The View from the Bar 

It’s not often we start the season with a 100% league record, but we’ve managed it this year. Not in quite the way most supporters would have been hoping for, granted, but hey – hopefully today we can get off the mark and on our way up. Many of our performances have promised greater things, and it was heartening to witness such a good second half performance against Pagham in the Vase last week – they were a proper decent side, but looked mighty wobbly when we pulled it back to 1-3, and with a little more luck I’d have backed us to get right back into the game. They seemed like quite a nice bunch off the pitch, but certainly didn’t come to make any friends on it – the number 3 being a standout when it came to continually getting away with murder. Their goalkeeper didn’t endear himself to the supporters behind the goal either, throwing the ball away when Cowes had a corner, then taking a swing (unsuccessful, but also unpunished) at Jared when he went to retrieve the ball. Oh, and then giving a mouthful to said supporters when they had the temerity to berate him for his actions. I’ll definitely be rooting for Hadley to put a few past him when they meet in the 1st round in a fortnight. Rumour has it that Pagham may be joining the Wessex League next year – not entirely sure how I feel about that…

Sad to see Christchurch’s F.A. Cup run come to an end on Tuesday night, did you watch it? I only caught the last ten minutes or so, but in fairness, that was a pretty exciting ten minutes, with Dulwich Hamlet (no less than three divisions above Christchurch) taking a 1-0 lead seemingly at the death, before Christchurch carved out a superb injury time equaliser. The penalties didn’t go well (in fact, they didn’t really go well for either team, such were the misses, and even Dulwich didn’t realise when they finally struck the decisive penalty. A heart-breaking way for Christchurch to go out, but massive congratulations to them on progressing so far – proof positive that F.A. Cup glory isn’t just a dream, even for sides at our level. Well done Christchurch – you did the Wessex league proud!

Speaking of the F.A. Cup, our conquerors Weston march on, having secured a 6-0 victory on Tuesday night, this time against Larkhall. Our fantasy journey to Wembley finally takes us away from Westwood though, with Weston being drawn away at Eastleigh in next Saturdays 4th qualifying round. I’d have fancied our chances in that one – we always had a good record at Ten Acres (or the Silverlake Arena or whatever it’s called these days…)

Home again on Tuesday when pre-season title favourites Portchester come to Westwood. They seem to be hitting their stride now but have had a few dodgy results, including a surprise FA Vase exit to US Portsmouth last week. Looks like a tough one, although I can’t help but like the way Portchester are going about building their club. Their manager Mick Catlin’s a good fella too, and a big fan of IW band Plastic Mermaids, to boot. I do hope we get the CD player for the tannoy sorted by then, hopefully I can find a local selection or two to distract him from his pre-match team talk.

As much of the rest of the country heads into another lockdown scenario, we’re mighty lucky to be here on the Island and even more fortunate to be able to come out and support our team. These are mighty strange times, and they’re going to get stranger. Look after one another and whatever the result today – win, lose or draw, enjoy the game, and most of all, stay safe.