Its the time of the year when the weather starts to intervene in weekend fixtures and the overnight snow on Thursday had left the Adel astro with a covering of snow on Friday.  Despite the sunshine, the pitch inspectors turned up at 8.30am on Saturday morning to find a quarter of the pitch still covered with snow/frost/ice although the junior footballers were running around safely on the other three-quarters of the pitch.

With the 10.30am game rearranged to allow the students from Leeds Uni time to revise on a Saturday for their exams (I don’t recall Saturday’s ever being for revision in my student days and it is a time-consuming journey from Headingley up to Adel….) there was plenty of time to try and clear the pitch for the 12 noon start for the ladies 1s against local rivals from up the road at Ben Rhydding.  You would think travelling would not be an issue but for some reason the 2 umpires appointed were coming from Liverpool and setting off at 9.30am so a decision was taken to go ahead with the game and to spend the next 3 hours trying to clear what was left of the snow.  Many thanks to Jim Cockburn, Dave Mattinson, Gaby Neusenbaum and Rosh McEwan who along with me spent the next few hours doing our best to allow the games to go ahead – perhaps some of us had hidden agendas so that we did not have to rearrange fixtures, umpires and changing rooms for games being replayed on a Sunday!

With the start delayed by half an hour to allow a little more time for the top corner to thaw out, the crowd (boosted by a sizeable contingent from Ben Rhydding who had cancelled their early home games and had avoided a trip to Whitley Bay for their ladies 1s) were given an entertaining but in the end frustrating game for the Adel faithful.  The pitch proved to be perfectly playable  and the umpires and their assessor were more than happy with the playing surface but sadly Adel were unable to penetrate the Rhydding defence and a well organised and well drilled Rhydding team scored a couple of goals to take the points back to Ilkley with them.  A disappointing result, particularly so for Emma Bickley who was celebrating her 18th birthday over the weekend.

The game after saw the Mens 5s take an early lead with a goal from new boy Alan Carvallho, against a strong looking Driffield side who looked to have some players more than capable of playing higher up the leagues.   Eventually, Driffield settled into a rhythm and passed the ball around well and the Adel defence was eventually breached despite some heroics in goal from young Sholto who made a number of outstanding saves, especially from penalty corners.   A 4-1 half time score was perhaps a little harsh on the mens 5s but they came out for the second half with some renewed energy and fight and a penalty corner strike from Vets skipper Dave Akroyd gave a little hope of a comeback before Driffield pressed on and secured a 7-2 win.

Sadly, the following games were postponed due to the frost setting in and making part of the pitch dangerous and unplayable which will have been more than frustrating for Gaby and Rosh in particular whose efforts to get the pitch playable were successful for other teams but not their own!

The away sides fared much better and special mention to the ladies 5s who had the early 10.30 start away in Chapeltown and travelled more in hope than expectation with a squad of only 8 players.  A 3-1 defeat highlights the battling spirit from those who played and bodes well for when we can field a full team again. The ladies 2s had a tough away game at Selby, made worse by their keeper dropping out sick on the morning of the match.  However a 3-0 win with all 3 goals from penalty corners (including another Rachel Barson effort) was much deserved and sees the 2s in 3rd place in the table with an outside chance of a promotion spot still on the cards.

The mens 3s succumbed to the weather, the 4s won a close fought game 1-0 courtesy of yet another Damian Greig goal and the mens 1s found that Hallam at home are a different side to Hallam away as the men of Sheffield put up much sterner resistance and even had the audacity to take a second half lead against Ben’s table toppers.  Fortunately, the team showed they are capable of fighting back from being a goal down and whilst it was far from comfortable, a 2-1 win maintains the lead at the top.  I am reliably informed by my Sheffield correspondent that they had no ringers!

Sunday saw the mens over 40s take on Stockton (or should that be Stockton/Norton/Hartlepool/Marton Furness) – we are finding out that in the EH mens veterans competitions, its fair game to enter a collective team from a number of local sides (last season Durham included players from Sunderland and Darlington).  I am not sure if we want to go down the route of bringing in players from Bradford, Boston Spa and Acomb to boost our chances and it was with some pride that the 13 players, coach and umpire were all long established Adel stalwarts with most going back far enough to remember the days of green and gold.  Once again, the oppo also looked to have an average age of around 43 as opposed to the Adel average of over 50… perhaps we need to enter the over 50s tournament next season.

A competitive (particularly so at some times) game saw Stockton dominate possession and territory for all of the first half although Adel did get the ball in the net from a first time volley from Julian Baker only for it to be disallowed for being lifted into the net.  At the other end Stocknortlepool Furness did everything but score and on the one occasion the ball did cross the line, their umpire had just blown to award a short corner.  Milesy was at his best making multiple saves and Scott Wardle made several goal line clearances.

At half time, the plan was to basically defend like Trojans, hit them on the break and use Giles pace and skill to eke out a shot on goal, followed by a backs to the wall defence for the remainder of the half.  After 15 minutes the first part of the plan was achieved as Giles gratefully accepted a generous pass from their defender and hit a mis-timed shot that fooled the keeper.  This clearly upset some of the opposition who as well as falling out with the men of Adel, started to fall out with the umpires and themselves.  Sadly, we may have scored too early as the away team soon struck back with one of their forwards finally locating the backboard and then Milesy perhaps with his view limited by some red mist wiped out the centre forward to allow the inevitable penalty stroke to be converted.  Adel fought back and had the better of the closing exchanges and Stocktons defenders resorted to strong arm tactics to stop our assaults on their goal but at the final whistle we could at least console ourselves that we were a club team from Adel, giving about 10 years away to our opponents and we would not have to venture to an away game on Valentines day somewhere south of Watford for the next round.

The next few weeks see several Sunday games, rearranged league and national cup competitions so please come along and support your club.