Don’t sound so excited!
THE SUN’S SHINE
The sun finally came out for a day this past weekend…and did not go away from sun-up to sun-down. Despite a chill in the air, it was a sharp and clear winter day. It was great to finally recharge those solar batteries that I’m sure we have inside us somewhere. For one day the cloudy skies of Yorkshire took a day off. If only someone would sack them for being so reliable.
You have to admit, at times there is no better remedy than a sunny day – even when you did not know you needed a remedy.
I absolutely love the feeling of driving along down an empty road with all the windows open on a refreshing and sunny spring day; the first after the cold of winter. How about having a BBQ in the evening of a hot summer day…cold beer in hand. Chilling on a boat on the Shenandoah river with good friends…
Alright, now I am beginning to tingle and lose control…the equivalent of making my mouth water by conjuring up images of a juicy plate of steak on Good Friday. You get the point.
All in all, a little sunshine can go a long way…….
……..Restart! I first started writing this post over a week ago. At that point, we had just had our first entirely sunny day in what was probably about 2 months – no joke. Incredibly, the last three days have been an unprecedented trio of fun in the sun. I’ve been sucking nourishment from the proverbial sun teet like a starving pup.
On Saturday, we had a game down near Liverpool, so aside from sitting on the bus for two hours, I was outside for most of that day. More on the game later.
On Sunday, I road my bike to mass, spent a little time in the gym, then went on another bike ride up the Wharfe Valley with my relatives. Will, who just turned 12, has set the ambitious goal of biking in the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride – at least I think that is what it’s called (about 75 miles). So for his recent birthday he was given a new bike and needed to break it in…as well as begin some serious training. I met up him and his Dad, Chris, and we survived the 18 miles round trip. The trip back provided us with what was probably the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen – or at least noticed – since I have been here…then it got freezing. All told, I calculated that I had put 28 miles on the bike that day.
Today, Monday, since it is half term/spring break I didn’t have to go into work at St. Mary’s. So I lazily slept in, which is all the worse since one of my Lenten sacrifices was to wake up earlier…FAIL. When I woke up to more sunshine, I made sure I got out as soon as possible. I went to a local field and kicked a ball around for a while. The best part was that I was actually sweating and only had a t-shirt on. I made sure that whenever I was walking around, to the gym, or the coffee shop to write this, I walked extra slow!
In more sunny news, a couple of weeks ago, I started and played my first entire game since I have been here. I played at right back in a local cup game vs. a team called Harrogate Railway Athletic. It was our first game in weeks due to all the snow and rain…and even then it was a barely playable pitch since it had been casually raining that day.
Harrogate Railway is a few divisions below us in the football pyramid, but they were up for the game, as most teams are when they have the opportunity to play a higher level team. It is like Bradford City’s (4th division team) cinderalla run in the league cup, where they have beaten 3 consequtive Premier League (1st division) teams to get to the final, but are struggling to beat teams consistently who play in the same division as them.
We absorbed some pressure for the early part of the game, and struggled to play well. This was partly due to our long hiatus from playing games, as well as the soggy pitch and Harrogate’s early pressure. Despite our slow start, we didn’t allow too many opportunities to Harrogate either. They squandered the few chances that they were presented with, while on the other hand, we were far more clinical when we moved forward into their area. We scored 2 goals from what I remember as our first two chances of the first half.
So far so good. The second half could not have started better for us. Our half-time substitution Kevin Holsgrove, scored a 10 minute hat-trick and from there on out the game was clear cruising. The score ended 5-0 and we maintained dominance throughout the second half, even when we went down a man through injury.
Not a bad result for my full home debut. However, it was not all smooth sailing, I definitely had to clear a few cobwebs out of my game early on and got beat 1v1 a couple of times in the first half. As I settled into the game, things went better and I felt comfortable. It was a nice to finally play a game and I was glad to make it through a 90 minutes without collapsing.
It was a small light at the end of the tunnel that I have been in since I began my English adventure. However, it was only a small light and I have plenty of hard work left to do before I am basking in the glow of the football sun god.
NOT ALL SUNSHINE
Since the Harrogate Railway game, we have played 3 other league games. Unfortunately, it has been a rough run of games for us. We got back to regular league competition, and our push to promotion, with a good 2-1 home result; but then tied and lost our next 2 games.
The win was against Boston United, and we deserved the victory for our performance. We scored very early from a header and then with another header half way through the second half. Their goal came late in the game off of a deflected free kick. This made the last few moments a bit nervy, but aside from that it was a comfortable win.
The next two games away from home were far from comfortable and just go to show that nothing is easy in football. The first game was a long weeknight trip down to Gloucester City, who play at the ground of League 2 (4th divsion) side Cheltenham Town. We started the game excellently with a beautiful free kick from our leading goalscorer Josh Wilson. Later in the first half they equalized and then things really turned against us.
To begin, we had a player sent off for what the referee deemed an elbow to the face. Then, in the second half they got the go ahead goal from a highly questionable penalty kick. Despite our numerical disadvantage, we fought hard and earned a tie in the final minutes when substitute Matt Wilson scored with only his second touch of the game. In the end, this was a well earned point on the road. Check out the highlights clip from the game…first goal is well worth a watch!
Unfortunately, this past weekend, the only thing that was shining for us was the sun. It was an, overall, pitiful performance, which the manager admitted was the worst game he has seen the club play in his 4 years involved. They say when it rains it pours, but as the sun was finally shining, it would be more apt to say we got burned. Their first goal was, admittedly a moment of brilliance, in the form of a 25 yard rocket of a shot that buried itself into the upper corner. In an effort to change things up and gain some momentum, we used all three of our allowed subs earlier than usual. Though this is a perfectly common occurrence, it backfired on the day. Two of our players received injuries after the subs were made and had to leave the game. So, to sum up, we ended the game with two less players and two less goals. Quite simply, a day to forget.
I, personally, didn’t appear in any of these 3 games and so must admit that my cheer-leading skills are not up to par. On a serious note; however, I will be ready when needed, which I hope is as soon as possible. The little taste of playing time was a tease and will drive me on! Next game is tomorrow night at home and the big test to our character will be getting out of this mini slump and back to winning ways.
Sorry it has been so long since I touched base here, I hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉 There is always more to tell when I get the chance, so stay tuned.
Unfortunately, the weather is set to turn cold again in the next few days, but it was never going to last…let’s be serious! At the very least our dear friend Mr. Solar gave me a good topic to write on.
Until next time, go head first!