Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hanging on

Saturday 19th March - Phoenix FC (away) Won 3-2

It was the morning after the afternoon and evening before.  Last night's Chef's Special was beginning to find its way through every pore as I enjoyed a brisk walk to work at the nearby BP North Sea Gas Terminal on Dimlington Road.  The site has been my place of employment for over 20 years.  However, following a couple of recent announcements, it may not be for very much longer.
For the workforce have recently been informed that Dimlington is up for sale following BP's decision to try and offload several of its North Sea assets.
No sooner was I coming to terms with this news and all its possible implications, than I was informed that the company which actually employs me as part of its service contract on the site, is set to walk away from its current contract.
A sort of "double whammy" if you like.
Thinking rationally the second piece of news shouldn't have too big a bearing. Current TUPE regulations mean that more likely than not when the time comes, I'll move across to the new body responsible for Plant Inspection. I've done it before, it's just another pension to add to my growing pot of, well, pretty worthless pensions.
BP's sale is slightly more worrying, although again the hope is that any new buyer would be very keen to keep the current workforce in place. But, more importantly, will they be willing to continue sponsoring the match programme?!

This month's 'Must Read'
A bit of Radio 4 in a morning can soon put some perspective on thngs.  And as I listened to Toby Harnden talking about the Ministry of Defence's attempts to completely overhaul his excellent book, Dead Men Risen ("The Welsh Guards & The Real Story of Britain's War In Afghanistan") I was again reminded that a little bit of inconvenience on the job front isn't really something to get too hung up about.
If this Today feature had me feeling almost grubby to be British, a quick flick to Radio 2 soon lifted the spirits.  Chris Evans' Gobsmackers double was a positively Modtastic one of The Just Brothers "Sliced Tomatoes" and "Green Onions" by Booker T & The MG's.  Hip or what.
Also encouraging a smile this particular Monday morning was the news that Coventry City had parted company with Aidy Boothroyd following the Tigers' weekend win at The Ricoh.  Another City-precipitated sacking.
Up until fairly recently I could always rely on Coronation Street as another surefire way of brightening any pervading sombre mood.  But, unfortunately since the Tram storyline, that is no longer the case.  As Matt Rudd pointed out in his excellent blog post, Corrie is rapidly in need of a rethink.  I may even be tempted to stop watching.  Perhaps.
The aforementioned Mr Rudd is presenter of the Q The 80s show, which has become a must listen for me on Sunday nights.  And I was reminded of his former "Guilty Pleasure" feature on the show on Tuesday when Chris Evans belted out Roman Holiday's "Don't Try To Stop It".
It was title more apt for the England cricket team's rollercoaster World Cup campaign on the Indian sub-continent, the latest instalment of which saw them involved in a must-win game against the Windies.
"We're not going home, we're not going home...yet!"
Thankfully, in another absorbing contest, a late flurry of wickets saw Strauss's team home by 18 runs and probably into the quarter-finals.  Phew!
On Wednesday I received a lovely surprise, courtesy of my receipt of a "Top Nomination" in the "Services To Sport" category in the annual East Riding of Yorkshire Council Sport & Play Recognition Awards.  As such, Mrs Slush and I will be attending the Spa in Brid in early May where the actual winner will be announced.  I haven't prepared a speech.

A mark of quality
Thursday saw me at another meeting, this time in my capacity as member of the East Riding County League Management Committee.  I've been on the Committee some 15 years now, since the late Dave Simmons (then Secretary) put my name forward with the following ringing endorsement: "We're always on the lookout for opinionated bastards who've got plenty to say for themselves!"  Quite.
I've seen a few come and go in my time with the League Committee.  When I first joined we used to meet at the old YPI building on George Street in Hull city centre.  Since then I've attended meetings at Ideal Standard, the Hull & ER Sports Club on Chants Ave and, for the past two years, in the new ERCFA HQ at the Roy West Centre on Inglemire Lane.
Along the way I've made friends with some real characters of the grassroots game.  Their views may sometimes seem outspoken and somewhat non-PC (although the recent election of new Press Officer Melissa has curbed this slightly) but at the heart of what they do is the future good of football at a local level. 
It's a monthly jaunt I always enjoy and even more so when the companion to my return drive is the debut Hurts album, 'Happiness'.  Quality.

