Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Shame shit, different day - Wigan Athletic vs the Mighty

Tuesday was rank. It was like getting up the morning after the night before and putting your foot in a pool of your own vomit.

The question is - was it the result of a manager who has lost his way or the inevitable outcome of an injury and illness crisis that has stripped the team (and indeed the coaching staff) of energy, belief and (quite literally) health?

I don't know. I do know that anything resembling Tuesday is unacceptable and we have to play a braver and more aggressive game because we couldn't defend against a kitten with a ball of string, let alone an actual football team of big grown men who regularly practice kicking a ball towards a goal.

In short - let's just fucking attack instead. I like the chaotic, aggressive Appleton team. I don't like the baffled, clueless turgid one.

Wigan is litter and pigeons. Wigan is memories. Ghosts outlined in vape smoke silhouette. Wigan is changed. Wigan is a constant. Wigan is the smell of the market hall unaltered since studs clattered along narrow corridors at Springfield and Central Parks. Wigan are getting beaten, battered and bruised because today. We. Will. Turn. Up.
We will.


We're feisty, we're fighting. Lavery is on fire, their defence is pissing themselves. Allez, Allez, Allez. Super Gaz takes it in and smacks it just wide. He's a goal machine. We're here. We've turned up. I love this.



I am not ok with this.

Come on the Pool! Lavery races down the middle. Shayne is really good when he's like this. We're fighting for everything. Charlie Patino. He knew the place to go. I can't decribe the game because the game is just turmoil and that's credit to us. We're making it thus.

Maxwell gets a knock. It's sad, but when Grimshaw warms up, there's a little surge of optimism. He continues.

A ball. Madine. Control. Beautiful. It's like he's magnetic when he's like this. Another ball. Madine. Control. Rolls his man. Absolutely leathers the shit out of it and nearly breaks the net. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

All goals are great goals, but Gary goals...You know the drill. My head is pounding. That was sensational. This is the opposite of Tuesday.

We keep it going. Super Gaz then tries to score an even more ridiculous goal. He should have put Lavery in, but in this mood, you feel he might actually score a stupid 35 yard chip, even if it ends up halfway up the stand.


That was decent. More. You'd not know we had ten men.


What we get is 45 minutes of defending. Madine was at his best first half but he's a distant stiff and tired island for the next 45. It's like he's seized up over half time. We shouldn't let him sit down in the dressing room. Kerslake should be spraying him with WD40. I can almost literally hear him creaking throughout the half. He's there, but not there and, as a result Wigan just come at us.

A corner that isn't a corner. Mclean. HOW IS THAT A GOAL? What is this season? What is it?

Every calamity that can happen seems to happen to us. 9 men. Players knocked out by the ball. Injured players getting reinjured. Subs replacing injured players getting injured, an endless domino trail of more and more ridiculously piss weak goals we concede and now we concede DIRECT FROM A FUCKING CORNER LIKE WE'RE UTTER SHITE.

I can't even shout at them. I don't know. What good will getting angry do? The ball just went in. I don't think there's any way to explain it better. It was fucking ridiculous. I feel as if I've got a slow puncture and all of the fizzing energy of the first half is just draining away. The chants don't stick. The noise isn't the same.

Wigan do more attacking. Tilt heads wide. They attack some more. We get a break eventually and then they attack a bit more. We look knackered. Madine is holding his side. He's running like he's 55. We can't take him off because we need to defend corners and now we're absolutely tiny as a team. This is horrible.

I start to think we're going to get away with it. We've done really well. We've got the most ridiculous side ever for a game like this, with two lightweight flair types in midfield, a striker who can't run, a lad at centre back who isn't a centre back and a keeper who randomly just lets things go in.

We've repelled them. The pressure seems to ease a bit. 'When you think about it, they've not actually got hardly anything on target have they?' says someone behind me. It's a fair point.

They sling a ball into the box. About 4 of their players seem to head it all at once. They score. It's Tilt. Of course it is. Everything collapses. I hit the seats in front of me in fury at the universe. The universe just springs back into place in a plasticy moulded way. It doesn't care. Actually, no, it does. It's got it in for us.

