Prayer for the dying

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

18 February 2018

Cambridge United 3 Town 1

Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding! We're at the next new dawning of the age of a curious new manager, so I'm packing my bags to park near Misty Meadows and hoping Town's spirit flows.
Are we half way up or half way down the stairs this week?

Town lined up in mauve in a psychedelic love shack 3-4-1-2 formation as follows McKeown, Osborne, Mills, Clarke, Hall-Johnson, Berrett, Summerfield, Dixon, Vernam, Jackson and Matt. The substitutes were Killip, Suliman, Kelly, DJ Jinky, Cardwell, Vernon and Hooper. A sow's ear is still a sow's ear, no matter how much you cut it up and paint its nails purple. Hall-Johnson and Dixon were to be the roaming ram raiders, Vernam to emerge from Kingsley Black's Hole with golden doubloons hanging from each earlobe. Everything will be wonderful.

Who is that little man with a bag'o'balls near wandering Wilkie? Ah, it's David Byrne. Well, we are on the road to nowhere. Ha.

At least Town had the sense to avoid the pagan plot by refusing to enter the magic circles painted into the turf behind the goal. To counter the Wiccanists, Osborne sank to his knees before the group cuddle and prayed for… what? Salvation, escape or a Pina Colada? He’s a soul whose intentions, if not interceptions, are good. Oh lord please don't let him be misunderstood.

We’re feeling okay this morning and you know, without Rotten Russ, were on the road to paradise. Here we go, here we go.

1st half – the road to nowhere

Cambridge kicked off nebulously towards the near 800 travelling Townites housed in that newish stand built outside the three-mile fishing exclusion zone behind the goal.

Town in mauve, Cambridge in amber, the referee in washed-out lime, McKeown in flashing red lights, Forde in luminous paint, and flying pigs in space. Dixon punted into the Cam. Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?
Mills flicking and tricking, ticking and tocking over and around the slapstick strikers. Simple, effective and beautifully done.

Ah, beautifully shot! Dibbles and dobbles, wibbles and wobbles, a quick chuck-in and Summerfield flibbled a flobble from afar. Forde ached lowly, late and to his l-l-l-right, slap-dashing aside for a corner. Cold Hand Luke drooped it through to the near post, the ball bounced to the far post and Clarke stretched carefully to clatter a poke into the curry house behind the car park behind the offices behind the stand behind the goal.

Vernam. A-ring-a-ring-a-roses, a pocketful of poses. Nothing. Purple pressure. Nothing. Dixon crossed. Nothing. Dixon crossed into the crowd. Nothing.

Cambridge? Nothing. Town? Nothing. Cambridge? Nothing.

Unhappy that we cannot leave, for nothing will come of nothing. Is that really worth noting?

Goal kick? An offside? Whatever, wherever Forde wellied a kick straight down the middle. Mills arose, Corr flicked, Osborne… hello… Earth calling Osborne… Karleigh can you hear me? Karleigh can you hear me? Trundles were trod in the "D" and Ikpeazu mingled around and muggled lowly across McKeown into the bottom left corner of the net. That's them. That really is them. They'd done nothing before and did nothing again until past four o'clock. When playing Town something comes of nothing.

How can we be saved from the eternal grave: Eastleigh on a winter's afternoon?

Jackson chased a chip, Jackson hobbled off holding his hamstring as Hooper hopped on. It's the hop that kills you.

Just when we were considering, in our own mind (as well as we could, for the football made us feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, suddenly a Town player with pink thighs ran close by.

Vernam-Vernam-Vernam-Vernam-Vernam-Vernam-Vernam-Vernam. We looked up just in time to see Slim Charles pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

Matt pestered and pickled, Hooper jinked and crinkled safely over Frodo's fingertips and the crossbar, near enough for an unembarrassed ooh, far enough away to avoid calling out the coastguard. Our sailing dinghy had sailed many moons ago.

There is mauve movement, but there is no romance. Let's face the music and dance as Summerfield's free kick flew in from the sun and Frodo blinkily flapped out to the wastelands where no man or beast roamed. The penalty spot.

The word you are looking for is… in the dictionary.

One of them went off and another one of them came on instead. It's what they call a substitution. They seemed to have a winger now, rather than blokes juke box jiving in the centre circle.

