Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Ugly game - beautiful ending: the Mighty vs Huddersfield Town




It's a big match. A scrap. A battle. A titanic relegation dogfight. Cliche abounds but I'm too tense to be all arty and pretentious about this one. It's an elephantine occasion. There we are. Some shite. 

We need to turn up. We need to turn up. We need to turn up. I'm sick of reflecting on what went wrong and suggesting tweaks to t-t-t-tactics like I'm some kind of cunt who gets paid to state the obvious for the Athletic. Maybe we could try and score more than them? Can I have my fee now? 

I don't care what the manager does. I don't care what shape we play. I don't care about game fucking management or compressing the thirds or whether we invert the space between the pockets of half lines.

I just want fight, intent, passion and I don't care how we score or how dirty we have to be or how lucky we have to get, I just want us to win. It's a cold night. Two teams who've been playing like shite. Let's just be less shite than them. For once.

Come on you POOOOOOOOL

See you all on the other side...

--- 

I. Don't. Understand. The. Line. Up. What is it? Who is playing where? There's loads of jumping about as the ball bounces round. We've come up with a tactic of lobbing it Ollie Turton and hoping CJ running at him scares him. Surprisingly it does a few times. Ollie Turton just moves a bit and that's that outlet closed off. More jumping about. This isn't the finest game I've ever seen but Pool look keen. Gary is doing that running like a maniac for ten minutes thing he does before he has to have sit down. I always feel that whilst it warms the heart, it's not really a long term answer to the question 'who can provide pressing from the front.' That said, if you had a competition to look like a sprinting fridge, Gaz in full flight would be tough to beat.   

Maxwell has stretched full length and turned the ball round the post. I think it took a deflection. It was a very good save. Suddenly we're going the other way, The ball into Madine, he plays an angle defying, weighted ball to CJ who cuts it back, Yates cocks the trigger and fires, the ball ricochets off a defender into Carey who is charging forward, it more hits him than he hits it and it squirms inches wide. How did we not score? Will we get any luck? Ever? Carey is tangled up in the net. The ball is gone. The moment is over. Fuck's sake. Breathe out. 

C'mon Pool. Oh, what now. WHAT NOW? I'm literally thinking 'the Goode is ok when the ball is in the air, but he makes me worry when he has to chase someone' when I realise, it's not that he's quite as slow as he looked then, but that he's pulled up injured. Terrific. Let's add someone else to the collection of 'footballers no one else wants because they're made of porcelain that we've somehow been persuaded to swap some cash for by a spiv in a dark alley who promises we can take them back if there's a problem but has disappeared into the smog of the night taking our cash with him.' 

Sometimes people talk about playground football. Often it's wankers being all macho about how much they can deride people who are about a million times better at football than they ever were or will be. You hear people going 'oh, look at the full back, playground stuff' when a winger skins a player with a brilliant bit of skill, or someone doesn't close down because they're stuck between two men and thus between a rock and a hard place. I really don't want to be like that. But... 

The ball goes way up in the air from a sliced clearance. There's a big scramble. We all look a bit nervous. Huddersfield win the ball. They score. It's literally like a fucking playground goal. It's like watching year 8 football - when the players have graduated to a big pitch but haven't grown enough to fill it and they're a bit scared of the ball and the bigger lads win. I hate this season so much. 

Nowt happens for ages. It's muted again. I can't remember us having a shot. Suddenly we wake up in injury time and have a go. It's a great 4 minutes that involves some half chances and a bit of fight and... oh for fucks sake. For fucks sake. This is becoming blackly hilarious. Now Gary goals goal machine Madine has got himself sent off for absolutely no fucking reason at all other than being a big mardy arsed petulant get more interested in the scrap with his defender than the bigger picture. I could just go home. Can we just sack this season off? Fucking hell Gary. Not even I can turn this sow's ear into a silk purse. You've let me down, you've let your mam's Pink Floyd vest down. You've let Jimmy Husband and pistachio nuts down but worst of all Gary, worst of.... You know the rest... Go and sit on the sunbed and think about what you've done. McCarthy and TC don't even acknowledge him as he trudges off. The frosty atmosphere is palpable from half a pitch's length away. 

---

Lack of discipline, comical defending, failure to make chances, fan favourites left out... Appleton Ou.. Hang on. It's not meant to be like this any more. 

C'mon. Moping will do us no good. 

--- 

Rogers is on. Sonny 'possibly the worlds least lucky player' Carey is off. We do ok. We hold our own for 15 minutes. We look marginally more likely than them to break out of the turgid mess that is passing for a game of football. Dougall has a shot that we could describe as 'not bad,' corkscrewing up and over, but drawing an oooooh. The North Stand is magnificent. Jerry is outstanding. He just runs and runs and runs. He's Gaz and he's Jerry in one body. He's running for his own flicks. He's doing the pressing of two players. Maybe Gaz got sent off on purpose just to show the manager that Jerry needs to play up the middle because he's the best all round player we've got? 

An hour gone. C'mon Mick... We're losing it. They're making chances. Maxwell saves a near post effort that clearly hurts his hands. They skim one across goal. They run at us and we look alarmed. At one point I hear some ask 'why was Connolly running away then?' It's a fair question. The man next to me declares this 'the worst game of football I think I've ever seen' - it's probably not that, but it's certainly made the nominations list. 

Finally... He's electric. He's definitely not a central midfielder, he's possibly a little bit heavier and made of slightly more kebabs than when he left. Ladies and gentleman, here is the man who can't head, can't tackle, doesn't track back and yet, is the best player in the fucking world somehow, it's Josh Bowler!!! On the right wing! Where he belongs! 

There's a bit of hope simply at the sight of him. Fun fact - Michael Appleton won more points in the Championship without Bowler in the team than Neil Critchley. I'm not sure that's actually true, but it's close enough to have ring of truth and that's all fake news needs. I'd look it up but it's 11.46, you don't pay me owt and I'm up at 6.30 to go to work. So fucking look it up yourself you lazy get. The point is, for all the bellyaching about this and that, we've missed this lad so much and anyone who says otherwise can't actually have bothered to pay any attention. 
 
He runs, he stabs it to Jerry, it's too hard. We all sit down. He gets vaguely near the ball. We all stand up. He shies away from the tackle. We all sit down. Just give it to him. It's easier said than done. The ball is ping ponging about. The game is so unsatisfying it resembles what I imagine watching people trying to play football on the deck of a ship in a storm must look like. Mostly it consists of misplaced passes and wrestling with occasional hoofs out of play. Bowler looks lost. 

He's got it at last. A lazy turn, a pass, a glide on to the return ball, a cut back, a deflection and then out of nowhere Andy Lyons gallops onto it and smashes a curling, fizzing, beautiful effort into a gorgeously taut net. It's a fucking great moment. Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!! For once. For once this year, we've turned it around and now, lets go and fucking do it. Lets take the game to them. They're going to be petrified. That advantage is ours. C'MON POOL!!!

Remember last week when that Boro lad clipped that beautiful finish just inside the near post and you thought 'well, that won't happen again any time soon?' 

