A Hungry Heart

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 April 2024

Where did it all go wrong? Like a river that don't know where it's flowing, we took a wrong turn and just kept going. And here we are again, wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' that something will turn up. Or rather that Newport don't turn up, that'd do.

Darn it, there they are, with the less-than-magic Morris and the fading old star of Omar coming back to haunt our dreams of, well, what? That something turns up?

Town lined up in what looked suspiciously like a 3-5-2 formation as follows: Eastwood, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Tharme, Smith, Holohan, Thompson, Vernam, Wilson and Rose. The substitutes were Auton, Clifton, Ainley, Wood, Andrews, Eisa and Obikwu. I will give you the facts and you can make of them what you will: the Wolds Panther was at left-wingback. If we don't mention it again perhaps Newport won't notice.

Hey, don't worry young whippersnapping Newporters, there's no flag deconstructors here anymore. We have cleansed ourselves and are morally pure these days.

Right, we've laid down our money and now it's time for them to play their part. It's now or never, tomorrow will be too late.

1st half – One good turn
On a bright day with a gathering breeze Town kicked off towards the 113 South Walians exiled into the covered corner. The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again.

Within the first two minutes Vernam took out two front doors, one front window, 12 feet of counter, one Transit van, not to mention three hostages in the hospital, all of whom will probably sue for excessive force. We're in a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world if Slim Charles is The Enforcer.

The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. Chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chucking, one day we'll score a goal from Farmer Doug's droops and floops.

Vernam wiggled and waggled and befliggled longly straight into Tubby Townsend's massive midriffery as striped chums forlornly waved their arms aside and beside. Ah-ha, normal service has been resumed. Baker dredged Vernam, official fingers were wagged.

The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. Green's snapshot slap shot flew into green fingers. A neverending story of Duck Farm flings and in-zinging corners. Eastwood pinged a pass over Baker, Vernam took it in his stride to drive to nothing but scrabbling scrambles. A corner dripped and Zanzala's diving flick header flashed across the angle of post and bar for another Town corner. They're trying hard to help us.

Right. Them, on their right. Morris levered, Evans passed sideways and Lewis passed into Eastwood's blue duvet.

And all the while the wind blew stronger, so let's linger a little longer on some Vernamation through custard tarts, tapping into their id for a corner. Duck Farmer arose alone to head wayly over. The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. A long throw went in the air, it came down again and off they broke. Concerned? Nah, you can always rely on Mr Zanzala. The mighty Mr Z takes his time and doesn't feel he has to hurry, heading back across the face of goal past everyone, for no-one. It's marvellous, less fat too.

Chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chucking. I haven't had an egg since Easter and now it's just gone half past three. A deep Town free kick hit the absent wall, buffling back out again. Thompson dunked a dinker from the shadows of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Green arose to noodle vaguely onwards into the wastelands beyond. As Zanzala doodled Rose stuck out a leg and levered a sneaky poke-prod past Dipsy, and the ball rolled, rolled and rolled slowly, slowly, slowly towards the line and over the line past lolloping Laa-Laa and prostrate Po. What do we say? Eh–oh!

Ey-up. Charsley and Green were booked for a tizzy tiff as the disgraceful dragonboy hit the turf holding his head claiming a head butt. There was no contact, just our own brand of Special K snarling. Tsk, young people today, can't take a bit of criticism. Sense and sensibility from the pastel peeper people.

A throw most foul under the Police Box, some dibbling and dabbling and Jameson whacked straight through dancing feet and into Eastwood's hands from somewhere beyond the edge of the penalty area.

Ditherings and doubt crept into the minds of many as the ball went in the air, it came down, but began to wibble and wobble wildly, the corner flags all waving horizontally in different directions. Ups and unders, chips and chases, battling tops and Holohan nicked and knocked. A sly slippy tickle, Smith swiped and Mr Tubby turned aside the slingshot.

Four minutes were added.

Don't you worry yourself now, those four minutes merely allowed the kettle to boil.

One couldn't help feeling that these docile Exiles were only here for the beer and we had nothing to fear but fear itself, that nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes the effort needed to convert retreat into advance.

2nd half – Press for time
Neither team made any changes at half time.

A Smith free kick died in the wind, Tubby Townsend ran out to the edge of the area and flapped straight out to a central striper. The pass-shot rolled through broken bodies and straight into two floored Townites.

It has been reported on the telegraph wires that Mr Charles Vernam, a gentleman caller from the parish of Caistor, took aim at the passing partridges but failed to strike these game birds. There was disappointment amongst the gathered audience, with many a fan fluttering. Duck Farm chucked, chucked again, chucked long, chucked further, chucked flatter. Scrimbles and scrumbles and Newport didn't crumble, so on came Omar. He's not half the man he used to be. Oh Omar, where did it all go wrong? Yester-me, yester-you, yesterday.

They passed through the penalty area once, you know. Just once. Morris and Bogle stood over a free kick. The free kick sailed over and their day is over.

The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. A cross blocked, a blocked cross, we've got a blocked drain so throw down some bicarbonate of soda with a pinch of vinegar. Rose robbed the hopeless Jameson deep inside the Newport penalty area. The ball recobounded to Big Don who turned and sniggled straight at the green tambourine whose perambulations accidentally coincided with the ball.

The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. Eastwood punted, Rose rolled and Wilson passed at Mr Tubby's legs again.

The ball went in the air, it came down. It went in the air, it came down again. A chip, a chase, and Wilson shrugged aside a feeble Dragoon. Alone against the keeper, Big Don tapped straight against those sexy legs again.

And then he was off as Spiderlegs came on, as did Harry for Green. Harry harried, that's fine, that's what he's for. We all have a purpose in life.

The ball went in the air in our box, it came down again inside our box. And?

And Justin Spiderlegs saved the day by tackling Rose after some Mariner mugging deep inside the yellow penalty box. That's the and, there is no happy anding here.

We must, we really must tip our hats to the well-honed dark arts of Matchday Ball Retrieval Unit, very much the SAS of Cheapside. As a perilous yellow throw-in was quickly taken a ball boy threw on a second ball then ran on the pitch to get it as they shaped to cross. It's a team effort.

With a couple of minutes left Newport made more irrelevant amendments to their constitution. No matter what you do you're still a failed state. Or perhaps they are amusing themselves with rhyming couplets – I'm sure we heard their 113 bored fellow travellers muttering a few, carried on the wind. And now, and in colour, they've got Norris and Morris on the pitch, leaving Doris Day and Horace the cheeseboard on the bench. The corner flags bent, the ball blew backwards and a ball cone skittered behind Mr Tubby Townsend, amusing the Pontoon with gay thoughts of a comedy mishap.

Four minutes were added.

Andrews replaced Vernam. The ball went out of play. The ball went out of play. The ball went out of play. A yellowman crept up the line and it all ended in the most wonderful way. Foul throw! Peep, the end, but that was only the beginning as the great news of distant defeats rolled in.

Heaven, we're in heaven, our heart beats so we can hardly speak as we're feeling a lot better now at the end of the week. There was nothing to beat but this time Town beat it, that's all there is to it.

That smell, what is it? It smells like….victory. Someday this season's gonna end.