Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
15 September 2019
Just another day in a way out café waiting for the tocking to tick towards the magic hour. As Sartre once said: "How do you waste two hours in Oldham?"
You could join 783 travelling Townites in the hope that 22 years of hurt will end.
Town lined up in a lopsided 4-4-2 diamond formation as follows McKeown, Hendrie, Waterfall, Öhman, Gibson, Wright, Hessenthaler, Hewitt, Whitehouse, Ogbu and Hanson. The substitutes were Russell, Pollock, Robson, Clifton, Vernam, Cook, Cardwell. With Wright on the right, Whitehouse stayed infield on the left leaving the wild and windy moors free of monochrome.
At Oldham we get nothing so we may as well bring our own muffins to Tripeland with their diluted drinks in the "Stadi-yum" snack counter. I prefer buns to puns.
Out there in the distance, an archaeological dig has found the remains of an old civilisation: Humanicus Oldamitus. So this is how it feels to be lonely, this is how it feels to be small, this is how it feels when your world means nothing at all. Oh yes, Mr Policeman, our kettle is black.
So here we are again, back at the scene where Wes Thomas dug a hole. Will we dig it this year? And now we’d like to do "Hark the Angels Come". Can't we just let it be?
First half: The winkle picker shoes blues
The blueboys kicked off towards the Town fans pinned up in the rafters of the Rubble End. Up and at 'em, Town did flatter and flatten. Hendrie dinked, Moses jinked and Big Jim carefully steered a volley over the bar. At 'em upply, chesty heads and headly chests, Whitehouse wallied over from way out.
What a pleasant six minutes of unsexyball. Oldham, so small, but their chips fall between Town's bar stools. Oh dear, Town. The shape of it's wrong, it's much too long and you can't put hole where a hole don't belong. Hendrie and Gibson turned into sausages by winky dinkers.
Big ups, smaller unders. As the ball dropped vertically inside the penalty area Townites stood away from Missilou, who spectacularly rode his bicycle overhead. Those first six minutes? So, so long ago, was it all a dream? Yes, I know it seemed so real. Was magic in the air? No, just tripe from Town.
Tripe is in the air, everywhere I look around. Oldhamers running rings around our loon panters sat on the grass lacing daisy chains and sipping Tizer.
Wright hesitated and a clearance became interference. A blue corner on their right, clipped lowly. Gibson reacted slowly and a little lad nicked and flicked on ten yards out. With Whitehouse agog, Missilou acrobatically hook-leaped a swinger low across McKeown. Waterfall pointed at the nearest black and white cat, Ogbu argued with a bemused Öhman, McKeown pounded the ground in fury, no need to seek out the verdict of the jury.
Oh Town, do you mind if I make a suggestion? Don't whack it there, whack it elsewhere, you're whacking it around and Big Jim's getting nothing from a pair of markers, not in this game. Higher? Higher? Lower, lower? Oh sorry we're bust. Jolly dealers do your congealing.
Between the sheets of blue plastic Town were pressed. Static, erratic, it has very undramatic. Hubble, bubble Town toiling in the rubble. Hanson broke free down the right and rolled back into Ogbu's flightpath. Alas, dear reader, Moses had plunged to the earth, felled unseen, off the air traffic controller's radar. No chance, no penalty, no charge. Hendrie cross, Hanson nodded safely, slowly wide, and many nodded off.
Infiltrations hither and thither from the spiky blues, Town disturbed and destabilised, left, right and centre. Everybody salsa! Ay-ay-ay-ay, it's Maouche. Ay-ay-ay-ay, it's Maouche volley-poking at the near post as the blue swarm swamped Town's right. Flapping, mis-happing as Oldham were tip-tapping on the typewriter. Remember the play's the thing and the thing is Town weren't playing. It's the first half, Town don't do first halves.
One minute was added. There is nothing to add to that and there was nothing in that half to hang your hat of hope on. More muffins?
Second half: I’d rather go fishing
Neither team made any changes at half time.
The whistle blew and Azankpo bear-hugged Hendrie inside the centre circle before the ball was kicked. Oh how we laughed.
Yes, this is more like it. Punting, shunting, Hanson cushioned an up and under, The Hess volleyed and Wheater chinned away.
Ah. That's it. Town are still reverting to tripe.
Blue fizzing, blue whizzing around and around with their passing and their movement. Crossing left, crossing right, Wheater arose beyond the far post to headthwonk milli-inches over the bar as Jamie Mack dried his fingers underneath. Little men stepping in, stepping out, defied only by their own boots, slicing high and left, low and right, over and out.
Ah, Town! Tried to shift it, Ogbu couldn't even lift it, Town was getting nowhere, so they had a cuppa tea. A dink beyond the far post, Ogbu headed wide and landed on Hanson when he should have left it. After strainin', heavin' and complainin' we was getting nowhere.
Them. Just them. Pressure, crosses, flicks and tricks. Gibson headed away from no-one and Branger banged over the rainbow. So Waterfall gave him a look sort of sideways and leant on 'is shovel and sighed.
Cook replaced Gibson, with Hewitt removing himself to left-back and Cook immediately coiling a free kick over the bar. Immediately Oldham lolloped over the top on their right behind Hewitt. Azankpo cracked a flat whacking cross dipping over Hendrie and Morais stooped to steer down and into the bottom right corner.
The Wolds Panther emerged from his hidey-hole. Off came Wright.
Bellows bellowed and there's panic below blue decks. Hanson headed widely wide when widely thought to be unmarked in front of goal.
Look, I get a sort of feelin' if we remove the ceiling, with a rope or two we could drop the blighter through to their goal. Nibbling and nurdling nowhere much in particular, Waterfall mightily be-donked back upfield. Whitehouse collected and was clipped as he snipped out to Vernam. The ref played advantage. What advantage? Slim Charles slimed a slippery eel and Ogbu snake-hipped to the bye-line, cranking lowly into the centre of the penalty area. Hanson swiped and missed and the Cook crept in and swept in.
The heats is on and so is Robson, immediately replacing Hewitt at leftish-back person.
And all it takes to scare the locals is to move your legs.
Whitehouse hard-worked a corner by working hard. The Hess dipped into the nearish post and Ogbu, six yards out, carefully headed wide. Whitehouse imposed his will, a break, a shake, Ogbu slipped low and the keeper tipped aside.
And Oldham kept messing up counter attacks, dashing and slashing wide and high. Undermanned, overstretched, Town fans about to retch as Morais awaited alone. The ball arrived and so did Jamie Mack to smother block and the purple prose did flow for the purple people pleaser.
Desperate times, desperate measures. Whitehouse slammed on his brakes at a round-a-bout and a learner driver in a blue hatchback careered into his rear bumper. A free kick on the half way line way out with the fourth official preparing to hold up the board. Robson dropped it deeply and Öhman, climbing up a ladder, with his crowbar gave a mighty blow, the ball squinking through the keeper and into the bottom left corner. Half a ton of Town rubble landed on his blond dome as happiness descended from the stands.
Four minutes were added. Listen lads we can still win this! We didn't; let’s just get out of here with that unfathomable point.
Town were rotten until Cook added some spiky vim. All it took was a bit of oomph and the mentally and physically frail Oldhamites were steamrollered. Why did it take 80 minutes for the penny to drop? This was exactly like the March madness, except Town aren't so flaky these days. So there we are. It may be tough to watch but at least they are mentally tough and aren't a soft touch any more.
Should have been worse, could have been better. It was what it was.