Oldham Slumbers

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 March 2019

Oldham Athletic 2 Grimsby Town 0

Oh to be in Oldham now that the spring is out of Town's step.

Give me two good reasons why I oughtta stay on a bright, sunny day in the chilly-chilly Chaddy End? Oh yes, it's Town at the dawn of a new age. What else would we do with our lives?

Town lined up in a 5:3:2 formation as follows McKeown, Hendrie, Davis, Öhman, Hall-Johnson, Ring, Hessenthaler, Clifton, Woolford, Thomas and Dennis. The substitutes were Russell, Whitmore, Collins, Grayson, Vernam, Rose and Cardwell. Yeah, well, there you are and there they were. Would that it were so simple.

Multi-cultural Oldham limbered up in the distance doing exactly the same routines as Town, but a little snappier, if not a little happier. Is this the most meaningless mid-table non-game of the season? If a tree fell in the middle of the Oldham penalty area would anyone know? Why are we here?

Oh yeah, we're Town fans, it's what we de-do-do-do. It's meaningless but Town are in red and Oldham are in blue.

First half: everyone is everybody else

Town kicked off away from near 800 carousing carollers with the standard issue rollback and Macca-whack that gains yardage in the stats.


Is Oldham really the place to have an existential crisis?

This, that, somewhere. Nepomuceno swingled past the rusted Ring and the cross was ushered across the face of the emptied goal by laddies in red, dancing cheek to cheek.

That, this, over there. A cute Dennis flick menaced and Clifton's cross was cut out at the near post with a wiggle and waggle and an unnecessary haggle. Ten shekels for that, you must be mad. If only they'd thrown in the gourd.

Here we are, watching the defectives. Will they shoot?

Clever clamping and Dennis dinked delightfully into the centre of the centre of the centre of the penalty area. The cross bounced bouncily and Thomas's loopled header was flipped onto the roof of the net by Iverson. As bodies crowded Iverson's house the corner was pulled back a la Scholes into the D and Hendrie hammered the ball into the top corner of the stand. The homesters clearly appreciated this homage to their former chef de frommage.

Flittering, fluttering, cluttering the guttering to much muttering. They passed out of play, Town passed out in boredom.

A blue roll mop on their right, Iacovitti volleyed narrowly, Jamie Mack smacked aside spectacularly. Their corner… was a corner. Beyond that fact there is simply assumption and presumption. One should never presume, never assume and just stick to the facts.

Here be facts: two miserable Missilou misses. Was that a blue cross or blue shot? More like a blue crot. Stodgy stomping, blue romping. Branger-Engone walked past the wailing ailing Woolford and McKeown kicked aside the scruffled nump.

The overlapping Ring crossed too high, too fast. And there was a Town header from a Town corner that went wide in vaguely interesting fashion. Who really needs to know more, or when, or how, or even why with these isolated moments of nothingness. Sometime, never. A big hit for David Cassidy in 1972.

What's Oldham ever done for us? The home of Barclay James Harvest, the poor man's Moody Blues, and not forgetting Sykes, Cribbins and Biggins, that triumvirate of titterers. Don't mention Dora Bryan. All I want for Christmas is a Town goal.

Ah, and then there was a long ball. With the game yawning towards toilet time, Dennis sneaked beyond the last bluesman and mis-mumbled a shanked shinner straight to the stranded keeper. Iverson threw straight out and Woolford was exposed on their right with Ring absent. Ohman headed the cross straight back out to a static Latic, and the tape looped around again.

A fiddle, a faddle, and the cross was paddled at the near post by O’Grady. Öhman leapt across and blocked the shot back onto his face via his hands, perfectly placing the ball into the bottom left corner as McKeown adjusted from plunging right.

After a bit of bothersome jiggery-pokery on Town's left, Nepomuceno got around to long curling a coiler. McKeown stood tall and bampled up to catch a falling star and put it in his pocket.

Welcome to strolling snoresville, a post-industrial grumbleland for football teams going nowhere slowly. One of them was accidentally leading in a goalless draw. One really has to question both sides' determination to finish 14th. Don't they care?

Second half: time-honoured ghosts

Vernam replaced Clifton at half time.

Blue, blue, blue. Blue. Blue blue. Blue. Boo-hoo. Who are you? McKeown snapped a slap-shot shut. McKeown failed to stop a deflected shot squirtling out for a corner and two blues arose above RHJ at the farthest post and headed widely over.

Throws most foul were left unpunished. You know where this ends up. Youths hanging around on street corners. Insufficient toilet rolls in Tesco. Anarchy.

As nothing's going on let's have a pop quiz: who was dancing on a Saturday night?

That's right: Barry Blue; not be confused with Bobby Crush. Same hair though.

Vernam scuttled and a wiffle was waffled off blue toes for a corner. The Hess dripped, Iverson flapped, the ball bounded off flesh and into the very centre of the penalty area. Woolford turned and smackled agin the crossbar. Hess coiled back and Ohman arose at the far post to thwankle firmly towards to top left corner. Iverson spread his wings and learned to fly to magnificently McKeown a flip-punch off the line.

On the hour Rose replaced the hard working but limply lacklustre Dennis, and Town moved to a 4-4-2 'diamond' midfield. Vernam at the tip, Ring to the left, RHJ at left back, and jeez, who cares. Rose chased a punt, the ball bounced, and the boy was lost in a blanket of blue.

Lang lollipopped like a llama, bedribbling and bedraggling wide. Spasms of momentary football in the chasms of the mindless meanderings of mid-table mundanity.

Öhman was torpedoed and replaced by Cardwell as Town moved to a 4:2:3:1 formation. RHJ at centre-back, Ring at left-back, Rose and Cardwell out wide with Vernam behind Thomas and… and. And is the question and the answer.

Town need ands to show that they’re sincere.

An invisible switch was flicked and RHJ suddenly became utterly inept. Balls bounced over and under this wandering minstrel. One, two, three O’Grady rolled wide of the left post after a shiftless shift for which we give short shrift.

RHJ dissolved again and Ring slid the mess under the carpet for a corner. What's that little heap? It’s little Lang leaping unopposed to glance the corner over McKeown from centrally near.

Once there was a way to get back homeward. Once there was a way to get back home.

What's more there's less of this mess.

Rose's shirt was ripped up the front, but no free kick was given. Rose turned and shot, but was blocked and from the corner there is only pity. Cardwell didn't stretch and a dinky cross simply floated into Iverson's hands. That's stretching the elastic underpants of Townness to breaking point. Town twanged and were embarrassed to be so exposed.

Some blue bloke tried to lob McKeown from the half way line. Other blue blokes fell around inside the Town penalty area as their fans fell around laughing at so many having travelled so far for so few reasons.

Did I tell you four minutes were added? I have now.

Town managed to lose a scoreless draw. Well done. There is nothing to hang your hat on here, for all the Town players managed to do on this day was wake up, sit on a coach, put on a football kit and shuffle around a field for an hour and a half.

A contractual obligation fulfilled, a moral obligation ignored.