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Eastenders reflect on a decade of changes


THE PERIOD 2010 – 2019 won’t go down as one of the most successful decades in the history of Easington United AFC but it has certainly been an eventful one.

It began and ended with the club fielding three teams, albeit in a slightly amended format, whilst the intervening years saw a brief tie-up with a local junior football club and an even briefer return to Sunday morning football. The decade also brought the occasional flashback to the glory years of the Nineties and Noughties but more often than not a reminder that for much of its existence this small village club has had to punch way above its weight to reap any reward for its collective efforts.

Things began well enough. The 2010/11 season saw the club maintain a dominance of the South Holderness Cup that it had held since 1996/97. A 7-1 win over Skirlaugh in the final at Low Farm constituted the Eastenders’ ninth win in the competition and ended Hedon Rangers’ threeyear winning run.

The following season, the Eastenders Reserves gave the club its tenth success, and in the process, created one of the biggest shocks seen in the final when beating favourites Withernsea 4-3 in front of a big crowd at Low Farm. In doing so they became the first ever reserve team to win the competition. Unfortunately, since then it has become something of a barren spell for the club, with just two final appearances (in 2014 and 2015) both which resulted in defeat at the hands of Hedon.

In 2010 Easington United fielded three teams in Saturday football and also boasted having two of them playing at the highest level possible. Having narrowly missed out on promotion to the Supreme Division of the Central Midlands League (CML) at the first attempt, the First Team would eventually be placed in the restructured Step 7 CML North Division for 2012/13, while the Reserves played their football in the East Riding County League (ERCL) Premier Division.

The Stiffs also began the decade as the ERCL President’s Trophy holders, having lifted the H. E. Dean Cup following a stunning victory over Goole side Viking Raiders at Bridlington Town’s Queensgate stadium in May 2010.

The 2011/12 season brought silverware for all three teams. The senior squad lifted the Holderness Cup Winners’ Cup for the second time, following victory over Tanton Cup winners Hornsea Town in August, to be followed at the end of the campaign by the Reserves’ aforementioned success in the South Holderness Cup.

However, eclipsing both feats was the Casuals’ amazing stroll to the ERCL Division Five title. They were actually crowned champions in January – something hitherto unheard of in County League history – and would go on to not only remain undefeated but would have won all eighteen league games had it not been for dropped points against third-place Shiptonthorpe in the final game of the season!

In addition, Iain McNaught’s side reached the semifinal of the league’s Harold Robinson Cup before being foiled in their attempt at a memorable double.

Sadly, all three teams failed to build on these early successes. The First Team continued to struggle in the restructured league, always just about managing to stay above the possible relegation place(s) before eventually being ‘encouraged’ by the CML Committee to return to the Humber Premier League in the summer of 2016.

Therein an awful first season saw them finish bottom of the Premier Division and relegated. Since then, the team has struggled to establish stability with a couple of management changes but top half finishes in Division One and back-to-back semi-final appearances in the East Riding County FA Senior Country Cup have offered a hint of better times to come.

The Reserves have suffered in line with their senior counterparts and now find themselves in Division Four, a far cry from the team that occupied the ERCL Premier Division for three of the first four seasons this decade. Despite this, they have had their moments. In 2012/13 they combined a successful Division One promotion campaign (finishing third) with a superb run to the League Senior Cup Final.

Four Premier Division scalps were taken en route and in the final the Stiffs came fromthree down to level matters against all-conquering Wawne United before succumbing to a late winner.

The summer of 2014 saw the Stiffs overcome Tanton Cup holders Long Riston Reserves 9-8 on penalties to lift the Holderness Cup Winners’ Cup. With the exception of the occasional memorial trophy, it remains the last piece of silverware lifted by the club.

The Casuals fell away badly after an encouraging first season following promotion. The team disappeared for a season (2014/15) before being wrapped up completely as a Saturday side two years later. A brief flirtation with the Hull Sunday League saw the Casuals name appear for the 2017/18 campaign but their demise at the end of that season would appear to bear some finality about it.

One bright spot during the senior teams’ struggles came via an official FA Club Link with local junior side Sporting Withernsea Wolves, established during 2011/12, which helped establish a regular supply of players across two to three years. Meanwhile, at the other end of the age scale, a new Veterans section was established in 2015/16 and has proved popular – if not very successful – ever since.

Away from the action the decade has seen the continued development of the club’s Low Farm home, following its upgrade to meet CML requirements in 2009. New shelters were put in place in the summer of 2016 along with a much-needed makeover of the existing changing facilities. With ongoing attempts to improve the pitch drainage and attract more pitch-side advertising, as well as some exciting plans in place for the future, the club can certainly not be accused of standing still.

That said, given the current struggles experienced at grassroots level across the country, if – in another ten years’ time – Easington United Association Football Club is reflecting on having completed over eighty years’ existence, that in itself will be something to be proud of.

The Holderness Gazette - Serving News to the Holderness Region