It's all turned very sour. CJ comes on. If CJ is the great hope then fuck me, I am going to live in a bunker for the rest of the year. We don't even look like getting out of the corner by our goal, let alone anywhere near theirs.

Things are not rosy.

The whistle goes.


I hated today because there was a lot to applaud about the application of the players but we got fuck all and we had a perfect chance to take points against a side who were clearly not very good that went up in smoke in the usual ridiculous manner that puts you in the kind of mood to break things.

We can talk about luck and stuff, but patterns are apparent and patterns are hard to break. Why are we not playing the better keeper? How are we still so reliant on Madine? I don't need to say that the boy walks on water as far as I'm concerned but the notion that he can play all week every week, come what may is ridiculous. He's a 32 year old striker who is carrying a career's worth of knocks with him. Why is he the key player? How is that even possible still? I genuinely think we left him on because he's good at defending crosses, which is an indictment of how bad the actual defence is at defending crosses.

How does a squad that possesses 11 senior players capable of playing central midfield (count them, it does) end up with two incredibly raw attacking footballers with about 20 league starts combined having to do a defensive shift for 75 minutes because no one else can play? They did really well at it, considering their preferred game is anything but that - I'm not slagging Carey or Patino in the slightest, it's just weird as fuck.

Why do we have players on the bench that the manager palpably doesn't trust enough to let them play football. Why are they fucking there then? How did they get there? Why don't we just put some random tramps on the bench and pay them a tenner to sit there and drink meths instead of paying some people thousands to not play? How does this happen, when apparently we have a big team of boffins in white coats with computers and videos getting on with 'recruiting' and yet, for free, I reckon, in five minutes, I could have looked at the squad and gone 'it's quite imbalanced' and 'there's not a lot of experience is there?' and 'should we try and sign some players who actually want to come?' and 'I'm not sure Gary can play all the time' and other such searing deep level data led insights. Honestly, I will do it for the love of it. Any of us would. That's why it fucking hurts.

I don't know. I'm hungover. The players deserved better from that. I hate this season.



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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

No redeeming features - the Mighty vs Middlesborough

I'm not coming with high expectations. I just want to avoid the game ending with all our players in a heap of twisted bodies. 

The great thing about preseason is you get to dream about what's to come. The great thing about the season is sometimes those dreams come true. Come on, who didn't say to themselves in a giddy moment 'when Big Ben says 'the budget is available' never mind all those shiny players - I just hope he means we can eventually re-sign a visibly leggy Grant Ward and play him out of position!'

Tonight our dream is real.

It's a horrible night but then it's not. The skies clear and it's one of those lovely still autumnal evenings, the promise of winter mixed with the lingering memory of temperate days gone by. Both sets of fans make a great noise. It's warm! I take my coat off!

We start by giving the ball away but then luckily it bouncing back to us about five times. Luck?! Us?! We manage a few minutes decent passing and harrying. We win a corner. It's a short corner. Theo is Theo. Nothing comes of it. I sometimes think he keeps his brain somewhere else other than his head and forgets to bring it to games.

Super Jimmy Husband gets a yellow. The potential calamity rating is raised to amber.

Patino's scooped pass doesn't quite fall. Carey drops a pass short. Our window of opportunity is closed. Boro wake up.

Three dangerous balls, one down either flank and a corner then a fourth, floated from the left. They have the freedom of Lancashire to nod back across and finish. Loose and all over the place, no one putting their name on it, the keeper waving it home. It's very 'us'.

Carey spins but goes nowhere. Carey stabs a little through ball that's stopped on stretch. We manage something that if you squint, resembles a move, Madine winning a long ball, Corbeaneu picking up the pieces and then setting off on the most complex, pointless self indulgent run imaginable, falling over and shooting into a defender. I think maybe he has put his brain in after all, but backwards.

Yates control and with a lovely turn. lays to the Mountie. This time, he takes it nice and easy, he horse trots to the touchline, pulls back and Carey seems slightly taken aback to receive the pass, shooting into a defender when a half yard of intuition would have seen the goal at his mercy.

