Art’noon. Today’s sure to be a tough match, with Andover having made a 100% start to their league season. Early progress in the cup competitions has limited them to only six league outings, it must be said, although over the course of those matches they scored an impressive 23 goals whilst conceding only four. Gulp. Our best bet today may be to try and convince them this is actually not a league fixture, as recently a distinctly Cowes-like run of form saw them knocked out of no less than four cups in the space of eleven days, so to get the ball rolling, is there extra-time today if we’re still level at ninety minutes?

Andover (Town) have established themselves amongst the top clubs in the Wessex League impressively fast, considering they only entered the League in 2013, managing promotion at the first time of asking too. It’s hard not to associate them with the Andover of old (with whom we shared so many epic and memorable battles) but, apart from their ground at The Portway there’s no direct link with the old Lions set-up. I do hope there’s one bit of (perhaps tenuous) continuity there though, and that’s that the current side are covered by (and perhaps even travelled with a representative of) the Andover Advertiser. Having seen a couple over the years, I can’t help but love their reports of our matches, especially the one that went to great lengths to describe the Cowes support in distinctly non-flattering terms. While this might usually get me somewhat riled, the succinctness and verbosity of the attack was something to behold and also something that I couldn’t help but admire (probably helped by Cowes almost inevitable victory as the definite bogey team of the previous Andover set-up). As reports go, they were certainly more entertaining fayre than the standard ‘two-or-three lines and the goalscorers’ names in bold’ that seem to constitute match reports in most local papers these days.

Incredibly, this will be our eighth home league game of the season already, and by the end of October we will have played half of our home fixtures for the campaign (by which time we’ll have played only six away games, and just three of these on a Saturday).. Never one to question the powers that be, me, but it certainly seems our fixture list is a bit lop-sided this season, We’re going to be spending as much time on the mainland next year as many of the teams based there, and it won’t do much for our income stream given that we rely on gate money and bar takings at 1st team games for much of our spends. Harrumph.

Speaking of which, as much as I’m never one to question the powers that be (see above), I also don’t make a habit of exhortation towards certain practices, but you really should get yourself into the clubhouse before or after the game (or even at half-time) – friendly faces (well, depending on who’s behind the bar), sage and unbiased match analysis (depending on who’s the other side of the bar) and without doubt the best pint of mild on the Island. You might even get treated to a sing-song if Roy’s around.

Ooh, yeah, and we do have stuff going on in the evenings too. After his riotous appearance during the summer, John Wroath will be back making a (distinctly enjoyable) racket come the end of November (more details soon, but it’ll be a Saturday night), and there’s another great evening in the pipeline also – keep your eyes peeled for a very special announcement of an event coming up before Christmas too. I shan’t say too much for now, since I know how much you all enjoy being kept in suspense (like recently when Myles hit that free-kick against Amesbury and we all spent half an hour wondering if it was on target before it eventually bounced in past the dumbfounded goalie who had gone done then stood again three times whilst waiting for it to arrive).

Another tough game on Tuesday night when Blackfield come visiting, so make sure you’re here to lend your support for that one. For now though, be loud, be proud, and enjoy the game.

Toby.

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