Ah right. That was the summer break then? Where did it go? I barely even noticed it had started. So much for the to-do list of jobs around the house. Really though, the 1st of August? A few years back we were only just about starting our friendlies now. I understand next season is due to start a couple of weeks before this season finishes.

So, yes, it’s barely been long enough to get that Gold Cup Final defeat out of my system. Ah, hell, who am I trying to kid? It still smarts we lost that match, especially given our dominance (even with ten men), and the torch controversy that blighted the start of the penalties. It was nice of the ref to clamp down only after we’d missed our first one – the one that proved to be decisive in the end. All my Buddhist principles suggest I should just let it go, but then despite the evidence of my burgeoning waistline, I’m not Buddha, am I…?

But really, now isn’t the time for grumbles is it? This must be one of the most exciting starts we’ve had to a season in a long while, what with the arrival of former England International (and mate of Pele) Steve Hunt as our new manager. Excited? You betcha – I’ve still got Panini stickers with him on, and it’s going to take all the self-control I can muster to not scamper onto the pitch at the end of the game to get him to sign them. If anyone sees me off in that direction, please grab me squarely by the shoulders and rearrange my orientation so I’m heading towards the bar… Seriously though, On behalf of all the cantankerous buggers who sit up the back of the stand I’d like to welcome Steve to Westwood and wish him all the best for a long and successful stint here. By all accounts he’s been quite taken with the place, so let’s make sure we prove his instincts right (yes, even you overheard muttering “Pele? Yeah yeah yeah, I once played in the same team as Marvin Tyldesley”).

Tough game for starters tonight against a side who are bound to be there or thereabouts come next May. I do have a sneaking admiration for Sholing (definitely one of the best run and ambitious clubs in our league), and more than a hint of jealousy after their Vase trip to Wembley a couple of years back. Let’s hope they’re slow starters, eh?

F.A. Cup this Saturday and a trip to Bracknell Town beckons. Tough to know what to expect, but then that’s one of the beauties of playing teams from outside your league – you just have to have a go and see what happens. I remember being one of the clutch of Cowes fans who travelled to Larges Lane in 1999 for a midweek F.A. Vase fixture. We weren’t exactly brimming with confidence beforehand (that didn’t stop us from devouring about thirty quids-worth of Kentucky in the car park beforehand, mind), but we came away with a well-merited 4-1 win, much to the consternation of our hosts. Let’s hope that’s a good omen for Saturday. I’ve not heard if there’s an away day gaggle travelling this time, but if you fancy a day out, the 12.20 train from Southampton (change at Reading) will get you there in good time – £22 return not including the Red Jet. Don’t forget to buy chicken beforehand…

 

Toby.

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