Monday, 8 March 2010

Central Midlands League Football Bonanza 2010

Saturday 6th March 2010
Here, there and everywhere.
On tour with the Central Midlands Football League
Woo hoo! A certificate ... included in the programme packs, for those of us who'd booked tickets in advance for this annual all dayer.
Of course, there are a few 'non believers' out there who would say, we all needed certifying for embarking on a journey like this in the first place.
But that is their loss.
If you need it explaining, you probably wouldn't understand the concept of it all anyway.
I'm going to frame mine and put it on my mantelpiece, or at the very least chuck it in the same box that all my paraphernalia from previous CMFL 'hops' I've attended is stored in.
Was this years event a success, or have the organised 'hops' lost a bit of their appeal? Somebody asked me at one of the games.
Well, let's put it this way, I sincerely hope the CMFL put on a similar event next season and though they probably won't thank me for saying this, I also hope the same people are organising it too ... because they are bloody good at what they do.
I'm already looking forward to next years 'hop' and having heard a provisional list of venues from one of the organisers, will personally be gutted (genuinely) if it doesn't go ahead for one reason or another.
The reprobates bus ;-)
The fact that I was already looking forward to more of the same (but different) in a years time, as soon as I got home from this one anyway, kind of answers the question.
Stick with it Chris and Rob and don't underestimate how many people appreciate your efforts so much. Don't let a couple of clumsy comments from people who wouldn't have attended anyway put you off doing what you do so well.
If they don't want to be a part of it, it's a free country and there's loads of other places they can fuc ... err, go to instead. And there are a few good deals to be had on the trains at the moment.
I hasten to add, the person who put the question to me wasn't one of the small but outspoken number of detractors who popped up out of nowhere this time around (on t'internet but not in person) and he's just as enthusiastic about next years potential itinerary as I am.
A lesser spotted badge collecting groundhopper gets a full erection
upon spotting an elusive Harwoth Colliery Institute FC badge
This year's event gave travellers the opportunity to take in three clubs from the outer extremities of what is very loosely called 'the central Midlands' a visit in one fell swoop, hence just three games in a day this year, because of the distances involved.
It was an interesting twist to the usual format and an attempt to do something a bit different.
I reckon it paid off and wouldn't imagine anybody who actually took part would say otherwise either.
Prior to this footballing extravaganza I hadn't visited either of the first two grounds before.
I'd definitely return to at least one of them any time soon.
Crowd stats recorded in this 'overview' are the ones that were announced on the day.
At the time of writing I notice that the CMFL 'Football Mitoo' site has listed two attendance figures that are different to these, but I have it on good authority that they have been approached to amend their errors.
I've only listed the half time scores, full time scores and crowd figures. There will be many other places on the internet where all the other details are meticulously recorded to the nth degree.
All team line ups feature somewhere in my pictures and all pictures magically enlarge if you left click them.
Easington United (3) 3 v Hutton Cranswick United (0) 0
CMFL Premier Division 10.30AM Kick Off
Low Farm, Easington
Attendance 209
Click on the link below and have a look at Richard Lusmore's excellent Easington United blog - A Game In Four Quarters - to see just how much work the Eastenders have put in, on and off the pitch, preparing for this game.
The difference between the photos on the blog of how the pitch looked on March 3rd and the surface that this morning's game was played on, is nothing short of miraculous ... so a big well done to everyone who mucked in and played their part in getting all the jobs that needed doing done before today's 'Invasion of the Groundhoppers' to Low Farm commenced.
EUAFC won the award for best hospitality at the end of this treble header, they also got the reward they were really focussing on to, in the shape of a three point haul from the opening fixture of the day.
This is possibly the biggest gathering of spectators some of these players will have ever performed in front of, so fair play to them for keeping their concentration.
I think it would be fair to say there were a few sights around that would've distracted anybody.
On arrival at Low Farm, I spotted a suspicious looking individual hanging around near a hard working lady at a programme stall

As regards the hospitality trophy, personally I would've voted for Easington too, but Louth Town were only a tiny fraction behind.
I chose the Low Farm club because Louth already have the facilities to stage an event like this, whereas United, with their humble (but perfectly proportioned) home, had to put most of today's spectator comforts together from scratch.
By 11AM Cruisington had eased their way into into a 3-0 lead (yes, I've spotted it, I was just seeing if you were concentrating or not).
To be fair to Hutton Cranswick United, they had been on the road early to reach Easington in time for the 10.30AM start and they took a while to wake up and find their feet, by which time the home side had already chalked up an uncatchable lead.
In the second half the visitors put up a stiffer resistance and Easington, knowing the game was already won, took their foot off the gas a bit and adopted a more patient approach.
Thankfully it was quite mild in Easington this morning, for which I was very grateful, I know how hard the wind can batter the 'Humber Riviera' and wouldn't envy any team who have to travel here in the middle of a bad winter.
For the record the current winter season has now lasted five whole months and is starting to get irritating now.
And talking of irritating ...
The police were called and they told the prowler to pull his trousers back up and warned him that there had been complaints from the neighbours about how loud his shirt was.

