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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
Reading Between the Lines: Reading Report
By: Tony Butcher
A clear, bright, but cloudy afternoon in the hop smelling shrine to a man with unfeasibly bouffant hair. Around 200 Town fans amiably ambled around the vast canyons of someoneâ€™s mind as the locals settled down for a fetishistâ€™s feast.
Reading 2 Grimsby Town 1
26 Apr 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Well, theyâ€™d come to see some young boys being thrashed, hadnâ€™t they? Enough bitter and twisted asides for one paragraph, the leg room was magnificent and theyâ€™d painted the toilet walls.
The pre-match entertainment consisted of a panel beaterâ€™s brass band belting out an unusual selection of 1960s based music in strict 4/4 time. No, they didnâ€™t do "Cinderella Rockefalla", which dismayed at least three cardigan clad Town fans, nor did they stretch to "Sucu Sucu" by Nina and Frederick, who many feared would be Townâ€™s central defenders today. Actually, only Nina turned up. In honour of their chairman, the first pap record of the afternoon was by Haircut 100. Fantastic Day? Not for everyone surely. Reading players warmed up with a routine right out of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Holding hands they sashayed up the touchline, kicking left, then right, with the New Vaudeville Band as accompaniment . Now if only theyâ€™d worn feather boas theyâ€™d have topped it off nicely. I didnâ€™t see Dick Van Dyke either. Diagnosis: footballing murder about to occur. As the Town players jogged about in green and orange bibs, Reading outdid them again, by playing that little game of two touch passing with poles. Playing ski football, they slalomed up and down, the faint sound of cowbells ringing round the stadium.
Town lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, rather than the 4-5-1 formation, as shown. Mansaram (or Mansararium, as he was announced by the tannoy man. Is that Grimsbyâ€™s version of the London Planaterium?) was on the bench. Iâ€™m sorry, I gave you the reserve team from last Wednesday. Oh. No I didnâ€™t. Admit it, you just did a comedy double take, followed by a cheeky, but knowing, raised eyebrow. Youâ€™re in on the gag too then. Young, who facially looks a bit like Vinnie Jones, played at centre back, with Hockless a sort of rightish midfielder, Keane played in the centre left midfield slot, and Campbell out on the outer limits of the left hand side. Poor bulbous haired Sagare, the man with the unpronounceable name, was all alone, desperate for a coalition of the willing to join him.
Ah, now Sagare stands no chance of winning a contract with Town. Itâ€™s the hair. Wholesome hair, lovely hair, the sort that the lead singer with a top Christian Rock band would wear. He may Rock for Jesus, but will he score for Town? And Hockless wore silver boots.
Reading lined up in a very tasty looking 4-5-1 formation, How could that be, â€˜cos 4-51 is negative, isnâ€™t it?
We were promised Mr Woo at half time.
Reading kicked off towards the Town support and just kept the ball. Slowly they tapped it back and forth, side to side, eye to eye, before they broke on through to the other side with a diagonal ball over Gallimoreâ€™s head. Galli, to his credit (and that isnâ€™t a phrase often used in close proximity to our ailing, failing left back) headed the ball down and lifted a pass over Chadwick to Campbell, about 30 yards out. Campbell took one step back, leapt slightly, visibly raised both eyebrows and stopped, allowing a Reading player to retrieve possession on the touchline. The ball was immediately fizzed infield then out to their left wing, whereupon one of their players whose name began with "S" sent a deep cross into the centre of the penalty area. Oh dear, there donâ€™t seem to be any defenders. The ball went over Young, bounced once and Forster miss-controlled the ball with his right hand. The ball bounded on to LITTLE, wide of goal, perhaps 12 yards out, who controlled the ball and placed a low shot across Coyne and into the bottom right hand corner. Not even 90 seconds gone and Town had fallen apart. Well at least theyâ€™d touched the ball, if you count Galli, the semi-detached left back, as a Town player. And what about the old shed at the bottom of the garden, Mr Campbell? Who? What? Where? Increasingly - Why?
Reading poured through Town, with rapid transferring of the ball from left to right, and front to back, with midfielders bursting forward in numbers, overwhelming the part of the Town team labelled "the defence". Quite simply, Reading showed Town how to play 4-5-1. You see they pass, they move. Stunning, eh? It also helps that their players are "any good", they have added skill to the organisation and pace they displayed at Blundell Park.
Somewhere in the opening 10 minutes Reading took off their centre back, Williams, and replaced him with Ricky Newman, who has the demeanour and name of a market trader in Walford. I think he sells batteries and cheap watches. The enforced change didnâ€™t alter anything, for Town were infinitely inferior, and I suppose we shouldnâ€™t expect anything less with only three players. Young had a rather torrid time, soon learning what real football is all about. He had great difficulty keeping up with Forster, and needed help from the old stagers with his positional play. â€˜Tis a pity Galli kept telling him where to stand, like thatâ€™d help. Still, he kept trying and seamlessly morphed into a fun figure from Townâ€™s past. He is Lever-lite, all gangles and gaffes, but wholehearted gangles and gaffes. Groves soon came off the bench to stand near the touchline. After one Leveresque miscue from Young, Groves called him over and simply pointed to the stands, for the advice was quite simple "if in doubt, get it out".
