Analyse This?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

14 January 2024

Walsall? Never heard of it. Remember, every day's a new day.

A still, chill afternoon in the home of Prince Dave and his new revolution with a ram-packed Blundell Park and all inside acutely aware of the importance of football.

But the world keeps on turning. The future is always now. Three in, but how many out? Shall we indulge in some Artellology and read the tea leaves on the subs bench?

Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Cart-Wright, Mullarkey, Maher, Rodgers, Glennon, Andrews, Conteh, Vernam, Clifton, Eisa and Rose. The substitutes were Eastwood, Efete, Green, Holohan, Wood, Wilson and Obikwu. No sign of the new Duck Farm then, but no Hunt or Waterfall or Khan so who's hurted and whose days in black and white are numbered? Perhaps we need more data than a sample size of one game.

This was, and there is, no time for frivolity. The game will begin soon enough.

1st half – Hors d'oeuvre
Town kicked off towards the Osmond. Eight seconds later Town had a corner. Attack! Attack! Attack-attack-attack!

Town attacked.

Town snapped, Town snarled and Piemen were squashed. Eisa wiggled and waggled and bedraggled to Stone. Vernam waggled and wiggled and well, shall we say he merely niggled. Them? Us? Perhaps both. If you can't make your mind up we'll never get started.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Attack! Attack! Attack-attack-attack! There's no perhaps about it, this is the real thing. Can you feel the force?

Clamping but no stamping, Town camping out and we're frying tonight. Forward, charge for the guns! A Bluesman mugged by Kamil the Calm, a pinging pass onto Eisa's toes, a wriggling run through their heart of glass. Someone blundered, a penalty plundered and Rose stroked high and leftly as Stone sank low and right, like…a stone.

Them? Pretty, pretty patterns, dancing in our courtyard and Langstaff flibble-bibbled farly, a man a long way out and a long way off. Don't scoff too soon, and stop enumerating your poultry, they'll come home to hatch you know.

Geddinterrum! Do you need a translation? You must be new around here. Rose shoved aside a strolling Bluesman, Slim Charles Vernam arched his eyebrows, shook his shorts and sailed down the right, his shot spoondling off blue shins and swervling wide of the farthest post. Elevation Mr Glennon! You know the rules. Alas, so far away Ringo could not hear in the general hubbub, or perhaps it was cunning double-triple bluff. A scrubber bumbled to the near post, legs were akimbo, some pokes by blokes, Mullarkey herded the ball back and just one look and Eisa went boom. No Countyite moved as the ball zoomed into the top left corner. Many Townites were moved and plenty more grooved.

The Notters kept on Nottering, ticking their tocks from sock to sock. And then some stripes stepped in to step out. Rose chased the lady from left to right and robbed a roamer near the corner flag. Eisa and Mullarkey exchanged glances and Little Harry was espied alone, absolute centre of the penalty box. A simple pass, an instant sweep and the ball swanked off the crossbar.

There is no need to detain you further with the minor this and thats of a blue day. Harvey held Pippi Langstaffing's daisy-scuttler. Bostock passed out of play to their dismay. Their wingers were scrunched the moment the ball arrived as buds were nipped. Whoops Ringo, wakey-wakey! A diagonal dink missed and Nemane fell over his own spoons.

All Town aren't we? All Town it was. Intelligent intensity, plans (not chickens) hatching, a most magnificent display of marauding Marinerdom. Ooh-la-la, triangulation with a bullet. Vernam scraped, Stone swiped at his near post. Vernam swung his pants and Stone swooped and pushed away at his far post. Stone plucked off Eisa's foot and Eisa long-dipped as Stone's mind wobbled in time to his fingers.

And when you lose control, you'll reap the harvest you have sown.

Half way to nowhere, underneath the Frozen Horsebeer Stand, a nick was knocked, Mullarkey hared upfield towards a vacancy as The Wolds Panther stepped in front of Jones to lob over Conteh and back towards where Toby would have been if he had been there. But he wasn't, was he Charles? He wasn't. Vernam's perfectly weighted dink sent Jones skipping over the new mown grassland as bells started ringing. Slim Charles moved in fading parallel with the little scamp, who looked up and perfectly dissected the stranded stripery for McGoldrick to stretchy-poke in from a yard or so out at the far post.

