Friday, 25 October 2013

Back on the Blog

Saturday 12th October
ER County League Premier Division
Easington Utd Reserves 0 Bridlington Town Reserves 3 

Saturday 19th October
Central Midlands League North Division
Easington Utd 0 Thoresby Colliery Welfare 2 

'Tis October, the month of Hull Fair and Halloween; of misty mornings, murky afternoons and of evenings that are often best spent sampling seasonal nutty ales around an old log fire.  And it’s a month in which Easington United tend to lose football matches.  Regularly.
Of course there is always the hope that we will buck the trend.  But this usually lasts barely a week.
Unfortunately, none of our teams can afford another ‘Black October’, especially the focus of my attention this particular Saturday – the Reserves.  They approached the month in miserable form; summer having seen the departure of the manager and key personnel from the squad that had gained promotion last season, September then bringing defeats in both opening league games at Beverley and Holme.
In addition, a first round defeat at Driffield Rangers had ensured there would be no repeat of last season’s run to the League Cup final.
When South Cave Sporting Club then ended interest in the County Cup at the first round stage a week later it became obvious that all efforts this season were now to be thrown into battling against relegation.

Still I’m ever the optimist (well, I try to be!) and as the Elder Slushette and I headed for ‘The Farm’ on a suitably damp Saturday afternoon, there was genuine hope that today might just witness a change in fortune. 
This feel-good factor wasn’t just the result of watching Andros Townsend and his England team-mates put Montenegro to the sword the previous night. Oh no, there were far more relevant reasons for my buoyancy...
For a start the Stiffs were playing their first “proper” home game of the season, on the main pitch and with the Tea Hut open!
Secondly, a lack of First Team fixture actually meant caretaker-boss Foz had some extra quality available in terms of personnel.
And thirdly, although having won two on the bounce ahead of their trip to the Humber Riviera, opponents Bridlington Town Reserves were not setting the top flight on fire. Indeed, the Seasiders were exactly the sort of side that we should be confident of beating if Premier Division survival is to become an expectation rather than a hope.
So there you have it.  All set up for the first 3pts of the season...

Low Farm – although always a thing of rustic beauty in this beholder’s eyes – doesn’t look quite so aesthetic on a drizzle-filled autumn afternoon.  This impression is further reinforced when, as today, the generator decides to play up leaving the changing room lights resembling a disco but without the sounds.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of a respectable-sized crowd numbering nearly twenty opted to take in the action from the shelter of the “Farm Shed”, or “North West Ryvita Stand” to give it its adopted name (don’t ask – I’m sure I’ve explained why somewhere in a previous blog!).  Among their number was First Team manager ‘Sumo’, in attendance not only to partake of some of the typically dry humour always on offer but also to cast an eye over any potential hopefuls.
For most of the first half he’d have been fairly impressed.  By and large the locals enjoyed the better of things, with the Town keeper easier the busier of the two.
That said, the visitors appeared to be getting too much freedom down the flanks, particularly the left, and only a couple of poor finishes ensured the score remained blank as long as it did.
The breakthrough came towards half-time and emanated from a defensive lapse that allowed Josh Chrislow to stride through and take the ball round Pagey before slotting into an unguarded net. 
I spent half-time (and indeed much of the second half) putting the world of local football to rights with Patrington-based referee Sprucey and ex-Withernsea AFC stalwart Neil Stivvy.  The usual subjects were trotted out – poor attitudes, lack of commitment, unwillingness to learn – which, in short, all add up to the following conclusion: “it weren’t like that in our day!”
As we vented our frustrations on the sidelines, those being felt by the Stiffs on the pitch were increased by near misses at one end – Gav’s shot being blocked by the last defender; sub Shane striking the post – and clinical Bridlington finishing at the other.
An unseemly bout of handbags brought proceedings to a scruffy end and – apparently – helped convince our visitors that retiring to The Granby would be an unwise move.  I found this particularly disappointing and took to Twitter to tell them so...well, it made me feel better if nothing else!
As it was, I can only report to the absent Seasiders that you missed some particularly tasty sausage rolls and a lovely pint of Old Golden Hen (available alongside the landlord’s usually reliable Tetley Cask). 
It rained that night.  It continued raining well into Sunday morning, which had a profound effect on one of the traditional highlights of the local calendar – the Welwick Heritage weekend. 
Usually the Sunday morning sees a large stretch of the Moat Farm grassland turned into a car boot sale.  Not this year.  Indeed, not only was there no car boot sale, there were almost no vehicles at all as many of those who pitch up for an extended break decided to return home early before they became stuck on the increasingly wet field.
We timed our annual visit just right – some rare (for this October) sunshine accompanying our walk around the assorted stalls and displays celebrating the area’s rural past.
By the time I was enjoying a delicious pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord to accompany tea at The Crown & Anchor at Kilnsea (as much a fixture of our Welwick Heritage Weekend as the threshing machine) the tribulations of my local football team were temporarily no longer uppermost in my thoughts.
By Tuesday it was the national team taking centre-stage as England lined up against Poland needing just a win to qualify for next year’s World Cup Finals.  Now where have I seen that before?
The much talked about 1973 meeting was the first televised England game I can remember watching all the way through.  Thankfully, unlike on that occasion, Roy’s boys didn’t falter this time round and I could retire to bed to dream of a summer on the Copacabana...

