Friday, 25 November 2011

Oh Bugger

Saturday 12th November
CML North Division
Easington United v Bentley Colliery
Match Postponed

I’d predicted this would happen from the moment I read Chris Toyne’s comments on the unofficial CML Message Board, late on Thursday night.
As I browsed his self-penned reasons for resigning as Bentley Colliery manager and glanced at the pile of match programmes sat neatly awaiting final collation by the side of my desk, a little voice inside was saying, “You won’t be needing them then!”
Sure enough, the call came at just after ten the following morning; CML Secretary Mark Senior informing me that due to the upheaval caused by the resignation of their manager, Bentley Colliery felt unable to fulfil Saturday’s fixture.   
“Gutted” is I believe the proper term for such moments.
However, it wasn’t the first time during the week I’d felt such deflation.  Nor was it the first time I'd second-guessed an event that would prompt such feelings.  
That had occurred whilst listening to Nigel Pearson’s post-match interview with local radio's Burnsy in the immediate wake of City’s home defeat by West Ham the previous Saturday.  “That’s it, he’s off”, I said to my brother-in-law as we awaited the fun, games and excellent fodder that constitutes the annual Cooper family fireworks night.  He wasn’t convinced.  “What’s he supposed to say?  The club hasn’t been approached yet so why should he speculate.”  A good point perhaps but I still thought the opportunity was there to lay all rumours to rest and pledge his future to the Tigers.  He didn’t.  And by Monday it was clear he was on his way back to Leicester.  
Reaction to the news was mainly a mixture of sadness and bitterness, with the likes of Amber Nectar and regular Tigers blogger Marcus Dysch offering some of the more thoughtful analysis.  Those filling the comments threads on the Hull Daily Mail site and/or ringing Radio Humberside's Sports Talk programme, less so! 
Much closer to home, another individual apparently on his way out of a club was youngster Fitzy who, according to Coach Nicho's interpretation of the text he'd received, was making himself unavailable for us for the foreseeable future. 
At with any level of football, this isn't unusual, especially when a player feels - rightly or wrongy - that he's been dealt a harsh hand selection-wise.   It usually translates as a way of ensuring the manager soon comes calling, almost begging the player to reconsider.  Not sure if that was the intention in this case but if so he's likely to be disappointed.  Nicho’s played under Dave Start at Reckitts and learnt a lot.  There’d be no phone call – at least not this week!
Not that I didn't feel some sympathy with the plight of the lad.  Ever since it was agreed between management and players that this season would see us adopt a more "ruthless" approach to team selection, I could foresee problems - everyone will agree to a manager picking his "best eleven" when they all think they're in it!  And so, when it dawned on Karl he was no longer a shoo-in on the left side of midfield, a feeling that his Saturdays could be better spent elsewhere crept in.  He's not the first to make himself "unavailable for selection until further notice" and I've no doubt he won't be the last.  
Similarly he's perhaps another player to suffer from having "smoke blown up his arse" by other people, namely those who tempted him along to Bridlington Town over the summer.  Perhaps the fact you're on the books of a Northern Counties East League side should ensure you a place at CML level?  Perhaps without having to put quite the same effort in as others?  Not according to Mack and Nicho.
I don't know, maybe I'm doing the lad a disservice.  On his day, Fitzy is certainly a very destructive presence for opposition defenders, either down the flank or through the middle.  Hopefully, he'll realise that there can still be some good times to be had with the lads at Low Farm.  We'll see.
Finally there was the storm over FIFA's refusal to allow the England players to wear shirts with the poppy sewn-in for Saturday's friendly international against Spain.  Crikey did this create some headlines.  As with the England 2018 World Cup bid, the Prime Minister and Prince William threw themselves into the fight.  And as on that occasion FIFA simply ignored them.  Well, almost, for despite the tabloid press saying it was the Prince what swung it, the Governing Body's eventual decision to agree to a compromise of a poppy sewn into the black armbands to be worn by the England players was actually largely down to the efforts of a backbench Tory MP.  But, hey, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story an' all that.
My own personal view is that a sensible compromise was eventually reached but how the hell did it get to that stage in the first place.  Once it had been ascertained that nobody was likely to be offended by what is - despite some people's protestations to the contrary - a non-political, non-religious symbol, then surely FIFA could have allowed it.  So what if it opens the floodgates?  Why not treat each case on its individual merit?  Had this been done in the first place then there wouldn't have been such an outcry.
As for those who point out that having a poppy emblazoned on a shirt is a recent phenomenon, so what?  Does that make it any less significant?  The 21st century conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have, quite rightly, brought the sacrifices of those serving in HM Forces again to the fore as well as helping educate people about the significance of countless conflicts past and present.  Surely anything to help this - such as the wearing of a poppy at high-profile international matches - can only be good, can't it? 
Friday was Armistice Day.  Ninety years since formation of the Royal British Legion, there was extra poignancy when at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, our office – along with thousands of other establishments the length and breadth of the country – paused for thought.
As opposed to Remembrance Sunday, the observing of the silence on Armistice Day itself seems to have come back into fashion (for want of a better term) more in recent years; again in line with the increased profile of our Armed Forces.  And not before time if you ask me.
In our office we observed the marking of the hour in the company of Radio Humberside, who broadcast the commemorations live from the Cenotaph in Hull.  It proved a deeply moving occasion.
But not forgotten
Mrs Slush had chosen this weekend for her annual expedition to Meadowhall, which involved an overnight stay.  And so while she and a friend “shopped ‘til they dropped”, I picked the Slushettes up from school and headed off to Newton's in Patrington for a fish supper, stopping en route to plant a Remembrance cross at Skeffling (as mentioned in the previous post).
Back home the girls were allowed the treat of watching both Corrie episodes before being dispatched to bed.  I know, I spoil them.
After a lengthy discussion on the phone with affable Bentley secretary JP Tooth, which helped shed further light on the reasons for the following day’s postponement, I settled down to the riveting contest that was the Bosnia v Portugal Euro 2012 play-off.  I think I woke up in time to see Ronaldo fall over.  Again.  Bed couldn’t come soon enough.  

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