What Just Happened?!

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

30 December 2022

Here we are stuck in the middle of a restive festive period, some waiting for a train that never comes, some happy to marvel at the attire and the satire of those sat higher looking down on us as we're sat here waiting for the end to begin. Or is it for the beginning to end? Have we started yet?

A wind did blow and the moon was low as 102 followers of fashion huddled together in hope of a better life in the sinking lands of the east. We'll sing the songs that remind us of the good times, we'll sing the songs that remind us of the better times. Oh, Danny-boy Amos, has he survived the cull of the dull after the Harrogate horror?

Town lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon, Clifton, Green, Holohan, Khan, McAtee and Orsi. The substitutes were Amos, Maher, Morris, Hunt, Scannell, Kiernan and Pepple. Hey, almost two strikers, we're in for a treat tonight. Why are The Ammies flapping their arms? Do they feel like chicken tonight?

Ah, Salford, some big blokes, some flabby blokes, some ratty blokes. Blokes, laddies in red. The highlights in their hair catches our eye. There's only one Neil Woods but there's also only one Neil Wood. It's enough to confuse stupid people

By the way, how much is the fish? Here we go again. Come on, resurrection required.

1st half – Things fall apart
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon. Savour the moment. Or perhaps just go home now and leave with such cherishable memories of a night that promised so much happiness.

Michee muddled, Michee befuddled, someone give him a cuddle, he's a sensitive lad. A quick chuck and they're in luck as dawdling defenders dawdled in non-defence of the realm deep, deep down by the covered corner. A tip, a tap, a drip into the heart of the penalty area and a simple question: which Smith is having a nap? Smith levered his left foot around Smith and volleyed unerringly in a low arc around Crocrumble's fingers and into the bottom right corner.

Happiness? Reverie? Hope? All gone in 60 seconds.

Oh, no, not you. We need to talk about Gavin.

Gav O'Hollowman's career imploded in front of six thousand sad eyes. Past it? Well he passed it to them. His legs moved but we can't see what he's playing at. Poor old Gav, merely the worst of the worst with Town a collective mush, standing in the kitchen at their own party.

And then, suddenly, a spark, a flicker, a suspicion of life. Orsi chased a rainbow, Glennon crossed, the red rogues wibbled. Town walked out of the kitchen and danced in a new way. Flabby King flapped at a passing pigeon. Tic-tac-toe, triangulating Toblerones and McAtee nodded sagely. Flipping King sprung rightly to superbly slap aside.

Roaming on the right, lolloping on the left, their centre strangled as Town got into 'em. Don't forget lead foot Kieran with his hotwire head. Green sallied up and Green sallied down, lifting, squatting and tearing the ground. Efete effortlessly shimmered, Big John simmered, Dr Teeth zimmered and Little Harry steered highly.
And we were rollin', rollin', rock 'n' rollin' all over them. Town love to dance, but we keep telling you they don't take chances.

McAtee hassled Nartey by the dug outs, who promptly plunged to earth claiming tortures of the damned had been visited upon his weak and feeble body. Everyone just ignored him. Big John picked up the ball and chucked quickly down the line. Orsi bundled and reversed in the shadow of the Police Box, perfectly into the flightpath of the graceful, gliding swan. McAtee espied a familiar shirt flapping in the breeze, unencumbered by daytrippers, and passed the parcel. The music stopped. Khan took a step east, stepped back west and carefully passed across Mr Blobby into the opposite corner.

All is well with the world. Our chicken karma is balanced.

Marvellous, most marvellously marvellous. He has saved us all from Salford's pow'r when we were gone astray. Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.

Ooh-la-la, passing, movement. Salford carved like a juicy turkey by Town's sharpened blades of glory. OK, a few more turns of the whetstone required. Gav O'Hollowman fumble-stumbled near the penalty spot with the Salfordians akimbo and the goal a-gaping. Perhaps he should have had aplomb pudding for Christmas.

Aye-yai-yai, movement, passing. Hit those old timpanis and shake the tambourines! OK, perhaps a few more maracas required to get the saucy salsa beat going. Glennon wellied longly, King slumped low and left to plop upon the skimmer.

There’s only going to be one winner in the game now, I have seen the writing on the wall, don't think they'll do anything at all for the cookies are crumbling. Nothing can go wrong now.

