Monday, March 24, 2008

I've been edited

My most recent assignment for York City was a league game away at Rushden. It was rubbish. So rubbish, that I felt the need to do something... different for the match report. The published version is here. Below is what I actually wrote.

The morning snow had cleared in the bright sunshine as he set off for Northamptonshire on a Saturday morning. Yesterday was the first day of spring, but had brought with it Arctic conditions. 'Spring my backside', he thought as his small French diesel coughed itself into life. Indeed, so cold was it, he wondered if the melting snow would freeze and prompt a postponement.

Stopping for fuel a mile or so from home, he winced as the meter ticked well past the £50 mark, once the young assistant in the shop had realised that she needed press a button to activate the pump. There would be no way he could claim this one back as work mileage. The wind bit as he stood pouring litre after litre of almost priceless DERV oil into the tank of the car. He felt sure there had to be leak somewhere. A car this small simply couldn't take this much filling. He wasn't convinced about the oil levels either as the gears made a crunching sound eerily reminiscent of the noise his right knee makes ever since he wrecked the ACL a few years ago. This car was falling apart more rapidly than his less-than-prime physique.

He'd once promised never to buy another French motor, so why he'd ended up with this is a mystery to all. They're nothing but trouble. Italian cars are the same in his experience. The only link he can find is wine. France and Italy: great wine, rubbish cars. Germany and Japan: awful wine, great cars. It makes sense when you think about it. He likes France and the French, he'd had many a happy holiday down in the south as a child, but swore a terrible vengeance on anyone who had played any part in bolting this shed of a car together.

Nevertheless, he turned for the M1 and the car only complained a little, though the rattle from beneath the bonnet required a much better radio than the one he has. Indeed, he struggled to hear the Premiership team news, not that he's particularly interested, but hearing another human voice at least keeps his mind active above the constant drone as the small car struggles to maintain a steady 68 on the motorway. Every mile and a half seemed to bring a change in the weather: bright sunshine, snow showers, heavy rain, back to sunshine. His cheap supermarket shades were on and off as often as the 'Cletus loves Brandine' sticker on an indecisive redneck's pickup truck. The one constant was the wind that buffeted the car around and forced him to concentrate hard on just keeping it in a straight line. In fact, he almost missed the turn-off for the A14.

45 minutes into the match, he wished he had done. It was all Rushden and any time the ball was cleared up to the front two - Richard Brodie and Onome Sodje this week with Martyn Woolford dropping into midfield to cover the absence of the injured Nicky Wroe - it was coming back just as quickly. And yet Rushden couldn't carve out any clear-cut openings despite dominating possession. Mark Robinson cleared off the line early from Charles Ademeno. The sense of gloom only deepened when Darren Kelly limped out of the game to be replaced by Darren Craddock. Ademeno and Jon Challinor were running the City rearguard ragged and only a wayward Woolford shot provided any respite.

Perhaps he was mistaken in wishing he was elsewhere as the wind swirled around Nene Park and the intermittent snow storms lashed this outpost of Midlands football, he thought when, early in the second half, Ben Purkiss swung in a lovely cross that Brodie met on the run to score a goal that looked as unlikely as Boris Johnson standing for the Liverpool mayorship. The relief was palpable, but quickly dispelled when Rushden hit back through their skipper Chris Hope who had a free header at the back post from a Marcus Kelly free-kick.

And that was that really as the game reverted to type. Rushden huffed and puffed as City chased shadows. A switch to 4-4-2 made little difference, although Simon Rusk limping off with a knee injury made it an expensive draw. It could have been worse as Brodie clashed with Challinor off the ball, the Rushden front man left prostrate on the floor and seemingly complaining about a stray elbow. That it was a draw was thanks in no small part to Hope failing to hit the target when he was again left free in the box with only seconds of stoppage time remaining.

With coat collars turned up against the bitter wind, he headed back to his car, desperately hoping that the heater that had provided little more than a comforting breeze on the way down had enough juice in it to thaw out his hands enough for him to be able to grip the wheel. Heading back north, he had time to reflect that sometimes you just had to accept that football is like that and every club is going to have a game where it just doesn't happen. City haven't had many lately, presumably why he was so disappointed by this one.

The teams:
CITY: Evans; Parslow, McGurk, Kelly (Craddock 15); Purkiss, Elliott, Woolford, Rusk (Lloyd 89), Robinson (Panther 79); Brodie, Sodje.
Subs not used: Mimms, Fortune-West.
Goals: Brodie (54).
Booked: none.

RUSHDEN: Roberts; Osano, Hope, Corcoran, Howell; Burgess, Shaw, Woodhouse, Kelly (El Kholti 74); Challinor (Platt 84), Ademeno (Rankine 69).
Subs not used: Gulliver, Gooding.
Goals: Hope (60)
Booked: none.

Ref: R Whitton
Attn: 1423 (incl 140 away supporters)


Anonymous said...

Well, I liked your original version better, sets the scene nicely - perhaps its not an official match report but important things needed to be said. Never commented on your blog before but I read it regularly and your writing and points are always interesting. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous - you're not from Castleford then? ;)

John_D said...

I went to Cas the other day with work, incidentally. I wasn't killed.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but you did seem a little pale this morning.

Anonymous said...

No-one from Cas called you an Irish Gay Jew? I told you that Burqa disguise would work.

John_D said...

Never been called Irish by anyone...