The twisted sock: Shrewsbury (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 April 2006

Grimsby Town 1 Shrewsbury Town 1

A lazy, crazy, hazy day in early summer with around 200 or so shrieking Shrews hiding in the Osmond. A wibbling wind flustered the medicinal compounders in the Main Stand as everyone regretted putting away that slightly thicker jumper, the one with the over fussy pattern that hints at golf but suggests grannies. Five games to go, eh. Exciting. Isn't it?

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, McDermott, Whittle, R Jones, Newey, Parkinson, Bolland, Woodhouse, Goodfellow, Reddy, G Jones. The substitutes were Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala, Croft, Mendes, Futcher and Toner.

Ah, we did miss Toner, the tutti-frutti bugle boy of company C. No surprises in the starting line-up, with the hairless cornflake and the banana fritterer on the wings. Mildenhall did wear a luminous turquoise shirt though: the exact colour that the fashionable boys about town used to sport in 1985, though the Big M eschewed the washed-out perm and apologetic moustache. Perhaps, like Victorian children, he just wanted to be seen and not heard.

Shrewsbury turned up in an aesthetically dispiriting blue kit with a thick yellow stripe down the middle. We can but hope they play with a thick yellow stripe down their middle of their psyche: we could do with obliging guests. Fortunately for them their goalkeeper managed to get out of Shropshire's leading unisex salon before the team coach left. Always useful to have a keeper, and it's nice to see young people taking so much care with their appearance.

Just to liven things up, the Football League sent along some morris dancers to pretend to be linesmen. Cotswold dancers, methinks, given the handkerchiefs and hey-nonny-no skipping as they checked the nets. The thing about morris dancing is that many sides have one or more fools. Often the fool will dance around without really being a part of it…

Dish of the Day: in winter humans choose foods to keep us alive, so go out and get an allotment. Or grow some red brussels sprouts on your windowsill. Next week: pigs in space.

We must keep reminding ourselves: this is exciting.

First half
Town kicked off towards the Osmond, laying the ball back to Newey for the traditional hump down the left wing. Except he didn't, instead shuffling inside and passing towards the head of the Lump.

Town dominated the first three minutes, with Goodfellow twinkling his toes and Reddy, like the louche leading man in a rollicking pot-boiler, hinting at danger. A bit like Ronald Coleman (ask your grandma). A superb first-time volleyed pass by Goodfellow sent the Oirish greyhound behind the defence, on the centre-right, to the corner of the penalty area. Hart raced out and Parkinson joined this ménage a trois. After some initial embarrassment, little Joe 90 ran home as Reddy twirled on his own near the bye-line. Reddy advanced and crossed low towards a galaxy of stars in the centre of the area, with the ball diverted goalwards by a Town shin, but straight to the keeper.

Another thirty seconds, another attack with Shrews slain, their defence tattered and torn, but Town were too busy polishing their buttons and shaking their bells.

Oooooooh. No. A subtle Goodfellow pass, a Reddy fall, but way too obvious. Town, Town and more Town, with corners and throw-ins a plenty; all wasted through too many dollopy crosses hanging high to the keeper with no-one challenging. Macca raiding on the right, crossing, fading, fading away as Lump dismayed at the far post.

After about ten minutes Shrewsbury won a throw-in near the Police Box. Nice to see you, to see you….nice! Isn't Stallard tubbytellytastically corpulent. That's a statement, not a question. Hurled long, the ball flicked off Newey, and Mildenhall stumbled and fumbled at the near post. Ah, if only we had some really tall players we would be able to deal with these long throws. Russ should go out and buy some, shouldn't he.

Shrewsbury were not completely moribund: they hinted at danger but wasted several chances through poor passing. At least twice Town were outnumbered on breaks, with their number 19, Edwards, a constant runner from midfield, and Town constantly failed to track him. Dangerous.

Still Town poked their visitors in the back, with Bolland barundling around the middle and Goodfellow prettily plucking his 12-string guitar on the flanks. Perhaps a Roger Whittaker medley wasn't the best choice though, highly unlikely to stir the loins of anything other than a very famished lion, or lioness.

Oh look: Reddy's fallen down again. Yet again Goodfellow hit a sumptuously weighted diagonal pass from the centre circle to the right. Hope missed the ball and Reddy hoped his stumble would even things out a bit, you know, ten men against ten. I'll just say Andy Parkinson here: you get the drift. Oh yes, you want details, No free kick, nothing, on play went as the referee started to annoy with his Nelsonian refusal to see what was before his very eyes.

Shall we keep them happy by mentioning all their despatches? Shrewsbury got a free kick for nothing more than sneezing, deep inside the Town half under the Police Box. It was curled into the near post and the Stickman availed himself of all limbs and fleshed the ball aside for a corner when just a couple of yards out.

Here we go again: Town knocking the ball over the top for the speedsters. The Lumposaurus lumbered forward as Hart raced off his line to the very edge of his area. They rose together, they fell together, the ball dribbled beyond this clash of titans. Lumpy decided to claim foul and despicable deeds upon his person, while Hart sauntered back and picked the ball up without even a knees-up on the old joanna.

Reddy probably fell again sometime, probably from another Goodfellow pass. Probably.

The game started to drift like a duck's feather, moving imperceptibly onwards. The Town defence started to wobble slightly, with Macca having terrible trouble with the divots, causing him to shank his drives into the Smiths/Stones/Findus stand with monotonous regularity. And we thought that was Sergeant Whittle's job.

