Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
27 November 2022
The road to Wembley is long but there aren't mountains in our way, just the fumbling Fenland funsters from the old Abbey Stadium. While we're on our way there, why not share memories of Paul Reece's super expandable arms, Dion Dublin's extendable elbows and John Beck's indefensible petrol claims down Sincil Bank way?
But are we strong, strong enough to carry on?
Town lined up in a 4-3-3-ish formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Maher, Amos, Green, Holohan, Clifton, Kiernan, McAtee and Khan. The substitutes were Pardington, Smith, Morris, Pearson, Khouri, Hunt, Simmonds, Orsi and Richardson. Suprisingly Smithless, delightfully McAteeful, there's a whole lotta scuttling going on. Put your boots on and lace 'em up, got another day of hard work to earn your pay.
Is there anybody out there? Like a fading seaside resort in the deep midwinter the gulls, wheeling, soaring, gliding high and circling the empty emptiness below, waiting to pounce on the unwary chip chompers. The tinny tannoy belted out a selection of the trite and crass that appear on K-Tel's soccer superstar compilation (available in all bad shops this Christmas). What's that sound, each time you hear a loud collective sigh? Sweet Effing Caroline: music to watch gulls fly by. Why does it have to be so terribly loud?
Cambridge, a crumbling footballing land and Town suitably booted and suited in pink. They have the obligatory double wardrobe in central midfield and the inevitable almost Townite lurking atop, that man called Ironside who missed his chance to be a Mariner by muddling in Matlock many years ago, in the dark times.
Here we go, hold your breath to see if something blows. Lights! Turn on the sound effects. Action!
1st half – Apples and Oranges
Cambridge kicked off towards the seven hundred or so Town fans gathered together and grooving on a Saturday afternoon. I can't imagine anything that's better, the world is ours whenever we're together. Well, it's better than slumping down at home and staring at the colours and noise of the FIFA Soiled Cup.
Hustling, hassling, nicking and knocking, triangles of pink niceyness. McAtee chased their keeper into the corner and Gav O'Groves declined to Eagle from half way inside their half. Kiernan crossed high, high, high for a throw-in that was chucked as chuck-ins often are. Big Bren big dipped widely as he chased a chip. Here's Johnny. Long and far, far and long. It's just a shot away, oh it's gonna fade away as the mad bull lost his way. Little Harry walloped and Mannion scooped as pink passing and much Mariner movement befuddled the ailing Amberites.
Hard-pressing, hard-working and it ain't hard to love these boys that entertain you. Tipping, tapping, pink boots a-snapping at the under-cooked graduates of Bonnerball.
The best plan is to profit by the folly of others. McAtee chased Mannion's fly kick down and the ball scootled across the face of goal, causing mild pandemonium that the stewards could easily contain. Well, someone raised an eyebrow in the home end and issued a pithy epithet. Truth comes out in whines.
Ooh, hello, Cantabridgians cantering towards the cantilevered stand. Efete threatened by shadows, exposed on the right and Dunk's punt sunk by a double block. A corner and, yeah, well, there we are. Our hearts are bigger than their heads.
More home scuttles and scuffles and out came yellow for Green as tricky Tracey feinted at the sight of an exposed table leg. Alas, for the pastel peeper 'tis proof that no mortal man is wise at all moments. A free kick and, well, there we are. Our heads are bigger than their tarts.
McAtee roaming in the netherworld between fact and fiction, proving the movement we needed was always on the shoulder of the last defender. Right-sided rightness and Kiernan stretched to scrape overly with the goal agape. Kiernan scrapped across through the vacant plot twixt keeper and centre-backs. It was all going so well.
Ah, a bit of a hoohaa at an Amber corner. Crocombe swiped around Big Luke's ears, Green and Maher ducked nowhere near Dunk and the ball gently looped against the bar. So, what happened next? The only certainty is that nothing is certain, not these days. Holohan walked away with the cabbage intact, so we can have bubble and squeak for tea tonight.
Well Fern Ditton really has it all. Oh yeah, Michee is a Dunk rocker. The local left-back hung, drawn and quartered by the roaming right-back, aided by Kiernan, our keen Mr Mustard. And Big Bren swiped over again. And again. Or am I just have a recurring nightmare whereby every shot fell to Big Bren or Little Harry?
Tips were tapped, thighs were slapped as Town triangulated through the Fens. Efete exchanged passes and slipped his moorings, sailing through the rusty Maunsell Forts. A double Amber clamp as he was about to lamp, the ball squiggled sideways and Mannion duveted Clifton narrowly. Chipping around, kicking the ball around the floor looking for flaws, Cambridge under pressure. Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Arms were wrestled, ha'pennies shoved and Digby induced the wrath of Khan for pulling his shorts down as he skipped away. Ooooooooooh McAtee. Ooooooooooh McAtee. Oooooooooooooh McAtee. McAtee, oh, McAtee over.
One minute was added, enough for an Amberboy to head Waterfall's elbow.
And here we are, where we normally are - fashionably 0-0 at half time. Town by far the better team in an occasionally tepid tapfest where any vigour and vim came from the boys in pink. Cambridge are floppy fish out of water, just waiting to be eaten by passing felines.
