What do you think of it so far, Eric?
Football doesn't get any better than this. On a balmy evening in Morecambe, a large crowd was entertained by a fabulous display of the greatest arts of the Beautiful Game. The moves were fluent, the play intelligent; the atmosphere electric. Only the brilliance of both goalkeepers kept the score down. Before the game, beautiful girls with golden buckets threw Morecambe rock in club colours into the crowd as a marching band entertained the expectant hordes. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise led out the teams as Placido Domingo conducted the masses in a wonderful rendition of "Bring me Sunshine". It really sounded just like Opera. And then a familiar voice over the tannoy said something that also sounded just like Opera. Or was it... Oprah?:
"Did you ever take banned substances to enhance viewing experience?"
I found myself saying "Yes" in a weak voice which surely didn't belong to me.
"Did you take any other banned substances?"
Before I could stop myself, I had blurted this out:
"All the fault and blame is on me and a lot of that is momentum and I lost myself in all that. I couldn't handle it. The story is so bad and toxic and a lot of it is true."
And then I woke up. Frozen. And realised that I had fallen asleep, so absolutely DIRE was this so-called League Two contest. Then I also realised that the story I could have written about a night as dreary as any I can ever remember watching football really WAS so bad and toxic that I couldn't handle it. And ALL of what I have just written is true.
As far as Morecambe were concerned, Nick Fenton was voted Man of The Match; Captain Will Haining was lucky not to be at least booked for continually fouling Jermaine McGlashan; Ryan Williams and Chris Holroyd both made their debuts as substitutes during the second half and Barry Roche sported a very fetching pair of black tights under his green goalkeeping strip.
As far as Cheltenham were concerned, their outstanding player was the afore-mentioned number eleven. He looked quick, clever and tricky. Sadly, he did himself no favours early on when he made a meal of the contacts he was on the receiving end of and deserved a yellow card for petulantly throwing the ball away when the referee denied him a free kick after about fifteen minutes. After that - very ironically - he behaved himself perfectly, which is more than can be said of the Morecambe defence, who kicked him and generally knocked him about at every possible opportunity as the referee did absolutely nothing whatsoever to protect what was probably the best player on the park.
As far as the game was concerned, it was dreadful, full-stop. There were a few chances for both sides but the match had 0-0 written all over it right from kick-off and I was so cold at the end of it that the effort of recording wonder strikes from Kevin Ellison which only just missed the goal in injury time right at the death or Haining hacking the ball away when Roche was beaten after 46 minutes were almost too much for my frozen fingers. The weather was absolutely bitterly cold and the outlying all-weather pitches had a sprinkling of snow on them. Personally, I was hoping the referee would call it off at any time - and increasingly for any reason: boredom being top of the list. No wonder the final whistle was met by a chorus of boos. And I still can`t feel my toes. If someone had offered me banned substances to block-out the sheer monotony and apparent pointlessness of what was on show at the Globe Arena tonight, I for one would certainly have said 'Yes', Oprah.
Yes Indeed and Yes Please...
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Nick Fenton; 3 Robbie Threlfall; 6 Will Haining (C); 15 Chris McCready; 16 Stewart Drummond; 14 Jordan Burrow (26 Chris Holroyd 68 mins); 17 Andy Fleming (10 Ryan Williams 75 mins); 9 Lewis Allesandra; 11 Kevin Ellison; 18 Gary McDonald.
Substitutes not used: 25 Andreas Arestidou; 23 20; 19 Joe McGee; 27 Jack Redshaw.
Cheltenham: 1 Scott Brown; 2 Keith Lowe; 3 Billy Jones; 6 Steve Elliot; 7 Marlon Pack; 8 Sam Deering; 11 Jermaine McGlashan (Y); 14 Shaun Harrad (9 Darryl Duffy 82 mins); 16 Russell Penn (C); 22 Sido Jombati (Y); 23 Kaid Mohamed.
Substitutes not used: 12 Connor Roberts; 15 Alan Bennett; 18 Jake Taylor; 34 Joe Hanks; 10 Jeff Goulding.
Ref: Eddie Elderton.