Monday, 6 February 2012

Frozen out

Saturday 4th February
East Riding Senior Country Cup Round 3
Easington United Reserves 1 Driffield Rangers 5

Bah! Intit?!
Ah's nivver bin so cawd
Bah! Intit?!
Thoo must be gerrin awd.

Never have the words of one of my finest poetic offerings (ahem!) have been more apt.
Winter arrived courtesy of sub-zero temperatures on a nightly basis leading up to this eagerly-awaited East Riding Cup quarter-final.
Since the draw had been made, most of us had pinpointed it as the biggest game in the Stiffs’ New Year calendar.  Successive league defeats had sent Meddy’s men tumbling towards the Premier Division relegation zone.  The county cup offered chance to kick-start things again.
Opponents Driffield Rangers are enjoying their first season in the ER County League following their Driffield & District League championship of 2010/11.  Allotted a place in Division 1 for this season, they arrived at Low Farm in fourth place, with a decent chance of promotion and having already beaten some higher-placed clubs in both cup competitions.
Like Kinsley Boys they were travelling to the game by coach and planning a bit of a sesh afterwards.  Obviously, my hope was that they would be drowning their sorrows.
Our very own Last Of The Summer Wine
Despite the “cold snap” there appeared little concern about the game until Friday morning when I was informed the pitch was frozen and it was impossible to operate the marker.  With blue skies and bright sunshine hopefully pushing the temperature up above zero, we agreed to meet up and have a look at kick-off time, two o’clock.
We did and were delighted to see the sun had done its job.  The pitch looked perfect.  With the weather set to repeat itself over the following 24 hours, I returned home confident in the tie going ahead.  Good job – I’d printed a load of programmes!
Driffield’s decision to book a bus meant they were tied to using it.  As secretary Kev Hopper informed me, “If the game’s off we’ll just take the bus elsewhere for the day.”  In other words we could delay the decision right up until kick-off if there was any chance of getting it on.  Nice one.
As good a place as any to "droon sorrows"!
I’d found my own comfort for the previous weekend’s reverse at The Holderness Inn in nearby Patrington, in the company of several friends and a fine selection of cask ales.  Eschewing the Tetley’s which I can have in my local, I instead sampled all four remaining brews – Roosters Yankee, Wye Valley HPA, York Guzzler and my personal favourite, St Austell Cornish Tribute.  All were on excellent form, which was credit to the landlord.

And that's not the temperature
The following day was spent in Hull, firstly “in town” where Mrs Slush was stocking up the kids ahead of a forthcoming trip to Center Parcs, then to Hull University’s Middleton Hall for the BBC Radio Humberside/Look North production of “Robinson Crusoe”.  Having been dragged here partly under protest (regular attendees the In-Laws were away on holiday) I must confess I enjoyed it immensely.  Meanwhile, seeing our former striker Joni Purse plucking his guitar strings as part of the backing band added something of a surreal twist to proceedings!
Completing a fine day was a long-overdue return to The Haven Arms, Hedon for Sunday carvery…washed down with a cracking pint of Tom Woods Bitter.  Back home as the sounds of Department S “Is Vic there?” greeted my joining this week’s Q The 80s and the female members of the family slobbed out in front of Dancing On Ice, it was safe in the knowledge that I’d done quite well on the ale front this weekend!  In fact the only thing that could have topped it off would have been a lovely pint of Top Totty!
Our monthly Committee Meeting on Wednesday helped concentrate my thoughts on things other than the piss-poor reaction of some elements of Hull City’s support to the previous night’s Doncaster game; that and the somewhat unexpected sacking of Simon Grayson at Leeds.  Apparently Neil Warnock is the early frontrunner?  Given his well-worn anagrammatically formed nickname, the prospect of “Colin Wanker” and Master Bates in tandem at the so-called White Shite certainly caused plenty of amusement on the message-boards. 
Everywhere you's a sea of black & amber!
Friday morning brought with it the first flurries of snow this year and an amazing early rattle of wickets in the desert where Pakistan ended the first session of the Second Test on 53-7.  But creekit was now down to third in the rankings of Slush sporting interests.  For while my major concerns were with the Low Farm pitch, that evening would also see the start of the Super League season and a first outing for the new-look Hull Kingston Rovers. 
It couldn’t have been a much tougher one, away to Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos - I refuse to refer to them as “champions” as, being very much ‘old school’, I still believe that this particular accolade should go to the team that proved itself the best over the course of the league campaign (i.e. Warrington Wolves). 
Anyway, I digress.  Despite a decent performance and indeed they led into the second half, Rovers eventually succumbed to a 34-16 defeat.  Nobody was particularly downhearted.

Man In Tights - Thommo models today's must-have item
Neither was I the following morning by signs of another serious-looking overnight frost.  The sun was out as I set off for my morning in the salubrious surrounds of the Pavilion Leisure Centre, Withernsea where the Slushettes took it in turns to edge their way along the path that leads to being the next Darcey Bussell.
Things started to go a little awry when I received the call informing me that Barry, landlord of The Granby, was in hospital having been taken ill overnight.
The next call was even more ominous: “Pitch is harder than yesterday and it’s a lot colder down here this morning.”

And still they came...
News of postponements elsewhere started to filter through.  Grimsby – eight miles across the River Humber; Portsmouth – where City fans were already well en route; Withernsea.  And my mood wasn’t improved by news of a decent third wicket stand for Pakistan at the cricket.
Contact was hurriedly made with opponents Driffield (already sat on the coach waiting to set off) match referee (and former Hedon Rangers defender) Dave Aitcheson-Smith who confirmed he had no problem in leaving it until kick-off time to say yes or no.  I was beginning to fear the worst.
Before the game we had arranged a photo shoot with our new Junior link club, Sporting Withernsea Wolves (see separate post).  You’ll probably gather by some of the expressions thereon just how cold it was down the Farm that afternoon.  And the result wasn’t going to warm us up.
Hodgy & Brim in today's best seats
Things went wrong from the start when young keeper Ben, possibly affected early by the biting temperatures, dropped a harmless looking cross into his own net.  By the break it was two when Blanny blotted an otherwise impressive first half showing by steering the ball into the path of the Rangers forward who couldn’t miss.  He didn’t.
Several members of the Withernsea club were in attendance, following postponement of their own quarter-final at home to Driffield FC.  It was a mark of how well we were to play that despite their obvious pleasure at our result, Seasiders club secretary Schmeal was heard to say to Stiffs manager Meddy at the close, “You’ve absolutely battered ‘em…and got beat five one!”  Quite.

Room for one more?
All three second half goals were also presented to the visitors; Pasha Brown’s 20-yard effort having briefly brought us back into things at 1-3 with half an hour to play.  There would be no Senior Country Cup semi-final for our Second-string this term.
Barry’s hospitalisation had prompted a mad lunchtime dash to The White Horse (‘The ‘Oss’) where I cheekily asked new hostesses Deb & Annie if they could fill the void.  Thankfully they were only too keen to and the result was a cracking post-match gathering in front of the coal fire that helps make this pub the cosiest in the village on cold winter days like this.  It took the likes of Sumo, Clarkey and me back to the “good old days” of Easington football when the pub was our regular post-match home.  The only thing missing was the cask ale…and Dad’s Army on the telly.
I think we used to lose a few at home in those days an’all!

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