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Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

30 March 2013

Grimsby Town 0 Barrow 0

With a sneaky wind sneaking up the pitch into the faces of 74 Barrowmen, the summer's really here and it's time to come out. Time to discover what fun is about! Who fancies a bit of c-c-c-c-crazy golf? 

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, Miller, Pearson, Thomas, Taylor, Naylor, Thanoj, Devitt, Cook, Southwell. The substitutes were Hatton, Marshall, Wilson, Hannah and John-Lewis. Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk to you again. Hannah and Cook split again – that's bananas, not amore. Squad rotation? Squad swivelling more like.

Barrow looked like they were doing community service. After Wembley woe will normal service be resumed? But what is normal these days?

First half: I hear you knocking
Barrow kicked off towards the Pontoon. I see footsteps slowly walking as they gently walk across a lonely football pitch. There goes Town's ball possession, there goes our everything.

A broom is drearily sweeping up the broken pieces of yesterday's life. Somewhere a Town fan is weeping, somewhere a chef has no knife. Are you daydreaming again? What a day for a daydream, and I'm lost in a daydream, dreaming about a hot dog again.

In a moment of clarity, temporary Townites touched the football, manoeuvring it at relative speed between similar socks. Thomas crossed, a blue head shook and Naylor nibbled nothingly nowhere. That smell, that hot dog smell. It smells of... hot dogs.

Fried onion and tomato sauce. Look, there's no queue.

The referee. Huffing and puffing and unseeing the Barrowboy barges of unsubtle unsubtlety. Cook hugged into a coma, Pearson flung and hipped aside like a salad in a chippy. The man in black sees nothing. 

Blue boys stumble and call, he sees things in his head. Free kicks near and far, McKeown scooping and plucking. A minor scramblette from a Barrowboy corner. That is all, sub-Stokian flingings and handwringings. It's not the appliance of science: they're just naughty boys.

Ah, this is the moment. The rest is burnt breadcrumbs in the grill pan of local life. Thanoj spun and caressed a perfectly weighted pass through the very heart of the Barrow defence, right down the centre. Calamity Cleveland bounded free, unhindered by blue polycotton popinjays and parakeet fanciers. What about the orange? Out came the tangy-tailored keeper to the edge of his area. Taylor meekly surrendered as Hurst fell left, leaving a huge expanse into which the ball could be flicked. 

Niggles, narks, nudges, grudges, fudges and budgerigars. 

After half an hour Town got a free kick and everyone laughed and cried with joy. Fireworks were ignited in Fuller Street, bunting fluttered down Blundell Avenue, spontaneous street parties sprang up in Sidney Street, an effigy of David Ellison was tossed on a funeral pyre down Elliston Street. Devitt hit the roof, as did Shouty, but in an oh so different way. 

Southwell did well, then didn't, crossing meekly. But then, who didn't.

Barrow's beefy centre-back realised the crowd was bored. What better way to cheer people up than re-enact famous sieges through the ages. He was the battering ram; Taylor was the gates of Constantinople. A throw-in, of course, and diddums Batteryboy hurt himself and had to be replaced.

Town crosses. Pathetic.

McKeown punted a flick on and Southwell wellied way over. Just so you are absolutely clear about this, that there is no confusion – that was the other moment that nearly happened in the half.

Wingers who can't wing. Strikers who can't strike. They played like strangers, static and stilted. The words of the prophets are written on toilet walls and shopping malls: the sound of silence.

Second half: But you can't come in
Neither team made any changes at half time. No, no, no, don't pull back the curtain, the wizard hath commanded: Town changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Naylor and Thanoj were stuck in front of the defence, Devitt centrally behind Cook. Taylor and Southwell were, it is stated, wide.

What more can we say. It was a mess alright, vague nearlyness sometimes, with Devitt frenetic and frantic but ineffective as lumps went nowhere. 

Taylor dribbled past two defenders. He fell over.

Oh look. A throw-in. Under the giant dark shadow of the Findus, Southwell jinkery-pokeried between two blue stools and along the bye-line. He looked up. Yes, he looked up, rolling a pass to Naylor on the edge of the area who swept lowly through two sets of knock-kneed nutmegs. The ball bumbled through blue socks and away without much fussery. 

On the hour on came the cavalry. Hannah came on to partner Cook with Marshall replacing the ineffective Taylor. Town moved back to 4-4-2 and took control with passing and movement, early zipping passes and crosses. Ah, Town were back, and marvellous it was to watch. Chance after chance, the crowd uproariously, deliriously...

Uh-uh, what? Eh? It was all a dream? 

On the hour on came the drivelry. Cook and Devitt were replaced by John-Lewis and Wilson. Town moved to 4-3-3. Moth-eaten holey underpants Batman! When we say 4-3-3, it was initially a possibility, eventually just an assumption. Town players cowered in clumps.

Open up your eyes and look around – it's just an illusion.

Barrow threw a throw, Townites chewed their toes. DL Rowe sneaked in on their right and fliggled lowly across McKeown from a narrowly narrow angle, missing the far post by such a small margin that scientists had to put on their special spectacles to calculate the chances on life on Mars.

This, indeed, is a godawful small affair.

This is dragging on longer than a Danny la Rue lookalike competition. Ah, at last, a striker. With quarter of an hour left Hannah replaced Taylor. It is quite possible that Town moved back to 4-4-2. Possible, but you won't find any eyewitnesses. A blancmange.

Hannah was somewhere involved in the most meaningful of the meaningless scrambles of indeterminate indifference. He had a shot blocked. At other times John-Lewis cleared for Barrow.

There was one, isolated incident of accidental connectivity. John-Lewis and Southwell touched base, with the Shopper flambéing a hard driven cross towards the penalty spot. Wilson dived and twisted backwards to loopy-glance a header that arced towards the right corner but slowly, slowly spun and drifted across the angle and wide.

They had long shots. They were dull, all bouncing nicely at Jamie Mack. They had a header which died straight into the arms of the Mack. That was them, all froth and no fizz. Town aspired to frothiness; they were just appallingly unable. Alright, if you must know everything. Southwell wobble a cross that went out then in, out then in, and was caught behind the goal line by the keeper for a goal kick that defied logic and the laws of physics. And Thomas slid-tackled on the bye-line to nearly cross to near where Hannah nearly was.

There was added time. The added time ended. All passes seem to stray to places far away. We need a change of scenery. The end

Smell that? You smell that? Nothing in the world smells like that. Someday this season's going to end. It may have done so already.