Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Home comforts

Saturday 11th September - Nottingham United (home) Won 6-1
Tuesday 14th September - Hull City 2 Derby County 0

Chav doesn't miss home!

Frantic?  I'll give you frantic.  How does one fit in all one's sporting interests when one has a wife and two daughters to avoid upsetting? 
With great bloody difficulty I'll tell you.
As you will gather from the previous post, I wasn't particularly popular in the Slush Household on the Sunday following the Welbeck game.  Even though I'd done the decent thing in getting up early (6am) and ensured that both Slushettes were fed and watered before their mother deemed us worthy of her presence I was, well, in the doghouse.
How could I tell?  Ah it's those familiar signs.  Mrs Slush was like the telly when it's on the blink - I had vision but very little sound.  And what sound I did have was restricted to one-word answers given out with very little feeling.  Best keep my head down today, I thought, I've a busy week ahead...
The planned sport-fest had actually started the previous Friday when I'd politely enquired if Mrs Slush would like the computer to herself for a change once the kids were in bed...that way she wouldn't disturb my viewing of the England v Bulgaria Euro 2012 qualifier.  Mission accomplished.  While I enjoyed an England display for the first time since before the World Cup (and on free-to-air telly) Mrs Slush enjoyed an evening of "social networking".  Result.

Defoe's three - free - on ITV!

Sadly, my good start was well and truly blown by my late - and it must be said somewhat dishevelled - return from Welbeck.  My star was most certainly not in the ascendancy and the chances of getting "a pass out" to either (a) the pub to watch the Tuesday night Swiss game and/or (b) the KC Stadium for Saturday's rugby league "Do-or-Die Derby" against the Dullers looked pretty remote to say the least.
There was some serious creeping to be done.  As it was, getting out for the England game proved far too easy (indeed somewhat easier than actually seeing the game itself - see previous rant).  There had to be a catch?  There was and, with stunning timing, Mrs Slush delivered it...
"Err, tickets are on general sale tomorrow for the Derby.  Rovers aren't selling theirs until Thursday but I thought I'd get mine from the doesn't matter, West Stand will be full of Rovers anyway...I thought I could take Emma...I'd need the car but you..."
"When is it?"
"When is it? The rugby?"
"Saturday. Six o'clock. It'll mean leaving football early but..."
"I'm out"
"Sorry? Thought for a minute you said you were out?"
"I am"
"But you don't go out?"
And that was that.  Turns out Mrs Slush had been storing up this particular invitation - for a curry night in honour of a friend's 40th birthday - for some time now just waiting for the perfect moment to hit me with it.  And as she did so it was with a "thwack" akin to the sort dished out by Union Jack Jackson to some square-jawed Hun in the Warlord comics I used to read as a nipper.
Alas, I therefore may be missing out on the "biggest Hull Derby in thirty years" but at least  Mrs Slush couldn't spoil my enjoyment of Yorkshire's excellent win at Nottinghamshire in cricket's LV County Championship.  Thankfully, neither could my gaffer who - I think - was quite impressed by the excitement emanating from my desk as leaders Notts crashed to 59 all out on the first day.

What about that Cally?

The availability of streamed commentary via BBC Radio Leeds this season has been a real godsend - as has Yorkshire's pursuit of their 32nd County Championship title.  The near-legendary Dave Callaghan, accompanied in the commentary box at Trent Bridge by Radio Nottingham's wonderfully named Dave Bracegirdle, helped the working week pass just that little bit quicker and Cally was duly ecstatic when Joni Bairstow (son of the late great "Bluey") eventually struck the winning runs on Thursday afternoon. So was I.

Farny's front attracts some Nottingham interest?!
Therefore I was back in good books and in good fettle by the time the weekend arrived.  And what a full one it promised to be.  The First Team at home to Nottingham United, with the Reserves set to commence ER County League action;  the Tigers  back following the international break and with an "international" fixture of their own - away at high-flying Cardiff;  Yorkshire at Scarborough in pursuit of success on a second front via the semi-finals of the CB 40 competition; and to cap it all off - that "Do-or-Die Derby"...which I would be listening to on local radio whilst getting the Slushettes ready for bed. Ah well, can't have everything!

"Did he honestly ask Slush whether we've got BBC out here?!"

Nottingham United arrived at Low Farm on a bright but blustery Saturday afternoon looking the part in collar and tie.  And an affable bunch of lads they appeared to be.  Perhaps manager Mark Hartill is wishing they wouldn't be as accommodating - their generosity had already seen them concede 22 goals in just four matches prior to their second visit of the season to the East Riding.
Like FC 05 Bilsthorpe, Nottingham joined the CMFL from the Midland Amateur Alliance.  In fact they actually started life in 2008 as a Sunday League side in the Notts Sunday Football League (NSFL) where they've tasted a fair amount of success.  
The Saturday section grew out of a merger with another local side, Monty Hind Old Boys and the club now operates four Sunday teams and two on Saturdays.  Somewhat bizarrely, they also boast contacts high up in the Bulgarian government following a recent pre-season tour that ensured they began life in their new surrounds a couple of weeks after everyone else.  You can find out more via their website.

Now over the years I've been accustomed to people asking a string of questions that directly relate to Easington's place in the "Back of Beyond".  Usually these queries involve  pointing out the location of the nearest petrol station, cash machine and even fish 'n' chip shop or bemoaning the lack of phone signal (only Orange currently guarantees you half-decent connectivity down the Awd East End!).  
However, prior to the visit of Nottingham United, I can honestly say I'd never been asked the following: "Have you got the BBC?"
Err, yeah, I think so...might only be the World Service though" was my only partially tongue-in-cheek reply!
Turns out the reason visiting Club Sec. Martin Mintov wanted to know was due to the Burnley-Preston game being shown live that tea-time.  It was a game that held particular interest for two members of the visiting team...from Nottingham.  I didn't ask!

