A bonfire of their vanities

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

6 November 2022

There's somethin' bout the way the streets look when it's just rained. Wet?

Welcome to the cup of woe, the land of cliché, a world of ironically iconic magic where plumbers are in the depths with jumpers for goalposts. Hello, Plymouth, our old friends, you've come to walk through us again. My, my, what big shoulders your players have, with big teeth and sharp claws.

Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon, Morris, Hunt, Clifton, Holohan, Khan and Kiernan. The substitutes were Pardington, Cropper, Amos, Pearson, Maher, Khouri, Green, Simmonds and Richardson.

Yes, we have no bananas. No strikers, no hope, we may as well go home, eh? It's gloomy, were feeling doomy and they are massive and we always do a massive mess up in the cup.

So why did we come then?

Hey, you never know, something may turn up, Mr Micawber. It's a free hit.

1st half – Monsters mashed
Argyle kicked off towards the Pontoon with a waddle and a quack and Town were a little slack as Greens seeped through a crack.

Stripes quivering, stripes quaking. Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from cavin' in?

A dink, a dither, a Green corner crinkled. A push, a prod, a drip, a drop, a purple plop, a goal kick. Panic in the streets of San Francisco as Mad Max tapped to Big Luke. Gargoyles swarmed and Crocombe slap-sliced à la Lever deeply into the Lower Frozen Horsebeer. Green beans running, Green beans jumping, Michee standing still. Hardie sneaked, a chuck was chucked, Efete prodded and the quickness of the eye deceives the mind. Randell slapped lowly through the merest of gaps between monochrome socks and the ball shimmered along the turf into the bottom right corner past forlornly flapping fingers.

Ah, right, the dream has gone, were numbly uncomfortable with impending doom. Batten those hatches, let's keep the score down, let's leave with some of our dignity intact. Single figures please and we'll seep out in single file, head bowed, totally cowed.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

OK, let's start again. A Glennon crunch and we had a hunch that these Greens were into energy conservation. Save the planet - stop running. A cheeky chip and Big Bren slipped free of a boggy bore down their right. Cooper parried by the post, the ball rolling into the D. Hunt crankled and the low skimmer boombled uply off green socks, spoondling over the bar.

Got our motors running, heading down the highways and byways with heavy metal thunder. An artless clump and Little Harry hassled the fling back into flailing for a corner. Now Mr Glennon, remember the Mariner Mantra: concentration, elevation, celebration!

Ommm. Ommmm. Ommmmm. Ommmg.

Elevation, good times, come on! It is sailing, it is sailing, across the sea of faces, sailing onto Smith’s surprised backside and rolling, rolling, rolling into the unoccupied far postage.

Way-hey-hey, they are hollow men gathered by this beach next this tumid river. We're up for the cup now. And I'm not taking this coat off now, Roly.

Let's turn the apples over. Kiernan wall passed around some garden ornaments, Gav O'Groves shovelled into the flightpath of Khan but a flock of seagulls arrived to steal his chips. Harry clunked, Hunt clicked and Efete took a trip. We're only making plans for Nigel, their Virgil van Lightweight at the back.

Oi-oi Saveloy, what's this? A Green man rolling in the deep. Grant finally succumbed to vertigo and was replaced by mini-man Mumba, a tiny terrier half the size of the next smallest Pilgrim. Green crosses. And we all know the green cross code, look right, look left and Big Luke heads away.

They're rocking, we're rolling, the bell is tolling. Holohan skateboarded through some urban decay and acrobatically spun-hooked as he collided with Cooper. The ball swished across the face of goal and various Greens slapped and tickled.

Otis lifted a deflected cross just over the far lurking Efete. Now, Mr Glennon, remember the Mariner Mantra: concentration, elevation, celebration! Ringo rolled shortly, Hunt ticked on, Holohan triangulated and Glennon coiled to the nearest post. Efete rose above the fear lines in his brow, ducked and leg-glanced down to the boundary as fielders stood around watching their wheels go round and round and come off their bus. Oh Michee, look up, not down, and hear the sound of the faces in the crowd. Well done young man.

What the heck's going on out there? How have we turned base metal into goals? Ah, you see, Town took an old-fashioned approach: get your hair cut, shine your shoes, shoulders back, chin up. We're short, we're back, we're down the sides and everything is spic and span and fan-dabi-dozi.

Isn't it lovely, isn't it wonderful.

In the shadows of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand chops were chipped. Clifton wriggled, Clifton wiggled, Clifton sniggled past Mumba, waggled past a woeful waft and crinkled from the bye-line. Kiernan attacked the near post, sumptuously swivelled and back-heeled across the static Cooperman into the farthest corner. Now you have to say that's magnificent. You have to. Go on, say it.

Ay-up, another Green man down and out as off went Scarr and on came Wilson. Their dilithium crystals cannae take it anymore.

