Tuesday 18th September 2012 ko 7.30pm
Wessex League Cup 2nd Round
HYTHE & DIBDEN 0
EAST COWES VICTORIA 1 (Barnes 77)
Att 37 (h/c)
The original idea was to meet Lee in Oxford then travel south to near Southampton to watch Blackfield & Langley. When I collected Lee, he’d just found out that a 30 foot boat travelling south of the A34 near Newbury had fallen off its trailer, so the carriageway was blocked. A little local knowledge is handy, so I diverted via Wantage down to the M4 and rejoined the A34, but it was too late to make kick-off at our planned fixture. But then Lee pointed out that Hythe is 5 miles closer, and with some creative driving we got there for the advertised 7.45pm kick-off. The trouble is that the game kicked off at 7.30 to allow the visitors to catch the last boat back to the Isle of Wight. You can’t win sometimes!
That last fact though did create one massive issue for East Cowes, namely that if extra-time were needed, then they wouldn’t be able to get home that night. As I watched the planes taking off from nearby Southampton airport I wondered if aviation was their “Plan B”, assuming of course that a Plan B existed.
I pondered my surroundings. Hythe is the birthplace of Sir Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, and dring World War II was a base for the smaller boats in the navy. It was also where TE Lawrence lived for a year in the 1930’s, and where adventurer Bruce Parry was born.
The Ewart Recreation Ground is very much a cricket ground that hosts football. There are, would you believe 9 stands, all one side of the ground, and the whole lot looks like it’s removed for the cricket season. That includes the floodlights, which are a “Heath Robinson” affair, made out of what looked like water pipes. They look unusual, but they do the job.
There appeared to be no turnstile, or pay booth, but then we were late, of a fashion. I found the programmes behind the clubhouse bar and donated £4 for 2 copies, but it would have been straightforward to have watched the game for free. In fact that’s exactly what a group of local youths did. Drunk and dressed in their best Primark clothes, they were fascinated by the sound made by a “Polo” mint pinging from the tin roof one one of the stands.
I suppose the match did little to grab their attention. Hythe had the best of the first half, East Cowes the second, but neither side had a forward capable of imposing his will on the game. To the relief of Lee and I, and definately the visitors the game was settled in normal time; Kai Barnes’ free kick running through the fingers of home keeper Matt Fredericks like dust. Soon after, as East Cowes did the corner routine during injury time, the away bench were quietly gathering their belongings and getting ready to leave. I swear a couple of them beat me out of the car park!