What about the orange?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

29 January 2023

As we sat upon the Bedford road we were really in a state, tickets in each hand and no transport moving, we'll be late. I saw four men lurking by a static car and asked them "Where you going?" "Luton Town's ground." Ooh, Luton Town's ground. Oh, Luton Town's ground.

As we were led up the stairs at Luton we gazed down into the kitchen and saw the old man looking at the world over the rim of his tea cup. So, what's in the fridge at number 93 today? You'll need some more milk soon, so pop out while the game's on. Luton: streets full of people, no-one there.

Pink Town lined up in a 5-4-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Smith, Waterfall, Maher, Glennon, Hunt, Morris, Holohan, Clifton and Orsi. The substitutes were Battersby, Pearson, Green, Khouri, Scannell and Essel. So that's what's left in the Cheapside fridge then: three eggs, a stick of rubbering celery, last week's carrots, a meat and potato pie, some mouldering cheese and half a tin of baked beans. We really do need to pop down the shops and stock up on some new food don't we. Oh well, you can only cook with what you've got, let's hope the gas is still connected.

And we gazed a gazely stare at the thousands that were here, these happy Hatters hoping for a hatful against ancient foes. We're merely a folk memory to them now. If only we could turn back the clock, bring the wheels of time to a stop, and go back to the days when life was so much better.

Orange against pink. Ghastly.

1st half – The Holohan resurrection
Luton kicked off away towards the fifteen hundred or so travelling Townites and, like a scene from a cheesy musical, up popped the sprinklers. The hills were alive with sound of jeering. What a shower!

Up and under, back and forth. Maher's short-long plops failed to find a bowl and he shall have to go home without a goldfish. There, there, Niall, have a banana.

Back and forth, under and up, Glennon muffled a non-clearance, Doughty drumbled, Clark rumbled and Hunt stretchy fumbled the cross. A corner, a cross, a cross, a corner, in-out-in-out, Town barely shaken about. A pink duvet stretched across the penalty area. Mpanzu bedraggled wide, Lanky Adebayo blanked and blocked, Maher stretched, Smith grazed, Mad Max plucked and Big Luke has a chest as big as them that pirates put their booty in back in the golden olden days. And so Town bootied it out. Mmm, bootilicious blamping.

The foulest throw ever seen was seen by everyone and no-one baby. Where's the ref at? I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious. No, no I will make a fuss, it was obvious and he was oblivious.

They're back again, they are, snapping passes to their wingers and a-shuffling their feet. Hand ball? No, sirs, you need hands when you have to stop a bus. With music and laughter Gavan O'Hollowhands tried to guide us on our way, but dithered, was dispossessed and Potts glided betwixt and between Maher and Ringo to noddle into the nettage. It looked good, it looked fine, but then the home fans lost their minds when they saw a flag fluttering.

Tip top tapping, Town rarely caught napping. Orange bundling and barging, orange barging and bundling, Townites tracking and hacking when what we need's a darn good thwacking. Lanky lad lapped and, with a wink and smile, Harry Cornick jnr, tapped. A thumb goes up, another minute goes by as the ball flew towards Hitchin.

Once in a while the ball bounced inside the Luton half as Dr Teeth caused some eclectic mayhem with his smile and willingness to run that extra mile in pursuit of happiness. A pink plunge somewhere within the county boundaries, a toot, a peep, a point, a free kick. Waterfall's head arose, Horvath pulled the plum from the tree and made a pie for mom and pop.

Town sinking with Luton linking ominously. Mpanzu hit the roof, or was that the manager? Doughty dribbled, Bell bundled, Adebayo arose beyond and Crocombe kicked away. Smith kneed away, Maher glanced away, Michee marvellously wrestled and blocked away. Away, away, darn spot! Or at least from the penalty spot.
Orsi tumbled. No-one spoke and no-one smiled. There were too many spaces between Dr Teeth and orange feet.

Orsi, Orsi don't you stop, just let your feet go clipity-clop. Well I declare, a Morris shot. Oh yeah! Passing, movement, swishing, swaying and a careful roll that Horvath plopped upon. Our little mice have clogs on.

And we're back to the beat of the high hat and tambourine. Ooh, Clark, you're a teaser, you turn it on. You left Glennon burning and then you're gone. Bundling flick-trickery, oozing, schmoozing through the blancmange and dragging back to the penalty spotted Cornick, who teed himself up and smashingly volleyed towards the empty fridges in old Oak Road. Who's next? Great album. Ah-ha, it had to be you, it had to be Mpanzu launching into Whipsnade Zoo.

Bouncy-bouncy, orange socks slipping down. Holohan nodded past Osho and had dreams, big dreams. He saw the future, he saw a clip on the Match of the Day montage of magic cup moments: Ronnie Radford, Mickey Thomas…Gavan Holohan. A million miles from home the Gavmeister let rip with a big, big dipper. Horvath backtracked and hung high in the air. And in that moment, just before he started to fall, he lived in that one perfect moment in time, flipping over from under the bar. He was feeling fine and Yankee doodle-dandy all right.

