The View from the Bar
Lots to write about today, best crack on… Firstly, what an amazing day last Saturday! In 35+ years supporting Cowes there’s been plenty of memorable occasions, but the Portchester match is right up there, and what a way to secure our Premier Division survival, with a last-minute equaliser in front of a season’s best paying gate of nearly two hundred! When Callum Watkins (stoked for that lad!) poked the ball home it was mayhem around the place by all accounts (I was too busy jumping around up the back of the stand to take it all in, truth be told). And the roar when that goal went in must’ve echoed around the town too – one esteemed member of Country Corner said it was the loudest he could remember at Westwood in many a year. Magic stuff.
I also enjoyed our first goal plenty enough it must be said (especially since I was the holder of the winning Golden Goal ticket). Now, I thought winners had the option to maintain privacy and anonymity (in the same manner as the National Lottery), rather than having their name read out over the tannoy by Mick the mic, although I probably didn’t help myself in this regard, given that I jumped up cheering and waving my ticket around like Charlie Buckett on his way to the chocolate factory. Either way, a good portion of the prize went across the bar at half-time, so we all win in that regard…
Great to see so many of the Cowes clan at St. George’s Park on Thursday when the Reserves took on W.& B. in the I.W. Challenge Cup Final. It was clear pretty early that the Island League champions appeared to know a bit too much for our lads, although their goals owed more to weight of pressure than stylish play. Cowes came roaring back in the closing stages though, and had the game been ten minutes longer I’d wager they would have managed to restore parity with Whitecroft’s five goals. On that point, worth reminding everyone that we’re the first side to put three goals past W.& B. this season (and only the second side to score more than once!).
Talking of St. George’s Park, that game and our upcoming I.W. Senior Cup semi will almost certainly be our last ever visits to the ground, with Newport set to begin ground-sharing at Vics next season. Will St. George’s Park ever be treated with the same misty-eyed reverence as the old Church Litten ground? Unlikely, I’d say, but then thirty years from now maybe so. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the place as a ground, but it’s hard to argue it hasn’t occupied a central spot in Island football for the past three decades. Opened to great fanfare by Jimmy Hill and his Fulham side, it was, we should remember, the only Island ground to host Southern League football since Cowes’ old Brooklyn Ground at the turn of the last century, and has hosted a few memorable occasions for the Yachtsmen too. RIP St. George’s Park.
I’m quickly running out of space, so I’d best turn my attentions to a broader look at the season. It’s strange to reflect on the past nine months – so much has happened, not least the fact we’ve had four 1st Team managers (including Pottsy!) since the campaign started. The landscape is pretty different, but to survive in the Wessex Prem is an incredible feat and my thanks and congratulations go to John McKie who has done such a fantastic job since stepping into the hot seat three months back. What has really struck me though, all season, has been the incredible buzz about the place, reflected in no small way by the splendid gates we’ve welcomed at Westwood. To average well over 130 is amazing (especially with no local derby to boost the figures), and to be the third-best supported side in the Wessex is testament to the loyalty of the support given our lowly league placing throughout the season. It’s also worth noting that, while five sides have had the odd higher gate than our best at 199, no side has a higher ‘lowest’ gate than ours of 94 – the Westwood faithful clearly are the most loyal supporters in the league. So, thank you all.
It’s also important to thank everyone who has devoted so much time and effort into the club over the past year. To name everyone individually would take a page or more on its own, but it’s safe to say, if it weren’t for your efforts the club wouldn’t be in such fine shape, or indeed maybe here at all. So, thank-you all, and I hope you get to enjoy a few moments of non-club peace, quiet, enjoyment or whatever over the summer. To that end, a quick reminder that the club is run entirely by volunteers and, as always, any help you can offer in keeping things going is welcome – nay essential. There’ll be plenty going on through the summer months if you can find an hour or three to help out, and next season we’ll again be looking for volunteers to help out on matchdays and through the week too. Step up, why not, and do your bit to help keep our great club going – the premier club on the Island, no less.
So that’s nearly that then. Just today, Horndean away next week, and whatever follows in the Gold Cup to go. I look forward to seeing you all at these fixtures and with a fair breeze perhaps we’ll be toasting success again in a few weeks time.
Enjoy the game, and have a great summer.