Ox in the Box

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Ox in the Box

Post  Boz1964 on Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:53 pm

Ox in the Box

As soon as I entered the ground today, I heard the cry of Ban Barry.

What 'pray' had our diminutive timekeeper and ball retriever done to deserve that I thought?

But I was completely mistaken, lost in translation, it emanated from the Away Fans of Banbury United from Oxfordshire.

What a beautiful part of the World that is too and I noticed that their coach was emblazoned  with 'Bakers', so I can only assume the majority were from 'Bread Cross' rather than High Cross.

Now it is always a pleasure to see travelling support, as it adds to the atmosphere in the ground and fair play to the Puritans they had quite a congregation.

They took up and filled the John Miles Stand with their arias and with their musical ensemble turned it into a covered 'Ban' Stand.

They serenaded their players, who  were clad in a custard cream biscuit coloured kit , with songs like 'Mellow Yellow' and 'Yellow Sub at Marine' .

They certainly were a colourful loud bunch, especially the woman with the rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.

In fact, this religious fervour and support for the Puritans early on in the match, nearly reaped dividends with two shots on target,  double saved by Goalkeeper Oliver Davies.

He put on an Oscar winning performance that Daniel Day-Lewis would have been proud of with his 'Left Foot'.

In the opening stages, Banbury had decided to adopt a high pressing game, which pinned Merthyr back and for the first twenty or so minutes, the ball just seemed to run back and fro along the Merthyr rearguard only to be hit out of play or into the arms of Away keeper Harding, much to the frustration of the Home crowd.

Then suddenly, Adam Davies combined with Ian Traylor on our right flank , playing neat one-twos with each other and suddenly Adam found himself in unfamiliar territory behind enemy lines ( no - not Hereford) unmarked but failed to hit the target.

This seemed to unnerve Banbury, with the ease that our Full back had got behind their 11, who was sporting a beard and chin in honour of the late Jimmy Hill.

On the sidelines, I noticed the Away Manager, Mike Ford discussing tactics with his Assistant.

He was hiding a square object and I wondered 'what was on the Board....miss...Ford?'

Banbury looked indeed United and were content to stifle the Merthyr attack by keeping Merthyr contained, hoping to sneak one at the other end with the pace of their top scoring forward.

With rhyme but not reason, Conor McDonagh, chased down the Merthyr defence, hoping to catch one of our lads napping at the back, but in recent games the central defensive pairing of Curtis McDonald and Scott Tancock has looked more watertight than the hull of the Titanic.

Now Puritans historically,  believe that pleasure is wrong and the wonderfully named midfielder Jack Self ( I kid you not) was doing his very best in the first half to continue this tradition and ruin Martyrs Fans afternoon.

Thanks to this high pressing game, there were few chances in the first half with the closest Merthyr came to taking the lead was when their beanpole centre half Luke Carnell, the number 5, hit a criminal back pass which had his keeper scrambling across his area.

The defender was confident it was going wide but the Puritans nearly paid dearly for this unlawful Carnell knowledge.

Not so much Spencer Villa, more Frank Spencer.

The persistent pressing of Keyon Refell and Eliott Richards meant that Banbury began to tire and the Assistant Manager Larry Grayson, tried his best to 'shut that door'.

In the middle of one of many stoppages in play, he rolled out a board game and called his players over the discuss tactics to block the advance of the Merthyr wingers.

His attempts were illustrated on a tiddlywinks board which were designed to combat our 'counter' attacks.

I attempted to listen to their plan, which involved nobbling Ian Traylor at half-time by means of foul or fair,  but all I could hear was 'Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with the lead pipe'....I really didn't have a Cluedo.

The Half time scoreline came in flatter than a Banbury cake at 0-0.

Halftime came and went,  with Merthyr emerging from the tunnel first ,whilst Banbury wanted to finish their half time Douwe Egberts coffee before braving the Cold Mountain air.

I assume that Captain Marble's snack of choice was corn, as he emerged like a cannibal hamster and earned his inevitable yellow card, with the referee pointing to the parts of the pitch that he had committed a foul on, which included the changing rooms, the players tunnel and even the front car park.