That fucking happened.

I've actually decided I'm going to watch Morecambe instead. It's cheaper, closer to my house and it won't hurt like this cos I don't give a fuck about Morecambe. To be honest, I'd rather watch that year 8 school team from earlier. Fuck off football. Fuck off Pool. Fuck off the referee who has been awful, stalking around like stick insect, his pale face, pale hair and pale blue shirt giving him the look of some fucking Nazi who started an electropop band with a shit dress code. Dickhead sends off Gaz for throwing a hand and just ignores two equally violent assaults on Husband, about three handballs, one hilarious point where one of our lads got literally lifted up and dumped on the ground and numerous other things I'm too angry to continue writing about... 

How are we supposed to get anything when we're playing the referees week on week? Its a fucking conspira.... FUCKING HELL!!!! BOWLER!!!! YES YES YES YES YES! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Rogers got away, Jerry had a go, it was tired effort, having run about 23 miles, but it broke for Josh who absolutely slammed it home. 

I actually love football more than anything. Unreal. Whatever happens. That's the moment we live for. That. Right there. A bit of joy. 

We love you Blackpool. We do. 

---

Maybe the tactics weren't great. (The tactics weren't great) Maybe the same old problems were evident (the same old problems were evident.) Maybe I don't love Gaz any more. (Let's not be too hasty)

The main thing was, as much as it was the same record with a different cover for a lot of the game, actually, the very last bit of the album sounded beautiful. We did come back, we did find a way and whilst a point is not a lot, it's something. 

Nelson did ok I thought, though his clearance for the first goal was a bit dicey. Trybull seemed like a player we should have had in summer. Lyons is fantastic. Rogers, I thought was good. He splits opinion. He's like CJ with skills. He's direct. He loses the ball. I think he was clearly more positive than not. Mick must surely now see what Bowler is. Surely. Surely. Surely! 

We definitely have some players. We need to use them. It was not, by anyone's definition a vintage performance. A lot of it was distinctly poor - but there was total effort and that double come back must surely give the players a sense of some sort of achievement. It's been a long time since they've felt that and that's what we've got to take into the Rotherham game. There's no point moping and looking at the table. It's no good whining at Mick. He's been here 5 minutes and he's what we've got now, like it or not. We need the same backing every single minute of the rest of the season. It's pointless to do anything else. 

Fight and play a bit of football.
Get the wide players into it.
Let them loose.
Take a risk,
Have a shot.
It might just go in. 

Onwards!


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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A shit preview: (take 2) the FUCKING MIGHTY TANGERINE WIZARDS vs some Leeds suburb

KING MICK'S CORONATION. 

LOUDER THAN WAR. 

COME.
ON.
YOU.
POOL. 

NO QUESTIONS. NO DOUBTS. NO BACKWARDS STEPS. NO ANXIOUS MUTTERING. NO GRUMBLING OR GRIPING. NO QUARTER GIVEN. NO PRISONERS TAKEN. 

JUST THE ABSOLUTE TANGERINE BASTARD UNEQUIVOCAL BACKING. JUST A WALL OF NOISE THAT SWEEPS THE PLAYERS FORWARD. SOUND THAT YOU CAN FEEL. SOUND THAT GETS TO THE VERY BONES OF THE GAME AND SHAKES THEM. 

IF YOU CAN SPEAK TOMORROW. YOU DIDN'T GO

GIVE IT EVERYTHING. EVERYONE. 

BIG MICK. BIG GAZ. BIG BERTHA. BIG LOVE. BIG GAME. 

ONWARD!



There's a malaise. A sense of us being the doldrums. The good ship tangerine becalmed without the wind of progress in its sails. The storm of noise that urged us on is now a squall of dissatisfaction. Anyone you talk to is more likely to diagnose a terminal fault than they are to proffer any optimism.

At Bournemouth last year, we were utter gash for the first 45 minutes. So much so that I said at half time to someone 'I don't know why we don't just chuck the kids on and do something weird for the second half because there's no way this is working - we might as well get battered and learn something' - but... we kept singing and singing and singing. The second half was one of my favourite experience watching 'Pool ever. The team responded to that blind, foolish, stupid, illogical belief. I have absolutely no doubt that we lifted them on that day when their heads really should have dropped. The point gained was brilliant because it was one of those rare, magical days that stay in your bloodstream for years - where it feels exactly as if you chanted yourself raw and somehow influenced the game. You look at the table and think.. +1 - I did that. Me and the fella next to me and the person next to him and behind him and in the row below and up at the back and all around. Drunken, glassy eyed. Upright and proper. Woman and kids, lads day out, old fella, flask and blanket, hair gel, wrap of coke, perfume, lynx spray, sandwiches wrapped up neatly stinking of piss, stinking of ale, nervous eyed, swaggering, ill and tired, fighting fit, thin, fat, male, female, tall, short and whatever fucking else there is. All of the world. The extremes, the in-betweens. The mass. As one. Like nothing else in the world.

Now, whilst I get that very clearly people don't believe in Appleton - he's a single man and he's not playing in the game. As many also say, he doesn't really do much in the game so it's our choice whether the atmosphere is leaden and heavy or whether we make a fucking noise cos he's not going to do owt either way. There's a massive 3 points on the line. It's huge. Whether Appleton stays or goes. Whether a new man comes in. Whether that new man is one of the ludicrously out of reach names that people keep suggesting or the sentimental choices that have no logic behind them or a random coach who looks too young to tell Gary Madine what to do in any situation, let alone that it's time to go to bed now because there's a game tomorrow, it doesn't matter. We need those three points. Whatever it means for whoever. We need them.

Whatever Appleton does before the game, we still need the points. Whether he picks the team you want or whether he puts Poveda in central defence and Jordan Thorniley on the wing. We cannot be sulky, sullen. We've got to have fire. We've got to demand that they're quicker to the ball, faster, hungrier. When Sonny tries a pass that curls beyond a run or Charlie drops it short and his clever touch doesn't quite come off, we've got to roar encouragement like they're the greatest footballers that ever lived and next time will be a triumph of footballing legend. When Jerry chases one down, we've got to have a full rendition of all three of his songs. When Gaz knocks someone over, we've got to make them feel like they're concussed by noise. When the ball gets vaguely near Josh Bowler, we've got to make them feel like a storm is coming. Every time there's a goal kick, it's the start of a new moment. Every flick, every kick, every single little moment we have to be on their side. We've got some fucking good players. If they don't get made to feel that way by the manager or the coaching, make them feel that way with the noise. Make them taller, quicker, stronger. Make them fearless.

That's what we need. We don't pick the manager, we don't get to sack him mid game either. That's literally never happened* From whistle to whistle, I couldn't give a fuck about Mansford and his contact book, I don't care about processes and strategies. I don't give a fuck about financial disparity or East Stand plans. I don't care about the trudging turgid away days or the collapses at home. I don't care about what has happened or what is yet to come. Financial fair play and regulators and FIFA corruption and kits made in sweatshops and endless fucking cunts trying to leech money out of a game... you could moan about football all week. I know, I do. I don't care now though... It's matchday**

*Actually, it probably has, but you get the point.
** that depends obviously, on when you read this.

