Nothing in reserve

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 December 2023

I dunno, you talk to the youth of today and they look at you with a certain look in the eye and an uneasy smile when you mention Geoff Capes and his budgies.

Spalding, Spalding, it's a helluva town, the gas power station is up and the wind farm is down…wind. We're too late for the pumpkin festival, we're far too late for Barbeque '67 but it's not too late to dream the impossible dream, to end the ten years of hurt. It is our destiny.

Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Eastwood, Efete, Waterfall, Abraham, Amos, Green, Ainley, Khouri, Braithwaite, Khan and Gardner. The substitutes were Auton, Bradley, Clements, Tomlinson, Andrews, Cribb and Essel. Strong on paper, but are they strong on the causes of paper? It's a hotch-potch of hopeful hangers-on and the soon to be gone, topped off with a sprinkling of the youth of today. Eight first teamers. More than enough. Spalding cosplayed as Wimbledon, with a bunch of chunky, whiskery geezer types.

More than this you know there's nothing.

1st half – The big roll band
Town kicked off away from the bike shed towards the great devoidment with slow motion Pepballery, a blunt circular sore with Big Luke the pivotal point. And you know that someday the ball will end up near Green's shins.

The Tulipers tantalised and teased, an Amos shimmy and shake, a cross deep dripped. The ball rolled off Khan's calves and Braithwaite’s scuffle was saved. Ish.

Town. Ish.

Khan and Braithwaite prominent and always on the half-turn, Amos driving into the fens. Others? Lost under the Big Sky, everybody's pushing one another around. Don't let it get you down. Amos surged and shot across the face of angle of post and bar.

Harem-scarem tippy-tappiness on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The old fella, Clifton, cheeky chipped as Eastwood passed out to blueness. The ball slid by, we all let it slide by. Would we take three points on Saturday or a win here?

Town advancements, stuttering and cluttering their penalty box with red socks. Efete clattered off the ball, off the pitch, off screen and the players took the opportunity to have a water break in all that heat. The referee stood alone in the centre circle calling them back. No-one listened.

Blue triangles down the Town left. Gives were gone, gos were given. Amos and Green lost the ball and their bearings and a cross was half cleared by Abraham at the near post. Beardy baldy man shot back and the ball boombled off various fleshery as Green and Waterfall watched the world go by. Winters, unmolested and unconcerned by striped doziness, swept in from four yards.

And the bike shed went wild.

Town revved up their aunties, another Amos infiltration and cross zippered across the face of goal. Khan pulled back, Khouri scruffed and one of the unwhiskered bluesmen blocked on the line. The ball spoondled up and Gardner was ushered away from the stage by one of the bouncers.

The pitter-patter of tiny feet, the splitter-splatter of muddy boots, Spalding taking the route straight through what is known as park football. And all the while a plaintiff, pleading voice from the dug outs was calling. "Simple Greeny, simple" as the ball aimlessly, artlessly trundled longly, diagonally and out of playly.

Is it a non-contact sport Luke?

Pressure of sorts. A corner, a free kick, a cross, a series of unfortunate bendings. An Ainley dink, Gardner, lurking with intent beyond the far post, let the ball rolled down his left leg and squirtle across the face of goal, across the face of their prone keeper, where Efete awaited to tap in from a yard out.

Long balls, short balls, but balls very rarely of relevance and substance. Gardner, isolated and swamped by security, Green curiously wan, Waterfall descending into a Widdrington-esque parody of a pointer. Has Eastwood actually touched the ball with his hands? Would that be wise?

Two minutes were added, as was a tray of chips to the half time order. Two hands, two drinks and a tray of chips. A logistical nightmare. It's like one of those logic conundrums involving a cabbage, a wolf and a chicken, which, coincidentally, was the terrace description of Town's midfield.

If this was an audition then some of the older lags are not so much playing themselves into the team as off the bench for Saturday.

2nd half – Sounds Force 5
Neither team made any changes at half time.

If I offered you three points for every dot that stopped moving tonight, would you take it old boy?

