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11/01 Northampton 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NORTHAMPTON made two changes at half time: now thereâ€™s management for you. Off went two blokes whoâ€™d hardly been noticed and on came Charley Farley and Piggy Malone. No, thatâ€™s not right; Hearns and Bojic, ITVâ€™s new crime-busting duo. But hereâ€™s the twist: they donâ€™t exist.
Grimsby Town 1 Northampton Town 2
Northampton fans asked if they could sing a song for us. We accepted their offer, but they ignored our request - "The Last Waltz" by Engelbert Humperdinck. Perhaps they didnâ€™t know his oeuvre. Young people, do they have no grasp of Britainâ€™s great musical history. Were the Dooleys wasting their time? Is Sinitta just a distant memory at a school disco? If so, why are you clinging to that memory?
Crowe, into the box on the left, slam-shot into the side netting. Thatâ€™s it. Thatâ€™s Town over for the night. Some thought heâ€™d scored, for the ball rolled along the side netting. He hadnâ€™t.
Oh, it was terrible. Town a mess, ripped apart easily, a goal expected with every Northampton attack. The very worst of Town. Hoofings, aimless hoofings; the midfield bypassed by our defenders and their midfielders. Crowe not stopping them; Pinault flittering in and out, wanting the ball at his feet. Thomas, you and your fancy foreign ways. Quite simply, Northampton are cheating: they arenâ€™t playing fourth division football. Theyâ€™re passing the ball to each other, along the ground; the ball is advancing upfield using the Pony Express, not Aer Lingus. Not stupid, in other words.
Young made some excellent tackles, but rarely advanced beyond the half way line.
Baldyman crossing from their right to the near post, Softly, softly does it. Williams, clinging on to the dribbler, no danger. Er, yes, there is. Benjamin raking and stamping at the foot of the post as the ball squirmed free. Some long range Cobblers, some more attacks; growing anger, frustration and fury in the home stands. And finally the damn burst, with thunder in Parkyâ€™s ears: a lost soul swimming in our fish bowl, game after game. The crowd began to boo, to heckle the previously untouchable workhorse. There comes a point where unstinting effort no longer shields form slings and arrows, and the hour mark in this game was it.
A plastic bag, caught in a whirlwind by the empty corner twixt Osmond and Smiths/Findus/Stones stands. Rising, rising, falling, spiralling in a gentle droop to the ground, back up towards the lights, then down again. The Caxton Players present Townâ€™s season as played by a plastic bag.
Der der der der der der der, de-de-der, de-de-de de de-der*****. For one point, which is more than Townâ€™ll get, or deserve.
Williams kept dropping the ball. A looping deflection, dropped on the line, saved by the referee. A corner, flapped to Croweâ€™s ankles. Shoddy, shocking. The sins of the autumn coming back.
You know, fifteen minutes have disappeared from our existence. Every club has its fifteen minutes of infamy, I suppose. The crowd flipped from support to criticism and back again with every mis-control, every challenge. Confused thrashings around for a saviour and a scapegoat. Bring on Sestanovich, Ah, but not before the referee sent their bossman, Calderwood, off for, presumably, uttering unpleasantries. Twelve minutes left
On he came, big and brash, bustling with intent. One typical example of inter-stannary motion: dribbling in a circle near, but not past, six Sixfieldians was all we were going to get. Town attacked, Reddy weaving his way around the left. On the edge of the area he was pushed and fell into the box. The ball fell to Young, but the ref gave a free kick for diving. No booking, not even a talking to. Taken quickly, the Cobblers broke and Jones tackled superbly, whisking the ball off Bojic like a salamander licking its feet. Free kick to the Cobblers: the crowd explode; Town players explode. The ground shaking in rage. Sestanovich stood over the puny poltroon and noises came out of his mouth. The referee pulled out his red card, brandishing it with pompous glee. Tears, tantrums and a tiara for Michael Reddy who wrestled the Big Man away. Red card, red mist: at the very least Reddy saved the refâ€™s teeth and nose from a formidable duffing. Sestanovich was only relaying quotes from the fine upstanding residents of the Lower Smiths/Findus/Stones.
What did Transit Stan say? What words were so heinous a crime against the aural sensitivities of the referee that would cause instant dismissal? "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries", perhaps. Weâ€™d just witnessed the most accurate, but ill-timed, volley seen at Blundell Park for many years Heâ€™d lasted four minutes.
The game was dead, the points were theirs. Is the season dead now? Town huffed a bit, but the belief was gone, all resigned to fate. A couple of late corners, not even a squeak of an attempt at goal. They broke, they piddled about. There were two minutes of added time (for three substitutions, a sending off and two longish injury breaks?) which were long enough for Crowe to get injured, the linesman to be grazed by a tin can, and Coldicott to stand on the edge of the pitch and not be brought on. Will he ever get to play his harmonica in public?
The referee was escorted off the pitch by a chunky phalanx of security men and the crowd trudged off, content to take it out on the Napoleon in yellow.
Should I sum it up? No, work it out for yourself. Patience amongst the crowd (you know, the ones that still turn up) is exceedingly thin, if not completely exhausted. I am sure the chairman was delighted by the response to his cri de coeur. In the hour of need a further 1,000 fans attended their own living rooms in support of Town.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
It should be Reddy who was tireless (and not just in the Lee Nogan sense), scoring and causing what problems there existed in Cobblers World. Iâ€™m sorely tempted to give it to Sestanovich, but he didnâ€™t make the refâ€™s nose sore. So it has to be Michael Reddy, despite running out of steam with about 20 minutes left. At least he tried. Werenâ€™t we saying the same thing about Parky a month or two ago?
Mr J P Robinson. One should always be suspicious of referees with wrap-around hair. They have something to hide. He spent the first hour being a bit of a fussy pain, then went barmy. He definitely took agin Town, about the same time the fans started to insult his East Yorkshire homeland. A delicate flower who clearly doesnâ€™t like rude words, he should give all his life earnings to Michael Reddy for saving his life. His behaviour didnâ€™t cause defeat, but will allow some to overlook the paucity of passion, the lack of leadership in Town. He gets a big fat 0.000.
Naming Those Tunes
- *Theme from The Archers
- ** 1812 Overture
- ***Oh, Shaddap Your Face
- ****Griegâ€™s Piano Concerto (in A minor), by Grieg
- *****Theme from Vision On
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