Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Look what you could've had!

Saturday 13th November - Parkhouse (League Cup, away) Drew 2-2
Easington Utd Reserves 5 AFC Woodlands 9
Easington Utd Casuals 0 Long Riston 3rds 7

There's particular cruelty in the fact that the first two CML away matches I have missed this season have both been accompanied by post-match venues selling some of the finest cask ales.  It leads me to think I'm paying for past misdemeanours.
For the Whatton game it was a friend's 40th birthday bash that prevented my attendance.  So what did I do on this latest occasion as an alternative to enjoying the delights of traditional beers in the convivial atmosphere typical of an Easington post-match session?  Well, I witnessed an amazing game at Low Farm that yielded 14 goals.  Not a bad substitute you might think...except that nine of them were in the wrong net!  And when I retired to the Marquis of Granby to soothe my disappointment at the result...there was no cask on.

I'd known for some time that the trip to Parkhouse was a no-go.  It happened to fall on the weekend chosen by  Mrs Slush and a friend for their annual "Abandon The Kids" weekend, otherwise known as a pre-Christmas shopping trip to Sheffield Meadowhall with overnight stay thrown in.
Of course, I didn't know this at the time she chose this particular date, which being back in late-September offered no clues as to our designated opponents.  When asked, "13th or 27th November?", I replied, "Any. The fixtures aren't out yet so I'll just have to sort things out for whichever you choose".  
I wish she'd opted for the 27th! 
It was somewhat cruelly predictable then that the Parkhouse cup-tie, eagerly awaited ever since it was drawn (mainly by me because of what I knew would be on offer afterwards) would be scheduled for the one Saturday in the month I couldn't go.  Bugger! To make matters worse, it turned out to be the only away game originally scheduled for the whole month.  Double Bugger!

Of course it wasn't just the potential beverages on offer that had had me looking forward to the trip to Clay Cross.  The manner of our win over Brimington the previous week had seen us produce - albeit in patches - some of our best football for a long time.  Therefore, I'd been on something of a high afterwards and couldn't wait for the next game to come along. 
It's peculiar how one sporting result can suddenly transform a weekend.  Nothing seems too much of a chore, nobody can rub you up the wrong way and even the blandest television programme can suddenly appear to become hugely entertaining.
Which brings me nicely to the X-Factor.  Having purposely avoided it the previous night (see Brimington blog) I actually made a point of watching the Sunday re-run.  I'd heard from Mrs Slush that highly-rated contestant Matt had done a pretty good version of one of my favourite songs of all time, Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face".  Had I watched and listened to it following the recent home defeats by Malet or Thoresby, I'd have undoubtedly been in a mood to argue this point.  As it was, I found it very, very good.  Is my judgement of what counts as quality music waning? Possibly, but we had just won 4-0 at home!  
I'd gone to bed on Sunday a very contented man but over the course of the next few days, the sudden realisation that I was missing a return trip to the CML's Hospitality Award winners of 2009/10 prompted something of a comedown.
And as the week progressed this sombre mood was only accentuated by the annual Remembrance commemorations, rumours of the impending collapse of both the England 2018 World Cup bid and the proposed Hull City takeover deal, the lack of any Orange phone signal in Easington and, of course, the passing of a television legend...

There's a bit of Jack the lad in all of us...isn't there?
For anyone like me who has watched events on "the Nation's favourite street" since the Seventies, Jack Duckworth was the type of character many of us would aspire to.   As  described by Russ Litten in this excellent piece in The Sabotage Times, Jack was "a saucy layabout who got by with minimum effort and maximum style". Who wouldn't want to emulate that?
In typical Coronation Street fashion, his departure was dragged out over a few weeks, with his final moments and subsequent funeral both being enough to bring  tears to the eyes of certain members of the Slush family household (though I'm hoping Mrs Slush didn't notice!).
And the soundtrack to his passing was particularly apt for the one-time would-be club crooner.

Of course Jack's fictional demise was followed by several commemorations of those lives lost in very real circumstances.  It's one of the Royal British Legion's major successes that the actual eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (i.e. Armistice Day) is now marked as significantly as the more traditional Remembrance Sunday.  Long may this be so.
Amid such melancholy, I was thankful for the Black & Amber charger that is Hull City arriving to the rescue when least expected; courtesy of a morale-reviving draw at "big club" Leeds (a result that included this John Bostock screamer) and a job well done at fellow strugglers Preston.
Sorry, did I say "fellow strugglers"?  The Tigers were only 6pts off the play-offs following goals from Garcia and Barmby at Deepdale and with news of the apparent completion of the Allams' takeover ending the week on a high, the future for the newly-dubbed "Tomb Ar-my" looked a whole lot brighter.
Away from football, the week at work passed by with little of note although the radio still provided several reasons to rant (particularly that Clare Solomon woman who by my reckoning was given far too much air time to spout shite) and rejoice - mainly thanks to Radio Humberside's Armistice Day's Golden Year  part 2, which came from 1986...

