From December 18, the Sports will not have kicked a ball in anger for three long weeks, until they travel on Saturday week (January 8) to the surprise current league leaders Oxford City. Manager Danny Bloor is philosophical.
“It’s a little bit frustrating, especially for our supporters, and I know that the Boxing Day and New Year fixtures are a popular date in the diary. But on balance, as a manager, I am content that my staff and players will have a chance to recharge the batteries.
“Not everyone realises the commitment that’s expected of players at our level. The standard of football is high, and the fitness demands are equally high. The hours and hours put in at training, the miles on the road, it all adds up.
“We do at least have the chance to allow bodies to mend, injuries to be properly treated, and hopefully to put any Covid concerns behind us. We have the full first-team squad back in for training on Monday morning (3rd) and our sights will now be clearly focused on Oxford City and a good second half of the season.”
The Sports this week parted company with young defender James Beresford, who moves along the coast to Isthmian Premier front-runners Worthing. “James was keen to get starts, and as many minutes on the pitch as possible. He has actually had sixteen first-team starts this season, but we have not stood in his way. James is a very promising young footballer and we wish him well.”
Meanwhile, there was nothing but frustration locally, at the postponement of Monday’s Saffrons derby. Eastbourne Town and Eastbourne United – both in very good shape recently – were set to contest the local strutting rights, in front of what would surely have been a huge crowd.
But as dawn broke through a curtain of rain, Town match secretary Mark Potter called an 8.00am inspection – with the inevitable result. So Anthony Storey’s resurgent United must wait for their chance to lower Town’s colours.
“It was maddening for everyone,” said Mark. “This fixture is always massively popular and, of course, it brings in important revenue for the club. But fortunately we have identified a Saturday in February, when the Borough are away, which should fit the bill nicely for a rematch.”
Potter had headed westwards – along with quite a number of local non-leaguers in search of a Boxing Day footy fix – to watch Whitehawk take on Hastings United in the Isthmian South East. In conditions that were playable, if not perfect, the teams did their best to entertain – and a single first-half goal was enough to take the points and take United to the top of the table.
There are no Southern Combination fixtures tomorrow (Saturday) but John Lambert’s Town travel to Bexhill Town on Monday for an 11.00am kick-off. Eastbourne United welcome Little Common at the Oval for another local derby, kicking off at 12 noon. Seriously dedicated fans and ground-hoppers could probably see out the final whistle at the Polegrove and – with satnav set and speed limits observed, of course – just make it for the last half-hour at Princes Park!
Either way, it surely beats left-over turkey curry and the January Sales. A Happy New Year to all our sporting readers!