As I write this we are approaching the end of August and the sense of Deja Vu from this time last year is overriding. That may seem daft inasmuch as we didn't actually begin our 2013/14 Central Midlands League campaign until the last Saturday in August, whereas this season we actually kicked off on time. However, without spoiling the next blog, at time of posting this the trip to bottom side Welbeck Welfare this Saturday (the 30th) almost represents a watershed in the season.
This is because for the second successive season we have entered the new CML campaign with a squad decimated by the loss of players who the management had previously been assured were confident had pledged themselves to the cause. what made this worse was that it was done on an almost drip-drip effect, with the last of six players announcing their departure some four games in to the new league season. There's little wonder then that the end of August finds Andy G in as low a mood as I've known him to be where football is concerned. And, sadly, the signs were there in pre-season.
On top of our problems at Low Farm, my only trip to watch Rovers this month proved a disaster. Thank God for Yorkshire creekit!. Oh, and the prospect of #CityinEurope!
Saturday 5th July
Hull United 6 Easington United 1
The first signs that this could be another difficult summer came on a glorious summer’s afternoon at Dene Park. I’d had a bad feeling about this game against the former St Andrews FC from Wednesday of the week leading up to it; the evening that Jamie Wood and Jamie Barnwell of the club were guests on Radio Humberside’s Sports Talk Extra.
On the programme in question the two stalwarts of the local game told presenter James Hoggarth of their ambitious plans to eventually make Hull United the city’s second professional club. And I thought this would be a nice gentle starter...
Making things worse was the fact that the traditional rival attractions of summer meant Andy G was forced to field a somewhat depleted squad. Throw in a home side that included a few “stars” of the local game, a sweltering afternoon and a horrendous Dene Park playing surface (check out the pics) and a 6-1 defeat perhaps doesn’t seem too bad!
Not that I had to suffer it first hand – the annual corporate day at nearby Beverley Races meant I was cushioned somewhat from the sharp end.
Having since seen 'The Citizens' establish early supremacy in the Humber Premier League and play in front of a reported crowd of 418 at their first home league game, who's to say this rather inglorious day at Dene Park may turn out to be the first part of a truly big chapter in the story of football in Hull...
Saturday 12th July
Easington United 4 Hall Road Rangers 3
Fast forward a week and I was at Low Farm to see a stronger Eastenders line-up overcome Hull United’s ground-share neighbours Hall Road Rangers in an exciting affair.
On another warm day (despite the constant threat of sea fret never being far away) things looked bleak when the visitors – who included former local Mozzer in their ranks – went two up. Despite Eli’s wonder strike just before the break, the game again looked lost at 1-3. But then Rangers keeper Ryan Ramsden fumbled a cross under pressure for 2-3 and Frosty’s quickfire double secured a morale boosting win.
Friday 18th July
The UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round Draw
FK AS Trencin (Slo) or FK Vojvodina Nur Sad (Ser)
v Hull City (Eng)
At first glance it may seem strange to include a televised cup draw as part of what is in effect a diary of live events. But this was the first ever European competition draw involving the Tigers and so wasn’t to be missed. Unfortunately though it was; thanks to work collegue Mike’s phone ringing at precisely the time the two guys conducting things via the live stream announced who we’d got! For a while afterwards all I knew was that we had the possibility of a team beginning with V from somewhere in eastern Europe. More importantly I learned that the second leg would be at the KC Stadium on Thursday 7th August and may therefore impinge on the Slush Family’s forthcoming trip to the Coronation Street studios!
Sunday 20th July
Hull Kingston Rovers 18 Salford Red Devils 38
As supposed “treats” go I suspect my mate Matt might say this wasn't the best. A child-free Sunday afternoon spent watching the Robins from the old school surrounds of the East Stand at the KC Lightstream Stadium should have been something to enjoy; in the same way that the Easter Derby had been. Given that Rovers had also been impressive in their last home outing, when destroying leaders St Helens in Chris Chester’s first game as interim coach, and that they’d held Grand Final favourites Leeds 0-0 for an hour at Headingley the previous weekend, hopes were high that we’d be far too hot for the visitors to handle. Fortified by a pint and half of over-priced black stuff (I was driving) things didn’t seem too bad at the break. True it hadn’t been a classic but Rovers led 12-4 and probably should have been further ahead. Both sides looked average and Salford had hardly shown signs of what was to come.
Then Dave Mack turned to me and said, “My only worry is that we haven’t got enough points on the board”. The rest, as they say, is history; described in far better form than I can do by the BBC.
Suffice to say it was a painful drive home.
Picture courtesy of Hull Daily Mail
Picture courtesy of Hull Daily Mail
Wednesday 23rd July
Easington United 1 Hessle Sporting Club 2
On the face of it this is a poor result against a side that finished adrift at the bottom of Humber Premier League Division 1 the previous season. But then you consider the following factors:
1) Hessle have undergone a major transformation since the end of last term and looked on this evidence to have recruited well
2) We’d intended this game to be a “mixed bag” of prospective first and second teamers therefore the team was more an Eastenders AnXI than a full bifta
3) By now we’d been beset by rumours of players either jumping ship or simply not bothering this season, leading to a pessimistic mood in the camp
Still, when Wilks lashed home from 25 yards on the stroke of half-time to give us the lead, all appeared hunky-dory. Sadly Hessle fought back to sneak matters late on.
Saturday 25th July
Easington United Reserves 1 Grange FC Cobras 5
On first evidence it would appear that John Clarke is going to have the same problem at Reserves level that Andy has with the First Team squad. This was a thrown-together Stiffs side, depleted by various absences, and in the event no match for a decent Hull Sunday League outfit - and that despite having the fillip of a Tom Emerson opener just before half-time.
However, the main story of the game was the "High On Life" character brought to the game by Gavin, ostensibly as a centre-forward but who first half proceeded to fill the vacant goalkeeper's position! His performance over the 90 minutes had to be seen - or rather heard - to be believed!