 The pilot & navigator
Friday brought with it Red Nose Day 2011 and the Slushettes got into the spirit by dressing up in silly costumes for school.  During the afternoon, a logistics problem meant I was forced to board a service bus from Withernsea to Easington, something I'd not done for a long time.  Sitting there was a great way of discovering that the famous "East End humour" is alive and well.
"Sit doon Dick, thoo duzzn't git a rebate fer standing"
Or this little exchange...
"No, ah asn't seen 'im for yonks"
"Oh well...praps he's deeyud then!"
It was almost worth the £2.70 single fare.  But not quite.
Later in the day Hull KR also entered the spirit with a comedy of errors at Salford.  Coach Justin Morgan's reaction to the performance was to impose an immediate media blackout.  Oh I do hope he's not turning into rugby league's Fergie.
Things drew to a close with a first ever Northern Soul & Motown all-nighter, broadcast across the BBC's local stations in the North of England and featuring - as you'd expect - a whole host of absolute corkers.
I eventually pulled the plug some three hours in.  Among the classics that had particularly struck a chord were Lynne Randell's "Stranger In My Arms", The Carstairs "It Really Hurt sMe Girl", Judy Street "What" and the unbeatable "Because of You" by Jackie Wilson.  In among the Northern belters, host Steve White also managed to squeeze in Modern classic "Pressure" by Driza Bone.  I went to bed a happy man.

A sight to gladden the eyes
I woke up even happier.  The Hucknall defeat was by now a mere blip, the bitterness of its manner consigned to memory.  For today would find me heading to Brinsworth, near Rotherham.  Our opponents were Phoenix but more importantly, the post-match hospitality venue was The Phoenix Sports & Social Club, a purveyor of several fine cask ales.  The sun was shining, it was possibly the warmest day of the year so far and I was getting giddy...
Of course Pistol Pete always does his best to knock any such feelings out of you - first by turning up "fashionably" late (albeit by only 5 minutes today) and secondly by then attempting to kill everybody en route courtesy of some erratic driving!
For once we were not fully laden.  Shotgun Burt had prior arrangements, while assistant-boss Ian was catching up at work following two weeks' paternity leave in celebration of his daughter's safe arrival into this world.

Another mark of quality
On arrival at the Pavilion Lane ground there was only one thing I really wanted to see and there it was, within seconds of stepping out of the bus...the Cask Marque sign.  I just knew we were in for a good day.
Our hosts have been similar to us inasmuch as they're not up challenging for honours where most believed they would be.  Their home record is particularly woeful - one win and one draw in eight games prior to this.  I hate being confronted by records like that when we're the next team in town.
Manager Daz Newsom is very open and approachable and I couldn't help but feel empathy when he detailed the factors that have combined to undermine any hopes of success he held for the current campaign.
The manager's affability was replicated by other members of the home committee and as I stood there on a glorious spring afternoon, coffee in hand, looking out on the joys that awaited me later (er, the pitch not the pub before you start) I thought there can't be many better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I could have reconsidered just two minutes in when another piece of calamity defending, involving Blounty and Charlie, led to the conceding of a penalty from which skipper Liam O'Brien gave the hosts the lead.  Surely it wasn't going to be one of those afternoons...

Thankfully no it wasn't.  Within another eight minutes we'd gone 2-1 up.  First Kempy's deep corner found the Skipper lurking at the far post and his turn back was converted by Mozzer.
Moments later Frosty's diagonal ball enticed goalkeeper Matt Handiside into no-man's land, allowing Man Mountain to dink the ball over him and follow-up to place in the empty net.
We should really have gone on to kill the home side off by half-time.  But somehow we couldn't convert a host of decent opportunities - much to the amusement of watching Kiveton Park manager Wayne Burgin whose side were without a fixture and who were set to face Phoenix in the first Bonanza game the following week.
I opted for the Tea Hut at half-time and spent the fifteen minutes in the company of the manager's dad, who again regaled me with various tales of players who had displayed an awful lack of commitment to the cause.  Just by looking at him I could tell he was desperate to echo the words of the late, great Freddie Trueman - "It wor diff'rent i'mah day!"  He didn't.  But it was.
When Man Mountain swept home the Skipper's chest down for 3-1 the points looked assured.  We were controlling the tempo of the game and despite a bare, hard surface, we were playing some decent football.
But with twenty to go we committed our usual sin of conceding a goal out of nothing.  Farny's needless foul, poor marking at the free-kick and Steve Spence had brought Phoenix back into things.
Thankfully it didn't pre-empt another late giveaway (as had happened in the previous three away games) and when the referee blew for time we had three very well deserved points safely tucked away.
And so the main event, sorry, the post-match hospitality which, for me, consisted of a pint of Robinson's Hannibal's Nectar, a Black Sheep Ruddy Ram, some decent fodder and a good chinwag with a Sheff Wed fan in there to watch his side lose to Southampton in the televised tea-time kick-off.  I like days like this.

And it was all...for this?
By 6pm we were on our way home and just over two and a bit hours later I was putting the first load of kit into the washer.  Our regular laundry lady was on a well-earned break, meaning several of us had opted to take a turn with the kits.  I allowed myself a wry smile when thinking this is what Saturday nights have come to - washing a full team's football strip while those who had previously worn it were trawling the bars of Hull like wannabe George Bests.  I wouldn't swap places with 'em...honest!

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