Sunday, 15 March 2015

At a crossroads

Where next for 'A Game In Four Quarters?'

There are only so many words even I can write on Easington United and as we enter the final straight of another season I'm finding it really hard to justify this blog's existence.
With the match programmes, weekly reports and the general administration of the club already occupying many hours, even the monthly edited version of 'AGIFQ' is proving hard to maintain.
Ironically, as I type this piece, it looks as if the "four quarters" bit may be coming to an end anyhow, given the likely change of playing strip next season. Therefore the end of the season may prove to be a fitting time to end what is after all nothing more than a vehicle for self-indulgence :-)
In the short term I may limit things to accounts of particularly interesting games and/or trips. To this end the first two months of 2015 has so far been short on either as this brief photo diary will show...

Saturday 10th January
CML North Division
Easington United 2 Brodsworth Welfare 1

Saturday 17th January
CML Cup R3
Easington United 0 Belper United 4

Saturday 24th January
CML North Division
Harworth Colliery 5 Easington United 0

Tuesday 10th February
Hull City 2 Aston Villa 0

Saturday 14th February
CML North Division
Easington United 7 (Seven) Dinnington Town 4

Saturday 28th February
CML North Division
Newark Town 4 Easington United 0

A rare City win over Villa, an amazing fightback from 4-1 down at home to Dinnington and my first ever visit to the Collingham home of Newark Town (ground tick) were probably the highlights. Reports of each of these games can be found in the usual places. Meanwhile I'll try and get my 'arris into gear to at least try and make March sound interesting...

Cheers to Burt and Craig for the pics (well, all but one of them).

December 2014

East-ending the year on a high

With no game scheduled for the 13th December and the Yuletide game at Westella always looking susceptible to bad weather, December was something of a truncated month for the first team. Just two games were played, with 'Hutch' grabbing a hat-trick in both but only the result of the second going in our favour. Lack of fixture on the second Saturday at least enabled me to take in a second Reserves game this season. And although also ending in defeat, it again reinforced why the decision to reduce our number this term was the correct one.

Saturday, 6th December
CML North
Easington United 3 Askern 6 
Coming on the back of the first away win of the season, we were all pretty confident leading in to the Askern game and this despite being without both Sam (hamstring) and Frosty (away). With Hutch scoring early to cap a promising start, such confidence appeared well-placed. However, Askern had obviously not read the script and by the time Hutch capped his hat-trick with two excellent strikes in the space of three second half minutes, the Doncaster-based visitors were 5-1 up! Hutch's goals promised a grandstand finale but it was the visitors who added the final goal of the game in injury-time.
Prior to kick-off, photographer Colin Brammer captured the two teams' photo for the #FootballRemembers initiative.
My "official" report of the game can be read here and Colin's pictures can be found here. The pics can also be viewed on our Facebook page.

Saturday, 13th December
ERCFL Division 2
Easington United Reserves 1 Haltemprice 5
My only previous viewing of the Reserves had seen them fall to a 1-5 home defeat at the hands of title favourites West Hull Amateurs. Despite the result it was a game the Stiffs were in right up until the latter stages and one they could take a fair amount of encouragement from. This was not too dissimilar.
Trailing 0-1 at the break and then coming right back into things at 1-3, the locals eventually paid for missed chances at one end and costly mistakes at the other.
But, hey, this is virtually a "new" team and games like this are all part of the learning curve. Despite it being a fourth successive defeat in the league there are no panic buttons being pressed yet.  
Report here.

Saturday, 20th December
CML North
Easington United 6 Thorne Colliery 0
I hate the last Saturday game before Christmas and dread the fixture list coming out in case it gives us an away trip. Ever since the mauling at Sculcoates back in the HPL days, I've come to see 'Mad Friday' as one of the big curses on the calendar!
Thankfully, this year saw us handed a home game, meaning a journey of some distance to any team but Westella...and they'd already been. The counter-attraction of the Slushette's Christmas Dance Show at nearby Withernsea meant I was due to miss much of the first half but thankfully Thorne Colliery's travel problems ensured that this didn't become a problem. Their late arrival at the Farm meant the game was kicking off just as I ambled through the gate at about twenty past two.
And as it turned out, there perhaps couldn't have been a better way to sign off for Christmas than this, a biggest win of the season against a team who'd given us a bit of a doing for much of the recent meeting at their place.
The official match report can be found here and the Facebook pictures page here (shots kindly taken by Craig Stephenson - bloody hundreds of 'em!).

Sunday, 28th December
Hull City 0 Leicester City 1
I "called" this game beforehand and yet still went, even though I knew I would end up being disappointed. All the signs were there beforehand - the win at Sunderland two days' earlier that had most City fans thinking of a nine-point gap between themselves and their Sunday opponents come the end of 2014; the fact that Panto Villain Pearson's Foxes hadn't won in ages; and even the fact that the Younger Slushette sacked this game off in favour of an afternoon at her Gran's.
And of course we lost. And we lost in the cruellest manner possible - from the visitors' only real shot of note all game. Meanwhile the home attack - which included for the second half £10m striker Abel Hernandez - proceeded to miss at least half-a-dozen glorious openings.
In short it was what is known as a #TypicalCity day.  

