Friday, 1 January 2010

2009: A year of progress

A better year for The Eastenders
The following text provided the basis for two matchday programme pieces I produced over the Christmas/New Year period.  Now seems an apt time to air them on here...

As we enter the new decade all of us connected with Easington United can do a lot worse than hope for a repeat of 2009 in terms of the Club’s overall performance, on and off the field.
For, despite lack of silverware and the struggles endured by both County League squads there were more positives than negatives to come out of the past twelve months.
The highlight probably came in July with the retention of the FA Charter Standard Adult Club of the Year award for a second year running at both County and Regional level. This is a magnificent accolade and recognises continuing good practice at all levels within the club. Judy and Jeff were this year’s proud recipients at the presentation made by Hull City legend ‘Deano’ prior to his Testimonial game at the KC Stadium in August.
While that was the biggest accolade of the year, the most satisfying achievement personally was completion of the “Million Metre Meander” in May. On a stiflingly hot Sunday in May, the taste of a gorgeous pint of ‘Timothy Taylor Landlord’ after 25 miles walking takes some beating! The fact that the money raised not only benefited the club but also went to a very good cause courtesy of The Mia Fund also enhanced one’s satisfaction.
Both of the above "successes" were thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Eastenders Development Group.  Among others were the Presentation Evening, which this year took on a different format and ensured a "self-financed" event for once; the Sporting Dinner at Craven Park, with Steve Daley and Mally Lord (above) which still proved successful despite losing original choice venue (the KC Stadium) at the eleventh hour; the "Night At The Dogs" at The Boulevard; and the award of ERCAS Level 1 accreditation which was the result of much hard work over several months.
The other big achievement of 2009 has been at Low Farm where, in tandem with the Recreation & Sports Association, work has continued in an attempt to establish a first-class venue for south-east Holderness.
To this end, last week saw completion of a final stretch of perimeter barriers, which in turn concluded a major upgrade of the site in line with the Step 7 requirements of the CML.
The main involvement on our part came courtesy of the “Day on the Farm” in June, which saw a whole host of tasks undertaken to give the ground a facelift. This was then followed by the laying of hard-standing, for which the likes of Biff and Brim must take most of the credit. But the overall project again showed what can be achieved when all at this club are pulling in the same direction.
Despite the lack of any silverware, there was a marked upturn in playing fortunes during 2009, particularly at First Team level. A fourth placed finish in the Humber Premier League was a significant improvement on the previous two seasons and ensured that United left the competition boasting the fourth best overall record of any of the original members.
In the summer we became the first Holderness club to make the move to Regional football, via membership of the CML, thus providing a first step on the Non-League Pyramid. And it was a proud day on August 15 when Andy Graham led the team out against Bulwell Town in our opening fixture.  Competing alongside many clubs of semi-professional pedigree has brought fresh challenges but we arrive at 2010 having settled in well in the new surrounds and with only two defeats against our name.
Although times have been tougher at second and third team level, the fact that United still supports three teams every Saturday afternoon is an achievement in itself given the size of the village.  And let's not forget, we are currently still the only Holderness club that can offer top-flight local football for its Reserves team.
The Reserves also enjoyed the surprise bonus of an appearance in a South Holderness Cup Final last May, which marked a first for the club as well as giving certain players a welcome return to an occasion they may well have thought had passed them by for good!
Therefore there is plenty of optimism as we enter 2010 and should we be reflecting on a similar level of success this time next year then I for one will again be a very happy man.
Having said that, Easington is no different to any other place in that not everybody is happy with what we’re doing – both inside and outside the club. This isn’t such a bad thing.  Constructive criticism is something any organisation needs to keep it on its toes and ensure it doesn’t get complacent.
Some of the flak we've received over 2009 has come from members of rival clubs and indeed "rival" leagues - something that was perhaps to be expected when we finally confirmed our decision to move to the Central Midlands League.
Much of this I took with a pinch of salt - indeed some of the stuff aimed our way wasn't worthy of a response it was so petty.  However, what really disappointed me was when the criticism had no basis in fact and was designed purely to damage our standing locally.  This is especially so when the comments in question emanated from people inside the local community but outside this football club who would like nothing better than to see Easington United AFC fall flat on its face. That is something I and a lot of other people are determined isn’t going to happen.
At the moment we have a great combination of a younger, ambitious Development Group and a solid, experienced Committee headed up by the Chairman. It’s something that should ensure that the Club is allowed to further its ambitions without harming the prospects of those wishing to follow in its footsteps in years to come.
2009 was a good year for the club, 2010 can be even better! 

The photographs used above appear courtesy of various sources including Hull City AFC, Colin Brammer and Burt Graham.  Thanks.

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