Thursday, 1 December 2011

Oh the irony

On the same day that the strength of football in this area was being lauded on local radio, it was confirmed that one of the more progressive grassroots clubs had ceased to exist.  Local football stinks at times...

During last night's live East Riding County FA Cup draws on Radio Humberside's "Sports Talk", presenter Gwilym Lloyd asked ERCFA Chief Executive Adam Lowthorpe whether he had ever known such a breadth of leagues as that in which East Riding clubs are currently involved and, partly on the back of this, the strength of the local game was quite rightly lauded.
However, within a couple of hours there was a reminder to us all just how dangerously misplaced such views can appear, with the news that Hutton Cranswick United Football Club is no more.  
According to an official statement released last night, the Rotsea Lane outfit will resign from the Central Midlands League with immediate effect.
It's a sad end for a club that progressed from the Driffield & District Football League to Step 7 football in the CML in just two decades.
From 'whipping boys' in the inaugural Humber Premier League of 2000/01 they were crowned league champions three season later.  
Frustrated by what they saw as the HPL's lack of progress off-the-field, the club then successfully applied for membership of the CML Premier Division in 2008.
Their approach to the game at Committee and playing level has run very similar to ours and I can only extend sympathy to Jim, Denis and Ollie on this saddest of news.
Unsurprisingly, the reasons cited for the club's demise are mainly financial (including one that also takes a swipe at over-zealous officialdom - a source of much irritation across the board given the fines now imposed for even the most minor of indiscretions).  
Lack of support in the local area has proved a major factor.  Despite a recent showpiece occasion against Hull City in the ERCFA Senior Cup, which managed to pull in a crowd of just under 200 to Rotsea, the wolves weren't kept far from the door for long.  And as Denis explained to me this morning, when the two league games either side of that tie brought in 14 each (with 7 and 6 away fans, from Glapwell and Parkhouse respectively) and the cost of the match officials is over a hundred quid, it doesn't take a genius to work out the difficulties.
That aforementioned Senior Cup tie saw City win 2-0 but had Tigers Head of Youth, Billy Russell singing the praises of their opponents.  Under different circumstances, such good press can kick-start a season.  Instead, just a fortnight later, Cranny struggled to fulfil a game at Thoresby, travelling there with less than a full complement before - in typical fashion - putting on a terrific battling display.  They lost 2-0 having played more than half the game with ten men (goalkeeper Leon Sewell being rather harshly dismissed) and finishing with nine following a second red card.
My league season will not be the same without the trip to Rotsea, where the post-match hospitality was quite rightly lauded as the best in the league and where, whatever the result, the likes of Denis and Jim would always be on hand for a pint and a chat afterwards.
When I express my disappointment at the loss of this club, I speak for many at Low Farm past and present (it was no surprise that both the current and previous First Team bosses were among the first to get in touch to express their sadness at the news).  Not for them or me the "told you so" smugness that may well emanate from certain quarters of the East Riding at what may be seen as another club that got too big for its boots.  Always "better to have tried and (ultimately) failed than never to have tried at all".  And as Denis is keen to point out, it was bloody good while it lasted.

FOOTNOTE: Since posting the above, the following piece with club chairman Jim Ezard appeared on the HDM website.  An interesting read.


BTFM said...

Off the back of Kirkby's demise, these are troubling times for the whole league structure. We can only hope that the powers that be realise what they are doing to the clubs they supposedly are in place to protect.

Richard Lusmore ("Slush") said...

It's ironic that this is happening in the wake of a move deemed to avert such situations arising i.e. regionalisation. As Jim says in the linked piece (added as a footnote), with hindsight Hutton Cranswick should possibly have made the decision during the summer. It will be interesting to see what happens should the HPL be given full Step 7 for 2012/13 with regards to the likes of Westella and us... (obviously a promotion to the NCEL for 'Ella' notwithstanding of course)