Friday, 5 December 2014

November 2014

A steady improvement

After the travails of October, November proved a decent month with two wins and a draw, while two games were postponed. The month also saw us participate fully in the Remembrance Weekend, which of course carried extra poignancy this year. Both teams wore the special "Poppies4Kits"-emblazoned shirts and we even accommodated some historical information in the match programme as part of the new #EzRemembersYou project (see separate post).

Saturday 1st November
CML Cup R2
Easington United 1 Newark Town 0
Was it round two or one? Even Richard Lane, the League Press Officer, appeared to get confused. According to the Full-Time site it was Round 2 and this win earned us a third successive home meeting with Belper United.
Given our hiding at the hands of Newark only a fortnight earlier, this win was some turnaround. However, it must be said that The Blues' squad was a shadow of the one that had put six past us in the league and they had enough chances to have made the game safe before super-sub Stefan Hewitt marked his Eastenders debut with a last gasp winner!
Still, a win's a win and this could yet be the kick-start to a successful campaign...
My official match report can be found here with pictures on our Facebook pageThe Newark Town report can be read here.  

Saturday 8th November
CML North Division
Easington United 1 Harworth Colliery 1

A week on and the sting in the tail came at the other end. After 'Fiddy' had given us a first half advantage, we withstood plenty of pressure from the visitors without really giving them a clear chance until succumbing to an injury-time penalty.
Ironically it was an earlier penalty that could have proved decisive, Andy Martin's effort being saved at 0-0. Had we gone in two goals to the good would the visitors have come back?
My match report is here and the Facebook photo album here. Harworth did not produce a report of the game for their website.

Saturday 29th November
CML North Division
Appleby Frodingham 0 Easington United 2

Revenge is a dish best served cold they say and it was pretty bracing at the impressive Brumby Sports Hall as the lads atoned for August Bank Holiday's home capitulation at the hands of today's opponents.
I was left i charge of this one due to Andy and Wilky both being absent. And boy did I enjoy it. 'The Hutch' is back - he only deals in goals y'know! I later termed this the "perfect" away performance i.e. soaked up all the hosts had to offer before suckering them on the counter-attack. And thus our first away win of the season arrived.
My official report is here with the photos in full here. No Appleby Frodingham match report is available. 
It was a good end to an encouraging month.

Monday, 24 November 2014

A Greater Game

Remembering is just the beginning...