On the half hour middling and muddling as many massed in front of the Pontoon. An artless chip and an aimless chase, Redsters going nowhere. Smith calmly caressed back to Crocrumble who promptly swiped straight down the middle to the Hollowman in the middle of the middle of the Town half. In the middle but in a muddle, turning complacently into the path of the on-hustling Galbraith who ran off straight back down the middle and walloped into the bottom right corner long before any stripe could shake two lambs' tails.

To concede one goal to Salford, Mr Hurst, may be regarded as a misfortune; to concede two looks like carelessness.

We're all feeling a little delicate, shall we lie down for a few minutes? Turn off the lights, put on some soothing light jazz. Some muddling in the middle as many massed by the dug outs. An aimless chip and artless chase into exactly the same space as the great unpleasantness. Smith twisted, turned, slipped and slapped against his shins and the ball arced perfectly over Crocrumble's stumbling grope and crawled under the bar.

To concede three goals before half time, Mr Hurst, may be regarded as the moment the worms felt it was safe to turn.

Shall we just spool on five minutes and save ourselves further sturm und drang? A punt, a nudge, Hollowman digging worms as Galbraith jet-skied to Hessle. Glennon stopped the cross, if not the clocks, and scooped to Khan on the touchline. Otis slipped, reds swarmed, Watt dinked deeply where Smith lurked beyond Efete and calmly nodded down. And Town were out for the count. Shall we count the number who walked down and walked out?

Three minutes were added for various claimed atrocities. Green glanced a corner overly, Watt tried to chip Crocrumble from the halfway line.

What just happened?

A flabbergasting soufflé of piffle, where Town were woeful and wonderful. Then woeful again.

Town could still do this you know. It's just a matter of belief. Remember the Alamo – it's always four to draw.

2nd half – No longer at ease
Both teams made changes at half time. To help Town, Salford brought on a Leak to fix a leak. Maher, Morris and Keirnan replaced diluted Smith, the curiously wan Clifton and catastrophic Holohan.

Listen, Town could still do this. Yeah, in theory. Town huffed and Town puffed but they'd already blown their own house down. Salford? Feet up, paper over their head, having a post-prandial snooze whilst waiting for Midsomer Murders on ITV4. The Bergerac years, obvs. Standards must be maintained.

Yeah, they were like my record collection – no Rush.

Bolton of Salford dithered, King blathered and Khan managed to mess up and prod straight out for a goal kick. We could have still done this, you know. Just believe. For every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, you know.

Crosses thudded against unknowing flesh. Crosses blundered against unwitting skin. Masses of misses, drips and drops, blocks by socks, one off near the line, probably, maybe, possibly. We could have still done this, you know. Believe. You know it's so sad that some more are leaving, it takes time to believe.

On the hour +1 flashed up on the scoreboard. There's just one minute of added time, we can go home early. Hurrah!

And the drum beats out of time. Foul after foul, time after time on Efete. Micheee and his trademark surges and retreats causing palpitations and much frustration. It goes on and on and on and on. Don't stop believing, it's all that's left.

Crosses high and low and untouched by home heads or feet. Orsi laid off, Efete sliced into the Memorial Hall car park. Khan stepped over, McAtee's swish squirmed away off Mr Blobby, Morris wibbled slightly over, someone else wobbled slightly further over.

Blah-blah-blah. White noise. Salford took off Dr Who and someone no-one had noticed was on the pitch.

The satyrs and satirists in the Frozen Uplands looked down upon the Pontoon and saw a tired and lonely place where the weak-willed spilled out of the ark, two-by-two. Why are they going? 'Cos they ain't gonna be made to look a fool no more, Town've done it once too often, what do you take them for?

Michee missed a free header at a corner. Or did he? Touray had a shot? Or did he? Yes they did. I can't lie to you about our chances and no-one will compose a symphony about it either.

The game officially ceased as Hurst withdrew Big John and Orsi and, in a page right out of history, on came Bam-Bam and Pebbles. Both teams had withdrawn their war wounded from the field in readiness for the battles ahead.

With five minutes left we saw that most beautiful of sights, a full murmuration of maddened Mariners, a mass migration of the startled starlings flocking off home.

Three minutes were added. They headed wide, most had already headed home.

There really is nothing more say. We'd all rather wasted our time.

Town are no longer the bottom of the top, but the top of the bottom, drifting like a dead whale, at the mercy of the tides of time. Do we have time? There's an air of comfort and complacency around. We're just going to have to shake it, shake it off!

Watching Town is like sticking your fingers in a flame. Does it hurt? Certainly it hurts. The trick in living through this present pain is not minding that it hurts.