Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
28 January 2024
This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Lincolnshire in 2024. At the request of the spectating survivors, the names have not been changed. Out of disrespect for the career dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.
14:01 and many have just returned from a visit to the local landlord. Gotta keep the pubs going; like Woollies, you'll miss 'em when they're gone. The air is still, the only sound in the ground is the coffee grinding up in McMenemy's. Soon it will be the teeth of adults and the futures of small children. For now we have hope and the enticement of excitement of fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun. Town and goals go together like a horse and carriage.
Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Cart-Wright, Mullarkey, Tharme, Rodgers, Glennon, Green, Andrews, Wood, Clifton, Eisa and Rose. The substitutes were Eastwood, Maher, Braithwaite, Holohan, Vernam, Wilson and Obikwu. As Kamil the Calm is now king in another land we need a new champion jouster. Hey Dave, who you gonna call? Ah, Keiran Green, the battery-powered dustbuster. Have you charged him up?
Tranmere, dear old Tranmere the very thought of you is as enervating as ever. Nothing personal, it's just you keep on coming over to visit like an ungrateful nephew. You rarely say please or thank you or even think about bringing a cake. It's all take–take-take with you. And today you turned up in minty green with a couple of old striped failures. Everyone has a couple of old striped failures in their locker these days.
There's nothing new under the sun. Let the fun begin.
1st half – Withering heights
Town kicked off towards the Osmond. Eight seconds later a minute Mintyman skittled gaily down their left, Green swished and mished the cross and Cart-Wright scuttled to sweep off Jennings' toes. And then you look around and hear the sound of the faces in the crowd. Is it one of those days when they're gonna cut us into little pieces?
Duck Farm to Buck Rodgers, Buck Rodgers to Duck Farm. And back again. And again. And again. Slower, slower, lower and lower, grinding teeth and Town grinding to a halt. I don't want to talk about it anymore, but I may have to.
Tranmerely triangulation after cold pressing our olives. Apter scrambled Ringo's eggs before they'd even been laid. Cart-Wright scooped the pooper. Rose flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C to intercept the aura of their Wood's toes. Man it was a dreadful flight and the referee booked our pilot of the airwaves, who always does his best.
Wood walloped a wibbler way over. We did not know it yet, but that was our Wood's champagne moment. His day was done. Crosses overhit, corners underhit and the borrowed boy was brushed aside by the bullies from the year above. Adult football, it’s not x-rated for nothing, there's scenes of bloody violence and strong language, especially when Jennings viciously, cynically head-butted the back of Rodger's forearm.
Eh! Eh! Alright! Alright! Calm down! Calm down!
As Jennings was wiped clean The Sportsmaster was pushing, pulling, jabbing and jabbering and pointing east, west, north and south at Green, who looked utterly flummoxed.
Duck Farm to Buck Rodgers, Buck Rodgers to Duck Farm. D'oh! That's calming down way below the Plimsoll Line, we're drowning in drossery. Piddling puddles of nonsense, Mariners a-muddling in the middle, artless attempts at Artellballing through the barricades. Ah yes, the future is Artellball, where it must be youth that keeps us strong.
Ah yes, the present is Artellball, where all roads lead to groans. At some point the ball will go towards Green. The ball went towards Green. And six slick clicks later our friend Jennings thwackled overly from near. Jennings, as usual, misses at Blundell Park, it must be the sea air on the east coast, too salty.
Do you want to know a secret, do you promise not to tell? Town's thrown-ins. They've been working on them, haven't they. It's all part of the holistic plan for total domination. Bloomin' awful. They kept throwing infield past stripes for Mintymen to gallop away.
Eventually, finally, after 20 minutes or maybe more, there was something of striped interest. Eventually, finally, not only was the ball played forward, but more than one human in striped shirtage moved, with speed. Infiltrations on the left, Eisa ran on, Andrews ambled on to the bye-line, Little Harry mis-fluffled through the hedgerows and sticks were slapped.
Duck Farm to Buck Rodgers, Buck Rodgers to Duck Farm, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning in an ever-spinning reel, making all our nowhere plans for nobody. Arbitrary bobbling, just a hoik and hope from mid-way between nowhere and nowhere else. Ringo waited, the ball plummeted, as did Ringo. Apter strolled away to roll away and around Cart-Wright into the bottom left corner.
Only those who drive Renaults were shocked, shocked by the collapsible chair collapsing.
Will we wake up now? Definitely, maybe. Andrews plunged as a semi-Scouser scowled out near the covered corner. Glennon chipped deeply and amidst fumbling and bumbling the ball fell at the feet of Tharme who didn't mind calmly passing through the gap.
Right, have we woken up now?