A moment with the ball. No one runs. Carey races a line. No one passes to him. I look up and. Jerry is at right back. Ward is in midfield. Why? A long ball, from Boro, curling into the corner. It's high, it's falling, still falling. Ward is right back again. It's sliced away like he didn't really enjoy doing that. It's almost as if he's not a right back. Patino strolls about playing genius passes to players who don't exist. Gary Madine is a club shop cardboard cutout version of himself.

Theo has a rubbish shot. We cheer.

Dougall with a crunching tackle. Jerry, a sublime flick, Carey lays a diagonal. Ye gods, a cross! Madine leans in and can't get there but it's *something* We even win *another corner!*

Muted grumbling and a few boos. That little flurry at the end probably saved a louder reaction. It gets better by the week ..


Disjointed is the word. It's probably a fairly mild descriptor but we live in hope. 


Marvin. Oh, Marvin! Where has the Rolls Royce gone? Who swapped him for an old ford Mondeo with dicey steering and a bent wheel? He's dropped it short. He's going to slide and get sent off. Nope... Maxwell's out... Great challenge with his feet. Thank fuck. WHAT THE FUCK???... PENALTY??? LINESMAN!! YOU SAW IT. LINESMAN?!!! LINESMAN!!!! FUCK ME. FUCK OFF. FUCK OFF FUCK OFF.

They score. Obviously.

Theo takes his absurdist art masterclass to a new level by chucking a big tantrum and diving into one of their players after another run to, well, I'd say nowhere, but he seems to be trying to find an undiscovered place somewhere in between the layers of reality with these dribbles, so nowhere is a bit too mundane. A yellow card. They say you can't simulate true randomness, but I reckon if you tracked Theo and turned it into numbers, it would be as close as you could get. This is ridiculously shit. It can't get much worse.

Ward who (whisper it) may not be a right back is also now looking shattered but he gets in a block. The ball pops up. Yates who is so deep I wonder if he might take the gloves at some point hooks it away. Good ol' Jerry. The only issue is, he doesn't actually, instead he slices it at almost miraculously impossible angle towards his own goal where Thompson has a break from giving his winger loads of space to run into by hooking out from under his own bar. That would have been an impossibly mental own goal. I'm almost sad it didn't happen.

Husband goes off injured. Obviously. Maybe one of our players will implode or lose a limb or develop a rare tropical disease before the night is over. We get the bonus ball action of Rhys 'everyone's feel good signing of the summer' Williams.

Patino gives it away on a run to nowhere. Theo is rubbing off on him. Boro take it and don't so much maraud as just, well, move forward. Everyone does an impression of defending, everyone points to each other and then they score. I haven't got the energy to sum up how easy that goal seemed.

Someone carries the cardboard cut out of Gaz off and wakes Charlie from his ongoing fever dream to tell him his night is over. Lavery and CJ come on.

Thommo tackles. He shimmies free. He knock it forward. Dougall digs out a lovely ball. Yates is in... He cuts inside. He falls over. We managed about 8 seconds of competency so that's a thing.

The north looks emptier every time I look. Why am I still here? Sonny Carey. Go on Sonny. He's at least (along with Yates) had the decency to look like he's trying. He pulls out a lovely pass, curling perfectly, sinking beautifully for Jerry. He stays on his feet. C'mon!... Imagine if.... He hits the corner flag.

There's time for a bit of hapless Williams action, for Jerry to angrily shoot wide again and run around like when your mum got furious that no one had tidied up because no one else in this house actually cares!!!! and ran about throwing washing about, banging things and stamping and then, thank fuck, the game is over. 


I do my best to be balanced. I often write things about the players that are perhaps a little hyperbolic but I don't care about that because they're my players and it's my team and this whole stupid business doesn't work if your not a bit one eyed and don't get carried away a bit with the good stuff. I don't like slating them. I can't be arsed with pricks that treat footballers as disposable rags to soak their own rage they're incapable of facing up to... but...

