Saturday, 21 January 2012

Freshly squeezed

Saturday 14th January
CML North Division
Easington United 0 Dronfield Town 1

Ours wasn’t the only cup progress to please me last Saturday.  For as we cruised past the hapless Welbeck in the CML cup, the 'Barmby Army' ensured their place in the 4th round of the slightly more prestigious FA Cup, courtesy of a 3-1 win over Ipswich.  My cup certainly was over-flowing that night…
Or rather it would have been had not a pint (bottle) of Wold Top bitter set me back a staggering £3.60!  Bloody ‘ell, thank God Mrs Slush didn’t want one. 
We were at the new Hull Truck Theatre (how long is it before it loses the “new” tag?) to see “The Flint Street Nativity”.  It’s the first of two planned visits to the venue in the early part of 2012; the second one will see us attending Mick Martin’s acclaimed Northern Soul-based production, “Once Upon A Time In Wigan”.  Might have to pack a hip-flask in for that one!

Sunday brought a live FA Cup game on ITV that had actually bucked the trend by filling the ground as Citeh hosted United in the Manchester derby.  Of course the main talking point for the pundits afterwards concerned the tackle that earned Kompany a red card.  However, for me it was the performance of Rio Ferdinand – Lord help us at the Euros if Fabio still fancies him and Terry at the heart of the defence.  And how Micah Richards can’t get in the squad, well…
After Sunderland had breezed past Posh we were treated to the 4th Round Draw, which is a bit of a novelty for Hull City supporters.  Somewhat disappointingly I already knew that the Tigers’ ball was number 11 (why do they have to tell us that?  It surely removes some of the anticipation?) but a home tie with everyone’s favourite (!) former Non-League club Crawley Town should at least prompt hopes of only a second visit to the fifth round since 1989!
Staying with the Tigers, James Greenwood and Les “Amber Nectar” Motherby’s new Hull City Kits site is proving a real hoot for kit geeks like me.  And the duo excelled themselves this week when publishing an insightful interview with Tigers kit-man John Eyre.  Fascinating stuff…if like me you go in for that sort of thing of course!
The prospect of a run in the cup, along with Papa Allam’s promise not to let Nasty Nigel have any of his former players, was enough to persuade Nick Barmby to shed the word “Caretaker” from his Manager title the following Tuesday.  Here’s wishing him the very best of British.
That local delicacy - The Patty
Of course best of British is something we may not be wishing each other for very much longer if Scotland’s First Minister (& Jambos fan) Alex Salmond has his way. 
Given my mother’s maiden name (Douglas) you’ll perhaps not be surprised to learn I’m quite a fan of the Union and therefore strongly opposed to the current calls for Scottish independence.  However, when listening to the likes of Nicola Sturgeon bleating on as she did on Thursday’s Question Time, I do begin to sympathise with those south of the border who favour letting the “troublesome Scots” go their own way (i.e. the people referred to by Philip Johnston's excellent piece in the Telegraph a few days later); that and the fact that it would show the fallacy of Gordon Brown’s original theory that Devolution would strengthen the ties between us!
Hodgy (left) lines up a spare for when Ben's is returned with interest!
Back to football and our own Baris League Challenge Cup third round draw took place at Monday night’s League Committee meeting.  It gave us a home tie against CML South Division opponents in either Bilborough Pelican or Southwell City.  The teams had drawn 1-1 on Saturday and would meet again at the War Memorial Ground on Wednesday week to decide who’s to make the trip out to the Humber Riviera.  Bet they can’t wait!
The first signs of man-flu were beginning to show as match day approached.  I was in a foul mood with work mate Mike whose refusal to stay at home (typical contractor!) had allowed him to spread the lurgy. 
“Might not be able to do the dance class run tomorrow”, I told Mrs Slush on Friday night.
“Well you won’t be fit enough to go to football in the afternoon then?” came the reply. 
“Ah, I’ll have a hot toddy and see how I go…”
I felt a bit better on Saturday morning – good stuff that Balvenie Doublewood - and what a glorious winter’s morning it was.  A white sheen covered the ground but when I dropped the kit off at Low Farm at half past eight, there appeared no danger of our game being off.
In the event it was a good job the game was at home.  Opponents Dronfield reported a temperature of -4C overnight, which would have left Stonelow Road in serious doubt, while the match officials were also prompted to call me before setting off from Lincoln, such was the severity of the frost down there.
Liam does his "floundering" impersonation but all's well
This was to be our first real test since the ‘Festive Makeover’.  Dronfield arrived in second place in the table thanks to an outstanding run of form.  Ten straight wins had been halted only by the Christmas draw at “derby rivals” Parkhouse, a game in which the visitors had come from 3-1 down with ten minutes left to earn a share of the spoils.
Such form made our draw there in October look a decent result.  The feeling was that both Mack and Nicho would settle for a similar outcome this time round.
The afternoon was perfect for football – bright and still.  Dronfield boss Craig Butler described it as “like the Riviera”.  That’s what I’ve been telling people for ages!
There was a bit of controversy beforehand when Biggy Smalls was omitted from the squad, having completed a 14-mile run that morning before duly posting the fact on Facebook.  There’s no doubting that Craig’s probably the fittest member of the current squad but the management were certainly not impressed that this had formed part of his “pre-match preparation”.  Not the start to the afternoon that was required.
Luke’s continued absence on a skiing holiday and Perry’s decision to take up the offer of regular HPL football elsewhere meant the total number of new faces in the squad was five – Mr Matongo being joined in the starting eleven by new keeper ‘Patty’ (signed in midweek from HPL side Hedon Rangers) while Robbie, Alex and Tom comprised the bench.
Can't see a foul there myself?
Dronfield’s official website would later inform us thay had “eight first team regulars” missing.  Considering they named a 23-man squad for the programme, I’m not sure that was such a blow!
Still, they started like a team who were confident of maintaining their title aspirations; neat and tidy approach play, good movement, confidence on the ball but, thankfully, no end product – at least for the first half.
‘Patty’ was forced into just the one real save, and that originated from his own error.  And although we didn’t create much, half-time arrived with most in the disappointingly small crowd feeling there were some points to be had.
Sadly, such thoughts would be dispelled just before the hour mark when Karl Hobson scored in an incident that also saw the unfortunate Nicho carted off to hospital with suspected knee ligament damage.
As our official report says, we twice came close to levelling matters, while at the other end sub Jamie Wallis should have increased the visitors’ lead.  But his finishing was, to quote a saying familiar to the aforementioned Alex Salmond, “pish”.  It remained one nil.
Although beaten, I took a lot of positives from the day – nobody expects to bed-in seven new players in such a short time and there were plenty of encouraging signs on show...despite what our opponents' report said ;-) 
Holy (All) Saints - another one gets away!
My mood was further lightened by news of a much better display (despite defeat) by the Stiffs and a fourteenth consecutive win for the Casuals, Robbie Koren’s spectacular winner against Peterborough and a twitter-feed full of Leicester fans demanding Pearson’s head.  Bitter? Moi?!
As I performed the Saturday evening clearing away duties, to the accompaniment of a glass of sloe gin and the sound of Henry’s Jukebox on local radio, with his fine mix of “classic blues, swing, rock & roll and soul”, I was once again convinced that we were on the up...for now!
Postscript: Given the title of the post it would be remiss of me to leave without posting a couple of gems from those lovely guys at, wait for it, Freshly Squeezed. Ha, get it?
Aw, it's ferkin seamless this blog...

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