Hot in the city

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

10 September 2023

For all their dreams and schemes people are as they seem on a hot September lunchtime. They, the people shuffling safely down the streets, seem to be melting. Boy, it's darn hot-hot-hot in Bradford's broad city streets. At least that Spanish stroll wasn't a waste of time then - pre-planning for the imminent climate breakdown. Of course global warming never happened in the age of the Fridge Magnet.

Town lined up in the 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Eastwood, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Amos, Conteh, Gnahoua, Holohan Clifton, Eisa and Rose. The substitutes were Cart-Wright, Efete, Waterfall, Hunt, Ainley, Andrews and Pyke. It's all looking rather settled isn't it.

Bradford. Urgh, what an awful kit. They look like a semi-pro rugby league team circa 1976, as seen on Grandstand, being knocked out of the Challenge Cup (2nd Round) by Featherstone Rovers one drizzly Saturday. Perhaps it's an homage to the Pointer Panthers greatest year. It sure ain't the Pointer Sisters as the locals are definitely not excited by a lunchtime kickabout against this division's premier mid-tablers.

But there ain't no doubt we are here to party. Come on now, ref, got to get it started before our tyres melt. Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?

1st half – Sleeping satellites
Town kicked off away from half the travelling multitudes. Get that groove, let it take you higher, make it move, let's set this place on fire. It's sweltering and Town are helter-skeltering towards lonesome Lewis, Mr Purple for the day.

Tricky Town triangulation and rightly so. Arthur swished and we all wished that Lewis would mish, but he swatted from the foot of the left post…and Rose was offside. Sit down and fan yourself.

Tipping, tapping, slipping, slapping. Methodical metronomic Mariners meandering towards Manningham. To me, to you, to cross, to no-one. Near post, far post. To no-one.

Kamil Conteh simply takes his time and doesn't feel he has to hurry. Imperious. He stands and waits for no-one.

The Bantamweights were waiting for a friend, waiting for the sun to go home, waiting for something to turn up. Scuttling punters, pootling chunters, an aimless whacker drooped and dropped where Toby wasn't, deep down the right. Eastwood hared out to the edge of the penalty area and flicked the flea away. Pinball dribblery, a Derbyshire flick, and Walker waltzed away to wally wide and welly high. That was them, there is no more, they were nothing but big blokes barging and whining, just like their impendingly ex-manager.

Time for iced tea and a slice of lemon.

Reffing 'ell! Plunging under lunging, crying in the chapel and the pastel poltroon booked stripes when hoops did holler and whoop. It must be the heat. But that doesn't mean we're not amazed that his head's in a haze.

Domination. Town aesthetically pleasing with their tactical teasing, but no shots.

What have we got? A Rodgers' header at a corner, or a free kick or was it a cross; let's call it a Gnahoua cross. Or was it that Eisa cross that Lewis plucked like a lyre, or maybe a harp. Definitely not an oud though. No-one was in the mood for an oud in this weather.

Complicating, circulating, let's transition to another place where the time will pass more slowly. Half time. Are we there yet? Almost.

The chuckling centre-backs juggled potatoes in front of the adoring crowd. Rodgers pinged almost perfectly towards Eisa, but a hooped head nodded awayish straight to Danny Boy. Amos looked to the horizon and saw possibilities, flat-batting beyond the last man standing. Arthur's toes reached for the stars and twinkled. Arthur gave us a twirl, Toby curled and Rose arose above flat-footed Platt to plonk down and stand in a now familiar pose. Smile, you're on Candid Camera. Carry on like this and the sky's the limit and opportunity will knock. I mean that most sincerely, folks.

Four minutes were added and we just dehydrated a little more.

Hey we can see them sneaking out already, walking up the hill, two by two as the brittle Bantams walked off to a beautifully modulated chorus of boos. With a counter melody of Muttley-like chuntering.

Bradford were satisfyingly rotten, so poor that they would give Gillingham a bad game. It was all so easy for Hurst's Mean Machine. So easy.

2nd half – Looking through a glass onion
Hughes had had enough of that fancy football nonsense. Kelly McDonald was replaced by Tulloch and Gilliead as Bradford moved to 4-4-2.

A change in personnel and a change in attitude. Up and at 'em, back to basics, hoofing, fighting, crossing, flighting, all revved up and racing round, always behind Danny Boy Amos. The Town left crumbling, where's the scaffolding?

Corner, corner, corner, corner, free kick and corner. Maher and Eastwood slapsticked some sliced ham, but don't get out of your pram. Headed out, thighed out, grazed away, slapped away, tickled away. Away damn spot. Where is the game? Look to your right side, Luke. The Jammie Dodgers permanently encamped outside the Town penalty area, prodding and poking the pig with twiglets.

Halliday volleyed straight down the middle and straight into the sunbathers. Pesky Pointon swung his pants past our floundering full-back and swingled towards the corner flag. Which full-back? Well, it ain't Toby. Here's another clue for you all - the Walrus was Paul.

Fancy a pint? They're sipping pink Lucozade whilst the sun carries on blazing.

Are we still here? Ah there we are. A drop kick, a thumping Rodgers header back. Rose turned, Arthur burned, Arthur blasted, Lewis lowly biffed back and Esia swotted sadly wide, very wide, very slowly. And Efete replaced the visibly wilting and withering Amos. Poor old Danny, it was all just too hot for him today. One last surge and he had the urge for offal.

With too few, yet far too many minutes left, pointless Pyke shuffled on for Eisa. Frankly Pyke merely made a major contribution to Bradford's safety. As Town squatted in the bush the substitutions weakened the striped structure. Bradford threw on younger, faster, fitter, bigger boys and got stronger. Each time we looked up the walls moved in a little tighter.

Ooh, shall we call this an attack? Town sporadically ventured beyond the thunderdome. Rose chased an egg and finally succeeded in falling over as he entered the penalty area. A Town corner, heads arose, another corner. Stop, that's enough.

As home thoughts turned to tea, and some home legs were already running up that road, running up that hill unaware they were tearing Town asunder, Bradford tried something freaky. They passed the ball to each other along the ground. Gilliead swinkled along an overgground pipeline out to perky Pointon. Efete and Arthur moved vaguely in his path. He espied friendly faces afar. A swirl, a pearly pass back to the edge of the area, Gilliead stepped back across Clifton and swiped through a tunnel into the bottomish left corner past the groping gloves of Eastwood.

Six minutes were added. A barge and bundle into the Town box. Rodgers and Mullarkey squeezed the accordion and Afoka was booked for diving whilst driving. Three points on his licence and a stern telling off from the friendly local beat cop.

Town punting, Town pressing. Maher chucked, Lewis plucked. Maher chucked, Holohan befuddled widely. Maher chucked and Maher nonplussed with a non-cross, non-shot which drifted over the angles of posts and bars.

And then we all drifted home, seeking shelter in the shadows.

Town were magnificent, Town were mundane. Town were omnivorous and omnipresent, Town were absent and anonymous. Town were archetypically a Hurstian Town team. Dominant but defensive. They failed to find a way to lose this, so things are on the up!

Above all Town showed why they are always twelfth, even when they aren't.