The View from the Bar 

  So, seven matches still to play and we’re officially safe from relegation! Heady times indeed (although I can’t say there’s not a little bit of me that would’ve enjoyed a potential make-or-break home fixture against Hythe on the last day of the season). Seriously though, after a couple of severely disjointed and truncated seasons, it speaks volumes for the work Max and his team is doing that we find ourselves in this position now. We shouldn’t forget for a good few months in recent times we’ve been left to wonder if there would be a club here to support at all, given the loss of income we experienced during the lockdowns and subsequent restrictions – the off-the pitch efforts have been nothing short of heroic also, and the support each week has been fantastic, so, well done everyone – we’ve all played our part in getting to where we are now.

  All of which leaves us peering with great interest at the upper reaches of the Division 1 table, wondering if Newport will manage promotion this time or if their challenge will fade away, as it looks like it might. I don’t think anyone here would be upset at the thought of a couple of local derbies to look forward to next season, so let’s see what happens…

  Back to Max and the team, and it’s been gratifying to see how well we can perform against the sides towards the top end of the table in recent weeks. The win over Baffins was quite something, and with a much-depleted side we pushed Bashley all the way in midweek before finally succumbing to a late penalty. Back-to-back matches against title favourites and table-toppers Hamworthy have also shown how far we have come, with each game being a tight affair and us only being denied a point on their 4G pitch down in Dorset last week by a couple of questionable late decisions.

  Having said all that, I’m now going to make myself sound like a right hypocrite. A week or so back there was a video posted on Facebook from a Wessex league fixture, specifically of an offside decision that led to a goal being disallowed. The video showed – as intended when published I’m presuming – very clearly that the offside decision had been wrong (a long way wrong, as it goes) and that the goal should have been allowed to stand. And, to be honest, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. The original decision was clearly wrong, but I don’t see what is to be gained from posting a video like this. The goal could not be awarded retrospectively (obviously), and the team denied went on to win the game anyway, so they can’t really claim to have been hard-done by.

  Which leaves the possibilities that it was either to shame the official involved, or to demonstrate the type of decisions that we all have to put up with at times. If the former, shame on them for posting, as this is hardly going to encourage anyone to take up a role in black. And if the latter, well, yes, we’ve all been on the end of some dodgy decisions, and we’d all like it if the standard of officiating was better, but that’s true from our level right up to international level. These moments of controversy happen throughout the game, mistakes are made throughout the game. I’m as guilty as anyone of bemoaning a poor decision when it happens (but then I probably make just as many mistakes in my interpretation of incidents, given how one-eyed I can be…) but without the officials – referees and assistants alike – there’d be no game at all for us to watch (and occasionally even enjoy). Worth remembering that, sometimes…

  Gold Cup action here on Wednesday night, now we have finally had our plans for a trip out to darkest West Wight (literally darkest, given the reason for the switch) scuppered when the game was moved to Westwood. And after two blank years it will be great to be back in Gold Cup action (I think… I hope… as these quarter-final ties often seem to produce uncomfortable nervy performances and tight score lines). Anyway, I look forward to seeing you all here for what will likely be our last midweek home fixture of the season.

  But first things first and we have the challenge of Blackfield – twice our conquerors at Gang Warily this season – to overcome. So get behind the team and let’s see if we can redress the balance a little. But most of all, win, lose or draw, enjoy the game.

                                                                                          Toby

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