Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

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










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.


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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!


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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 ...