Ghost train: Kettering (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

12 March 2011

Lord Rockingham's XI 1 A Giggle of Grimsby 2

Hoots mon, it was a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht the last time we met Mr Ploppy from Kettering and Town were still in the Woods. That was before the moose got loose about Toon's hoose. 'Tis so long ago and it's a beautiful springtime day in the downtrodden netherlands of Northamptonshire. Is that why Serge is wearing orange boots?

The bananas in pyjamas were coming down the stairs. The bananas in pyjamas were coming down in pairs followed by a sextet of Smurfs, Bugsy Malone and the rubber end of a pencil. For the avoidance of doubt, and so that 23rd-century schizoid historians are not misled, this was not the starting XI, but a gaggle of Grimsby youth. We all know that these children are the future and the other 350 of us are the past. Ah, the past is another country and one which the movement of time's tectonic plates pulled further away every year.

Moore's Town lined up in the 4-4-2 formation as follows: Croudson, Bore, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Coulson, Oh Leary, Wood, Eagle, Connell, Duffy. The substitutes were Peet, Watt, Sinclair, Makofo and Peacock. Let us reflect for a few moments upon that central midfield. Is your face melting in the mirror? Oh Leary and Oh My God! Wood. Where Moore is looking for a Butterfieldian conversion, the world sees a Junior Psycho roaming a post-apocalyptic wasteland with just a moped and a stick of celery. There was no expectation of beauty, only a beast of an afternoon.

Kettering turned up with a bunch of borrowed kids and some over-ripe cheese. Ian Ropey was creaking their bench while Cunnington was a non-narrow gauge funicular railway upfront. Mmm, Cunnington, the Moor Green marauder that Woods tracked like a badger in a haystack. He looked... non-League shaped.

And if all the world is biscuit-shaped, we're off to feed our face with some comfort food.

First half: Fried onions
Orf we jolly well go. Bibble-bobble, Coulson causing trouble. Jinking, dinking and Connell slinking. Shot blocked, cross plopped and Duffy bicycled over but was offside, so forget about that then.

Another Coulson infiltration ended in frustration as Eagle, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel prodded and poked on the edge of the area. Like a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream Little Eagle wobbled nicely at Bussey.

Kettering had a cross. Croudson plucked poultry and banjos.

Kettering had a free kick. Croudson plumped cushions and sat on the sofa watching Thomas the Tank Engine.

Kettering had a throw-in. Croudson pumped up his volume as a wifty-wafty shot whipped far over from nearby.

Kettering had a goal. Croudson nearly stopped it too. Titans clashed and the ball squirmed out in to the Town fans. The Riddler claimed a goal kick and wandered lonely as a cloud between covering the short corner and covering the near post. He was neither here nor indeed there, as the corner lowly quiffed through where he would have been, but Wood was. But Wood wasn't! On the ball sighed to Marna, six or so yards out, unmarked and happy as Larry Grayson. Croudson flew across but could not shut that stable door.

Town got a corner and Kempson rose alone ten yards out but directing traffic towards Corby. At some point Connell did a Connell turn and wallied way over.

You have now been informed of everything that occurred in the first half related to the football. There is no point in lying to you about anybody's chances. We are hoping for your sympathy though. This wasn't boring: it was not even that interesting. Twenty-two males trotting around under the contractual obligation to be in that rectangle between three and five o'clock. Wood and Oh Leary didn't snap, crackle or even pop. Were they there? No micro changes in air density were recorded.

At least the ref went wild, booking one of their players for an exceptional ball-winning tackle. And then he saved Town's pack of unsmoked thick cut back rashers by awarding a red free kick way, way back as the Ketterpeople exploded forward in a 3 v 1 counterattack. The Poppy appeal fell on the deaf ears of a blind man. In between there was just nothingness and despair.

Bleak, barren despair: without form or function and no-one cared.

Second half: Soggy chips
Neither team made any changes at half time, and Town emerged several days before the happy homesters to peck the ground like roosters waiting for the farmer to spread some feed.

Kettering had a throw-in and then, like most badgers, Cunnington was gassed in his lair and tossed carelessly into in the middle of the road from an old muddy Land Rover. Injured probably, but who in the miserable midlands can tell the difference between a one hump or two-humped camel?