Ah, no, Dixon. Oh, no, Dixon. Dixon oh no, no, no. He’s fine as long he doesn't have to attack or defend.

Two minutes were added.

And then there were none left. Was there anything there to start with?

Cambridge: one attack, one shot, one goal, one vision. Town: no left, no right, I'm just gonna tell you there's no black and white in mauve.

2nd half – little creatures

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Town pressed buttons. Lights refused to shine. Hall-Johnson roamed and raided and raised spirits with his incessant stalking. A cross shivered just above the barely leaping Matt and into Frodo's waiting hands at the near post. Here he comes again. Hall-Johnson riveting down the right. A cross blocked, a corner chocked and Berrett awfully mis-kicked from the penalty spot. The ball rebounded out and Hall-Johnson z-zimmered in front of a strolling player to dippy-whippy volley straight at Frodo.

We pass out of play, they pass out of play. Like Kevin Keegan at Fulham, it's infectious.

Dixon deflated, Amoo woo-hooed along the bye-line. Someone may have had a shot somewhere along the line. It's always possible. All things are possible, but not necessarily probable. These are different concepts. It is possible Town may avoid relegation, but it isn't probable. One can only extrapolate from the facts as they are, not as one wishes them to be.

Much moaning in the fens and Matt rumbled a bumble to Hooper on the left. The lesser of the two Burslem evils twinkled towards the Town support and delicately tinkled Matt free behind the amber defence. Matt saw the keeper on his scooter and changed course to avoid the lurking whirpool. Alas, Forde flicked out his fingertips to flip the ball off the ballroom blitzer's big toe.

You know, there were people who actually stood up in anticipation of Matt waltzing around the keeper and tapping the ball into the net. People. Real, actual, grown-up humans with brains and everything. It was possible, but never probable. One can only extrapolate from the facts as they are, not as one wishes them to be.

La-di-da. McKeown expertly plucked a cross and inexpertly rolled the ball straight to the wrong kind of stripe. Vernam dillied and Waters wafted. Hooper arose and headed against the post. From a Cambridge corner. Ha, nothing came of this mauve madness.

With 20 minutes left and only one goal down anything is possible, right? This is Town, not a secret government underground laboratory under the Blue Ridge of Mountains of Virginia.

Muggling nonsenses, flittering and fluttering around somewhere, nowhere in the Town half. An Amber pot shot spinkled off Osborne's boots, pinging and ponging back to a homester. A low scraggler slithered and Jamie Mack sprawled and slapped aside and into a void. The previously still Waters ran deep to slide the ball under the recovering shopaholic. Hey, who hasn't seen McKeown in Morrison’s after home games?

The trickle of despair began as seats were flipped and tempers tipped. Kelly, warming up in the celebrity squares, swapped hand signals with malcontents and then swapped places with Dixon as Cambridge took off Waters and replaced with someone. Who? Oh, Carroll. I am not a fool. It wasn’t Darling, he stayed inside his duvet on the bench.

Infiltrations down the left, Clarke stood away from old Chickpea Dupiaza and allowed a cross to be rolled to the near post. Mills backed off Maris who calmly flicked the ball through his legs, through McKeown and we're now through the looking glass as DJ Jinky replaced Vernam.

They had another shot. Town had movements towards their goal. More Town fans moved north. There were moments when something almost happened but no-one was kidding themselves, Mr Fenty. There's no-one left to blame now.

Kelly gave a lovely little cameo of Kellyness, especially for those among us who had not yet witnessed his version of rhythmic trampolining. We sat staring at the colours moving in front of us. Colours that move, that's all they are.

With a couple of minutes left, DJ leapt into and over a prostrate amberboy. The referee felt so sorry for us remaining travellers he pointed spotwards. Hooper stroked low and left as Forde fandangoed and flopped right. Five minutes were added, just enough time for someone to miss their connection at Newark North Gate two hours later.

What should we have expected? That's what you get when you employ fixed-term contractors and any old passing itinerant subbies to do your core activity. Why should they stay on after hours and fit the pipes when the wrong size was ordered by management? They are paid to turn up and do what they are told. They aren't going to be around when the pipes leak on to the cooker next winter, it's not their problem, they didn't cause it. They are doing their best under the circumstances.

Can't score goals, can't stop goals being scored. Too slow, too old, yet also too young. Nothing new to report. It's the same old story.