Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Pitch resembled Blackpool Beach

Glynis Wright braved the elements and made the trip to Eastwood yesterday. In her diary notes she remembers the two characters that put Eastwood on the map, Jeff Astle and D H Lawrence, and then proceeded to the pub.

Once out of the pub, we then shifted ourselves the very short distance to the ground itself and were somewhat taken aback to discover a queue of South African election proportions already snaking sinuously from the single turnstile there was for the home punters. Blimey, how long would it take to get to the top, I wondered. But we needn't have worried; up popped a chap in an orange coat to inform us of the presence of another entrance, bashfully hiding from its public behind the corner of the social club building, so off we popped there instead.

Once in, I didn't half experience a sharp sense of culture-shock: not for a very long time indeed have I seen a pitch so awful in appearance. Derby, Leicester, even, in the seventies and eighties; I recall those and shudder horribly, but this one - Yep, strong elements of those two, all right - but with enough sand to create a convincing imitation of Blackpool Pleasure Beach strewn around the middle, and in a wide strip that extended in either direction to both goalmouths! The only parts of that pitch not resembling a primaeval swamp on a bad day were both flanks; even so, what few blades of grass eking out a precarious existence there seemed to be rapidly giving up the will to live as well. Clearly, someone had put in a great deal of time and effort just to get the damn game played at all.

Bad news for the Bulls persuasion, really; the greater part of their playing philosophy being centred around constant worship of those two well-known footballing deities, Pass and Move. To have even attempted to put that mantra into practice on that dreadful playing surface would be courting disaster. To be honest, all I could see was a 90-minute slog-fest amidst all that claggy ooze, players of both sides being kicked into orbit, almost, and may the best man - or the luckiest - win.

My other half extolled at some length about an "old fashioned cup tie" and his meaning was clear. Before the days when Premier League sides put their reserves out, before the days of billiard green pitches, this was a throwback to the days of the gutsy part-timers against the professionals. And gutsy they were, with a combination of hurling bodies in the way defending, a cute pair of forwards who deserve higher level football and several well rehearsed set piece moves. I must add legal because their play was mainly fair with very little kicking of their "massive" opponents.

It made for riveting entertainment, the sort of death or glory that Sky love. What a pity their coverage doesn't extend this far. And what a pity for Hereford's weary limbs they've got to do it all over again. I'll guess I'll be there. 'Im Indoors anticipates my company at the next six consecutive Hereford games - now that Albion have given up playing on a Saturday. Eastwood football is fine but please no more Canvey Island.