Science Fiction writers often use the notion of parallel universes, so why not the rest of us? writes Saddlers blogger Mark Jones. Somewhere there must be a reality where the Saddlers Sunday afternoon out in Shropshire turned out differently …
Imagine if there was a world where Sloppies goalkeeper Chris Weale had collapsed minutes before kick-off due to nervous exhaustion brought on by, well by being the Sloppies goalkeeper.
Obviously there would still be plenty of parallels with the real world. Walsall would go at their rural rivals from the off, tearing them apart with passing, movement and all-round quality never before seen in that part of East Wales.
Strikes on goal from Jamie Paterson, Adam Chambers and Flo Cuvelier in the first eight minutes send the noisy travelling contingent into raptures and leave the watching TV audience aghast at the superb feast of football unfolding in front of their eyes.
With the Shrews unable to live with the Mighty Saddlers, George Bowerman adds to the chaos before the break. Their only meaningful attack of the half leads to a corner but alert defending prevents any trouble.
At half–time the analysts are rightly full of praise for Deano’s side, but a hidden camera in the home dressing room uncovers Graham Turner’s desperate team talk. On a yellowing piece of paper that first adorned the wall of the Old Gay back in the 70’s, the message is clear – Stick to Plan A, there is no Plan B.
The second half kicks off with huge swathes of empty seats in the home end (oh hang on that did happen) with the Saddlers going for the jugular again.
Flo is substituted to avoid aggravating a knock he’d picked up before the break and the home side have a brief 10 minute spell on top – they are the home side after all. Worries that our defence are taking things lightly are confirmed as the cameras show Karl Darlow sat next to his post checking his Twitter feed, Richard Taundry reading the paper, Dean Holden signing autographs and Andy Butler discussing his latest training course with Andy Taylor. Fortunately Marvin Morgan still can’t win a ball in the air.
Our leader Andy wins a penalty when the ref spots an infringement, and steps up to smash home the kick himself just as he’d done five days earlier. Minutes later Butler crashes a phenomenal header against the bar and George nets the rebound.
‘If only Reading loanee Hector had still been there to make a desperate but effective last-ditch challenge’ jokes expert summariser Don Goodman (the natural choice, the only choice to commentate on a Walsall game).
From the restart the Slop conjure their only other meaningful chance when wasted talent Paul Parry hits the bar, although Darlow easily had it covered.
Back to the other end there’s sheer desperation from the home team as the Shrews defence plead for a non-existent offside as a Bowerman flick sends Pato clear. The eagle-eyed lino’s having none of it though and Jamie buries it.
George crowns a fine day by pouncing on an error to notch again before being replaced by Aaron Williams.
‘Shrewsbry, Shrewsbry what’s the score?’ chant the massed ranks of Saddlers behind the goal, partly in jest and partly because we’ve genuinely lost count. Unfortunately the locals are no help.
As this is a parallel world the cultured left foot of Slop skipper Matt Richards actually plays an incisive ball late on, unfortunately nothing comes of it. It picks out Mark Wright.
With the pressure off Williams turns home a miscued Paterson shot for his first senior goal. Just for the fun of it, Richard O’Kelly is seen urging his boys forward as the board goes up. With Andy Butler up front, and the ever-impressive duo of Richard Taundry and Andy Taylor playing as virtual wingers, the 7-2-1 formation is bold, expansive and frankly hilarious.
In the last minute Karl Darlow chances his arm by going up for a free kick, naturally it pays off. It’s just one of those days.
Home boss Turner describes his dressing room as a morgue in his post-match interview, while the Ginger Mourinho is naturally upbeat about the way his team is progressing and what the future holds.
Saddlers fans swarm out of the New Deva in buoyant mood, the marvellous football the young developing team had played had got it’s just rewards while their rivals from the principality had been simply awful and had deserved nothing.
‘I bet there’s a parallel universe where Walsall went and lost that game 1-0’ one of them remarked, only to be rebuffed with ‘What a load of old sheep-dip, that would be simply impossible’.