No. And they've fallen asleep too. Sclerosis set in.
Four further minutes were added. There was no point, there is no point, this is time lost forever. What is this thing we have just witnessed? Shall we start with the letter 'A'. Is appalling, is awful, is atrocious, is so abominable no man should ever have to experience this again.
The question at tea-time is have Town even got a plot to lose?
2nd half – And dream of sheep
No changes were made by either team at half time.
Chips and charges, Eisa shinned straight out, we all zoned out, or had anyone actually zoned in today?
We are here, aren't we? It isn't a mass hallucination is it, we haven't all just eaten a cheese sandwich in Weatherspoons?
They almost almosted something just about. Probably. This and that, do we really need to know which was which and who was who? Eisa dinked deeply and the ball drifted between Rose and the keeper. Don't get excited, you day dream believers, it was well short of the fist pump threshold.
Just a whack down the line, everything should be fine. Ah, but Glennon's limply leaping. The ball rolled off a sturdy Scouserish back. Apter was off again alone again, naturally, zipping a cross into the over-populated central bel. Duck Farm stretched and diverted onto Mullarkey’s thighs. And did the ball snickle slowly into the net? It did snickle slowly into the net. Well done Ringo, whoops, you did it again.
The world is wrong – it looks like our world but everything is different.
Apter in again and coiling over. Do we do marking? Do we do tackling? Or is this one of them free schools they had in them 60s. And now the Doug don't work. Tharme sat down, walked off and Maher arrived; could he make things worse? Duck Farm, gone in 60 minutes. I do hope we see his face again.
A chip and chase, Rose lobbed from the bye-line, Eisa didn't jump, a corner. There's nothing to say. That's all there was to that. In the end there was nothing at all.
And finally some in the crowd got what they wanted – the Return of the Wolds Panther. Yes, Slim Charles Vernam replaced the listless and fey Wood. No, no, give him his due, the Vernamator made a difference, he gave us false hope by running around a lot, very quickly. He gave it a go and Town had, finally, some oomphery.
Slick-quick flicks all instigated by Vernam, Mullarkey barundled through Mintymen, hit the bye-line but crossed too firmly, too high for Eisa and Rose awaiting at the far post. A chuck in, Eisa spinningly over-flicked, balls in the box, a shot and another shot all smothered by a triple mint chip block. Maher's special short long throw caused minor mayhem. Very minor mayhem. Very, very minor mayhem. I think someone's shorts rode up to their underpants.
Tranmere crossed the ball. Tranmere crossed the ball again. Officially the ball was crossed by Tranmere footballers and there was a goal kick, and then another. Officially, yeah, that's what they want you to think, isn't it.
A long punt of nothingness, Rodgers ailed and Cart-Wright slithered out at the feet of someone who plays for Tranmere. That's a pointless fact, it may not win you £1,000 on Pointless, but it is a fact. I wouldn't go as far as to refer to anyone on the pitch as a pointless celebrity, we're not that far up the food chain of fame.
C'mon lads, we can still do this.
The Wolds Panther roamed, playing with freedom. Well freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose. A reversal of fortune to the on-skipping Ringo who scraped back from the bye-line to the penalty spot. Rose twisted and hooked, Lukey McGee flung himself backwards to finger-flip over. Luke McGee kept Tranny from the cold. Oh, the Town corner? Well, football ain't romantic so stop gettin' frantic wonderin' what Town are gonna do. Please, please don't eat the daisycutter.
Within the last ten minutes Holohan and Obikwu came on for Green and the terribly anonymous gust of wind that was Eisa. I know we're on the outside looking in but what's the deal with Eisa? There was a cold wind blowing through his soul today.
With a couple of minutes left there was huffing and puffing and a house nearly blew down. Who knows who crossed, but crossing they did, dripping delightfully from the Town left and beyond the back post. Mr Purple panicked as Rose arose and nodded into the side netting.
Seven minutes were added. Each minute I stay in this seat Town get a little weaker, each minute someone leaves their seat Tranmere get stronger. Each time I look at the other scores, the walls get a little tighter.
Dennis wiffled a wibbler wide from way out. Yeah, yeah, that's what he used to do for us. A Town corner and is this the end? This…is…the..ennnnnd.
Nothing changed, nothing changes, Town rotting away at home. This was an exercise in utter futility. This week's Town looked a league below a mundane bunch of fourth division scufflers. Tranmere were better, just a bit, just enough, everywhere in every way. There is less than nothing to pull out of this wreckage. We know what a relegation team looks like. Remedial action required immediately by the project manager: plumbers, electricians and structural engineers wanted. Forget the decorators, we need the building to stay up first. Looking pretty comes later.
Watching Town? The trick is in not minding that it hurts.