I care only about the moment. About the team in tangerine. The only one in football who combines that magical colour with white. The team that is the greatest fucking thing in your pitiful little life. The team that takes us to such heights that make all the other things disappear. The team that can have you hugging strangers and tumbling down steps. The team that when they're playing and the whole ground is singing, can make you feel something that feels like a blissful nothing. The club we thought we might lose and the club we got back.

We do that, we give everything, we absolutely demand, in fire, in fury and in flares, in beats of the drum and in the rolling chorus of our hoarse voices, never stopping, never giving up, never giving way, never stepping back - then we've done our bit. What will be will be. Que sera. What others do, their mistakes, their stubbornness, their misguided decisions, their confusion, their ill thought out strategies or their misplaced loyalties - that's for them to deal with. All that will roll around again at 4.50pm. It'll be there, ugly, frustrated, angry along with everything else that weighs heavy on your soul.

There's no ambiguity. There's no question what the vast majority of the fanbase think. It's clear. Whether people think Appleton is on a one man mission to destroy us from the inside or is an unlucky fella who tried something and didn't get the rub of the green. There's barely a soul who thinks he's going to be here much longer. It doesn't matter. We've gone over it and over it and over it. Whether you think that we should have/could have/any fucking idiot would have... It doesn't matter. No one has got anything left to say. It's been said. It will be said again.

None of that is a reason to not give everything to the players and turn the game into a war. We're up against one of the few sides who've looked consistently as ill suited to football at this level as we have at our worst. We can be who we are. Special. Beautiful. Different. FUCKING TANGERINE FOR FUCKS SAKE. Or we can be a bunch of pissy, pathetic gripers, tutting at the back and grumbling at the politics of it all because the boss is making silly decisions. There's enough of that horrific shite in the week, there's enough fucking miserable cunts being miserable and enough stuff to be miserable about. There's enough of feeling powerless in life, enough of being just swept along being quiet and compliant and just sighing at all of it. Fuck that. Fuck that. Fuck that.

This three points matters. It matters in the context of this season. It matters in the context of the next and probably the one after and so on and so on.

Actually, probably, in the interests of fighting hyperbole if we think about what we know about the universe, it's likely nothing actually matters and meaning is just a story we make up but as we've collectively agreed with each other that football does matter and that we all are going to turn up together and pointlessly cheer on one team against another in a competition neither will actually probably ever win then... for fucks sake, we might as well do it well cos it's basically fucking stupid. We could actually do something that wasn't so fucking frustrating with our lives if we wanted.

If you're going to put your life in the hands of a football, club, you might as well fucking go for it. We might as well stand up if we can. We might as well give the ref living hell. We might as well give their keeper absolute hell, we might as well take out the ire and the tension on someone fucking else for one week. It might as well be Huddersfield because frankly, compared to us, who the fuck are they?

Herbert Chapman's project he dropped for someone else. A right bunch of dour bastards who live in the hilly Yorkshire version of Preston where their best thing is a fucking gasometer***. That's nothing compared to a fucking tower and the tower is just the start. Our best player is Stanley Matthews. There's is propably called Tommy Hebbleswick or something like that. He's got 3 caps for England in 1927 and he's built like a ploughman. I literally can't think of anyone who ever played for them apart from Phil Starbuck and that bald lad from when they were briefly good for 5 minutes a bit back. Fuck them. Fuck everyone else

***to be fair, I do quite like gasometers, but I don't think a digression on industrial architecture or the symbolism of local energy in a time of global unrest is quite in keeping with the mood of the rest of this particular blog. To be honest, I quite like Huddersfield in general, but again, talking about that's not really going to be of any use in terms of setting the tone is it?

Without us being us, we're nothing. We're just another club. The actual professional bit of the club, like all clubs, is just some cunt who is rich enough to run it, some cunts he employs to run it for him and some players who dance to their tune. They get their decisions, their boardrooms, their wages, their press releases, their agents, their awards and everything else. They can walk away.

All we get is Saturday afternoon and we're stuck with it. That's it. Might as well make something of it.

We're not just another club though. We all know that. We're so, so, so much more than that. I swear we'd feel better if we remembered it on Saturday, just for a bit.


Onward



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Saturday, January 7, 2023

Cup FEVER! - the Mighty vs Nottingham Forest


I'm not sure what I expect today. I greeted the draw with a resigned sigh. Forest. At home. That's probably the most boring draw we could have got. Someone bigger and it would have been a good vibe, someone smaller and we have a good chance of going through. An away game would be a day out, maybe somewhere weird. As it is, it's just about the most bland tie you can imagine.

Still, lets not be too miserable about it. It's a game of football not an internal middle management audit or a trip to the morgue to identify a body of a close relative. I've got absolutely no expectations about it and thus, whilst it might be a tepid 3-0 defeat that shows that (quelle surprise) their expensive reserves are better than our cheap ones, it might also be a surprisingly carefree rip-roaring game of football where we play with the shackles off and tear into their ill motivated luxury show ponies.

The end game is simple. We could win the cup. It's unlikely. Y'never know though. Just imagine. Wembley. The last seconds. Somehow we've come back from 3-1 down, inspired by wing wizard Josh Bowler. His performance has been so good, it over shadows even the Gary Madine hat trick that has us in front. Desperate tackles. Brilliant saves. The whistle. The team collapse. The fans collapse. Tears mixed with elation. No one can believe it. This makes everything we've ever lived, even the madness of the Holloway dream seem small. We've won the cup. We've won the fucking cup!!! The opposition look dazed. It doesn't matter who they are. They're not us. High in the stands, commentators screech 'a seismic shock on the football richter scale' and the sound of keyboards clatter as the papers get ready to scream headlines like 'Matthews Memories as Terrific Tangerines Triumph in Cup Classic'

Just imagine it though. Go on. Let go of reality. It's shite anyway. Dreamland is better... Submit... Captain Gaz. Lifting the cup. The roar. The sheer weightlessness of that moment. Your soul. Thousands and thousands of others let out their jubilation. You are part of that. You'll be part of that till the day you die. You'll never be quite the same again. A little bit lighter. A little bit better. 

There's still magic there if you can dream a tiny little bit...


--- 




We start well enough. We normally do and it doesn't tend to mean too much by the end of the game. Lyons immediately impresses with some intelligent movement and his desire to get forward. For Lavery and Carey, it's a major bonus - an extra player to pass to. It's hard to play triangles in the corner with only two of you and Lyons instantly looks like he might be the forward thinking full back we've been lacking for some time as he instantly offers himself as an ever moving third point. Shayne digs out an exquisite little behind the legs flick to him. The two of them low five as we win a corner. 

A couple of early chances - Jimbo puts one narrowly wide after a nice move and a little shoulder drop by the left back legend who deserves a song but never gets one and Beesley is a little too late on a ball from the right and as we slow down a little, I'm wondering if we're going to do the usual 'flatter to deceive' act and disappear. 