The Remembrance Weekend just passed carried extra poignancy due to 2014 being the centenary of the start of the Great War.
For as long as I can remember, and certainly for all the time I've been involved with Easington United, the club has marked Remembrance Weekend by observing two minutes' silence prior to the start of that Saturday's fixture. 
It is a custom that I feel passionate about and I'm glad to say, so do many fellow committee members, management and players. For 2014 we decided to go one step further by attaching special commemorative poppies to our shirts. These came courtesy of the Poppies4Kits scheme and with the permission of the relevant league competitions and the East Riding County FA. 
The poppies proved a massive hit, not only because they looked good but because they have helped raise over £18,000 towards the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal.
The scheme was well supported throughout Holderness. Hedon Rangers equipped all their teams at both open-age and junior level, some 270 poppies in total. Withernsea, Olympic SSC and Roos all followed suit and there were probably many others, allowing grassroots players to emulate their professional counterparts and show their gratitude to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
In addition to the special shirts (worn by our First Team at home to Harworth and the Stiffs in their cup-tie at Flamborough) and the traditional pre-match silence, there was a third part to our commemoration this year. 
This came via the match programme and it was here that I began a task that I fear may start to become something of an obsession over the next two years. For therein I decided to list those members of the village who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the two world wars. But having listed them I decided to find out more about them. You can possibly see now where this is going...
This "roll call" of local heroes included the twelve names listed on the village war memorial and two who are not but are interned in the local cemetery.
Just listing names in the programme didn't seem to do these individuals justice so I decided to add as many details as I could find on the various sites I have access to (Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Forces War Records etc). 
It was now that a growing list of questions started to form in my head...
Why is that man not considered worthy of inclusion on the memorial?
Why is that man on there when I can find no reference to Easington in any information relating to him?
How did that man from Easington find himself in a regiment recruited almost exclusively from another part of the country?
How did that man die?
What strand of the (insert surname) "clan" is that man from?
Where did that man live, who were his parents, what was his background?
There is only one way to find out.
2016 will mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the first day of which is generally regarded as the blackest day in the history of the British Army. I had already planned on visiting the battlefield in two years time, partly to mark this special occasion, partly as a 50th birthday "thing" and partly because I and the lads I'm planning on going with never got round to doing such a trip this year as originally suggested!
As part of the trip I've already decided I would like to visit: 
1) Contalmaison Cairn (the monument erected in 2003 in honour of McCrae's Battalion, the famous "Sporting Battalion" which included members of several prominent (and not so prominent) Scottish football teams including the full first team of Heart of Midlothian FC) - Hearts are my Scottish team
2) The East Yorkshire Regiment Memorial at Oppy
3) The Arras Memorial on which Sapper Austin Lusmore (Welsh branch of the family) is remembered
4) Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery where Douglas Morgan, the only serving Hull City player to be killed in action during the Great War is buried
To these four I now added a fifth target: the graves and memorials of all the Easington lads listed on the roll of honour. To me it suddenly appeared important that their final resting places are visited and marked by someone from the "home" they never got to return to. 
Of the fourteen names listed, ten died in the First World War. Of these, Lieutenant Francis W. Jennings is the one not remembered on the village memorial. I can guess why. He wasn't a local lad, hailing (it would appear) from the Isle of Wight. He was serving in the 3rd Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment, a training unit that from May 1915 formed part of the Humber Garrison. He was killed on the 26th March 1916 - I've been told in a training accident on Easington beach - thus becoming the first of these ten remembered men to die. He is buried in Easington village cemetery.
In chronological order, the others fell as follows:
19287, Private John Richardson Longhorn (8th Bn., East Yorkshire Regiment), died 26th April 1916, aged 26
13/904, Private Arthur Carrick ('A' Coy., 13th Bn., East Yorkshire Regiment), died 13th November 1916, aged 22
201393, Private George W. Tennison (1st/4th Bn., East Yorkshire Regiment), died 23rd April 1917, aged 22
204764, Gunner Lewis Abraham Clubley (B/102nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery), died 10th August 1917
64054, Gunner John Alfred Webster ('B' Battery, 174th Bde., Royal Field Artillery) died 11th September 1917, aged 24
202914, Private Louis Carrick (1st/4th Bn., Northumberland Fusiliers), died 26th October 1917, aged 34
11027, Private Clarence Edwin Sculpher (10th Bn., West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)), died 18th November 1917, aged 21
203070, Private G. W. Marritt (12th/13th Bn., Northumberland Fusiliers), died 29th September 1918, aged 39
756176, Gunner Thomas William Coupland Docherty (251st Northumberland Bde., Royal Field Artillery), died 11th November 1918, aged 27.

The last of the list is the most poignant, Thomas Docherty ("son of Thomas W. C. and Mary J. Docherty of Easington") having died of his wounds on the day the war ended.
Along with our small efforts on the Saturday, Remembrance Sunday saw villagers come together for the traditional service at the war memorial. This year's was attended by the largest gathering I can yet recall and the playing of the 'Last Post' by a lone saxophonist made things even more moving. The service was concluded by the planting of wooden crosses by villagers of all ages: "We will remember them".
It was this last part that gave me the final idea for my trip in two years' time. I have now pledged myself to ensuring that when I and my companions make the trip to the "Green Fields of France" (and Flanders) in 2016, I shall plant a cross at the graves or memorials of each of the men listed above. If the people of the village of Arlesey can manage to perform such a task for the 87 fallen listed on its war memorial then I'd be disappointed not to manage our small number (especially so given that two of which are in the village).
Once done, I'll then turn my attention to those names on the Second World War memorial.
So, that's the task. I'll keep you posted as to how things are proceeding courtesy of this blog, Facebook and Twitter (hashtag #EzRemembersYou). And obviously any information that any of you out there may have that could prove of any assistance, I'd be only too willing to receive. Here's to #Operation2016. Lest We Forget.

* Many thanks to Mike Welton for the ongoing help with my research and to Peter Martin for the additional photographs

Sunday, 16 November 2014

October 2014

A month of ups...and downs!

Given my sub-heading on the September review, some may feel I was being slightly previous in stating we'd "bottomed out" as far as the season goes. Well, I stand by it - despite two hefty looking defeats in the middle of October. Of the two Newark gave most cause for concern as - for the first time this season - we came close to throwing the towel in. As for the Hessle game, well once again it was a case of a Humber Premier League team getting "up" for a game against a team from a better competition and we failed to match such enthusiasm. Cue the responses... ;-)

Saturday, 4th October
CML North Division 
Easington United 2 Sherwood Colliery 0

Although perhaps a bit early for a "must win" game, this was, well, a must win game. Buoyed by the way we'd finished September, we needed to continue maximising our points yield at home. And especially so given the way we'd escaped from Bentley with a point our overall performance hadn't warranted. We now needed to capitalise on our good fortune of the previous week. And we did.
The official match report can be read here.
Further pictures of the game can also be viewed here.

