Saturday, 24 December 2011

The first shoots of recovery?

Saturday 17th December
CML North Division
DFS Welbeck Welfare 0 Easington United 3

As it says on the official match report, not exactly a result to set CML opponents quaking in their boots about an Eastenders revival but by 'eck did we need it.  
The Kiveton defeat hit everybody hard.  Without taking anything away from our visitors, we should not be shipping six unanswered goals at home to teams like Kiveton.  Things needed to change - and quickly.
My mood was lightened with the help of some Timothy Taylor Landlord ale which accompanied tea for some fifteen of us at The Crown & Anchor the following day.  Even the blackest of moments cannot fail to be brightened - even ever so slightly - by a pint or two of this perennially fine Yorkshire ale.
Alcohol would continue to play a healing role; further recuperation being aided over the next couple of days by the bottle of Gordon's Sloe Gin I'd bought to help introduce some Festive spirit into the Slush household.  
Meanwhile, Wednesday 13th December brought a double-dose of Slushette Nativity plays in the afternoon; the Younger depicting an angel in her offering about a star that was struggling to shine, while my eldest threw herself into her role of singing sheep in the older ones' ditty, 'Bethlehem Bandits'.  Suffice to say, both girls stole their particular shows...ahem.
Just the TWO sugars Dave?
The evening brought a different type of production, courtesy of Bad Apple Theatre Company's tale, A Yorkshire Christmas Carol, being staged in Easington Community Hall as part of a tour of village halls across the North and East Ridings. 
At the same time as I was enjoying an updated regional version of Dickens' famous tale, the club's weekly training session at Hull's Soccer Sensations centre was being attended by four members of the now defunct Hutton Cranswick club and a fifth new face, previously with fellow CML club Westella & Willerby.
The quintet's attendance was thanks largely to a week or so of intense ringing around conducted by asst-mgr Nicho on the back of tip-offs from other local managers and players.  So impressed was our No.2 and Mack by what they saw that come the end of the session we had four new names registered with the club and an official notice of approach going in for the other.  Things were finally beginning to look up...
The Pistol does a fine impersonation of a twat  in a hat!

For the foreseeable future, hosts DFS Welbeck Welfare are using the excellently named “Clod”, home to the now-defunct Forest Town FC. And what a wonderful ground it is.
Although immediately apparent where the pitch gets its name from – for most of the game I thought they were playing with a pudding instead of a ball – the cycle track around the pitch and the steeply banked terracing/seating on the Welfare Club side almost lent itself to the feeling we were in a UEFA Cup tie behind the former Iron Curtain. Indeed, central defender Biggy Smalls later said he’d expected us up on the bank to be letting flares off. Unfortunately, the effect of doing so may well have been lost – aside from The Pistol and I the “crowd” consisted of two Lancastrian ground hoppers and half-a-dozen semi-interested punters watching from the Academy decking.
Pistol packing 'em in
Although I was frustrated by Welbeck’s no-shows last season, I’ve got to admit to having real respect for the way they continue to plough on regardless. Despite sitting some 11 points adrift at the foot of the table without a win or point all season, facing a constant turnaround of players, having seen their previous manager depart for pastures new on the eve of a game and currently being forced to lodge elsewhere while the impressive new ground development at Meden Vale takes shape, those in charge continue to grin and bear it.
Before the game, manager Chris Bennett and assistant Iain Peet (who’s also the treasurer) highlighted some of the problems the club has experienced and continues to experience. What drives both men – and their fellow committee members – on is the superb youth set-up that should eventually see Welbeck Welfare FC restored to its former status as “a very strong Club serving the community of Warsop and the surrounding villages of North Nottinghamshire”.
The big kick-off
An FA Charter Standard Community Club (an award it received back in 2009) Welbeck are not the only club in the area to fall on hard times - neighbours Church Warsop having recently “gone to the wall” just two seasons after winning the CML Premier Division title.
I enjoyed the hospitality immensely and just hoped it would extend to the pitch. It did. We were ahead on 10mins courtesy of a sweet left foot strike from Gav. By the break we’d doubled our lead, new boy Shawn marking his debut in style.
As I gradually began to lose all feeling in my feet second half, a third goal to effectively wrap things up helped offset the numbness; Frosty’s surging run and cross being drilled into his own net by hapless centre-half Malcolm Redford.
Despite a spirited showing by the hosts, they rarely looked like registering at the other end and 3-0 was a very welcome scoreline in view of recent events. 

'Mini Mack' prepares to step into dad's shoes
The spacious Forest Town Academy offered a comfortable place to retire to (shame about lack of any cask ale – I opted for a pint Chestnut Mild given I would be driving later that evening) and news of a battling performance by the nine-man Stiffs against leaders South Cave, along with another fine win for the Barmby Army helped put a very satisfactory smile on my face. It had been a long time coming…


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