Dust to dust: Torquay (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

17 April 2010

The Given-Up 0 The Torquay Tourniquet 3

There is no greater pain than to remember a happy time when one is in misery. Welcome to Fenty's Inferno. Are we in the ninth layer of our hell now, prior to our move into purgatory?

A beautiful, cloudless, windless day taunted the masses as they seeped into the old ground, with around 200 mellow yellowers in the Osmond stand. It's now or never, tomorrow will be too late.

Town slouched up in a 4-4-2 formation, as follows: Colgan, Bore, Lankyshire, Atkinson, Widdowson, Coulson, Sinclair, Hudson, Devitt, Ak-Ak, Tommy Wrong. The substitutes were Stirling, Forbes, Linwood, Leary, Proudlock, Sweeney and Peacock. Same as Tuesday. Nothing changed, nothing ever changes. Nothing.

As the teams lined up a new banner was unfurled and died like a moth in a mop. Inside out, torn and split asunder, collapsing in the middle of the Pontoon, abandoned behind the last set of seats, trampled by the milling, madding crowd.


First half: Long, long, long
Torquay kicked the ball out of play towards the Pontoon. This moment was the cultural high point of the afternoon. Never again were Town so dominant, so stylish, so so-so. So?

Torquay kicked the ball behind Town's defence. Town's defence kicked the ball either out of play or back to Colgan. They had a long throw or Colgan kicked it high and back to them; they kicked the ball behind Town's defence, etc, etc, etc. Etc, etc, etc.

Etc, etc, etc.

Etc, etc, etc.

That was the game in short and in full. No more, no less. I don't have a handful of songs to sing you. The rest is the incidental detail of accidental football, the coroner's report on the tragic end to a tragic decade.

Etc, etc, etc.

Torquay crossed, they had a corner and tiny mop-top polly-pocket Benyon missed a header a few yards out. Shrug, why not. Their wingers winged and Town's flaking defenders shrugged. Eventually a little bit of hackery by Atkinson delayed the ghost train for a few more minutes.

Throws, humps and lumps. Nothing but yellow scurrying and monochrome self-indulgent introspection. No pace, no heart, no belief. That's it - no-one believed any more. Motions were passed on a show of hands, no debates. Whatever. Do your worst, wicked world.

Wrong's Acapulco free dive into Ellis brought out a yellow card for the yellow matter custard cream. Tommy hit the rocks and Coulson hit the wall with the free kick. Corners for us, and a bit of almostness, possibly, might have happened.

Their other centre-back, Guy the Gorilla, slabbered Devitt and was booked. The crowd almost stirred. Sinclair hobbled, fell and was dragged off the pitch and replaced by Sweeney, who took the free kick. Nothing happened. There's nothing in the way Town move, there's nothing in the way Town woo-oo-oo us.

After 29 minutes Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro's head diverted the football towards the Torquay goal after a Widdowson cross. The Torquay goalkeeper, Mr Michael Poke, was required to shuffle his iPod and catch the ball before it went in to the goal. Twenty-nine minutes... twenty-nine minutes...

Ten minutes later Lancashire tried to Devitt a shot into the top right corner. He hit the top right corner of the outer reaches of the Gullymen behind the goal. In between these two magnificent moments there were ten minutes of our collective lives. Was Hitler defeated for this?

And then Town collapsed as the Gullsters persistently pecked at the carcass. Do tune into the next David Attenborough wildlife documentary: there'll be some awe inspiring stop-motion footage of the decomposition of a dying football club. Torquay just ran quickly towards Town and that was that. Zebroski headed a free kick onto the roof of the net. Sweeney tackled Widdowson and Carayol carried on loving. As Town's land crumbled Zebroski piddled and thriddled a shot through many and past more, a foot wide of the post. Lancashire shrank from a long throw, allowing it to bounce in the six-yard box and the resulting corner was pinged to the unmarked Zeb at the far post who stumbled a volley very wide.

Town were torpid, tedious and tremulous; Torquay weren't. At least Town weren't losing and they could be told to stop whacking it a long way in the air so that the Torquay defenders could head it.

