Saturday, 14 August 2010

The waiting is nearly over...again

CML football returns to the Farm tomorrow - the perfect antidote to a World Cup hangover!

Two men and a tent...or two

Tomorrow brings the visit of Bulwell Town to the Easington Rec & Sports Ground, or Low Farm as we all know it, for the first game of the 2010/11 season in the Black Dragon Premier Division of the Abacus Lighting Central Midlands Football League.
By coincidence the Nottingham side were our first visitors last year, for our inaugural game in the competition.  A repeat of that afternoon's 2-1 win would be nice.
One repeat we won't be looking for is of the events that happened in April's return fixture at the Goosedale Sports Ground.  The fallout from that day is still to be finally mopped up although the findings of the recent Disciplinary Hearing at the East Riding County FA has at least satisfied us that we shouldn't have much cause for further concern.
We come into tomorrow's game on the back of four pre-season matches and the best attendances at training that I can recall.  Off the field we appear to have forged a new spirit of togetherness throughout the three teams that, if I'm being totally honest, perhaps wasn't always there before.  
Plus our decision to relocate all teams to The Granby this term means that although I forsake a pint of Black Sheep every post-match Saturday, I've been given the opportunity to sample some of the local Great Newsome Brewery's seasonal affairs.  And if recent offerings Haymakers Tipple and Rouging Reward are a taste (literally) of what's to come then 2010/11 could be an exciting season!

Saturday 17th July - Friendly v Hamilton Panthers 
(away) Won 3-1

This year's first batch of hopefuls

The pain of England's abysmal World Cup showing was barely three weeks old when we boarded Pistol Pete's Riding School Express for the first pre-season game, away at York side Hamilton Panthers.  And while several other residents of the East Riding (described as Hull City fans but obviously nothing of the sort) took it upon themselves to trash a local hostelry on the same day, this particular football fan enjoyed seeing his side run out 3-1 against our York League opponents.  Farny with a brace before jetting off on hols and JC with the other.
The game took place on York College's impressive 3G surface but it was the post-match destination that had me most excited.  Our post-match sesh on last year's trip to York had seen us take up residence in The Ainsty to watch the Hull KR v Hull FC derby game.  And the pub had been an absolute gem with a selection of fine cask ales on offer.
Oh what a come-down this time.  Of the six pumps available, only John Smith's Cask was on (the Adnams Broadside having just gone off) and the immediate tasting notes from Assistant Nige weren't favourable!  So, it being summer and a pleasant enough day, I chose a cider and sat next to The Passionate One, DC, who'd hot-footed it over along with sidekick Pash, from the former KitKat Crescent where Daniel Cousin's late strike had put Conference side York to the sword.
Any disappointment at lack of real ale was more than atoned for by the quality and quantity of food brought out (although it wasn't until half-an-hour later that we realised it hadn't all been intended for us!).
En route home, Pistol Pete's requirement for a birthday card for 'The Gaffer' meant an unscheduled stop-off in Beverley where it would have been rude not to have a pint.  And so to The Beaver we adjourned, where a very nice pint of Deuchars IPA went some way to atoning for the Ainsty's shortcomings.

Beers in the Beaver

One cat-fight later (great entertainment when your friends/family etc aren't directly involved) and we were back on the bus and on the way home.
"Nine hours out for ninety minutes football", said Mrs Slush as I stumbled through the door.  "It's going to be a long season".  Aye, perhaps she's right I thought.
Since the York trip the First Team have had three friendlies, all at home.

Saturday, 24th July - Friendly v Barton Town Old Boys 
(home) Lost 3-4

This was  a game forged out of the good relations Manager Mack enjoys with new Barton boss (& former Westella manager) Dave Anderson.  For us it was an excellent one to host, bringing decent quality opponents to the Farm for the first home fixture of pre-season.
And a bloody good game ensued.  Mozzer fired us in front early only for Chaz to drop a clanger and allow Adam Crane to float home a 40-yard free-kick a minute later.
Gav then lashed us back in front but two in five minutes before the break swung things back the way of the NCEL side.

Twanged it!

Early in the second half we got back on level terms thanks to Owen's opportunism but another rush-of-blood by our usually faultless keeper allowed the visitors to return to the South Bank with a win.
Result aside, we took a lot of positives from the game and in terms of revenue a gate of 70 was very heartening.  As was the cask in The Granby which accompanied some cracking Cornish pasties.

