Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
30 April 2005
Kidderminster Harriers 1 Grimsby Town 4
A pleasant Severn Valley sunny day, charcoal burning everywhere - or is that the old steam railway behind the goal? Around 200 Townites sauntered along the avenues and alleyways; along rows of houses that are all the same, where no-one seemed to care about the Kids.
Or even the kids: someone in a strange suit was mesmerising all the local children away with a selection of confectionery. Oh, it's their mascot, not the Pied Piper.
Mmm, pie-o-phile heaven. What a truly scrumptious aroma, luring the unwary and unhealthy to the pie stall. Never in the field of football conflict has such food, glorious food been seen within the sight of bowed floodlights. Yet another reason to sigh at the thought of Rushden remaining within our orbit.
Town lined up in a 5-3-2 formation as follows: Williams, Ramsden, Whittle, Crane, Jones, Bull, Fleming, Crowe, Pinault, Reddy, Parkinson. The substitutes were Downey, Soames, Hockless, Coldicott and Heggarty. The shape of things before my eyes, we've been taught to despise: dinosaurs in defence. From one million years BC came the future: the Whittleosaurus, the Craneopteryx and the Jonesaptydyl. Hear them roar, see them stomp, watch the opposition romp. Well, they are certainly designed to counter carpet bombing.
What a huge programme - 68 pages packed with pictures of glum Kidders. Didn't their manager get whacked by Bruce Willis in Die Hard III - you know, the bit in the lift? Nice to see they identified Michael Reddy, the one to watch, with a picture of Clive Mendonca. That'll confuse their centre-backs, won't it. I don't mind them man-marking Clive of India today.
Rustie Lee. You have to laugh. No, you do. And if anyone votes for her, you have to laugh at them too. It's so apt that UKIP's colours are purple - it matches their faces. "Europe: sort it Sladesy!"
Do we have to start the game? It's such a lovely day.
Oh yeah, erm, they kicked off towards the munching Mariners. Straight out of play. On their left. Halfway down the stairs, if you want to know the precise details.
Wake up Town. A simple tap and spin saw Rawle sent free down their left. Crane and Whittle observed from afar as Rawle drivelled past Ramsden, hit the bye-line and hit the ball across the face of goal. Jones the Steam choo-chooed into the station, slicing a foot or so past the near post. Jones turned to his fellow mastodons and reminded them that they also serve who stand and stare. Crane headed the corner away. Just take it as read that every cross and corner was headed away by Big Tone. The Kiddypeople had a fascination with Crane's bonce.
Town were awarded a free kick on the left somewhere near the halfway line. So far, so uninspiring; Jones waddled up to the area and waited. Bull walloped it towards the penalty area, Jones rose virtually unmarked about 15 or so yards out and headed firmly down towards the goalkeeper. Doolittle and Dalley? Is that an advert for a firm of solicitors or an instruction to their defence? Oh, it's in, it's a goal Mrs Walker, it's a goal. Jones had scored. Some of us even leapt three inches and said "Yes!"; only some, mind. A little chucklage was the order of the day. How long gone? About seven minutes GMT.
The Town back three were a spacious living area, ideal for larger families and those who like to entertain guests: plenty of scope for a games room. The high ceilings were a period feature, lovingly restored by the present owners; don't look too closely, you may see the cracks. Whittle was way off beam, hacking and thwacking down forwards. Crane was way out of sight: with his turquoise waistcoat and his haircut looks so bad. Vegetable Man where are you? Ah there you are. Boom-boom-boom those headers out baby. Are these magic onions on my burger?
Parkinson - hello over there, offside - wellied the ball into the side netting. Why do you need to know that? Because if I didn't tell you that you'd only get a 150-word diversion around the A453, musing, but maybe not amusing, on the relative merits of venetian and/or roman blinds in dormer bungalows down North Sea Lane. Or maybe a mutation into a restaurant review in the style of Michael Winner.
Near the quarter hour, a Kidderminster corner from their right. Danger, pay attention, something's about to happen. Lashed in, lashed out by Crane's quifftastic noodle, the ball bazoomed upfield, bouncing once about 30 yards out. A little Kiddy ran forward and completely missed the ball as it bounced over and into the centre circle. Reddy and the final defender challenged, with O'Reddy's boot flicking the ball off the gelled stalagmites on the roof of a Kid's head. High kickin' Michael: the Tiller boy, toiling and spoiling upfront, raced away from the halfway line. Onwards, ever onwards, the ball careering up in strange angles off the lumpy-bumpy custard tart of a pitch. Into the area, reds missing behind, Reddy awaited Danby, sold him a couple of raffle tickets, and nonchalantly flicked with the outside of his boot, the ball rolling in to the centre left of the goal.
