Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Et tu, Blackpool?

Friends, Englishmen, Countrymen, Lend me Your Ears

photo by King Chimp (Soon to be Riley Bobs)via PhotoRee

farlieonfootie correspondent Ed returns from his time in the wilderness to the pages of this blog, with gentle apologies to a certain William Shakespeare:

November 19, 2010 / Somewhere Between Bloomfield Road and Stratford-Upon-Avon / England

The game begins with the crack of a thunderbolt off the leg of Blackpool’s David Vaughan – where at 5:03pm, and from 30 meters a majestic volley does flash its way past an astonished and hopeless Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann.  No, there is more than mere astonishment in Hahnemann, it is horror; shock; agony; eyeless, tongueless; just sound, and his eyes rolling into the back of his head for a brief white instant.  Because for Hahnemann and Wolves, here is yet another killing frost to the tender leaves of hope – the hope of escaping the bottom of the table and relegation from the Premier League. 

But as anyone who’s watched Blackpool knows, this strike will only be the beginning of the madness and the elegance of another Seasider match.  A match that is also being appreciated by the Crown, as the gracious and bespectacled Prince William is among the spectators (although not actually of the spectators).  And as has been reported elsewhere, and therefore will also be reported here, the Prince is found cheering for the mighty – nay, Majestic! – Tangerines.

But no stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, can be retentive to the strength of spirit.  And so, beaten but undeterred, Wolves fight back.  Matthew Jarvis on the left wing simply terrorizes Blackpool back Neal Eardley, pushing the orb past him time and again, and launching searching crosses towards the heart of the crease. 

And there are others: Berra and Doyle and Davis keep pounding shots towards goal and winning corner after corner.  But standing athwart these hordes of attacking Wolves is none other than Scotsman Charlie Adam -- who, it’s been said in this blog and elsewhere, doth bestride this narrow world like a Colossus! – and who personally repels by head or by foot at least five crosses in a ten minute period.

An event at the 13 minute mark bears mention.  Jarvis makes a move past Yeardley and draws a foul on the edge of the penalty area.  From here, David Jones takes a tap back on the free kick, pops it up to himself and volleys it in front of goal, where the undersized Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson, starting in relief of former keeper Matthew Gilks (formerly of Norwich City, Rochdale and Shrewsbury Town) is able to punch it clear. 

One might expect that an opposing coach, just one, would not be drawn into the Scylla and Charybdis of Blackpool’s wide open game.  O hateful error, melancholy's child!  Do not play Blackpool on Blackpool’s terms!  For Blackpool, full waves of attack never cease.  Counter follows counter, cross-field pass follows cross-field pass, and every move is made at a feverish pitch, yet the centre of the pitch is left unguarded.  Observe and look through the deeds of men!  Play your own game, wait in ambush, and when the time comes, do not over-commit!  Keep the centre secure, and your attacks and defense will be best served.

But unfortunately for Wolves, Coach Mick McCarthy does not agree.  Or is it that his reason is too closely mingled with his passion?  Regardless, towards Blackpool’s ends the turbulent waves of the game are kept unchecked, and both Blackpool and those unfortunate fans behind the goals of each team pay the price of the many shots that rain their drift of bullets upon them.

And finally, when the attacks of Wolverhampton come weary and the half is nigh close, Blackpool conjures up yet one more frantic break.  A cross ensues at the 44th minute, and when Hahnemann misplays it, winger Varney heads it to centre, where forward Marlon Harewood puts it home despite the sprawling attempts of several Wolves to keep it from crossing the line.

The shock of this last minute goal, and the crowds surging roar made battery to my ears!  So much so that I spill all of my “Choco-Pork,” an after-lunch favorite of farlieonfootie himself (two parts chocolate, one part pork, all blended together with tonic into a chewy brew) that I am being forced by the headman to "beta test" for a “mass market” launch, one that I know most assuredly will cause offense to any who can taste or smell. 

Wolves begin the second half with similar strong intent, as in the first.  At 46 minutes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake lets fly a strong shot at goal, but Kingson again is there.  At 48 minutes, Jarvis is again past Eardley to the back line and just to the right of goal, but he fails to put a pass on the foot of his support.  At 51 minutes, Doyle beats Yeardley and puts a pass through the crease that nearly hits the far post, but an outstretched Ebanks-Blake fails to tap it home. 

And as we already know, for Blackpool there is never the time to stay at home in defense, because, as Coach Leary might say, “Cowards die many times before their deaths, but the valiant never taste of death but once!”  And so the legions of orange fruit he commands obey, and the game keeps its attacking flow. 

At 55 minutes Adam and Vaughan cry “Havoc!,” and let slip the dogs of war. Only three or four yards apart, they carry the ball down the middle of the pitch, turf flying and bodies crashing, and the noise of battle hurtles in the air.  Adam nutmegs Henry, only to be pulled down by the grasping hand of the midfielder as if being recalled from the grave.  With no whistle heard, he touches the ball Vaughan, who drags it further up the pitch.  Then back to Adam, then back again to Vaughan.   Then finally back to Adam, when all at once their scrappy crawl is ended by the hateful tackle of Henry, a tackle that finally results in penalty and a yellow card.  Passion, it would seem, is catching.

In turn, Blackpool’s 19 year old wonderboy, Matt Phillips, takes one of many insightful passes from defender Ian Evatt, and then throws every move he knows at Wolves’ defenders, and ends with a nutmeg and a free kick for obstruction.  Unfortunately, while there is danger in the kick, it does not bear fruit.

It is in the 81st minute that Wolves finally score.  A perfect cross from Wolves’ muscular back, George Elokobi, is battered in by the head of Doyle for his first goal of the season.  The pomp and circumstance are short, however, as with 10 minutes left Wolves know they have to score again to tie the game at 2.
And so this game, not unlike Wolves' recent game against Liverpool – or their game against anyone – ends with a flurry of shots by Wolves, and one last corner kick.  In the fifth minute of a four minute stoppage time, the ball is hammered toward Blackpool’s goal, only to be beaten out once again, and finally the whistle sounds to end the match.

Cameras catch Adam screaming in triumph upon this glorious and well-foughten field at Bloomfield Road, and all his teammates join to celebrate their 18 points and 10th  position in the EPL. 

Oh, Mighty Blackpool!!!
There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.   
For you fortune is now merry, and in this mood may give you anything! 
Take the current when it serves, or your ventures you may lose ~

This is farlieonfootie for November 24.

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