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The tale of The Bakery – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Baps

Some stories are too good to be confined to just one article. This isn’t one of them, but unfortunately it is a bit late to do anything about that.

Remember how some people raged about The Hobbit being divided into a three-part film? Well at least The Hobbit had the benefit of having an engaging plot and a coherent narrative. In the first part of our saga, we ramblingly sketched out a group of misfits who gathered to play football of a mediocre standard. In the second part of our saga, not much changes. Welcome to the grossly underwhelming sequel. CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE, ADULT THEMES AND AWFUL PUNS.

Here is Episode IV in case you missed it. When we left our Bakers, they were three victories deep into a season in an uncharacteristically successful passage of games. But we are in Episode V now. Those of you who have seen Star Wars will know that there is carefree camaraderie in Episode IV, from where Han pretends to be a stormtrooper to hilarious effect to when the Death Star destroys an entire planet (oops, maybe not so carefree). But would you just look at Episode V; Han and Luke are forced to shelter inside a dead animal, Luke has stupid and misleading hallucinations of Darth Vader whilst on Dagobah because he is stupid, and don’t forget all the brother-sister loving that takes place. My point, and I do have one, is that you should expect things to get darker for our Bakers, although not in the brother-sister loving way. Those of you who haven’t seen Star Wars probably shouldn’t have read all those massive spoilers.

The Bakery were confronted with the difficult task of the league leaders who were on their own run of imperious form. Let’s check in with our match reporter to see what happened.

The Bakery 2-4 Not-in-her Forest

A spirited performance on the back of a spirited night out was not enough to stop the plucky men in pink headbands from falling to a narrow loss. But this is like Star Wars Episode 5 when (spoiler) Luke Skywalker loses his hand, this is Harry Potter 6 when (massive spoiler) Hazza P loses his beloved Dumbledore, this is Toy Story 3 when (barely a spoiler) the toys lose their freedom in the hellhole that is Sunnyside Daycare. But we can triumph over this adversity. Just like Luke, we can forget about the loss of a limb and pretty much carry on as if nothing has happened! Like Hazza, we can hunt down goals as if they were horcruxes! Like the toys, we can get played with by little children once again! Coulda phrased that better. My point is, this battle was slightly lost but the war is there for winning.

The Bakery came out strongly, creating more chances than you could shake a breadstick at. In a start that Will ‘Andy Townsend’ Sharman described as bitty, the bakers took the lead when Captain Leach buried a fine finish just seconds after Will ‘Andy Townsend’ Sharman declared that Leach was lacking a killer instinct. But Forest tree-mendously came back, they would not leaf our defence alone, taking root in our half, well they wood do wouldn’t they. But yeah then they scored, 1-1 at half time. Then they scored some more, pretty shit goals if I do say so completely unbiasedly, and yeah they were 4-1 up. The Bakery did not roll over. A confident Sharman deliciously finished off a tasty move involving Osborne and Newby, taking it to a nutritious 4-2 scoreline. Alas, so it remained.

The returning Whitehead was majestic, putting the fab in Fabianski, the white in Whitehead. Leach was a mountain in defence, except a mobile mountain that could run and kick and intercept and all that. He was pretty much like a man in fact. But what a man! Dimitar Newby used his blistering pace to scare the defence, with his innovative ‘rolling the ball to the opposition’ tactic so nearly paying off. Balmford completely skinned their team on at least one occasion, maybe even twice, twice I tell ya! Harget’s flair and vision was nice, he seemed to be channelling a young Croissanti Cazorla. Sharman was a menace, he seemed to be channelling a young Stephen Harget. Osborne played with the strength and power of a middle-aged Breade Hangeland. And Phillips showed a skillset that should grace the great arenas like the Bernabeu and Portman Road, because everyone needs a ball boy right. No Baker-of-the-match today cos you lost, you useless wankers. I joke I joke, cracking effort, massive game next week, all or nothing, so everyone get your arses down to the JLD and let’s make it a cauldron. Bring vuvuzelas. And fireworks. And bread. And love. #UpTheBakery

The first defeat of the season placed The Bakery in the not-really-that-tricky position of needing only to draw to progress into the next round. While David Cameron was in a butcher’s somewhere picking out his date for the night, The Bakery had a date with destiny. Although their enthusiasm was never in question, the Bakers needed oration of the highest calibre to attain the maximum level of pumpedness for the match. They needed a speech.

