Friday, 25 February 2011

Wet, Wet, Wetter

Saturday 5th February - Bentley Colliery (home, Cup) Lost 2-4
Saturday 12th February - Yorkshire Main (away) 
Match postponed
Saturday 19th February - Whatton United (home) 
Match postponed

"Come May, when they're all togged up in their smart shirts at Presentation Night, do you think any of the lads'll give a thought to us daft bastards stood down here on a Saturday morning in February, freezing cold and saying, 'If we come back in an hour and we can't see Lounty's farm it means it's pissing it down'?"
No I didn't.  And neither did Mickey Bo' Wilson who along with Dave Hodgson (the person asking the question) completed the trio of "daft bastards" stood looking across a somewhat desolate scene at Low Farm.
If October had been "Black" then February was turning out to be very "Grey".  Since the brief advent of better weather in January that had prompted a return to action after eight weeks inactivity, February had been accompanied by a succession of wet weekends.
Thankfully, on the first of these, the rain hadn't arrived until too late to force postponement of our second round tie in the CML's Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup.  However, the persistent drizzle provided a fitting backdrop to our exit from the competition.

Having taken some ten weeks to finally get past first round opponents Parkhouse, we were effectively out of the second round after barely fifteen minutes.
Mack's decision to bring Blounty back into the starting eleven upon completion of a three-match ban was deemed to be the right one by most people in the home camp.  Unfortunately, his first contribution to the action was a complete miskick on 2mins, which allowed Bentley marksman Mark Richardson to stroll through and calmly slot the ball under the advancing Charlie for 0-1.
Our last two meetings against the South Yorkshire side have virtually been decided before the break, by which time "The Jet Men" have held a comfortable advantage.  And they must've thought they were on to a hat-trick when an amazing error of judgement by skipper AG gifted them a bizarre second goal with less than a quarter of the game gone.
It appeared that Charlie had got just enough on Richardson's shot to allow the skipper back to cover.  He had.  And AG did.  But instead of whacking the ball into orbit, admittedly at the probable cost of a corner, he decided to coolly let the ball run wide for a goal-kick...only its trajectory wasn't taking it wide and as it virtually limped over the goal-line the look of horror on the skip's face was matched by that of ten team-mates, five management & subs and some forty-odd spectators at Low Farm.  Oops. 

The Skip has a premonition of dropping a clanger today...
Thankfully, we now made a game of it.  Owen had already stung the keeper's fingertips with one drive from distance before cutting inside his man to drill home a left-footed daisy-cutter and reduce arrears.  A goal almost deserving of "The Sprinkler"-inspired celebration it received.
As we gradually got on top towards half-time it was almost inevitable that Bentley would hit us on the counter.  And they did, the dangerous Callum Smith again getting away down the left before teeing up Lee Tilley who finished smartly from ten yards.  Half-time: 1-3.

The Mountain scores...
...then celebrates. (Even the ref joins in "The Sprinkler"!)
My frustration at events on the field was partly offset by an encouraging afternoon off it.  A glut of fines collected in beforehand had cheered up the Chairman, who at the Monthly Management Committee meeting in midweek had expressed concern over the current financial state of affairs.  In addition, despite it being a "mucky awd" afternoon (as we say down the East End) a decent-sized crowd had assembled and were now keeping Judy busy in the Tea Hut.  More ker-ching!  Of sorts.  Our efforts would at least reap some reward...if not a passage through to the quarter-finals.

One header...
Two cameras
There was no doubting the effort or commitment of the lads on duty.  Indeed, at times the performance ranked alongside some of our better ones thus far this term.  We continued to try and put best foot forward on an increasingly gluey surface.  Owen's volley was deflected wide and from the corner Farny headed just over.  Gav then drilled wide before sub Andy M's header was hacked off the line.  There was a feeling that if we could just get one...
It came seventeen minutes from time.  A defender again denied Owen at the expense of a cormer from which Blounty manged to head home to break his duck for the club.  2-3, game on.  A replay in South Yorkshire perhaps...
Not so.  Eight minutes from time, that man Smith again created space for a pull-back from which Michael Pashley ensured the visitors' progress.

AG gets up highest...
...but Blounty has made the decisive contact. 2-3
Not for the first time this season, some players appeared to take defeat worse than others - despite the level of performance against a side that certainly looks like it will figure in the end-of-season shake-up for honours. 
It always winds me up when people say daft things immediately in the wake of a game.  No-one likes getting beat (me more than most) but the way some people respond casts aspersions that others are perhaps not trying as hard.  Which is complete bullox.  In my humble opinion of course.
The news of defeat for the Stiffs at South Cave compounded my downbeat mood, as did the feeling that the Casuals - who grabbed an impressive draw at high-flying Shiptonthorpe - may have benefitted from a little bit of selection shenanigans (a matter that, thankfully, would be cleared up in due course).
And so I was more than relieved to get into The Granby in time to catch updates on The Tigers' impressive win at Glanford Park in the self-styled "Humber Derby".  A hat-trick for "Super" Matty Fryatt and Aaron McLean's first goals for City ensured that the night's curry wouldn't taste so unpalatable after all.
Mozzer auditions for the next Non-Bio Washpowder ad

Little did I think then that our sodden exit from the League Cup would be our last action for three weeks.  Especially given that the days leading up to both the following weekends appeared to be accompanied by favourable weather - only for the Friday night prior to Yorkshire Main and the Saturday morning of the Whatton game to ensure postponement of both fixtures.  In other words, we'd gone from "crash out" to "washout".
I must admit I sometimes wonder whether our players - or those of any club for that matter - ever actually consider the sort of decision-making process that takes place before a game is called off. 
Judging by the reaction I see afterwards, I often think they see our prevention of them kicking a ball about on a Saturday afternoon as part of some sort of conspiracy; although to what end I don't know.
Take the aforementioned two postponements.  I heard several players questioning the "real reason" for the Yorkshire Main call-off (i.e. "Who have they got missing?"); before labelling our decision on the Whatton game last weekend as "a joke"Well if it was, I for one wasn't laughing.
I got up at just past six o'clock last Saturday morning, trying desperately not to wake the two Slushettes in the process, before going into the office to print off sixty copies of the afternoon's match programme.  Back home just in time to grab some breakfast , it was then a scoot down to Low Farm for the first of two morning pitch inspections - the one recounted at the top of this piece.

 A wasted effort
With the heavy rain that appeared to be pounding all areas north of Derby & Nottingham having not yet reached the "Humber Riviera", it was impossible to call the game off while there was still the slightest chance that the River-inspired local micro-climate could once again come to our rescue.  It was the slimmest of hopes but in a season already badly disrupted by weather, the last thing we needed was another blank afternoon.
Thus Hodgy stated our intention to use Firtholme ("Lounty's farm") as our guide on our return to the ground at 10.15am.
Needless to say, when we reconvened, it was getting more difficult to pick out the aforementioned farm.  Given that our opponents Whatton and the three match officials (from Bilsthorpe) were all scheduled to be on the road within a few minutes, there was only one decision we could make.  Cue the outrage from various players!  Facebook doesn't make good reading when lads think they've been unfairly done to!
Therefore, when Hodgy rang me later - about twenty minutes in had we kicked off as normal - to inform me of standing water in several areas of the pitch ("You'd never have got to half-time") I did at least feel vindicated, whilst not exactly happy at the outcome.  Hopefully the players may see that now and admit we were right.  I won't hold my breath to read it on Facebook though...

Thanks to Colin Brammer & Burt Graham for the photos

No comments: