Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
5 March 2011
Town in Turmoil 2 The Real Wombledon 1
They're sick and tired of hearing things from up-tight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All they want is the truth.
The truth? Can you handle the truth that around 300 flame-keepers huddled in the upper reaches of the Osmond stand on a grim, grey afternoon of buzzing police 'copters and fuzzing board logic? Three hundred away fans? As incredible as The Fentycon's nineteenth nervous breakdown interview with Mr Burns. Yeah, we've had enough of reading things by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed local politicians. No floppy-haired yellow-belly's gonna soft-soap us with just a pocketful of hope with his money for dopes. Yeah, no, they mean. No! Yeah. Err, what is it that they don't like? Something about Fenty's Inferno? Dante's infurneaux? Parker's guide to used car salesmen?
Oi, forget about old men squabbling in an oak-panelled padded room. We're here for the football.
Dave Moore's Town lined up in a bog-standard 4-4-2 formation as follows: Croudson, Bore, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Coulson, Oh Leary, Hudson, Eagle, Connell, Duffy. The substitutes were Peet, Watt, Wood, Makofo and Peacock. The cruncher and the muncher in central midfield and the out-of-Town-contractors were back lending a strange air of forgiving and foreboding to the afternoon. But our favourite kitten was back: Steve Croudson, smiling for Britain.
Oh, them. The Continuity AFC, the Real Wombles, the provisionally top dogs in the Blue Square kennel. They wore yellow, they had a bunch of blokes who looked slightly bigger than our bunch of blokes, with Broughton and Kedwell broad of beam and not so lean. Chunky, not hunky, they were unlikely to be dainty dapper Dons.
First half: Crippled inside
Now you've had enough of watching scenes of schizophrenic, egocentric, paranoiac, primadonnas. All you want is some football. Town kicked off towards the Osmond with the standard issue boot and hoot down the left. Ooh, it's a corner. Ooh, it's a corner.
Oooooooh, it's nearly a goal. Kempson bonked from the penalty spot but Connell cleared off the line and straight in to the keeper's hands. They punted, we panted; Duffy flicked and Coulson overhit as he steamed into the area. High-tempo Town were singeing these bearded kings of the road. Hudson and Oh Leary clamped and clunked as no respect or quarter was given.
Mad Fraser Franks rolled off the pitch and into the hearts of all Pontoonites as the referee stopped play for him to receive treatment for some hair gel problem. While already off the pitch. Always a good thing - daft referee in front of the Pontoon gets us whipped into a displaced frenzy of faux fury. Now we have a game.
Ooh, Connell reverse-swept and Mr Brown went off to Town on the 15:21 to sweep Hudson's toes. Nice. Town teased, tested and tickled but the Wombledoners just kept falling over; huh, wimpy Wimbles. Free kicks-a-go-go and The Kitten plunged low and right to sweep a dead-centre Kedwell scruffler aside. Hurrah, hurrah for Stevie.
Tip-tap top Town! Bore wiggled and waggled the Wombles into a waffle. Coulson was ticked free and smiggled straight at Brown from a few yards to the right of goal. Connell reverse reverse-swept into the flight-path of the soaring Eagle. Little Bob strode unhindered through and beyond and into the area, but Brown raced out and blocked a lifted, lofted dink.
It's all Town, all good and all good things come to an end. Nothing was happening down their left. A pass, a miss, a stretch, a deflection, a slide, a rockin' rollin' ramble and a silky poke under Croudson by Yusseff into the bottom right corner.
We sigh a lot these days.
Coulson moogled dangerously, now and then, here and there; his marker a minor inconvenience in his path through life. Eagle coiled a free kick, Coulson snaffled the clearance and cutely winked behind the full back. Eagle opened up his body and, from a narrow angle, passed to the keeper as two Townites lurked unmarked three yards out.
As Town pressed, Wombledon sat and waited for the moment to strike without thinking. After a while they worked on points for style, with occasional spritely counter attacks. Yusseff fetched and carried, Mulley and Jolley sauntered and Town were yawned open. Poor old Ridley was flailed alive by Mulley the pacey waster, who tittle-tattled and prodded towards the top left corner through a thicket of monochrome. The Kitten saw the ball of wool and leapt to intercept. Lovely lad, our Stevie C.
Jolley, Mulley, which was which and who was who? The Jolley-Mulley wing twins seemed identical and interchangeable. Both were fast, but also quick and speedy. The rest was a lucky lottery of fortune and bingo calling.
Whoops. Bore saw seashells on the seashore to race over and cover The Riddler. Bore stayed on the left and Jolley-Mulley stood alone waving at his chums for several minutes. So alone was the man on the burning deck that his mates either forgot about him or simply couldn't believe that anyone could be so alone on the Strand for so long. You're never alone on the Strand. Finally the ball arrived and so did a bucket of Town. Jolley-Mulley tried to chip the Kitten from about a dozen yards out. Pffft.
Bibble, bobble, Rob'll fix it for you. Hudson roamed onto a loose ball, Eagle tricked and flicked to Mr Fluff, who didn't pass to Connell. As a yellow blanket approached, he slipped the ball out to the right and Coulson took a fancy and thrappled low and in off a yellow sock. Brown deflated right as the ball spindled over his left hip. Now that's so much better.
And again, always on their left. Hudson broke on through to the other side, yeah and caressed lowly to the near post. Connell spun the ball off his shins to the keeper. Another moment of dissipated danger from the desiccating goal machine.
And as the half ended the phoenix club rose from the ashes of their ambling. Left, right, left again. In, out, back and again. Town couldn't clear, and the Wimbles were all thimbles and thumbs. Gregory shot, Croudson parried aside; Leary tackled the Riddler and their diddy-diddler as the ball skipped away. They crossed, Kempo sliced up and away. They crossed again high and beyond the stars. Kedwell noodled back and Jolley-Mulley volleyed in to the Pontoon. Everyone ran back to the centre circle and the ref gave a corner. Uproar. The ref gave Town a free kick as the corner was taken to an accompanying uproar of local laughter.
Well, that was nice. Town had frazzled the underwhelming south London strollers with a glass half full of running and jumping and not standing still. Town left the pitch to an uproar of approval.
Second half: How do you sleep?
Neither team made any changes at half time.
And Town simply carried on carrying on by harrying, marrying art and graft into movement. Connell pulled down a drooper-scooper, Eagle spread, Duffy tapped, Connell squeezed behind the full-back and Coulson's pinger was zingered away by Brown's legs. The Womblediners' defence pushed further up the pitch and Town simply dink-dink-dinked down the sides. Their floorboards creaked and groaned.
They made a silly penalty claim. Silly. So silly even the ref was chuckling. Silly, silly, silly.
Town were teasing, Town were probing and prodding. Town were about to score. Connell, dead centre in the Yellow Peril's half, turned under a dropping clearance, using his aura to mind-bend the ball into Hudson's path. Various coloured socks met and The Hawk flicked into the vacant right. The unmarked Coulson fended off a minor distraction and slidey-stretchy-lofted a shot into the top right corner as Brown clutched straws.
And Town powdered on, dusting for fingerprints and seeking evidence that the Womblers were the meister-woofers of this division. Coulson meandered with purposes, as Connell zig-zagged thricely, cross-shotting betwixt goalkeeper and the ambling Duffster. Eagle delicately crossed as Duffy collided with two defenders and keeper. Bore delicately crossed as Duffy collided with one defender and the keeper.
Duffy coiled a long range wifter a foot over the angle of left post and bar and Town's delicate flowers started to bloom. They passed, they moved, Bore crossed beyond the far post and Eagle scraped the ball back off the bye-line to Connell six yards out. Only a human shield saved Brown's bread.
It was all Town, it was all so lovely, so simple, so what could go wrong...
The Wimples made changes, taking off useless Broughton, whose anger management classes have at least taken the edge off his elbows, and one of the Jolley-Mulley wingers. On came a bit more beef and a bit more pace, and they snarled a bit.
Mad Fraser Franks snowploughed Connell into the nearest ditch with a full frontal lunge. The card matched his shirt, lucky boy. A minute or so later Hudson was flattened and trampled on by Broughton's replacement. As Hudson rose, so did one of his boots. Minshull plunged to earth having been struck by one of Emperor Ming's occasional Death Rays. Off went Hudson, and Minshull arose, having been healed by the laying on of hands. A free kick to Grimsby, of course, and perhaps the only time Mark Hudson has been compared to David Beckham.
Twenty minutes left. There'll be lots of love between us if you hang, hang on, hang on to what we've got.
Town moved to a 4-3-2 formation and Duffy flicked the free kick on. Connell twisted and lifted a pokey prod over Brown and over the bar. And here it comes. Here comes the nudge. Wombledon surged and splurged. A curler into Croudson's arms, the Riddler exposed and Kedwell freely headed over. The Riddler was exposed again and Kedwell freely stretchified over.
Town were aching, if not breaking, and on came the cavalry: manic motor Wood and sneaky creaky Peacock for Little Eagle and Mr Fluffy Duffy. Duffy was better today, but that is measured against his previous home non-appearances, not an acceptable basic standard. He was less worse, so things are improving.
Woah, sneaky Town! Bore lob-volleyed Peacock down the right. Leapy lofted and the unmarked Connell scruffled a nibbly header wide from the penalty spot.
And back they came, switching left, switching right, pulling Town's midfield away from The Riddler and leaving him alone against a younger, fitter and quicker lad. In came crosses, out came legs and heads to block and shock the yellow tide. Town stayed clam, Town stayed too calm, with Oh Leary dawdling and dallying and turning towards Croudson for help. A yellow boot dispossessed and The Kitten hurtled out to slide tackle the ball straight to Gregory, 35 yards out. This was that moment we'd been waiting for - the moment of unclarity to undo the good work of the many. Gregory sized up and seized up, snuffling weakly and well wide. He wanted the goal that wide.
With five minutes left the irrepressible Coulson was replaced by Watt and Town started a phone-in competition: guess what position Watt is playing. He was on the pitch in various places, including corner taker at one point. It is entirely possible Town played 3-4-3, or that Watt went to right-back. Or central midfield. It's best not to rule anything out, or anything in. It was enough to confuse the yellowers and suddenly the ninety minutes were up...
But another five were added.
They power-played Town, huffing and puffing but only blowing their own chances. The Riddler's second tormentor wastefully wafted way over the bar with his chums queuing up at the far post, unhindered by monochrome. One of their bigger boned henchmen leapt up and down throwing his hands in the air and stomping his feet like Dick Dastardly failing again to stop the pigeon. The back of the Pontoon danced his little dance with delight. It's nearly over...
...but not quite. Action Jackson broke and Yusseff drifted wide, tweedling past the eviscerated Riddler and pulling a cross behind the gawping Townites. The ball rolled towards an unmarked yellowman 15 yards out and Bore threw himself across the line of fire. The shot squiggled wonderfully, wonderfully wide. No danger and no points for the Wimbles.
The striped ones did what they seldom do - worked hard and concentrated for the whole game. Hard graft and patience gave them that fabled stable platform. They didn't panic at the first set back: they carried out a plan and had grit and fortitude in adversity.
See, it's what happens on the pitch that is important.