Town were exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the Kids. That's not very carefully, is it.
More corners for Kidderminster Harriers. More heading practice for Big Tone, the answering machine at the heart of the Town back-ish three. If you want to leave a message please bleat after the Tone. The Town players were clearly distracted by the smells wafting across Williams' goal from the pie stall; why else would they be happy to stand around inside their own penalty area when the opposition was so fractured, a broken butterfly, wings crushed.
What a shame Diop-hop-hop-hop was told to hop off so long ago. We could do with some comedy; it's just plain dull.
Shall we have another shot? Why not. A free kick on the right, lamped long, knocked on by Whittle and rolling, rolling out at the far post. Lo, there is a man with gusto, his name is Reddyo. The Irish wolfhound sniggered around the back, spun and thwacked a rasping looper over the bar from a narrow angle. Worth an "ooooh" and got an "ooooh". It's official then: "ooooh". There was a long delay when Parkinson and Danby collided after a rubbish bit of defending on the edge of the area. Don't worry - the Town fans made use of this time to eliminate waste and stock up on food for the long journey into the second half.
This is a great advert for park football.
Pinault took a free kick and nothing happened, but with Pinault nothing can happen with some style.
With about ten minutes left Kidderminster had a spell of sustained possession, passing frequently to themselves: something they'd failed to do previously. The ball was finagled to Rawle about 25 yards out in the centre. He rumbled around in circles, rolled, rocked, did some amateur origami, phoned his mum, performed a little paradiddle (which the FA is looking into after a complaint) and cracked a swirling, curling shot around Jones' legs and onto the crossbar, with Williams startled enough to drop his copy of Auto Trader. A Kiddy shot! If it had gone in it would have been a goal, that's for sure. It didn't so it wasn't. Ah well, there's always next time.
Reddy flicked a bouncing ball away from a defender on the halfway line and was free again, but the referee cruelly, harshly, and dreadfully awarded Kidderminster a free kick, booking the glimmerman in the process. Why? Handball. What are the odds on refs seeing that, these days. He hadn't caught it and put it under his jumper, or anything.
For some odd reason Kidderminster started to get stuck in to Town in the last five minutes; legs clattered, full frontal assaults, barging and charging, Town players scattered across the field like confetti. Crowe felled, Jones hacked, Pinault down on the ground, no free kick given. What do they have to do before Town get a free kick? Kiddy pressure; Crane the bulwark, the bulkhead, the brawny, beefy backstop. Williams flapping madly at a dinkled cross into his six-yard box. At shoulder height with no Harrier close, Williams missed it completely. A Town fan spilt his vegetable broth.
There were some minutes of added time - frankly my dear, who gives a damn how long. These minutes were filled with grown men skipping, and much pondering on the matter of Sven Baas. He isn't another one of George Weah's cousins is he? Or does it live in Chapman's Pond?
What a half! What - a half? Kidderminster emptied half their glass into Town's beaker on this post-season picnic. The Kidderminster experience had been most pleasing. Town only had to trot: the hosts were extremely generous in all respects. Town had been sufficiently adequate to cope with the Kidderminster players. Town didn't pass the ball much; they didn't have to. Town didn't have many attacks; they didn't have to. Town didn't have the ball much; they didn't have to - Kiddy kept giving it back. Town's defence headed all the crosses and corners away, but looked really rickety and rockety when the ball was on the floor and the red mist parted. The back three got away with it. Forbes was missed and Ramsden missed being in the centre; he looked very uncomfortable playing out wide.
But that's being picky, isn't it. Town 2-0 up away from home. Nothing can go wrong now, can it?
Stu's half-time toilet talk
"He's like a Northern Counties East Premier Division Juninho."
"Williams hasn't touched the ball, but he's still managed to drop it."
"Is that your shoes ringing?"
"Will we see Glen Downey play today?"
"I think our neighbour is a Slitheen."
Kidderminster made two changes at half time, replacing a defender and an attacker. Burton and Birch came on.
