4:57pm Thursday 8th October 2009
By Jim Stewart - Eastbourne Borough blog
It's been a very interesting seven days since I sat typing the last blog. I have taken in first team action, reserves and under-18s in the space of four days. The Poppies of Kettering arrived at the Lane in the dizzy position of second, so we knew it was going to be a tough one. In fact as early as the second minute when a huge throw aided by a gusting wind cleared all and sundry to ripple the net. The man with the powerful arms was named Exodus. Thankfully, unlike the Bob Marley one, there was no "Movement of Jah people" so the goal didn't count. Credit has to go to Mr Atkin, our man in black for keeping his eyes on the ball and noting that no player touched it during its trajectory. However, that's probably where the affection towards our Andy's namesake finished. He didn't make the best of the remaining 88 minutes, and I had a huge smile on my face when, whilst booking Matt Smart (The Legend, and the hero of a new FB group) one very young fan shouted out "Why don't you book someone your own size!". Now that's a priceless observation.
I know we like to have a moan and groan at the officials week in and week out, so just out of interest I took the time to probe into Mr Atkin's antics. In 2006, he was officiating at Ramsgate v Fleet Town. By 2008 he had reached the heights of League One assistant. Now in 2009 he seems to be sliding backwards to BSP. At this rate, and on the weekend's display he will be back at Ryman before too long! We can but hope!
I had to do a day's work on Sunday so missed the under-18s and ladies games at the Lane but with the sun rising on Monday, I was back on the road, and I will freely admit that I felt proud to be driving the reserve team coach to the west side of London, to Griffin Park, the home of the Bees of Brentford. Having been taking fans to games for over five years now, it gave me a new insight to matchday preparations. We loaded the kits, the footballs and the players bags, ice packs, water bottles, and I am sure that Shaun wanted to add a kitchen sink to the cargo hold! It's quite incredible what is actually needed for one game of soccer.
The trip up was an easy run and I found the ground with realtive ease. Four bloody great floodlight pylons gave it away a bit. There was only one small snag. Once the players, committee and committed fans had disembarked it was time to park the coach.
The Bees didn't expect a 49 seater to turn up and hadn't coned off a parking slot. Now, if any of you have visited Griffin Park in the past, you will probably recall that the roads around are not the widest, and I gave the Boro travellers something to chuckle over as firstly I spent ten minutes trying to turn round, then another ten minutes reversing 300 yards back down the road, and then finally as they watched me circle the block passing the pub they were relaxing in before abandoning the bus next to a building site.
I managed to get into the ground with a few minutes to spare and settled to watch another very good 0-0 game. Bearing in mind that Brentford are now a League One outfit, we matched them move for move and deserved to come away with a point in the Totesport league and still undefeated. The move up to a higher reserve standard certainly seems to be paying off as not only does it give first team squad players a run out but allows fringe players to ply their trade against quality oppostion.
Never one to miss out on reporting a funny, the half time break at TW8 provided what to me was a classic. Former Brentford manager Martin Allen was in attendance, complete with black labrador. Mr A then asked a steward to look after the young pup, as he wanted to pop into the directors box. As Martin jogged up the steps, the black beast slipped his collar and ran after his master leaving one sheepish looking chap in the car park. Well I suppose when your master was known as "Mad Dog" it's only natural that you would want to follow in his footsteps, isn't it?
And so to a wet Tuesday evening on the coast. The FA Youth Cup had thrown us agaisnt Chatham Town for the second succesive season and this year it was the lads from Kent's turn to take the honours. With a howling wind and rain swirling around the stadium, credit has to go to both teams for trying to play attractive passing football, but our Medway visitors adapted better and progressed to the next round.
So, that's the past seven days accounted for. The next seven offers another bizarre mixture, as the first XI head way ooop north to Gateshead. I hope this will be the only away game I miss this year, and in its place I will be off to watch Westfield play Clymping in County Two. Not in Westfield, but at Priory Lane. A fire has deprived the Sussex club of its clubhouse, and to enable them to fulfill fixtures, fellow local clubs are giving a helping hand. The Pilot Field will host some, and we at Eastbourne will be doing our bit this Saturday. With Gateshead over 300 miles away and the Engalnd game only on live internet at £4.99, why not come and pay a few quid to watch grass roots?
My final comments on the next week's action is simple. Next Wednesday, the Boro reserves will be welcoming Crystal Palace to Priory Lane in what I am sure will be a cracking game. What else is there to do next Wednesday?? Watch the England game? The fact that we have already qualified for the World cup finals means there is nothing really riding on the Wembley fixture. We drew a crowd of 234 when Millwall popped down. I am sure that the players would love to see 300 plus cheering them on and they do play nice football. For the first time in the six years I have been invloved at the Boro, I am split! Eagles fan since 1973... Of course it's the boys in red I want to see victorious... Oh, it's a 7.30pm kick off so don't be late!
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