Things can only get better

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

28 April 2024

Imagine. Just imagine there's no Crawley, it's easy if you try. And now we’ve escaped from the hell of the Bananarama below us, who amongst us isn't dreaming of being live and exclusive on Sky next season? On a Thursday. At midnight. In Barrow. It's the people's game remember.

Sign your name a cross that form, you'll need an exception certificate for your sandwiches. It's much too late to turn away, I want me dinner!

Under a slate grey sky a crowd of 632 gathered in black and white behind a goal and round the bend in the slither of seats. Are we round the bend to be here at someone else's party? Yes, they formally invited us, but only 'cos they had to, they didn't really want us here for the cheer. A bit like when you feel you have to ask your mum's step-sister's latest beau to your fancy family do.

Do we have to? I suppose so.

Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Eastwood, Smith, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Hume, Green, Thompson, Khouri, Vernam, Wilson and Gardner. The substitutes were Auton, Maher, Bramwell, Braithwaite, Andrews, Wood and Clifton. Well at least some of them are young, protected by Green, and they have teeth nice and clean, does this feel all right? Talking of teeth, hello Daniboy Orsi-Orsi, give us a wave and wish us luck as you say cheerio. We'll keep that lovely moment in Southampton as a memory apart.

Do be concerned, it may well harm you. Eastwood spooked by tufty divots, pock marks and potholes, pursuing something he's not sure of. A pitch inspection convened by Jazzy Jake and the Croudson crew for we don't need no more terrors for Auton in the kickabout.

Shall we start? Do we have to? I suppose so. We measure our lives out in coffee stirrers from lower league grounds.

1st half – Hand me down that can o' beans
Town kicked off away from the mass of Mariners mulling and mewling behind them.

Khouri turnin' 'round with graceful motion, we're setting off with a soft explosion. Bodies collided, galaxies imploded far, far away. Yes, of course someone had dropped a cup of hot chocolate on the concourse. A stray pass vaguely up their right. Hume intercepted, surging past The Wolds Panther's fey tackle, past careless creepers and lowly passed across the face of goal, through legs that 'twere not there to a world beyond, where lies the future. Ah, would that it 'twere so simple. The ball bumbled through the potholes and leapt up to smack against Gardner's swinging shins and over the bar by far. Doors slide.

Thompson nicked and knocked over in a street mugging when the goal was empty afore him. Just a finger wag for foul misdeeds in public. Just a free kick. Is there magic in the air? No, it's just an illusion. Creepers crawling and sent sprawling by a swarm of stripes, swinging up the left. A cross shot blocked and Hume blocked again. A shortened corner delightfully dripped by Slim Charles into the position of maximum opportunity. Green steamed in, sunk to his knees at the foot of the farthest post and headed back across the goal and across the face of the other post. He'd have scored if he'd tried to miss, but at least he's trying. Wahey, there he goes again, arising above the fey and noodling a noddle.

Wheels are made for rollin', mules are made to pack. I've never seen a sight that didn't look better looking back. A red shifter raced through powderpuffery and Campbell wiggled with room but waggled widely. There's a hole in our bucket, right in the middle, our double diamond system is not a wonder and one wonders why we insist on returning to the polo formation. There's a lot of wandering through our stars.

It's humdrum in the doldrums and isn't that sky mucky. Lucky they didn't spot my brolly when searching for suspicious sandwichery. Vernam's tic-tac-toe with Wilson swept into Addai's awaiting arms. Still, it looked nice. It was, at least, football as we used to know it, Jim.

Up and down and in and out, nowhere of consequence way out west. Gardner tapped forward, Wilson sighed and a redster stepped in to rotate the strike. A crossfield fliddler to their diddler on the left and with Smith long since fried one of their Kellys was left alone to scoop-chip over Rodgers. Oh dear Harvey if you were quick enough to rise you'd catch a fleeting glimpse of someone's fading shadow. Orsi-Orsi chested, wriggled and poked. Well, that's that then. A game over in a season that's already over.

Hassling, hustling, moments of almostness. Green slashed rather than pass to the unmarked Gardner. Someone, maybe Vernam, possibly Hume shot and the keeper kicked away. Or was that last week?

Why are we here? Remind me, please.

Slickness or slackness, depends what colour specs you're wearing. Crawley crept through the middle and Smith swiped red legs. Wright stood over the free kick, espied a low privet hedge before him and slingled towards the top right corner. Eastwood leapt and pawed aside. Well done young man. Well done.

You know it turns out that I went to the same infants school as the bloke stood next to me. Small world. Then again, Town are very small aren't they.

Up and down and in an out, nowhere of consequence way out west. Bumbling ricochets, Thompson bumpled aside and Orsi-Orsi hitched a tiny bungee rope to Khouri's shorts. A fleeting moment in plain sight, a fleeting glimpse and Lolos swam through Thompson, swung past the phantom threads of Harvey Rodgers and drangled across Eastwood into the bottom right corner. Outstanding shooting red leader, get that man a case of beer. Lolos just did it for the lols.

Mullarkey blocks. You really don't need to know more than that. What time is the train home? Mmm, we could catch the 5:15 if they don't waste time. Pfft, we're wasting our time.

Magically bored in the covered corner, seething frustration in our minds and our toes. C'mon at least have a go, all we are saying is give us a goal. Vernam wiggled and slithered through some cushions, screaming a big dripper goalwards. Addai lurched and lunged and flinger flipped from the foot of his left post.

And that my friends, is all you're gonna get.

Two minutes were added. It began to rain. That's all we got.

Normal service has been resumed: chances missed, sunk on the break. Nothing more, nothing less. C'est la vie, plus ca change.

2nd half – Pitiful patterings
No changes were made by either side at half time.

What's that sound? Each time you hear a loud collective sigh it's just us watching the ball go by as another slack attack bites the dust. We're not happy, we're not satisfied, how long can we stand getting beat, week after week? We just look weak.

Something happened once, almost. Passing, pressure, persistence and possibilities. Green, trapped in the corner, nutmegged his chaperone, rumbled along the bye-line and rolled a pass back towards the penalty spot. The ball barundled over the pot holes, past the penalty spot, out of the area where Hume lurked. An adjustment from right to left and a slashing overly and that’s all there is to it.

That is how we spent a further 45 minutes in Crawley: watching people come and people go, some happy, some sad, some here tomorrow, many not. Between the spits and spots, we wondered how much would it take to make those dots go away. If we offered them £20,000, how many dots could we afford to lose? Free of income tax, old boy, it's the only way you can save money nowadays.

It's so very lonely when you're 214 miles from home.

All we had were a succession of Mullarkey tackles and blocks and magnificently marvellous cross. Of course, no-one was near. Yes, Wilson, you. Standing, shrugging, sighing, hiding in plain sight.

Andrews came on for the tiring Khouri.


Clifton and Wood replaced Vernam and Thompson. All I can report is that the Crawley toilets do not have hot running water, nor working hand blowers. And Orsi-Orsi had an emergency change of headband.

Two minutes were added and then it all ended. I've got a bus to catch, so have half this lot.

A pointless game in a pointless season. A total and utter waste of time and money. At least it is over now. Wake me up in three months, things can only get better. Can't they?