Along with the above classic, the November chart of twenty-four years ago also included Madonna's True Blue, The Final Countdown by Europe  and the Top Gun-soundtrack Number One from Berlin.  And thus for half-an-hour I was back to a time when Friday nights began with The Tube and ended with a late night extravaganza called, if my memory serves me correctly, Music Box's Power Hour, on Yorkshire TV.  It was fronted by a very attractive young thing called Amanda Redington and some guy with long, permed hair, Dante perhaps?  If I had the time I'd Google it...
In-between these televisual delights, Friday evenings meant a tour of the rural Holderness pubs, all which served as the Hors d'oeuvre to the following day's main event., which began at  lunchtime in  The Trog Bar on Hull's George Street.  From there it was to The Hull Cheese where a Richardson's cab would arrive just in time to get us to Boothferry Park for ninety minutes of largely uninspiring (old) Second Division football.  At the game's conclusion it was back into town for a half-five start in Star of the West and a subsequent crawl that would usually include Masters Bar, White Horse, Cheese (again), Dram Shop, Trog (again) and Queens (now Pozition Nightclub) for last orders, before completion of the night came at the legendary Spiders Nightclub down Cleveland Street.  Ah, the memories!  Not that Radio Humberside's David Reeves probably had any of this in mind when he chose that afternoon's particular track-listing.  But thanks all the same.
A friendly affair at Mill Lane...
But back to the football where, despite my absence(!?) the lads backed-up their Brimington result with a hard-earned but deserved draw at their Supreme Division hosts in the league cup.
...but a feisty one at The Farm
While Burt and his not-so-steady camera lens were at Clay Cross, capturing as best he could the drama unfolding for the senior squad, I was at Low Farm - armed only with my  equally unsteady Nikon Coolpix...oh, and the Younger Slushette.
The Reserves own league cup tie, at home to Goole side AFC Woodlands, proved to be a  remarkable - and at times feisty - affair.  It started well enough.  Despite fielding a team ravaged by injury, illness and absence, Kev's second-string  racied into a two-goal lead inside twenty minutes, leaving their opponents to turn the air as blue as the sky.
Buoyed by the scoreline but wary of just what my 4-year-old may be picking up in terms of new words to greet her mother with on her return, I crossed over to the Pitch Across The Ditch where, unfortunately, the Casuals - fresh from a shock first league defeat of the season at bottom club Brandesburton - were already two down at home to leaders Long Riston.

One for the purists across the Ditch!
I stayed for the best part of quarter of an hour before deciding that the better contest lay back over the bridge.  I wasn't wrong - the Casuals eventually lost seven-nil.
Unfortunately I got back just after Woodlands had reduced arrears from the penalty spot.  It was a contentious decision according to spectator Brian, that's Brian Appleyard, father of Kev Appleyard, the player-manager...so perhaps not the most impartial opinion on the matter?!
Still, a defensive mix-up early in the second half allowed the Stumo to restore the Stiffs' two-goal cushion.  3-1, looking good and when news came through of Andy Martin's opener at Parkhouse, a double celebration was on the cards.  I should have known better...

'Handy Andy' Mark One at Parkhouse
Within quarter of an hour the Goolesters had turned the game completely on its head to lead 4-3.  Meanwhile Burt's unique texting method informed me, first "1.1" and then "2.1", that things had also changed in Derbyshire.  Almost pre-empting fate I replied "to them?" "Yes" came the answer.  The day had suddenly taken a turn for the worse.
But following Easington United is rarely boring.  With the seconds ticking away at the Farm, the Stiffs won a penalty.  Up stepped Karl Hodgson to coolly slam the ball into the corner.  Extra-time.
Better followed as a fine move inside the opening five culminated in Fozzy's thunderous strike from 25 yards for 5-4.  And no sooner had I finished celebrating that goal than the phone rang: "Two-all, Andy with a header from a free-kick".  Get in there!
'Handy Andy' Mark Two...captured in Burt's inimitable style!

While confirmation of a hard-fought draw for the First Team - and subsequent replay at the Farm - duly followed, the Reserves' hopes of progress floundered thanks to tired limbs, lack of resources and a visiting side that knew how to take its chances.  5-9 is a scoreline I feel I'm safe in predicting won't be repeated at Low Farm for some time.  Then again...

Of course, while missing out on the actual game at Parkhouse was bad enough, not being able to enjoy the post-match hospitality in The Woodthorpe Inn was a crushing blow!  And didn't Burt and the lads make sure I knew it...


Thanks to Burt for the Parkhouse snaps

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