Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Frost bitten

Saturday 2 January – Thorne Colliery (home) Match postponed

I think I might finally be getting a hang of this blogging lark, well, at least the technical aspects of it - it’s amazing what little delights I’ve found when pressing “Advanced Settings”! I’m certainly not claiming any sort of technical proficiency yet but if nothing else the end result might be a little more pleasing on the eye?
The lack of any recent live action has allowed me to go back and “re-vamp” some of my previous postings. I’m not sure this is “blog etiquette” but it has proved quite therapeutic.
With more snow falling again today it would appear that I’ll have more time to "prat around" (as the missus refers to it) this weekend. A late switch of fixture had meant we were due to face Dronfield Town at home but this now looks very unlikely.
If as seems almost certain the match is postponed, it will ensure a fourth successive blank Saturday, following similar disruption against Brimington (19 Dec) and Thorne Colliery last weekend, with Boxing Day in-between.
Last Saturday’s postponement came after a roller-coaster week in weather terms.  The game was off then on then off again.  After melting snow had left areas sodden, two days of strong easterly/north-easterly winds then worked their magic to get things back on course, only for the New Year frosts to do their worst.  A 9.30am inspection by local referee Sprucey proved academic.
Thankfully I had not ventured as far as to print the Thorne programme (which, ironically, is Issue 13 for the season) and so it was simply a case of tweaking a few things to ensure that the vast majority of content remained the same for the visit of Dronfield. It now appears more likely that Issue 13 won't actually appear until Phoenix Sports arrive here on Saturday week…that's if this bloody awful weather ever abates of course.

At least Jack Frost's visit last Saturday allowed the Lusmore clan one of those “family afternoons” that come along all too rarely between August and May.  And so we togged the kids out in their winter woollies and embarked on one of our favourite walks – down Westfield Lane and across to the old Milking Parlour near the cemetery before a return trip via the village square.

It may be some of the flattest land in the United Kingdom but on a crisp winter’s afternoon, there's still a lot to be said for this corner of Holderness.  Big skies, the hub of the nearby Humber, the smell of the country and the easy pace of everything makes the odd chance to get out and be part of it, as we did so briefly last weekend, almost unmissable.

It was quite invigorating and gave all of us a feeling of well-being when we finally got back in the warmth an hour or so later; a feeling that for me disappeared along with City’s second half capitulation at Wigan in the FA Cup Third Round.
The Tigers’ 4-1 defeat also made the headlines for all the wrong reasons thanks to a paltry crowd of just over 5,300 at the DW Stadium. Given that 800 or so had made the horrendous journey across the Pennines to watch what was in effect a City reserve side, such comments reflect more on the attraction or otherwise of our once premier cup competition than the respective merits of the two clubs on show.
And despite Leeds recording the shock of the competition the following day in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford, it would appear that the FA Cup remains a pale imitation of the competition it once was.
When I was younger, FA Cup Final day meant up to eight hours in front of the box. The build-up began with “Swapshop” and included the delights of “It’s A Knockout” and all other sorts of footy-related gubbins which ensured great anticipation by the time the first bars of “Abide With Me” rang out from the Wembley pitch. And who cared that the games rarely lived up to all the hype? Guaranteed that whoever won the cup, school would see an increased numbers of scarves in those particular colours the following term; thus, for instance, the previously unheralded sight of Ipswich Town favours being worn around Withernsea High School in 1978.
But it wasn’t just the final. FA Cup Third Round day was as much a part of the Festive Break as turkey (even if The Tigers were often out of the competition by then). Now for many – including it would seem my own team’s manager – the cup is just an unwanted distraction.  Even the Man Utd-Leeds tie couldn't hide the fact.  As the Daily Telegraph pointed out today, this one tie only served to gloss over the ongoing demise of a once great national institution.
Of course, if we’re to apportion blame for this demise we need look no further than the usual suspects in the Premier League, in particular the so-called “Big Four”: Fergie for boycotting it one year in favour of a greater marketing opportunity overseas, and his rivals for devaluing it by weak team selections and the refusal to bestow a UEFA Champions League place on the competition winners. Shame on them all.
So it's goodbye to the FA Cup for another year.  If only we could say the same for the Arctic weather.  While the local radio station is telling us to brace ourselves for more snow tomorrow and the accompanying traffic disruption, school closures etc., my mind wanders to distant shores; in particular to Cape Town. Sitting here listening to Smith and Amla pummelling our bowlers into the Newlands dust, the temperature is being quoted as 34C.  It's not a day to be spent in the field as Strauss and co. are finding out to their cost.
I had these same wandering thoughts when watching Sky Sports News interview some of the 10,000 England fans arriving in Cape Town for the current Test. Having attended the Millennium Test there in 2000 I can relate to the elation this year’s Barmy Army members will be experiencing at one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world (especially when suitably fortified by copious amounts of Castle lager from the brewery next door!).
Travelling abroad to follow your country at any sport is a great experience.  Unfortunately, mine has been limited to just the two Test series (I was also at Melbourne and Sydney for the 1998/99 Ashes).  Oh, and an ill-fated 1985 football excursion into Scotland (well it felt "abroad") to watch England lose to a Richard Gough header and and several thousand of us being invited by the local constabulary to leave the Hampden Park terraces at half-time, find our buses and "f#*k off"!  I've never been tempted to go back.  Unlike Cape Town where Table Mountain, Cape Point, the train to Simonstown, the Stellenbosch vineyards, Kenilworth Races and of course Newlands Cricket Ground are definitely worth a return trip.  Some time.  Perhaps.
Outside it's still snowing.  Better plan another walk for Saturday then...

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