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Al Wilkinson's poetry
The Meek that was
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What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Stockport 2 Town 1: Clichés, faeces; quotes and dashed hopes
24 April 2004
"We've played well away recently. Against Chesterfield we put in a decent performance apart from the four goals we conceded; and they were all to set pieces."
So on Saturday, at 15:06, we possibly weren't 1-0 down, according to Foolish Fellow Law's (FFL) bewildering logic. As it seems that as long as we play OK those pesky set pieces don't count; well not really; not in the grand scheme of things; a millennium is a snap of the fingers in the history of the cosmos, and corners and free kicks are only a few blinks of the eye in 90 minutes.
Unfortunately the rest of us didn't blink, and 1-0 down we were. Four minutes later it was two, but from open play this time so FFL was gutted, 1-0 down after just ten minutes.
So, in a brief history of 90 minutes we'll begin at 16: "Their body language already suggests defeat," said Tondeur as Stockport force a "great save" from Fettis and then hit the post. Six minutes later and we cling to the only silver lining as Kerr announces: "At least we've kept it to 2-0."
Go back in time by a minute to hear of a Town chance, from a corner so it wouldn't have counted anyway, Crazy Legs on the penalty spot swings at it: "Crane! – And he fell over!" Apparently similar to a certain penalty away in Turkey by a certain England captain, Tondeur assures us it will be "the only time we'll ever compare Crane with Beckham."
The half plodded on, treading from anger to frustration; misery to despair, at 15:26 Kerr exploded. "It's childish stuff! They're playing like men and we're playing like boys!" But pleasant memories and jumpers for goalposts it wasn't. Tondeur promises that Town are "facing a big defeat unless things change quickly." Surely it's not all doom and gloom? Not quite. The "one bright spark" was the main man Rankin; the only man Rankin; the 'how on earth did we sign him?' Rankin, as Tondeur told us: "Rankin's playing against them on his own."
Town didn't sound interested, didn't sound bothered and "you'd have thought they would be up for this game, but they're just not." A woeful Tondeur, as he tries to describe the players' inappropriate nonchalance, turns his burning gaze on the ineffective right flank, and gives both barrels to Crowe and Ando's poo-like performances: "Town are contributing to their own downfall."
Poor old George Kerr. He's been very 'woe is me' all season for having to watch one inept display after another, and he's about ready to break. 15:32 – "I don't trust this Grimsby side," he confides to us. You're not the only one George. 15:34 – trying to find some positive he gets all excited about Flash and his runs, but as always they come to nothing. "He is a tryer." Desperate for something good to say he finds a little taste, only for Tondeur to ruin it: "but he hasn't got the skill."
It was getting worse for Kerr, worse for us all, as the first half was dragged kicking and screaming to a conclusion. Fortunately Stockport had taken their "foot off the gas" but Town were still so bad that he didn't "want to use the word 'abysmal' but it ain't good." At 15:46 Mansaram had the ball, he was immediately surrounded and harried by two Stockport players, with no Town support, Kerr thrust forth his first half/2003/2004 season nutshell: "they're backing each other up, and that's why they've got nine good results." And as Tondeur's cage was rattled another season nut was shelled: "Looking at Town away from home, they're not going to win anything are they?" No John, they're not.
Al's Freshney Place half-time celebrity Town down the toilet talk
"I think the phrase rhymes with clucking bell" – Blackadder on seeing the half-times in Dixons whilst out shopping with the Mrs
"I have witnessed a millennium of treachery and oppression from the male of the species. I have nothing but contempt for the whole libidinous lot of them" – Anya, from Buffy, when told to "relax, it's only a game"
"It's a funny story, if funny meant horrific" – Giles is somewhat bitter when asked what went wrong in the first half.
"I'm going to make him die in ways he can't imagine" – Buffy (I think there was a convention in Woolies) possibly overreacting after learning she can meet with Mr Law
Second half and nothing's better. Yet. It will be, but not yet. For now, as Tondeur tells us, "the pitch is really awful, but Town's play has matched it," and of course things have to get worse before they can get better, 16:08 and Law and Jevvo are going "berserk" at each other over a wasted free kick. Nice.
Our monotone pair of entertaining informants still can't leave poor old Flash alone (remember Le Flash?). "If Mansaram's skill matched his workrate, he'd be a world beater," but as Kerr points out to his naïve buddy, we don't have that sort round here. "He wouldn't be playing for Town," too many nods of agreement for that statement, the truth hurts.
