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Question of the Week

What is more important, result or style of football?

Result
Style of Football


Three at once!
Three at once!

Staying Onside

By: Chris Smith
Date: 16/11/2009

JUST like London buses, Town away games seem to come in threes for me. There’s Lincoln next Saturday, Leeds last week and Northampton yesterday.

The last away fixture I had taken in before this run was Chesterfield before swanning off for a fortnight in Majorca. Bournemouth when I got back was a tad too far for me.

Northampton had one attraction going for it in that me and Gary don't know any Cobblers' fans where we work in Leeds, which means you can guess the sort of banter we've been on the end of in the last few days. You know, snatched whistling of "Marching all together", constant reminders of Adrian Forbes’s offsides (or is he just trying to get as far away from his inept team-mates as possible?) and the pitying looks after asking "Did you go?" when they knew full well that we had. One even put song sheets with words to the Leeds anthem on our desks on Tuesday morning. Actually, we have a good time of it given we work in the biggest city in enemy territory and no-one wanted us to go down last year. Proper football banter from good mates.

Anyway, after a bit of deliberation, I talked myself into Northampton away having had mixed fortunes here. I saw us lose 2 1 in 1997/8 and win 1 0 in autumn 2004. At that time, Slade had just started to get some results together and had become the subject of "...we are Grimsby we are Grimsby, Sladey is our king". I could never bring myself to sing it unless I altered the last word to something else beginning with "cuh" so you know where I stand on the next manager debate.

Thankfully, we went down the A1 so didn't get stuck in M1 traffic for hours like a Town supporting pal living in Scuntland who makes me feel lucky in comparison. He even rang up to see if there were any games on near South Yorkshire only to draw a total blank. Meanwhile, we were troughing at a pub near Kettering. You know the sort of place. The first sound you hear on entering is a chavling screaming. Judging by the chavvy clientele and their numerous offspring, I've found the true source of the population boom, so stop blaming immigrants. And I never thought those thirty years ago that I would be going for a pre-match slash with a nappy being changed a few feet away from me. I was raised on pre-match drinks in the Royal Oak and Imp and a pub lunch was a bag or five of Roast Ox crisps. Was it just me or did eating crisps leave lots of horrible bits floating in your cider? No wonder I've thrown up a few times in my life. And no, I don't have kids and how did you guess?

Good food mind.

We didn't quite have time to meet up in the pub with an ex London Mariner, Mickey Birtles, who now lives in Northampton. Presumably, his two kids have been breaking windows all over the place, because they both turned up as well. Having bought our tickets, I was offered a couple of compoes by someone off the Supporters Club coach. Aaaarrrrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhh! This is the first time I've been in with a chance of freebies at a Town away game so had to decline but I did appreciate the gesture. It’s Gary’s fault for getting there early. This started to prey on my mind. Was it an omen? After all, needlessly spending £19 (what a rip-off) on a match ticket made me think it wasn't going to be my day. Just to put that into perspective, I'm off to watch Man City v Arsenal for £20 in the Gnats Piss Cup in two weeks time.

You see, I need to point something out. No-one suffers like me when Town play crap, you hear? I'd tell more people but they tend to run in the other direction when I turn in theirs, a bit like that Harry Worth programme. Mind you, I'd rather have shut myself in a pillar box like the postie did on that show than watch that game against Bath last week. Add yesterday’s game to that.

With this in mind, I'd said to Gary that I wouldn't be doing any more away games if we didn't get anything yesterday and against Lincoln. Absolutely adamant. One minute later, I saw Terry and made sure I had a seat on the coach for the Boxing Day Notts County game and then remembered Macclesfield wasn't really all that far away, now it had been rearranged for a Saturday. There really is no hope. For the team and me.

It was good to meet Mickey outside the ground. We were part of the London Mariners of the late 80s and early 90s vintage and I think yesterday was the first time we had gone to a game together and made kick off. It was a bit sad when you think we didn't make London games until half three. We'd even drink around the Millwall ground. Nowadays, the first thing I say in a ground is "hiya/hey up/ all right?", it used to be "Any shcore yet?". His lads were earwigging as we recounted some old atrocities as we knew we would have time to do. Nearly having our minibus turned over at Coventry, clearing the buffet of alcohol at Yeovil station and Chesterfield away in 1990 always feature heavily in our reminiscences.

By the way, the first half was terrible, certainly for Town fans, although Akinfenwa did his best to cheer us up. I think AB was after him and he would certainly fit in with our goal shy strikers. We created eff all although I've started to get used to that.

I've read Rob’s write-up of yesterday’s game, and describing Akinfenwa as corpulent was polite. I thought he made me and Gary look like male size zeroes. He had his chances but was thankfully inept. Just before half time, he had time to tee himself up and shoot but produced such a weak effort, an ant with a Valium habit could have headed comfortably clear. He must be the only bloke around that couldn't piss accurately on a toilet seat.

Talking of Rob’s write up, we got talking at half time and he showed me his notes for the first half. I've seen more letters in a two year old’s alphabet than he had on that page, and as he pointed out, most of those letters were the line-ups. He’s a bit more optimistic about our prospects than me. I said I couldn't see us doing anything this season to which he responded our aim would be to finish out the bottom two. I said that’s what I meant. Nearby Macca politely declined our request to come on as a sub and didn't say he wasn't putting in for the manager’s job (make of that what you will-I wrote it and I'm confused).

Town did come out strongly in the second half but our attack does look lightweight. There were signs of passing and we faced ten men after a home player was sent off for bringing down Danny North when clear through. Danny did have a good game in my opinion, but I wonder if he'll ever get his scoring boots again. In fact, he had a good chance in the last minute but shot just over. A good effort, but symbolic of the way it’s going at the moment. Things like a last minute winner for us in a terrible game could have got our season going.

I did like the chant of

He’s always offside
He’s always offside
Adrian Forbes is always offside

It’s similar to the "Onside, you'll never be onside" chant that the humourless Yorkshire Post reported Leeds fans as singing last Tuesday.

Talking of scoring boots, I think I might have discovered another problem. Why couldn't a Town player find Dead Shot Keen’s boots instead of Billy in whatever comic it was? Mind you, some of our players look as though they are conversing with the sadly passed on during games and the recently departed certainly have more pace. And what about Gorgeous Gus, the Earl of Boote? Loads of money so he could buy out Mr Fenty and he was a decent player as well. If anyone says these scenarios are contrived, is the recent pantomime at Blundell Park really less unbelievable than Billy the Fish?

Of course, its given me an idea for a future comic strip where a Premier League player accidentally finds a current Town player’s boots and subsequently plays like a total ****.

Back to the (ahem) football and all in all, it was better than last week, which isn't saying much. I feel as though I can just about cheer for them again, which I couldn't even bring myself to do at Leeds. It is desperate stuff though, but despite this, there was another good following from Town who tried to lift the players. I'm still doing a good number of away games but I know many stalwarts who have given up, including some I've known for decades.

Roll on Rossington Main on Tuesday night.

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