Saturday, 11th October
East Riding CFA Senior Cup R1  
Easington United 0 Hessle Rangers 5

I know I joked in the introduction about how Humber Premier League sides always appear to "want it more" in games against us but, unfortunately, in recent times I can find no other explanation for the "Indian Sign" that clubs from that competition - and particularly the lower reaches of the HPL - appear to hold over us. I refuse to subscribe to the view that the HPL is better in standard than the CML and certainly the latter's record of moving clubs up to the next level of competition - in particular the Northern Counties East League - undoubtedly makes it a better option for progression.
Anyway, whatever the reasons for our performance, this result was a real body blow given what had gone before. Quite simply,we were awful.
That's to take nothing away from Hessle who thoroughly deserved the win and indeed a win of emphatic proportions. But once again I spent the next few days discussing with AG just what it is about this competition that since 2003 has tended to bring out the absolute worst in us. Still, there's always next year...
Our official match report is here, while the Facebook pictures album is here.

Saturday, 18th October
CML North Division 
Easington United 1 Newark Town 6

Very rarely do I have cause to take issue with referees. In the Central Midlands League I have generally found them, with few exceptions, not only very approachable but also more than competent. If I have had any complaints in the past, it's that they have perhaps appeared a tad unwilling to act decisively when games have required it.
This was one such case. I'm not saying that the dismissal of Newark Town's Ian Hillier in the first half of the game would have had a decisive effect on proceedings thereafter but it may well have - and that's what sticks in the throat.
Hillier's lunge on Adam Jamieson was not only reckless - airborne and two-footed (a fact acknowledged by the Newark supporters stood near me on the touchline) but was also pre-meditated, coming within minutes of Charlie's "robust" tackle on the Newark right winger. The only thing that saved our keeper was the fact he got something on the ball. Hillier didn't. He raked Jam down the back of the knee. Without exaggeration it was the worst "challenge" I have seen in many a season and Jam was very lucky the connection wasn't even truer as that could have been season-ending. Referee McGill obviously saw it differently and showed a yellow. My new-found acquaintances near my dugout agreed he'd got it wrong. 
He also got it wrong after the break when failing to show any card to Ngoni Dongo for another lunge at Jam, this time from the front that raked his shinbone. This time Jam couldn't continue. In Dongo's defence he was over-stretching having had a poor first touch but the studs were high and in today's environment...
All this aside we were still in the game at both these points. We weren't soon afterwards. A second half collapse of the sort seen earlier in the campaign - and indeed just a week earlier - ensured that Newark's impressive start went on.
A red card did eventually come out of the referee's pocket, in the 90th minute, following Arron Martin's reckless jump at Charlie in an increasingly fractious end to the game. Had the same been shown some sixy minutes earlier, things might, just might, have turned out differently.
All in all these incidents detracted from what is a pleasant experience hosting the  players, management, committee and followers of Newark Town. Thankfully, it wasn't allowed to spoil the cordial relations between our clubs when the Blues returned to Low Farm a fortnight later.
Match report here; Facebook picture album here.
The Newark report can be read here.

Saturday, 25th October
CML North Division 
Thorne Colliery 4 Easington United 4

Regular readers of this blog (is there such a thing?) will know that Moorends is one of my favourite venues in the CML. That is mainly on account of the fantastic grandstand that dominates the ground and has done since, I believe, the 1930s.
I wasn't in it today as I was still on dugout duty, where to everyone's pleasure I was joined by Sam Mc. Back from a brief spell at Hedon, the former skipper wasn't quite fit enough to start but was named on the bench and proceeded to offer plenty of wise words from the technical area.
They were needed as for the opening half-hour we brought our recent second half collapses forward 45 minutes! After 18 minutes we were three down and staring down another barrel. At the break we were 4-2 down and still with a mountain to climb.
You won't be surprised to learn therefore that the final scoreline was celebrated almost as much as the recent draw at Bentley. Although, it has to be said, we deserved this point more. 
Match report is here and the Facebook picture album here.

Friday, 17 October 2014

September 2014

Bottomed out?
Only time will tell whether or not this was the month in which the season's low point was reached but it certainly felt that way. Not in terms of performances - the Appleby Frodingham defeat on Bank Holiday Monday already had that particular title wrapped up - but just in the seemingly never-ending loss of players. By the end of September two more had gone through the door marked "Exit", including the club captain. But, incredibly perhaps, as players continued to leave, those remaining put together the start of an unbeaten run that by the end of the month had lasted three matches. More importantly there was a spirit being generated within the changing room that I haven't seen for some time. Of course, chances are that this group of lads will experience several more "shellackings" before the season's close but, on early evidence, they will not only still all be there to recount the experience but in time will probably do so with smiles on their faces. I'd like to think that regardless of background or place of origin, the class of September 2014 already count as "true Eastenders"...  

