Friday, 13 November 2009

A Home Run

Saturday 17 October - Yorkshire Main, League Cup Round 2 (home) Lost 1-5
Saturday 24 October - Thoresby Colliery Welfare (home) Drew 0-0
Saturday 31 October - FC Brimington (home) Won 3-1
Saturday 7 November - Kiveton Park (home) Drew 1-1

As described in my previous post, the fact that Hull City had a game on Remembrance Sunday allowed me to do something I've been meaning to for a few years now, namely observe the commemorations at the city's own Cenotaph in Paragon Square as opposed to the traditional gathering around the war memorial in Easington. And although the first part of the service - including the two minutes' silence - was observed from under the shelter of the new Station complex overhang, Emma and I did brave the elements to stand and observe the march past of veterans. It was a very moving experience and one I hope both Emma and Katie will want to be part of for years to come. Lest we forget.

On a far less important note, Sunday was also the first day in a month when I’ve not had to begin worrying about producing a match programme for the following Saturday. That’s because the 1-1 draw with Kiveton Park the previous afternoon brought to an end a run of four successive home matches.

Having increased the size of our match day magazine this season to 28 pages, filling four back-to-back issues has proved hard work – even for somebody who spiels at much tosh as I do. By the last one I really was struggling for inspiration and was thankful for our opponents sending me enough info on their club to fill double the space usually allocated.
On the field we haven’t really made the most of our sustained home advantage; a damaging cup defeat being accompanied by just the one win and two frustrating draws. Still, the league results stretched our unbeaten run in that competition to eight matches and we are gaining a reputation as a hard team to beat. Wins in our two games in hand on most teams would elevate us into the promotion places…now there’s a thought!
Last Saturday’s pre-match minute's silence, which was only slightly marred by spectator “Awd Wezzie” Brian who was too busy telling everybody about his recent holiday that he missed the whistle to start it, helped us play our own small part in the commemorations mentioned at the start of this piece.

It was also a moment probably close to the heart of one of our linesmen, Harry Hardy (pictured above, right), who at “allegedly” 83yrs old could easily have been remembering fellow servicemen!
Our next opponents at Low Farm are Yorkshire Main who, coincidentally were the first of our four recent weekly visitors.
That day saw a strange game in the League Cup. We started like a train and seemed to cause them all sorts of bother, eventually taking the lead midway through the first half (below) only to immediately concede an equaliser.

By the break we were 2-1 down and early in the second half it was three, courtesy of a penalty for handball for which Hutchy was dismissed. We battled to the end and for a time actually overcame our numerical deficiency to boss things. But Main hit us twice near the end to complete a comprehensive win.

Central Midlands League registrar (& Bonanza supremo) Rob Hornby was a visitor to Low Farm for the Main game and wrote a nice little piece about us on the Tony Kempster site. It’s one of several pieces submitted by Groundhoppers to various web sites over the past few years, telling of their trips down to the East End of Holderness and, I’m pleased to say, all have had nothing but compliments for the way we do things at our club.

The dedication of these people is quite staggering. In the past fortnight we’ve had a guy from Blackpool and another from London. The former had to get a taxi from Hull (24 miles) as the buses didn’t tie-in with the change to 2.00pm kick-offs; while the London Hopper stated his departure time as 5.45am on his trek north. (I actually think if I’d been making such a journey I’d have gone the extra mileage to see Bridlington entertain Scarborough in front of the NCEL’s biggest ever crowd – 1,082). But each to their own and we’re grateful for their interest.
Following the Main game we played out a goalless affair with Thoresby Colliery on the first wet afternoon of the season. It was a game we should have won but unfortunately we just couldn't find the finishing touch against another side well organised and keen to get the ball down and play.
Adding to the frustration of the result, we saw young “Van Pursey” sent off after the final whistle. As the case is currently the subject of an appeal I best not say too much but it was a decision that left most people within the club not only very surprised but also angry.
Light relief on the day was provided from the sidelines. Crowd banter is something that has been associated with Low Farm for years. Certainly when I first started watching and then playing for the club, the home "crowd" could be relied upon to provide their own moments of merriment.  During this game it was the opposition keeper who got more than he bargained for when attempting to be funny at the expense of the "Farm Faithful". As if we’ve never been called “Sheep Shaggers” before! He was soon told in no uncertain terms that, “It’s not only sheep son, it’s anything on four legs. But bah, it’s ‘elluva job tryin’ to kiss ‘em when you’re shaggin’ ‘em!”
Against Thoresby “The Shed” (aka Bonus Electrical Shelter) came into its own for the very first time thanks to the inclement conditions that forced most spectators under its protective roof. Their humour that day was mainly at the expense of the lino (or referee’s assistant) who, in fairness, took it all in good heart.
There was also a smile on Pursey's face when he bounced back to hit a stunner as we returned to winning ways against FC Brimington the following Saturday. Gav also finally broke his duck for the season with an exquisite second and after the Derbyshire side had reduced arrears, victory was sealed by one of the best own goals I'm ever likely to see – a bullet-like diving header that gave the Brimington keeper no chance.

And so to last weekend’s visit of bottom club Kiveton Park (in which Owen Mountain - above - appears to be proving the theory that kissing is indeed difficult when taking from behind!). In the event the Sheffield side reinforced our view that although the CML Premier Division might lack the “stand out” clubs of the likes of Chalk Lane, Reckitts and Sculcoates of recent HPL years (although Parkhouse in particular look a class act) the league also has no “whipping boys”. On the evidence of their performance at Low Farm I would certainly back Kiveton to give any of the teams currently occupying the lower positions in the HPL Premier Division a game.
 We “got out of gaol” courtesy of Farny’s 86th minute strike (above) that nestled nicely in the corner moments after Club Sec Judy, watching from her position behind the counter of the Tea Hut, had said: “Oh Farny, you’ve gone too far!” That's what’s known as a “Doug Clubley Moment” in Easington! Having referred to banter from the sidelines, some of the Farm Faithful’s finest moments are captured for posterity on a video of an “Old Farm” derby between United and neighbours Holmpton back in January 1991. That game was one of the last to be played by the then record goal scorer Melvin Douglas. He died from a heart attack a couple of months later, aged only 30. Also playing for the Eastenders that day was Mike “Raggy” Hudson. Six years later he too would see his life cut tragically short, at the age of just 25.

I mention both men because recently we finally managed to unveil some memorial benches named in honour of these two and local football & cricket supporter Colin Cooper. The fact that it has taken so long doesn’t reflect very well on the Club although, in truth, the work recently undertaken at the ground at least now ensures that the benches can be given a fitting home.
Returning to the present players and, after a month at home, we embark on our first away trip in five weeks on Saturday when we visit Thorne Colliery. An interesating one this. I've heard several reports of our opponents and in particular the type of support they attract to their Moorends Welfare ground. But, like much of what's been said beforehand during this wonderful Central Midlands experience we're currently undertaking, I set off down the M18 in expectation of another extremely enjoyable day out. And three points would be nice...

NOTE: Thanks to Burt Graham, Rob Hornby and Colin Brammer for most of the photos used above

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