The View from the Bar 

  I think, had we been offered a draw before the game on Saturday, most Cowes supporters would’ve taken one look at our team sheet and then bitten the hand off whoever was offering the point, given that Blackfield have previously handed us two hearty gubbings this season. But by the end many Westwood faithful would’ve been a little frustrated that we didn’t put our visitors to the sword. Blackfield weren’t amazing, let’s be fair, but with so many First Team regulars missing, the lads in the blue and white stripes put up a frankly excellent display and, with just a little bit of luck, would’ve run out comfortable winners. Jack Barsdell’s drive against the bar must’ve worried a few committee members into thinking they’d need to shell out for a new set of woodwork, such was the ferocity with which the ball was struck, and on a day when Ed Hatt had a rare quiet afternoon between the posts it was disappointing that Blackfield were able to carve out an opener from a rare foray into out box. Brickers’ equaliser (right-footed too) was more than well-deserved, and well received too, as you might expect. Despite frustrations though, and what might’ve been, it was a good point, all in all – well played lads! Top marks also to the visitors from Blackfield, who brought a healthy contingent to swell the gate, and who stayed behind for a good while afterwards (supporters and players alike) to help swell the coffers behind the bar. I believe the team were making a weekend of it, and enjoyed a night out in the town after the game. Good stuff – making the most of the opportunities available to them in the Wessex League, and putting a bit of money into our club (and town) too. Good stuff.

  Hearty congratulations to Hamworthy who, on Saturday took another step closer to Wembley (just one step away, in fact) when they earned themselves a semi-final spot with a 7-6 victory on penalties over Southall, after a 1-1 draw in normal time. Not just any old 1-1 draw either – the visitors must’ve thought they’d nabbed it when they broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, but The Hammers scrambled home an equaliser in the 90th minute to take the tie to penalties. I’m surprised the gate was ‘just’ 741 though – disappointing that supporters in the locale didn’t get behind them more. For those that were there though, what a day! For their semi-final, Hamworthy have been drawn away at United Counties Premier (South) side Newport Pagnell Town (the semi-finals being a one-legged affair since Covid struck) and will travel to Buckinghamshire on April 2nd in a bid to seal a final berth. What’s the betting there’s more than 741 people looking to make the trip north for that game? I do hope so.

  Fun fact: Well, not that fun. But it is a fact. On a cold and frosty Boxing Day morning back in c.1986, when I used to head up to that part of the world for Christmas, I went to see Newport Pagnell play since all the senior fixtures in the area (Northampton, Peterborough et al) had fallen foul of the weather. I phoned ahead to make sure it was still on, then persuaded my (unsurprisingly unenthusiastic) Dad to drive me there. On arrival, gates closed, match off. Lucky it was only 20 minutes drive, I guess…

  Mixed news on the collecting front of late. A couple of weeks ago I was understandable delighted to secure a highly-prized Yarmouth v Cowes Reserves programme from a fixture postponed in the March of 1986, but then just a couple of days ago I was outbid at the last minute by someone keen to secure a 91-2 West Wight Reserves v Cowes A issue. Outbid? At the last minute? Seriously, somebody else REALLY wanted this programme. There’s some strange folk about, indeed. Me? Oh no, I’m not strange. But the other guy – whoa… off the scale!

  So, after a two year break we’re back to Gold Cup action on the Island, and a very welcome return it is too. West Wight will definitely be no pushover tonight, so a keenly-contested game is in prospect. Many’s the time our sides have crossed swords over the years, in the league back in our Hants League days (where they – and the talismanic Robbie Dye – were as often as not a significant thorn in our side), and more recently in cup clashes. It was a real shame the tie had to be switched from their Camp Road home – it’s a few years since we’ve had the pleasure of a trip out there (along with the traditional getting lost on the way to the ground – I’m fairly certain the geography of Freshwater moves around every few months, just to confuse occasional visitors). You’re always guaranteed a warm welcome out there though. Proper nice club.

  Home again Saturday before we embark on a run of four away fixtures, so I look forward to seeing you all up here for the visit of Christchurch. Bring a pal or two along and let’s see if we can top the 200-mark on the gate again. But before then, win, lose or, well, it’s win or lose tonight, isn’t it? Enjoy the game.

           Toby

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