It’s good to be back, although unusually, having spent the best part of the last fortnight in Denmark I’ve probably seen more football than you have. In my first week out there me and a pal managed to wangle a couple of tickets to the sold-out 1st v 2nd Superliga clash between Midtjylland and Brondby. The visitors won 1-0 to inflict Midtjylland’s first home defeat of the season and in doing so nudge above them in the league table. A cracking night out despite the -10ºC temperature, enlivened also by an impressively disco display of foil flags and banners from the visiting fans, who packed out the away section and spilled out into the home areas too. The most notorious fans in Denmark, Brondby thankfully behaved themselves on this occasion (the last time they played arch rivals Copenhagen they pelted their players with dead rats!).

A few days later and four of us made the hour-long trip down to Esbjerg, where on a freezing Sunday afternoon, 2058 hardy souls were rattling around in the quite wonderful Bluewater Arena, one of the best grounds I’ve visited around Europe. In stark contrast to the previous match attended, visitors Skive brought precisely zero travelling fans to this game, meaning possibly the easiest afternoon ever for the two stewards allocated to man the away section. At one point we did try starting a chant of “Cowes take more away than you”, but it didn’t catch on…

Speaking of which, the three games I was due to miss while away ended up being just the one thanks to us Brits’ inability to deal with the cold quite as well as our European chums. Many thanks as always to Dave Draper for the facebook updates of our Tuesday night trip to Bashley – they certainly added a frisson of excitement to a cold night out in Ringkjobing – although having seen us go 2-0 up it was of course gutting to see how events developed from there. Hopefully we’ll be breaking our away duck for the season sooner rather than later, which brings me on to…

… Finally, at the fifteenth (or so) time of asking it looks like we might actually be playing our long-awaited local derby at Newport this coming Tuesday. Possibly our last ever visit to St Georges Park, so let’s make sure we make it a memorable one. I look forward to seeing the travelling hordes from Westwood getting behind the boys for a match that the term ‘six pointer’ could have been coined for. Not that we should need any extra motivation for a trip to Newport, but this one really is massive, so make sure you’re there, and make sure you’ve got your noisy head on.

Another local derby a week on Tuesday, when we take on Shanklin here at Westwood in the Gold Cup. Looking at the rest of the draw, Newport have a tough looking quarter-final lined up as they are due to visit Camp Road to take on West Wight in a match due to be played on Thursday 5th April, just two days after a difficult trip to Blackfield and Langley. Could be an interesting night.

Speaking of Blackfield, if you haven’t heard, I’ve got some sad news for you. You’d better sit down. I only heard myself yesterday, but apparently our epic clubman, lucky talisman and eternal last line of defence Aidan Bryan will be joining the Watersiders shortly. I don’t know anything of the circumstances but I’d imagine it took quite a lot to prise Aidan away from his beloved Westwood. He’s been an incredible clubman for us over the past twelve years or so, making a total of 449 appearances (365 for the 1st Team). There are way too many memories of Aidan in a Cowes shirt to recount them all here, but a couple that stick in the mind are the Vase trip to Egham where he seemingly single-handedly repelled the marauding home attack, throwing himself in front of everything the home side could muster as we claimed an unlikely 1-0 victory, and the home match here where he came on as a sub, put in one crunching tackle, and within 30 seconds was off again with a dislocated shoulder, grinning cheerfully the whole time, even as it was popped back into place in front of a squeamishly squirming home support in the main stand. Aidan, you were, are, and always will be a Westwood Legend, and I salute you. Good luck at Blackfield, mate.

Just two home league games left this season, the next one being against Portchester on Tuesday 27th March. Plenty to keep our minds occupied before then though, not least the visit of Alresford today. Be loud, be proud, and come on Cowes!

Enjoy the game,
Toby

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