Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
17 September 2023
Sixteen months is a long time in the politics of football.
So we meet again, same place, with many of the same people in most of the same positions. What's changed? We're better than we were, you know. Normally.
Town lined up in the 3-5-1-1ish formation as follows: Eastwood, Waterfall, Maher, Rodgers, Mullarkey, Holohan, Conteh, Clifton, Amos, Gnahoua and Pyke. The substitutes were Cart-Wright, Efete, Glennon, Ainley, Andrews, Khan and Gardner. I said ah, or is that aarrrrgh? No Rose, no Eisa, no attack, what chance have we got against a tie and a crest? Have we gone for the pre-Parslow Point on the only ground where it ever worked, that party-pooping day nine years ago? Nine years is a long time in the politics of the Parslow Point.
Ah-ha, there they are, the three amigos: Stockitts, Petwoods and DC walking across the pitch, summoned to an audience with the pantomime dame. Don't fawn, keep your dignity, we don't want the world to see a cultural cringe in series three. Remember, you, we, are just free content providers for The Brand.
Put on your tin hats and cross those fingers, it's gonna be a lumpy ride.
1st half – The art of noise
Town kicked off away from the emptiness. Mullin dived. Nothing changes.
Town tipped, the Wreckers whipped our cream. Barnett jinked past the ghost of Amos, Eastwood plopped.
The Wreckermen put the ball high up in the sky. No, it's not coming down. Toby slowly turned, McClean was burned and Mullarkey was now ashes on the ground. A free kick. Well, there's nothing more to say.
Town ticking, the Wreckingballers licking their lips waiting to strike when the moment is right without thinking. Amos and Mullarkey heading for Mold, leaving the road free behind them. A wally into the nether regions and Mullin roamed and ram-raided past Big Old Luke. Eastwood scooped the scuttle.
After a while with Town working on points for style, Holohan infiltrated their right and passed a cross through the six-yard box. Pyke stood and sighed as he watched the world go by. So did we.
Flicking, tricking and Toby surged. Boyle man-hauled from the rear. Advantage played, Arthur wiffled against red legs. The referee walked up and wagged his finger. Ah, yes, the Welsh version of Boyle's law, where as the volume of the away crowd increases, the pressure on the pastel poltroon to book decreases.
Ooh, nice. One-touch-pass-and-move heaven: Toby to Harry to Pyke to Arthur and a strivelling skimmer straight to Mr Howard, the old retainer whittling sticks at the gates. Twenty minutes of tickling and teasing from Town, with some basic balletic oomphball on the break from the local heroes. If you asked Steven he'd have told you it was even. Where's Steven? More importantly, where's Wally?
Wellying long and a Red right corner. Swung into the broiling human chaos and punched away. Rodgers lay down, clutching his head, the game continued and up he staggered slowly, ambling back out as Lee lobbed back into the stereotypical mixer and Oilly Palmer noddled on freely past flapping blue gloves.
We may as well go home now.
Reboot the computer. Town ticked, Wrexham walloped into the full-back vacancies and hilarity ensued. Moments here and there, twists and turns and many a Mariner gurned. Rodgers boombazzled by marauding Mullin on the Town right. The poster boy with the censored boots dragged widely across Jake's fluttering fingertips and the farthest post.
Town nearlyness, with flicks and crosses too high, too low, and sometimes perfect. Perfect for a striker rather than a facsimile forward phoning in an impression. Stretch! Poke! Don't just stand there and slump your shoulders! Pyke battled, Pyke fought, Pyke surged and Pyke put his head down and buffled into the trio of defenders stood in front of him in the D when stripes waved freely nearby. Egotist? Selfish? Desperate? Whatever, it was a waste.
Ah, I wondered when Tozer the tosser would appear. Hurled from their right and side headed away, Arthur decided to flick and Holohan was disrobed by McClean on their left. Big Balding Boyle levered past Maher to flick past the static Eastwood and into the left corner.
5-4, we're gonna win 5-4! On bookings. The past is another country, the future is always now.
And Holohan did droop and wither away, looking like a Bananarama-bound player again. Let's start again with our process. Cycling, recycling, churning slowly between the centre-backs, chipping turgidly towards the enervation. And Wrexham simply whacked it back and ran after it. Mullin against Big Luke, accounts do not have to be filed. A save, a slap wide, and shimmering the side-netting. Just the basic facts, show me where Town hurt their feelings.
C'mon Pykey, Town encamped, Maher's torpedo was blocked, Pyke wafted and missed after a Clifton clever pass-cross. And the Pyke did bicycle overly. You say smile, I say cheese.
Four minutes of added time were added, as added time tends to be. Toby had a shot. That's all.
They can cross, we can't; they can shoot, we can't. Apart from that there was nothing much in this episode of Meet the Feebles.
2nd half – Close (to the edit)
Khan replaced Waterfall and Town moved back to the comfortable 4-1-4-1 formation.
So? So what? Nothing changed. We had the ball, they had the chances.
Mullin ran away, Mullin dragged wide.
And Town had the ball. Nothing happened, though Khan's energetic shins caused merriment and mayhem, at least changing the genre from police procedural to slapstick comedy.
Palmer fell over a foot, whining for a penalty. Oi Oilly, that's Mullin's mojo, his character. You're the lunky henchman, the Bernard Bresslaw to his Sid James. Palmer went off, Dalby came on.
And Town had the ball. Town still had the ball. Then Town didn't. Lee passed, Dalby hoitled free, Eastwood has a big toe.
Somewhere during this contractual obligation Ainley came on for Holohan. I remember his legs moving furiously at one point. So he has legs and we can infer he knows how to use them.
Time goes by as we all know, naturally; people come and people go, naturally. They made changes amongst which Mullin was replaced by Fletcher, now with added bass player's hair, that sad denouement of many a man approaching middle age. Embrace reality, Fletch, embrace your receding career and hairline. Yeah, people will cry, laugh and sing naturally when they see your hairy choice in life. Let it be natural.
Naturally, Fletcher was a pest, hooking spectacularly as the ball bounced near. Eastwood either plucked, parried or watched it go by. To tell you the truth in all this lack of Town excitement I kinda lost count, had they had five shots or six? We're just waiting to go home.
Town had the ball. Town still had the ball. Then they didn't. Howard drop-kicked, Fletcher flicked on, Dalby swingled into the far right, spun and tinkled into a magnificent sinkhole that had appeared in the centre of the Town penalty area. Lightning Lee strode past stripes to stretch and poke. See, Pykey, that's the way to do it.
Can we go home now please.
Town had the ball. Not for long. They looked like they were already selecting their seats for the journey home. Fletcher got on his bike, Eastwood kicked away.
Andrews and Efete came on for Gnahoua and Mullarkey. Andrews looked perky enough. Michee is Michee, bless his little cotton socks.
Yabba-dabba, bim-bum-bom, hoo-haah! And six minutes were added. Town had a cross, Andrews' shot was blocked.
We came out of it naturally the worst, beaten and bloody we were no match for their untamed directness. Simple men, playing simple football, it was all too much for half the Marinermen.
Remember the Alamo at Maidenhead! Too many centre-backs spoil the broth. This was grimly inevitable from the off, as Town set up and played like non-speaking characters in someone else’s play. We can’t rely on the kindness of strangers to miss every week. We got what we deserved. Nothing but a flick behind the ear by the school bully. It could have been worse.
Can I go home now please?