2nd half – Step on up
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Nice, nice, ooh, that's nice, just scratch them there. No, higher, to the right, a bit more, a bit more. Oooh, how satisfying. Town intensely pressing and impressing, but nothing of consequence emerged from ten minutes of salad tossing.
An Amber break and Brophy twizzled infield, releasing his mate Harvey. A swing of the pants and sway of the hips and his Knibbs shaved the psychic aura of the angle of left post and bar as Crocombe, strolling round the park on a Saturday afternoon, watched the world go by.
Has the worm turned? No, not in this weather. Home harrumphing as Town mugged freely, hunting in packs, pouncing on the slack. You've got to strike when the moment is right without thinking, you don't get points for style. The pink swarm descended, passes were moved, moves were passed and McAtee's in the 'D'. Okedina vogued in front and the shot skittled off his tiny toes, skipped off the turf and Mannion flipped the ball over for a corner. And? Amos followed the bellowed orders and elevated into the mixer. Gloves rabbit punched the air, two pink heads ducked and the ball slipped off Green's sleek bonce and out for a goal kick.
Town mugged 'em again. And again. And again. Ambers passed out, Ambers crossed out, Ambers clapped out. On the hour Town tapped out a little paradiddle at the back. Maher looked up, saw Big Bren moonwalking and swaggered a boinging diagonal right onto his right toe. Ker-plunk! Dunk flunked! Kiernan galloped on and pulled the ball back into the path of two flying pinkies. Holohan stretched and belted. Mannion spectacularly parried and Khan calmly clattered through the hedgerows and into the bottom right corner.
Woah-ho. Now were talking.
Their change it had to come, we knew it all along and finally off went dismal Dunk. And, bizarrely, the tricky Tracey who'd been running himself in ragged circles all game. Whatever, ours is not to reason why what they do to make them cry.
There they are banging their heads against the pink wall. Here we are waltzing away, Harry underhit, Kiernan overhit, Holohan went right not left, moments of possibility lost through moments of imprecision. Clifton cleaned out a Cambridge attack. Oh Big Bren, look up! Kiernan looked up. A coil was curled, Big John sneaked in front of ailing Ambers and McAtee's missile spangled away off the static Mannion's shins. Spinkles, spankles, Amber ankles, Holohan bedragged centrally, Kiernan leapt, fluttered his feet and the ball skiffled wide of the left post.
It's all Town and aren't we happy.
Them subbing again, like we care. Simper's game ended with a whimper and Harvey Knibbs can get some early Christmas shopping in. If he has a quick shower he can get some fluffy cushions in that Dunelm down the road.
Well, I'm not the only one who didn't see the writing on the wall. Who'd have thought the old crone of the thrid tier still had a tooth? Piddling and paddling and a big booming ball. A dumpy cross from their right, Smith arose near the penalty spot, nodded back, Crocombe scrabbled surprisingly slowly and the ball droopled in. Ah, the thrill of it all for the locals. A goal. They're like red squirrels around these parts, not seen in the wild since 1957. Don't buy that man a case of beer, get him a fluffy cushion, he deserves it.
Isn't it about time things changed?
The visibly tired McAtee began to measure out his moments of movement. The visibly narked McAtee was booked for a full frontal slide. Ahoy there, Town ship approaching! Waves of pink began to flow towards the seven hundred as Cambridge, hilariously, tried to score another goal. Kiernan wasted over the bar, Clifton successfully passed to the only Amberite in their half with a triplet of piggies promenading left and right. Holohan swiggled and swaggled when all around demanded he waggled and wiggled. Moments of almostness, almost happened moment after moment.
Danny boy slalomed through some caravans and nutmegged an old toast rack, slapping a cross-shot against the keeper at the near post. The ball squirtled across to the Holohan hole ten yards out. Gav O'Groves, unbothered by home humans, eschewed a left-footed tap, leant back and carefully steered into the lush meadows beyond with his right.
And finally, with one minute left, fresh leggings as Kiki Dee Simmonds replaced McAtee.
What's the point in making a change that late, eh? And Simmonds, he never does anything. Crocombe punted, Holohan dummy-nodded and the ball rolled off various thighs, plopping into a blob of sockery. Simmonds flicked, Khan scampered freely down the middle, waited for Mannion to write his Christmas cards and carefully rolled into the bottom left corner. And off he slid towards the boiling mass of Marinerdom, knees first, arm bent as one by one the rest of the team arrived, the over-excited Amos overshooting the runaway. A fire engine was despatched to hose Danny down just in case he spontaneously combusted.
Four minutes were added.
Cambridge tried to put it in the mixer, but, if push comes to shove, it has to be said they weren't really sure what the mixer is. Smith came on for Big Bren. Ups and unders, blocks with socks and Crocombe dropped a cross. Morris and Khouri replaced Holohan and Khan.
And Cambridge crossed straight out of play. The end, but did they ever start?
One team looked like a fourth division straggler; one team looked efficiently adequate. One team was a team, the other a coach's show reel of rondeaus and roulades. This was a grand return to those early season away days where Town were always in the pink. What a grand day out.
Town: totally dominant, totally deserved, totally acemer.
Thank U. Next.