Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
8 April 2023
Shadows, tapping at our window, ghostly voices whisper will we come and watch Town play today? A bright day, a full ground, a safety pin in our nappy and no pressure. Let's have some fun in the sun. This is where we go to dream.
Town lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Smith, Waterfall, Maher, Efete, Holohan, Green, Amos, Hunt, Khan and Lloyd. The substitutes were Emmanuel, Glennon, Hunt, Morris, Clifton, McAtee, Taylor and Orsi. Five defenders and one striker. Now that's entertainment. Well, I can hear a baby wailing and stray dog howling down Harrington Street.
You know life is about the choices you make.
The referee chose to let black and white stripes play blue and white stripes. No kit clash there, oh no.
Hartlepool or Crawley, who do we want to remove from our life most? On the one hand Crawley are Crawley: creepy, far away and highly suspiciously financed. On the other hand Hartlepool and the never-ending hoodoo and horror show.
Choose sitting on that coach watching another mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game at Victoria Park. Choose rotting away at the end of it all. Choose life. Choose Hartlepool.
So, should you carry on or close this down now and save yourself the pain and gory?
It's your life, it's your choice…
1st half – Ghostdancing
Town kicked off towards the ram-packed Osmond, away from the ram-packed Pontoon, and in-between the almost packed sideburns where dentists await the unwary.
Smith, a whiff, a sniff snuffled. Wakey-wakey.
A Maher long-ish chuck bounced and bounced through legless limbs across the face of goal as the keeper chased and plucked.
Maher chucked, Lloyd slithered in the covered corner, Efete stretched at the near post and Khan whacked from the corner of the six-yard box. The calm custardian spectacularly pawed aside for a corner. The corner? It was taken. Waterfall glanced and Holohan's shot buffed up nicely for Stolarczyk. A Hunt cross vaguely nearish Amos and more than this, you know, there's nothing.
It was fun for a while and there was every way of knowing which way this was going.
Tipping and tapping in the shadows of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Jennings ecstatic with Smith static and Ferguson overlapping without molestation. Efete remained afar as the left-back advanced along the bye-line, clipped a cross across to Kemp on the penalty spot and…
Do I have to spell it out?
A Maher long throw. Bumbling, stumbling as a white wall tumbled down upon Waterfall and Holohan. Or was it Hunt? Or was it Rosemary the telephone operator? Could be.
Amid much passing out of play from by both sides. Efete swept away, Waterfall headed away, Lloyd swept the corner away. A trick free kick was a treat as it tickled our fancy. Away, away, you scullions! You rampallians! You fustilarians! We'll tickle your catastrophe.
Another long throw and mild pandemonium down yonder. Maher shot. The ball hit humans of indeterminate provenance and allegiance. Balls.
Two minutes were added and Maher mud-wrestled Umerah. That is all.
Town had a shot, Hartlepool had a shot. Town didn't score, Hartlepool scored. Is that all? That is all.
It would have been nice if someone had told us that this was a reserve team fixture, we could have adjusted our expectations accordingly. And stayed at home.
2nd half – Promised 'Pools a miracle
Taylor and McAtee replaced the carpool karaoke chumsters at half time as Town moved to the old, olde 4-1-4-1 formation of yore with McAtee atop the midfield diamond. Oh yeah, and Foran replaced Sterry for them.
Triangulation and strangulation as Kemp whizz-banged a cross above the clouds and out for a throw-in that was thrown in. Ferguson infiltrated the spaces between Michee and his mind and passed across the six-yard line.
You've had your fun, now it's our turn.
Chip'n'chase, get in their face. Under the Police Box Lloyd persisted as Murray resisted and Maher's chuck looped over forelocks and bounced off Lloyd's toe. Hacking, thwacking and blocks by white socks, oncely, twicely, thricely as McAtee thrashed and the ball squirtled off a puddleman, skittling across the face of goal. Out again, back again, McAtee hoisted beyond the farthest post where lurked Luke Waterfall. Arise, arise Sir Lukealot, and he did, but alas, Stolarczy pitter-patted back into the void between penalty spot and six-yard line where a wrong stripe awaited.
What should have been something was nothing at all.
Wiggling and giggling as Townites roamed the land. Michee this, Michee that and a cross too flat. One-two, and Hunt almost through, but a niddling nudge and the referee won't budge from his default fudge of seeing no evil inside the penalty areas.
Here we go, hold your breath to see if something blows. Michee swooped, Green swept, Taylor flicked, Efete bustled on beyond the flailing, ailing full-back and prod-poked through their custardian. Ah, relax, all is well with the world, their land is crumbling.
All it took was a bluff and a puff to blow their house down.
Roaring, pouring, no-one is snoring now. A Hunt corner flat-zizzed and Big Luke leapt to grizzle above the bar. Taylor flickled, Khan scuttled, the keeper strode out and stood on the ball, but Otis was parallel parking. He's a master at being adjacent to the action, near enough to appear in the picture, but without a speaking part.
A full court press, Poolsmen squeezed, Michee mauled his man and hauled himself into the area. Stripes waited and waved in the middle of the penalty area but Efete walloped over the angle of post and bar.
The piddlers from 'Pool made a change. Who cares. Who are yer? Who cares. Lloyd nicked, McAtee slapped against white shins and the ball balloombled back upfield into the covered corner. Their sub wiggled, their sub wriggled and Efete dredged the Humber from inside the area. McDonald fell from outside the area into the area. The orange fool, stood no more than 20 feet away in a perfect line with the white lines, pointed spotwards to the consternation of the nation.
Kemp swept right, Crocombe plunged right, the ball riffled right along the bottom right-side netting.
And then nothing more went right as one by one Townites imploded.
McDonald piffled and wiffled around the retreating Efete, espying a lonesome dove in the 'D'. Kemp calmly collected the pass and his thoughts and passed a curler into the bottom left corner around late arriving legs and flapping fingers.
Khan dinked and Lloyd's header bounced off Efete. A hack, a whack, a hook and don't look now. The ball sailed into the centre circle, bounced once and Amos dissolved into the earth. Big old lumbering Josh rumbled away pursued by Hunt. The shot blocked but it rolled back perfectly into Umerah’s flightpath and rolled around Crocombe and into the emptied nettage. They are on a roll, Town are the dead meat in a roll, with pickle.
And Morris replaced Green. So what. The ground emptied as the emotionally incontinent went to the loo.
There were times when things happened. There was a shot. It hit a visiting leg. Or body. Or something, somewhere near the goal line. It may have been a header. Nothing really matters, we're caught in a landslide, there's no escape from reality. Open your eyes, can you hear our sighs? That's such a poor team, but we few who stayed don't need your sympathy. Anyway the wind blows, it doesn’t really matter now, does it? We've seen it all before so many, many times through the years.
Three minutes were added. Hunt swept over the bar, half the crowd was already in the bar.
Three shots, four goals.
Town. What is in their minds? What's in our minds to keep coming? What's the point of all this nonsense? They think they are safe? But are they sound?
That's what Town life is. A series of down endings.