Friday, 10 June 2011

Looking back

A selective review of the 2010/11 season

Pre-Season once again proved enjoyable, not least the first Annual Fun Day in July at which Nige led us all in a demonstration of how not to put a gazebo up, the ice-cream van did a runner without paying and Steve Collins (all 5ft & a peanut of him) decided to pick on the considerably larger frame of Pete Skipper in a supposedly friendly game between the Awd Ezzies and the Ex-Tigers.
During the summer, we also had brilliant attendances at training – ironic that.
As for the pre-season First Team games, one took us to York for a return meeting with Hamilton Panthers.  Regular driver Pistol Pete – back with us for a second season - was in fine form, even using the pretence of having to buy a birthday card as justification for a stop-off in Beverley on the return leg.  On my arrival home, Mrs Slush set the tone for a long season ahead: “Hmm, nine hours out for ninety minutes football?”  I didn’t realise we’d been that quick to be honest!
We kicked off our second season in the Central Midlands Football League on a gloriously sunny August afternoon.  At home.  To Bulwell.  All police leave cancelled.  Two MoD patrol cars parked up in the car park, automatic sub-machine guns at the ready.  They weren’t needed.  We won 3-1.  There was no trouble and Mozzer didn’t even need protection in the showers…well, only from Charlie but that’s a regular occurrence.
September saw the start of the County League season, with Stiffs boss Kevin Appleyard quietly confident that his squad of doom would kick-on from their H. E. Dean Cup triumph and clinch a first ever Premier Division title.  A 4-0 opening day defeat at Beverley Town soon changed his mind…
However, what a difference at Casuals level.  To say they’ve made a great improvement on last season would be something of a back-handed compliment…considering they started from a pretty low base.  When you’ve finished one off the bottom of the whole East Riding County League the year before, almost anything would constitute improvement.
However, even the ‘glass-half-full’ manager Maccer and the ‘glass-positively-sperming over with positivity’ assistant Passionate Dan probably couldn’t believe that after just three games of the season they were top of Division 5. Played 3, won 3.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  It didn’t.
Kenny Knott’s broken leg against Hornsea was followed by successive cup exits and a run of three straight league defeats.  Now that was more like the Casuals we’d come to know and love.
Back at “the top end”, after a relatively quiet start to things, The Pistol was well into his stride as autumn kicked in.  By the time we hit South Normanton on 16 October Pete had driven us to five away match venues, clipped three roundabouts, fourteen wing mirrors and told 23 drivers of vehicles of various shapes & sizes that they were “complete f___ing idiots who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a steering wheel”
Funny that, from where we were sitting there was only “complete f___ing idiot” behind a steering wheel!
Of course Pete didn’t have to look far for encouragement.  “Go on Pistol” would urge Mozzer, who would also take such opportunities to rarve off his kecks and slap his tadger against the windscreen at the nearest poor unfortunate driver or passer-by. 
Much to Charlie’s delight it should be added.
Meanwhile, in the front of the bus, Shotgun Burt (or the new Councillor Graham as I’m sure he’d now like to be known) would be recounting his umpteenth tale of sexual frustration (pre-you Josie of course) in locations varying from buses (obviously) to bale-stacks.  And the hip flask would be gradually emptied…
South Normanton away marked a low point of the whole season.  It was the day my dummy first came out, due to a distinct lack of players seemingly willing to make the trip to the early season pacesetters.  We ended up going with 12 plus both managers.  On the same day Kev had a squad of 35 available for the Reserves while Maccer was turning away 15 players (and Dane Hagan - again) from the Casuals.
We lost 7-0 and had Charlie sent off, while Dave Mack’s less-than-friendly touchline tete-a-tete with his Crombie-clad opposite number resembled a “Fight” between Harry Hill and Tony Soprano!
However, of all the embarrassments to befall us that afternoon, none stands out more than that which occurred just moments before kick-off, as both teams, management and spectators gathered to observe a moment’s silence in memory of a player who’d recently been killed in a car accident.
As I stood there alongside Smalls, just to the right of the goal, with only the sound of rain drops slapping against my Club-issue jacket, I became aware of a strange noise in the distance.  It was whistling.  And not only whistling but a rather jovial little ditty at that.  Who the effing hell could that be thought I?  Then came my answer as from behind the opposite end goal, emerging from the Tea Hut, came The Pistol – cup of char in one hand, programme in the other – and wandering along to a seat in the stand, whistling away to his heart’s content without a bloody care in the world.  It was only when he eventually found his seat and looked out to observe the gathered throng all standing heads bowed in perfect silence did he realise what a complete plonker he’d just been!
By the autumn thoughts had also turned to a certain date in the calendar that had seemingly the whole country planning street parties, digging out the bunting and examining the guest list to see if they were on it.  Yes, it was Danny Campbell’s wedding.
It appeared for a few weeks back in November that Danny & Katy’s big day really had brought everybody together.  Except Maccer.
It was certainly a day that I’ll remember fondly; in particular the glazing over of the eyes on the part of Rosie, Hilary & my very own Mrs Slush as Mickey Bo, Doug and I once again disappeared down a sepia-tinged memory lane of baggy shorts, laced up balls and fields full of cow shit; Meanwhile Frosty and Laura disappeared to fornicate under the table; while Stu sat there with a face like a slapped arse when he realised that being the Best Man didn’t excuse him from having to get his hand in his pocket for a round or two.
Talking of The Stumo, he of course had his own joyful occasions this past year with a lovely new arrival.  Ah…let’s just hope she doesn’t develop the Campbell chassis when she’s older or discover her Uncle Dan’s peculiar fetish for Connor & Graham buses.
The same day that DC was getting his leg-over as a married man for the first time, Reserves player-boss Kev Appleyard was getting his pinned and potted following our second broken limb of the season.  It was a cruel blow, especially for wife Nicky who would soon find herself with two dependents to run about after…she must’ve heaved a huge sigh of relief that at least the elder of these could wipe his own arse!
And then the snow came; for six bloody weeks.  The whole of the country appeared to come to a standstill.  Roads were impassable, houses were cut off and even professional sport struggled to cope….but still Charlie Holden moaned on Facebook: “Can’t believe the game’s off again, it’s been sunny all morning!”
My first trip of the New Year took me to Thorngumbald for a look at the Casuals.  And I was pleased to see that some things never change – Manager Maccer steering his side through a full set of match drills while he puffed away on a tab end; proceeding to have his fellow defenders adopt a “high line”…across the edge of the six yard box; and finally to sub the three youngest and possibly fittest members of the squad, while he, his passionate assistant and Ted Hankey Ward to continue clocking up the appearances.  Well, it’s all about loyalty at that level…
Meanwhile in Karl Hodgson, the Casuals have finally found a replacement for Dave Clubley –doesn’t tackle, rarely heads a ball but scores a few and takes every throw-in, free-kick and corner.  He also holds the current club record for the number of times he’s gone down injured in a season – beating Yogi Day’s 37 set during just three appearances in 1979!  
The First Team returned to action the following week some twelve weeks since last boarding The Riding School Express.  When The Pistol and Councillor Shotgun pulled up at Westfield Close – late of course – for the trip to Bilsthorpe, it was nice to find that despite the recent layoff, certain things remained constant:

  • Pete’s driving remained erratic
  • Mozzer’s bag remained unfeasibly large for such a small space
  • Brett’s arse remained the smelliest thing known to man
  • Charlie remained the object of ridicule every time he opened his mouth
Bilsthorpe was the game I chose to implement my new method of match reporting – namely the Dictaphone!  And the following day it was great to sit down and listen to quality playback:  "Last minute and a f___ing equaliser from the b_____d who should've been sent off five minutes earlier. Number b_____d thirty-three. Two all."
We bounced back a week later to beat Parkhouse in the league cup replay.  Preceding the game we held a minute’s silence in order to pay respects to the original Councillor Graham.  Thankfully The Pistol wasn’t there to whistle through it.
Meanwhile, at Reserve team level, in the absence of laid-up manager Appleyard, the team was making a real bid to clinch the relegation place that has eluded them for four seasons.  Seven successive league defeats went some way to putting them in pole position.  Thank God the H. E. Dean Cup came around to help inspire an upturn in fortunes…and strangely prompt an abundance of players!
As for the Casuals, their campaign had become a touch more inconsistent after the storming start, although a convincing win over local rivals Withernsea provided much mirth.  But it was the second victory over the Seasiders, which came right at the season’s close, that prompted the Passionate One to post this classic on a certain well-known social networking site: Kay Kendall, Kenny Baker, Barry Brigham, Stuart Gray, Shaun Wong, Richard Stead, John Dunn, Sid Megson, Dinno & Vitto, Teddy Clark - your boys have took one hell of a beating yet again!!”
March and April were accompanied at all three levels by players imbibing too much on a Friday and spitting dummies out on a Saturday.  And often it proved entertaining too.  No more so than on an otherwise awful day at Thorne Colliery, when Farny and Mozzer decided to perform a pre-match strip show – finishing up with only the most minimal of items covering their modesty.  Oh how we laughed, none more so than Charlie…until he discovered that the only thing covering Mozzer’s organ was in fact the goalkeeper’s glove!
In other news, Brim’s years of experience and putting nets up and instructing others on how to do it, was shown up to the full when no fewer than the three goals against Kiveton slipped through the bottom of it; Hodgy was almost taught the harshest of lessons as to why it’s never wise to try and make a phone call off your mobile while stood under a telephone wire, next to a steel container and having just alighted your sit-on mower during an electric storm; and – most impressive of all – the Ground Force Rescue Team sprung into action just in the nick of time to rescue the Chairman after the latter had wedged himself down a manhole in an attempt to unblock the passageway to the shit that was currently building up in Kev Newsam’s toilet! 
“Why me?” had asked Doug. 
“I’ve got me best gear on, I’m darting” said Hodgey; 
“I’ve onny just woke up owld son, I’ve been golfing” said Brim. 
They both obviously knew what would happen when Doug managed to shift the final piece of offending stonework! “Saved from the Easington Tsunami” roared the Holderness Gazette headlines…well, they would have done had I sent them!  Ee, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ has got nothing on Brim, Dave & Doug.
And so another season has drawn to a close.  For the Stiffs it was accompanied by 9pts from teams who couldn’t be arsed to come to the Humber Riviera; for the Casuals a very encouraging 6th place and for the First Team a disappointing league position but a first win the South Holderness Cup for the first time in four years.
Overall Review: B- Improvement in key areas required.

Much of the above was read out to a rapturously lukewarm reception at the Club's Annual Presentation Evening.  Some of the incidents have been "enhanced" for effect and not all the persons mentioned above necessarily refer to people of the same name within the club or otherwise. So there!

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