Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
20 November 2022
Another Saturday, another day we'll be watching and waiting and cheering every move as the sun came out and the sun went down. Stevenage aren't the best, but Town'll be put to the test on a brisk day of sneaky chillness.
Can we be bothered to choi-oik the pantomime dame today? Of course we can. A man with a waistline bigger than his ego and charge sheet, Jabba the Hutt of Hertfordshire is back in town. Yes and, Big Steve, just remember that the slug-like alien ultimately fell victim to his own hubris and vengeful ways. Life sometimes imitates art.
Town lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Waterfall, Maher, Smith, Efete, Morris, Green, Amos, Clifton, Khan and McAtee. The substitutes were Khouri, Holohan, Hunt, Keirnan, Richardson, Simmonds and Orsi. Was it three or two or one, or an inverted one up top? Is there a top? How far are we off bottom? Or shall we just adopt the tactic of every junior school team and give it to the best player and see what happens?
Kirsty, what are they wearing? Magenta, mauve, purple or the natural tones of Enormous Evans's face: puce?
Remember, against teams from Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly happen.
1st half – This time we'll get it right
Stevenage kicked off towards the Pontoon exploring the spaces between Michee's minds. There's bumbling, there's rumbling, there's a cynical clattering of Clifton unpunished by the turquoise turnip.
Did you ever watch that episode of The Big Bang Theory called the foul fall fallacy? Hilarious, especially that bit when Sheldon kept throwing himself on the floor whenever Leonard walked by. Over and over and over again. And again. And again. Vexed by the official failings, we shall be litigating soon. We demand a judicial review into Tom the Terrible's wilful idiocy in seeing monochrome manhandling in the passing clouds.
A Purple plop and a free kick pumped. Heads and tails, a corner cleared and Sweeney's dip-volley was delicately scooped off the slippery-slidey turferry by Max. A slap-dash hash and back they came. A corner shortened as Khan lazily turned to chat with a far off chum and…and…and…perhaps…perhaps…perhaps there is a need for someone, somewhere to know exactly what happened next. Close your eyes and drift away.
Efete crumbled as he missed a McAdink, flaked as the full-back flew by and stood still as all around moved. Stripes disrobed and Reeves speculatively wellied. The ball spun off Town socks and looped the loop into the void between six- and eighteen-yard lines. Efete stooped and stumbled, Clark noddled by and stabbed dozens of yards wide with Crocombe impersonating a dead star fish down by the yacht club. Or the pier, take your pick.
Dear old Michee, a mind muddled and a man in need of a cuddle.
Slowly, slowly Town emerged from their shell, realising that the Purple People-Eaters wouldn't eat us if they think we are tough. Let the grind back begin.
What's this thing coming out of the sky? One long ball and one big cry. Purple plunging under imagineered lunging. Little Harry was blatantly, clearly, obviously pushed in Big TV corner when two big Purple arms shoved him face down in the dirt, Donnie, face down in the dirt. Play on, they see no ships. Ah yes, Khan breathed near a southern man; now that's a heinous crime.
A foul striped throw-in plopped back to Amos who swung deeply across. Efete arose above a floppy-haired full-back and headed back across and over the bar as Ashby-cum-Hammond remained pruning his roses below.
Falling, fouling and much Mariner scowling.
A Purple corner was cleared nicely. McAtee flicked and Clifton clicked and Big John swung a coiling dripper into the D. The keeper slipped and shinned into the boondocks and Amos slapped low, slapped hard through the huddle of humanity. The ball shimmered through many legs but Ashby de la Hammond flung himself low to parry aside. A tick, a tock and Morris sliced into the Docks Beer concession in the Fanzone. What more can we say? He hit it and if it had gone in it would have been a goal.
Now, we really must mention the unspeakable horror that was Town's goal kicks. They've been watching that premiership again haven’t they, getting fancy ideas about fancy football. On earth we call that faffing about. Crocombe tapped, Maher mapped out a route to goal of the season via intricate one-touch Tobleroning within the Town penalty area. Messing about more like. Maher to Morris to Maher to Green to me to you. Vancooten dispossessed the yard dog and veered goalwards. The shot boombled off stripage into the path of Rose, who blimpled through legs and Crocombe batter-scooped aside.
Occasional moments of Purpleness, all self-induced by timidity and over-indulgent nonsense of total football inside the Town six-yard box. Don't prat about, get it out!
A corner cleared and Little Harry headed on and headed off into the sunset, McAtee rolled forward, rolling his foot over the ball and rolling many thoughts over in his mind as our eyes see the glory of the coming of a goal. The last defender hovering, a jink, a wink and Clifton raced on to the pass, prodded past the flying custardian and happily fell over the outstretched arms. And finally Town were awarded a free kick, and of the most delicious kind possible. Penalty! McAtee waited for the hoo-haahing to abate and carefully, calmly, rolled the ball slow and low. Ashby-Hammond settled down to his right, brushing a few hairs off his sleeves, plumped up a cushion and flicked the flimsy penalty away as if it were a dead fly on the carpet.
