Eastenders enjoy a ‘lockdown look back’

Easington United AFC

WISHING YOU WERE HERE: In May 1961 Easington sent a team to play Sheffield side Spartans as part of a reciprocal trip. It proved an eventful day! (pic Unknown)
EASINGTON United AFC players and supporters may not have had any live football to keep them entertained recently. However, thanks to the delights of social media, this period of inactivity has allowed them to indulge in some wonderful nostalgia.

Prompted by Vets player Stuart Campbell’s Facebook post of May 22, which revisited the day ten years earlier on which the Eastenders Reserves had lifted the East Riding County League President’s Trophy (the H.E. Dean Cup), club webmaster Richard Lusmore began posting a series of articles harking back to other such memorable moments in the club’s history that have also occurred around this time.

From the amount of posts, it became obvious that May has often proved a merry month for Easington teams (particularly in the 1990s and 2000s) with competitions having been won from 1954 to 2012. Such occasions were revisited on the club’s Facebook and Twitter pages in a series entitled #ADayInMay, with specific anniversaries being highlighted as #OTD (On This Day) posts. It’s fair to say the whole exercise proved hugely popular, with many people apparently enjoying the trip down memory lane.

But with the club’s history stretching back to 1947, not all the tales recounted emanate from a time when a camera was regularly seen. Nonetheless they make for fascinating reading.

The earliest ‘memory’ listed actually stemmed from the year prior to formation. The Holderness Gazette of May 3, 1946 carried a piece that gave notice of the post-War reformation of the South Holderness Football League, the competition that Easington would eventually join three years later.

Another post recounted how, exactly twenty years later on May 3, 1966, the club’s actual identity was up for discussion at the AGM. The Minutes report the voting down of the ‘suggestion of a change of name’, which had come from ‘potential rather than actual players’, in favour of retention of ‘the existing name of Easington United. United is sufficiently wide enough to embrace the surrounding villages.’ There has never been a move to change it since.

In May 1951 Easington finished their first season in the South Holderness League in third place in Division 2.

On Thursday, May 10, one of their number, Ken Sizer became the club’s first player to gain representative honours when selected for the South Holderness Junior XI to face an East Riding XI at Patrington. Scorer for  ‘The Souths’ that night in a 1-5 defeat was Frank Douglas, then of Holmpton United but later to become an Easington stalwart. After the match, Hull City scout Mr. Jack Hill said that in spite of the score there was very little to choose between the two teams and he added that it was from such games that they found the stars of the game.

Douglas was one of the players who boarded a coach for Sheffield on Saturday May 13, 1961 in order to play local side Spartans FC as part of a reciprocal agreement arranged a year or two earlier. The trip was recounted in a diary maintained by a young Brian Biglin. He describes how the bus, after leaving Easington at 12.30pm, sustained a broken pump en-route. Thankfully, also among the squad was Arthur Piggott, an apprentice with Connor & Graham at the time who recalls being immediately called into action: “I was having a day off and ended up working!” Problem resolved the bus arrived in Sheffield just in time for the 6pm kick-off.

A 5-5 draw ensued with Biglin recounting that the post-match hospitality provided in the clubhouse, coupled with a pub stop-off on the return journey resulted in “Fifty per cent of the players canned!”
Ten years later, on May 14, 1971 the club held its first ever Presentation Evening, at the Queens Hotel in Withernsea. John Foster was named the ‘Saturday XI’ player of the year, goalkeeper Allan Atkinson winning the ‘Sunday XI’ award.

During the 1970s the annual Holmpton Invitation Cup took place in May. It was often seen as the Eastenders’ best hope of silverware and their first appearance in the final in 1973 was revisited; a 5-3 defeat coming at the hands of the competition hosts despite a John Foster hattrick.

A happier recollection was that of the locals’ 1977 success, a 6-5 penalty win over Humbleton following a 3-3 draw after extra-time. Easington then retained the trophy the following year, beating Patrington 2nds 3-2. Oh, to have a team pic from either of those occasions!

Perhaps bringing some resonance with events of today is a memory from 1953, a season that was also greatly disrupted, albeit not curtailed. Back then it was the January floods that created the problems, particularly across South Holderness.

In May the League Committee minutes report how Easington United had received ‘a full compensation grant of £47 from the FA, obtained on their behalf by the League and ERCFA’, following damage to their ground and ‘loss of gear’. With players subsequently ‘employed on flood defence work’, the Eastenders’ 1952/53 season had been badly curtailed.

A year later, on May 1, 1954, Easington finished their season in style with victory in the League Junior Shield. It came courtesy of Billy Beadle’s last-gasp winner over Ottringham, which clinched a 2-1 extra-time victory after Brian Bromby had earlier cancelled out Dunn’s opener. Unlike the other league cups of the time the Shield, which was donated by Robert Metcalfe (‘local businessman and Hull City director’) wasn’t put to future use.

Instead it disappeared from view, only to eventually resurface in a cupboard at Withernsea High School some 57 years later! In 2011 it was reunited with the former league championship trophy and league cup for a special photo-call at Low Farm. A case of the past meeting the present perhaps, which really sums this piece up too? 

Of course, not every event in May was subject to a piece and Lusmore readily admits to having avoided most of the disappointments. That said some South Holderness Cup final defeats were remembered as was the last ever game of the club’s seven-year stay, in the Central Midlands League, on May 14, 2016. Against Appleby Frodingham, this game – perhaps aptly – also resulted in a loss.

But overall, the week-long series served mainly to highlight the rich heritage the club has and in particular some of those nights when being an ‘Ezzie’ really did feel like the best thing to be: from that last-gasp winner in the 1954 South Holderness League Junior Shield Final to the Reserves’ spectacular success in the 2012 South Holderness Cup Final.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before new memories can start to be made at the ‘Farm of Dreams’…