Well, here we go then – one of the highlights of the season for many on the Island, although I’m not sure many of us really enjoy it – not until the final whistle at least, when one camp or another gets to celebrate the win, while the other (more often than not Cowes in recent years) will go and lick their wound and ruminate on the controversies that these derbies inevitably seem to throw up.

Neither of our sides have had the greatest of starts to the season results-wise, but then form doesn’t have much to do with these clashes anyway when local pride’s at stake. We had the better of the league encounters last season with a draw at St. Georges and victory here at Westwood on Boxing Day, but Newport gained a measure of revenge in the Gold Cup Final with their win on penalties, although I’m not sure anyone can shine a light on how that happened after the preceding 90 minutes of football…

As previously mentioned, the season-by-season stats that Pete Jeffery and Glynn Skinner have been studiously compiling make for fascinating reading. They’ll be published in their entirety at some point, with a few sneak previews going up on the noticeboard in the clubhouse from time to time. One of the most fascinating seasons was the 1930-31 campaign, when notably we played our old rivals from Newport no less than six times. A 6-2 victory for Cowes in the F.A. Cup at Church Litten was followed by 3-1 (away) and 3-0 wins for Cowes over the Christmas period. Just a couple of weeks later a 0-0 draw in the Hampshire Senior Cup was followed by a 3-2 replay win for Cowes, but at the sixth time of asking Newport finally got their revenge, and in some style, running out 6-1 winners in the I.W. Challenge Cup semi-final at Partlands. I’m not sure my heart could stand so many derby encounters in one season these days – two or three is quite enough stress and excitement, methinks (although I wouldn’t be complaining if we were winning four out of every six encounters…)

I haven’t heard much lately re. the ongoing saga of Newport’s new ground, but, as last season, I will say that I wish everyone involved all the best with getting this resolved. Keeping a club going at our level is hard enough as it is (especially on the Island with the extra travelling costs and whatnot), without all the extra stress of trying to sort out a new ground and all the hassle that goes with that. The sooner Newport are settled in their new home the better it will be for them and Island football as a whole. It’s also an opportunity to try and recapture some of the cosiness and atmosphere that made Church Litten such a brilliant venue for watching football.

So yes, here we go. Here’s hoping for an entertaining and passionate encounter befitting of the occasion, and may the best team win. Especially, if that’s Cowes…

Enjoy the game.

Toby

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