What is to be done?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 November 2019

There are no morals in football; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.

Nanu-nanu Aussie Anth.

Half a league, half a league, half a league between us as the Town six hundred drove into the Valley of Nene in hope rather than expectation of happiness.

The sun is on holiday, the leaves have no trees, and Town fans sleep as another ill wind blows the wreck of HMPS Jolley into the heart of England's Roselands.

Town lined up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows McKeown, Hewitt, Davis, Waterfall, Gibson, Robson, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Cook, Hanson and Green. The substitutes were Russell, Ring, Joseph Stalin, Whitehouse, Cardwell, Rose and Ogbu. Stalin! yes, we need a man of steel. Ah, no, 'tis young Joseph Starbuck, a scrupulous and steadfast mate, quaking on the bench. Look to the future now we've only just begun. Begun what?

Begun a new temporary era with a bit of the same but with some Aussie positivity. At least Little Harry is back to scamper around and release the Hess from his shackles, with Hewitt no longer stodging up the centre with his flipperty-flapperty fusterings.

Northampton, marooning around with Mariners marooned in a fug. Three big blokes heading, two wingers winging and Hall-Johnson on their big bench.

Away in the empty stand three Town fans finally furled a flag after five minutes of failure to fasten to the fence. That sentence was brought to you by an allegorical metaphor beginning with 'f'. Oh, oh, oh what a pathetic fallacy we have.

Rain, rain, don't go away, get a bit harder and it may stop play. There's always hope.

1st half – One step forward, two steps back
A lie told often enough becomes the truth. Seek out facts first.

The fact is the Cobblemen kicked off towards the Town six hundred, give or take a boogie-woogie bugle boy or two.

Tipping, tapping, triangulations and strangulations up and down the right. Hanson tickled, The Hess winkled on and slashed highly and mightily into the top side netting. Tapping, tipping Green fickled, Cook tinkled and Hanson dragged lowly across yellow fingers, across the face of goal, and narrowly wide. Hanson arose and noddled a noodle.

By 'eck, this is a novelty.

Purple punting, Oliver shunting with official unfouls being fouls unseen in plain sight. Purple plunging under triple Town lunging. The referee stood above the penalty spot, crouching, crouching, whistle in mouth. A bumping pitch and a light rain…play on, play on and play the game!

Wahey, a penalty ungiven.

Back Town strode with rapiers in hand, slashing a 'z' across the claret chests. The Hess arced deeply and rightly, Hanson arose beyond the far post and cushoodled a header to the unmarked Green, but ten central yards from goal. A touch, a swivel, a volley and Cornell spectacularly parried back onto a big bald head and the ball skittled past the post for a corner.

Another Hanson header, another Hanson shot, Jamie Mack bonked on the nose as a Town fan threw the ball back. The rain slung, Cobbling crosses hung. Flaps, slaps, nicks and knocks. Oliver barge-balling without conviction by the ref, slapshots wide and high after maroonfiltrations on the left, overloads on the right. Slowly, slowly Town's undermanned flanks were exposed by two wingers winging.

Town regrouping, a Hess shot hooping off home toes and drooping wide.

Chickling and chuckling down Town's left. A purpler plunged as Davis breathed nearby. The homesters nearby uproared. The linesman impassive, the ref tweeted to their satisfaction. All Town lined up level with the six-yard line, an excess of marooners beyond the far post. The ball floated over Hanson's head, Wharton arose above hapless, helpless Hewitt and his firm placement arced back across McKeown into the bottom right corner.

The captain wired he had water comin' in, and the good ship and crew was in peril.

Monochrome meanderings across the middle and Cook got himself in a muddle as claret cuddled. Off Williams sauntered down the centre and winked delightfully behind Davis. Oliver skipped through alone, McKeown skidded out to swipe-swamp and Davis ran away after this spoon.