Yawn, yawn, yawn. Just get on with it Ketters and score that second goal. C'mon, stop teasing us. A long throw za-zoomed into the near post and Mills thumpered from six yards out. Croudson, unlike his team-mates, raised his arms not the white flag and push-parry-punched over the bar.

Fast forward... now stop. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Just get on with it Ketters and score that second goal. A long throw za-zoomed into the near post and Mills thumpered from six yards out, rolling the ball over the bar.

A dog chased the tumbleweeds across the sandy floor, a cross shot bumbled slowly across the face of goal near an unmolested red boot. This is like waiting for a train that never comes.

On the hour a straw-headed decision to put a barrel-chested man on changed the world. On came old Ian Ropey, who was immense for them in just the right way. He was simply immense: managing to look even porkier than he did in January.

Here they go again. A free kick wasn't cleared and Ropey bonked back across the face of goal. Marna, five yards out and unhindered by the massed ranks of the coalition of the unwilling Mariners, leaned forward and fell to earth, steering the ball back across goal and... wide. Wide. It was wide. He made the impossible possible, the incredible inedible for the Kettering caterers. Well done matey, no-one could top that for ineptitude. Oh how we howled with laughter.

Oh how we howled as the locals laughed at us. Town strung one pass together - a major advancement in Town technology - and Oh Leary carefully chipped a deep cross from way out on the left. The ball sailed on and dripped over the final defender to Mr Fluffy, four yards away from the goal and with no-one and nothing causing perturbations and conflagrations. His head dipped and the ball moved from nose to knee and rolled an inch or three wide. Hands went from hips to head and eyes stared vacantly towards the irate mass of seething knitwear and knotweeds.

Mr Fluffy received a significant amount of advice; parliamentary rules forbid publication.

And don't you know, a funny thing happened on the way to the substitutions. Mr Fluffy finally started winning headers. Three! In one afternoon! Croudson punted, Duffy winked on and Connell did the Connell roll around Ropey. One bounce, one dipping volley, one rattle of a simple man as the ball bonked off the bar.

Yeah, yeah, this is getting boring now: the Poopy Popsters cross-shot wide and then some bloke missed a free header from about six yards out. Tiresomely ineffectual, Kettering were doing wonderfully well to avoid scoring a second, third and fourth goal. It takes real skill to miss so often from so near.

And finally Cyril, Moore took that leap of faith and had faith in Leapy. He finally brought on his Dutch-booted frills: Sinclair in sky blue, Peacock in white and Makofo in orange. Total substitutions. One could claim that Wood, Duffy and Eagle were taken off, but there is very little evidence that they were on in the first place.

And all the world is football-shaped, it's just for Leapy to kick in space. Suddenly Town resembled a team. Town were a team, Town were passing to each other, on the ground, with Leapy a fulcrum. There was pace, movement, verve and nerve. Ridley chucked, Peacock flicked, Coulson snicked to third man and Connell spun, adjusted his underpants and carefully lifted the ball around and over the confused Bussey from a very narrow angle.

Now that's better, now that's what I call music.

They kicked off and Town kicked back. Peacock hassled and harried down by the left corner flag, forcing a throw-in. Bore launched long to the near post, Peacock grazed on and Sinclair thighed and volleyed in one sweet move from six yards out. I haven't seen a mugging like this since we beat Birmingham without even having a shot. Back in the old days.

And still Town attacked. Connell toed and spun around a clearance, dressing a salad inside the centre-back for Peacock to strut: he leant back and carefully curled the ball over the bar. We had to wait 75 minutes for a Town bus then three come along at once. It does help if you let the buses leave the station, Dave.

After the twelvtieth mad reffing decision of the day the mad head Poppy was beheaded and banished. I think he put a coat on and the parting on the left became a parting on the right, just to fool the fourth official again.

Woah, Croudson saved from a hook and a big Kempo deflecto saved the dayo, day-ay-ay-yo. Three minutes were added and then we could go home. And then we did go home via an entertaining Smurf Turf War played out by the pre-teens.

Apart from the last 15 minutes this was absolutely dreadful and the outfielders should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. The selection was truly, madly and deeply flawed and Town would have been floored by less gormless opposition.

A rather embarrassing win by Lucky Dave with his talismanic Kitten keeper. Keeping it real, keeping it local. Just don't play Brad and Mad together again. Better watched on Ceefax, for the facts themselves were that Town were all at sea.