The referee decided he had to restart the game, and did so. The game ambled on, a diverting backdrop for us daytrippers, yeah. It didn't take us long to find out that Kidderminster weren't going to let us sleepwalk through the second half. Pinault jumped with some bloke just inside the Town half on the right. The ref was clearly bored rigid, and so decided to spice up his life by randomly penalising Pinault for existing.
The free kick was clipped lowish towards the far side of the penalty area. Birch, or Burton, depending on whether you believe the tannoy announcer or not, stood in front of Jones or Crane, depending on who you daydreamingly want to blame, and swept a volley across Williams and into the bottom right corner. What a public inconvenience. It was probably Birch, but only his mum and accountant are really bothered about that.
Happiness is but a moment from misery, as the few locals who were diehard enough to watch the ship finally sink beneath the waves were about to find out. Misery is what football is all about, isn't it? Within a minute Town had opened the throttle and the speedboat was off towards Venice quicker than you can say "all government property has to be accounted for". Yeah, that'll be Reddy, won't it.
A Town player, lost in the mists of time but for the purposes of tickling the exposed soul of Rantin' Russ I shall say "the Frenchman", tapped the ball down the left touchline for Reddy. A stepover and roll allowed the ball to trundle along the line. Teasing, tossing his hair aside and tantalising the defender with his quivering hips, O'Reddy awaited the lunge, then za-zoomed down the wing to the bye-line pulling his "Wensleydale, Parky?" face. He looked up and clipped a cross to the near post. Parkinson had brought along his own stepladder, placed it six yards out in front of the paparazzi, and glanced a header across the face of goal and into the far corner. Now that was a goal. The travelling cushions were plumped again.
I haven't bothered to tell you about all the delays for loads of head injuries. Well, here's another: Crane and Rawle sprawled across the turf after heading each other. Both got up and continued, eventually.
Kidderminster had a real go after the third goal as Town sat back and soaked it all up like a council composter. Buzzing and bumbling along the edge of the Town area, the little red Worcesters kept chucking pebbles towards our glasshouse. Russell received a knock-down in the centre and shot across and wide with Williams playing Scrabble to his right. Sorry - the official book of hackery says "scrambling". But it was Scrabble. He had too many consonants during half time and really should have changed all his letters.
Whoops, little Ronnie Bull failed again. The ball was whizzled across from their left and Birch knocked the ball into a lovely large hole as Bull stepped back and froze. With time, space, energy and a lot of spare change, Birch draggled a low shot to Williams' left, who managed to palm the ball aside for a corner. That was a save, a save low to his left: it didn't end up being a goal. Applause towards "the Welshman".
A couple of minutes later Rawle flung himself at Jones as the spindly spinster tried to clatter the ball away. The ball rebounded goalwards. Jones was seated as Rawle sprinted into the area, with Williams moonwalking towards him, calling 999 on his mobile, while trying to attract the attention of the waitress at table 23. Williams plunged to earth; Rawle plugged his shot a gazillion yards wide and high, slipping and sliding as he shot. It looked a mighty funny miss from where we were standing. It takes great skill to miss by so much, from so close, with so few people around to disturb your inner ear.
It would be nice if Town had another visit to the dozing Town fans, wouldn't it.
Hello! A free kick pumped long, nodded on by Whittle to the unmarked Ramsden on the right, ten yards out. The ball bounced, dropped and the Rammy Ramster leant to one side, arched his back and beautifully curved a volley twenty-eight centimetres wide of the keeper's right post. Even his mullet was starting to leap up in anticipation of glory.
Mr Green he's so serene, he's got a cheese and onion pasty in every room.
Here we go again, more Kiddy raiding: Birch leaning on Bull and glancing wide; Rawle free, unmarked, and unable, poking horribly wide and high inside the penalty area. When you think about it that wasn't horrible at all for us. And we are us, they are them: see how they run like pigs from a gun.
Rawle bounding away past Williams, who missed the ball as he tried to sweep up behind Crane. Perhaps he should have taken his cloth cap and overall off before trying to run. Rawle clipped a cross to the far post, where Birch leant on Jones and glanced wide. Russell: a long shot, post hit. Not their day is it; not their season. They're setting off to the Conference with soft explosions. We've had two of these seasons recently, so a bit of silent sympathy flew towards the two thousand homesters.