There was nothing good to say. I've said Yates and Carey were the least worst and I'm going to stop myself from saying anymore as neither of them were anywhere near it. Sonny at least had some energy and looked forwards and moved and Jerry was just Jerry.

There was otherwise no movement, no guile, no fucking running half the time. We got it. We hadn't a clue, we gave it away. The penalty was a joke, but that's a moot point. At no point did we look even slightly like scoring a goal.

Boro weren't even that good. I don't really remember one of their players looking unusually skilful or dangerous. They just passed the ball about competently (usually fairly simply) looked for space and then fell back into shape and harried us. We just fell to bits and didn't even have the decency to look especially shell shocked.

It was a mute, tepid puddle of cold dishwater with a film of scum on the top of a performance.

I'm going to Wigan. I need hope.

I am out of ideas. We've managed about 90 seconds of decent football in 270 minutes (those mad flurries against Luton.) We've got a squad thinner than a blue rizla. Get a crate of Stella and big duty free pack of L+B and tell Gaz he can have them all on the coach afterwards if he can creak his way round the pitch. Try a fixing remote control on Theo with David Kerslake on the controls. He can balance them on his paunch. Give Patino some fucking red bull. Don't bother defending cos there's literally no point. Tell them they've got a month off and if they don't fucking run about and as the song goes 'get into 'em!' and 'fuck 'em up' like they mean it, you'll get Jerry to force them to drink themselves literally to death because a player who works that hard deserves a fucking team to play alongside him.


Whatever you do, don't release a telling off to the fan base about right backs.

Deep breath. It's a game. It's FUN!!!

Fuck's sake Pool. Fuck off football.


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Saturday, November 5, 2022

Hard work - the Mighty vs Luton Town.

I've missed two games, one brilliant, one diabolical. That's us at the moment though. It's pointless trying to define what we are, raging about doom or breathlessly predicting promotion dependent on the result. We are an enigma, we're equally cursed and blessed, we are the yin and the yang in one. 

Luton today. Other blogs would give you tactical shit, but I'll say I had a next door neigbour once who was from Hull, but used to live in Luton who pronounced it Luuurton. That's insight. 

I sort of quite like Luton even though I don't like them. Let me explain. I like things that are a bit shit. I like horrible concrete buildings, I like wasteland. I like photos of the early 1980s in black and white. It therefore follows that I have a certain odd fondness for the likes of Rotherham and Luton. Nice places are a mere facade. Beyond the plate glass skyscrapers of Manchester and London there's millions of people living in a shithole and I like the fact that some places don't really bother with the fancy fake bit. They are what they are. We are what we are. It is what it is. Fuck em. Don't sing about shitholes you prick. Just go home if that's what you want. No one is stopping you. 

I also like teams who, fit the category of  'when your mate who supports Man U or whoever asks you what your doing at the weekend and you say 'Going to the football, We've got Luton/Rotherham/Coventry etc' they go 'oh, right' and look into the middle distance because they've got no opinion on the matter at all'. That's good. I don't want some knobhead recycling Gary Carragher or Roy Richards' half arsed views on the matter. The football I want to be part of is raw, grimy, cold and loud. You can stick your TV pundit up your arse. I don't want you to be part of it. 

I also really like the fact that their cult hero, probably their most famous player of the post war era, is Mick Harford - a big man who, in the mould of many of my favourite players, combined being somewhat rough looking and physical with being surprisingly good at football. People with missing teeth. That's the sort of thing the game needs more of. I also liked that he managed them and did good things. Romance is good. The sort of miserable prick who says 'Oh, no, the data says that romance and nostalgia is the pathetic refuge of innately stunted proper football men' can go and fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned. 

Finally, Luton have a place in my heart simply because the period when they were good coincided with football arriving in my conscious. Contemporary football wisdom (i.e. the sort of home counties broadsheet bell-end called Julian (who will almost always support Spurs or Arsenal plus a quirky non-league team he thinks will give him kudos and character,) that wrote a book about 'How Football Came Home' in the 1990s) says that the late 80s were wank. If you put aside the things that were actually wank like deaths and racism and that, the football was fucking ace. Anyone could win shit and Luton did. Mental. I don't care that Pep's teams 'set a standard' - watching Wimbledon bully Liverpool, Houchen's diving header, Luton lifting the league cup was fun. I miss that hope. We all do. We should set fire to the grounds until they give us a better football. This one where we can't ever win owt is fucking dire. There's more of us than them. Everyone. Revolution. NOW. 

