand at the KC Stadium hoping to see Rovers put one over our close neighbours.
It's been quite amusing in recent weeks listening to the change in opinions from some of the more vociferous of our black & white brethren. Following their win at "Bratfut" last month it was going to be a "record score" against Rovers today. Three weeks later, and following their shock cup exit at the hands of Salford, they're all ringing Radio Humberside and/or logging onto the various message boards predicting a record score the other way. Priceless!
Personally, I think it'll be a real bum-squeaker but am just hoping to enjoy it more than my previous two derbies at the KC. Both ended in defeat - I missed the 42-6 drubbing dished out by Justin Morgan's men two years ago; one that will live long in the memory of those Rovers fans left alone in the stadium for much of the second half. Oh, for a repeat today!!
The memories of "away" derbies that immediately spring to my mind come from somewhat longer back and were in not such salubrious surroundings: standing in the rain and cold at the Boulevard one New Year (1990?) and barely seeing Clarkey go in at the other end to score Rovers' only try in a low-scoring win (8-4?) (it completed a great day as it came just an hour or so after two Andy Payton goals had helped City to a 3-1 win over Leeds at Boothferry Park); or seeing Mike Fletcher go in at the corner at the Grandways End of Boothferry Park in an end-of-season play-off game a few years later? I was in the West Stand seats at the time - towards Bunkers Hill - and the sight of our small group jumping for joy left a look on those around us that still lives with me to this day. A repeat of such looks from Hull fans this afternoon would be nice!!
It's a big weekend for City also. Win at Middlesbrough tomorrow and Brown's boys will be just about safe. Although, given recent performances and what the manager has already said in the lead-up to the game, it would appear the "Must not lose" mantra is already being adopted.
Since the last blog, City bowed out of the FA Cup in the "Cesc Spit" of the Emirates. Although not totally convinced by some of Browny's post-match arguments, I do like the way he continues to get up the noses of certain sections of the Top Four-loving media - and Arsene of course! Anybody who provokes a bitter reaction from the likes of Piers Morgan (the man who put the "Arse" in Arsenal) must be doing something right!
Anyway, must dash - my chariot awaits. Happy Easter!