Anyone who had a heart: Port Vale (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 September 2009

Another Poor Vale 4 The Blue Mondays 0

Don't step in the chocolate puddle.

Who are those children? Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 foggy formation as follows: Lillis, Stickdale, Heywooden, Linwood, Widdowson, Bennett, Leary, Boshell, Sweeney, Jones and North. The crèche held Overton, Fuller, Wood, Normington, Dixon, and Bird, with just nice nurse Jamie Clarke to look after them: he brought along some crayons and a big bumper colouring in book to keep the kids quiet during the boring bits. Now that's experience for you.

You want to know where the Town players played? It wasn't in Staffordshire, that's for sure. At last, the crumbling diamond spinning on a mushy pea formation! Bennett was in front of the defence with, ummm, hmmm, err, I'll get back to you on that when NASA release the satellite pictures in 12 years time…

…and Danny North.

There, the scene set perfectly.

Vale played in our kit again, running out to Carmina Biryani and a little light Ellllvis as the Town crèche played keepy-uppy with Poochie the Port Vale mascot.

Too late Ethel, someone stood in the chocolate puddle.

First half: Diamond Lights

Town kicked off away from the valley of the Town 200. Boshell chipped the ball five yards behind North.

Someone fell over, someone headed over. Town kicked the ball away, Town kicked the ball out. Town kicked the ball further out, but not through the hole in the wall. Someone fell over again. A Vale centre-back went off to have a bandage wrapped round his head. Linwood, ever the dedicated follower of fashion, went off and joined the cult of the bandage boys. Then the other Vale centre back elastoplastered his forehead.

This was what we'd paid £19 for - the mummification of fourth division defenders.

Leary snapped, Bennett crackled, Jones flopped. Town tackled like human vices, crushing Pottery legs and dabbing their cheeks with the powdered remains. Cleanses the pores, don't you know.

And Danny North ran after the ball…

After half an hour the homesters had a shot, a dribbling mangy runt that suckled no potty pig. Five minutes later they got a corner. It was taken from the corner flag and that's as far as the salty dog's tale goes. Wag off and come back in ten minutes.

Oh, you're back already? Why? You missed nothing but Town smothers. When I say Town I mean Bennett and Linwood, with occasional Leary harpoons. Lillis had touched the ball four times. Goal kicks can be tiresome, can't they.

With a couple of minutes to half time Jones the Slip spun around and around and around and around, fell over and Vale walked off with the ball. Way out on their right no-one bothered to challenge and a cross dimpled into the centre of the penalty area. Heywooden stumbled under the flight, ducked and turned to watch Dodds steer a volley in from six yards out, right in the centre.

No need to test for DNA, CCTV caught the culprit in the act of failing.

Town awoke! Bennett hurtled a long throw-in and returned the return to the unmarked Jones a dozen or so yards out at the far post. Jones slid a pokey prodder across the face of goal and some stripeyman swished it away from near the line.

And then it was half time. Doze, doze, doze, doze, stone the crows, they've scored

Both sides were useless.

Second half: Chronicle of A Death Foretold

Neither team made any changes at half time.

And nothing did change from the pattern of this game or the hoops and garters of this season. A few minutes in Boshell coiled a cross to the far side of the penalty area, North swooped and swiped the ball into the net amid delirium all round Burslem - the linesman flagged for offside.

Jones the Slip was slip, slipping away. There's a hole in our bucket, dear Michael, dear Michael; there's a hole in our bucket, dear Michael, a hole.

Sweeney dinked, Sweeny dunked in to the green man's midriff. They had a slicing slapper and dumbling dribbler. Nothing of note, just isolated moments of near adequacy in the sewerage pipe of the fourth division.

Fuller replaced Leary on the right. It was the right wasn't it? Was that right? Five minutes later Bennett didn't trip Dodds and Vale took a free kick quickly, dinking towards the near post. Lillis rushed, Richards gushed, the ball slushed past and bombled slowly, slowly, slowly into the bottom right corner as Linwood's legs flailed. Someone had scored, Fraser or Richards, who knows, who in this limboland cares?

North stopped running and started shrugging, Bennett stabbed goalwards but Yates headed off the line. Fuller mop-topped in circles but North sighed a header horribly high. Did anyone really think we'd score? Fuller scampered again and dragged a perfect pass to the unmarked Jones, ten yards out. He swished weakly, to nowhere. Another moment of false hope avoided. He's getting the hang of Being Town.

I do apologise, I missed out a shot they had sometime, somewhere. It didn't go in and never would.

And then the dying star finally imploded. Sweeney underhit a free kick, Vale cleared and Stockdale ran away from Haldane, who ran towards Stockdale, who ran away from Haldane, who carried on running towards Stockdale. Boshell flew back, lunged and Haldane plunged. Penalty: Boshell off. Lillis easily parried Richard's kick aside.

What a waste of a save. What a waste of Boshell's effort.

Here they come, the silver balls on top of the rock-hard icing. Heywooden failed again as Owen bonked a free header in from a corner. A minute later a free kick was half cleared but rolled to Collins, who slid and slapped into the top left corner from the edge of the area.

Like the Town team, the dwindling massed Marinerdom wasn't paying much attention for the last couple of goals. Four minutes of added time were just four minutes longer before the traffic jammed.

Tactical analysis is redundant, Town need a psychologist. What is in their heads, what is in their hearts? Town were mostly adequate at stopping them; apart from the times they weren't. Apart from the goals, it was a really satisfyingly dull 0-0. Yeah, apart from the goals it was mission accomplished.

Every time Town lose away we always say this time it's goodbye. Perhaps this time it is. Has the club got a heart?