It turns out we're not. We have a move where it looks like everyone is going to take a shot but no one can quite get it out their feet. I notice how alert Carey is to what's around him, going to hit it and then just shifting his feet and laying it sideways. Poveda runs across the box like football is a side scrolling platform game and somehow no one leathers it at the goal. 

CJ bolts down the left and hangs up a cross. Forest head it up in the air. The Wasp is onto it, stinging the legs of a defender with a snapshot but there is Marvin, calm as you like, rolling it home calmly to send us in front. Next stop Wem-ber-ley

Forest remind us that you've got to do more than score once to win the cup by twanging the bar. It makes weirdly little sound. Shortly after they contrive to skew one just wide and then draw a very good low stop from Maxwell.

CJ belts on to one and crosses literally first time. It's an astonishingly good ball that no one expected. CJ looks bashful. What started as a Forest roar, is now somewhat muted and what felt like an empty-ish set of home stands somehow feels a bit fuller. 


---

We've done well enough. It's been an odd game. Forest look horrible at the back and their finishing has been woeful. We've looked quite quick and moved the ball well.

--- 


Forest come out of the blocks keen to right the wrong of the first half. It seems only a matter of time before they score, but somehow, they don't. They take a touch in front of goal that's too light or too heavy. They find Maxwell racing out to stop a point blank effort with a low hand. They brush the top of the bar. They miss so many in so many different ways that it becomes funny. 

Poveda turns the tide by picking it up, turning as he does in a space that makes a sixpence seems positively large and sending a corkscrewing effort that swerves and dips just over the bar. Beesley makes way for Jerry Yates. YTS Gaz has run around very gamely but I felt like he could do with wearing some American football padding to give him the same kind of impact that the real deal would have had in certain situations. Lets see what Jerry can do with this rare chance to play up front. 

Initially, his contribution is a bit of harrying defending from a ball cleared out the box that I can't imagine any other no9 in the country taking so seriously. He gives his man absolutely no space at all, he's virtually shrink wrapped himself round their winger. 

A terrible bit of defending from Forest, a no look back pass that finds Yates in his more natural role. He control, he tricks his way into the box. He has a look and he feeds Poveda who more or less walks the ball home, threading the ball from one foot to the other with sewing machine precision before tapping it in from a yard out. His top is off. People are charging down the North steps. I'm punching the air. The ground is now well and truly alive

CJ runs. Where's he going? Back to Dougall (on for Patino) who lifts a cheeky ball over the top that sees CJ haring onto it in classic speed skater style, cutting in then absolutely lashing it into the opposite bottom corner of the goal like it's the beginning of the 20/21 season and he's our best player all over again. It's an absolutely brilliant finish from the angle he was at. This is terrific fun! Can we be 3-0 up more often? I like this a lot! 


Poveda is absolutely on fire now. He's ratting about winning the ball, skipping away from their defenders, running in diagonals or mazy lines, he's perfect balance, he's like a slalom skier dipping his shoulder for flags and bouncing up on the next turn. He's a ritual dancer shimmying between the lines of a tribal grouping, He's a salt shaker in a zero gravity environment. How am I going to cope when there's him and Bowler to write about? What if Rogers is good too? I'm going to need more metaphors than one man can muster. Their defence has no answer. He makes a chance for Jerry who does everything right but hit the back of the net, swaying, doing that thing he does to make space, catching it well but whistling it wide. 

It's no matter because the little maestro has it wide and now he's teasing his man, now he's teasing a ball across and there is YATES! He's caught it beautifully, cracking a rifle shot against the underside of the bar and we've got 4! The sniper strikes. All goals are great goals and in the absence of Gary, a Jerry goal is as good as they get. Fucking great finish. 

We want five! We almost get it as everyone rushes to the far post on cross and it doesn't quite sneak far enough. Rogers is on and is also looking handy. He's got a bit more about him physically than I remember and looks more likely to work back than I thought. He pops up on the right and the left wing and at right back. 

They score one. It's far too late. It's almost more painful for them than it is us as it reminds them what could have been had they just hit the target earlier instead of trying to be all cute with their finishes and missing all their chances. 

The whistle goes! 

--- 


What a day! I came expecting nothing and I got a great game. We definitely owed more than a little to Forest's poor marksmanship and to the makeshift feel of their defence but we also looked excellent when we got the wind in our sails. I've written more than enough about Poveda in the last few blogs but he's dynamite. I thought Carey played well, distributing the ball crisply, prompting and taking quick decisions. Dougall added a bit when he came on, CJ was decisive today and kept going as opposed to fading out (for that matter, it's also encouraging that Poveda (I can't stop talking about him) was setting up goals late in the game and actually grew into it as opposed to impressing and fading away, which even last week he did) - Jerry was good up front and showed that with some skill around him, he's a mean player to have and I think Marvin was excellent at the back again, which is fantastic to see and Maxwell looked assured today which, wherever you sit on 'Grimmygate' is still a positive thing. 

I couldn't say anyone was poor - Patino to me looks the player most in need of a little headspace and a rest - he dropped a few passes short (he got particularly lucky with one) and got caught in possession but he'll come again and be twice as good as he was today. He was definitely a part of us moving the ball with some pace and his intelligence in reading the greater movement we had is not to be under estimated. That movement as I pointed out at the top was in no small part down to the new lad from Ireland who showed an ability to drive forward, cut inside with the ball, overlap, read play and crucially showed he could stand up and defend as well. I was particularly impressed that he seemed in no way naive to the kind of tricks needed at this level, both in terms of the way he defended but also his willingness to take a foul where it was wise to do so. 

It's one win. I'm getting carried away, but fuck it - I've not written one of these since (I think) PNE at home so I'm going over the top and I'm taking you with me. That was us destroying a side a division higher without Bowler, mostly without Rogers and without a few more of our key players and with a bunch of kids in midfield. We've actually played ok recently - we've not made it count. Today we did and it felt good. 

I wasn't all that fussed about going. I'm glad I did. It looked like the players enjoyed it. I certainly did. 

Onwards (to Wem-ber-ley!) 




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Monday, January 2, 2023

POVEDA! - the Mighty vs Sunderland AFC



I'm in a bit of a haze. Driving there, I can only hold a thought in my had for about 3 seconds. The music pounds. Isn't 'chevron' a good word? How can I change my life? Should I park in a different place? Maybe I could quit my job? I could stop drinking? Is everything inevitable? Do I have a choice in anything really?

It turns out I've parked in the usual space. I wasn't concentrating. I thought it might change our luck. Maybe nothing I do is actually a choice. I check the team. Michael Appleton probably shouldn't work in PR. It feels like the selection is code for 'fuck you, I'll do what I want'

Kick off approaches. I decide that on balance I admire what he's done. Live or die by your convictions. I like the technical midfield. It might be made of 3 players who have less presence than leaves on the wind but it's got some intent to it. We either attack or we die.




---

We do attack. It is pretty good. I'd forgotten that football is fun. CJ doesn't hesitate to run into space. Patino and Carey have the energy of 2 Yorkshire terriers nipping at the ankles of the opposition. It's like they've been watching 'the best of Jay Spearing.' Lavery has got his boots on the right feet and his head down. Gaz is marshalling it all like the proud conductor of a youthful brass band.