The corner flung high and far, way above and beyond the decoy defenders. Holohan arose and nodded down, the ball ambled across the face of goal, bounced in an unmanned hole and trundled across the misplaced keeper into the left corner.

Oh what a circus, oh what a show, we've all gone crazy, falling over ourselves to get our unmisery right. He had his moments, he had some style, but the best show in town was the crowd. Three minutes were added apparently; we hadn't noticed.

One up in the cup. Magic!

2nd half – Harry and the Haddocks
Neither team made any changes at half time.

They've made up their mind, ain't wasting no more time, here they go again winding, finding places to go. Boom, boom shake the room. Hold on to your tin hat, hold on tight to your dreams. They coming from all angles.

Look at the sky, look at the diver. Isn't it good? Oh no, it's Osho leaping out of a Cessna 3,000 feet above Luton. He turned on his orange and blue flares as he circled, looking for a place to land. Ah-ha, he espied a tiny plot, but inches inside the Town penalty area. And then this man fell to earth, leaping over a thoroughly miffed Morris and landing on a little patch of ground on his home ground. The referee? There was no doubt in his mind, he’s a believer. Adebayo rolled the penalty left as Crocombe plunged right.

Now disappointment haunts all our dreams.

A Hunt free kick. Over and out. Let's not dwell upon nothing. Should and could? Didn't. That's all.

Crossing, blocking, plucking, and much tooth sucking. Maher at the near post, Efete at the far post and Big Luke's Big Forehead in between. Luton playing the squeezebox, Town wearing ear muffs. Adebeyo rocked and rolled along the bye-line and our Kiwi keeper scooped from a muddle of confused feetage at the near post where there be socks of many colours. Efete! Tackle!

Incidents. Accidents. Hints of football from the Town. From my angle they looked like triangles.

On the hour they'd had enough of tippy-tappery from their pistol-packing mammas and papas and on came some heavier artillery: Willowy Woodrow and Massive Morris. Cannons to the left, cannons to the right. Stormed at with shot and shell. Incoming!

Half a clearance, half a clearance, half a clearance leftward. Doughty trolled and rolled, roasted and toasted Glennon, trolling and rolling into the centre of the middle of the Town penalty area. The ball slightly behind, a wall of pink beside him, Clark flicked up, spun and volleyed back in an instant, the ball nestling in the net off Crocombe's left hand. Now that's tip-top top class football. We knew that once. Sometimes you just have to doff your cap at excellence beyond our stars.

Well, that's that then, the backbone broken, the end of the road is nigh, at least they gave it a try for an hour.

From the kick off a slightly upped, slightly undered drip into the middle of the Luton half. Little Harry nicked, Holohan ticked, Orsi flicked and Clifton bustled through an absence of orange and calmly steered lowly and rightly, causing crowd pandemonium that the stewards barely controlled as a barely controlled leaping Liam captured some up close and personal bouncy Mariner moments.

Badminton, volleyball, pinball wizardary. Hook tackles, slide tackles and fishing tackles too. A right hoo-hoo of slaps and flaps and Efete and Crocombe stayed motionless upon the turf. It's….time to take your time Max. Before you get up just make sure every bone isn't broken, every muscle isn't strained.

Bustling, bustling, orange shirts muscling past the pasty pinks. Glennon on toast again and their Morris glanced firmly at a near-post header. Crocombe watched, waited, plunged and pawed a fabulous flip off the line. Oh no, he's down again, clutching his handbag! Watch out Max, every ache you fake, every claim you make, the ref'll be watching you.

Triangles! Holohan slipped free in the 'D'. A shot deferred oncely then twicely, a soft scoop and Horvath clutched to his bosom. Triangles! A cross, a corner and Smith flattened inside the penalty area. Balls out of play, a linesmen blinded by the lights as another home runner on our right bounded away.

Time. To be savoured. Relax.

He stands like a statue, he's part of the machine, feeling all the bumps, and mostly plays it clean. Ricobounds and rebochets, Orsi chased a laddie, flicked over his shoulder whilst rolling Potts into a pie tin and espied spare pinks shirts lurking. He caressed into the path of Clifton whose swipe was swept off the line by Osho and into the keeper's hands.

You just keep us hanging on.

Seven minutes were added. They hurtled, they hurled, they flung, the ball hung and Berry volleyed into Crocombe's chest from narrowly near. A chip, a clip, and extendable yellow arms plucked and scooped as we all whooped. Harry slipping and slapping as Luton almost caught napping. A pink break, a pink plunge and time for a double Town subbing. Green and Khouri replaced Glennon and Holohan. Hunt underhit his free kick. They broke, are we going to choke? Nah, Harry's a good bloke. Racing across from a far flung corner of this foreign field Clifton magnificently dredged the turf and their Morris.

And in a bound we were free to dream the impossible dream.

Our tails go swish and the wheels go round, giddy up, we're homeward bound. So nearly a perfect day. Town may be depleted, but they weren't defeated. All those characteristics that fluked us up were there in abundance: organisation, commitment, all topped off with calm, cool heads and hearts. It was supremely professional: superior athletes, superior technicians, superior footballers neutered through planning and application.

You know it's good for the country in a roundabout way that we've made the back pages of all the world's papers today.