Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Harworth Five-O

Saturday 26th October
Central Midlands League North Division
Harworth Colliery 2 Easington United 0

Big Craig doesn’t normally do away games, preferring to remain at Low Farm with his weighbridge and camera capturing the best of the County League action.
However, today there was none – both the Reserves and Casuals were also on the road.
So, what better way to prepare for your own “surprise” 50th birthday bash later that night than bag a seat with the manager in Le Sumo Limousine and head for Harworth?  Well, aside from clambering aboard the Pistol Pete Express, I would suggest there is none! 

Talking of being fifty, I’m glad to say I still have a few years left before I get there (although I’m already on with planning the celebrations, which currently involves a week touring the real ale hostelries of the Dales & Moors - I'll keep you all posted). 
However, I was made to feel all my forty-something years when discussing the relative merits of various iPhone options with a young salesman in Hull last Sunday.
In trying to show me the benefits of Deezer (which apparently is a music on demand service now provided free with iPhones for Orange) the aforementioned salesman asked me to name an artist.
“Be careful, don’t embarrass yourself”, said Mrs Slush.
As if.  “New Order”, I offered.
His face said it all.  “New.  Order.  Is that two words?”  I couldn’t believe my ears.
He typed it into Deezer.  “Hmm, ‘Blue Monday’, is that a track by the New Order you mean?”
Mrs Slush checked me before I exploded.  “A track by the New Order you mean?” Only the biggest selling 12-inch single of all time you fucking fuckwit fucker!”
“Yes” I replied. 
Mrs Slush was still laughing as we left the store.  We both were, even more so when I said, “Imagine if it had been you wanting the phone.  What would he have found for ‘Aqua’?”

New who?

To think we’re nearly into November yet this was the Pistol’s first trip of the season behind the wheel.  He was keen to make up for lost time – by the time we left Hull bound for north Nottinghamshire, we’d already had tales of his first initiation to the art of masturbation (obviously many moons ago), played slalom with a pillar-box along Hedon Road and almost ram-raided a drive-thru McDonalds in his desperation to find a toilet. 
Oh yes, The Pistol had hit the ground running...
We travelled in remarkably high spirits given the fact Thoresby’s 2-0 win over us the previous week had sent us back into the bottom two, today’s opponents Harworth sat fourth in the table and we had a growing absence list.
Huteson, Westoby and Wilson were all missing, while Frosty’s reported return to HPL side Crown had certainly ruffled feathers. 
Returning to the ranks were last week’s "absent friends" Jammer and Lew, along with Bezza who was over his previous week’s bug.  Tom Mac’s return to the first team fold ensured we would have 13 boys in maroon at Scrooby, one of whom - "Running Man" JC - was in line for his 150th First Team appearance, so there! 

They’d given the ground a lick of paint since our last visit.  If memory serves me this was done ahead of the recent visit of Evo-stik League side Frickley in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup, a game the visitors edged by a solitary strike.
Harworth had also been beaten the previous weekend, 3-2 at Brodsworth, a result that had left manager Brendan Wilson questioning his players’ attitude in today’s match programme.  Hmm, might be interesting should we score early, thought I...
Rob Waite, aka ‘Davy Lamp’ from the excellent “66 POW” blog, was one of the first people I bumped into, team sheet completion being just one of countless tasks this very likeable character carries out on match day at Harworth. 
Always good for an anecdote or two, spending a game in Rob’s company can make the worst result almost bearable and was another reason why the controversy of our game here last season was even more, er, awkward for me.

Where's Brim when you need him?

Just prior to kick-off, as the referee's assistant was ensuring Brim Biglin's Harworth equivalent would have to sort his nets out, I received a text from Reserves manager Fozzy to tell me that a Stumo Campbell goal had them tying 1-1 in the Premier Division basement battle at Sculcoates.  There was no update from the Casuals’ game in Cottingham – never a good sign.
Harworth had instigated a “kids go free” offer for today’s game (partly to stop them clambering over the fence for free anyway, as Rob later acknowledged).  Looking around the ground in the minutes leading up to kick-off I couldn’t see any noticeable uptake – indeed it was later confirmed as five having done so, out of an overall attendance of 33.  Still, the club can’t be knocked for trying.
In addition to The Pistol and Burt-on-Bus, I was joined in the ‘away section’ by the aforementioned Big Craig and our manager’s daughter ‘Katie McLicious’.  With keeper Mad John having his own personal band of supporters (well, there were two of them) in attendance and Mrs Wilks & family there to encourage Paul, we were fairly well represented on a dull but thankfully dry autumn afternoon.

And Graham must score...
And we began brightly.  Although Mad John was called upon to produce one early save, we were giving as good as we got and forced a succession of corners.  From one of these, AG looked well-placed to justify the big build-up I’d given him...but headed over.
Gav then went through on goal, the defender grabbed his arm, Gav stayed on his feet and got the shot away.  The keeper saved.  Corner.  Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s worth going down.
Back came Harworth and Mad John was twice called upon in quick succession, one save in particular being excellent.  We appeared to have weathered the storm.  Then Harworth scored.
Frustratingly it came from a throw-in to us, awarded well inside the home half.  Unfortunately the throw found one orange shirt who swept it upfield to another – tricky youngster Tomlinson – whose cross was dispatched expertly by striker Tom Walker.
Sumo’s mood was dark and would have been darker had Mad John not come to the rescue again before the break.  We retired to the Hospitality area in Tom’s Tea Room relieved to be only one down.

All eyes on you John

Over tea and biscuits I received news of another Casuals defeat, 3-1 at Cottingham Rangers, while Burt & Craig discussed buses in Malta.  I jest ye not.  It was a relief to get back out for the second half!
After an entertaining first 45 minutes the second period proved somewhat disappointing.  Mad John produced two excellent stops in quick succession at the start of it, before the game became bogged down into a scrappy, niggling affair on a pitch that was proving difficult for both sides.
As with the first half we had our moments and sub Lew came close to levelling matters with a 20-yard free-kick that pinged against the home bar.
Having seen the games against Clay Cross and Phoenix, I was well aware of the most likely finish to this one.  And so it was; increasingly desperate attempts to make something happen resulting in the careless loss of possession, which allowed Sam West to set up sub Ollie Chappell for the killer second goal.
The final few minutes witnessed a Sumo outburst that had Big Craig giving Katie McLicious a look that said, “Could be an entertaining ride home!”

One Eastender with something to celebrate - JC's 150th

Thankfully the immediate post-match mood was positive enough and the lads were in good form by the time we’d retired to the bar.  Indeed their mood was noticeably more jovial than that of the Potter serving the food – his frown would give ‘Appy Barry a run for his money!
With beers procured from the nearby Asda, we were soon on the way home and already turning our thoughts to Saturday’s trip to Welbeck.  However, I had more pressing matters to attend to – like being one of those cramming into Easington village phone box, I mean, The Granby, to help the aforementioned Big Craig celebrate his impending Big Five-O. 
They didn't play any New Order on Saturday night but I will rectify that error now, just for Andy at phones4u.  I've purposely eschewed 'Blue Monday' in favour of this little gem...

Photos courtesy of 'The 66 POW' (Rob Waite) and Burt Graham.
Official match report can be read here.
Harworth match report (via 'The 66 POW' blog) can be read here.

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