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Diamond Lights (or Lack of Them)

By: Trevor Hewson
Date: 17/03/2011

IF a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I won’t go into any philosophies of the unobserved world, but because I didn’t actually see Rushden score twice and Kempson booked, I’m not sure it actually happened.

How do you write a match report about a night like Tuesday? I was sat at the back of the Pontoon and therefore have no idea as to what happened whenever the ball was the other side of the half way line. So this will be a brief view on the events I saw, with fleeting mention to those I didn’t.

I always quite like coming close to the ground for a night match when the floodlights are creating pools of light through a heavy mist. The sight recalls older days of football past when the ground hung with the smoke drenched fog of 15000 fans, half of them drawing on Capstans. Tuesday felt like one of those nights, albeit in a smoke-free world and with only 2500 hardy souls scattered around Blundell Park.

Annoyingly Rushden won the toss and made us kick towards the Pontoon for the first half, this tactic is getting boring now and needs to stop. However if we were to see any Town attacking play it was soon obvious that this was the way to go. The first few exchanges saw an early chance for Connell to square to Duffy who was livid when the ball did not come to him (a character trait we were warned about, but I am increasingly disliking). The play was then punctuated with lots of 50-50 decisions going Rushdens way. A referee who was struggling to make the correct call seemed to have visited us again. His ineffectiveness was highlighted by Duffy flicking the ball past a defender with his hand, completely unseen by the officials, but then seeming to take pity on his opponents by side footing the resultant chance wide of the post. The fog was now really rolling in and only occasionally could you make out a wraith-like Steve Croudson through the murk. As it got thicker, Rushden apparently scored their first, but the absence of any reaction from the home fans let you know they had seen nothing. It was the same with the second goal and the sending off. By this time the rumblings around the home fans grew louder and they were only mildly calmed when the decisionphobic Ref didn’t see Duffy being pulled back on the edge of the penalty box from 10yards away but was ably helped by the linesman who did, clearly overcome by being able to get involved in a match he had previously seen as little of as ourselves. Connell took the penalty with customary aplomb to score what wasn’t to be his 20th league goal of the season.

I fully expected the announcement at half-time to tell us that the game had being abandoned, it was however just a tease telling us to hang on to our ticket stubs ‘just in case’. During the interval I joined a small group of sensible fans asking very politely to be able to move to the other end of the ground so we could see what was obviously going to be a stirring Town comeback in the second half. The Deputy Safety Officer tried to get us access to the other end of the ground, but his boss was tied up in discussions with the ref and his Assessor (Mr U Rennie of Sheffield). This sounded just what we expected and it was then bizarre to see both sets of players eventually emerge, only to then be stood around for 5 minutes before the officials joined them to re-start the game. If the mist had thinned slightly at half-time, it was back with a vengeance now. The fans were allowed through into the Findus and the Main stand, but shortly afterwards, the Linesman on the Findus side of the pitch developed a flag malfunction and this allowed him to have a chat with his referee who finally saw sense in abandoning the game. Rushden weren’t happy, we were, but it was the right decision, if perhaps half an hour too late.

It may prove to be a bit of a get out of jail free card for Town, who, despite Dave Moore’s claims, didn’t look like they were going to take anything out of this game.

Tuesday may eventually become one of those games which become legendary over the years; it will certainly stick in the memory.

MOM, God knows! We were awful and I couldn’t see anything. Therefore I’ve got to award it to the linesmen for getting their incompetent ref out of trouble, with the penalty and the fogginess.

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