Friday, 18 January 2013

Hope lost, point gained

Saturday 12th January
CML North Division
Sherwood Colliery 1 Easington United 1
I've often thought that away days on the Pistol Pete Express fall somewhere between 'The InBetweeners', 'Waiting For God' and the latest ITV "laddish" offering, 'Great Night Out'.  And on Saturday evening, as I sat with the aforementioned Pistol and Shotgun Burt watching a young lady inadvertently exposing her virtue to all and sundry on a main road in Holderness, such views were very much reinforced.
Such titillation provided a fitting end to another fine day out aboard the "PPE" - a rare treat for me this season.  Admittedly, it did lack several ingredients that formed the staple diet of such jaunts in the past: namely, Mozzer rubbing his tackle along the inside of the windows as well as exposing himself in Service Station toilets and a pantomime villain to rip the shit out of...Charlie.  In addition, even The Pistol seems to have reined himself in a touch these days - well he's given up on the "ten times round the roundabout" party piece at any rate. 
These minor disappointments aside, there was still the by now traditional mixture of high drama and low-grade humour that has become the norm when travelling away with this particular brand of "Eastenders"...
Gaffer in pink, Gaffer's eldest in camp pose - is there something we should know?
Our first ever trip to Sherwood Colliery was something of a hastily arranged affair.  It came on the back of our cup postponement the week before and several draws in the ties that were played; the need for replays causing some tinkering with the fixture list.  Hence instead of a visit to Welbeck Welfare's brand new home as originally planned, we were heading for Debdale Park, home of "The Wood".
In time-honoured manner the day began with a drop-out (Brettles having "woken up feeling ill") and continued with the usual mix of timing issues ("I was told half-past") and Shotgun Burt's sexual anecdotes, which were helped on this occasion by a hip flask of Jura single malt.
Hip flasks appeared to be the order of the day in the "Waiting For God" seats at the front and mine (sloe gin) was almost downed in one to aid recovery from shock halfway down the M1 - moments after a bright red VW Golf had come spinning across our path before settling on the grass embankment just north of Junction 29.  For once The Pistol was entirely blameless.
We had a decent run down only to then be thwarted in our attempts to find the venue due to a lack of signage - a point that affable Wood secretary Phil Kirkland later assured us is currently being addressed.
First impressions of Debdale Park were good.  A smart looking clubhouse and changing room complex lead out to a cricket pitch, bordered by those used for mini-soccer, and up towards a couple of full-size pitches, one of which was playing host to a local junior game.
Eastender Westoby aka 'Debut Dave'
Having searched the club website in vain for any "history" of the club as such, I eventually found the following via their Facebook page: "Sherwood Colliery FC were formed in 2008 at the request of Debdale Park Sports and Recreation Club".  I know, concise isn't it.
What I also know, from the well laid-out match programme and the aforementioned Mr Kirkland is that the club takes its name from the former colliery and were previously members of the Midland Amateur Alliance wherein they were crowned Division 1 champions in 2010/11.
The club recruits its players locally and have enjoyed their first season in the CML despite it proving a struggle.  They came into this game lying third-bottom from an impressive 21 games played (compared to our 14).  Just four wins have been claimed all season, a double over bottom club Welbeck and victories against Brodsworth and Thoresby, with the point gained in a 4-4 draw against the latter in the return fixture constituting the only other point gained thus far.
Unfortunately for Sherwood, their local rivals just happen to be the division's "big time Charlies", AFC Mansfield, and the first "derby" ended in a painful 9-0 defeat at Forest Town Welfare Ground.  
Still, the Debdale Park side have scored 44 goals in the league this season, more than any other team outside the top six, so we weren't going to take anything for granted.
Thommo to make it one-nil
Sumo's first line-up of 2013 included debutant Dave Westoby (following a Yuletide switch from Withernsea) and a "coming out of retirement" for Craig Smalley, in for his 275th Eastenders first team appearance after having "trained the house down" on Wednesday.  Apparently.  Absent was the still injured Jimmy D, newly injured Wilky Woo, the working Willo and Westoby's fellow new arrival Billy Melton who's out on the piste.
In addition to coming out of retirement in order to board the "PPE", the aforementioned "Smalls" created another "first" by bringing his homework with him - in this case a crate full of exercise books that required marking.  Yes sir!
There was also a surprise return to the line-up for the manager's eldest son, Tom (the recent lay-off having allowed him to sort a few things out) while Darren Thompson got the nod to replace the injured Wilks up top as Sumo retained his 4-2-3-1 formation.  Assistant AG and James Hope (young Hoppie) occupied the bench...well, at least for the first half!
Conditions were near perfect as I joined The Pistol and Shotgun Burt in the small covered stand on the near side of the main pitch.  Among the twenty-odd other souls present was a small but entertaining group of Groundhoppers from London.
As always you can check out our club website for a detailed-ish recording of the actual game (plus The Shotgun's full collection of snaps).  Suffice to say here that having taken the lead for the first time since late October, it was disappointing not to come away with all 3pts.  That said, Triston Burrell should have ensured we returned home empty-handed. 
The main talking point of the game, however, came off the field of play.  This was the "disappearance" of sub Hoppie.  Apparently, having been told by AG to get warmed ready for an early entry after the break, the lad instead got change and joined his dad for a car-bound dash back up to Hull and the Tigers' early evening televised clash with Sheffield Wednesday.  It's safe to say I was left pretty staggered by his actions.  Still, it certainly gave the nearby ground-hopper gang something to write in their books!
Jamie sees another 'win bonus' go begging
Overall, a point was about a fair result from a scrappy if still entertaining affair between noth sides showing the effects of recent inactivity.
There certainly won't have been much to worry the lad who asked me if Low Farm can accommodate a "full-sized bus...or two" ahead of his team's visit in a couple of weeks.  He was obviously from AFC Mansfield.
Afterwards, it was quite amusing to hear some of the lads cursing our inability to take all 3pts.  Indeed some of them were quite patronising about our hosts and had to be reminded that our current position doesn't allow such loftiness.  We are in a real scrap to move away from the wrong end of the table at the moment - I sometimes think some of our players still believe this is August and we've won three out of three!
Retirement to the 'Wood's impressive clubhouse held the promise of some cask ale courtesy of club sponsors, Greene King IPA.  Sadly it wasn't a great pint.  Pity.  Still, the chips were nice and the scores in the Championship helped put a smile on several of our faces. Hmm.
The enjoyable, alcohol-accompanied and incident-free ride back up to East Yorkshire - which included Debut Dave's intro to the "Thractor Song" - was to be blighted by news of City's horrible display against the Wendies.  In fairness I'd had a bad feeling about this game beforehand, and not just because in the run up to it Steve Bruce had been named December's Manager of the Month. Ah well, everyone's allowed a hiccup - some might say we've been having ours ever since those sunny days of August!

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