Your reward for driving this bit of the coast at this time of night at this time of year is this lit up fountain. It didn’t used to be lit up. Drive on knowing that it’s the little things that make the difference.
You’ll have to take my word for it that this blurry mess was actually, at heart, a sweet photo of a loyal dog waiting patiently outside on the street for its owner to come out of the shop.
Behold, the steed. A wheeled steed ready for the deed of traversing not only London (and Surrey) for one-hundred miles of cycling pleasure but, also, une journée en France via an early morning ferry the month before. Those challenges lie ahead. The training starts now. Set the Strava to go and let’s begin.
Shit just got real.
The rain relented enough to allow a soft pitch to play host to a hard match. League-leaders Bosham, the visitors to the Parish Field, came away with all the spoils but only after a tough encounter that required a somewhat dubious penalty to separate the two sides. Aye, it was a good day.
At the end, the Westfield players slumped as if they’d lost a semi-final and missed out on Wembley. Bosham didn’t quite dance for delight but their reaction betrayed that they knew they’d passed a bloody tough examination. The men in yellow had had most of the ball, rattled the crossbar, forced saves and sent shots just wide. But then, with their smaller amount of possession, Bosham had threatened, shaken the woodwork and pressured the goal. Whilst Westfield had their first-half penalty turned down (rightly, it was outside the box), Bosham had theirs given (possibly correct but very soft). That was the difference.
This was, as ever, a very enjoyable visit to Westfield. The chat around the pitch alternated between acknowledgement that Chelsea have wrapped up the Premier League title and discussion about whether Bosham, a dozen levels below, have enough of a ground to see them promoted. That’s football for you.
Waiting in the evening rain. Waiting for a bus to come and take you home. Watching the lights of the cars go by. Feeling the dampness blow in, even as you stand under the shelter. Waiting for a bus. Like you did yesterday. Like you’ll do again tomorrow.
A spot of rain – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved
Some days you just ain’t got it. Some days you need to wonder if it’s you, them or some deep problem with the world. I’m sure there were plenty in the crowd who felt a deep and abiding connection with this south coast tussle. I’m not one of them. The positive is that Hastings won (and I’m biased like that), the negatives were pretty much everything else in the game.
Hythe, according to the dour voice behind me as I tested out the wet-weather capability of the D7200, have a bunch of ex-Hastings players in their line-up. “Four,” he intoned. Then after a pause that would make Pinter blush there came a reply: “Five.” I think sometime after the next pause Godot arrived*. And he’d have turned up to see a game that never settled despite some occasional sparks of good movement or good play. There was too much niggle, too few good chances, and a lot of things not quite working out.
Hastings led 1-0 at the break but when Hythe pulled level it was more than deserved. The visitors, higher in the table, looked the more coherent unit and were unlucky to find the Hastings’ defence in one of its more miserly moods, backed up by an excellent goalkeeping performance. It took a spark of magic at the other end – a darting and determined run from a substitute leading to a strong (and slightly deflected) shot – for Hastings to claim all three points.
I don’t have any photos beyond this one, yet. I will do (and I’ll link them at some point). And maybe when I go back properly I’ll rethink my harsh words. After all, this was a tight local derby with some bruising challenges, comedy reffing and a decent plate of chips. That can’t be all bad, can it?
* I know