Friday, 23 September 2011


Saturday 10th September
ERCFL Premier Div
Easington Utd Reserves 4 Beverley Town Reserves 3
Easington Utd Casuals 5 Howden AFC Thirds 3

The kids went back to school last week.  You could hear the collective cheers of thousands of parents (mainly mums) around the East Riding and beyond.
Just prior to the Slushettes' return on the Wednesday (which it would appear was at least a day behind every other school in the country) we shot off up the coast for a final family "mini-break" of the year - sandwiched in-between the draw with Clipstone and the Moverley Memorial win of course. 
What do you mean it's cold?!
Scarborough was our eventual destination on the Sunday, with a nice stop-off at Flamborough thrown in for good measure.  Despite the temperature being a few degrees cooler and conditions much cloudier than the previous afternoon, it didn't deter the Slushettes from finding much to amuse them in the small part of beach left by an incoming tide. 
Having completed the testing ascent back up to the cliff-top (you want to try carrying the Younger Slushette up however many steps it is!), we headed off to our "home" for the night, the Clifton Hotel in Scarborough.
Prime real estate
Owned by the English Rose group the Clifton had recently gone into administration, which is so sad when you see the place itself and, in particular, the superb location it commands overlooking North Bay.
After an enjoyable and very comfortable stay (although we did eschew breakfast in favour of the superb nearby Watermark Cafe) it was to Thornton-le-Dale and a rendezvous with "Grandma & Grandad Slush" for a trip aboard the Pickering to Whitby steam train.
A bloody good way to start the day
I'v had some cracking trips on these classic old coaches, setting off from the evocative surrounds of Pickering Station and heading off across the splendid North Yorkshire Moors through Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont.  One particular snowy New Year's Eve trip stands out - it included copious amounts of Camerons Strongarm in 'The Adensfield Arms' of Heartbeat fame (or The Goathland Hotel to give it the proper title).  Last year I'd bought Mrs Slush a seat on the NYMR's annual 'Murder Mystery' special, along with several friends and we all had an absolutely belting evening.
This latest trip was somewhat quieter but none the less enjoyable and following an hour's stop-off at the aforementioned Goathland it was on to Whitby.
"Won't that confuse the spotters?"
I love Whitby.  I'm particularly fond of the way it manages to combine tourist destination, resort, fishing town and place of historic interest - not to mention home to numerous real ale hostelries.  Not that I would get chance to sample any (the nearest I got was lookingly longingly at perhaps the best "Specials Board" I've ever the superb Hadleys Fish Restaurant).
A breezy trip into the bay aboard the Esk Belle II was followed by a hugely enjoyable musically nostalgic jaunt on Charlotte The Charabanc before, alas, it was time to head for the station and the start of the journey home.  Work (and school!) awaited us on our return.  Still, I had a football match to look forward to the following evening.
The last midweek game of pre-season (see previous blog post) always smacks of the end of summer to me. And the weather conditions that accompanied it certainly bore more than a hint of the oncoming autumn.
The best ride I've had in ages
Thursday brought news I'd feared but had expected - The Riding School Express was still off the road.  There would be no Pistol for Dronfield.  It appeared that we may also be short of players.  The first weekend of the new East Riding County League season was threatening to be fraught with last minute selection headaches. 
I smiled at Meddy's initial reaction.  I had tried to warn the new 'Stiffs Supremo' in the summer that Second-string management was fraught with problems and you had to be extremely lucky to win anything with a Reserve team (as I was back in 95/96 when some, ahem, over-generosity from the then first team boss allowed my side to lift the County League Division 4 title in its first season!).
The Stiffs - packin' em in!
If Thursday set the alarm bells ringing, Friday signalled a full blown siren wail.  Another late First Team drop-out had prompted another pull on the Stiffs' already stretched resources.  At this point I imagined having a management resignation on my hands before the season's even started!
Thankfully, matters were eventually resolved and having met up with the First Team Skip in Patrington to ensure he set off for Derbyshire with the correct kit aboard his vehicle, I returned to the Farm to settle down for an afternoon of County League action.

Where there's Hope there's goals it would seem
Having the Reserves at home on the same day as the Casuals is a bit like having a "Red Button" at your disposal - which game shall I watch?
I opted initially for the "main feature" in which Beverley Town Reserves provided the Reserves' oppo in the Premier Division opener.  Table-toppers for much of the 2008/09 season, the Beavers had lost out to Howden Amateurs in the championship play-off and had struggled to reach such heights since.  Indeed, the previous campaign had seen them finish below us for the first time since promotion.
Town secretary Gary Proud is a fellow member of the League management committee and always good for a natter.  As the game got underway we exchanged pleasantries and views on how both teams may shape up in the coming weeks.
The optimism I expressed appeared justified as first the returning Shane Keyworth then 'Thommo' put us two goals to the good.
However, before the break Beverley - who lost their goalkeeper with injury on the half-hour (extending what Gary explained had been a terrible run of injuries through pre-season) - gained a foothold in the game.  It set the tone for what was to follow.
A Casual affair
I'd actually missed our second and Town's first due to popping across the ditch to catch-up with the Casuals.
Arriving at this one with Chairman in tow, we found the sides all square at one apiece.  That soon changed.  Within minutes of taking up our place on the "home" touchline, new boy "Hoppy" had scored goals two and three of a debut hat-trick.  Impressive stuff.
It must be said that the Howden defence looked dreadful.  When confirming the game their secretary had told me, "Their (the players) enthusiasm  perhaps exceeds their ability".  It certainly looked that way - particularly at the back.  "Hoppy" set up Kris Akam for 4-1 before completing a memorable first 45 minutes league action for the Ezzie by bagging his own fourth before the break.
5-1, game surely won and time to pop back for a coffee and the Stiffs' second half.  But what's this?  Just as we left a quite entertaining bout of handbags erupted in the far corner, which soon involved three or four players from both sides.  The young referee quickly calmed things down before issuing...a yellow card to each of the main protagonists!  As Tommy Trinder would no doubt have said, "You lucky people!"
Could go far this lot...Goole, Beverley, Little Weighton...
The second half of the Reserves game proved hugely entertaining, with the Stiffs never quite able to convert their undoubted superiority into enough goals to shake off the resilient Beavers.  In the event, Shane's second and a goal from returning strike partner Jimmy Dawson helped secure a 4-3 win.
With the Casuals holding on to record a 5-3 success following a "below-par" second half performance over the ditch (and another spot of handbags, this time between two members of the same "enthusiastic" Howden team!) it had proved an enjoyable first afternoon for the thirty-odd spectators dotted between both games.  Next up for both teams were two tricky-looking away games.  We'd perhaps know more about their prospects after these...

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