Calm and karma

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

27 January 2019

Winless, scoreless, pointless and two Harrys down. What else can go wrong now?

A trim afternoon with a sneaky wind in the home of the hapless as the Evil Empire returns.

Town lined up in a 5-3-2 formation as follows: Russell, Hendrie, Davis, Öhman, Grayson, Fox, Embleton, Hessenthaler, Woolford, Thomas and Cook. The substitutes were Battersby, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Welsh, M Rose, Vernam and A Rose. Well, we've got what we want: two strikers. Well, we've got what we don't want: five defenders. A final fling for Fox before he heads west and another new defender has headed east.

Are we only going to sign sons of gnarly former footballers from the nineties? It's one way to be a genetically modified crop. It'd be nice to score, wouldn't it.

We can thank our lucky stars that we're not the Lidl Leisurerwearing sons of Pete Winkelman. I wonder what they have had embroidered in their socks?

First half: Öhman and the other man

The ones that weren't us kicked off towards the Pontoon and away from their 141 imperial stormdroopers.

Ticking, tricking, Town flicking and triangulating pleasingly with nimble and neat snappiness. The others passed out of play. The others are on a showboat to China.

Fox on the run, Hendrie on the mendry after a little bit of themmery. What nonsense.

Cook! A shot! A save! No need to rave, 'twas simply a simple pass into the arms of their number one.
The others wellied out of play.

Dear old gent, passing by, something nice takes his eye. Everything's clear, attack the rear! If only Woolford was not 32 he'd be able to pick a pocket or two-oo.

An otherman breakaway, and another man down the middle who carefully rolled a shot around the right post as Russell's right hand waved it goodbye. All's right with the world.

The others tapped out of play.

Öhman pickpocketed a stray breaking biscuit barreller, Grayson gracefully glided around a trespassing tramp to shut that door, and our last Harry standing hared down the wing like a Harpy. In the argy-bargy of random doodling, The Hess was upended by a red-haired redster. A wagging finger for a cynical clattering was the small price paid.

The others headed out of play.

Thin gruel in a stodgy porridge. Town repelling, the others repellent, do I have to spell it out?

C.H.E.E.S.E.A.N.D.O.N.I.O.N.S. Oh, no pickle. A Town tickle, Hendrie hurtled upfield and fizzled out as he swept into their penalty area.

The others didn't head, pass, welly or wally out of play, being a bunch of scamsters. Hendrie was hosed down and a cross crooked into the dead centre. An unmolested dead-eyed doughboy headed over from six yards, dead centre. Go away, number 21 – your time is up.

Thomas arose alone ten yards out and carefully steered lowly into the centre-right of the goal, jolting the crowd out of its slumber

Öhman the oil tanker semi-smooched a red twister in the centre circle and out flashed yellow plastic to home groans.

Rubbish skipped across the turf. Paper bags tumbled as the home stands mumbled and tapped their fingers.

Hendrie deeply crossed; Thomas arose alone ten yards out and carefully steered lowly into the centre-right of the goal, jolting the crowd out of its slumber. What a happy surprise.

They kicked off. One of them stayed on the ground, got up and then went down again. Off he went. On a human level we wish him no personal ill-will. As a representative of the Evil Empire, he does not interest us at all.

The others fancy-pantsed the ball out of play.

Men moved in front of us from side to side in a game of no-dimensional open air chess. Town stuck to the plan, holding the centre as the red queens were off their heads. Midway nowhere under the shadow of the Frozen Horsemeat Stand, a bouncing ball met a red head with red hands suspiciously waving.

Undermanned and undertanned, Town were in a tizz as they whizzed down the centre. Hips swayed and Davis made a citizen's arrest, rugby-tackling a fleeing felon near the 'D' as Grayson hovered behind, nearby. The local magistrate puffed out his chest, stared into the distance and sent the concerned citizen to jail, without even a trial. A red card and the red free kick was wimped over the wall and over the bar from an over the hill old man.

Town seamlessly sank into a 4-4-1 formation, with Top Gun Thomas the lone survivor of the experiment with two strikers, for Cook became Hendrie's wingman.

Four minutes were added and the referee took the cowardly custard route to curry home favour by booking one of them for a little light Hess hauling as the whole ground was bawling for retribution. And Embleton had a shot, of course. It's in the contract. It had to be so.

And there we are. At least we're winning.

Town were neat nickers and knockers, having a semblance of calm control over proceedings without having much of twinkle when they ventured far from the campsite. The Others were pleasingly piddling and middling.

But games have a third force and we can't manage their expectations.

Second half: All about the base

Neither team made any changes at half time.

It's attack versus defence, a bunch of begonias versus a brick wall.

Reds chucking rocks, big blocks from Town socks. Fox scraped a sneaker away. Grayson blocked a fiddle, bump 'n' grinding at a corner as a bloke bicycle-welllied way over at the far post.

Grayson was replaced by Whitmore after about ten minutes.

Them verving and swerving, overhitting and underhitting with ricobounds and ricochets. A bimble-bomble as a Russell flying clutch swiped away from a fake Womble. Fox stood on the ball, stuck out a leg, and a red tumble was rumbled by the ref. Woolford was disrobed inside the penalty area and the low cross was knock-kneed away by Long-Legged Ludvig. Trigonometrics and a human dunked nicely waywardly wide.

Hall-Johnson replaced Cook as Town beefed up the back line with an old Hurstian favourite – the double right-back ruse. Horses for courses, needs must.

At last, the spell was broken. The Hess ran and ran and ran down the centre, pursued by a posse of poseurs. Alas, the swing cat swung a wafter wayly over.

Town standing around, waiting for the red waves to crash and in a flash another fake Womble headed wide freely. Moments of Town possession ponced away and off they ran down the right. The ball was rolled back and a red leg poked wiffily, so wide, so soft it didn't even roll out for a throw-in.

Welsh replaced Embleton with five or more minutes left and immediately made what will be known as That Tackle

And then, suddenly, a noise. On 77 minutes the crowd broke the chains of indifference to beat out a roaring rhythm as they began to believe that good things can happen to good men. Every Town tackle, every misplaced red pass, every little thing was magic.

The others infiltrated our drains and RHJ's back stopped their music as they claimed an anatomically impossible handball in disparate desperation. More this and that from them, wafting high, wide, highly wide, widely high.

And we're back… we've reached the Parslow Point. Welsh replaced Embleton with five or more minutes left and immediately made what will be known as "That Tackle". A nibbly-nobble nowhere in the middle of the park and suddenly reds were about to spring. Welsh launched himself horizontally at thigh height to intercept, control the ball, scoop around and launch a counter-counterattack.

An utterly magnificent tackle.

Red wafting into the Town area. Fox lamped longly. Thomas raced away behind the defence, took a touch and a turn, and burned a low fizzer across their keeper. Yellow fingers flicked away for a Town corner.

And then, somehow five minutes were found to be added as a black plastic bag swirled slowly across the pitch, followed by a secret cellophane wrapper glinting in the floodlights. Distracted by detritus, the others failed to track Thomas as he held the ball up near the Police Box. A tickle over the top and Hall-Johnson ambled towards the corner flag, cut in and rolled a cross across the face of goal. Wolfman retrieved, Fox passed back into the centre and Thomas shin-steered from behind several red vests. The keeper leapt and licked the ball over the bar.

And that, my friends, is how to win games and influence people.

Plans made, events intervene, alternative plans implemented. It ain't great, but it is a stable base. It's all about the base.