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The love of David Unsworth, press without assassination

No trip to Wembley this year then. Unless we make the play offs. And let’s face it, there’s more chance of the Roughyeds making the Challenge Cup Final.

I was dead optimistic before the game. You could be forgiven for going into last Saturday in a happy clappy mood after beating Dorking 5-1. It looked like Fondop had rediscovered his form, the team seemed to have finally found some confidence, the vegan tikka pies were well fit, and they were still selling mulled wine in the Rocky. I guess we needed that bubble bursting.

The most disappointing thing about last Saturday’s game was that, at the risk of sounding ungracious in defeat, Gateshead weren’t that great. No, sod being gracious, they were crap. But we were worse. We were half-hearted, disorganised, weak in midfield, blunt up front, and still leaking soft goals at the back.

I’m a big fan of Norman, but he really should have saved Kamil Conteh’s shot that opened the scoring. Does anyone know if he’s related to the boxer John Conteh? Yes, I’m digressing, it’s almost like I don’t want to relive it. Peter Clarke levelled it just before half time with his second goal in as many games. Which I missed because I’m also 41 and I had half a lager before the game which meant I needed to go for a piss every 20 minutes. Seriously, how is he doing this at his age.

I’d rather not recall the second half to be honest. We never really looked like scoring, Peter Clarke was enraged enough at their second not being ruled out for offside to get two yellow cards, the third felt horribly inevitable. Again.

I’m curious as to what exactly Clarke said to get a second yellow immediately after the first. I’m guessing it was the C-word. No, I meant ‘cheat’. He’s usually the calm experienced head on the pitch, so it was a bit of a surprise for the red mist to descend on him. Understandable frustration or a worrying sign of the mood in the squad? I don’t know, but it was certainly out of character.

What was also worrying was Unsworth apparently leaving early at the end of the match and leaving the post-match press duties to John Ebbrell. It isn’t the first time that Unsworth hasn’t appeared after a poor performance, and it isn’t a good look. However, Unsworth said on Thursday that it had been planned before the match to ‘keep things fresh’, and also responded to, ahem, claims about his character: “I can assure anyone I’m not one of those ‘houses’.” Fantastic. Even Frank Lampard hasn’t had to come out in a press conference and say, “I am not a shithouse.” Well, not yet anyway.

I’ve had Richard Nixon’s resignation speech in my head for two days now: “In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the club…. I. Have never been. A shithouse.”  I didn’t think, at the start of the season, that I would be comparing former Everton player David Unsworth to the former US President best known for the Watergate scandal in this blog, and yet, here we are.

Every match report has mentioned how much we struggled in the conditions – the ground staff did very well to get the game on after heavy rain all week, and it tipped down with rain and hail in the second half – but why the hell do adverse weather conditions always seem to benefit the opposition at Boundary Park? Shouldn’t it work in the home team’s favour? Don’t get me wrong, it must have been horrible to play in, but welcome to Oldham.

The one positive from the game was Josef Yarney, who I thought looked very promising at right-back. His positioning and marking were very good, and I liked his knack of stealing 10 yards at every throw in. And he has great hair. I hope we don’t ruin him.

Was the Gateshead game just another blip or was it the Dorking game that was the anomaly? Is Unsworth the right man to take us forward? I honestly don’t know. I want him to turn things around, I really do, but it continues to feel like we’re taking one step forward and a giant fucking quantum leap back. And I really did want us to get to Wembley. I never thought I’d be gutted at us exiting the FA Trophy. And yet…

As it happens, I’m missing the match today to go to another, more exotic and glamorous, final. Glen, the current Derry and Ulster club champions, are playing in the All Ireland club GAA football final at Croke Park on Sunday. Before you think “this is your most bizarre and obscure glory hunting yet, Finnigan”, Andy’s uncle is a trustee of the club, and his cousin’s son is the captain. It’s a VERY big deal for his family. Wish us luck. Wrap up warm if you’re at Boundary Park today. Let’s hope that new boy Mark Shelton is a step in the right direction in shoring up the midfield and that Fondop forgets his boots and has to borrow the keeper’s again. KTMFF, shithouses.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Image © the Oldham Times.

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