Punting, hoofing, slip-sliding away. It's alive! It's alive! The Hess carooned a cross into the very centre of their penalty area, Cook arose alone to flick-head swervingly wide of right post. More Mariners meanders. Passing! Crossing! Hanson free. Free as a bird beyond the far post, a vista of possibilities before him. He elected to be-dink back across the face of goal, betwixt post and non-stretching Cook.

To lose the ball once, Mr Cook, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose it twice looks like carelessness. Will he never learn?

On the halfway line, facing McKeown, Cook dissolved under duress and a marooner raced away again, driving down, scattering Mariners to the four corners of this earth in panic. A lick, a flick on their right, and Jamie Mack flew lowly to flip away from plunging purple behind. Little Harry scrumbled away. Danger diverged. For a while.

Back they came and Adams danced the night away, flat batting a cross that Waterfall up-glanced onwards beyond the far post. A big bloke bonked back ploppily. Oliver and Waterfall jumped at and with McKeown. They all sneezed, they all fell down. The ball tinkled against the left post and bounced back along the line. Oliver poked and that's that.

More of this and that which no-one can or will remember as the time ticked by. Two minutes were added. What's the point? Men just got wetter.

Town had more chances than Northampton, Town had the better chances, and Town had no chance of getting anything out of this now. All is lost already, despite it being so much better.

2nd half – The crisis has matured
Neither team made any changes at half time.

A single defeat is a tragedy, a dozen defeats is a statistic.

Hums were drummed, drums were hummed. I'll name that tune in 45 minutes. The Cobbling people seemed content with what they'd got, being slightly spooked by Town's frequent first half flailing of them on the break.

Welcome to 20 minutes of occasional bumbles and wild wallops in the wind. We're playing out time. Oh, if only we could turn back time. Some anonymous Cobbler wellied woefully wide, causing unnecessary oohing from the sidebars. Green was booked for a sub-Reddyian hand flick over the last defender. Robson was replaced by Whitehouse.

What do you do to fill up your time in a dead rubber? Only the lonely go home for tea. Maybe tomorrow we'll have a new managerial romance. We're bereft of a focal point for fury, we need a goat to scape.
And then the stewards led away an irate youth from the Town end – another steward. How odd. How very odd indeed.

Well, we say we want a revolution, we all want to change our world. You say you've got a real solution, well, we'd all love to see that plan, John – we're all doing what we can.

A rising roamer glanced wide from a home free kick. These are crumbs of interest falling from a broken table of boredom. Even the rain is starting to stop.

Northampton saw our Big Harry on the bench and raised the stakes by bringing on Very Big Harry. We can't match that. Off trotted dulled Matt Green and calamity Cook, on bounded Moses and Roses. At least they looked eager.

Moments of nearlyness as Town infiltrated the spaces between their Lines and ex-Pluckyman Goode. Whitehouse dithered twicely when set up nicely. Big Jim slapshot from afar and their yellow custardian parry-punched beautifully. A fine fellow felled and The Hess dinked beyond the far post. Waterfall headed into the heart of darkness, Whitehouse poky-shinned as the ball passed by and Hewitt stared as it dribbled across face of goal, past the post and out. Town: down and out in Hunsbury Hill.

Are they greedy, do they want more? A deep cross sailed over the static Gibson and Hoskins steered a half-volley back across goal. McKeown flew high and right to brilliantly beat aside. The ball immediately dinked back, Gibson fluffed a flail and Hoskins volleyed widely highly. Ah, they do want more. Heads and tails, Little Harry hauled down a skipping local as five minutes were added.

And finally we could go home to our tomato soup.

The burning question of our movement remains: what is to be done?

This was a thoroughly decent defeat, unembarrassing in quality or quantity. Town should have scored, but always looked like they could concede. The flaws that we all see cannot be erased immediately by a ritual sacrifice, but at least they gave it a go. Town were not passively waiting for something to happen. There was passing, there was movement, there was clearly a method that the players understood and attempted to implement. That's a good thing in the context of the last, oooh, four seasons?

The only way is up?