Huffing and puffing without purpose or any discernible outcome. Moments, movement, a blue free kick for falling over Green's invisible foot. Way out west a waddling man walloped and Eastwood watched the ball drip'n'drop nicely over the bar.

The ball went out of play. Sometimes here, sometimes there, but always, always the ball was heading out of play. Or someone was falling over.

Striped faffing about at a set piece. It could have been a corner, it may have been a free kick, all I know is Waterfall was lurking without intent beyond the back post. In and out and back again. Khouri slithered around on the left, Green actually passed the actual ball with actual perfect weight. Yes, actually. Khouri sneaked to the bye-line, pulled a pass back and Efete spun to scriffle through local legs and into the farther corner.

OK, that's sorted. Keep it tight, keep us (new) shape.

Ooh, they wouldn't let it lie. Back they came with their persistence and their football. Green and Waterfall concluded that the most professional way to deal with a bouncing ball just outside the Town area is to ignore it. A one and a two down the Town right saw Winters swaying past Abraham to poke against the outermost threads of Eastwood's socks. The corner flapped, a scramble, a shot half-charged down and a slap skidded off Green's derriere, skipped past wafting toes and straight to goal-hanging Winters, four yards out. Eastwood sat down.

Changes were made. The others. Then more. Bradley replaced Abraham, Andrews replaced Green. Clements and Cribb replaced Braithwaite and Gardner.

Waterfall still doesn't believe in tackling, watching as a free kick sailed this way then that and out to the Spalding left. An unmolested dink beyond the far post saw Amos stumbling backwards and newly arrived Wiley O'Sullivan decided to lay down and kiss the turf as the ball rolled through to Eastwood. The referee took a few moments to ponder the meaning of life, looked to his lineswoman and pointed spotsward. Much to the amusement or bemusement (season to taste) of all those present and awake. Easwood sank low and left several days before O’Sullivan rolled right.


Essel replaced Ainley. Callum Ainley, is he a Christmas ghost? He looks like a footballer, he moves like a footballer. Does that mean he is a footballer? What had Ainley done today? He surged into the penalty area and fell over the ball. And Tomlinson came on for the shattered and clattered Khouri.

Young Charlie Clements rolled infield and curled a drifter that didn't curl. It just drifted wide, heading off towards the car park. Town persistence, knocking politely upon the locals' door and singing a carol or two. Khan's cross-shot was scooped aside for a bunch of corners, some long, some short and one tapped to Amos whose drooper was finely flipped over. For another corner, then another, as Town were encamped in the Fens.

A minute left, and Waterfall tapped to Khan whose cross fizzled into the near postage stamp. Essel flung himself at the ball, but a bluesman flung himself further. Deflections, confusions and Tomlinson smackered in to the opened goal from nearby.

Five minutes were added.

You, yes you, you behind the bike shed, stand still laddie!

Spalding's defensive dyke sprung a leak. Four horsemen chased as Khan gambolled through the meadow alone. Stripes be left, stripes be right, but Otis decided glory was his, and his alone. And he blasted at Breedon's nose. One way traffic, Town driving around a provincial town, merely jogging around the wilting Tulips. Efete surged into the penalty area and spectacularly plunged over a stretched sock. No ships were seen by the lighthouse keeper. And finally Tomlinson turned and lofted beyond the blokes in the bike sheds.

Do we have to? OK, just the facts.
Eastwood sighed right yesterday, Graham rolled left.

Breedon raced off towards the Pinchbeck Engine Museum so Tomlinson smackered low and right.

Eastwood sent a telegram from 1896 informing of his intention to fall to his left as Warburton walloped rightly.

Breedon ailed right, Amos lamped left.

Eastwood swam low and right, Westwood swayed high and right. Close on paper, not on grass.

Breedon sunk leftly, Andrews…Andrews fluffed against the rolling orangeman.

Eastwood loomed left, O’Sullivan blamped right down the middle.

Breedon low and left, Khan, lower, lefter and faster.

And it came down this. Eastwood stood still as Hilloiard calmly passed the ball into the left side of the goal.

The dream is over, ten years of hurt, we can go home to our tomatoes.