The star of the show is Ian Yan Poveda. He drives from midfield. He's in the middle. I didn't think he could possibly do this role. He can do it better than I can imagine. He's like a piece of driftwood, tossed about in a storm, going one way, turning in the churning currents, racing, ducking dipping, but never sinking. He's a cat's cradles untangled. He's a pinball in a machine, surging, acute angles, sudden bursts of movement.

There's joy in his feet. There's defiance in his play. Weeks and months go by where you watch players in systems doing their jobs. It's like watching an office. Everyone defined by their job description. Everyone just aiming for their targets. Everyone staying within the lines. Suddenly your watching an artist. Suddenly there's colour and music and glorious freedom. It's beautiful.

He picks it up. He spins. He goes. Wow. And again. It's like a cartoon where bodies go into fight and there's a big cloud of dust and you see the hero run out of the cloud of dust and the baddies are still fighting each other. One run ends with a shot into legs when Husband has overlapped, another, this one from his own box to the edge of theirs ends with him getting booked for having his angle clipped.

There's a one-two-three-four with Madine who is looking as sprightly as I've seen him, his senses jangling with thrill of having someone around him to make sense of his endless knock-downs and hold up play. The ref is a jumped up twat who shows no consistency at all.

The goal has little to do with Poveda. CJ. Go on CJ. He doesn't burrow for the by-line though, but tap a little sweet pass for Lavery who curves his run, picks it up and charges for goal. Shayne will miss this. He's just stuck in a rut. We're stuck in a rut. He puts it away with aplomb. I'm not sure what aplomb is but that was it for sure.

Laveey on his knees. Lavery's fists clenched tight. Relief is tinged with the pain of the ordeal and his season has been a rough ride. Who could begrudge him this moment? He plays well today. We're in front and on top. C'mon Pool!

We make couple more chances. Just before half time we have a free kick. I dare to dream of a comfortable lead. As I'm fantasising, Sunderland cut through is and hit the bar so hard you can see it flex from the other end of the ground. That would have been typical. It didn't go in. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe we've turned a corner?

---

The best we've played in what seems like forever. More.

---

Things change. Nothing lasts forever. It's not too big an ask surely though for us to be a functional side for an hour and a half is it?

The second half is anything that the first half wasn't. We have one effort, Lavery again away, squaring for Madine and eventually the ball coming back to Carey who brings a save.

The rest is backs against the wall. Our midfield is overun. Mowbray yawned at some point in the game and waved an arm and changed things. He's not panicking. The sad eyed gravedigger looked quizzical, the place where one of his eyebrows should be raised on an otherwise impassive face. What do we do about this?

A) Bring Kenny on?
B) Drop the 10 deep?
C) Sacrifice a wide man, bring Kenny on and send Poveda wide to escape his man marker?
D) Nothing?

They pour forward. They're very good. They've got patience and belief. The chances just rack up. One move has a scramble under the cross bar where Marvin saves us and it's impossible to believe it hasn't gone in. Husband is shepherding, Jud is tracking Stewart who combines touch, movement and being a big ugly fucker as well as I've seen in ages.

Maxwell sprawls and makes a great stop. Marvin blocks one at the near post. He's playing as well as he has all season. The midfield are chasing shadows. CJ was good first half but now he looks like a kid who won a prize to train with the team. Beesley is on for him. Yates for Lavery. It's just more of the same.

The goal is one of those where we can clear our lines. In it goes, away it goes, back it comes. The defence is all over the place, the last attack churning us up as if a giant spoon had stirred us round and left us anywhere but where we need to be and one header, then a glance from an unmarked Stewart and it's in.... Maxwell collapses, the rest of the team follow. The ground is silent. It's not really as the travelling mob go wild but it's like I don't hear it.

Finally Kenny comes on. It's all too late. They spin one to the far post. It's just too hard. They crack the cross bar. Somehow Stewart contorts himself into a position that sends a point blank chance side. Connolly gets sent of for mistiming a tackle. He's the victim of the refs inconsistent approach. He's in no way the biggest offender today. To be honest, it feels a bit like a luxury to only have to play for ten minutes with ten men. Luke Wright comes on. He looks frightened.

We hold on. Just.

---



It's a game of two halves. Funny old game. I enjoyed it. I hated it.

There was a blueprint for how we could play to some extent. It was, again, some of the wrong players doing the right things. At times it was the right players doing the right things extremely well but there aren't enough of them to make it stick. CJ is a lovely lad who made the goal and let's not slate him and I'm sorry. I really am but but he loses the ball *all the time" and it creates problems. Patino, Carey and Poveda are tremendous players but there's absolutely no defensive qualities at all between them. Midfield has to have balance or we have to score 4.

I loved the football in the first half. It was brave and up to a point really effective. It looked fun. Remember fun?

The problem was, we had no answer at all to the second half. It's a game that gives both optimism and fear. I suppose that's life in a nutshell. There's other shite teams though. We need to do more of what we did and better. We need to show up and get into some of the mediocrity in the league like we did for the first half. We need a midfield presence. I can barely bring myself to type 'Josh Bowler' in case it's bullshit.

Anyway... Poveda!

Onwards

Saturday, December 31, 2022

A shit preview - the Mighty vs Sunderland



A conventional blog would go through the opposition and maybe get some other non-entity off the internet to tell you what they think. I do know some Sunderland fans as well and they're grand fellows one and all, but honestly, who gives a fuck about the other team? Here's my thoughts - They'll turn up swanking about like they're proper massive as if they aren't just Stoke by the sea. They have some good players. They've got the lanky lad who looks like he should be shit but is actually really good for example. 

We might as well play one of any of the available formations. We could play an old school 2-3-5 for all the good it would do. There is no world in which out of the available players you can craft a working formation that doesn't contain a couple of holes. 

We've not got the wing backs to play 5 at the back. Playing less midfielders when our midfield is made of balsa wood at the best of times rules out four in midfield. We have only got one winger with any real skill and he's so small that I genuinely, honestly, not making it up for the sake of the blog, mistook him for a mascot before kick off on Thursday. We could try hoof ball but the distribution from the back is far from Baresi-esque

It'll be 433 and so it should be.The only hope of getting out of this with the muscular lord of charisma and self expression is to double down on what we're doing and add to that. Chopping and changing doesn't achieve anything. We've got to either a) bin off Appleton now or b) add the quality of some players specifically targeted to play in particular positions in the style we've favoured all year and hope that they lift those around them. 

I'm not convinced we'll have the muscle in the market to get those players in - but essentially we need the kind of next level boost that signing Dougall, Ballard and Stewart gave us when we were struggling in league one. Those players all slotted straight in and looked very good. We've completely lacked that sort of signing.

Talking of Kev - if we're not going to get anything out of him on the pitch, maybe we should get him on the PA or in a booth under the stands for counselling? He could encourage us all to think positively and challenge any negativity... 