Those who sat didn't make a sound, we just hoped Town'd pick their feet up off the ground and start mugging again.

But Townites had stopped clamping, the press was a mess as clearances were hoofled but not even to the roofles. It was an invitation to treat for the travellers. Let's hang on to what we've got, it's not a lot for our efforts, but it's all we got.

Three minutes were added.

Stop if you've heard this one before…in the shadow of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand Jones bombazzled Mullarkey with Vernam loitering behind, betwixt and between, not quite covering a one-two nor stopping the give and go. Crowley bisected the Town triangle and Jones skipped away, Toby in flailing pursuit of a fleeter-footed footballer. Another zippercross and lurking, lunging Langstaff, in the middle of the six-yard box, poked in.

We somehow knew that what shouldn't have been was always going to be: parity through identical muggings as tea time approached. That's what you get for watching the wheels go round and round. Town were utterly magnificent for 39 minutes but one slip and down the hole we fall, glazed looks all around and we were on the road to ruin.

We were in wonderland and now we're peering through the looking glass.

2nd half – A bout de soufflé
No changes were made by either team at half time.

This from them and that from us, nothing of great import, just an amuse bouche before we tuck into our sausages.

Oh no, not this, not now, we canna take it anymore, turn off the lights, let's call the whole thing off. Cartwright sank to the turf, clutching his legs. Eastwood's coming. Ah, it's alright Harvey's coming back.

Magpies lulled into torperific comfort with their Pepballing around the periphery. A Bluesman swamped by a swarm of stripes with Andrews mugging a tickle into the flightpath of Eisa. As Baldwin ebbed and flowed before him Eisa poked through and past this hokey-cokeyman to Clifton who ran on down the middle, veered left and slobbered a droobler lowly across the startled Stone in to the far bottom corner.

And you thought Far Bottom Corner was a nice little village with a duck pond just outside High Wycombe.

The Nottermen made a sub, as Robinson shrugged himself off and they were now Austin-powered. Laugh about it, shout about it every way you look at this we're losing our shape. Shape? I see no shape, I see chaos.

Colours, shapes, noise, a cross from their right. McGoldrick thumple-headed, Harvey star-jumped then Rodgers star-jumped to block some blue-shirted human doing human things inside the Town penalty area. Chaos, chaos I tell yer.

It's all them for at least a minute. Then it was us. Then it was them. Then us or was it them, which is which and who is who. Forward they cried, well they would, there is no rearguard. And the front ranks of the Pontoon cried.

County advanced on Town's left and so stripes retreated. A crossfield clip and Crowley charmed some snakes just outside the penalty area. With Slim Charles somewhere over the rainbow Toby retreated to defend the space behind as feints were feigned. Alas, 'twas all a trick, the ball went back and out to Jones, alone again, naturally. Another low fizzer into the heart of the six-yard box, coiling around the static caravan known as Maher and Nemane did a Manny D. The ball trickled in off soft tissue as striped arms claimed, err, I dunno an offside handball before wicket?

The magic roundabout swung about, round and round again. Rodgers dispossessed a ballet dancing Bluesman near the halfway line and dinked into a super massive black hole down their left. Mullarkey marauded and passed into the nearest post where Rose roamed. The ball skipped on and there was Eisa, moving downwind and out of sight, striking when the moment is right to sweep highly into the right side of the nettage.

Are we ebbing or flowing at the moment? Who can tell the difference? Mad I tell you, it’s always been mad, we're cruising for a bruising in this game

A short, sharp shock, that's what we don't need. County pressure, County persevering. McGoldrick blocked, Nemane swept over the bar. Up and down, round and round, here we go again. Eisa swingled overly after, I dunno, things like a walk in the park, things like a distant memory of a blur of black and white, stirrings of stripes.

Are we flowing or ebbing now? Both and neither. Panic, pandemonium and the persistence of bad memories. A tickle and Jones was narrowly freed on their left. A snapshot with the outside of his boot slithered through Cartwright's gloves, rolled along the bar and dropped into a void that was rapidly filled with excitable youth. Nemane slid in and it's scrambled eggs for tea. All you need to know is that the ball didn't go into the net. Yet.

