It's a bit difficult to compile a history of the Eastenders First Team that is separate to that of the club as a whole. Given that for the first 48 of its 61 years, the First Team WAS Easington United.
But while 1995/96 might seem the logical beginning, due to this being the first season in which the club fielded more than one team on a Saturday afternoon, I've taken 2000/01 as my starting point.
For it was in this season that the Club entered the then "brave new world" of the Humber Premier League, the new FA Supply League introduced to the East Riding as a proposed stepping stone for ambitious clubs wanting to get onto the first steps of the Football Pyramid.
Easington were invited to join, along with all other clubs in both the Premier Divisions of the East Riding County and Amateur League competitions. The timing couldn't have been better - Mike Wilson's side were enjoying their first season of football in the ER County League Premier Division, having come up from Division 1 after finishing third behind Bridlington Sports Club and North Cave 2nds. In addition they had won a trio of trophies the previous term, the prestigious ERCFA Intermediate Cup being accompanied by the local South Holderness Cup and pre-season Dave Iley Memorial Trophy.
There were many who mocked the Eastenders' decision to join the HPL. And there was much humour at the locals' expense when Wilson's side laboured to victory at the 2000 Withernsea Carnival - getting out of jail against Amateur League side Keyingham in the first round and only edging past Withernsea Veterans 2-1 in the final.
Still, the semi-final win over Withernsea - a side who'd chosen not to be part of the new set-up - showed glimpses of the football Wilson knew his side were capable of.
But it wasn't only on the pitch that Easington were forced to strive hard to ensure they made the level. The lack of suitable facilities at Low Farm meant the Club would be based at a new home - Humbleton Recreation Ground.
It was under the Dene Park floodlights that the Eastenders began their HPL career. As a reward for the efforts made on and off the pitch in recent times, the Club was invited to take part in the inaugural match against Hall Road Rangers Reserves on Wednesday, 16 August 2000.
In front of a crowd officially quoted as 320, United played their part to the full in an entertaining game with Neil Rutter and Craig Foster scoring in a 4-2 defeat.
Thanks to the kindness of the Humbleton Recreation Club and in particular the efforts of groundsman Harry Jackson, Easington had one of the best playing surfaces in the league. Unfortunately when the Eastenders first came to use it, on a gorgeous summer's evening a week after their opening game, they barely got to see the ball as title favourites Reckitts strolled to a 6-0 win.
It was proving to be a tough baptism. A hard-earned point at Westella & Willerby was soon offset by a painful midweek home defeat by Hedon United. Further reverses followed at the hands of Chisholms and Hider Foods with the latter being accompanied by comments that Easington "were the worst side in the league".
Thankfully, Wilson knew otherwise and after another of those famous sit-down chats he produced from time to time, his team began the slow climb up the league.
It began with a stunning win at high-flying North Cave where goals from the Patrington Haven trio of Gavin Thurkettle, Glenn Ratcliffe and Kenny Knott helped United to a 4-2 success.
A narrow defeat at Sculcoates and a 0-3 reverse at Beverley Town couldn't dampen the new-found enthusiasm as Easington went on something of a roll up to Christmas.
Just one defeat in nine matches (albeit a painful one in the return derby at Hedon) ensured progress up the table and in the East Riding County FA Senior Cup, courtesy of a penalty shootout success over second-placed Chisholms following a gutsy 2-2 draw.
A battling display in a 4-2 defeat at Reckitts that opened the New Year showed the strides being made and Hall Road were thumped 4-1 a week later as Easington moved nicely into mid-table.
Saturday, 10 February 2001 brought ER Amateur League side Humberside Chemicals to Easington in the quarter-finals of the ERCFA Senior Cup. With the game not falling under HPL legislation, United were allowed the rare opportunity of playing at Low Farm. It was a miserable day with sleet, snow, a biting wind and freezing temperatures. It also brought with it a poor Easington performance in which Craig Smalley's goal cancelled out a Kev Windsor opener in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
But while Wilson embarked on one of his famous pep talks to try and inspire an extra-time win, several of the visitors were laid out in the changing rooms reportedly showing the first signs of hypothermia! As such the referee - under the watchful gaze of several members of the ER County FA - had no option but to abandon the tie.
During the week the clubs were informed that the tie would be re-staged the following weekend; with Hull City awaiting the winners in the semi-finals! Easington needed no further incentive.
Back on their "new" regular patch at Humbleton they showed their opponents no quarter. Two goals apiece for Craig Foster and Chris Walmsley, allied to an 'own goal', helped complete a 5-0 rout.
Unfortunately there was to be no repeat in the HPL Cup as Hall Road Rangers Reserves left Humbleton with a 1-0 win. And when Westella romped to a 5-2 victory in the league next time out, Easington appeared to be hitting another slump at just the wrong time.
In typical fashion, though, they pulled a win out of the bag when least expected, Sculcoates Amateurs being beaten 3-2 on the Saturday before the Senior Cup semi-final.
Sadly there was to be no similarly unlikely outcome three nights later. First half goals from Steve Burton, Liam Chapman and Chris Dixon effectively settled the tie in The Tigers' favour.
To their credit, Easington kept going and battled gamely to the end against a youthful City side in which goalkeeper Steve Wilson and Ben Morley were two of the more familiar names.
United bounced back to thump Bridlington Town Reserves 5-0 the following Saturday and after home midweek defeats at the hands of North Ferriby Utd Reserves and Hider Foods, ended their campaign with a sequence of just one defeat in six games.
That came at home to Barton Town Old Boys on 17 May but a week later the Eastenders ended their season in style courtesy of a 7-1 drubbing of a North Cave side still suffering the hangover of defeat to Reckitts in the final of the league cup.
Easington finished 11th in the sixteen-strong division that first season, a creditable placing and one that was enough to dispel many of the doubts expressed a year or so earlier.
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