Nottingham's charitable nature continues early at Low Farm
As for the game, Mack was looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season and had duly got his wish by half-time, given the 4-0 interval scoreline.
We were helped by the continuing poor defensive record of the visitors.  Sloppy marking allowed young Fitzy a brace of headers, while goalkeeper Omar Murtaz should have done better with Gav's shot that made it 3-0.

JC's "in-off"!
 "I thowt 'e woz off ti catch it!"
Pick of the bunch was JC's strike on 19mins, a rifled effort in off the post following a fine, flowing move.
Despite their lowly league position, Nottingham possessed a couple of tricky players going forward and perhaps should have had something to show for it at the break.

Thomas misses...
But Fitzy doesn't. 3-0
And Gav gets a helping hand from keeper Omar
During the break I sat in on Dave's team-talk.  I should add that this was done on request - new asst-boss Ian Taylor being in Ibiza and Mack's hoped-for early exit in order to get to the KC Stadium prompting my return to a role I hadn't occupied for some time.
Mack's words probably surprised some of the lads.  Perhaps expecting glowing praise for their first half efforts, they were instead told it wasn't good enough and much improvement was needed!

How not to take a penalty
Instead it was the visitors who struck next, Neal Stevenson scoring from the rebound after Chaz had got down to block his penalty kick, awarded for a shove by Blounty.
The fall-out from the goal saw the aforementioned Easington pair engage in some rather unedifying "conversation" - which appeared particularly un-called for given the fact we were 4-1 up!
Thankfully, within minutes it was five; Fitzy being upended by full-back Thomas and Chav stepping forward to blast home the spot-kick.  He did it twice in fact, following referee Roger Evans' ordering of a retake for encroachment.

And how to take one
And that was just about that, save for a maiden goal for Andy Martin and a horrendous miss by Stu Campbell.

And Stumo must score...

...Oh 'eck!

A 6-1 win, 3pts to the good and everyone's happy - even the Notts lads who were heard to opine that we "weren't very good" before proceeding to enjoy every minute of the  all-Lancastrian thriller in the Championship, eventually pouring out of the Granby and onto their minibus at half-past seven!
Unfortunately neither Hull City nor Yorkshire could add to the day's success; nor could our Reserves who returned from Leconfield on the back of a 4-0 opening day loss to Beverley Town Reserves.  It was left to Hull Kingston Rovers to ensure the day finished on a high. 

Rovers celebrate at the only full part of the KC
On leaving the KC with the Elder Slushette in July, following the second of our two derby defeats in the regular season, I had quipped that, "We'll probably come back here in the Play-offs and win".  Hull fans had laughed then.  They weren't laughing when Scott Murrell's late drop goal capped a 21-4 Rovers win in front of a rapidly emptying KC Stadium.  Indeed, given all the hype, a recorded crowd of 17,000 was a real disappointment; especially given that over five thousand had travelled across the city. 
"Old Faithful"? Hmm.

Tuesday night found me at the KC Stadium in person for my second taste of Championship action.  And for the first time since the days of Boothferry Park I was attending the game alone.  Or to be more precise, I was travelling with some (season passholding) mates but my seat in the ground - Upper West, Row S, No.165 - was a single purchase.  I consoled myself with the thought that my Billy No Mates status had as much to do with City's stuttering start to the season rather than something more personal!
The visitors were Derby (or "Dorrbeh") County, now managed by Nigel Clough and a team who'd impressed me greatly during their televised opening day win over L**ds.  (Even more impressive was the story that Clough jnr had disembarked his players several hundred yards from Elland Road and walked to the ground - fans of "The Damned United" will know why I found that particularly amusing).
Since that win, the Rams' fortunes had run parallel to The Tigers, with just a solitary point being accrued from their next four games.
The talk in the days, hours and indeed minutes leading up to kick-off was the possible return of one James Richard Bullard to the City squad.  And en route to the KC it was confirmed via BBC Radio Humberside that the club's record signing was in and would indeed start.

 Jimmy who?

What's more, Bullard lined up in a very attack-minded starting eleven, with the midfield  quartet - Bostock, Bullard, Cairney and Koren - noticeably short of any sort of "enforcer".  It wouldn't matter.
It's a long time since I've actually enjoyed the football on show at 'The Circle' as much as I did this particular night. And from both sides that is, despite the presence of Robbie Savage in the Derby ranks!
In the event, goals from loanee defender Daniel Ayala and Slovenian skipper Koren sealed a deserved 2-0 win in front of a crowd a couple of thousand bigger than that which had attended the "biggest Hull derby in 30 years" just three nights earlier.  Hull's a Rugby City?
The stadium announcer revealed Ayala as the supporters' 'man of the match'.  Must have been watching a different game to me, for as good as the Liverpool man was there was only one player to look to if seeking a reason for such a positive performance...and he's on 45K a week.  Should he carry on inspiring the Tigers like that for the remainder of the season and it might just be said he's worth it.  Possibly.
I returned home feeling quite chippy about things.  City back to winning ways, Yorkshire still well-placed on day two of their final Championship match against Kent, Rovers looking forward to a trip to Wigan in the Play-offs and the Eastenders heading to Whatton in search of a "win hat-trick".  Ah...

Thanks to Burt for most of the photos used above

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