Monday, 24 August 2009

Ups and Downs

Saturday 15 August - Bulwell Town (home) Won 2-1
Saturday 22 August - Parkhouse FC (away) Lost 0-7
Sunday 16 August - Hull KR 26 St Helens 10

Talk about contrasting emotions! Two weeks into the Central Midlands League season and I've tasted the highs and lows of life in the new surrounds.

A fortnight ago, all the previous nine months' hard graft was made worth it when Meddy came off the bench to fire home a last minute winner against Bulwell Town in our very first game in the Black Dragon Premier Division. Okay so not everything ran smoothly - the crowd (55) was, if I'm honest, about half the figure I'd been hoping for and some gloss was taken off the victory by our opponents' decision not to come back for a pint and a sarny at The Neptune. Still, we managed to shift a good few programmes, the Tea Hut did a roaring trade and the referee & liners only popped across the Bridge from Grimsby and Scunny respectively so we even managed to make a small profit on the day. With no injuries to report and Farny - who missed the game - on the mend ahead of the trip to Parkhouse last Saturday, everything looked "tickety boo" in the words of a well-known former gaffer of the club... ...Then came the debacle that was our defensive performance at the Derbyshire based title favourites. A 7-0 defeat cannot be glossed up to sound like anything other than a good shafting. And so it was. We were well and truly mullahed by a side that totally lived up to its pre-season billing. However, we didn't 'arf contribute to our own downfall. At least three, if not four of the goals could be attributed to horrible mistakes in stupid areas - including the decisive third goal just past the hour mark that seemed to knock the stuffing out of us.

Still, it was nice to hear Parkhouse secretary Nobby Clark offer some words of comfort at the end without sounding patronising - words that were backed up in his report forwarded to Frank Harwood for Saturday evening's league round-up. And as we drove back up the M1 on Saturday night I think we all realised - similar to after our 8-1 stuffing at Chalk Lane last season - that these results do come along from time to time. It doesn't suddenly make us a bad side. And if we bounce back from this one as well as we did the aforementioned reversal on the hideous 3G surface at the University then it may well have done us a huge favour.
While the result was one to forget, everything else about Saturday's first away trip was hugely enjoyable. Not least the "crack" among the lads when travelling as "one unit" for two hours there and the same back.
The ground, Mill Lane, was a very neat affair with several features of the sort we'd like to aspire to at The Farm. Everybody connected with the club was keen to make us welcome, the hospitality was first-class and what an absolute gem of a place the nearby Woodthorpe Inn at Old Tupton proved to be. A super spread laid on (Paul take note - I'll be reporting back with details!!) and no less than four guest ales, of which I deemed it only polite to sample two in the time allowed - the Greene King St Edmunds and the Hyde's "Hit the Spot" - both very quaffable I've got to say (though I would live to regret my eagerness to go the extra pint as we neared the Humber Bridge on the way home with not a toilet in sight!). All in all, it was probably the most enjoyable 7-0 thumping I've ever experienced!

Frustration is the overriding emotion as I approach this Saturday given the postponement of the scheduled home game against Dronfield Town, due to their attendance at a wedding. With half a programme already written, it now means a total re-think ahead of the next home game - v FC 05 - on Sep 5th. Several articles will need to be re-written while some of the planned pieces will be rendered out-of-date. Still, at least we're not totally without a game this weekend. Monday sees us make the "short" trip to Hutton Cranswick - I don't think I've ever described it as that before! Always one of my favourite games in HPL days (but not in terms of results!) I'm looking forward to meeting up with the likes of Denis Cox, Jim Ezard and the rest of what is a very friendly crowd down at Rotsea Lane. Just hope their usually excellent hospitality spreads on to the pitch this time around??!!While the First Team is quite rightly hogging the limelight at the moment, I've been impressed with the initial signs coming from Lee's young Reserve squad. A side comprising only one player over the age of 20 emerged victorious from its latest friendly at Amateur League side Eddie Beedle last week and it's to be hoped the confidence gained from such results will stand them in good stead ahead of the forthcoming Premier Division season, which starts on Saturday Sep 12th.

In amongst all the local stuff going on, Emma and I managed to catch Rovers' highly impressive recent win over St Helens - a fact made all the more enjoyable by our tickets being slap bang in the middle of the travelling contingent i.e. right behind the posts at the end at which Rovers scored most of their 26pts (you can see us here, five rows down from the back, four or five seats in from the right - Emma's adhering to the old saying, "If you can't fight wear a big hat!")
Last Wednesday meanwhile saw me make my first trip of the new season to the KC to see City dismembered by Spurs in their opening Premier League home fixture. A strange one this really. Tottenham were good, very good in fact. But I'd have been disappointed if an Easington side had stood off their opponents the way City did in the first 20mins! Then, after Geo's introduction and Hunt's freakish goal, The Tigers really made a fist of it up to half-time...or rather, just before, when Defoe's "Geoff Hurst-like" finish effectively killed the game at 3-1. Anyway, good to see Browny's men bounce back on Saturday to beat Bolton. Now if we can only do the same at Hutton Cranswick...

(FOOTNOTE: For further info on the aforementioned ales see Greene King)

(PHOTOS from top: Both teams emerge from the changing rooms ahead of the historic opening CMFL fixture at home to Bulwell Town (Burt Graham); Today's Main Attraction (own); The lads prior to the Parkhouse game (own); the "Respect" handshake (Burt Graham); Lee Clay scores his and Parkhouse's fifth goal (Burt Graham); Mill Lane, home of Parkhouse FC (Burt Graham); The North Stand at Craven Park prior to the Hull KR v St Helens game (n/k))

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