Bakery glovesman Jem ‘White bread’ Whitehead stepped up to the mark to deliver an ode fit to echo in a gladiatorial arena.

Bakers, my comrades, my friends, my brothers.
Tomorrow is the biggest game we have ever encountered. There is no hiding this fact.
Bayern Neverlusen are sure to be a force to be reckoned with, but, what they don’t have, is the ‘Bakery-ness’.
This is something we have all developed over our year long journey as Bakers. This is what sets us apart from your average joe. Like what we will be facing tomorrow.
Our bakery-ness is what will make us rise to the challenge, even when faced with adversary. If someone breaks your baguette will you just sit there sad? NO! Your bakery-ness will pull you through, and, along with your fellow bakers, we will see a brighter future with more bagels and baps than one could possibly imagine!

So, tomorrow, on the beautiful oven we grace every week. I, and every other baker, kneads you to rise up, use your bakery-ness to help you get to that next level! If all you have is a Sainsbury’s basic bread loaf, use your bakery-ness to help you turn that into a Warburton’s Toastie loaf! We WILL win tomorrow, going in and trying to get a draw (as TP has suggested) is as good as losing. Bakers go into win. That is why everyone of us scores on every night out…ish.

Bakers, tomorrow we will win! Whenever you get that ball, remember that you have a merry band of bakers behind you, willing you on!

Good luck Bakers, LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!!

The Bakery 1 v 3 Bayer Neverlusen

Today, The Bakery took on ze Germans, Bayer Neverlusen. More like, Bayer OkayTheyWonTodayButTheyDoActuallySometimesLusen, am I right?! I like to think so. The game started bittily, with us losing an early goal. But The Bakery regrouped and tore the pitch up. Then the breakthrough came. Osborne ravaged the opposition defence with a devastating finish, and you just know that because of that, somewhere, somehow, Marlon Harewood had an erection. We held firm for a tantalising time. Balmford epitomised the dedication of the bakers, donning the gloves to pull off one of the most stunning saves seen outside of a DFS sale. Cometh the hour, cometh the baker. Our defence was a rock, it was an island, it was bigger than Jesus. In terms of six-a-side football, not in terms of being the saviour of mankind. But let’s not rule anything out hey.
Then, with the draw that we needed to make it to the semi-final in sight, ze Germans struck. And struck again. And then the game was over as the ruggedly handsome young man timing the game called for the final whistle.
As The Bakery left the pitch, I smelled something in the air. No, Newby hadn’t farted again. It smelled like sweat. It smelled like team spirit. It smelled like… yeast. And like a new day, that yeast will rise. On the first light of the fifth day, look to the east and you will see, well probably not Gandalf, it really depends where you are. But The Bakery will come again! This is not a desperate cry. This is a rallying cry. This is not a low point. This is a rallying point.  As a wise man once said, tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. And as a slightly less wise man once said, life is a rollercoaster, ya just gotta ride it. Except this is a bread-rollercoaster, and Alton Towers you got nuthin on this shit.
Lionel Messi, Yaya Toure, Tom Cleverley, if any of these boys asked to play in The Bakery’s next game, you know what I’d say? “Thanks, but no thanks Leo. Go home Tom Cleverley you’re drunk. And shite. Mainly shite. In fact I understand that you’re drowning your sorrows, because you are that shite. And Yaya, nice meeting you, but bye”. Because it means something to be a great footballer. But it means so much more to be a great baker. Everyone who stepped onto that pitch for The Bakery is a fucking great baker. We will return. We are The Bakery, born and bread. We will have our vengeance, in this lifetime or the next. We are going to make you a bagel you can’t refuse. One does not simply bake in Mordor! We are Buzz Lightyear, we bake in peace! Our time will come. Up The Bakery. UP. THE. FUCKING. BAKERY. ‪#‎UpTheBakery‬

