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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Chris Smith
I SAW Armthorpe Welfare were playing Bridlington Town in the Koolsport North Counties East League Cup on Tuesday night, and being a bit starved of lower league football, thought I'd pay my fifth trip of the season there.
I'd lost a bit of track about Welfare’s fortunes having been out of the UK for a while. However, a glance at the table shows that there are now only two teams in contention for the Premier Division title. As of last Saturday, Bridlington stood top of the table with 78 points from 31 games and 25 wins with 109 goals scored. Armthorpe have 76 points from 33 games and had scored 98 league goals. They'd also scored 23 goals in cup ties before the kick off. Rainworth, who I'd seen win at Church Lane, have imploded and are in a distant third spot. The last league game of the season sees Armthorpe play at home to Brid but with only five games left for Welfare, it is Brid’s title to lose.
Welfare have had the better of ties against Brid this season, having beaten them 2 1 at home in the Vase and drawn 2 2 away in the league. However, any thoughts that this game would be a taster of the season’s finale were dispelled when the travelling Brid fans told me that there were only three first team regulars starting for them. Apparently, the League Cup final will be played on 3rd May but Brid are aiming to win the East Riding Cup which is played the following day. The competition organisers refuse to reschedule any game if Brid make both finals and they are focusing on avenging last season’s East Riding Cup final defeat against North Ferriby United, who have virtually made the trophy their personal property over the years. The league cup was not something they were really aiming for.
Unsurprisingly, Brid fans take plenty of satisfaction at Scarborough’s fading in the latter part of this season. Whilst they host Scarborough, and the income that produces for their club is very welcome, the tenants have a perceived attitude problem. I picked up on this when seeing a very young Grimsby side play Scarborough in a pre-season friendly at Brid’s ground. Scarborough played a strong side and didn't hesitate to get over physical with our team. Two players were invited to be withdrawn from play before they were sent off by the referee. The Brid fans that were present at that game were distinctly unimpressed by the lack of sportsmanship from both their rivals’ players and fans.
They were impressed with Neil Woods that day and were of the opinion he currently had a thankless task. The Bridlington fans, as I found out last July, are a credit to their club.
Oh, and Darren Mansaram has been on Armthorpe’s books for about three weeks and whilst his name was in the squad list, he took no part in this game’s proceedings.
It was a surprise to see Chris Adams slot in for the visitors from a cross on the right on just two minutes given that Welfare hadn't lost for 16 league games and 12 in all competitions. Parity was achieved on eleven minutes with a Liam Hardy header beating the Brid keeper too easily from a ball on the left. Five minutes later and Welfare forged ahead with a quick play down the right and Hardy drove in a good shot. Five minutes later and the popular Bruno Holden scored from the left side of goal after another good move from the right and a perfect cross.
At this point, it looked as though Welfare’s seniority would result in a cricket score but conditions started to deteriorate as the rain came down in stair rods (or in typical Yorkshire understatement, "Aye, it’s a bit damp") I also became aware of discontent at some of the refereeing decisions from the travelling fans. To be fair, Brid were coming off worse in the physical challenges but South Yorkshire folk are renowned for their generosity and I prefer to think they were saying to Brid’s youngsters "Tha’ll thank me for toughening thee up one day"
The referee wasn’t at all put out about the comments, gauging correctly that these were professional moaners who saw themselves as a terrace act. I did like the darkly broadcast "’e wants to so’t ‘issen aht" in a throwback to the farmers’ speech of All Creatures Great and Small. However, the referee did, and was meant to hear, shouted comments suggesting that the man in middle was, in fact, Mayor of Armthorpe. Old fashioned banter modified slightly and rolled out for every game no doubt, but strangely reassuring in its presence.
In a rare foray forward, Bridlington were denied a clear corner which provoked a projection of marital bliss when the main conspirator revealed "The wife’s gonna love me. If that was a goal kick, my c**k’s a foot long"
Bridlington did have a good chance in the 35th minute when the Armthorpe keeper went walkabout for the second time in the game and the shot at the unprotected goal was cleared by a defender’s head. A goal then would have really opened up the game.
Half Time Welfare 3 Bridlington 1
The miserable weather worsened for the second half and the conditions were to dictate the game. Even worse, I really thought I’d win the raffle this week although I’d done my best to avoid paying the quid to enter at the gate. They are professionals at getting eye contact here, and despite the close proximity of the gateman, programme seller and raffler, I nearly made it past the latter tonight. They did say that it was a good attempt to save a quid though. I think they’ll be keeping a close eye on me though, after tonight’s attempted swerve.
Bridlington were more in the game although they didn’t fashion much in the way of chances. I was really hoping that Welfare didn’t take their foot off the pedal too much as it was becoming cold as well and the thought of extra time and penalties did not bring cuddly thoughts. It must be watching Town that makes me think of some sort of capitulation when a team is pretty much in control. It was therefore a relief when Liam Hardy got his hat trick with five minutes to go and a warm loser cruiser back to Donny beckoned.
Full Time Welfare 4 Bridlington 1
Looking at the league table, I spared a thought for neighbours Brodsworth Welfare who have two points from 33 games. They’ve scored 15 and conceded 147 and their game was abandoned last week due to floodlight problems. They seem to be suffering the same recall of karma debts that Town are this season. All credit to them for persevering though.
I spoke to one of the Welfare officials who said this season has exceeded all expectations for them as they regard themselves as a mid to lower mid-table side, secure but nothing earth shattering. Welfare have now played a total of 44 games with a large number of postponements meaning they are playing two games every week. This doesn’t seem to affect the standard of play though, and there is a lesson in what can be achieved with a good fit and committed squad.
Talking of fit, that word didn’t apply to the two very pissed and wrecked girls on the bus who were leaving the bright lights of Armthorpe to supplement their already immodest intake in Donny’s numerous hostelries. I wonder if they were the same two girls that two posters on The Fishy were reminiscing about after my last match report here. Nah, probably their daughters.
See you Friday.
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