Saturday 6th September
CML North Division
Easington United 3 Bilsthorpe AFC 8

Those thinking that the season’s low point had been reached in the performance against App Frod or in the result at Welbeck were forced to think again by events a week later when this season’s alleged “money bags”, Bilsthorpe, came to the Farm and inflicted a stunning defeat.
What made the result more staggering was that when new boy Danny Barron marked his debut off the home bench by completing the locals’ rally from two down to 2-2, there were just twenty minutes remaining.
Within two more minutes it was 2-4 and in total, Bilsthorpe went on to score SIX goals in THIRTEEN minutes.
The official account of a remarkable game can be found here
A full set of photos from the game is also available via our Facebook page.

Tuesday 9th September
CML North Division
Askern 2 Easington United 0

Three nights after the Bilsthorpe battering, we headed off to Askern for our first floodlit fixture of the season. It was also my first trip to Manor Way, having missed the previous season’s game there. What’s more, I was to occupy the technical area in the absence of a right hand man for AG. A return to tracksuit days was in order.
After the usual ‘wacky races’ involved in getting thirteen players and management to Donny via Hull’s “rush hour” had been negotiated, we arrived in good time and ready for action.
What we perhaps weren’t ready for was the sight, or perhaps sound, that would greet us. As Brett Fisk, pressed into service as a substitute, made his way out onto the pitch for the pre-match warm-up he was greeted by a chorus of “You Fat B_____d!” from the grandstand. Moments later, Pasha Brown, another of tonight’s new recruits, had “Beanie from Matalan” sung to him as he and his Judy-knitted bobhat also strode out to the greensward. It promised to be a lively night.
Enquiring as to the source of the noise I was told by a home Committee member that they were local youngsters from the village who’d been present for the pre-season game against a Doncaster Rovers Youth team. The Askern committee had been so taken with the “atmosphere” they created that they’d invited them here tonight for half-price admission. 
Totalling between twenty and thirty in number and aged, I would guess, from about fourteen to twenty, they were armed with a drum and proceeded to create what for this level of football can only be termed a cacophony of sound. Not all of it was polite in its tone and it certainly had our aforementioned Club Sec Judy (making a rare trip to a CML away game) desperate for us to score simply in order to be able to throw some noise back in their direction!
As it was, aside from a header from new boy Matty Dixon, which was cleared off the Askern goal-line in the first half, we rarely looked like breaching the home rearguard and a fairly routine 2-0 home win ensued. Still, once again the effort of those in green and yellow could not be faulted and in Kris Fitzpatrick in midfield we may well have found ourselves another "player". 
As I sat watching the lads tuck into bangers, chips and Yorkshires in the well-appointed Welfare Club post-match, I commented to AG that things perhaps weren't going to be as bad as I'd feared. It certainly felt that way despite a seventh successive defeat.
The official web site report can be read here.
Our Facebook page pictures can be viewed here.

Saturday 13th September
CML North Division
Dinnington Town 1 Easington United 1

My good feeling of four nights earlier had all but dissipated as I prepared to board the Pistol Pete Express the following Saturday. With half-an-hour to departure time for our second visit to “Saarth Yarkshire” inside a week, we had just the ten players ready to pull on the fetching white and red away kit. This number included Jamie Cousins, who as it later transpired would be a virtual passenger on the park - not surprising considering that a hospital visit a week or so later would confirm he was suffering with pneumonia at the time! Ironically, he'd done okay at Askern and appeared to be over the worst of the "chest infection" that he thought was actually the source of the trouble!
Not on board "The PPE" were Marcus (working), Matty (working), Brett (wedding), Pasha (playing for his "other club" Patrington), Jordy (away for a mate’s birthday weekender that he’d forgotten about when confirming his availability only two days earlier!) and skipper Sam (“not fit”).
Help arrived in the form of Phil Jackman, ex-Eastender and up until the previous week, striker with NCEL side Brigg Town. He told us he’d been dropped for their game and therefore – thankfully – was ready, willing and available for ours. We had ourselves an eleventh man.
Another former NCEL ground, Phoenix Park ensured that this again had the feel of a “proper” game and although there was no “choir” or drum, the sizeable home support was still very vocal in its own way.
We silenced them briefly with a superb first half strike from Jacko, one that should perhaps have been added to before Mason headed home an 86th minute equaliser.
Still, it was an enjoyable ride home on “The PPE” that evening. The rot had been stopped. The only downside was that a 10-0 defeat for Brigg probably meant we wouldn't get to see Jacko again for a while. Still, I couldn't help hoping that we had at last bottomed out?
Our official report can be read here
The Facebook page picture album can be viewed here.

