Friday, 18 December 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Saturday 12 December - Bentley Colliery (home) Won 4-2

Bloody hell! This time next week I’ll be up to my knees in wrapping paper and relatives. Christmas Day will be upon us again and at the risk of sounding like my grandparents when I was younger, “it seems to come round quicker every year!
At least the weather is playing its part this year. Having gone to do a pitch inspection round at the Farm early this afternoon, I was caught by the start of what eventually turned into heavy snowfall. To such an extent that both tomorrow's games now look in serious doubt. A final decision will no doubt be made after consultation with "Head Groundsman" (& indeed some-time Father Christmas himself) Brim Biglin...Whilst round at the ground it gave me the first chance to check out the latest section of pitch-side barriers. These stretch from the home dugout down to the "Farm End" goal and are equipped with socket-type attachments that will enable removal in the event of any cricket being played on the neighbouring track. The latest stage now means three-quarters of the pitch is barriered off, further enhancing the feel of the place as a proper little ground.
Back to Christmas and I can’t exactly pretend it’s crept up on me this year. Especially so as the kids have been playing Festive CD’s since the beginning of September! Despite this, yet again I’m about as prepared for it as Gordon Brown is for a change in economic climate.
As previously posted last week witnessed the first of my social events for the current “Party Season”, courtesy of the aforementioned “Curry Night” on Thursday. Earlier that same day my two girls were part of the Nativity at our local primary school. Refreshingly in these changing times it was based on the traditional theme with just a few additional “modern” touches. While my eldest, Emma, had bagged herself the part of Mary (to my knowledge the first time the Blessed Virgin has ever been depicted wearing Hannah Montana glasses) it was 3-year-old Katie’s debut appearance as an angel that had her mum and me most apprehensive. These feelings were reinforced when most of her fellow angels came out in pristine costumes purchased from the local supermarket - Katie’s was very much a home-made affair which by the start of the show was already looking dishevelled with bits of tinsel hanging off and the headgear (“I’m not wearing THAT!”) already cast asunder!
In the event, aside from a few minutes spent with her hands down her pants, our youngest came through unscathed; as did the family name. Although Emma – who threw herself into her “female lead” part with gusto – was prompted to chastise us both at the end for laughing too much (“it’s not supposed to be funny y’know?”).
Christmas events always have a knock-on effect on the football calendar – sometimes disastrously so as with our visit to Sculcoates in the HPL a few years ago. Having been one of few teams to elect to play on Saturday 23 December (i.e. the day after “Mad Friday”) in an attempt to catch up on lost fixtures we were punished by several members of the squad either failing to show or turning up in a clearly distressed state. We were walloped 6-1.
I therefore approach this Saturday’s trip to Worksop (above) to face FC Brimington with slight apprehension. Today will see several of our squad break-up for the holidays and therefore be out “on the lash” from lunchtime until…well, who knows? It’s to be hoped they’re disciplined enough to make sure they turn up fit and raring to go tomorrow. Should the Sandly Lane pitch beat the big freeze tonight that is.
The weekend before Christmas also brings with it the annual Sunday Sesh, which this year takes place down Hull’s “Prinny Ave” (Princes Avenue). It’s traditionally a laid-back affair and involves bumping into many players from various other clubs – and even referees – all out enjoying the impending break. If we can do that on the back of three wins tomorrow then all the better.
The First Team go to Worksop in good heart following a fine win over Bentley at home last weekend. The lads again had to work hard for the points and Bentley looked a very good side at times, particularly first half when their movement off the ball was as good as anything I’ve seen this season.

Farny blasted us in front from a controversial free-kick (above). I must confess I didn’t see what it was awarded for as I was in Arthur Luckup’s paddock retrieving a ball. Our joy wasn't long-lived; the South Yorkshire side levelled from the spot five minutes later.

Bentley were good value for a point at the break but thanks to the three goals shown below - a piece of individual quality by Mozzer (top) and two in three minutes from Gav (middle and bottom) after coming off the bench we eventually cruised to victory.

A little aside from last weekend was the use of the blue FBT kit, due to Bentley having logistical problems with their change strip. Because the aforementioned kit doesn’t get that many airings these days, I’d forgotten that we’ve had it for some seven years now and indeed have picked up plenty of trophies while wearing it. It was therefore quite amusing to hear the lads come in last week and say, “Wow, a new kit!” And when looking around there were very few players who’d ever donned it before – such has been the squad turnaround in the last couple of years.
Bentley’s visit marked our last home game of 2009 and one of the most pleasing aspects of our first season in the CML has been our solid form at ‘The Farm’. Ten league and cup matches at the Easington Rec. & Sports Ground have yielded five wins and three draws. This compares with five wins and three defeats in the eight games played during the second half of the 2008/09. It’s an overall calendar record that shows signs of recovery after a couple of years of disappointing home form.
Elsewhere last Saturday the Reserves and Casuals both went down to defeat but again there were positive signs to be taken from both.

For the Stiffs it was their second game under the temporary stewardship of John Clarke and his return to the management fold does appear to have had a beneficial effect on the players and morale as a whole. In addition, he’s encouraged previous manager Lee to have more of an input and has benefited from club captain Andy’s decision to “help out” for a few weeks – a nice riposte to those who accuse the club of being a one-team band.
His first game back (above) yielded a point at home to Holme; two Joni Purse goals (the second is shown below) helping us come from 0-1 and 1-2 down. And although Saturday saw a somewhat predictable reverse at high-flying Hodgson’s, JC was again impressed by the effort on show. Indeed the home manager reportedly told him that that was the best game anyone had given the Beverley side at home this season. Something to build on there then. 
Tomorrow - weather (or miracle) permitting - the Reserves entertain North Cave, while the Casuals play host to local rivals Withernsea Thirds. Although not quite carrying the significance of any meeting between the two clubs’ senior squads, it’s never nice to lose to the Seasiders and Maccer will have his lads fired up for a tilt at avenging September’s defeat in the away game. It’s also quite amusing that Maccer has 18 players available for the game, including the returning Pasha Brown. He may well have some difficult decisions to make before announcing his final fourteen.

Talking of the Casuals, veteran defender “Awd Threv” Biglin (above) clocked up his 500th appearance for the Club on Saturday. In doing so he became the fifth member of the current squad to have achieved that particular milestone and my congratulations go to him.
As I look outside now, the chances of "Threv" extending his tally by one more tomorrow would appear increasingly bleak. But, should all three games somehow beat the “sner” (as they call the white stuff in ‘Ull) here’s hoping for a fine hat-trick with which to end the year - now that would have us all “Walking in a Wilson Wonderland”.

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