Sunday, 25th July - 
Community Fun Day (including 'Raggy Game'): 
Casuals Select XI 1 Hull City Ex-Tigers 3)

 Two sets of old gits reminisce about the good times

The morning after the Barton game found us all back at the Farm getting things sorted for the first Fun Day, organised by the Eastenders Development Group as this season's main fundraising event of the summer.
It always promised to be something of a hit-and-miss affair as very few of us had been involved in anything similar before (and those who had by way of the once-legendary village Gala are scarred for life!).
Initial signs weren't good.  How many men does it take to put a gazebo up?!  But eventually things got underway, people turned up, the sun shone and fun was had...though not by perhaps as many as we'd hoped and not for as long as we'd hoped.

"Right lads, tactics: spread out and enjoy yourselves!"

Centrepiece of the day was the 'Raggy Game' - the fixture played in memory of former East Ender Mike "Raggy" Hudson who died tragically young back in 1997.  On nine occasions since the event, "Raggy" has been remembered in an annual fixture, originally played between members of his Saturday club (us) and his former Sunday side (Holderness Casuals) and, latterly, between Past v Present Casuals.  Unfortunately, in the last two years the fixture has not taken place.
So following the Ex-Tigers' successful visit to the Farm last summer, some bright spark (!) had the idea that perhaps the former City stars could be persuaded to partake in the Raggy game on an annual basis.  Secretary Dave Bond answered in the affirmative and - despite the last minute disappointment of losing Dean Windass to the Sky Masters tournament - Peter Skipper and co arrived on the Low Farm turf ready for action.

A legendary Skipper

The Casuals Select XI (or 15 to be precise) were all aged over 30 with the exception of Dane Hagan, the 16-yr-old nephew of the late Mike and a new signing for the club this term.
In goal was Steve Eldon, playing his first game since having vowed "Never again" after conceding fourteen at Heslington in last season's ER County Cup!  He was probably thinking, "Why did I agree to this?" when beaten twice inside the opening seven minutes.  And when the Ex-Tigers netted a third on 21mins, a rout seemed on the cards.

"I said I'd never put mesen through this again"

Thankfully, the locals - some of whom had only met for the first time in several years in the moments prior to kick-off - rallied and with Eldon in tremendous form behind them, embarrassment was averted. Indeed a stonking 25-yarder from Craig Foster even ended things on a high.
With the new trophy presented by Mike's sister Gail to City's Adam Lowthorpe, everyone was free to retire to the bar while other events proceeded to take centre-stage.  And by the time a plague of greenflies brought things to a halt around 4pm, most kids had enjoyed  plenty of exercise, while most mums and dads had had ample chance to satisfy their tastes - be it beer or BBQ.
The who day brought in about £550 for the Club and £260 for East End Cancer Relief.  Next year will be bigger...and better.  We promise.

Saturday, 31st July - Friendly v Hornsea Town 
(home)  Lost 3-4

Not a game I'll remember too fondly, due mainly to it being my recommendations to Mack to "try a few things out" in the last 20mins that ultimately saw a 3-0 lead turned into a 3-4 loss.  I'll stick to the paperwork in future!
The result notwithstanding this was another enjoyable affair and another highly competitive game.
For an hour we were irrepressible.  The returning Stumo headed us into a 3rd minute lead and young find of pre-season, Sam Mac, looked to have made it two a couple of minutes later only to be denied by the linesman.


So nearly two!

Hornsea were typically fit, fast and athletic but didn't cause too many problems early on and we were good value for the lead at the break.
Mack switched both strikers at the break and was rewarded when Gav linked with Tom Mac who swept home.
Three up and, if not coasting, comfortable enough if this was a league game I'm certain we'd have seen it out.  But it wasn't so we didn't.  A tinker here, another there and suddenly it was 3-2.  Then, in the 90th, we fail to defend a corner.  All square.  A minute later, free-kick, bundled in at the second attempt, 3-4.  FFS!
Even the cask in Granby was off.

Monday, 9th August - Friendly v ERCFA Juniors 
(home) Won 2-0

And so pre-season came to an end with the annual visit of the East Riding County FA's Juniors Rep squad.  Some of the best Under-18s in the area, which this year included our very own Karl Fitzgerald.
As always the game proved open and entertaining with a goal in each half settling it in our favour; Farny showing strength on the first and then playing sub Stumo for a cool finish in the second half.
A crowd of nearly a hundred helped make the evening an even bigger success and the night was capped off with a fine pint of Pricky Back Otchan in The Granby.

Respect your elders!

Of course pre-season isn't only about the First Team and the Stiffs and Casuals have both begun their preparations.  I'll bring you up to speed with that in due course.  But for now, Bulwell awaits...

Many thanks to Colin Brammer, Burt Graham, Dom Taylor and Dave Longhorn for the photographs used in this pieces 

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