Saturday 20th September
CML North Division
Easington United 3 Ollerton Town 1

As expected Jacko wasn't available to play against Ollerton. The Brigg resulted had immediately been followed by the resignation of the manager and our hoped-for saviour had been asked to step up and help the new caretaker out. Oh well.
At the other end of the field Luke Nettleship had been an unlikely hero at Dinnington; one superb goal-line clearance forming the centre-piece of an impressive first run as AG’s central defensive partner. Question was: Could he cut it against better strikers such as Ollerton’s Lee Easom, his likely opponent today? Answer: Yes.
At the AGM, belatedly held the previous week, Chairman Doug had asked for a return to “traditional Eastenders spirit”. In short, this meant a combination of sheer bloody-mindedness on the pitch, a refusal to throw the towel-in and good old fashioned “muck or nettles”, with the occasional piece of good fortune thrown in. And that’s what he got - along with some decent football, which this side is still very capable of.
On a day where the weather matched what was required – constant “mizzle” making spectating an uncomfortable affair – the lads dug in to record a win every bit as satisfying as that achieved way back on the opening day. And it was achieved by a bare eleven. Some lads could barely walk at the end. It didn’t matter. We were three points better off and now unbeaten in two. The revival had some legs...
The full account of an excellent afternoon can be found here.
The Facebook page album can be viewed here.

Saturday 27th September
CML North Division
Bentley Colliery 1 Easington United 1

Let me state this first: on performance level alone we didn’t deserve anything from this game. However, throw in the sort of spirit on show the previous week that was replicated to the full at The Avenue and there’s little wonder that Frosty’s last gasp leveller had me performing a David Pleat from the dugout (click the links younger readers if you're not sure what I mean) .
A day that had begun badly - no working indicators on the bus, further squad depletion (skipper Sam and Jordy now having made themselves unavailable for the foreseeable, Jamie ruled out on medical grounds and Jacko having now got the Brigg asst-mgr’s job on a "permanent" basis!) not to mention a gang of local pond-life at the gates to greet us on our arrival - finished with beer at £1.80 a pint in Rhino’s bar, a superb bus ride back (despite lack of winkers!) and few real ales in Patrington with some lads who I hadn’t seen in yonks. Ah, you could say that September had finished on a bit of a high!
The official report can be viewed here.
The Facebook picture album can be viewed here.

All pictures courtesy of Burt Graham.

Friday, 26 September 2014

August 2014 (Part 2)

It might as well rain until September...
The second half of August turned out to be as miserable as the first, with poor results on the field - and I don't just mean watching Easington! Ironically, though, the most despondent I felt about any scoreline was one of the few successes - City's 2-1 win over Lokeren. And that's because Jordan Remacle's strike for the visitors just after half-time proved enough to send them through.

Saturday, 23rd August
CML North Division
Easington United 0 Clay Cross Town 2

The start of the Bank Holiday weekend and the start of a busy few days of live action. Clay Cross arrived after an indifferent start and with members of their management saying they were in for a bottom half finish this term. Such comments would appear to be slightly off-mark given their recent run!
As for us, this was a battling display and one we all felt deserved more than another home defeat. My official view on it can be read here.
The brief Clay Cross match report is here.
All pictures (which are also available on our Facebook page) are courtesy of Burt Graham, as are all the Eastenders action shots this month.

Monday, 25th August
CML North Division
Easington United 0 Appleby Frodingham 4

If Saturday's performance had offered encouragement, this was like a kick in the knads! This was easiest the poorest display I'd seen so far this season. And the weather was kack. And I got a bollocking in the pub for lack of players going back. Happy bloody Bank Holiday. Not. Read about it here. View the pics here.

Tuesday, 26th August
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United Reserves 3 AFC Preston 2

Ah, an oasis of optimism amid a sea of despondency! Not that I got to savour it - the Stiffs being already three goals to the good by the time I got there. Gav's header (pictured) and a couple of excellent strikes from t'other 'Kettle, Mark, put the Reserves in command against their First Division opponents. The ex-Amateur League side fought back well after the break - aided by a constant shake-up of resources by Clarkey - and Daniel Collier was one of two scorers for the visitors...looking a stone or two bigger than he did before he left us for the ERCFA Defaulters List :-) 
You can see if you think I'm right by viewing the pictures here.

Wednesday, 27th August
Pre-Season Friendly
Sporting Withernsea Wolves U18s 2 Olympic SSC 1

The long-term future of our club could well be dependent on the progress of our official Club-Link partners Sporting Withernsea Wolves. Therefore the launch of an Under-18's side to complement their U16 and U14 teams should - hopefully - be to our benefit. And on this evidence, there are some handy young players about. Goals by Jordan Medcalf (pictured) and Korben Harman clinched a first day win over their open-age opponents. 