 Autumn on the Humber Riviera may not quite conjure up quite the same images but, hey, given a bit of sunshine and the right soundtrack anything is possible.
Nowadays such a soundtrack in the Slush household would be an eclectic affair.  For example, in the past fortnight my choice of listening has ranged from a ‘50s jump-jive compilation and '80s indie-faves The Wedding Present through the '90s sounds of Saint Etienne, Gene and The Hacienda Club to a classic Northern Soul collection and Calvin Harris.  There, label that little lot if you will.
Of course at one time, the only bits of vinyl to be played on my decks would have been filed loosely under “Rock ‘n’ Roll”.  As a teenager caught up in the so-called Cat Movement of the early-Eighties I would have been mortified had someone told me that in future years I’d be listening to anything that didn’t have its origins in the American Deep South.
I was reminded of such times by the presence at Low Farm last Saturday of a certain Alan Franklin.

A resident of the village throughout his childhood and into his mid-20s, Al (or “Franks”) was well-known for his dedicated following of several musical fashions.
And as he stomped his way across the Low Farm car-park I could see by the flying jacket, checked shirt and turned-up denims that he was once again on a retro tip.
Renewing acquaintance with the aforementioned Mr Franklin may account for a less detailed than usual account of our home defeat by Thoresby Colliery Welfare in this our sixth successive Saturday at home.
Certainly, large parts of the second half seemed to simply form a backdrop to memories of those halcyon days of the early 1980s. 

Prior to this distraction I’d seen us enjoy the better of things in the first half only to be undone by goals from James Scothern and Tony Buchanan, the latter being one of the finest strikes you’ll see at Low Farm this or any other season.
At the start of the second period Dave Westoby passed up a great chance to pull one back, Gav hit the bar and Sam Huteson was forced out of the game by the latest poor challenge from Nathan Brown.  The Thoresby full-back received a long-overdue yellow card and was substituted shortly after when by rights he could have been off the field via different means, leaving us to go at 10 men for forty minutes.
It was now that my attention on the game came into conflict with revived memories of days gone by: of Friday nights watching bands like The Jets and The Blue Cats at The Goodfellowship Inn on Cottingham Road; of Saturday mornings spent trawling through the latest import releases at the legendary Sydney Scarborough in Hull city centre; of Saturday afternoons catching the train to and from Boothferry Park.

I’d last seen Al on a previous trip to Low Farm during our HPL days.  At the time he was involved with someone whose son was playing against us.  Now, once again single, he appears to have taken up where he left off all those years ago. 
I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was a touch of envy as I listened to his tales of seeing Ray Campi at the legendary Hemsby Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekender or even his attendance at Hull Soul Club’s monthly event at The Trades & Labour Club.  I smiled at the almost youthful exuberance that was evident in his recounting of such events – and I smiled because, despite the advancing years, I still can’t talk to Al without thinking he still bears an uncanny resemblance to Dave Bartram, lead singer of mock-Teddy Boy revivalists Showaddywaddy!

The aforementioned Mr Bartram may have proved a more effective front-man than the various ones employed by manager Sumo during the second half at Low Farm (see what I’ve done there). For despite plenty of possession and no lack of effort, aside from those chances at the start of the period, we rarely forged a decent opening during the whole of the second half – unless I missed them while reminiscing about all things rockabilly of course!

An official account of the Reserves v Bridlington Town Reserves game can be read here, while that of the First Team defeat by Thoresby can be found here.

Pictures from both games (courtesy of Craig Stephenson and Burt Graham) accompany both reports and/or can be found on our Easington United Facebook page.



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