England were losing at cricket. A message alert arrived to tell us of gold in the men’s eights in distant Rio. And, under the hot Sussex sun, the Ryman South season got underway with Hastings coming from behind to dispose of South Park 4-1. A crowd of 322 looked on and, as the away team appeared to bring no travelling supporters, we can safely say that they all departed the Pilot Field happy.
At times the game was slightly tetchy. There were also times when it drifted, as if neither side could quite believe this wasn’t another pre-season run around. Hastings had, by far, the lion’s share of possession and half-chances as their visitors were content to stick to a solid approach and take whatever offerings came their way. They would have felt vindicated when they took the lead from tap-in midway through the first half. And if they’d held onto the lead until the break it could have been different. But just before the break James Wastell in the South Park goal fumbled a routine free kick into his net and from then on, with only the most moderate of scares, it was all Hastings.
Three more goals were added during a second half bright spell when everything began to click for the hosts. They still need a striker who wants to actually strike the ball though. This far down the pyramid is no place for a team filled with people who want to Portugal the ball into the net. But there was enough going on to ensure that the first day of the season ended with hope in Hastings’ hearts. South Park will need to want to play a bit more if they are to avoid this early-starting season feeling like a very, very long marathon to next Spring.
So, a pretty pleasing afternoon in non league country. Three generations (my dad and younger son joining me) watched together – and we managed to avoid the protestations from the junior member that not buying him a hot dog would be child abuse.
We settled on a Twix.
A few photos from today are here.