Oh dear. Much like David Cameron and George Osborne in a lift, it had truly gone tits up. Yet you can’t spell ‘plucky’ without ‘lucky’: you make your own luck with hard graft, and The Bakery were back and baking before you could say ‘please stop doing this’. Through a mixture of luck and a terrible competition format, The Bakery ended up in something called a ‘plate’ as reward for their failures against Neverlusen. Just how they lost in the plate is somewhat hazy, for our match reporter felt too disenchanted to scribe the events for eternity’s reading pleasure, but let me assure you that they lost in a last-minute collapse by conceding two goals. Plate schmate, though.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: where I can get some Bakery merchandise? Where can I get me one of those fetching pink headbands to enhance my outfit? Follow the link here to make your dreams come true. Also, for no discernible reason, The Bakery commissioned the production of business cards.

bakery card


These cards found homes in bakers’ wallets, in the grateful hands of friends of bakers and on the noticeboards of some very lucky girls. The card’s theme may have suggested ‘Baking Bad’, but this was anything but. A new season rolled around, this time in the harsh lands of Hes East as opposed to the mild climes of the JLD. So close to success in the previous tournament (sort of), The Bakery considered themselves favourites for glory this time around. Remember when I explained the origin of the name of The Bakery in Episode IV? Of course you do. Well, the Bakers could have so easily found themselves titled Multiple Scorgasms. Somewhat appropriately, that name came (teehee) back to haunt them.

The Bakery 4-5 Multiple Scorgasms

Yep, it’s that time of year again where you scroll down your facebook feed, tut and think to yourself ‘oh, so they’re really still doing that Bakery thing hey’. You’re fucking right we are, everyone loves a bit of dough in their life. You know you knead it. Anyway, on a cold wet night in Hes East those who bake returned to the cauldron in which they first took their name. The return of Higgins and New from long-term suspensions and Dryden concluding his year-long loan in the US gave The Bakery a squad that would make even Harry Redknapp say ‘ooft look boys, that’s rather a lot of players we’ve got here’.

The game started somewhat shitely, Scorgams exploding all over the pitch and scoring in a minute. But El Capitano showed us why Thursdays are known as Leachy Thursdays, skinning a couple and smashing home a belter. They scored again, but the equaliser was delivered with New stroking home a finish that almost definitely crossed the line. Or definitely almost crossed the line, one of the two. 2-2 at half-time. 3-2 within five seconds of the second half starting, The Bakery snoozing like a Snorlax. But Balmford powered home a goal that was as anorexic as it was poorly described. Scorgasms scored. Then Higgins twatted home yet another equaliser. Then yeah they scored again. Goals goals goals. But ultimately defeat defeat defeat.

Everyone looked lively!!! Who the fuck needs a pre-season. The imperious Harget delivered a massive tackle that was even crunchier than cereal. Leach showed that every dog has his day. Sharman showed urgency, Higgins and New finished like Papiss Cisse in his prime, Phillips was a wall in goal, Balmford was sublime, Dryden had great feet for a big man, and Salter has run out of things to say. Strong performance, unfortunate result, aroused manager. We bake again next week. ‪#‎UpTheBakery

ashley cole
Back row: Dryden, Higgins, Leach (C), Gaffer. Front row: Balmford, Phillips, Harget, New. Ashley Cole impersonator: Sharman.

Gameday 2 soon slithered into view, like a snake slithering around the JB Morrell library. The Bakery fell to an 8-7 scoreline, and sought redemption the following week. While David Cameron was out trying to bring home the bacon (but not in the conventional way), The Bakery were out to bring home three points to climb off the table’s bottom.

The Bakery 4-3 Sons of Pitches

After a devastating 8-7 ‘next goal wins’ defeat last week, The Bakery were hungry. Hungry for revenge. Hungry for justice. Hungry for bread. And boy, did we get none of those things. But we did win! If this performance was an episode of The Great British Bake-Off, this would be the one which finally brings Mary Berry to orgasm. Captain Leach was sidelined with a case of ‘trying to get a career’, but today we fielded a team full of captains. What The Bakery lacked in numbers, they made up for in grit, determination and a sexy manager. After a cagey opening, which is particularly fucking hilarious because the pitch is in a cage dontcha know, The Bakery took the lead; Robin ‘Giroud’ Newby dispatching coolly. The opposition managed to equalise, taking a dominant Bakery to half-time on level terms.

