June 17, 2024

It’s gone, guys. 2016 has just been lost to the greatest monster of all, the omnipotent and most certainly malevolent entity that keeps the Grim Reaper in check: Master Time. There he lurches amidst the dugout’s stony silence, his expressionless face barely cracking through mindless mumbling and guttural grumbling.

…But enough about Graham Barrow.

And if that sets the tone for another year of AGL articles, you may as well toss that subscription card at a passing Boeing 747. Can I start again, Sir?

Wigan Athletic are certainly grateful of a chance to begin afresh, albeit in a numerological sense. Unfortunately, this ain’t no clean reinstallation of Caldwell.exe, but a mere system reboot. And that blasted virus is still there on the startup screen, taunting you with neverending popup advertisements for ‘Joy C’s Winter Shorts’.

Football: a simple game complicated by idiots.

The 2018th year AD (Anne Diamond?) began with piles of chunky pseudo-steak pies acting as surrogate hot water bottles for the bobble-hatted masses. Overnight frost left the DW surface corrugated with mini-molehills and pock marks that coughed up sandy filth upon contact. Referee’s verdict: perfectly playable but eminently blameable. Game on!

A barrage of misdirected set pieces characterised Latics’ opening 30 minutes, which were filled with the false economy of five-yard sprints and expensively purchased free kicks. It was the hosts’ window of New Year’s opportunity, yet not once did ‘keeper Danny Ward even lift an eyebrow at a hopelessly wayward strike – because there were no shots at all.

Mixed with the visitors’ aimless balls to Vinny Invisible (not to be confused with Danny Invincible), this was the formula for a new brand of ‘thrilling’ non-tertainment. It is reported that even Georgie Graham departed in sheer disgruntlement somewhere around the 40 minute mark.

Naked invisible man
Please put some clothes on, Vinny!

But old ‘Stroller’ Graham did miss Huddersfield’s best spell of the half, which employed more inspiring tactics. Ward baited the Latics frontline into approaching with a ‘misdirected’ bunt towards his left back… only for the rest of his side to counter instantly. Thankfully, Stephen Warnock’s well-positioned boot killed any chance of excitement at the very end of a difficult half.

And yes, that last sentence was an intentional paradox.

Goal to sleep

Latics’ overworked midfield soon became embedded in a figurative mudpile of lactic acid, placing the game in a super slo-mo deep-freeze stasis that could only be broken by the warmth of a goal. Such a luxury –probably off the referee’s considerable backside– would certainly take all the cards, since both sides were worryingly afraid to trouble the scorer’s doodle-filled exercise book. I dunno, Maybe Master Time was that scorer?

But as the second half progressed, so did the visitors. Eggnog-charged North Standers jiggled and cheered to generate a magnetic warmth around Jussi’s goalmouth, and it was increasingly tangible.

The Terriers’ winning goal mightn’t have been too predictable to the casual observer, but I am here to tell you it was thoroughly unsurprising, nay inevitable, in the context of Wigan Athletic’s current predicament.

Elias Kachunga sent a totally speculative punt through 17 or so men lining the edge of a heavily fortified penalty area. An unsighted Jussi J could only fend the ball a few yards in front of him as he stumbled to the cold, cold ground. And whaddaya know? Nahki Wells raucously laughed all the way to three Championship points as he rolled home a sidefoot named Revenge.

No offside. Balls.

Comfortably numb

The Fonz jumping the shark
Le Fonds: “Do you think I can dive over that shark, boss?!”

Wry giggles also greeted the arrival of Adam ‘Fonz’ Le Fondre and Craig ‘Desperation’ Davies, whose subsequent impact could be described as scant to pointless. It was enough to convince the remainder of ES7 they suddenly had to be elsewhere… again.

But through it all, there was no pain. Master Time is hovering in the stands, hot chocolate in bony hand. The dying man is devoid of energy to fight back from the brink, but desperately hopes for a kindly Samaritan to resuscitate him.

…And that someone can only be the January transfer window, so often an enemy, but in this instance a potential lifesaver. Oh, didn’t you realise I was a fan of it all along? Ye-e-e-sss…

Remember: association soccerball is only a game, and Master Time (much like this post) is simply a small time Internet weblogger’s fantasy… isn’t he?

Mwahahahaaaa! Happy Hallow- I mean, erm… please try to have a Happy New Year, dear reader! 

New Year's TV resolutions
Say you want a resolution? Here are loads. Image (c)BeeblePete

Second opinion

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