Instant Replay

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

19 February 2023

I was half in mind, I was half in need and as the rain came down I stayed in the car and ate my sandwiches. How can we take a club seriously when they locally defer to rugby?

Are you hearing (what I hear)? How can we take a club seriously when their tannoy is stuck in 1984, the era when the sophisticated man about town wore his bass as a neckerchief? You can jazz funk off with Level 42, they really should always be out of sight, out of mind.

Blue Town lined up in a retro old school 4-4-2 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Maher, Amos, Clifton, Morris, Holohan, Gallacher, McAtee and Orsi. The substitutes were Glennon, Efete, Smith, Hunt, O’Neill, Lloyd and Taylor. 4-4-2? Tay-lor? An echo of a distant time comes willowing across the land.

Cobbling? How can you take a team seriously who follow the bear, that's Louis-Louis Appere and his free flowing hair? Why call a snack bar Nacho's if you don't sell nachos?

Why are we here?

1st half – One Slip
Sloppy Town kicked off away from 895 travelling Townites as Morris's hoof was charged down. Skittling and whittling over men and horses, hoops and garters, lastly through a hogshead of really dire dunking donuts. Crocombe top-edged an Amos long hop, Waterfall swiped up the line to a lurking Cobblerman. Crocombe slapped aside Leonard's wibbler and Gallacher put in an insurance claim after being side-swiped by a drunk driver whilst exiting a junction.

A minute gone and it hasn't gone wrong. Yet.

Look around, what do you see? Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po must confess that it's a muddle and a mess. Shoddy, noddy, toytown stuff.

Time passes, footballers don't.

There's wiggling, there's wriggling, stop that giggling! Koiki shouldn't pick fights with the bullies or the cads. Like a rubber ball bouncing, bouncing Clifton charged a hack's hack down and Orsi-Orsi, shaped like a grain of rice to coil overly as King back-pedalled. Morris swept, Magloire stood on the ball, Big John stretch-poked, Gallacher whacked, King beat aside.

The corner. Short and unsweet, daisies were cut.

Town ascendant but hardly resplendent. The home stands harmlessly passing their time away, only dimly aware of a certain unease in the South Stand's air. Amos wrestled a cuddly toy to the turf and watched the ref waft yellow and Kooky graze away the free kick on its way towards Bedford. Hoofs were hoofed, lobs were lobbed, Gallacher almost nipped twixt King and Ned Sherring. Or was it Woody Guthrie? This bland is their bland. Moments between moments between moments of emptiness. Animation without activity, just a series of still images giving the illusion of movement.

The humdrum normality of nothingness, a roll back, a whack up from King. Heads and tails, a muttering Mariner railed as Morris dithered and a local lobbed down their left. Emmanuel dithered, Appere advanced and rolled a cheesy pickle into the middle. Hoskins didn't dither as Amos retreated.

Why, oh why, and why? Because, because, because, because. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Another identical break and a Hoskins header plopped. Plop. Plop, flop, flop, how many are standing atop the hill watching half a game for free? There's those two old dears on the left, that bloke with his dog, that clutch of kids sat on the bank. There 20 sad souls standing on a grassy knoll losing sleep as they count sheep. It's so funny how the Town fans aren't singing anymore.

Gallacher's old-fashioned wingery caused occasionally mild pandemonium as he exposed flaws in Magloire. A Town corner. Elevation! Waterfall arose, the ball arose higher off The Flawless Forehead. A fumble, a tumble, something almost happened. But it didn't. And as it didn't happen, you don't need to know what it was, where it was, how it was and who it was that didn't do it.

Like dead-eyed cows chewing the cud, watching humans perambulating, waiting for something to happen. They are still there you know, all 20 of 'em. Ooh and then it happened. An accidental, arbitrary home advance. A welly chased, and Emmanuel legged up Koiki. Bibblers and bobblers from the Cobblers. That was the home happening.

As three minutes were added Morris drooped a dripper into the 'D' from far away. Orsi backed in and let the ball bounce on. Clifton nodded on, Daniboy nudged his marker aside and volleyed at the star-jumping King. The ball bounced off and careered away off home flesh. Blue fingers were pointed and hands held aloft claiming home flesh was a home hand. There would be no official salvation. There will be no comfort from these strangers in a strange land.

Life is not all dreams, it's not all bliss, it is what it is. Time for tea.

Has a pancake been so flat?

2nd half – Do it again
There's gonna have to be some different men. Changes. Town reverted to the wing-backery, replacing Amos and Orsi with Efete and Lloyd.

