Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Saturday 22nd May
ER County League President's (H. E. Dean) Cup Final
Easington United Reserves 4 Viking Raiders 0

 A happy bunch of Stiffs!

The hottest day of the year and the hottest ticket in town for the Reserves.  After a season of four managers, many players and even more disappointments, the Stiffs had found themselves in a cup final.  And not just any old cup final but the East Riding County Football League's most prestigious cup final - the H. E. Dean Cup Final.
Named in recognition of the League President (it's official title is the ER County League President's Challenge Trophy presented by H. E. Dean Esq. (1937-1975)) it is the only piece of silverware that every member club can challenge for.
It was first lifted in 1977 by the all-conquering Sir Leo Schultz YC side.  Meanwhile, Easington United's record throughout the competition's 33-year history is pretty dire...or rather, it had been.
For the past few years the H. E. Dean Cup has been regionalised and run on a midweek basis towards the season's end.  The idea originally being to retain Saturday afternoons for league games, thus reducing the number of matches that would have to be rescheduled due to poor weather.  And given the awful winter experienced this season, it has again proved an inspired decision.
And so on the hottest day of the year, accompanied by the Elder Slushette, I boarded a Pearsons Travel coach bound for Bridlington.
Thanks to the generosity of Bridlington Town chairman - and all-round good egg (apart from the fact he's a Hull FC fan) - Pete Smurthwaite, Queensgate has provided a top-class venue for all four showpiece County League Cup finals.

Lock up your sheep...the Casuals are here
On 8 May the venue saw AFC Goods Office win the League Senior Cup (Premier Division & Division 1) and Haltemprice Rangers the Harold Robinson Cup (Divisions 4 & 5).  Today - Saturday 22 May - would see the remaining pieces of silverware up for grabs; a high noon meeting of Leven Members Club Reserves and The Barrel Walkington for the League Junior Cup (Divisions 2 & 3) before the Stiffs' date with destiny at 3pm.
Well, that's how it should have panned out.  Only nobody gave a thought to the first final not running to time.  And so as we pulled into Queensgate at 1.48pm and I could see action still taking place on the pitch, my only hope was that some "Fergie time" was being played at the end of a stoppage-ridden encounter.
No such luck.  Our fears were soon confirmed when ERCFL Secretary Roger Smith, bearing the frown of somebody whose best laid plans have just been well and truly scuppered, informed me that this was indeed the first period of extra-time.  And to make matters worse, Leven had only equalised just minutes from the end of the ninety.

 Turned out nice again!
At least the delay allowed time to scan round the ground and take in what was a very encouraging sight...or two.  Not knowing any official figures I'd hazard a guess there were over 200 inside the ground for the Junior Cup Final, the vast majority of who were decked out - quite bizarrely given the weather - in green & white bar scarves with "Walkington FC" rather snazzily embroidered at each end.
Two coachloads had made the trip across to see former Hull City  "star" Leigh Palin's  side attempt to add to their runners-up place in Division 3 and semi-final appearance in the H. E. Dean Cup - not a bad double for a team in its first season.  And although their hopes appeared to be dealt another blow when Leven took the lead with a cracking strike early in extra-time, a tremendous free-kick right on half-time had the by-now familiar "Green Arrrrrmy" chants again ringing round Queensgate.
Not that Roger Smith or the members of Easington Utd Reserves and Viking Raiders were enjoying the prospect of even more time being taken to find a winner!
Some of our party spent the extra time afforded them productively - in the clubhouse bar.  Others waited nervously for their own action to begin. 
No further goals meant the Junior Cup Final went to penalties, during which crowd favourites Walkington played the part of England to the f___ing up big style. 

Leven play the part of the Germans in the penalty shootout
Despite a quicker-than-usual trophy presentation, the Stiffs' own showpiece event was to be delayed by half-an-hour.  This in turn created problems, with the time between the final's scheduled conclusion and the start of the night's Annual Presentation Evening being reduced even further.
Decisions were taken and phone calls made, delaying the night's organised transport to accommodate the changes.  Now let's just hope our own game doesn't go to pens!

This could be Inter at the Bernabeau
There appeared little danger of that early on.  In the opening 20 minutes or so Viking looked in a hurry to administer a third beating of the season, following convincing wins in both Premier Division encounters.
Pagey was forced into a fine stop while the Stiffs appeared slow in coming to terms with the organisational set-up of manager Kevin "Jose" Appleyard.  And their cause wasn't helped when a stray elbow forced Beattie off the field with the umpteenth broken nose of his playing career.
But then came a break of a more positive nature.  Young Jeffery started it from the back, finding wingman Frosty down the right.  He in turn held things up well before teeing-up Beattie's replacement Brownski whose pinpoint cross was met by Jeffery's glancing header; the man who'd started the move ending it in style as the ball arrowed inside the keeper's far post.  1-0 to the underdogs. "Green (& Gold) Arrrmy!"

 Their names about to be written in history, err...
Suddenly league form counted for nothing and by the break we could have been two up while Viking could (should?) have been down to ten; goalkeeper Richardson escaping with a yellow when hauling Frost down on the edge of the box.
Frosty was proving a real thorn in the Raiders' rear, as was his left-wing counterpart Fitzy and these two again helped the Stiffs reassert control early in the second half.
Twice Frost went close to making it 2-0, once Richardson and once a defender denying him.  Then it was the Vikings turn; Pagey being forced into two tip-over saves and great defensive interventions from Jammo and then Fitzy preventing the Goole side from levelling.

  The Fitz & Frost Show
Twenty minutes from time and deciding to take up position behind the Vikings goal following yet another toilet request from my eldest, I suddenly found myself in prime position to see the Stiffs settle matters.
First The Stumo took delivery of Foster's slide rule pass before steering the ball expertly beyond Richardson.  Two minutes later Fozzy kept up his record of scoring great goals at Queensgate courtesy of a thumping 25-yarder into the top corner.  3-0 and a very nice piece of silverware was en route to the Humber Riviera!

 Postman Stumo's first class delivery...
...while Foz has some barmy bald keeper congratulating him

Fittingly Frost and Fitzgerald combined for the fourth before Raiders' misery was completed by a late dismissal.  As their players, management and entourage became more and more abusive towards officialdom, the Ezzie contingent in the "Bus Shelter" behind the dugouts lapped it all up.

Four fcuking nil!
At ten past five Geordie referee Mike Elliott gave the three shrill blasts on his whistle that signalled "Easington United Reserves - ER County League President's Trophy Winners 2009/10".  Well chuffed.

 A well done Yorkshire Pudding
While the Eastenders celebrated, I jumped in with the McNaught brothers for the trip home.  The annual end-of-season bash was due to start in just over two hours' time...

Special thanks to Dom Taylor for some of the above shots 

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