Thursday, 28th August
UEFA Europa League Play-Off Round, Second Leg
Hull City 2 KSC Lokeren 1
(Agg: 2-2; Lokeren win on away goals)

Two tweets I posted in the immediate aftermath of this gut-wrenching result probably sum up my feelings best. The first read: "Home. Bitterly disappointed and angry that it's een as some sort of blessing. It's not. It's a missed opportunity. #TypicalCity #hcafc". It received 413 views, 8 retweets and 6 favourites. I think I'd made a good point!
I added a second tweet before going to bed: "On purely selfish grounds I'm also gutted that I won't now get the chance to sing #CaravanofLove on a Europe-bound ferry full of #hcafc fans!" 
And in the morning I posted this on Facebook:
"Well, it doesn't feel any better this morning but I refuse to blame Bruce for last night. True I'd like to have seen a "stronger" starting XI but even with the team he fielded City should have done better. But we simply weren't good enough. I don't think I'll ever see Aluko have as poor a 90 mins as he did last night; he wasn't the only one. But what really winds me up is people saying we should concentrate on the Premier League. Sums up all that's what wrong with English football - the money of the PL. I grew up watching Sportsnight showing the likes of Leeds & Liverpool involved in big European games. The atmosphere & excitement was tremendous.We could have had a proper taste of that - certainly the aperitif we did experience was promising. Still, if people would rather visit Stoke, Leicester and Burnley than go to the likes of Milan, Brugge, Eindhoven, Monchengladbach etc then they've got their wish - I know which I'd have preferred having the chance to do."
I think I made my point. City going out of Europe had really p____d me off!
An official account of the night's events can be read here if you can bear to do so. I can't. Still.

Friday, 29th August
Super League
Hull FC 28 Hull KR 0

I must have really upset the "big man up top" given this latest setback. As if City's European exit and our current travails at First Team level weren't already seriously testing my faith in sport, Rovers then decided to put on perhaps the most gutless derby performance I have ever witnessed. From the highlight of a nice pint of Leeds Bewery Pale in Pearsons things went downhill quickly. Persistent drizzle ensured we were soaked by the time we'd walked from Prinny Ave to the dry environs of the Upper West at the KC. The walk back, after watching THAT, was even worse. Still, we and most of the Rovers contingent stayed to the end; yes, a small percentage emulated the "Wigan Walk" but compared to the black and white exoduses I've seen at previous derby games, the Rovers fans' loyalty was to be applauded. The only consolation was that a good side would have put 60-70pts on us!
So, no Play-offs for either Hull side this season. About sums things up nicely. Dullers can read about it again here.  Picture courtesy of the Hull Daily Mail.

Saturday, 30th August
CML North Division
Welbeck Welfare 2 Easington United 1

Buying a new car in Evans Halshaw meant I avoided seeing the most predictable result of the season - a second successive loss at perennial basement club Welbeck. I think I'd known all along that the day would end in disappointment - whether I made the effort to go or not. And, following the City and Rovers results, well, don't they say things come in three's? Even the prospect of finally getting to see the completed new development at Elkesley Road (pictured) wasn't enough to sway me.
As it was, I caught the result via Facebook in the car showroom, just prior to heading off for a lovely tea at the Home Farm. It was the climax of a "family day" I'd promised Mrs Slush at the end of a sporting week/month.
I think I made the right choice.
A report of sorts can be read here.

So, August 2014 - a month to forget. Roll on September...I think!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

August 2014 (Part 1)

What price loyalty?
"I don't mind seeing any player depart the club to better himself...But this triggered something of an exodus and I really struggle to see the thinking behind the decision of other players to leave. Throw in rumours of a couple of lads who are "not feeling football" at the moment and I start to despair about not only our fortunes but the future of local football in general."
The above is an extract of my programme notes for the opening league game of the season against Thoresby Colliery Welfare. they were written in a week that had seen it confirmed that Sam Huteson, Lewis Andrew and Jordan Hart were not intending on committing to the club for the new season. They followed Paul Morrill, Danny Blount (both Hall Road Rangers), Charlie Dixon (Beverley Town via Selby Town) and James Robinson out of the club. Thankfully Jordy would reconsider a few weeks later but his return would be offset by the loss of Stef Radley. With Tom McLaughlin injured and Jamie Cousins absent, it meant only six members of the South Holderness Cup Final squad from three months earlier would be in the squad that began the following season. Making this all the more unacceptable to me was that we'd based our decision to stay in the CML largely on the pledges those same lads had made to remain at the club. Ah well...

Saturday 2nd August
Pre-Season Friendly
Easington United 0 Sculcoates Amateurs 5

Due to a well-earned, pre-planned weekend break, AG wasn't at Low Farm to watch his side's final warm-up game. It was probably as well. This was embarrassing. A young Sculcoates side showed how a team should perform after several weeks' training and playing together. We on the other hand looked a rabble, which perhaps wasn't surprising given the fact that (a) attendances at training at had been p!ss-poor therefore fitness levels were way below expectation; (b) the squad again included a number of new or guest faces; and (c) any pre-season optimism among the regulars had already been tested to the full by news of the summer departures. It promised to be a long, hard season.

