So here we are – a new season upon us, and we’re officially the premier team on the Island too! Been a while since we were able to say that. No pressure lads, but I rather like the mantle, so make it a good season, eh?

Not really football weather though is it? Andy Butler and a loyal gaggle of volunteers have worked hard throughout the summer to get the pitch together for the new season, but uphill battle doesn’t really do justice to the task (although not quite as literally as at Vicarage Road, Brading…) Our last friendly against QK Soton at times looked more like a scene from a western movie, such was the dust getting kicked up. But there we go – we’ll all be moaning again once the rain returns, I’m sure. On the subject of volunteers, plenty of hard work has gone into sprucing up the ground over the summer – it may be a break for the players but there’s a good few folk who really put the hours in during the close-season. The work goes on year-round, you know, and we can always do with a hand, even if it’s just for an hour here and there. Come on, get involved, why don’t you?

The Gold Cup Final win against West Wight was a fantastic way to end last season. With our Premier Division status assured everyone was a bit more relaxed than in the preceding weeks and it showed. Good turnout too, especially given the weather (quite possibly the last time we had a decent rainfall on the Island, or am I imagining it?) – I think that, despite our (for once) status as ‘definitely not the underdogs’, a good 60% of the crowd were there hoping for a Cowes win. Surprisingly, the rowdy crowd eschewed regular pre-match watering hole The Alehouse, but I think the good victuallers at The Railway Medina and The Prince of Wales were pleased enough to welcome us – both top spots for early pints if we get to play up the road this year. Doesn’t look likely at present though, given the way the cup draws have gone. Did I mention that we won’t be going there in the league…?

Cup draws. Hmm… the F.A. Cup has given us our customary tough away starter (Bemerton, next week), followed by a near-impossible looking trip to F.A. Vase winners Thatcham if we make it past the first hurdle. At least the Vase has given us a home draw, although Westbury – champions of the Western League Division 1 last year – are sure to provide a major challenge when we welcome them to Westwood at the start of September. The Hampshire Senior Cup has also given us an away tie (Totton and Eling), with another away if we get through that one. A rare stroke of good fortune has given us a bye in the first round of the Wessex League Cup, but predictably enough, we’ll be away in the second round to the winners of Follands and Fareham.

All of which means home fixtures are going to be a bit thin on the ground through August (better than last year though, when we’d played about half our home games for the season by the time September rolled around). You can check up on our fixtures on cowessportsfc.com, on the facebook page, or if you’re a bit more analogue than binary, keep an eye out for the new-look match posters that will be up in the usual spots around town. Corries Cabin have kindly agreed to sponsor our match posters this season, so we have a few spares available each month – if you can get one up in a shop window, on a pub notice board or in any kind of workplace or club please let us know – there’s still a few of the current posters available so ask today – every single one helps raise the profile of the club and bring people through the turnstiles.

I suppose I should mention the World Cup really, given that it was quite good and all that. Actually, it was probably the best one I can remember (barring perhaps Spain 82), and I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it (apart, conversely, from the tension of some of the England games). Of course, by the time it kicked off I’d already long-completed my Panini sticker album, although I wasn’t impressed with the massive hike in prices this year – not nearly as good value as the Cowes Sports collector cards we did last year, that proved to be immensely popular. Hopefully there’ll be another series out within the next 2-3 months, so get saving your pennies or make sure they’re at the top of your wish-list for Santa.
But enough of such unseasonal talk for now: the sun is shining, and PROPER football is back. This is what it’s all about. Super Cowes!

Enjoy the game,
Toby.

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