The View from the Bar
It’s with no small sense of trepidation that I write these notes today. I often start with a blank sheet and not the faintest idea what I’m going to write about, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth filling the page, but I don’t often approach the task with actual trepidation.
But then there’s today. And this isn’t your normal game, it’s against our oldest (existing) rivals, Newport. Are you supposed to look forward to derbies? I rarely do, but maybe even moreso (or less-so?) on this occasion. Newport, for all their troubles and uncertainties, seem to be pulling together strongly on the pitch and have had a good start to the season, currently fourth in Division 1 and handily placed for a promotion push, and with a great win at Devizes in the FA Vase ten days back. And then there’s the no-small matter of the hiding they gave us in pre-season. Yeah, so, it was ‘only’ a pre-season friendly. Hmm. ‘Only’ doesn’t really seem to hold much water when it’s the blue and white stripes of Cowes up against the gold of Newport, whatever the occasion.
Or am I being paranoid? These are the games we’re supposed to love as supporters, aren’t they? Well, they’re very nice when you win, but in all fairness that hasn’t happened very often for us over the years. Even when we’ve dominated games and (at least with my blue-tinted goggles on) richly deserved the win, Newport always seem to have had the knack of hanging on and somehow grabbing a late winner, or there’s been some controversy or another which has sent the victory in their direction.
But you can’t fault the games for passion or atmosphere. We went thirty years without a league fixture to ‘look forward’ to, and when friendly hostilities resumed in 2008 there were some blinding encounters – a favourite of mine (despite the fact we’d been 2-0 up as I recall) was the midweek clash here in November 2009 – a big crowd and packed stand, under the lights and a crackling atmosphere rare at this level of football, with honours eventually shared in a 2-2 draw.
Oh I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. Deep down, lots of folk (myself included) were over the moon when victory over Horndean in the last round lined up the opportunity to clash with the ‘Port in a scenario other than the Gold Cup, so maybe I am just being pessimistic, now that the event is upon us. Like I said, we’ll see.
Onto other matters, and the F.A. Vase win over Verwood the other week was a bit of a rollercoaster, eh? Couldn’t fault it for excitement though, helped in no small part by a whiff of controversy and having to twice come from behind before the visitors’ spirited defence eventually ran out of legs. Two days later the draw for the 1st round proper wasn’t especially kind to us, with a tricky looking trip to Hellenic League side Longlevens our reward, but you get what you get, and we’re still in the Vase, and that’s what counts. The club is hoping to run a coach for supporters to make the trip to Gloucestershire on October 12th if there are enough takers – be sure to catch up with Dave Draper tonight if you’re interested. £20 to include ferry and coach travel, but not admission to the game. Should be a great day out.
But before then there’s the no small matter of tonight to deal with first. We’re extremely lucky – both our clubs – to have a rivalry that ignites such passions and partizan standing, and either of our set-ups would be so much poorer without it. Long may it continue. Enjoy the game as best you can, and may the best team win (so long as it’s us, obviously…)