But The Bakery struck again, Dryden and Layther combining arousingly for the former to slot home. The Bakery’s attack tied the opposition defence in knots as if it were the hair on top of some hipster’s head. A cracker from Osborne and another strike from the imperious Dryden made Sons of Pitches’ efforts a total waste of time, 4-3. Job done, ta very much.

There was no such thing as a lost cause tonight. The Bakery were like a slag; chasing every ball. Registering their first win of the season, if The Bakery can climb to the top of the table from here it would be the best comeback since your mum. The returning Whitehead in goal was a commanding presence, just when some thought he would never get back in the team after Phillips’ strong deputising. Sharman hit the post with an audacious 30-yarder which ultimately missed, but played through the pain barrier admirably, we like that. Layther, Newby and Osborne’s midfield chemistry was dangerous outside of a lab environment. Higgins had more shots than Willow. Dryden sat deep and pulled many a string, like a young Thomas Leach. All in all, a naughty performance from the team. #‎UpTheBakery

With the first victory on the board, The Bakery started to dream a little bigger. A run of form such as that in Episode IV could well have propelled The Bakery to the title (whatever title that was). Alas, life can be a bitch sometimes.

The Bakery 9-11 2 Goals 1 Cup

Before I start making lots of the usual footballing comments and bad puns, can I just start with a wee bit of sincerity and say I’ve never been so fucking proud to be associated with The Bakery. In a gripping clash in the distant lands of Hes East, five bakers stood up and were counted (there were five of them, I counted). Sure, we lost, but in today’s society what does that even mean? It means the other team scored more goals. And that we lost. But, my friends, we lost in the same way that Buzz Lightyear falls: with style.

Things started nervously, the opposition blitzing us with a quickfire double. But we fought back to even the scores. Then they scored a quickfire treble. A butcher or a candlestick maker would have let their head drop; not the bakers though. In a comeback pluckier than an acoustic guitar, The Bakery entered the half-time break at a meaty 5-5 scoreline. Then, almost instantly, we took the lead for the first time. Then they scored four without reply. Then we clawed a couple more back. Then they scored. Then we scored. Then it was over.

But that brief account does not do the game justice. It does not explain how we ghosted past their defence with some sexy foreplay. Down to the bare bones like a skeleton, the bakers scared the opposition so much that they’ll shit the bed tonight just thinking about Robin Newby. Lesser teams would have laid down and died, but the bakers rose like zombies. In the cauldron over on Hes East, the game bubbled, and the bakers toiled and troubled (is that a fucking Shakespeare reference, you’re goddamn right it is). I’ve run out of Halloween references, something to do with vampires perhaps? I don’t know.

But what I do know is the answer to the age-old question, Courtois or Cech: the answer is Whitehead. The influential captain Leach sucked all the life out of their attacks, like a, um, leech? Sharman played through the pain barrier and covered every blade of astroturf, up and down like a hormonal teenager. Balmford just did not stop, does he even know how? He chased every ball as if it had a vagina. 

Newby snagged himself a fantastic four goals, showing he has clearly mastered the ‘turn and fire across the keeper’. Leach, Balmford and Sharman all claim two goals each, which yeah I know adds up to ten goals in total, but I don’t have the heart to take one away from anyone. The post took a beating tonight, the bakers consistently striking it with audacious efforts. Switching from tiki-taka that baffled the opposition defenders, to good old hoofball with Sharman whacking the ball out of the cage like he just didn’t care, The Bakery mixed it up tonight like a DJ at a house night (rolls eyes). Balmford and Leach made some HUGELY GIGANTIC tackles. Whitehead was so vocal and commanding that we did not even miss Sharman’s shouts of ‘want it’ on the touchline. Newby’s eyes lit up when he spotted the chance for an overhead kick, and when he picked himself up off the floor after missing the ball completely, he smiled cheekily like the nawty treacle that he is. And that’s what The Bakery is all about. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world, a lot of lies and snaking. But there is also a lot of bread and friendship.