Now that is not what we wanted from life. This isn't why we came. Guests should be polite and allow their hosts to entertain them.
And then Green was booked as a Hertfordshire hare was scared by an old paper bag fluttering past him near the Police Box. Fear not, dear reader, for nothing untoward happened thereafter. Max has long arms and Town hoikled clear. Roll up, roll up the Magical McAtee Tour is waiting to take you away. A twist, a turn, a rock and roll and Big John thundered forward waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Khan stepped in from the left and coiled a dipper against the inside of the farthest post. The ball boinged back across the face of the opened goal with the keeper chewing the grass. McAtee stretched in front of the last purple person left and toe-poked wide of the open goal.
One minute was added.
We keep seeing the same game at Blundell Park. Sometimes they score, sometimes they don't, and all the while Town play Pacman in front of the trippers' bus. Could have been losing, should have been winning. And we always end up in between, half way down the stairs.
Are we going up or are we going down?
2nd half – All the way
Neither team made any changes at half time.
And we're off. And history repeats itself. McAtee was cynically sliced by Earley early on, way out wide, way out nowhere. All Town, but the pressure's more like a slow puncture. It all piffled to nothingness, all the banging against the wall, the sound and the fury, the running and the gurning, all lead to nothing.
Nothing but a McAtee run and Khan slowly shuffling and slowly setting himself and slowly slapping against Purple thighs.
Nothing but an Efete cross that…crossed the international dateline next Friday.
Nothing but a long dink onto Efete's toes and a miserable Michee plummet for a penalty.
Nothing but Clifton playing squash after wibbles and wobbles.
Nothing but a Morris shot blocked after Khan passed the buck. And off they broke, slickly and quickly and we're feeling quiet sickly at the sight of the central Clark carefully coiling. The ball arced around bending stripes and onto the pole holding the net up.
Halfway through the half Rose headed Waterfall. Three minutes later the groggy grappler walked off and Stevenage made a double substitution, bringing on Amoo and Reid. Five minute later Simmonds replaced Khan. Things had changed, and not for the better.
Huffery and fluffery, have we had enoughery?
Simmonds jogged near the flying Amoo in the shadows of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Up, up and away, the cross half cleared. Simmonds observed events on his iPhone as Amoo sauntered into the untended netherlands on the edge of the area. A flash, a deflection and Crocombe spun back and up to fabulously flick the spinning dripper over the bar. The corner? Well, they took it. What more do you need to know?
Simmonds twisting, Town broke down, Efete crossed and McAtee fell off his bicycle. Off they flew with passing and running. Reeves rippled and Amoo skipped gaily down the line as stripes maintained a respectful distance. The cross flashed lowly, Efete slipped in the centre, Reid tapped back and Reeves very carefully, very precisely placed a pass around the ducking Waterfall, around Crocombe's waving fingers and in off the inside of the right post.
Is it time to beat the traffic? Oh ye of so little faith, here's comes salvation for the nation: Orsi and Kiernan replaced Smith and Morris as Town moved to four at the back.
Where's that kitchen sink? Flinging and flying, crosses and corners, flips and flops. A near-post cross Purple-toed away. A header slurped off Purple shins and skidded straight to yellow fingers. Maher's semi-long chucks caused very minor pandemonium that their defence could control. Corners! Elevate! I said elevate! Green ducked at the near post, flicking on to various human appendages stood on the goal line. The ball spunkled highly, drooping into a scrummage of stripes and a plethora of Purplers, disappearing into the chaos, emerging briefly and disappearing again.
Seven minutes were added.
All hands to the pump, hell bent and heaven sent, pump it up until they can feel it. Orsi bundled, Simmons wriggled and McAtee tiggled into an unmanned void to the left. Simmonds swayed and reversed across the keeper and a Purple boot scraped away nearish the goal line. Straight to Clifton. A blocked shot blocked backed, slapped back, slipped off a Purple stomach and scuttled wide for a corner. Elevation, Mr Amos! Big Luke winked on into a hole of humanity by the farthest post. The keeper groped, Wildin hoped but Maher's swinging right hook around the last bollard changed the course of history as the ball clipperty-clopped on the stairs and into the bottom left corner.
And the crowd went wild.
Listen lads, we can still do this! And so can they. Nudged from their complacency, off they flew down the flanks. A break left, a break right, black and white bodies flying this way and that. A Purple wiggler wriggled past one, two and three, but Marvellous Max stood stall and batted away the rightist raider. Balls, blocks, highly, lowly, widely, nearly but nowhere. But now it's over, it's just another show. At least they left us laughing as we go home.
What of this strange afternoon of colours and noise but little poise? Suckers punched, shouldn't have been worse, wasn't in the end. Town are better with McAtee and will be much better with a fully fit McAtee. Everyone else is a water carrier.
At least they fought until the whistle blows, to send the folks back home less unhappy.