Friday, 8 November 2013

A belated Halloween Horror Story

Saturday 2nd November
ER County League Premier Division
Easington Utd Reserves 0 Walkington 4

The Slush Family attended a little soiree last Saturday night, organised as part of the current trend for celebrating ‘All Hallows Eve’. 
Perhaps not surprisingly, I'd only "entered into the spirit (apt!) of things" under protest.  To Mrs Slush & the Slushettes my dislike of Halloween simply reinforced my status at home as “Chief Misery Guts”.  
It's that time of year when I really come into my own in this regard.  There's Hull Fair (“a waste of money; full of chavs”), the half-term School Disco (“you can go with your mum can’t you?  Anyway, football’s on telly...”) and of course there's Trick or Treat (“it’s glorified begging...and don’t expect me to answer the door here neither!”).  Refusing to partake of any of these all adds to the “Grumpy” image I positively revel in.  As Mrs Slush is keen to point out - the spirit of Scrooge lives on all year round in our house.
Thankfully, I found myself not alone in my discomfort and found a particularly willing fellow anti-Halloween dissenter in my sometime drinking partner Fuller.
Aside from an age-old rivalry on the local football front, Fuller and I tend to agree on many things, including a love of real ale and as we sat there, resplendent in our horror-themed fancy dress (I know, I know...), supping pints of “Sleck Dust” from award-winning local Great NewsomeBrewery, we came to the conclusion that only one source was to blame.
“More bloody Americanisation”, we agreed.
Similar to the way the indigenous red squirrel has been all but done for by its American grey cousin, another British institution is under threat as the craze to do all manner of things with pumpkins now threatens to completely eclipse Bonfire Night.  
At this rate we'll be relegating Christmas in favour of Thanksgiving next...   
This year's Halloween number
Perhaps my dislike of Halloween is because I used up my taste for all things ghoulish during the countless nights I spent at Hull’s legendary Spiders nightclub during the Eighties.  A late-night haven mainly for Goths, post-punks and sub-cults of all forms (and with a soundtrack to die for) it was a dark, brooding but, all the same, very enjoyable place.  And you can forget Halloween fancy dress – in Spiders there really WERE some sights to send shivers down your spine! 
My “Spiders Years” coincided with a penchant for 1950's schlock horror flicks (“Attack of the 50ft Woman” or “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” anyone?) and a love of bands like The Meteors and The Cramps that first brought vampires, werewolves, human flies and even goo-goo muck cascading into my life. So as you see, I’m almost Halloween’d out!

My costume was better than that!

At any rate the real horrors for me this Halloween occurred on the football field and not on 31st October.  And I’m not talking about Kyle Walker’s “challenge” on Stephen Quinn during Hull City’s heartbreaking penalty defeat in their League Cup tie at Spurs.  Nor am I referring to the "joke" penalty that had decided the league game between the two teams the previous Sunday; nor the “Gareth Barry Show” in the 2-1 defeat at Everton a week earlier.  All of which reminded me just why I got so exasperated by the Premier League last time the Tigers were in it. 
No, outdoing even these moments in terms of sending shock-waves through my system was the phone conversation with First Team boss Sumo at ten to four last Saturday afternoon, during which he informed me of a one nil defeat at the hands of bottom club Welbeck Welfare.  A real seasonal low point if ever there was one.
A sort of Theatre Of Dreams
Thankfully, the lack of minibus and the aforementioned commitment to a Halloween/Fireworks party had prevented me making the trip to Meden Vale's own Horror Show.
Not that my afternoon at Low Farm had proved much more uplifting.  
Although there was plenty of heart on show in the Reserves’ display against a Walkington side that again included Hull City Wembley hero Dean Windass, a resounding 4-0 defeat ensured the Stiffs would spend the week at the foot of the Premier Division. 
Meanwhile, across the ditch, the Casuals were given a doing by holders Barmby Moor in the second round of the East Riding Qualifying Cup.  Manager DC wore a look of complete despondency in The Granby afterwards.

Horror tackle? No but Willo's in the pink!

The tracksuit had come out of retirement that afternoon as I took on the role of assistant to temporary manager John Clarke for the aforementioned Stiffs v Walkington match.  This was due to injury and a pre-arranged date with The Pigeon Detectives in Leeds ensuring caretaker-boss Foz’s absence.  For once the afternoon began with a little bit of optimism as we actually lined up with subs – two of them.  However, by half-time this option had been halved thanks to injury across the ditch to a Casuals side reduced to eleven men by yet another no-show this season.  The lack of commitment among today’s youth is really, really depressing but I’ll perhaps rant about that another time...

With hindsight, the decision to let Steve Jam hop across the ditch to replace the injured Pat was a mistake.  The Casuals were already five down by the break and their cup hopes were going the same way as countless Guy Fawkes effigies.  And we could have done with another option off the bench.
Having fallen a goal behind after just two minutes – Lewis Palin (son of Walkington boss and former Tigers favourite Leigh) being allowed the freedom of the Farm to slot past Pagey – we’d hit back well up to the break.
With veteran duo Stivvy and Stu asserting some control at the back, Wicksy orchestrating things from midfield and makeshift front pair Shane and Willo working their socks off, we managed to put Walkington on the back foot.  Unfortunately the one chance that mattered wouldn’t come. 
I was a teenage Windass
For his part Mr Windass mixed patches of quality - ghosting in and out of positions – with a less desirable approach to officialdom.  Not only did the referee feel the wrath of the maestro’s tongue several times without doing anything about it, rather more shamefully so did Jam’s dad, acting in the purely voluntary capacity of linesman.  What made it worse was that the decision that had aroused Deano’s ire had been a perfectly correct one.  Once more, though, the referee failed to take action in protection of his “assistant”.
Thankfully, as the heavens opened and the wind picked up considerably, the second half saw Deano let his feet do the talking and he doubled Walkington’s lead just 10 mins in.  It must be added that the deteriorating weather conditions played a part – his right foot clipped finish seemingly heading for Kilnsea before veering round and over Pagey.
The wet surface then played a part as sub Bogdan’s finish zipped off it and under Page for 3-0.
Stumo’s misplaced pass then gifted the same player a second to complete the scoring.

Heads we lose

Not that we went down without a fight.  Shane rattled the bar with one stonker from 30 yards and nobody threw the towel in.  Unfortunately, with Brett replacing the knackered Pash early on and then both Stu and Luke succumbing to various ailments, we looked a pretty dispirited bunch by the end.
It was glorious sunshine as I helped carry out the usual post-match duties, although it tended to be overshadowed by the dark cloud formed in the form of that news from Welbeck.  Even a very nice pint of Great Newsome’s 'Autumn Bounty' in The Granby couldn’t quite erase the taste. 
Still, I had a Halloween Party to go to to take my mind off things - and some films to watch when I got home...   

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