No Shots Given: Bradford (Home) 30.11.2019

Jen Kelly – a.k.a. Cheshire’s Revenge / The Word Nerd – brings ilovemacc her own take on the highs and lows of The Silkmen

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “entertaining” as “providing amusement or enjoyment.”

The match report writer on the official website must work with a different definition. For the second week on the trot, he’s used “entertaining” to describe the game. Maybe he enjoyed the games, maybe he was even amused.

I’m not overly sure what I feel at the moment, but it’s neither entertained nor amused.

Should I stay or should I go now?

I decided to go to the Bradford game, more out of frustration than anything else. Having stayed away from Kingstonian and Mansfield I was still in two minds about what to do at 10am on Saturday morning. Stay away and spend the day being pissed off and in a massive sulk. Go to the game and, well, do the same but from the terraces. If nothing else going to the game would mean I could add my voice of encouragement to the players that, I’m guessing, need everything they can get at the moment.

Going through the turnstyles felt like stepping into the twilight zone. The sullen faces that greeted me reflected the general feeling around the club at the moment. Going through the motions, in limbo and waiting for something to happen. Something that is out of everyone’s control. The terraces were sparsely populated, with the SLE looking as if it had been evacuated. As the Bradford fans warmed up their vocal chords a singular drum beat floated out of the SLE. The death march has most definitely started…

Dazza went with Paddy up front this week, supported by Arthur and Kirby. Not exactly a terrifying attacking force, but the best we’ve got. The midfield and defence had a mild shake up, with O’Keeffe back to replace MWH. Interestingly we only named five subs – one less than the six we’re allowed as without any development set up it’d be impossible to fulfill the EFL’s ‘Club Developed Player’ rule and name a seventh. Are all our other players injured? Are they refusing to play? Or is Dazza letting them go and take up a Saturday job in Tesco to earn some cash? 

Whatever it is, the cracks are wide open and threatening to bring down the empire.

Going through the (e)motions…

The cracks were very visible on the pitch too. Harris, who has been a vocal participant so far this season, was noticeably silent all game. There was no sign of the dulcet scouse tones that have become a regular sound this season. Instead Jay looked forlorn and deep in thought, shoulders slumped and eyebrows furrowed. His passing game was well off, with at least three stray passes leading directly to a Bantams attack.

It wasn’t just Jay, of course. No one looked totally present and focused. Bradford weren’t creating very much themselves and the game had the feeling of yet another scoreless draw before we went ahead after half an hour. A penalty against the run of play was a much needed lifeline, but even that was tinged with negativity.

There seemed to be a disagreement between Paddy and McCourt about who was to do the honours. Assuming McCourt is the designated penalty taker, it looked like Paddy had decided to try and get himself noticed, put himself in the shop window so to speak. After some back and forth Captain Kel stepped in and McCourt got on with the job. 1-0. Everyone celebrated and for a split second it felt like we might have something to smile about.

Outnumbered but not outplayed . . .

The second half played out much as the first; scrappy passing across a pitch that looked like cows had been chewing it up for the last week. We never really looked like extending the lead but we were holding on in there. When the equaliser came on with 20 minutes to go, it was from a quality free kick that gave us no chance. James Vaughn, the Bradford number 12 who had missed an absolute sitter in the first half, rose highest and headed home. As the 1,400 Bantams covered themselves in orange smoke, our boys in blue trudged back to the centre circle under their very own cloud.

Not so super subs…

The standard substitutions came and went in the last quarter. Stephens came on for Paddy and then, 10 minutes later, went off again for Ntambwe. The official reason is because he was injured. Maybe I missed it, but there was no evidence of any injury from where I was standing. The wry smile that Ben gave Dazza as he came off and the genuine-looking cuddle the two exchanged suggested that there was no hard feelings and that perhaps that it was a tactical change to hang on to the point in the dying minutes. 

The other sub was Blyth on for Arthur after 77 minutes. I only know this from the match reports after the game, because I swear I barely noticed him on the pitch. The only other action of note was a second yellow for Kirby just before the 90 minutes was up. It felt like an unfair ending for the impressive young player, but thankfully was too late to have any real impact on the result. Another week and another point in the bag.

Walking away from the ground, we concluded that the point was probably a good result. With everything that’s happening off the pitch, the fact that we had even got the game on was something to be proud of. We’re hovering around mid table and, crucially, are increasing the gap between us and the bottom each week. Every single point is going to count and so the fact that we’ve not rolled over completely has got to be a positive.

We go again…

As we head into another week of court dates and payment questions, each day is sure to bring with it more questions and worries. Rumour has it that only three players were paid on Friday. No mention of the staff this time. Will everyone get their wage on Monday? Let’s hope so, because it feels like there is only so much more of this that anyone can take. 

The longer this saga continues, the more impressed I am with every single player, volunteer and staff member associated with MTFC. Whatever your opinion on whether they should walk away or not, you have to commend the commitment to the cause. The cracks that are now showing are only coming through after months and months of uncertainty and worry. Months of not knowing if they can provide for yourself and for their family. And I don’t think it’s about helping Amar out, not any more.

I think it’s about pride. Pride in your job, pride in your club. Whether you’re a lifelong supporter or a loan player just passing through, the pride has been shining through for a long time. Misplaced? Maybe. But heart-warming? For sure.

The irony is, it seems the pride of one man could bring all of this crashing down around us before the year is out…


Jen Kelly, aka The Word Nerd

“The Word Nerd: For everything you wanted to know about MTFC, and some things you didn’t…”

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