"Fuck off Appleton you baldy bastard!" 
"Think about where your anger comes from? Is it you you're angry at or Appleton?" 
"Fuck off Kev - it's that skeletor on steroids prick" 
"That proves my point. Toxicity breeds more toxicity" 
"Seriously Kev, that makes no sense at all" 
"It's your way of looking at it that's the problem. Think about realigning your goals and the scales will fall from your eyes" 
"I give up" 
"I win. Let's goooo" 

I think we need to play Dougall, I think we need to play Poveda wide for lack of anyone else who is any good there. I think we have to play Yates and Madine because what the fuck else would you do and I think pushing Carey into the hole Poveda occupied previously gives him a chance to get shots off and maybe get onto Gaz's knock-downs which is something he's quite good at. 

We need, again, to just chuck everything at it on and off the pitch  It's no good just raging and simmering because we might go down and we don't like the manager because the more we do that, the more it becomes self fulfilling. I don't give a fuck if we set fire to the ground at full time - I just want us to stop being a bunch of sulky fucking melts and get back to the wall of noise that blocks out everything else in the world. From 3pm to 4.45pm it's us against the world. Not us against each other. 

It doesn't fucking matter that Michael Appleton is the manager. He's just some cunt on the touchline. So were all of them. None of them are fit to lace Billy's boots anyway. Not that swimming pool attendant that came before either, not the sad eyed grave digger that we've got now.  We're stuck with this for life. They're not. We shouldn't define ourselves by him or anyone - in the dugout or otherwise. The Appleton saga will end up being a mere footnote in the history of the whole. We can ruin the best bit of the week or we can turn up and make some fucking noise because that is literally the only point in going to watch football. 

I'm sick of Bloomfield feeling like the fucking Keepmoat stadium at a reserve game cos one man or cos not enough money or whatever. We are so, so, so much better than that. Yeah, it's shit. So fucking what. Life is full of people you don't like. Life is either about wallowing in your own self pity or fucking shaking it off and getting on. 

Maybe Kev has rubbed off on me. 

Let's goooo. 

Onward

 

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Thursday, December 29, 2022

No one got sent off! - the Mighty vs Sheffield United

Cheers Pele!

A long, long drive home. Another drive to the gold coast. Is it really worth it? Of course it is. Of course it will be. We might have a central midfield with the combined presence of some colourful tissue paper, we may be be the only team I can think of to go with two big lads up top and then put one of them on the wing and our defence is a mix and match of whoever is fit, regardless of it they're in the right place or any good and is about as secure and steady as a cheap plastic patio chair in a hurricane but it's DARK and the FLOODLIGHTS ARE ON so for the next 2 hours nothing else exists and all who wear tangerine are FOOTBALL GODS.

Where I was at 5.30pm... 

I quite enjoyed Hull. I thought we played ok. More of the good bits from that with less of the self destructive spells would be grand. I don't mind precarity. Fuck it, I love precarity. It gives it all meaning. When did we get too cool to support a team that were a bit dodgy anyway? Tactics Michael may or may not get a load of shit tonight. I don't care. I've had enough of sullen hand sitting and muttering. Either way, we need some noise. 

Let's have it.

---


We start pretty nicely. There's 3 crosses from the left, from the right, from the left again. Beesley and Madine go for the same ball at the same time like two big refrigerated trucks attempting to deliver frozen goods squeezing into the same single space supermarket delivery bay. It doesn't end well. 

Carey has a gorgeous cushioned pass. Poveda is sent flying as he races on to it. A few moments later, Poveda is skidding inside. If Bowler would glide with the ball, Poveda is like a windsurfer, all stuttering bursts and angles as if thrown about by waves and gusts and here he goes, hammering it right down the middle, their keeper throwing himself backwards and chucking his fists up, the ball vibrating the bar. 

Thommo drops a back pass short. Grimmy belts it over the east stand. Sheff U, take a throw and then like someone doing an origami demonstration, fold our defence into little bits before adding the final flourish by striking the ball into the bottom corner. I'm too far away to decide if anyone is particularly culpable but it just looked as if they decided to play for 30 seconds and scored as a result. 

Madine and Poveda fiddle it about in the middle. Madine finds the ball. Beesley is haring into the box, Beesley is striking it above angle of post and bar. Madine as the no 10. Beesley as wide man. It's just... I dunno... What are we? 

Yates wins it at the far post .. Madine turns it on ... handball??? Beesley stabs it... It's scrambled away. Handball though? Nope. nothing doing. Free kick to them. I'm going to give up claiming anything. It's pointless. 

Sheffield United decide they'll play again. A low stone skimmer of a cross and Jimmy slices over his own bar...

Pool decide to do anything but attack for ages. Anything at all will do as long as it isn't attacking their goal. Pass it sideways. Give it to Grimmy. Knock it aimlessly forward. Get the ball with space to run into and dither. Knock it back to Charlie 'why is he in the centre half position most of the time' Patino to give it away because no one wants to run about and there's no pass on at all. It's really. fucking. frustrating. Poveda looks like the only player who actually wants the ball. 

Jimmy Husband shows some wing wizardry and stands one up... It's begging to be poked home but everyone has run to the near post. Everyone claps cos the ball went forward. It's good when your centre half is the most convincing wide player. 

---

Clap or grumble. Not sure. Shrug and have a brew instead. It's not really a cauldron of anything. Again. 

---

Intent. Passing. Running at them. Winning a handy free kick. Good start. 

Letting them run the literal length of the pitch after the handy free kick goes a bit awry with everyone seemingly unable to put a foot in or even get anywhere near them as if some kind of repelling magnetic field is at work. Poveda is desperately scrambling in their lad's wake like someone who has left the handbrake off his car running down a hill after it. Thommo is running alongside as if wondering whether to jump in and put the handbrake on but not really fancying it. Grimmy looks utterly baffled as how the Sheff Utd lad has ended up in front of his goal like it's one of those MLS running at the goalie with ball things they had instead of penalties and almost seems to dive out of the way. Not so good.

'How the fuck did that happen?' I can see Grimmy shouting. Good question. 

This is it. This is when it turns. I think. It's come to a head. A 'sacked in the morning' chant rings out. Someone is hoyed out of the south stand. Everything is fucking shite. 

We break. Beesley the pacy whippet in charge... Why is he doing this job? Madine. Slower and slower. They do ok though - It's with Yates. That's better. C'mon Jerry! Jerry passes it into Poveda's heels. Oh ffs. Let's get a third beanpole and just lash it at the box for the rest of the season. This is hopeless. Sack everyone. Sack the fucking blogger if it helps. I don't care. I'm fucking sick of this anyway. There's no joy in just writing 'and we lost' every fucking week and no one fucking reads it anyway when we lose so it's a pointless exercise...

...Hang on... We've scored! A corner. Marvin. Easy as you like. The goal is greeted with something approaching caution as if we're not collectively sure we're happy about it or believe it will make any difference but it slowly turns to joy and then to determination. C'mon Pool! 

They try. Oh they try. Jerry on the end of a move gets everything right but the direction, the ball flying and swerving into the boards behind the goal. Carey puts one across the face. Carey catches one on the D that spins and spits just wide. Corner! It's 100% our corner. Nope. Of course not. 

