The end of the pier show: Bath (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

16 April 2011

April Showers 2 Bath Plugs 2

Summer is nearly here! Why are we bothering with Fenty's Folly? The meaningless Mariner meanderings continue in front of ever-decreasing circles of despair. There is no point, there are no points, there is nothing but the slow lingering death of an ancient, once-loved elephant. Where's Bungalow Bill when you need him?

How about euthanasia? Is that where Shouty and Shorty are going for their holidays?

Town lined up in a sensationally experimental 4-4-2 formation as follows: Croudson, Bore, Garner, Atkinson, Ridley, Coulson, Wood, Hudson, Eagle, Connell and Peacock. The subs were Kenny Fingers, Watt, Thanoj, Cummins and Duffy. Bradley Wood was in centre midfield. Ponder that. Take a deep breath and let's move on to the next track.

Bath wore red shirts and red shorts. They had male humans of various sizes and haircuts, especially Burnell, who wet his skanky, strangly hair like an Eastenders extra. He's the one pretending to have some apples and pears and munching a banana.

The miracle is that humans still arrive to observe this sadness. It's beyond anger; it's pity. 'Tis a pity it's a chore.

First half: Wuthering Heights
The Bathers kicked off towards the Pontoon. A man arrived from Mablethorpe clutching a half-eaten burger. Was he smiling at the bit he'd eaten, or the bit that was left to be eaten? Was it a smile, or was it a grimace? There are no Grim Aces anymore, just bad puns. He'd missed Mr Jombati being booked for trying to pull Coulson's shorts down. He'd missed nothing.

The two Rons looked peeved when three passes were made and Hudson crinkled well wide. They'll have none of this pretty-pretty passing here, this is a dismal team for dismal people. Dummies will be spat by dummies unless the soon-to-be-sacked follow orders.

Bath had a header. It went well over, well wide. They had a shot too sometime during the first half. And a few free kicks. That is them. That is all. They were simply statues for Town to walk around.

Town walked the talk, and talked the walk.

After ten minutes or so Eagle drooped a snorty corner to the far post and their keeper slipped. Connell fell over and accidently trod the ball into the net from two yards out. A magnificent goal in the future style. Some people even rose from their seats and cheered. Some. Others carried on eating and reading and watching the world go by. My, what huge ships they have sailing up the Humber.

Oh! Did I just have a post-prandial snooze?

One day you find ten minutes of a Town game have gone behind you. Bore hooped a cross and Peacock looped a header way over. Ridley calmly collected a bit of litter and pinged a flat, diagonal pass deep into the Bath half in the shadow of the Findus. Peacock chased, crossed into the near post and Connell superbly steer-volleyed into the bottom corner as the keeper froze like a fished finger. This was easy like a Sunday morning.

Ah, there's nearly more. Peacock flicked, Connell poked and Robinson went ahead and star-jumped like a poodle-haired rocker.

Coulson dribbled and dribbled and wibbled and wobbled through the sculpture garden, tipping to Connell, who tappled back, and Coulson's sweep was knock-kneed off the line.

Ridley croaked, Ridley was crocked and Cummins came on. Wood went to left-back and carried on his personal game of British bulldog.

The Sunbathers started to get loads of free kicks for lamp-post leanings. Nothing happened. Eagle and Garner were booked. Nothing else happened.


Town had been unhurried, unfussed, under no pressure of any kind. The formation fitted the players and it was so, so so-so but simple. With any club but Town this was a routine victory. Even Town would have to work hard to avoid winning.

Second half: Withering vines
Rollo Tomasi came on to replace someone we hadn't even realised was on the pitch. Rollo was usually suspect as their replacement full-back.

We tired of lying in the sunshine, we could have stayed home to watch the drains. There were bits of this and bits of that but not much to chew on. After some kind of wifflling and waffling a big Bath towel headed softly at Croudson. Apparently.

Coulson infiltrated at will and there were moments of infrequent almostness: Eagle volley-passed to the near post but no-one was there. And there was that time when Peacock climbed on the back of a giant albatross that flew through a crack in the cloud to a place where happiness reigned all year round and music played ever so loudly.

Eagle hobbled and no-one paid any attention. Eagle carried on hobbling and Thanoj came on, with Town reverting to the incredibly effective 4-3-3 formation.

Bath suddenly started to get some space and time, especially Murray. Atkinson grazed danger away; Wood blocked and poked as Biscuiteers caused Town to crumble at the edges.

With quarter of an hour left Duffy replaced Peacock. Town went from immobile to static. Mr Fluffy did one impressive back-heel and one unimpressive soft shot. There is nothing else to say about him. He'll soon be gone. Doesn't everyone these days? Unlike a little puppy, a contract with Town is just until Christmas.

Don't blame Thanoj: he got stuck in.

Thanoj got stuck in again and the referee awarded the Bathmen a free kick 20 or so yards out. A wall appeared to be constructed and the crowd mumbled. We knew this was going in, somehow. They'd had so many free kicks that something was bound to happen just through the appliance of the basic laws of probability. Murray hit it low, not particularly hard or fast, and the ball skimped through where the wall would have been and over where Croudson's right hand had been, into the bottom right corner.

[Fill in this space with your own thought for the day. I suggest something to do with sausages.]

We knew, they knew, you knew, everyone on earth knew, including the Bedouins sweeping across the Sahara, what happened next. Did the centre-forward get hit by a plastic pigeon?
They humped long, Mr Jombati nudged Bore off the ball and hooked over his shoulder. The ball arced like a shark and Croudson magnificently stretched his limousine to fingertip away from the top left corner.

It's coming, it's just a matter of when. Keep thinking of the sausages!

As the big flashy board was being prepared to inform us of the four added minutes, a red man fell in exactly the same spot as ten minutes before, Murray took the free kick from exactly the same spot as ten minutes before, with exactly the same outcome. Murray dinked to the far post where a Spaman was waiting in the sky to let all the Bathers boogie with a thudding header into the roof of the net. Listen young man, Clough had scored.

We'd told Town not to blow it, but we know it's not worthwhile.

And finally Connell spindled and fell, winning a penalty in the very last moments of the added time. Connell stuttered, stopped, sent an invitation to the keeper to dive to his left and spluttered the ball low to the keeper's left. Robinson parried, Bore returned a dinker and Cummins' shot was deflected wide.

No-one expected Connell to score that penalty. No-one anywhere.

It was all so tediously predictable. It was all about us, not them. Town are finding old and usual ways to avoid victory. At 2-0 and 4-4-2 there was so much comfort you could sit this game on the Match of the Day sofa and let Val Doonican sing it a song. And then came the change, and with it the panic.

What Town need is assertiveness, intensity and mental strength. These are personal qualities, not about style or formation. Beware the Khmer Rouge.

There was no need for this fixture to occur. It just wasted everyone's time and money.