Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
6 November 2023
What to do in Slough on a Sunday? It's not their fault, they often go to Maidenhead. But not today, there's a HUGE team in town.
A sunny day, the clouds all swept away and we're on our way to somewhere where the air is sweet, well the air from the sweet factories. Ah yes our Sunday whirl, it should be a walk in the park, where we'll meet old friends and talk of the past. It's the Ben and Shaunie show, but what flavours will they lay out on the counter today?
Red Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Cartwright, Efete, Rodgers, Maher, Amos, Eisa, Conteh, Andrews, Clifton, Wilson and Rose. The substitutes were Eastwood, Mullarkey, Glennon, Waterfall, Green, Hunt, Khan, Gnahoua and Pyke. You take your choice at this time, the brave old world or the slide to the depths of decline. Oh well, the old staple formations and players: it's a vanilla fudge and we'll just keep hanging on and hope something turns up.
Have you seen the pitch! Plastic! Oh no, it should be banned for it isn't fit for football now as there isn't grass to graze a cow.
The home stands a sea of smiling faces and bobbling balloons. They look happy, they may even make a noise. Mind you, we might wake up and yell at Danny Rose too. The dead hand of niceness smothered the day for we are at a party without atmosphere. No wonder Russ Abbott's not joined the Grimsby Glitterati in the VIP seats.
It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and we've got no mind to worry. Close your eyes and drift away. Alright, let's go.
1st half – Shaved fish
Town kicked off towards the sunny side, always to the sunny side. Shall we keep on the sunny side of life? What, Town? Are you mad? You soon will be.
I see a little silhouetto of a man as Eisa fandangoed for a corner. But what did we do in the shadows? I can see Jamie Andrews standing in the shadows, well, he was just passing time. A clever corner dummed down and Little Harry charged down. Bouncing balls, floaty balls, slow balls, balls of slowness, a shinball is a sin ball. Random words, random balls.
Eisa. A drift, a wift, a shot bedrubbling into the sidiest of nettings. Alas poor Abo, we may not see him lit again in our lifetime. You could hear a bat squeak and the players speak. Their players. Town were a noiseless mass of stodge and bodge. There were hints and squints, but no grit and wit, just an audible desert, a silent scream.
Yellow chucks and red Rose plucked up the courage and headed away again and again and again. Once there was a pass and a silhouette shimmered. Once. Andrews piffled, Rose stretched, the ball rolled. Possession without purpose, passing without confidence or competence, Town on a painfully slow retreat from Moscow. We looked like amateurs.
And all the while the ball bounced. Bouncy-bouncy, like a rubber ball bouncing-bouncing, Slough pouncing, red shorts flouncing. Rebels, a mass of Rebels, in all that space, it's a mess. Red wheat shredded on the left, Alexander arose and thwonked highly. Cart-Wright got up when he wanted and exceptionally saved this Sunday. Good lad, rising and raising a hand to flick and flip from under the bar onto the roof of the net. Spectacular and splendid. Blimey, a goalkeeper who makes saves, there's a novelty act. See what data does deez dayz. A corner, another corner, Rose blocked a blaster and Rose headed away again and again. Rose, a finger in the dyke.
How about playing some football, eh? It's pretty hairy out there. This is Charlie's pitch. Charlie don't play on turf!
A Rose header. Thought I'd mention it, you know, to be nice.
A sundried tomato wilted in the winter sun and Kaiser Bill's Batman whistled through the allotments. A free kick, twenty fiveish yards out, central but right. With Harvey blinded by the light Davies caressed a coiling dipper over and through the recently planted privet hedge and into the bottomish right corner.
There's the beginnings of a row going on down in Slough. We thought we were smart but did we bother to take a peek in their chatrooms? They know how to putt on these crazy greens.
Shinball, bobbleball and fear and loathing of a bouncing ball. Mental disintegration in the striped nation. The degradation of the matter and energy in the Town universe has led, inexorably, to today - the ultimate state of inert uniformity, or is that uniform inertia?
We're shocked. And stunned. Surprised, yet not surprised. Raging inside but resigned to the present reality, spinning through the stages of grief with every misplaced Michee mishap, every calamitous Conteh shoeshine shuffle, every Andrews adventure in artisanal gardening.
Woah, slow down with your moaning and your groaning, there's life in the ragged dog yet. What we shall let history know is a pass was made. Then another. Little Harry tickled and unmarked Andrews shinned a cross from the right. Like a true believer at a revivalist rally Luthra wished it luck and waved it goodbye. The ball sailed on and over this fluorescent flounder but home hearts were warmed as Big Boss Man Davies shuffled to the back post and headed off the line.