Lavs comes on. CJ comes on. Dougal replaces Patino. We wrestle. We fight. It feels like the wrong players doing the right things. We break on the right. It's Madine charging away like a washing machine on an energetic spin cycle juddering across a kitchen floor.. Fucking hell. Well done Gaz... have a breather. Now it's Connolly. Aaaaargh. It's just not what they're built for. Somehow we get a corner. The corner comes back to Carey. He leathers it. It's saved again. 

Dom Thompson keeps over estimating his long throw ability. He throws himself about as far as he throws the ball. Bless him. CJ has a few runs like a dog excited to be out on the beach after being cooped up for days Somewhere in this Madine sneak in on a cross. It's over the top. Gaz collapses and pounds the turf. We know how he feels. 

They spend ages fucking about in the corner. Carey nearly goes into the crowd to get the ball back. It feels like we're a dog snarling on a leash being held back, teeth bared, desperate to get at them but the dog is a chihuahua. I can't fault the players. I can't. We're just not good enough. You can't be both under confident and half a yard slower whether in pace or speed of thought than the opposition and get away with it. The whistle goes. The Blades sing. The players are applauded. Appleton isn't. 

--- 

I keep writing that 'out of context we did alright but...' - Sheffield United have ridiculous players compared to us. To lose to them is not a disgrace. We were shit at times tonight but we also put some pressure on them and made some chances. An equaliser would not have been unfair but it's the same record every week. Just as I'm fucking sick of the same tepid 80s/90s playlist through a crap PA every week like playing 'Now that's what I call indie disco' is going to hype up a crowd, I'm sick of watching players manfully battle against themselves. We keep neither losing by a lot nor looking particularly like we're ever going to win. We do ok in some ways but inevitably we fall short either through a lack of composure, quality or self sabotage. 

Other teams bring subs on who would walk into our first team. I imagine opposition teams looking at our side going 'who the fuck is he?' about half the squad. We seem to play like we know that half the time and whilst ranting and raving isn't automatically a good quality, in the spells where our belief has gone, I can't see anyone getting into the players and telling them to fucking stop being frightened and have a go. Gaz is dishing out cuddles and low 5s but that's it. That seems to be the sum total of the in game mental energy. The plan seems to be to hope that they'll learn by discovery but the other teams are too good to let that happen. We try. We really do... 

Patino is sinking under the weight of being a magical midfield lynchpin that he isn't. He's a good player, but he's not good enough yet to carry us and run a game. Carey is doing ok, he carried a bit of threat tonight, but he's crying out for someone to smash the other team about a bit and make him some space. The lack of width whether from full back or forwards is hurting my eyes when I look at the pitch. We're not completely unremittingly shite - we're really not - we're just not equipped to do what we're trying to do and it's draining watching us trying endless variations on the same thing and being not quite good enough week in and week out. It's like we're always not quite as good as the other team no matter who they are. I feel we'd be not quite as good as Annan Thistle 80-81 if we played them at their age today as we'd somehow manage to fuck it up with a 5 man sending off or a load of our players falling into a big hole... It's perfectly OK to lose to Sheffield United, but if you've lost to half the rest of the dross in the division too, it's not great.  

It didn't really come to a head tonight as it might have done. I kind of feel as if we needed to win or lose 4-0. It's just dragging on and on in the same manner. Sullen. Kind of stormy but not really breaking. It's not good. It has to get better.

At least no one got concussed/seriously injured/sent off. That's practically a victory these days. 

Onwards. 


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Monday, December 26, 2022

Wearily familiar... - Hull City vs the Mighty


We're away. The torpor of Christmas falls from us like discarded wrapping paper. Hangovers shed like reptile skin. Out into the last late days of the year. Out into football. 


The road ahead is angelic light. The road ahead is grit and sleet. Clouds swap places with blue clarity like the elements are slow dancing with each other. One moment a sudden glare of blinding sunlight sweeps up the carriage way like a deadly laser beam. Next second it's raining again and the wheel of a lorry is throwing up spray, within which a tiny rainbow forms. You don't always see beauty where you expect it. Perhaps that should be today's motto. 




Over the tops and weird swirling icy patterns form on the moorland. Down and across the flatland and into Hull. The whole place is fences and rebuilding. Boats glimpsed. Corner pubs. Flood defences. 


Did I enjoy the drive? Yeah. Am I looking forward to the game? Not really. Ok. Just a little bit. Actually, now we're here, fucking bring it on. 

---




High pressing. Poveda. Madine. Poveda. Beesley can't shoot. Two players go down in the box... Jerry is snapping. C'mon Pool. This is a decent start. 

The decent start doesn't last. We're penned in. We're subject to 1,2,3,4 attacks in a row. Each time we lose the second ball or we don't clear it far enough in first place. They're putting it across the face of goal, they're slicing a presentable chance into the stand, they're causing a panic at the far post - does Grimmy save that? I'm not sure.  Now they're running the length of the pitch from left back to inside our box.

Come the fuck on Pool! 

A clearance. Beesley, (who is playing on the right wing. The right. wing. Nope. Me neither.) slides in. The ball comes out beautifully. Madine holds it in the box. Yates darts. Madine thinks about finding him, then thinks about shooting but instead, just rolls it back to Sonny Carey. The little magician winds up and YESSSSS!!!!!!!

It's a beautiful finish, Carey is racing away, he's screaming and he's running to the corner. He's sliding on his knees. He's up and into the corner where he's embraced by teammates and tangerines from the terraces alike. Someone is hauled away, seemingly for enjoying themselves, with the surreal sight of Poveda grabbing his hand as he's dragged off by coppers... That was good. 

It was so good, I barely notice that they nearly score straight away. It might. just. be. our. day. 

Talking of Ian  Yan he's tying their full back in a knot so ridiculous that when he's finished doing it, he literally laughs. The noise goes up a notch. There's some life in this lads feet. More of that sort of thing. 

Beesley again coming inside, a beautiful square ball. Apparently he's a midfield general after all. Poveda has picked it up and he's drawing a diving stop from 20 yards out.

Marvin slices a ball into the box and causes all kind of unintended mayhem. Madine with a shot when the ball falls to him out of the blue. Their defence is really dreadful. They're pretty dreadful all round. How shit must they be? We're winning away. 

To be fair, we aren't by far the greatest team the world has ever seen either and we're served a pre halftime warning as they nod one over unopposed.


 

---

We've done ok. This is two poor teams playing an entertainingly low quality game with the odd flash of football in it. We've got our noses in front and Hull have to make the running now. We need this. We really, really need this. 

---


Jud is on, Jimmy's gone to left back. I think this is probably our best defence. I like the change. We're on top. We're moving it about quite nicely. There's a bit of shape to our play. 

Poveda tries a little flick. It doesn't come off. As quick as a flash, Hull are down the other end and turning Thorniley round. It's one on one. Thorniley is floundering, Thorniley is wrestling their lad a bit, grasping hopefully. Their lad is going down and the ref is straight over with a red. This season can go and fuck itself. That change can fuck itself. Everything can fuck off. 