So basically. No one wants Luton to go up cos it's 'bad for the brand' and they don't play pretty football. Cos I'm a miserable and contrary cunt, I would really like the Premier League to have an all elbows shithole town team to spoil the image - so all power to them.

Just not today. 


They start well. It takes us five minutes to wipe the sleep from our eyes from the pre match doze. We get a bit better. We knock it around. We don't shoot. Grant Ward gets a big round of applause when he goes to take a corner. It's good to see him back, even if it's a bit weird to see a player who got injured 14 months ago and the manager didn't want to sign getting picked in the team. He seems a bit overawed by the reception and takes the shortest short corner you can think of. 

SHOOOOOOOT. Ward doesn't shoot. We have a few more corners. I watch Gaz. He darts. He moves like the way water swirls back on itself in a river, going one way, checking back, spinning and then racing to the ball as if liquid finding its way through obstacles. 

We're doing ok now but then their no 3 falls over. He gets up after treatment. He falls over again. Christianity's own Nathan Jones shows his loving values by going absolutely mental at his injured player and screaming 'stay on the fucking pitch' as the wounded lad tries to haul himself over the touchline. What a class act. That's exactly the shit Jesus was on about  - 'And Lo - Jesus did say, maketh the most of any moment ever, even if it's unfair and hurts your own disciple'  He comes back on. He goes down again. What the fuck is this all about? He gets substituted finally. 

Luton's manic injury shenanigans have taken all our momentum away. They come back into the game. They have a string of corners, Maxwell makes a great stop to an offside header. Patino looks pale and sickly. He's still got a touch to die for but he's reacting to everything a second too late. That's what will happen if you've been vomiting for a week. Jud sticks his head in the way of a rasping drive. That's what he does. 

The game hits a lull. Grant Ward has a shot well wide. We clap cos it's something. Marvin plays a mental pass and nearly lets Luton in. He makes up for it with a couple of really good pieces of work, one to cut out a break, reading the situation perfectly and another crunching tackle late in the half to deny a chance from a ball across the box. 

It's thin gruel and the whistle is frankly a bit of relief. The most interesting thing I've noticed is their no7 has Josh Bowler socks and is definitely covered in fake tan. 


It's been a rubbish half. I'm quite glad it's 0-0. Luton are very good at what they do and whilst they've not really made much, they've almost completely stifled us and have the air of a dog that might not be growling or snarling at you, but you can see the muscles around its neck and you don't fancy getting too close. 

Can we outwit this beast? 


Keshi! It's good to see him. Once upon a time someone said to me that he reminds them of John Barnes. At his best, that doesn't seem so silly. He's gliding about. He looks balanced. His touch is delicate, his passing crisp. Sickly Patino has gone for a well earned lie down and our no 10 is on and it feels really good to have him back. We need to be better though. 

CJ stands it up. All hell breaks loose. Gaz gets a head to it. Yates has a shot that's like a catapult firing, Ward picks up the rebound, a head gets in the way. Keshi brings down the loose ball with silky turn and fires it at the near post. Somehow it doesn't go in. 

Again Jud sticks his head in the way of a goal bound effort. It's what he does. He's sat down. He's dazed. The trainer is on. He's done. Jimmy shuffles across and Captain Chaos (as the fella to my left terms him) comes on to play left back. 

The reshuffle has no time to bed in. The corner is the kind we don't seem to do, fast, stinging, whipped and one of their lads steals into our confused midst and scores. I thought someone got held as the ball came over but there is no flag, no redemption and just the hollow feeling of inevitability. Luton are one of those teams that once in front are a fucking nightmare to play against. 