All in all, a pleasant enough start to the 'hop' and Easington had set the standard for the rest of the day.
We walked out of the ground into what I thought might be the film set for a Millets TV advertisement, but then realised it was just a snaking procession of other people who had been to the game as well.
We were quickly on the road again, the car parking arrangements had been very well organised and we were soon weaving our way back through the villages and 'sights' on the way back past Hull towards Brough, the home of Westella and Willerby FC.
At this juncture, I'd like to say a big thanks to our driver for the day Lindsey, who I'm sure enjoyed herself really on the few occasions she looked up from her book, Bitten by Kelly Armstrong, throughout the course of the day to marvel at the football, the bonhomie, the sounds and the smells.
Westella & Willerby (0) 0 v Parramore Sports (0) 1
CMFL Supreme Division 2.15PM Kick Off
Blackburn Leisure Sports & Social Club, Brough
Attendance 194
Prior to the game there was a minutes silence in memory of Keith Alexander who very sadly passed away this week.
A nice touch.
Unfortunately there was no mention of this in the programme and no announcement telling anybody what was actually going on, so it's just as well the referee Mr Rob Townsend had posted about it on Facebook (of all places) this week, so at least a few people present could spread the word.
I'd known Keith a long time, his passing will leave a big gap in a lot of people's lives.
The football world has lost one of it's friendliest, funniest, most dignified and knowledgeable of characters.
R.I.P. Big Man.
Straight after the tribute silence had been observed ... after a fashion, some people seemingly oblivious to what was happening were still deep in conversation throughout ... I heard a hairy bloke who was marching indignantly past us, brandishing a stop watch and muttering "Tut, can we get on now? We're already two minutes behind schedule!"
It wouldn't have befitted what had just happened in memory of a great man to collar the idiot and remonstrate with him about showing a bit of respect, or to have thumped him, really hard, at least twice.
So I bit my lip, pushed my clenched fists deep into my pockets and walked in the opposite direction.
My god, these occasions bring out a colourful array of characters and eccentrics ... and I know a good few of them. But there are always a couple of nit picking, pedantic pricks for whom life can't be an awful lot of fun.
But I digress.
Westella and Willerby, it is said, might be moving their home base elsewhere soon, possibly to share with Hall Road Rangers, so this is one ground I most probably won't ever see again.
There are a few pitches here, the one used for CMFL games is fenced all the way around.
There is a balcony overlooking the pitch where the changing rooms are and a raised beer garden attached to the social club that overlooks the pitch too.
Plenty of lofty vantage points then, but no cover ... unless you watch through the social club window of course.
The game itself was quite 'competitive' and a bit niggly in places.
Both clubs had their share of players who wanted to talk themselves into a booking and act like big men in front of the biggest crowd they'll ever be able to show off in front of in their whole 'career'.
But it was a fairly intriquing nip and tuck, no quarter given contest, never the less. And the referee kept control of any potential flashpoints well.
Parramore Sports had a goal disallowed in the first half and one allowed in the second.
"No it isn't your first offence, what about that one over there?"
"Respect my authority!"
Don't worry about it too much, their number 8 is going to scuff the free kick anyway
The food at the ground warrants a special mention.
It was shocking.
Having not eaten all day, I was famished by 2PM and gave in to the temptation of 'Pie & Peas' for £2.50.
Erk! The peas were lukewarm, at best, and the size of the serving was hardly substantial either. The pie wasn't fit for human consumption, it was small, the pastry was rock hard (you had to bash your way in) and the filling resembled Pedigree Chum.
There is no way I was going to eat that after the first aborted couple of forks full.
I looked down to see what on earth was banging against my leg.
A small dog was looking up at me.
My canine ESP knowledge led me to understand he would take my dinner of my hands if I didn't fancy it.
So I gave him the lot, hoped it wouldn't make him poorly and told the wee beastie how lucky he was not to be begging for food in a park over in Harrogate right now.
That new CMFL ruling about defensive walls being allowed to stand
2.5 yeards in front of free kicks didn't exactly help the game to flow

Before the end of the game I heard some commotion from over near the car park.
The flasher had returned and this time there were no police around to stop him, although there was some evidence present to suggest they might get called to these premises from time to time (least said soonest mended), you really don't want to see the two photographs that were taken immediately after this one, completely X rated material ...

