The uncanny valley

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 January 2018

Town 0 Morecambe 2

A clearing day of cold, bitter weariness in the ever-decreasing circles of despair and desperation that is the home of Slade's New Model Army of old men by the sea. Welcome to the restaurant at the end of your footballing lives where we serve chips with everything.

Town lined up in a form of 4-4-2 formation as follows: Kean, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Davies, Woolford, Rose, Summerfield, Dembele, Matt and Jones. The substitutes were Killip, Dixon, K Osborne, DJ Jinky, Berrett, Hooper and Vernon. Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's goin' down: tumbleweeds and tumbrils skittering across the sand.

The solution to Town's inability to score? Play Woolford. On the right wing. The solution to Town's inability to stop the opposition scoring? Replace a goalkeeper who doesn't command his area with one who wandered around like a loon-panted flower child when he played against us last year. But is taller with less floppy hair.

Morecambe? Old men up front and a man called Old at the back. Oh, Ellison again, his aim is always true at Blundell Park.

It's January in Cleethorpes, the pot-holes just keep getting bigger and the rubbish keeps getting blown away.

1st Half – Standing in the corridor of uncertainty

Morecambe kicked off towards the Pontoon. Hello, is there anybody in there?

Is everyone at home?

I hear teeth grinding and knuckles cracking in the Dentists Stand. And there, in the trees, I heard a twig snap. Ah no, it's a Twix snapping. When I wake up it's early in the first half. I lift my head, everyone's yawning.

Sleep, sleep, I know that I'm only sleeping.

Collins and Davies, the sleeping policemen, dithered as Kean failed to slither out for an aimless dink. Summerfield slobbered a slap welly-welly-well over from well-welly-well out. They're playing in wellies.

Oliver clambered over Mills and bumped the Zakster further afield. The pastel poser failed to peep and Morecambites meandered further down the line, in the shadow of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. A speculative coiler coiled in through the corridor of uncertainty towards the penalty spot. Collins and Davies shouldered arms and stood and watched as Kean stood and watched as Ellison ducked and dinked a ploppy-floppy header loopily, slowlily over the tall but somehow small non-stopper.

Up went the finger towards Russell Slade, no need for Snicko or Hawkeye. Yer out, bowled without playing a shot.

And then the heavens did open in the cold, clear sunshine. They call it pathetic fallacy. Yes Fenty, they do, we did and your Town are.

I advise you to avoid this void, this visionless wasteland of artless absence. Roe flayed waywardly, Summerfield bedraggled belittlingly, Oliver barundled through the emptiness and Kean clutched his shimmer.

Two container ships crossed, one empty, one full. Oh how the shipping gods mock us with metaphors, but not before we mock ourselves.

Minor Morecambe moments and Jones was upended on a breakaway. Bookings for this and that and the other as Summerfield reciprocated subtly. Summerfield slid and hoiked a redster but the free kick went Town's way. Jones glanced very widely, very softly. They had a free kick at some point. It was kicked over the wall and over the bar. Jones cross-shotted a pass-shot that almost went somewhere interesting. Almost. Once.

A corner for them when someone in stripes kicked it out, or headed it out. Who cares, so what. Town never concede from a corner now that Russ's secret plan for inflation has been implemented. Yep, everyone's back in the box, so nothing can go wrong now.

Ellison wandered lonely as a cloud floating on low over divots and hillocks dunking his donut on the corner of the six-yard box. The unmolested bald eagle looped a very slow flick that very slowly looped, flicked off the crossbar as Old fluttered and danced in the breeze to apologise for an unmolested noodle from three yards out.

Oh, you're keen to know where Kean was in all this? Mmm, so are we.

Four minutes later two minutes were added as there had been a stoppage at some point for something that had happened to someone.

They did nothing twice, Town did nothing at all. We're heading for oblivion in a torrent of apathy.

2nd Half – It’s not too late for goodbyes

Morecambe cutely hung around in the warmth and allowed Town to stand around like lemons getting colder by the minute, soaking up the icy stares from the boiling bobble hats of rage.

And after that neither team had made any changes at half time.

Ah, tactics, method, management! Town played with a midfield diamond, abandoning the flanks for the flying full-backs. Who are we mere amateurs, mere mortals, to argue with such sophistication? All we'd have done was put a left-footed winger at left wing and a right-footed winger at right wing. Troglodytes the lot of us.

In the context of this thing they claim was a professional football match, Town gave it a go in the second half. Mills marauded into the expanses of uninhabited muddiness, which was nice. Davies drove through desert, which was lovely. A cross went across and Woolford chased after it.

They got a throw-in.

Men in red stood in front of men in stripes. Crosses hit red socks and heads, then red heads and socks. Dembele did the Dembele dribble again and again and again. I have one thing to say about Siriki Dembele. Are you listening?


Summerfield simmered a corner flatly, men arose and a red head headed down into the empty net. Alas, another red head sank back and spectacularly nodded off. Nodded off the line. They promptly went up the other end and one of our old men headed off the line, details irrelevant. Mitch Rose was playing, you know. Mitch Rose slipped, and Summerfield zipped the free kick over the wall in true Kingsley Black style: just over the bar.

A little bit of fizz and Dembele squeaked a spin to coil a cute cutter towards the bottom right corner. Roche awoke and superbly sprung out to push out for a corner. Oh, fiddlesausages.

On the hour, after a final flick into the ether, Jones was replaced by Hooper to a ripple of rancour.

Them. They had breakways as Town's blankness in the flanks was exposed. Oliver twisted Collins into a rubber ball, wiggled a woggle and shot against Kean's surprised chest. Someone else later on, from somewhere else cross-shot across Kean, who excellently flipped aside. It was probably Ellison, it normally is.

And with quarter of an hour left the change we'd all been waiting for – we entered the Vernon Vortex. If Matt is the front end then poor old Scotty is definitely the replacement back end of this dead pantomime horse. Matt was shruggingly incompetent, but his physical existence did occasionally cause Shrimps to throw themselves on their own barbeque.

More minutes of our lives died for nothing. For nothing. DJ Jinky, shorn of hair, shorn of strength, shuffled on to replace Rose who sprinted off before the board had even been raised. Even the players are leaving early now, Fenty, it’s not just the fans.

Dembele. Shot. Over. You can shrug off now.

Three minutes were added. And? You don't think any football happened do you? We're in the twilight zone where Elllison was applauded off the pitch by the few remaining humans, perhaps hoping he'd continue his habit of grim reapering at Grimsby.

Then Slade was booed off by the remaining Town fans as the players were, again, conspicuously not booed at. To boo or not to boo, that is a question. Hey Fenty, is it nobler in the mind to suffer in silence, to vigorously verbalise or simply not turn up to get the message to you? One thing is clear, there is a clear passage back to The Bananarama opening up.

I think it's time we stop. Children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down. Blimey, it's us.