The game was played out right in front of the Town fans, which was nice of Reading to think of us. Like Mongol Hordes they simply swept through Townâ€™s fading empire. Propped up by kids and pensioners, Town were no match for a fully trained professional army. Santos cleared a corner from the middle of the penalty area as the ball rolled slowly across the 6 yards box, Young clobbered Forster as he broke free, Chadwick ran at Gallimore, who retreated perhaps 20 yards before falling on his backside. Chadwick got to the bye-line and slightly sliced his cross. The ball arced over Coyne, kissed the crossbar and fell to Salako at the far post, 6 yards out and wide. Salako (who younger viewers will need to know was once a highly rated professional footballer - donâ€™t confuse him with that film starring Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot and, err, Eric Sykes) smacked a first time volley which Coyne parried away for a corner, though the ball was actually going to hit the outside of the near post. Canâ€™t be too picky can we, better safe than sorry. A minute or so later Chadwick again danced through the non-existent Gallimore and rolled a cross into the near post, whereupon Hughes sprinted forward and flicked a first time shot to Coyneâ€™s near post. Once more Coyne plunged to earth and clawed the ball away for another corner.
Town managed to string several passes together, but unfortunately the ball always ended up with Bolder, or even worse, near Campbell, who was making all his nowhere plans for nobody. Campbell was, and I can find no other word to accurately summarise his contribution in the first half (despite 3 hours research using a large dictionary and a thesaurus), pathetic. Utterly and disgracefully pathetic. Shrugging, sauntering, weak and a complete waste of manpower, which resulted in Town having no humans on the left hand side. Oh sure, Groves used the old smoke and mirrors trick to create the illusion, but there wasnâ€™t anybody out there. Sagare spent most of his afternoon leaping for high balls, and he isnâ€™t tall, despite the bounciness of his hair. When he did gain possession there wasnâ€™t anyone to pass to. Town didnâ€™t get anywhere near the Reading goal. I can get Townâ€™s "chances" out of the way very quickly. Cooke had a shot charged down outside the area and Hockless, after some neat interpassing with Sagare, wafted a shot hugely over the bar from about 20 yards, somewhere near the end of the half. Other than that, Town literally did not get in the Reading half.
Reading this, Reading that from now on. Shorey hit a shot from the edge of the area 17 yards wide, which the home fans "oohed" over. Perhaps itâ€™s a local joke, like Mansaramâ€™s shooting, as aimless as a leaf in a gale. More waves of hoops, those hula-hula hoops, tipping and tapping their way through some straw bales. Chadwick, especially, was having a gay old time, roaming freely, without hindrance down the Town left, he set up a whole dessert tray of chances for his fellow travellers. Hughes burst through and fired over, then at Coyne, with Town players watching the skies, waiting for that spaceship to take them away from this alien landscape. Marking? Marking is for teachers and we just had a bunch of first year pupils. After 22 minutes the inevitable second arrived. Usual source, down Townâ€™s left. Chadwick was allowed to run in a virtual straight line, with Gallimore......you know the rest of that sentence and beyond. Chadwick got into the penalty area, looked up and rolled a short cross in towards the near post. HUGHES, about a dozen yards out tapped the ball forward and then twisted and rolled a shot low across Coyne and into the centre right of the net. Only two? Itâ€™d be unfair to blame Galli for everything, after all he wasnâ€™t even born when the Hindenburg blew up. Oh, the humanity!
Reading continued to roll forward, but the second goal was enough for the party to begin. There was an element of showboating going on, though there were no dancing girls, or anymore dancing goals. Young got a bit better, helped by Forster being injured, and Keane continued to charge around, doing both his and Campbellâ€™s running. Santos made a few important and cool interceptions, and McDermott generally handled Salako comfortably. Elsewhere it was not so pretty. Reading made chances, but over-elaborated near goal, rolling crosses behind team-mates, or trying to take on one too many defenders (thatâ€™s Santos and McDermott to the cognoscenti). Ah, half time, when will it come. The game was, frankly, very boring for the Town fans, as Town didnâ€™t have the ball, never looked like getting it, and were quite shambolic. At least one supporter started to read a book - "War Crimes in the Home". Make of that what you will. None of the youngsters looked up to first division football, and all were far too wee for the second division. But apart from that, it was great fun.
Still, it doesnâ€™t matter anymore, does it. Who cares about the dog days of this season, I know Campbell didnâ€™t.
Half time: Reading 2 Grimsby Town 0
The crowd were, indeed, entertained by Mr Woo at half time, who is an Asian man with fluffy hair. He performed a bunch of party tricks as everyone went to the loo. He holds the world record for keeping the ball up, but he dropped it in front of the Reading supporters. How very in keeping with the occasion.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Who are we keeping for next year? All of their players, I hope".
The report continues in the second half.
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