With what was believed at the time to be only 15 minutes left Andrews and Vernam were replaced by Green and Wilson. Fifteen minutes? How young and naïve we all were back in those days. With Vernam finally removed at least there would be more of human presence on the pitch. How young and naïve we all were back in those days.

Wilson. Green. The ball. Harry Clifton. I have confidence you can predict which verbs and adverbs would complete the sentence.

Sweeping striped sumptuosity with muggings, passing and Mariners movements. Wilson's shot looped over to Eisa, whose shot was droopily deflected just over the angle of bar and post. Glennon's corner was elevated to the near post, but no-one arose in the right place. Stone plucked and rolled, County were off and running. A sea of monochrome rushed back to help Harry. Jones lurked out on the left touchline. A cutely whizzing cross swung through and across the six-yard box. Cartwright scrambled across, Eisa stretched across but Nemane chased and swiped back across the hapless Harvey from beyond the far post. Four crosses, four goals, the song remains the same.

I've often wondered how you make a Maltese cross. It seems all you have to do is wave a flag. Jones, penalised for the most heinously slight of touches upon striped sleevage, squeemed and squeemed and squeemed until he was squick, stomped around the corner flag and stamped his feet like a toddler. Silly boy.

With five minutes left Danny Rose, the peerless pest, was replaced by Obikwu, who is long and lean. A Magpie fluttered and flew into the night sky, Clifton hauled him down as the penalty area approached. Crowley coiled from their narrowish left and Cartwright parry-punched away from a clutch of blueness arising around. I'd settle for a point now, wouldn't you?

Seven minutes were to be added, so they say.

County grinding, County grinning, sensing a winning goal. It's a water dry torture, watching them drop, dip, drip passes around the Town penalty area. Glennon and Conteh stood off Crowley, who dinked into the mixer. Rodgers spiffled a calamitously weak header to where he thought Green was. But he wasn't. Straight to Austin, on the edge of the penalty area. An instant flick, McGoldrick stepped inside Rodgers' desperate slide and steered through the flailing legs, across the plunging Cartwright and into the bottom left corner.

Typical Town. Typical. Hope. You look in the Grimmo Dictionary and you'll see it's a small town in Derbyshire, that's all.

I know what you're thinking, is that five goals or six. To tell you the truth in all this excitement I've kinda lost count. Ask yourself one question, do you feel lucky? Well do you?

Oh, you do?

It's all too much for some to take. A dribble of the desperate and disappointed seeped away as Wood and Holohan replaced Clifton and Conteh in one last desperate dice chuck. Yeah, like that ever works, what's the point, the end is nigh. From the off a welly was walloped and Eisa declined to remain inclined as a blue boot neared his thigh.

Glennon chipped deeply into the Waterfall zone and amidst chaotic stumblings and fumblings Green had aspirations to control the ball as it rumbled across the face of the penalty area. Wood awaited around the D and carefully swept into the top right corner.

They heard all the hollerin' and so the faithless dribblers returned. Too late! They'd already been incensed and no use them grandstandin', right there in front of the home team. It's too late cry babies, it's all too late. You may look happy, but do you feel a fool for turning away?

Is that it? Nope, on and on we go, the referee declaring next goal wins, he was enjoying it so much. Ninety seven minutes, Langstaff drippy volleyed wide. Ninety eight minutes, a Town set pieceage and Wilson, smothered in blue paint, back-hooked over from near. You can have too much of good thing you know, and we've booked Steels in half an hour. Ninety nine minutes, Langstaff wallied again. One hundred. The end.

What have we just witnessed? What are we witnessing? What's going on: does anyone know?

Town should have won by oodles, County should have won in the end. If we weren't in such a proto-pickle we'd have enjoyed the spectacle for what it was, a wonderful example of raw football chaos. As an attacking force Town were magnificent. If this is the future, bring it on baby. But, Big Dave, do sommat about the defence, we can't ignore those holes forever. Maybe that's why they bought a duck farm for insurance purposes.

Town have got woodworm. Don't worry, we've caught it early, it's treatable.

We’re not boring and predictable any more, that's for sure. Two games, seventeen goals. I suppose we're going to have to get used to not having a comfort blanket and accept that everybody takes a beating sometime. You can't have the thrills without the spills.