The Puritans planned 'reformation' from the now defunct Formula 1, meant that striker Conor McDonagh could go off for a pit stop and an 'Ox'ygen Mask.

The Home Management knew that they needed to make changes of their own to add to the existing Demonology of McLaggon up front.

They needed more height in attack and decided the best way to beat the Puritanical Order was by fighting fire with fire.

Who better to make the Killjoys of Banbury irate than the Cross Station Master himself?

None other than the Bearded Prossiah.

Whilst he was off the pace on Tuesday Night, today he seemed invigorated by his new multi-coloured 'Rainbow' laces.

More 'Zippy'  if you like.

It was his hold-up play that made all the difference and led to the Merthyr goal on 73 minutes.

It started with Curtis McDonald pretending he was a young Rio Ferdinand, bringing out the ball from the edge of his penalty, and lofting a perfect ball towards the head of the Holy Beard.

From years of watching the footballing magic of Prosser, the Wizard of Fuzz, flicked the ball onto the path between the defenders ( the yellow grit road) for the on-rushing Kayne McLaggon to put his laces through the ball ( somewhere over the rainbow) which sailed past the scarecrow-like Harding and into the Banbury Net.

It brought much pleasure and delight to the 'Heathen' Baptists of the Valleys all caused by the Substitute Lord of the Dance.

There is no place like Home.

It was a great finish from the in-form striker and concrete proof that he should try more first time shots and rely on his natural predatory instinct.

Banbury then reshuffled their pack but this time using chocolate minstrels, a stupid move as, I managed to reach over into the technical area and eat their right winger before the Banbury Management noticed.

Banbury's most dangerous player was their number 10, who 'possessed' a lot of skill, pace and trickery but this particular threat was well-shepherded by the magnificent Scott Tancock.

Time and time again, he foiled this Pilgrim's Progress with his Bunyan, getting a toe-in at vital times, when he was one on one with the defender.

But never once was he allowed to be Scott- Free,  neither on the ground nor by climbing on the defender's back into the air.

There was no chance of riding a Tancock Horse to a Banbury Cross.

The rest of the game saw Merthyr comfortably defending their lines with little progress from our Play-Off rivals.

Until there was , an accidental collision on the edge of the Town penalty area, to which the referee had great pleasure in pointing to the spot.

Without being accused of bias, it was a little harsh, as the beefy attacker did several pirouettes before dropping like a Salem witch from a Puritan gallows.

That Ox in the Box.

Substitute Smith stepped up to the spot and hit his shot low and to the right of the goal.

Karma in the shape of Oliver Davies took effect and he superbly saved it to keep Merthyr justifiably in front for their efforts.

Even so, the Puritan Fan Base continued to sign their hymns and arias, right up until the final whistle and were a real credit to their Club, Non- League football and Matthew Hopkins in general.

It was an important victory and a landmark game in our season so far.

Puritan Stove pipe hats off to all 28 players who took to the pitch on such a cold Winter day.

It was so cold, I passed Carling Black Label ice cubes from my bladder, shortly after the final whistle.

But I didn't stay cold for long remembering that hotshot from our own Fox in the Box certainly warmed me up.


Last edited by Boz1964 on Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Frozen Icecube digits)

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Re: Ox in the Box

Post  Martin Williams on Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:38 am

A great piece of literature. I came up from Plymouth on Friday night and stayed in Pontypridd for 2 nights. I'm an exiled Puritan but had family working the coal mine at Treharris for many years until they all passed away. Mother was born in Merthyr. So it always pleasing to see the Martyrs doing so well. I of course was hoping that penalty would go in and give me the opportunity to bounce around like a lunatic. Popped into the Navi at Treharris to drown my sorrows. We received a warm welcome from the locals. All the best for the rest of the season.

Martin Williams

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A foot in both camps

Post  Boz1964 on Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:42 am

Thank you for your kind comments Martin.

I always thought you were one of the the few World Class flankers Wales ever produced.

I never thought my humour would be described as 'literature'.

Most other words used to describe it are usually four letters long.

If I can cheer up or make one person a day smile then my 'job' is done.

Nice to have some feedback too.

Boz.... Very Happy


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Re: Ox in the Box

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