The View from the Bar 

  After the last few years, it feels a bit strange looking back on a full, completed season – August really feels like a long time ago. It’s been an up-and-down season, all-in-all, but it says a lot about what Max and the team have achieved that we could afford to stop casting nervous eyes downwards with seven or eight games to go. We’ve got kind of used to nail-biting ends to seasons, and so the last few weeks have felt a bit surreal, knowing that we’re safe from the drop. Barring a +50 goal turnaround in goal difference (I’m a Cowes fan, I wouldn’t bet against it), Hythe are set to finish in the bottom two but I’m not sure if that means they are destined for the drop or not, as the sands seem to be constantly shifting (or at least, are unclear) as to who will go up and down. I for one will be very sorry if they do, as a day out in Hythe is one of the gems of away travel in the Wessex League, and on the occasions that I’ve made the trip there’s always been a warm welcome (and sometimes – but far from always – a favourable result, too). Hythe have been a bit de-mob happy in recent weeks and are on a run of five consecutive league wins (including impressive victories against the likes of Horndean, Alresford, Stoneham and Baffins), so I’m fully expecting a tough game today.

  Back to our season and the standout moments for me were definitely our second goal in the 2-2 draw against Fareham (that cheer!) and the 2-0 victory over Baffins in February, where we really showed what a strong and capable team we can be. But the best thing about this season has been that it has happened at all, and the support has been magnificent throughout. Thank you all for the part you’ve played in that – we are a club in the truest sense of the word, and every single person that puts in an hour (or more), or a few pounds across the turnstile, plays their part.

 After today there’s still the Gold Cup to look forward to. I say ‘look forward’, but it’s with no small sense of trepidation that I anticipate a semi final date with Whitecroft & Barton – almost certainly the best Wessex League side not playing in the Wessex League, and with memories doubtless fresh of their penalties victory against us at the same stage in 2019. Hmm. And, for the victors, Newport await in the final, who put on a clinical display of finishing in the other semi here at Westwood earlier this week. Whoever lifts the Gold Cup this year is really going to have to earn it (which is exactly how it should be…)

  Let’s not forget that the Reserves are still in the hunt for silverware as reward for their endeavours this season, with an I.W. Memorial Cup semi against Brading in the offing. Not sure when that’s scheduled for yet, so keep an eye out for news, and be sure to be there and support them when the time comes…

  I had a quick look at the Wessex League table before writing this, and I note with interest that US Portsmouth have been deducted three points (presumably because of the ineligible player who tuned out against us in December). No sign of us being awarded those points, although I don’t have a problem with that, to be honest – we didn’t earn them on the day, after all. It does make me wonder where those missing points end up though… presumably in the same place as half my socks and most of my pairs of glasses…

  It’s only mid-April so it seems a bit premature to be wishing you all a good summer and a couple of months off from the football,  so instead I’ll look forward to seeing you all at our remaining game (or games, hopefully…), and come next August, with a fair breeze, we can all start to dream again…

  Enjoy the game.

           Toby

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