Thursday, 7th August
UEFA Europa League 
Third Qualifying Round, Second Leg
Hull City 2 FK AS Trencin 1
(Agg: 2-1)

What would turn out to be a fine weekend on the sporting front began in exciting fashion courtesy of City's first ever home competitive European tie. Helped by a superb ticket price (£10/£5 concessions, which included a free match programme) and glorious weather, a 21,000 crowd (the capacity affected by extra segregation required for unreserved seating games) provided a superb atmosphere.
However, within minutes of the start it was the 100 or so Slovakian supporters making all the noise after they'd taken a shock lead. I wasn't worried at that point. Even less so when Elmo headed City level. But as the second half wore on and it started to dawn on many that the away goal was now looking good to end City's first foray into Europe ridiculously early, that awful feeling in the pit of the stomach began to be experienced. Then up stepped Sone and all was right with the world again.
Aside from the result, the biggest plus of the night was the atmosphere, which has undoubtedly been helped by the movement of City fans to the North Stand. The singing joust between this new vocal area and their former partners in the East Stand was excellent, while even elements of the Upper West (where Brim and I sat) got caught up in the "Come On City" chants that reverberated round the stadium in an increasingly tense second half.
Reaching new heights? #CityinEurope
As mentioned in July's blog, hopes of seeing either part of City's first tie in the Europa League had been threatened by a pre-planned family trip to the Corrie studios and Liverpool (a birthday treat for the Younger Slushette).
Thus I'd begun the day of the home leg on a coach that took us from the Ramada hotel in Haydock to Liverpool where the delights of Albert Dock awaited. My pre-match preparation began outside The Pumphouse with a lovely pint of Liverpool Organic Brewery Best Bitter (though not quite as impressive as the previous night's Moorhouse's Blond Witch), while the night ended with me dreaming of drinking several more continental beers al fresco in far-off places over the coming months...
Picture courtesy of the BBC whose report can be found here.   

Friday, 8th August
Barney Moverley Memorial Trophy
Easington United Reserves 1 Roos AFC 1
(Easington won 3-2 on pens)

This was perhaps the first sign that once again I had failed to take into account this club's willingness to thrive in adversity. Despite Roos manager (Gazette sports editor) Les Sennett's attempts to pin this result on the the inclusion of "first teamers", it was instead a cracking performance by a predominantly inexperienced Stiffs side against opponents who would appear to be signing everyone and anyone locally (including one of our departing dirty dozen ;-) ).
True the likes of AG, Smalls and Wilks (via the bench) all figured but this was because none could play in the league opener and therefore they had to plug gaps left by those called up to take their place the following day. And anyway, Graham in centre-mid and Smalley as a flying winger? It was hardly playing "ringers"!
In the event the Stiffs showed excellent resolve to withstand an early onslaught from Roos before cancelling out Tony Everett's opener via Tom Emerson's close-range finish.
After a second 45 minutes had brought no further goals, the tie went to penalties wherein Stiffs keeper Pagey proved the star. Smalls stroked home the decisive fifth kick to ensure the trophy remained at the Farm.

Saturday 9th August
CML North
Easington United 2 Thoresby Colliery Welfare 0

Lee Tryner, manager of highly-fancied visitors Thoresby, later described this as the "kick up the backside" his players required. He was right - they've gone on to win all their subsequent games!
But for us, this opening day win was almost immeasurable in terms of its effect on morale. As reported by groundhopper 'Cod of the North' on the Tony Kempster forum, one of our players was even heard to mention "We're going to get hammered" as the sides lined up for the 'Respect' handshake. And it's very true that on seeing the list of names selected for this opener, several lads had expressed doubts about an ability to compete. But once again, they didn't allow for that East End ability to defy the odds.
And so after a gritty rearguard action for much of the game, two goals in four second half minutes eventually proved crucial and gave everyone the lift required to take into a difficult first month's fixture list.
Along with the previous evening, this win had to be seen in the wider context of another bloody awful summer.
Oh, and I want it placing on record that I stood by my pre-match prediction: Thoresby will finish this season in the top two.
A detailed match report and pics can be found here. There are also pics on the club's Facebook page. The Thoresby account of events can be found here

Wednesday 13th August
CML North 
Easington United 0 Westella VIP 6

The one thing you don't need to do when playing a free-scoring side like title favourites Westella is concede within the first two minutes. Then concede again within the first ten. A third before the break meant this game was as good as done with over 45 minutes still to play. What annoyed Andy even more was that five of the six goals originated from our mistakes. You could say Saturday's opening day lift had been consigned to memory in double-quick time.
For a full match report read here. Pics can also be viewed on the club's Facebook page. Westella's account can be found here.

Saturday 16th August
CML North
Glapwell 3 Easington United 0

Glapwell is one of the tidiest grounds in the Central Midlands League North Division. It's also one where - apart from an opening day win back in 2012 - we haven't done particularly well. And this was to be the case again as another side stretched by absences managed just two shots on target in a gruelling ninety minutes. We didn't help ourselves by again conceding early and it has to be said the effort was there for all to see. But effort will only get you so far in this league.
Our report can be found here, the Facebook pictures here and Glapwell's own report here.

So, one win and two defeats as the Bank Holiday weekend approached. We had two scheduled games, Saturday and Monday. Perhaps crucially, both were at home. However, of more concern was the fact that we were again set to be without a host of players...