Ooh there's some oomph with instant Mariner muggings in the middle. Little Harry hassled, Big John jinked and winked as he crinkled a wibbly-wobbler from Wellingborough. King groped, the ball dripped and dropped over his fingers, crawled over the right angle of post and bar, stroking the roof of the net like it was Blofeld's cat. Oh, and ah-ha, a foot like a traction engine too.

King's goal kick was thwonked back and Lloyd was felled in the nether regions of the east. Harry garryowned the half-cleared free kick from the halfway line. The ball rolled back into the feetpath of the meandering McAtee, who swished and swayed and bedraggled a slow scruffler across flicking fingers and the face of the farthest post.

Now we're cooking. McAtee can still do magic. Almost.

Oh, them. Well, here we are. Lintott whacked. Crocombe scooped at the near post.

Gallacher sat down and gesticulated to his inner thigh. He's down, he's almost out. Home town triangles induced a fall and bawl and a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Pinnock ran at the wall, Hoskins coiled lowly in the same flightpath and Crocombe shovelled up as home boots hovered. A chuck out mucked up and Efete grazed a cross to Koiki beyond the far post. A thigh trap, a thigh slapped as the shot slipped off Emmanuel and riffled along the side netting.

And Gallacher was replaced by Glennon.

Hey, I thought we were cooking? Who turned the gas down?

They may have had a shot. They may not have had a shot. There's not a lot they got. Somewhere in the distance hidden from view, sometimes so far away, sometimes so very near. It's a mystery, has anyone got a clue?

There's rumbling and a-grumbling bubbling away as each and every pass went astray. The nattering and chattering has this game already in the past tense as there's no sense of hope or belief, we can't get no relief.

Way out on the left a blue boy plunged. After a thoughtful tooth was sucked, the referee plucked up the courage to award Town a free kick. Boomed high and long it sailed beyond Big Luke and drifted away towards the touchline. Morris the tank engine kept the ball near the corner flag and awaited the cavalry. So who will be his superhero? Gosh, it's Josh! Emmanuel's slow-mo step–over and super sexy spin sent Kooky and Pinnock to the local Post Restante to collect a fake parcel. He hit the bye-line, looked up and perfectly dinked over a home head for Waterfall to perfectly divert beyond King's desperately despairing dive.

Oh yes, and now we believe that the Ayatollah tells a darn good knock-knock joke.

Cobblers affronted, so the Cobblers punted. Hibbles and bibbles, ricochets and rebounds as they came back down the Town left. Lintott, Hoskins, slides and blocks. Whack the mole, slip inside our duvet! A double-triple slapstick of rhubarbery and a triple subbing by them. It's all getting hectic while the home fans are getting dyspeptic.

Town? A cross passing Ringo by.

With five minutes left eyebrows were raised in a very particular part of Northamptonshire as O'Neill replaced Morris.

As six minutes were added Town were mugging in the middle with Holohan chugging along nicely tickling Big Josh free. You go back, Josh, do it again, wheel turnin' 'round and 'round.

Emmanuel spun around Kooky Koiki once, twice and thricely, hit the bye-line, looked up and perfectly dinked over a home head for Glennon to perfectly divert beyond King's desperately despairing dive.

They've done it again! They've done it again!

Taylor replaced McAtee and was promptly booked for being fouled. Normal service has been resumed.

Northampton's reaction? To the Lighthouse! On came Yengi, only slightly shorter than the National Lift Tower. Did they have lift off? Nah, they pressed the buttons but the lift kept stopping on other floors. Up and under, up and under, hoiky hoiky hoo-ha, Crocombe dropped a cross. A poke scraped off the line as the flag was fluttering. Ups and unders, scrapes and plucks, slices and slaps. Don't be concerned, they will not harm you.

And in the eighth of the six added minutes a final corner was finally headed away and players could finally head off towards the Town fans. We're sorry that we doubted you, we were so unfair.

Typical Town: cussed, contrarian and counter-intuitive.

Never outplayed, never outfought, never out thought, Town were infuriatingly avoiding success until Big Josh set his hips on fire and won the keys to our hearts. We just needed an instant replay of his Koiki cutting.

Town were good enough against dismally dreary foes. Good enough is good enough for me and good enough for you. It was good enough for two goals and what we want to see.

And when it was all over we drove up to Watford Gap. We didn't find one Northampton supporter, not one. But that muffin, that victoria sponge muffin. Nothing else in the world tastes like that. It tastes like…victory.