The View from the Bar

And welcome to my new column. Well, that’s what it feels like, anyway. I almost feel like I need to reintroduce myself, but hopefully some of you can actually think back to the heady days of mid-October when I last made it to a game. Or wrote a column, come to think of it.
It’s been a strange few weeks, one way or another, and from a distance (often the distance of the North Sea) it’s been a strange, and hard, few weeks on the pitch too. I’m not sure where to begin with all that, really, but suffice to say, I’ve witnessed far worse runs than the one I’ve just missed…
You get used to the odd defeat, or losing streak, when you’ve been following a team for a while. Or even just a few weeks, as I found out when I first started watching Cowes back in the early-eighties. I’m not sure how many matches I came to before I saw a Cowes win, and it was probably just as many before I saw another one, but, results aside, I was immediately taken in by the passion and humour of the folk up here. Some of the faces have been and gone, some are no longer with us, but the character remains, that’s for sure.
Getting used to losing games is one thing, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to losing players. Despite the fact he came back and gave the club a darned good second stint (and will forever be a Westwood legend), I’m not sure I’ll ever get over Trevor Cooke going to Newport in 1987. And after waving off the talismanic John McKie to Hamble in pre-season, it was gutting to hear that Callum Chase has followed him over there recently. Now that our encounters with Newport are restricted to cup matches again, I can see a serious rivalry starting to brew with another team in yellow…
It’s also hard to get used to the seeming injustice of the game when players go out with long-term injuries, and losing Brickers to a fractured cheek bone (wasn’t it?) is definitely a plot-twist we could have done without. But saying that sounds a bit selfish when you step back a bit and think of the player – all our boys are regular fellas, trying to hold down jobs, keep their families happy, and at the same time show the commitment to the club needed at this level – long away days, late nights back after an away game, training a couple of times a week. It’s not for money (oh no, not here), but for the pride of playing at the best level they can, and for pulling on the blue and white jersey of Cowes, and being part of something that every one of us feels when we walk through the gates of Westwood Park. Part of something special, win, lose or draw. Or lose. In fact, especially lose. Not because getting beat is what it’s all about, but because the morbid humour and stoic pride that can come from all that is what binds us together, far more than a trip to Wembley or whatever ever could (not that I’d complain about that, mind…)
Whatever happens today, it looks as though we’ll be doing our best to swell the coffers of Lymington in the return fixture at Christmas. Word is there’s already a big contingent planning to travel to The Sports Ground on December 28th, and if previous away days are anything to go by, this isn’t one to be missed. More travel info closer to the time, but it’s a nice easy one to get to via Cowes or Yarmouth, so get it in your diary. You never know, even I might make a rare appearance…
Enjoy the game.
Toby.

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