The View from the Bar 

  Afternoon! I hope you’ve all had a suitably indulgent and enjoyable Christmas – this goes doubly so for the visiting team, who with any luck are still feeling the effects of one too many Bailey’s over the festive period. I should remind them, in fact, that if they feel in need of a hair of the dog, the bar at Westwood is open before the game and will be more than happy to meet their needs.

  Over the years we don’t seem to have had much luck against Moneyfields. I’d hesitate to call them a bogey side, as that name implies a team that you really should beat but just don’t seem to be able to – that description would almost certainly be unfair on Moneys since they have often been amongst the front-runners in the Wessex League. Despite this, I do have something of a soft spot for them and have always enjoyed visits to the Moneyfields Sports Ground, tucked away amidst the terraced houses of Copnor, with it’s quirky little stand along one side and passing trains in danger from wayward shots at the same end. I was disappointed not to be able to make the trip there at the start of this season (a 0-4 reverse for Cowes, predictably enough), as this will almost certainly be the last time we play at the current set-up, since an impressive £5m redevelopment is currently underway to transform the site into the John Jenkins Stadium. Sad to see another of the traditional Hampshire League grounds disappearing, but definitely progress for the club who are managing to secure their future without moving from their traditional home (I think there’s a few clubs who could learn from this example…)

  I miss actual Boxing Day fixtures, but at least today is an afternoon kick-off, which somehow seems to fit the bill a bit more. They’ve been pretty sparse in occurrence over the last fifteen years, and admittedly aren’t likely to happen while we’re the only Island side in the Wessex Prem, but this could change if Newport keep up their form in Division 1. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying I really want them to come up, but the prospect of a Boxing Day encounter would definitely be among the plusses if they do manage to steer a course to promotion.

  Father Christmas had a tough time this year finding bits and pieces from Cowes’ history with which to bolster my collection, but he did come up trumps by somehow tracking down an original signature of Bill Bushby, who after five years with Saints (and earlier spells with Southend and Portsmouth) came to Westwood in 1947, being almost ever-present over the next seven seasons with 223 appearances. I doubt there’s many other folk who got one of those for Christmas, and I was thrilled!

  This is the first of four consecutive home matches, so I look forward to seeing you all up here for them, the next one being against the rejuvenated Shaftesbury on Monday 3rd January. Be sure to check the kick-off time for this one closer to the date, as it’s scheduled for 3pm, but I understand the visitors have requested an earlier start. Not sure if this is resolved yet.

  I don’t want to start sounding bori8ng (well, no more than usual, anyway, but I will remind you that the permanent position of matchday announcer is still up for grabs. Incredibly, despite the deluge of applications the club has had for the role, no-one has yet come close to suitability to replace (the admittedly irreplaceable) Mick the Mic, so if you fancy yourself for a crack on the tannoy, make yourself known to a committee member today…

  There’s a lot of uncertainty going into the new year, especially what with the Covid situation, but it seems as though local football will be pressing on and, with any luck we might finish the season for the first time in three years. I fully understand the nervousness of folk who prefer to stay away from matches during these times, but pass on my thanks to all of you still coming. We’re blessed with incredibly loyal supporters here and gates – impressive as they were before the pandemic – have been even better since it started.

  Speaking of the new year, it’s nearly upon us, so let me take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2022, and let’s do our best to roar the team on to a couple of wins to bookend the celebrations, starting today.

  Enjoy the game.