Sad World

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 October 2023

All around me are familiar faces with occasional spaces. Just look at those worn out faces who believe Town are going nowhere, going nowhere. 

The sun is out, the sky is blue, but there's quite a lot of Town fans spoiling for a boo. Oh misery, oh misery, what's gonna become of thee. Oh the irony on this day of days. So who's next? Great album. Ah, it's Accrington Stanley I presume.

Are Town gonna go mobile today before the song is over for Hurst's New Town?

Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Eastwood, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Waterfall, Amos, Conteh, Eisa, Clifton, Andrews, Gnahoua and Rose. The substitutes were Cartwright, Glennon, Efete, Maher, Holohan, Wilson and Pyke. The return of the lesser-spotted left-backs had the X-men all of a twitter with X-rated raging. Whither Little Alex? Do we need to inform the authorities so they can walk the fields with long sticks?

The Stanleys: long and lean and looked quite keen, but are these 'Owd Reds what they seem?

Hey you, standing in the aisles with itchy feet and fading smiles. Don't give in without a fight. Game on!

1st half – The unbelievable truth
Town kicked off towards the Osmond. I find it hard to take when Town run in circles.

Wibble, wobble, did it hit a bobble? Town tippy-tapping between the lines. Plunges and lunges, our Andrews munching the lawn way out west. The free kick flat lumped and Rodgers grazed on and hardly over. I'm prepared to 'Ooh', after all you don't get the chance too often these days.

You know it gets harder, and harder, and harder as you get older. And in the end you pack up and live near Louth. Shall we just hide our heads in the sand? It's just another sad Town game.

We need some yard dogs.

A full-court press and Town were getting to our friends from Stan. Pushed back, the full-back passed back to the purple people flapper whose scrappy hack hit the back of Arthur's heels. The ball rebounded to Little Harry, but Big Bad Baghuelou stretched his legs and up, up and away it went into the red seats beyond. You do not need to know what happened at the corner. Mr Purple flapped, probably. That's what he did all day and perhaps all of the night too.

Hibbling, bibbling, wibbling and wobbling. Amos stumbled under a wind-assisted drooper and Nolan eventually nibbled widely past the nearest post. Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble into the cauldron boil and bake. Danny dithered, Rodgers resisted the temptation to scream.

It's windy-windy-windy. I'd rather watch Mork and Mindy. Nannu-Nannu, or is that the score?

A bouncing ball, a screaming fall and Waterfall was booked for something that was compulsory when I were a lad. What is the world coming to, eh? Just because someone cries doesn't mean it’s a booking or even a foul. The scarlet squealer still had all his limbs attached by several threads.

Now, if this was Match of the Day you'd be wondering why they'd shown an arbitrary booking. Are we setting you up for episode two's cliffhanger? Or is this a McGuffin? You can get those in the Fanzone now, toasted or with jam and cream.

Rodgers prostrate, busted by arms and then by heads. Now, if this was Match of the Day you'd be wondering why they'd shown an arbitrary incident with no consequences. Is this the McGuffin? He was in Scaffold wasn't he. Or was it The Byrds? Roger and out, Rodgers back on.

Our Andrews absent, their Andrews carefully stooped to look for conkers. What nonsense is this? They broke, they passed it to their left, they crossed it, their bloke headed over from the middling near. Is that bland enough for you?

Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise as we're all in a daze. How can we find our way out of the maze? Have we slipped into the land of Morpheus? Is this a waking dream or are we dreaming about being awake? What is real and what is fake? Let's keep on pretending.

Blimey, did you see that! Amos boomed a crossfield cracker onto Toby's toes. Mullarkey meandered through the biscuitry to the bye-line and passed into the thicketry. Red boots on the right, away fans delight. A chuckle in underneath the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Arthur swingled into the very centre of the middle of the six-yard box. Eisa stretched, a red boot stretched further and Mr Purple scrambled back to scoop the roller off the line.

Rodgers' chest. What about it? The ball hit it and didn't go in. The wind? What about it. The wind blowed and the football most definitely did not flow. You know there's always a red scare somewhere in the political cycle. Don't be concerned, they will not harm you. Big Luke has, as we know, a head. That's what he's there for.

Two minutes added. And as the final curtain was drawn upon this school play some scrimpling and scrapping and flipping and flapping. A Stanley corner and Arthur's atrocious clearance headed back towards catastrophe. Dainty dinks and nods and winks and Mullarkey snurgled in front of the slapping Pritchard, eight of your English yards from goal. Eastwood sat upon the turf and watched as the ball skittled over him, across the face of goal and finally across the face of the farthest post.

That's enough of that nonsense.