Waterfall's hands were hit by a bouncing ball. Do you see ships in the Humber? I see no ships, I see only hips, and hips don't lie. All the attraction, the tension, don't you see this is perfection? Toblerones in the distance! Kiernan's slinky slalom was foiled by Cooper's scooper. Here he is, it's that man again, Gav O'Groves swung his pants and Cooper plopped across the slithering skipper.

Six minutes added. Where did he get all that from?

And still Town purred forward in search of the missing chord. Tippy-tappy, snippy-snappy, happy-clappy, here comes the judge. Kiernan crossed farly, highly, and Khan leant backwards and sidewards to wrench-head goalwards. The ball looped and a Green head cleansed their palette and bicycled off the line. Wellied upfield and wangled wide, Hardie hardly troubled the fishes with a wan wallop across for a Town throw-in.

Cor, that's enough, isn't it? Wait…there's more. In the mysterious bonus seventh minute of added extra time some hubbling and bubbling after an over-elevated corner and Morris dinked a dropsy drooper in from the left. Dispirited Devonians gathered underfoot, Mumba miserably mumbled and Glennon, ten yards out at the far post, stepped over a picket fence and poke-prodded past Cooper's invisible hands.

It was all over. There was no hope now. The darkness closed in around them.

They whacked it once, so Town whacked them over the head with a Woman's Weekly. Unstoppable, irrepressible and unimaginable at five past three. Magic moments by the dozen.

Are there any more goodies left in the Plymouth piñata?

2nd half – Pinning tails on donkeys
Ennis and Whittaker replaced Jenkins-Davies and Cosgrove, their cosplay centre-forward, as the Argyle emerged early to be drenched by the drizzle sheets.

And we're off. Mumba mamboed through some ice cream cones and Smith sliced the cross-shot over the bar. A corner. And what happened next? Big Luke has a head. But we knew that before. You and I don't need to keep being reminded of the facts of life.

Some fizzles, some frazzles. Do they still sell them? Whittaker wobbled longly, Crocombe unobtrusively, decisively, excellently, scooped safely. Mad Max is unobtrusively decisive and excellent. But we knew that before. You and I don't need to keep being reminded of the facts of life.

Ah yes, a little trim, a little off the front and down the sides? Big Bren barundled after a boomer and a Greenster dissolved for a corner. Now, Mr Glennon, remember the Mariner Mantra: concentration, elevation, celebration! Waterfall arose farly and a dunkin' Devonian diverted off the line.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so they had the ball, nice. Mr Purple plucked a pair of pickled crosses. Slips and slides, near and far, far away. Ennis and Whittaker roaming in the gloaming, surging, sweeping, swiping, missing.

Did they have a shot? In theory.

Green chugging, stripey mugging. Khan careered down the middle, lapping to the left for the galloping Gav. Holohan smirgled a scruffier into a thicket of humanity and Clifton's flick was edged straight to the wicket keeper.

Four to draw, but five to thrive? All this sweeping will have us weeping. One touch, one move, once more into their breaches. Smith intercepted a stray Devon clot, Morris swingled, Clifton ramped, Efete the greyhound gobbled up a hare and Kiernan stretched and volleyed past the orange Scooperman. A classical gas.

Oh Mr Kiernan! A chip and chase into the void, menaced by a single Greenster. A twist, a turn, a swipe and the ball swayed past the farthest post.

With a quarter of an hour left Town triple-subbed, allowing Holohan, Kiernan and Khan to promenade past the Frozen HorseBeer and Pontoon to high five, pose for selfies and soak up the love of the common people. Who came on? Kiki Dee Simmonds, Tricky Dickieson and the eternal flame of Evan Khouri.

Ooh, hello. Richardson plunged under Plymouth pawing. The ref took pity on the poor and refused the penalty imploring. Ah well, six would just be greedy. Simmonds was offside. Simmonds was then offside. Then, learning quickly, Simmonds was offside.

Efete down, Cropper on. There you are, a fact.

Cropper hurled exceedingly longly straight out of play. That was his contribution to road safety. Simmonds dinked into the nether regions twixt keeper and defence. Striped boots lurked and lunged. The ball skipped through and over and under and out.

They're out, it's nearly over.

Four minutes were added. Boom, boom, boom, even brighter than the moon, moon, moon. Let's dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues. Or get your brolly out, it's sheeting down. A Hunt free kick coiled and ripped through the corridor of uncertainty past Town toes and Town noses.

Top of the league above? You really are having a laugh. They are the hollow men, they are the stuffed men, they are out of the cup.

This Plymouth are a mere cavity open to the outside world, suddenly becoming an amusement park to which everybody comes scampering, skipping and screaming, nerves a-tingle, loins aflame. The laughs, tears, moans, giddy thrills, gasps, horrors, whatever, the gorier the merrier!

Town were collectively compelling and utterly magnificent to a man after the initial timidity. Clifton was the crème de la crème of a pretty creamy pie. Don't let anyone see the video, we need to keep our secrets.

Mesmerising. Magnificent. Mariners