I have not done this game justice. I have not done this performance justice. We go again next week. We go hard. Then we go home. Winners, losers, whatever, it can change so quickly. One thing that never changes is that we are bakers. Up The Bakery. Up The Bakery so high that when it comes down, it has snow on it. BORN AND BREAD. ‪#‎UpTheBakery

Amidst all the happy-clappy rhetoric, you may have derived that The Bakery did in fact lose that game. They didn’t lose the next one though, making it abundantly clear that I’ve decided to make this Episode a collection of copied-and-pasted match reports rather than saying anything new or profound.

The Bakery 12-5 Nobody Tells Me The Opposition Team Names Anymore

… wait what, we won?! Cracking. In a performance that some are calling ‘The Greatest Game Of Salter’s Managerial Career’ and has others saying ‘Wait Paulo, You Do Fuck All Apart From Stand On The Touchline Shouting Well Done Chris’, The Bakery claimed a mighty victory of arousing proportions. With various people sidelined with cases of having a life, The Bakery scraped together five men. But what men! Whitehead, Sharman, Dryden, Osborne and Newby pummelled the opposition defence ruthlessly, I’d love to see the possession stats, because I’m nerdy like that.

The game started in bizarre fashion, Sharman scoring the opening goal. Osborne then nabbed a hat-trick quicker than you could say ‘hsibsgeqhguqgfjfjeqeu’. Newby snaffled another, and the other team were in disarray, just a total lack of array really. Osborne and Newby bagged again before half-time, the opposition stealing potentially the least consoling consolation goal ever. 7-1 half-time. The Bakery exploded all over the start of the second half, Dryden waltzing through to complete a Welbeck-esque dink. Osborne and Newby both scored some more, Dryden got another, and despite The Bakery’s defensive shape completely melting towards the end, we held on for a comprehensive victory. Yay.

Whitehead was imperious, getting all around the D like a generous lover. He made a string of top saves, and almost wrote his name on the scoresheet for the first time with an audacious throw that their keeper barely dealt with. Sharman was a tank; a tank who spent a minute running around struggling to put a bib on, a tank who continued his love affair with the post. But a tank nonetheless, and he took his goal with aplomb. Dryden, ah Dryden, I hate to drag out the ol ‘good feet for a big man’ phrase, so instead I will mention how he is more than competent at manipulating the ball with his shoes for someone of his stature. Osborne, honestly I’m not too sure if he’s played this football thingy before, but he took to it really well tonight, I dunno, I think he’s got a bright future. Newby once again pulled out the skills for the crowd (me and Phillips) with an outrageous acrobatic effort that was not even close to being a goal. But no worries about that miss, because boy did Newby score tonight. Like, four goals.

This was the Special K of performances, our attacks Shreddie-ing their defence, our tackles crunchier than nuts, our attacking play leaving the fans Krave-ing more, coco-popping the ball around the park at great speed, something something Weetabix. This is weird, these references are a bit ‘cereal’… surreal, cereal, you know it works. Big shout out to that connoisseur of cereal, Capitano Leachy, who will hopefully return next week. One more game this season boys, get down to the mythical land, that Narnia of uni, Hes East. There’s nothing to play for, and so there’s nothing to lose. Come down, it probably won’t be 0-0. Up The Bakery my friends, and indeed my enemies too. We go again next week! Football! Bread!! ‪#‎UpTheBakery

And with that tiny cliffhanger, we bid our Bakers farewell. The next episode will presumably be the longest when we find out that I have horribly misjudged just how much there is left to write. Can The Bakery secure 7th place in this tournament? How would they fare in their last ever weekly tournament? Would they triumph in their last ever tournament of any sort? All signs point to no. Join us in Episode VI for two match reports written by William Sharman, for The Bakery’s foray into the world of politics, and for dizzying levels of both bread and friendship.

It may look Darth Vader is winning in Episode V, but just wait for Episode VI of The Bakery story for the footballing equivalents of these classic moments from the Star Wars saga.

Chewbacca has seen some Wookie booty, and he approves.
darth vader lift
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have an awkward silence in a lift.
Leia is not impressed by Jabba’s attempts at foreplay.