They (thank fuck) put the free kick over. 

Carey is at right back for a minute. Confusion reigns. Thommo comes on and the nimble feet of Poveda make way. As expected, things get harder

Connolly puts in a fabulous tackle at the last to stop a cross becoming a shot. Grimmy makes a brilliant low double save. It's offside, but it's still sensationally good. Jerry runs a mile back to stop a ball slung deep catching us out beyond the far post. Madine and Yates terrify everyone by playing football on the edge of our box and getting away with it. 

Hull are coming again. Connolly is calm though, taking a ball down and looking, instead of lashing it away, clipping it to Patino. Charlie has played really well today, he's mostly been a right little pest in midfield but he shows his class with a curling pass into Carey who is racing away with him. Carey finds the keeper's legs, Yates smashes the rebound inches wide.  

Thommo hooks a really good clearance away. Yates takes it down, he swerves and buys some space. He feeds Beesley. The wing wizard (he's playing on the left now - no, me neither still) is brought down. Surely? Ref? Nope. Obviously not. Cos it's us. 

Now the ref ignores a completely obvious handball. The Hull lad is even wearing fucking gloves as if to rub it in. Thankfully, the ball whistles wide from the resultant play. I've had enough of feeling hard done by. We might be able to hold this. We even get away with Marvin completely air kicking one that any other week this would have resulted in a goal and probably a sending off as well. 

Thommo gets tortured by their winger. He jumps to stop a cross that never comes. Instead, Hull knock it back up the line where the full back has an age to flight a ball in. Marvin gets caught under his man and the ball goes in. I kick something. It's harder than I expect. Fuck's sake Pool. 

We have a go. Shayne comes on for Josh Bowler Jake Beesley and is sent cartwheeling in the box. It's not a penalty because why would it be? We don't have such things happen. We manage a really nice spell of passing with Madine throwing himself at a far post ball that is smuggled just wide. 

Marvin slides in and turns one past his own post, a good last ditch piece of defending. He's done pretty well overall. Grimmy 'accidentally' knocks the ball back into the stand after bouncing it about on his shoulders a few times. He gets booked. We sing his name. Quality shithouse behaviour. Love Grimmy me. 

Hull manage to make not a lot out of the remaining seconds and the whistle goes. All in all. It's a point. It could have been more. It really could. 


--- 

We worked hard, there was some spirit and it was better than it has been in some recent games. I enjoyed it. It's a low bar I guess, but I don't ask for all that much. Turn up, try, follow a set of instructions as best you can and put a bit of a scrap up and I'm satisfied. Weirdly Beesley sort of worked out wide. I say 'sort of' as I'm not sure I ever want to see it again, but he's such a game runner that he managed not to be awful. All credit to him. YTS Gaz is ok with me. I'm expecting Chris Maxwell coming into the team on Thursday as a false nine. 

I want today to be about Sonny's goal. The lad is a little diamond. The confidence to hit them will do him and consequently us, the world of good. I want it to be about Connolly's never ending determination, I want it to be about Yates' efforts and Patino's willingness to put a foot in. I want it to be about Grimmy taking his booking with a look of someone getting lectured by his geography teacher whilst his mate is grinning over the teacher's shoulder. I want it to be about Poveda's baffled excitement at how quickly his own feet move. 

Instead, as is becoming wearily familiar - it's about anything but. It's about how we need more than battling points and of course, where was Michael Appleton? He certainly wasn't reading 'The Idiot's Guide To How to Get Angry People Onside' between the final whistle and his press conference. How, after 90 minutes where I didn't hear anything but support from the fans who trekked there, the main post-match talking point in the press conference surrounds booing 5 games ago or whatever it was, I really don't know.

Appleton has a point to some extent, but this is an experienced football manager and focusing on the crowd and snapping at the amenable local rag reporter for 'negativity' isn't really an act of supreme diplomacy. How hard was it to say 'Of course I appreciate people coming - they pay my wages - I wanted the players to get the credit and that's all there is to it - the fans were great today - next question?'  

I've got a feeling that Thursday is literally make or break. We either come out and blaze Sheffield United off the pitch in a hitherto unseen blitz of tangerine fury and fire or we lose 3-1 and it all turns nasty on the telly. 

Either way... bring it on. 

Here's the archaeological record of Sonny Carey's knee slide so we can end on the shit that matters. 


Onwards


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Saturday, December 24, 2022

A shit preview: Hull City vs the Mighty



What's the point in travelling to Hull and back? It's fucking boxing day. We could be putting our feet up with our families or sleeping off hangovers. It's a fair question but I find that answering "what's the point to anything?" usually deals with most questions - existential or otherwise.

I can't say I'm anticipating a festive feast of free flowing football. Such delights have been in short supply of late. I can't really come up with a particular prescription for how we should set up or who we should pick. Poveda has earned a go, though I'm haunted by a feeling that as soon as we put any faith in him, he'll disappear like a mirage of anonymity. Grimmy must play but that goes without saying.

Should Marvin come back in? I honestly don't know. Such is the decline of his previously imperious quality that I'm creating internal torment by wondering if Williams should keep the shirt.

Left side of MCLF brain: Leave Marv out.
Right side of MCLF brain: Don't be a mentalist. He's class
Left side of MCLF brain: Aye, but he's been shite.
Right side of MCLF brain: He'll come good though.
Left side of MCLF brain: When?
Right side of MCLF brain: I dunno, but he's better than the other options.
Left side of MCLF brain: Is he though? Is he?
Right side of MCLF brain: FFS. This is depressing.
Left side of MCLF brain: Sigh.

The mood in the fan base feels sullen. Whereas last year we transformed terraces far and wide into what felt something akin to a Latin- American atmosphere of constant and insistent noise, a throbbing mass of life and passion - now it's often like being surrounded by a load of moody 14 year olds who occasionally burst into some angry invective and then go back to muttering. That's not a moan, I'm as culpable as anyone else. There's something lacking from my rhythm. There's a fizz missing from my can of lager.

My Appletiser has gone flat.

"How beautiful it is to get out of the house!" sing Italian ultras. I think that's a great song to sing about football. It's often (to use a technical term) shite but undeniably, it is not our own front rooms. We have, at least, been somewhere else.

We're not the spectacle we once were. I looked at the numbers for the division this week. It was sad. In an attacking sense, so few of our players have anything of note about them. Wor Gaz is good at heading. Jerry is ok at dribbling and has a knack of appearing in the right place. Patino and Carey are reasonably accurate at passing. There's nothing though that suggests we'll tear or slice anyone anyone apart. Kenny Dougal can win the ball quite well (the 19th best tackler in the division fwiw) but do we really do anything with it very often?

All I want for Christmas is Josh Bowler. I'm not writing the lad another letter though.

Whatever happens. It will be beautiful to get out of the house. 'Humber' is a really satisfying word to say. Hull are a bit shit too.

It feels like it will be inevitably attritional fayre with a horrible mistake or a classic referee fuck up dictating the outcome.

Have a good Christmas. 

Big Fleetwood awaits.

Onwards


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