And that, my friends, was the Town shot on target. A mishit cross.
They hustled and hassled, they ran and they passed. They knew what they were doing, and why. Harem scarem, drips and flips, don't let it bounce! We let it bounce. Slough's strikers, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, caused home hearts to flutter and striped mouths to mutter. Men free here, there and everywhere and a cross to the penalty spot. Alexander headed off the post, Cart-Wright stranded, no red shirts near.
Four minutes added. A Town free kick. Stick it in the mixer! Efete kindly cleared for them.
Look at this mess we're in, man! We're shuffling off this mortal FA Cup's schedules not with a bang, but with a whimper. And with a whimper, the referee ended the misery of entropy.
We need to stop this boring joke. Shorty and Shaunie need to give this hollow shell hell. This team cannot function, they're so full of fear. We need Green, the working class hero.
2nd half – Cold turkey
Isn't it time to send some bombs upon Slough? Yes, the cabbages are coming for you now, Slough. And how! Yes, how?
Green and Pyke replaced the ephemeral Eisa and collapsible Contehboard. With the sun setting slowly in the west at least we won't be able to see anymore Slough goals.
Did you hear that? A low guttural grunt and ballistic bark, no-one's serene with Mr Green in Town. Urgency, agency and no complacency. I hear things, I see things, things like reds shifting. Poor Harry, such a poor cross, but it's Harry, so no-one was that cross. A tickle and turn, a pass and men moving, but no furking, no sneaking. It's not the Eton wall game but it is Clifton curling wide. Good old not-so-young-now Harry; you know what you get with Little Harry. Big Don decided to bother for a bit. A lash, a slash and Wilson wasted wide. We're beginning to realise what we get from Big Don. He's a very effective bus replacement service isn't he, but not very reliable rolling stock.
Oh yes, the local heroes. They're still around, waiting for the moment to strike whilst we're thinking the natural order of the world was reasserting itself. A couple of kinks and dinks for Harvey to handle with care. That's all. Ups were undered, chips were chased. And the ball bounced on and on and on and on.
A slice, a slosh, Slough under the cosh. Triangulation and Efete spectacularly tumbled, just managing to roll into the penalty area. A free kick right on their left corner. Andrews wiffled into the wall and off they ran with a spoon, only halted by Amos's crunchy clatter. Get in there! Gerrinto'em.
And off Dannyboy Amos went, replaced by Ringo, the king of the swingers. A corner swung out, Maher ducked on and the ball was hooked away from near the line with Rose near the man who was nearly on the line. Nearly but nothing from the nowhere men. Hey Ringo, don't worry, take your time, don't hurry to take the next one.
Red movement, red momentum, put your chips on red. A redster felled, a free kick far off and Andrews coiled agin the left angle of post and bar, Yeah, whatever, it's about time you lot did something. Now do it again, but better. Or perhaps, simply slightly lower.
Roaming and rousing, Clifton chugged and Andrews tinkled to the overlapping Efete. Michee mooched past his man, rolled into the corridor of uncertainty and Rose slidey-stretchy poked past and through the phantom florist. Yeah, whatever, it's about time. Now do it again. Don't expect us to be impressed.
Green hit the roof. He wasn't angry, just disappointed his laser precision Big Bertha landed in the Stoke Poges village pond. A duck quacked, a fish pouted, and some ladies in lavender wrote to the Slough Observer.
Hunt replaced Clifton amidst a display of Tillergirl dancing. Duck and cover! Michee sat down, Mullarkey stood up. It's Toby time. It's time for…Pipkins! No, sorry, I ate too much cheese. It's time for Big Don. A cross, a glance, a drifty roll past the farthest post.
The ball just kept on bouncing-bouncing as the yellow subs began to play. The street lights came on and we could hear but could not see what wasn't happening. There was a moment, just one, when Toby was in turmoil as a yellow dasher flashed past and passed into the muddle in the middle. Maher. That's all you need to know.
Eight minutes added and then it started to rain and everything's the same, for in the sun and the rain Town are just scraps of old paper washing down the drain. Our data dreams have turned to nightmares, Hurst's heaven has turned to hell, there's just a burned-out confusion here. There's nothing more to tell.
Continuity Hurst resulted in a pallid version of Hurstian Town. It was all so painfully slow pinball piffling without personality, without purpose. Until Green came on and made a noise. That may not be tautology but it taught us a lesson. Vapid, torpid, turgid and terrible.
I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my FA Cup dream. That's my FA Cup nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor…and surviving.
The earth exhales.