Let's play our way, not the opposition's. We have 45 minutes to save the earth.

Second half: Dead again
No changes were made by either team at half time.

Town kicked off by hitting it high towards their big defenders. Torquay kicked the ball behind Town's defence. Town's defence kicked the ball either out of play or back to Colgan. They had a long throw or Colgan kicked it high and back to them; they kicked the ball behind Town's defence, etc, etc, etc.

Etc, etc, etc.

Utterly and totally dumb.

Torquay did things, Town didn't. Their forwards were pests, while Town's defence was full of weeds. Benyon turned on the edge of the penalty area, Lancashire stuck out a leg and Benyon fell over. Of course a penalty was given, are you mad? Of course you are. Mad? You're livid! Wroe, who no-one had noticed before, whacked it down the middle as Colgan's career listed to the left.

Sending out an SOS, sending out an SOS. Peacock replaced Tommy Wrong.

Coulson spuggled lowly and Poke saved easily to his left. Then that thing happened, you know, that thing. In tests nine out ten Pontoonites saw Ak-Ak burst down the left, hit the bye-line and scythe across the face of goal for a throw-in: that Ak-Ak bursting down the left before not scoring thing. Not scoring, but drowning.

Just past the hour, the dead cat was put down before it could bounce any further. Carayol was penned in to the corner flag by Bore. The young man's thoughts must have turned to love as in a trice Mustapha had mesmerised Straight Peter Bore with a Gallic shrug and pout, crossing soppily to the near post. Benyon hoiked his foot around Atkinson and wafted the ball into the roof of the net from six or so yards out.

Zed's not dead baby, Town's dead.

To the exits the most faithful headed. They are Grimsby 'til they cry. It's not over yet! Ak-Ak flew and Branston got out his 12-bore to pepper the flying duck. The crowd bayed, the referee realised he'd already booked Branston and changed his mind about having a quiet word. A minute later Ak-Ak drivelled in circles, putting Branston in a right pickle when he walloppy slid through from behind. Out came a yellow, off went Branston and... and... and... Lancashire poked straight at Poke from six yards. And... and... and... Hudson powder-puffily scraped straight at Poke after a bit of haw-hee-haw from Ak-Ak and a Bore flick.

Colgan waltzed out of his area as Benyon chased a long, long lump. As everyone waited on the edge of the Torquay area Old Nick punted forward. The ball fell into the middle somewhere and nowhere, deep inside their half; Carayol calmly collected and turned. Sweeney jogged, Bore sauntered and Carayol wandered forward towards the halfway line. Lancashire stood still, then withdrew a leg and Carayol carried on and on and on. The bells started to ring and no-one called the cops. The useless neighbourhood watch stood and watched as Atkinson groped and Crayol carried on going straight. And he was free, beyond the washing line, curling under Colgan and inside the right post. Carayol had run in a straight line through several sets of walking indifference. Appalling, pathetic and pitiful from several professional footballers who simply welched out and gave up.

More walked out. And finally the dam broke, with patches of damp appearing high up on most stands.

The rest of the game? Irrelevant.

Ak-Ak curled inches wide, Peacock crossed and Hudson was a millimetre too short. Hudson shot, Hudson scoop over the bar. Carayol crossed and Colgan saved a Rendell prod. And then the moment that will forever be synonymous with this season and that player. Devitt jinked, janked and yanked a low cross through the six-yard box. Ak-Ak stepped alone through the tree stumps, leant back casually and smoothly steered the ball over the bar from four yards. He's a genius, making the impossible possible.

An awful, awful game between a limited but committed team and what can only be described as little boys. These Town players chose this moment to return to the dark past of indifference and cowardice. They simply were not capable of meeting the mental demands of the day. Everything was wrong from the start, and got wronger by the second.

This was the very opposite of Tuesday in every way possible. We must carry on. We all must carry on. We are going without dignity or style: not with a bang, but a whimper. This was the end of the end. We need a new beginning.

And then Barnet go and lose. This is just cruel torture. Call the RSPCA.