The View from the Bar 

  Sometimes I start this column with the words ‘here we go again’, although more generally that means we’re back for another home game, rather than here we go starting our season again. But we’re back – football is back – and after a few weeks off hopefully everyone is raring to go again, apart perhaps from todays visitors Lymington, who hopefully might’ve forgotten to train over the most recent lockdown. Okay, I’m probably hoping in vain, but hey…

Back in the mind-nineties the name Lymington would strike fear into the hearts of opponents, what with their all-conquering side based at the Sports Ground. Of course the current club is a separate entity from that side, which merged with new Milton in 1998, but the name is once again becoming synonymous with high expectations of a tough game and low expectations of a result, since The Linnets have enjoyed such an impressive start to the season, currently boasting a 100% record from their eight games played, and with just a single goal conceded (in their first SWL match, a 2-1 victory at Stoneham).

Along with nearby Brockenhurst, Lymington has always been a favourite awayday for Cowes supporters, just a short hop over the Solent and with a good number of decent pubs and eateries in town, not least The Bosun’s Chair right by the station, that first tempted us in a few years ago with their prominent ‘Beer’ road sign pointing to the entrance. They’ve definitely reaped the benefit of our repeat custom in times since, and we always get a warm welcome there, not least during our post-Christmas visit last year. All things being well we’re due to visit again on 20th February – put it in your diaries, it’s a great day out.

The shuffling of fixtures has given us two away trips next – Shaftesbury on Saturday then Fareham next Tuesday, but then we have quite the run of home games with four in a row starting with Bashley on 19th December. Hopefully we’ll be welcoming in some more big gates for these matches. If the Island retains its Tier 1 status I believe this means we default to the 2,000 limit on spectators, which could prove to be a little restrictive. Be sure to get here early…. Erm…

While we’ve been away, top level football has pressed on, often with fewer people in attendance than you’d find up at Westwood on a regular Saturday. In amongst that the F.A Cup has progressed towards the third round proper stage. When we left off our alternate universe road to Wembley saw us represented by our old foes Eastleigh heading into a 1st Round proper tie against MK Dons. The former Wessex side eventually went down 4-3 on penalties, and the visitors went on to a 1-0 victory at Barnet in the second round proper. I can’t say I feel entirely comfortable being represented by the franchise club, but it seems unlikely that’ll continue for long, and I have a feeling that Burnley will be carrying our flag once the third round is done on 9th January.

So here we are, back again. Welcome back everyone! Of course, the Covid-compliance measures we all got used to at the start of the season are still in place, so please do your best to follow the guidance of the hardy band of club stewards that have been working so hard to ensure we all have a safe environment to enjoy our football in. Recent events have created so much more work for the club volunteers, especially on matchdays, so if you fancy lending a hand your help would be more than welcome – step up and speak to a committee member tonight, why not? (we’re not exactly difficult to spot, these days…)

Enjoy the game.

       Toby

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