Derby 0 Wigan 0: Sponge blustered

Idiot’s guide to human society: shamelessly flog your insufferable crud to people who don’t want it for many more buttons than they can feasibly afford.

Idiot’s guide to the football transfer window: shamelessly flog your crud to people who don’t want it for ma- well, you get the picture.

Come now! Gird the loins of our ailing economy by giving away all your bits of metal and plastic paper with Winston Churchill on them. Donate your unwanted players to Wigan Athletic FC, but only if it will make you destitute in the swipe of an overvalued credit card.

Do it! Inject your rusty pound coins into the Wiganconomy. Sample the exquisite delights of N.E. Sagents, the borough’s answer to John Menzies, John Lewis and Johnny Bravo’s Outsize Underpants Emporium.

…Alright, maybe N.E. Sagents is actually ‘Newsagents’ with a letter missing from the sign. But you can still buy a Poundsavah branded cap for the unbeatable price of 99p. Please? It comes with two pre-programmed size configurations: Anthead and Megabonce.

Or maybe just watch some football, eh?

Yeah, it’s more entertaining… even when Wigan lose.

Beard of bacon

Happy New (Bacon) Beard from Scottie Carson.

The ideal antidote to suitably seasonal sensationalism is a tonic of liquidised stodge. Nope, I ain’t referring to a certain star jumping ‘keeper of Latics lore, but Doctor Joyce’s ultra thick ailment medicine.

It’s stodgy because it contains copious amounts of Xmas pudding thickening agent mixed with shoe-sucking tar. The challenge is thus: any strikers that can avoid being swallowed alive by this super soupy stuff – AKA his defence – are more than welcome to a goal.

While the ball-hogging hosts were preoccupied with the sickening gloop caking their luminous toewear, Latics carefully selected their opportunities to counter. Before anyone could register a double take, Biltong Grigg was bonking a Gordon Gomez corner onto Scottie Carson’s exposed upright. That’s his post, incidentally – his goalpost.

As an ex-Latic, the cunning Carse was wise to the Lancastrians’ tricks. He could easily palm clear Michael Jacobs’ header across his goalmouth with the cheddariest of cheesy grins cracking through highly-groomed two-inch stubble. Seven ladies instantly fainted in its considerable presence.

Merry Carsemas (and a Happy New Beard)

And when Willie Grigg pinched possession to earn a one-on-one showdown with that erstwhile Tic ‘twixt the Derby sticks… well, you might blame those flakes of rust covering the burning one’s boots, but I point to that distracting shiny beard. Because in this game, you always need someone or something to blame (Football Managers’ Codebook, A. Ferguson, Page 1).

Whatever the case, the home goal line remained disappointingly untouched by pig’s bladder.

A stiff-bristled brush finally arrived to scrub that stodge from the home side’s boots just before half time. Jacob Butterfield, son of Brian from the insurance ads, offered a token effort to close the first 45 for a stuttering Derby.

Brian Butterfield Christmas Man

Don’t buy this man’s winter cold remedies.

Game management simulator

Perhaps as a result of (medicinal) half time eggnog, the contest balled tightly into a Terry’s Chocolate Orange that nobody must touch or else (“it’ll do for a Christmas present next year” — your mother).

There’s something I forgot to tell you about Joyce’s patented cure-all potion: it also contains sponge, an ingredient guaranteed to suck up at least 75% of attacks.

Tom Ince was mere centimetres from squashing that sponge, expelling its mucky contents all over Jussi Jaaskelainen’s beautiful face. But thankfully for the Finnish shriekster, his fly paper mitts were sticky enough to catch Ince’s buzzing free kick.

On the whole, however, that spongy stuff was stealing Derby’s opportunities moments before they became pertinent. After two consecutive blocks, Stephen Warnock in particular increasingly resembled a man made entirely of polyurethane scrubbing material.

Sponge man

Warnock enjoys a medicinal post-match coffee.

As Matej Vydra rifled wide of Jussi J’s goalmouth, precious match time was also slipping into that fattening sponge labelled ‘game management’. Joycey raised a wry smile to rival Carse’s beardface, but since nobody was watching he calmly strode back to his seat in the dugout.

Stoppage time welcomed a final flourish from the frustrated hosts, who rammed what remained of a squashy Latics defence.

Yet that sweet substance could never be squeezed free of its spongy prison. Forty five minutes of containing football yielded a solitary Championship point, adding a tiny hint of spice to this dull December. Warren, my boy – it might be all you’re getting for Christmas, but it’s a darn sight tastier than Sharpy’s bulging sack.

(He-hey!)

And on that point (quite literally), I offer you this bottle of streaky bacon flavoured fizzy pop substitute, but feel entirely free to leave it behind with the year 2016 – I know *I* would.

Bacon soda

It’s good, but it ain’t no Crowther’s Drinking Gravy.

Second opinion

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