We could have scored, they should have scored and everyone is thoroughly bored.

I believe that, at this point, I was still conscious. It is important to believe in something.

2nd half – Tipping Point
Neither team made any changes at half time. Town eventually came out. No, not that way; they eventually came out of the dressing rooms.

Don't we all need a little glitter and sparkle in our lives. Did anything change? Are there more questions than answers?

Here's a question: what happened next?

Arthur dinked into the vacant lot. Rose arose alone to flick, the keeper kicked, Eisa stretched and McMuffin slapped off the line.

What happened? Nothing. What a waste of effort. Flags be a fluttering in the east.

The wind blew. The sun shone. A paper napkin tumbled across the turf heading for the Accrington goal. Obviously a Town napkin as it missed. Someone banged a gong. A turn, a chase and Eisa was felled in full flight way out nowhere before he got somewhere. Rodgers drove all night down the right and that was all right. Nobody moved. Amos tippled and Town had a corner. Nothing and nothing and nothing and nothing.

A punt, Arthur on the hunt, Toby tip-toed past a tulip and dinkled beautifully over land and a sea of frantic faces. A red man slipped, Mr Purple skipped, the goal a-yawning bigly and Eisa leant back to power hose the back of 41 Blundell Avenue. Six yards out he was. Six yards out. Six yards. Six.

You'd have heard the yawns if you stood on the lawns of the houses down Taylors Avenue. Children began to chunter and chat, adults stared at their shoes. Gazes drifted towards the outer reaches of our vision. When would the Mariners Catering sign fall down? Whatever happened to the tarpaulin that covered the seats in the Frozen Horsebeer Stand? Where is the pigeon of doom?

Accrington awoke. Pritchard bedraggled across the face of goal, Eastwood static. A red corner, a stripey break. Eisa felled in full flight again in the middle of nowhere.

And he's oh, so good and he's oh, so fine, and he's oh, so healthy in his body and his mind. Their Andrews, the borrowed boy from Brumland, surged and swayed through thick and thin, into the penalty area, to the bye-line. Mullarkey doggedly dogged this hog of the road and finally clogged away for a corner. Their bark was much worse than their bite when it came to corners. We still had Big Luke and he still had his head.

With 20 minutes left Andrews was finally put out of our misery and on trotted Holohan. Nothing is so good it lasts eternally, or even two minutes. Imperfect situations just go wrong. Oh Luke Waterfall, we know you so well. A dink and drop by the dug-outs, the ball suddenly plopped. The lanky loanee nipped in and Big Luke nicked his knees. Down he went and out went Waterfall. Booked again, sent off again, and here we go again.

Maher came on for Arthur and Town's trousers were hitched. Nothing is so good it lasts eternally, or even 30 seconds. Imperfect situations must go wrong. A Mullarkey mistake, tipping to red. Tic-tac-toe and Whalley walloped from way out, the ball shimmering in a perfect parabola over fluttering blue fingers into the top left corner. And a flock of seagulls flew away, chuntering and jabbering and crying all the way home.

Scuffling, shuffling and Pritchard suddenly sminkled a smacker against the angle of right post and bar. Eastwood joined us all in sitting down and watching the world go by.

Pyke and Wilson came on for Eisa and Rose. You may as well be aware of facts.

A surge, a surge a red surge. Maher stopped the surge. Amos stood still and a redsters scooped away and back they rolled. Whalley dwimpled a dwipper into the centre, six or so yards out, from under the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Andrews arose above Rodgers as Eastwood tentatively waved towards someone on the other side of the street. He was sure he knew them from somewhere, they looked familiar. Jake the Peg then realised he didn't know them at all and retracted his wave half-way through. Too late. We'd seen you.

More pigeons flew through the holes in the fence, escaping from the coop and squawking away in a chorus of disapproval. Now look around this place where emotions echo in so much space.

Eight minutes were added. Let's go through the motions without emotion. A corner, Maher ducked, the ball hit flesh and the near post. Pyke didn't shoot. A corner hung and between the flipping and the flapping Mr Purple plucked up courage and caught the ball on the goal line. And Danny Amos had a go. McMuffin tipped over.

Sometimes the facts speak for themselves, there is no need for layers of irony or deflecting wittering. I can't lie to you about our chances. Do we have your sympathy for seeing this in person in actual real time? We're badly in need of character, they look like hollow men.

You know it's going to get harder, and harder, and harder as the season gets older.

There’s a time to heal, a time to laugh, a time to weep, a time to build up, a time to break down, a time to dance and a time to mourn, for every season has a low point. Town's usually come around the point that the clocks turn.

And here we are, the clocks about to turn, the crowd turning as the rotting apple crumbled.