OK where are we? Oh yes, it's 16:14 and "Town, really, have made no chances at all – in anything" an exasperated Tondeur. And by 16:17? "The second half has been, er..." Tondeur lost for polite turd-like words, Kerr steps in – "awful!" – followed quickly by another outburst on our usually OK right-back: "Crowe's running like a headless chicken, he's got to have some idea of what he's doing!"
And then things begin to get a little better. 16:18 sees a "fantastic effort" as Jevvo hits the bar with an overhead kick, Hockless begins to warm up and John and George want either Crowe or Anderson off, but which one? "Take your pick," says Kerr in a 'both as bad as the other' stylee. 16:24 – Hockless on for Flash. Jevvo up front. "Come on Town, stop playing like turds!" That may have been me, in the confusion I can't remember, but it would've been funny if Kerr had said it. 16:25 and Town are on top in this game now as we surge forward. "Anderson, who can hit it first time! Oh dear, he does hit it first time." A deflated Tondeur rues a chance, Kerr, as always, pulls no punches: "You'd think he'd get it somewhere near the 18-yard box."
As the pressure grows (ultimately to nothing of course), Tondeur wakes up a little: "Town are the better side this half" – by the sound of it I'd go for least worst. Then our moment of magic at 16:27 as Tondeur screams into his mic (yeah, yeah a little hip and a little hop): "An absolute screamer from the youngster. Left-footed, 30 yards, wide and keeper with no chance." We all sit up; we all appreciate; we all wait for Stockport's third.
We continue to dominate, getting nowhere, nowhere fast but still nowhere. Edge of the seat stuff, can we do it? No, of course we can't, we are Town after all. "It's almost worse having scored isn't it?" the Mrs regretting being made to listen because of a one-off wonder goal.
Are we even going to try and win? FFL brings on Warhurst; he's had plenty of experience up front, even scored a few goals in his time. So what do we do? "Crane going forward, Warhurst at the back." Oh yes Crazy Legs forward because he's such a great footballer. Oh no he's as confused as everyone else. "Town don't know what they're doing at the back." What's new? "You'd have thought Warhurst would have instructions as he came on, but he was looking round with the rest."
Nevertheless Tondeur was driven to enthuse at 16:38 that "this second half is the best away performance for a while." However Town's yo-yo performance continues when two minutes later the confusion is again rife "Warhurst is wondering whether to go forward but he's not getting any instructions." You tell him John, lean out of your box and shout, someone get him forward. Maybe we don't need to, 16:41 – "Anderson's down... no penalty!" a disgusted Tondeur. "That was a definite penalty" an equally disgusted Kerr. When Hockless was asked, after the match, what he thought of the appeal, he replied: "The ref didn't see it, and there's a shock." The cheeky little chap.
16:43 and we're not trying to win it, not hard enough anyway; "Jevons chests it down, but there's nobody there!" bemoans Tondeur. He bemoans a lot, but then he's forced to. 16:44 and regular service is resumed: "Crane goes into the book, and er, not for the first time this season." Tondeur manages a smile, but as Town's dominance increasingly looks futile, he states the obvious: "Town will rue those first ten minutes." As Kerr clichés: "The game is 90 minutes." 16:48 and Kerr is cracking again, but with hope this time, that unbearable pressure of hope. "I've never been a biter of my nails, John, but if I was I'd be down to the knuckles now," right with you George as Anderson hits one over the bar.
16:52 we're all done, all washed up and "try as they may Town couldn't make up for that first half." "The game's 90 minutes," Kerr repeats for emphasis. And what of FFL, well, "we just weren't good enough," he admits; very big of you I'm sure. Of course he had to make a fool of himself as well "You can't go two goals down and expect to win games of football." Fair enough, until "I said to the lads 'we get a goal back and we're right back in it.'" Followed by a list of excuses ranging from poor pitch to overflowing toilets, but he's not making excuses because "excuses are for losers and weak people," he'd have made a fair dictator in the right circumstances. The excuses theme continued with "excuses are for people who don't want to be in this position," well OK then, I'll make many an excuse because I don't want to be in this position. Do you know I can't be bothered to think of any now; there are no excuses for being shit, summed up well by the Diary: "this is no reflex miserablism; this is righteous anger." Even the anger fades as we all ask "is it worth it?" And all that's left now is, as Paul Thundercliffe said, to "live in hope that one day I will fall in love again."
I've got one last quote, it's mine, it's not original and it's not funny, but it certainly fits: "Too little too late Town, too little too late."