With just less than 20 minutes left young Heggarty replaced Parkinson. Apart from his goal, Parkinson barely registered on the radar; you'd have though that modern technology would have picked up his ears at least. A couple of minutes later Jones was clobbered and never recovered, and the impossible happened: DOWNEY entered the arena. A reminder that they also serve who sit and stare. There will be medals cast, to be personally presented by Positive John, to every Town fan present. In 50 years' time there will be a blue plaque placed on the away team bench to mark the spot, and the occasion. Downey got an extra-special cheer which, like his boots, was laced with irony.
Kidderminster were sent into a right tizz by the sight of Glen, for within a minute Town had another attack. The ball was lazily tonked down the left. Heggarty eagerly pursued, and dribbled with intent. His pass to Reddy was intercepted, but cleared straight back to Crowe, who tapped it to the now unmarked Reddy, about 15 yards out way to the left of the area. Reddy nodded the ball across a defender into space, steadied himself and lashed a skiffling shot over and across Danby and in to the top left corner. A cracking finish that got even the most jaded, cynical, and unconscious Town supporters into the air with a woo-hoo-hoo.
A minute or so afterwards Coldicott replaced Crowe. And Town finally had someone in midfield: Conan the Destroyer was back in his yard.
Kidderminster continued to attack and continued to waste chances. Downey almost touched the ball, but was repelled by an invisible forcefield, allowing Birch to control, advance, infiltrate the area and poke terribly wide. Rawle crossed, Downey waited, Downey missed the ball. Time ticking, Glen still hadn't touched it. Would he ever or would this be the twist of the comic knife? Ooh - now? Darn it, a tackle missed. How about you Ronnie? Whoops, another missed clog. Still, at least he managed to pass to a Town player once this game, if you count a free kick whacked forwards as a pass. You do? How generous of spirit you are.
Kidderminster made a final substitution, bringing on Sturrock to replace pint-sized Russell. Crane was able to deal with Blair Sturrock and Argyle Highlanders all on his own, placing himself with his back to the sun, always looking to gain an edge. Reddy terrorised down the left, chest bursting past three after a superbly weighted pass from Heggarty. No-one was quick enough to get in to the box for his cross.
Pinault, on the centre right, advanced and played a perfect pass between two defenders for Reddy to run on to. The keeper came out and Reddy tried to drift past on the left but Danby managed to get a hand to the ball. A brief glimpse of a hint of a chance for Heggarty, but a big butch defender stood in his way, then scythed through him from behind. No free kick, of course.
And then it happened. In the last minute Glen Downey touched the ball, tackling out on the right for a Kidderminster throw-in. Rapturous applause from the Town faithful. We'd seen history. Ten seconds later he touched it again, making an excellent block. Then, another ten seconds, a header away! What more could we ask for? We'd seen it all. What a minute.
In added time Reddy again wiggled and waggled past three inside the penalty area, crossing low to Coldicott, in the centre near the penalty spot. Stace opened his body and steered the ball first time towards the top left corner, but it drifted a few inches wide. Added time? There were eight or nine years of it.
Well, there we are: a nice day out sightseeing near the Severn. A little team bonding and some never-to-be-repeated events. This was how all the games could have been since the Darlington defeat. You choose which one I mean. It was OK, but don't read too much into this. The opposition succeeded in failing. Town won through a combination of Kidderminster's inabilities and Michael Reddy. The three amigos at the back were not comforting, skyscrapers being functional buildings at best. There was very little attacking from Town, and what there was resulted from breakaways and accidents. A grand day out, that's all it was. If it's a trailer for next year, beware.
This was something beyond football, perhaps the very first post-modern football match. It was a work of performance art. You see what you want to see.
Nicko's man of the match
Crane headed the ball a lot, and clenched his fist a few times, but positionally he was vintage Crane. It has to be Michael Reddy, our sunshine superman, using any trick in the book. When I say he's a little cool, I think that you know what I mean.
Markie's un-man of the match
I know he tries very hard, but a footballer he ain't. It's that man again: Ronnie Bull. He was on the pitch, he wore a Town kit. Much more than that I cannot say.
Tim's man of the minute
It's the 89th minute, it's Glen Downey. That was his minute, maybe even his career. He did have a very good minute.
Another one of those refs who has zero tolerance for Town players touching opponents, but likes the game to flow when Town players are assaulted, preferably with two feet. Mr B Curson wasn't very good, and was a bit slow to deal with the six thousand head injuries. He arrived on time, started it on time and ended the game within a reasonable timescale. How about 4.999?