Friday, 2 April 2010

Five Past Nine

Saturday 27th March - Welbeck Welfare (home) Won 5-1

"That's why I should be starting" says Thommo (12, extreme left)

Billy Butlin opened his first holiday camp on “200 acres of a former turnip field” at Skegness on 11th April 1936.
Some seventy four years later the Slushters made their second trip in as many years to the Lincolnshire coast to sample four days of Butlins-style “Family Entertainment”, complete with Billy Bear, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Thomas the Tank Engine and The Skyline Gang.
Result – two excited and exuberant young Slushettes, two knackered-out parents and a Blog that’s now way out-of-date.

Well what do you expect with a 3 year old at the wheel?

I had originally intended to sort out this account of our struggle against the bottom club before we set off southwards last Monday. I failed. I then intended doing it as a piece of late-night work on Friday but was too dejected following Hull KR’s derby defeat to come up with anything constructive.
Of course I could (and perhaps should) have been busy composing it whilst I was away…fat chance of that when either Splash World, Bob’s Builder’s Yard, the Funfair or the outstanding Coast restaurant were calling. When they weren’t I was usually to be found asleep!
So, to keep things short and sweet (and get us back up-to-date), suffice to say that following our hard-earned and perhaps slightly fortunate win over Thorne Colliery, we stumbled through a frustrating-at-times-but-eventually-comfortable win over a depleted Welbeck Welfare. A couple of results that meant we headed into a tough looking Easter schedule with hopes of a top four finish still intact…

We came into the Welbeck game on the back of the CML Special General Meeting’s vote on the future of the competition. Thankfully, unlike some other better-placed clubs, there was no sense of anti-climax among the players and/or feeling that their efforts thus far had been in vain. Far from it. Instead there was a steely resolve to ensure we finish as high as possible in order to claim that we’d earned promotion anyway.
Opponents Welbeck Welfare are enduring a disappointing season and headed to the East Yorkshire Coast in an already desperate-looking position at the bottom of the table. Their prospects were not helped when four of their number withdrew from the squad between Friday tea and Saturday morning, leaving them short-handed for the game.
The first inkling I had of this was when manager Colin Matthews said “Don’t laugh” as he handed me the team sheet. It had only nine names written on it.

No prizes for guessing where the third match ball is?!

Conversation ensued as to the reasons behind the depletion. It also broached the subject of what the future holds for the club, although much of what was said then has since been somewhat contradicted by Club Secretary Phil Crouch in answer to a thread on the CMFL Message Board.

"Eh don't look now Burt but I think they've only got nine?"

Whilst Welbeck’s problems are no real concern of anybody but Welbeck, it not only saddened me to hear their tale of woe but also left me frustrated as we’d sent two short-handed squads to fulfil that day’s County League fixtures in order to ensure we retained enough quality to beat a side that had taken a point off us before Christmas.

This shouldn't take long today...

The news also had a detrimental effect on the players. For despite stand-in manager Appleyard’s exhortations to forget the numbers and go out and do the job, you could sense the lads were already looking ahead to Dronfield.
Any thoughts of a procession of goals were erased early on when Hodgy fluffed his lines at the far post. And from that moment on, as the home side stuttered the visitors grew in confidence.

Natives - restless and otherwise!

With the natives growing restless, skipper AG eventually broke the deadlock just past the half-hour but it was Welbeck who came off at the break the happier.

"That one's for you, I mean stand-in boss!"

I also enjoyed the interval cuppa, thanks to news of the Stiffs' "massive win" at relegation rivals Sculcoates.
Having gained promotion to the First Team dugout due to Mack’s trip to France to watch Rovers and the need for Rutter’s presence in a depleted Reserves line-up for the aforementioned Scully match, the Stiffs supremo was left with an awkward HT talk to deliver. But whatever he said worked.

A tactical genius?

Employing more width the locals immediately started to stretch their opponents and Man Mountain doubled the lead from 20 yards.

Keeper Pywell again left wondering what the eight in front of him are f___ing about at!

On came subs Hutch and Thompson and both immediately had an impact. Hutch headed home a Mountain cross for 3-0 before Thommo weighed in with a fine double.

"Goals don't move!"

Hopes of a third home clean sheet were then dashed in the final minute as the otherwise excellent referee awarded what might well be termed a “soft” penalty, from which Carl Lake completed the day’s scoring.
Scant consolation

At the final whistle I had one of those rare moments when I feel like throttling one of our own supporters. It came when I heard him telling a Welbeck member, “It’s a good job you didn’t come with eleven, you’d have beaten us today.” No they wouldn’t. Chances are our lads would have raised their game accordingly.  C__k.
My mood was lightened by news of a valuable win for The Tigers and further so by the availability of Black Sheep Bitter on draught in The Neptune – quite possibly the result of the day!
Given their depletion on the field, off it Welbeck’s was one of the larger entourages we’ve entertained this season. And what a very amicable bunch they proved to be. As their secretary departed I bade him good luck for the future but I got the feeling that the picture might not be quite as black as had previously being painted.
The only blips on an otherwise successful Saturday were provided by the Casuals, shipping “9 (nine)” at home to Gilberdyke Reserves and Rovers, beaten by the Catalans.
But Match of the Day was for once watched with anticipation rather than trepidation and as I wended my way up the stairs to Bedfordshire it was in the knowledge that tomorrow would bring with it packing and preparation for a week with Billy Butlin.

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