Happy New Year everyone! It was a bit gutting to wake up on Boxing Day, open the curtains to a gloriously sunny, crisp winter morning – perfect football weather – then see on Facebook that the Newport match had been postponed. Probably more gutted were those who’d shared a ride up to St Georges before finding out and had to go shopping with the missus instead. It didn’t take long for the conspiracy theories to start, although it soon became clear that the pitch was unplayable due to a massive spillage in aisle 3. In all seriousness though it was a great pity and robbed the Island football community of one of the biggest events of the year, and in doing so will probably knock a grand or more off Newport’s income too, which is no small matter at our level. The game’s been rearranged for a week on Tuesday (16th January), and I urge you all to make the trip up and take along as many mates as you can. Necking a bottle of mulled wine on the way is optional, but might help recreate that Boxing Day atmosphere a bit.

I’ve been pretty chuffed with the response to the Cowes Sports Collector Cards which were (finally) released at the Fareham game before Christmas. Already around seventy sets have been sold (including one to the ever-entertaining travelling faithful from Fareham), meaning there’s only a handful of the complete sets still available at fiver each – come and find me today to make sure you get yours. If you miss out on the sets you can always collect them in the packets (50p for a pack of four, from the tea bar). We’re also giving a free packet to all under-16’s when they pay at the gate, so if you need to do swapsies, find the nippers. It was most gratifying to hear a couple of lads in the stand behind me excitedly discussing who they’d got in their packs – the best quote being “I got Aidan Bryan too… and some old bloke…” Politeness stopped me asking if he was referring to one of the Westwood Legends or one of the more senior members of the playing or coaching staff…

So, it looks like I’ll be doing another set next season if I can find a reliable printer (don’t go to Biltmore, folks… long story why but I’ll tell you if you buy me a pint) and it’s already been suggested by one player that next year they should be presented in a ‘Top Trumps’ format. Quite what the categories for that would be I’m not sure, but it could definitely be entertaining – feel free to make suggestions…

Forgot to mention this in the last column, but top marks to Callum Capon for teaching the visiting keeper a lesson during the Bemerton game at the start of December. When said keeper refused to go and retrieve the ball from about twenty yards away and requested a replacement instead, the ever-youthful Cowes physio promptly sent the new ball bouncing merrily towards the corner flag, meaning the visiting ”stopper” (inverted commas to allow for the fact he didn’t stop much all afternoon) had to trot about twice as far as he would have had he gone to get the original ball. Great stuff. Must mention too our third goal that day – possibly the most bizarre goal I’ve seen up here in years. When an exciting break from midfield sent John McKie clear half the stand were out of their seats in anticipation, but there was an audible sigh when he sent a tame effort (poor cross, worse shot, rolling straight towards the keeper (him again). In fact, everyone was sat down again by the time the Bemerton keeper bizarrely dived out the way of the ball, leaving it to roll into the unguarded net – it really was wonderfully unusual. Rumours persist that there is in fact a video of said goal, although another rumour (which I might have just started) suggest that there has been a sizeable donation to the club from someone in the Salisbury area to prevent the footage ever coming to light. Probably just scurrilous tittle-tattle, but…

Quite whether this column will ever get read is debatable, given the recent climate, but if it is on, be loud, be proud, and enjoy the game.

Toby.

As ever, I must point out that the views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Cowes Sports Football Club. In fact, there’s a good chance they’re not even my views, I just wrote them because I thought it was funny. So there.

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