Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
31 July 2016
There’s some footballers on the pitch
It was fifty years ago today that Sir Alf Ramsey told his band to play 4-4-2. It’s been going in and out of style lately, but guaranteed to raise a smile when we have a return to the old time religion and don’t have to endure Hurst’s strikerless wonders.
Ah, we can smile. In an homage to Our Finest Hour and a Half (plus extra time), Town lined up in the World Cup winning 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Davies, Pearson, Boyce, Jones, Tombola, McAllister, Summerfield, Berrett, Vernon and Action Jackson. The substitutes included the many feet of Chambers, Vose, Brown, Bogle, Venney, Wright and Clifton.
In tribute to a Hurst Bogle and Vose took the crossbar challenge with free kicks into the empty Pontoon net in front of the empty Pontoon Stand. Bogle broke a seat, broke a seat and Vose managed to smooch the underside of the cross bar a couple of times, the ball bouncing on the line, up against the bar again and out.
I hear the sound of distant drums. Where? There on the stairs, right there. 110 ascetic Lactics in the seating and tweeting about the continuing story of the lack of fish and chip stalls.
1st Half – Good vibrations
They kicked off. Or Town kicked off. One or the other. The usual nothingness, the ball upright and vertical with big blue bundlers breaking through to the other side. Townites befuddled and bumping into each other, marauding McKay stumble-fumbled in a jumble and Pearson blocked.
The Oldhamites appeared threatening on counter-attacks, with beefy bundling between the lines as Boyce whistled his favourite Patsy Cline songs.
A big deep swinger from the dark shadows of the architecture formerly known as the Findus. A tall bloke snickled in front of Pearson and flicky-glanced widely from the penalty spot. Now that’s the sort of Bananarama miss we’re used to.
Town started to tick a little, tocking with fancy flicks. Vernon sheltered the ball from the choppy snorters and swept across to the unmarked Davies. A careful touch, a single swing and Jackson jaunted between two slack Lactics near the penalty spot and grazed into the right corner.
Oldham’s ropey rhombus let Town roam freely down the right. Repeat action, Jackson. Davies crossed Jackson attacked the near post and flick-foreheaded inchlets wide. 4-4-2 and attacking the near post: I must have died and gone to heaven.
Them a bit. Jones dithered, blue swarms swept and Crofts slice-volleyed towards the top left corner allowing Jamie Mack to spectacularly flip away. Nice to see Jamie Mack’s socks match his shorts today.
Now and again there’s a bit of them. Reckford raked a rolly low curler and Erwin trod on the ball. Jones woefully wafted his laces under the Police Box and ripped the lumpy n-n-n-n-n-nineteen’s shirt. Advantage played and advantage wasted as a soft shoe scuffle slithered sloppily into the arms of the satsuma stopper.
They had isolated moments when Town erred, the rest was a picture painted black and white. Tomobla tumbled and Davies a-whipped to the near post. Jackson arced and wafted, the ball tickled into the side netting. McAllister picked pickled pockets in the centre circle and pinged Jackson free. Action Man widdled right, fancy-flicked along the bye-line and Ripley swooped and scooped. McAllister arose to duck off the toes of a blueman and dinkle Tombola away. Away, away went the twinkling toes of the Sutton swinger. He passed his cross behind the line of leaden Latics and McAlister swished from the penalty spot, right between Ripley’s eyes, believe it or not.
Isn’t that fine: Town look a normal, adequate team with some idea of how to attack and Oldham can be relied upon to miss when Mariners muck about too much.
2nd Half – Wouldn’t it be nice
No changes at half time.
After about five minutes of hum-drum rumpled rolling and trolling an Oldhamite tumbled near the covered corner. Coiled high into the centre, the not particularly tall Reckford arose alone to thumple directly into the net from not far out at all. A recurring theme this pre-season.
Hit the fast forward button. OK…. stop! You went a bit too far, back up a few seconds. There we are. Just past the hour Bogle and Vose replaced Summerfield and Jackson, who had crumpled to the turf holding the calfy bits of one of his legs a few minutes earlier.
Things occasionally happened and Oldham started to revolve their roster, replacing the ropey with the dopey. Enough of the hopey-changy thing for you Lacticers.
Ah things. Like a walk in the park. Davies deeply dipped beyond the far post. Vose cushioned and rolled back. Bogle woggled and a Berrett slap-shot flicked off McAllister’s heels, over the sprawling Ripley and over the angle of post and bar.
When did Vernon go off? When did Chambers come on? Brown for Tombola? Was this now or was it later? When is now? Isn’t now always a thing of the past.
Are other things happening? Not really, we’re having a nice chat with some footballers in the background, like performance art in Peoples Park. All very fine in theory, but of no real consequence. Jones deeply crumpled a cross. Ripley wandered, Boyce and Pearson waited for the ball to drop and Pearson noodled well wide of the open goal.
I saw Domicile Vose move. He even chased back to defend. The season is nigh.
A Townite tumbled way out centre leftish. Davies and Vose stood over the ball. Davies chose scissors, Vose chose the rock. An exquisite swish of his fight boot and the ball coiled and curled, sipped and whipped, kissing the underside of the crossbar, bumping down and back up into the top of the net as the keeper clawed at thinning hair and thin air.
What more do you want to know? Jones rubbed his hamstring and along came Venney. There is nothing else to say.
They think pre-season’s over. It is now.