So, via Lindsey's 18 point turn car park reversing manoeuvre (highly impressive stuff actually, I would have bumped at least 3 cars) and the Humber Bridge, we headed on to the people's republic of Louth.
Go on, you knew I'd have to take at least one picture of it.
Louth Town (1) 3 v Nettleham (0)1
CMFL Supreme Division 7PM Kick Off
Park Avenue
Attendance 260
We arrived with quite a lot of time to spare and it was starting to get quite cold now, but Louth have a spacious social club up in their stand with windows overlooking the pitch, so we made our base camp in there and talked about the day so far, caught up with old friends, avoided a couple of oddballs and checked out results from elsewhere.
The day had flown by up until now, but the other members of our party wondered how on earth I'd managed to do five games in a day at a previous CMFL 'bonanza'. Tut, tut, have they never heard of will power, stamina, a genuine interest in grass roots football and amphetamine???
I've been to Park Avenue before, but it was still Louth United's ground back then.
I'm not sure how United ended up playing at a nearby village or how Town got to be the new tenants here, but by all accounts the landlord wants to build more of the new houses that surround the site, on the actual pitch, so even if Louth Town win promotion this season, the uncertain future of the ground might prove to be a stumbling block.
Note, Nettleham have a player called Louth
Louth Town too had a minutes silence for Big Keith, this one was announced over the tannoy beforehand and was immaculately observed. Thank you one and all.
Nice Tigers scarf Bill ;-)
Louth were worthy winners of the final game, though Nettleham showed a few good touches at times too.
I probably shouldn't have been too surprised to see that Leigh Herrick was in goal for the visitors, I reckon I've seen him playing for just about every other team in the area at some time. He's a very good keeper in spite of his diminutive stature and a colourful character too.
"F***ing have it!"
The Louth Lions Club, bless 'em, had set up a barbecue and their wares finally spared me from my hunger pangs and dizzy spells.
Nice, freshly cooked, piping hot food, service with a smile and decent prices too.
And a bit of politeness and good manners costs nothing, does it!?
Three cheers for the Lions!!!
The friendly dog had lived through it's culinary experience in Brough and was here again, I assume he had an owner too, because he wasn't tall enough to have driven and reached the toll booth window on the bridge.
But there was no way I was parting with any of this mouthwatering delicacy, so beat it you hound dog!
The Sky TV cameraman never arrived in time.
Half time came and went with the hosts just a goal in front despite them running the show for the first 45 minutes.
After the break, Nettleham began making in roads into the 'White Wolves' territory, but then found themselves 3 goals behind as Louth exploited the gaps they had left at the back by pushing up.
The visitors got a goal ... and their efforts deserved at least one ... from a late, late penalty.
I'm glad this wasn't a 7.30 or 7.45 kick off, because by now the temperatures were plummeting, you'd have to wonder if the pitch might even have frozen and caused an abandonment if the game had started later.
I climbed the floodlight pylon to get this picture (possibly)
It is a family tradition
We got out of Louth fairly quickly at the end of the game, then accidentally ended up on the wrong road back home ... at least I thought it was accidentally ... but having seen how gleeful our lady driver was about crossing Dunham Toll Bridge between Lincoln and Retford on the A57, I realised she possibly has a sad anorak obsession about 'pay as you cross' bridges and had made a deliberate detour.
I craftily moved the dust jacket off her book and peeking beneath the cover discovered the truth, 'How To Be A Secret Bridge Spotter'
It's OK Linz, I won't tell anybody.
Chapter 7, how to deviate from your route to the Devon hop next month. 
Top effort with the driving Linz :-)
Each to their own, eh!?
I'm sure she's not the only person to have over indulged in their favourite hobby today.

This is only a personal 'self indulgent bullshit' badly written observation of my day out and shouldn't be taken too seriously.
However, if I have praised anybody, then it is heartfelt and I really mean it.
Likewise, if I have offended anybody, then I really, really meant that too!

Legal get out clause bit*
Rob Hornby (to the best of my knowledge) isn't really a prowler or a flasher, he is merely the victim of some tongue in cheek photo captions and ill fitting kegs.