It's a whole load of stodge. Luton are giving a masterclass in how to ruin a game. I don't resent it. I admire it. Nothing is fucking happening till we win a free kick. Marvin gets to it. MADINE!!! For fucks sake Gaz! It's over the top. Gaz looks broken. I'm a pitch away and the lad looks like he hates football at that moment. A whole game getting smashed into and then one chance comes and it goes over the top. 

Ward has done ok. He's not played for 14 months and he's held his own. He's chasing shadows now though and Callum Wright replaces him. He doesn't have a very good game. His contribution is probably best explained by the fact he waft into a challenge that is easily evaded that means Keshi has to race back from somewhere behind Madine to right back and make a tremendous tackle, a truly wonderful slide as the last man that saves our skins and turns the play right round, with us breaking and almost unlocking their defence. As we maraud though, Keshi is wincing and feeling his hamstring and I'm just about done with this injury shit. It's taking the piss now. We might as well just play 5-1-4 with Kenny Dougall on his own because there's no point naming anyone else because they'll just break. 

Keshi is limping off. His head is in his shirt. Theo comes on. How is this going to work? 

The last ten minutes is just frantic playground stuff. Theo has a couple of mad runs. There's some brilliance in him. I wish he was ours because with patience, he's got the potential to be proper quality in time. Jerry goes mental trying to do it by himself. Breath for fucks' sake Jerry. You are better than spinning round and diving badly on the edge of your own box. 

Madine gats whalloped. THAT WAS IN THE BOX!! The ref says it wasn't cos that's what refs do to us. Theo puts it into the stand. Thommo goes on a weird run. Thommo plays a gorgeous ball. Thommo runs the ball out of play for no reason but then drags it back at the last second and passes it to someone who is where he was when he started the run. I get pissed off at square passing from a goal kick. Somewhere they pass it back to the keeper but the ref just shrugs as if that's all fine. 

6 minutes. There's a roar. C'MON POOL. 'About time we got a late goal' says someone behind me. Trusay. We'll ignore we got one in the last home game eh?... C'mon. 

Pinball. HANDBALL! It's nailed on!!!! Even the extremely reasonable man who sits next to me who is very objective is certain. It's a FUCKING HANDBALL!!!. Everyone has a shot. Just about everyone who plays for us kicks, hacks, heads, the ball towards goal. CJ hits the post. I hate football. I hate it when it's like this. It's just not going to go in. 

It doesn't go in. We lose. 


After the game I'm pissed off. We were shite. It was a shit game. Luton weren't all that and we never really put anything together for any length of time. We made a few chances but all in all we were pretty poor. I give it a few hours and perspective suggests that we did more than that. Luton aren't shite. They're a bit like us last year at our best. Horrible to break down and utterly committed to blocking everything, tracking every run, holding their shape. We were paper thin and yet again, we had a reshaped midfield with Grant fucking Ward as a key player. I love Ward but for fuck's sake, how many different midfields can we play in one season? 

This is the problem. The way we play depends on us having a decent midfield and we're missing Bridcutt, Fiorini, Stewart and Carey. Anderson is injured again and Patino was a drained husk. Connelly can't play midfield cos Gabriel is injured and Wright is having to do roles he's not capable of whilst basically leaving Dougall who would arguably be 5th choice if everyone was fit as the midfield. It's all fine saying player X or Y is the problem but the midfield never being settled is so obviously the actual issue and that's not something of Appleton's making. 

Meanwhile. I really hope Luton go and do that to Liverpool or someone next year. Nathan Jones is an absolute dickhead but to get out of this league, he's got to be. I kind of like teams who just fuck up football and I can't help that. It's an art form and they defended like warriors. If you don't like it, go and launch petrol bombs at the FA, EFL and EPL because what else are a club like Luton supposed to do to get anywhere in the face of the financial structures?

Nicking our kit isn't right though. Orange cunts. 
I'm going to watch Tuesday between my fingers. I hope Tayt Trusty is fit. That's where we are. We need to get behind them. We really, really, really do. It's not good enough just to make noise when it's going our way. 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

This is Brooks Mileson. He owned Gretna FC. If you don't know who he is or what the score is with Gretna, it might be worth giving it ...