Where are we? About 25 minutes gone and the tankers in the estuary are starting to take on a strange fascination - so many shapes, so many colours. Suddenly they flicked a long diagonal cross towards their right winger Hurst, near the edge of the penalty area, looped a tentative header goalwards. The ball arced and spun like a kaleidoscope, playing the theme tune to Tales of the Unexpected as it drooped down behind Mildenhall. Goalkeeper's hands and crossbar met as the ball landed on both, with the mild-mannered keeper taking the easy way out and allowing it to roll off his fingertips and over the bar.

Two Shrews stood at the corner flag on their right. Parkinson wandered over, Woodhouse abandoned his position at the near post and Macca reacted by sprinting across the goal line to stand where Woodhouse had been. The corner was curled high into the middle of the six-yard box and Burton surged forward, rose above the Lump, removing his pearl necklace in the process, and pummelled a header down through Mildenhall's legs.

Tut if you wish.

Within a minute Town got a free kick about 20 yards out in the centre. Newey and Goodfellow held a séance and the spirits decreed it shan't be Tom. Goodfellow, with little run-up or backlift, curled a left-footed shot over the wall towards the top left corner, but Hart was alert. May his highlights fade and his toenails in-grow, accursed stopper.

Foul throw! Herd indulged in some slapstick under the Stones/Findus/Smiths Stand with an old Krankies routine. He did see the funny side, but then again he was marking Andy Parkinson. Parky, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Yet to touch the ball.

Town huffed and muffed for the next ten minutes, with Woodhouse and Goodfellow doing something that nearly aroused the penguins. Or had a shot. Something like that; nothing that we'd like to talk about in polite company, anyway. Would you like another angel cake?

Ah, here we are: Bolland battling, barging, barracking and bullying the Shrewsbury right-back on the half way line. Goodfellow joined in this daylight robbery and off they went, like lovers, exchanging passes. Bolland was teed up for a thumper, which he thumped a yard wide of the right post. A woman thumped the back of the Pontoon in frustration. I'd advise her husband to do the hoovering when she asks.

Reddy definitely fell again sometime, probably from another Goodfellow pass. Certainly.

With about five minutes left until half time the Shrews got another corner, this time on their left. They repeated their goalscoring routine and Burton removed Lumpy's replacement pearl necklace as he headed the ball over the bar from three yards out. There then followed a party political broadcast on behalf of the Sort It Sladey Party, as Town crumpled, dithering and dathering as the Shrewies pruned our shrubs. Macca shinned a skewey clattered cross into the side netting for another corner and, with one English minute left, Town had the gumption to rearrange their defensive duties. The Stick took Burton in his arms and cuddled him to sleep.

The last kick of the half was by Reddy on Edwards, leaving him face down in the dirt and requiring a posse of balding men to carry him off the pitch. Oh, I forgot Newey's injury didn't I. A bit of panic in the area saw Tom-Tom fall over Hurst. After some hobbling and grimacing Newey continued. That's Newey grimacing, not the Pontoon: he'd been perfectly adequate. Don't kick a man when he's down. Oh Parky!

Town looked lively for the first 20 minutes, with at least two players playing very well, and passing to each other. My mental notes for the half say: "Their 19 a constant threat, Parkinson failed, oh they scored, where's my sandwich?"

It wasn't bad. Just a bit of tinkering with the control panel was required. The squire needs to get the morris men clicking their sticks together. Where's that accordion?

Stu's half-time toilet talk
"Is aitch a vowel?"
"He may be a good goalkeeper but he looks like an Avon lady."
"I'm sure I would have noticed a 60-yard rusting pipeline before."
"Is Reddy going to bother with the ball today?"
"How can you get planning permission if you don't own the land?"

Second half
Shrewsbury replaced Edwards with Tolley at half time, but Town didn't make any changes.

They kicked off, they attacked. There's a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbour -Town replaced Newey with Croft. Just like that.

After a couple of minutes or so Shrewsbury pounded and peppered Town like a juicy rump steak. Mildenhall made some kind of stop that was just a blur of turquoise poise and they had a series of corners. There was such scrambling and shambling inside the penalty area, with legs flailing and the ball sailing hither and thither. At some point a Town player cracked the ball away from near the goal line. You know - it was enough to get a Shrew leaping, but to us far, far away in the distance it was all just colours and catcall.

It's the modern generation's version of the day Kennedy was assassinated. You'll always remember the exact moment you became aware that Andy Parkinson was on the pitch. Fifty-one minutes had elapsed when the ball bounced towards this paragon of professionalism near the managers' dug-outs. He burst from his cocoon to control the ball and play a perfect pass down the touchline for Reddy, and Town won a corner. All that effort was worthwhile after all.

Town pressed forward; the crowd started to wake. All it took was one pass, one run, one corner. Macca hauled his feet forward in support of another Reddy roam and took a throw-in quickly underneath the Police Box. Reddy sent the ball back and McDermott immediately curled a low cross into the near post. The Lump stepped across his marker and, about eight yards out, steered a volley goalwards. The ball za-zoomed and spun towards the near post and Hart put on his turbo rocket to zing across and pluck it from the air: a magnificent save.

The Pontoon stirred, the old roar dredged up from the BBC archives, dusted down and given one last airing. Fortunately the tannoy still has an old 78 turnstile. Parkinson again sent Reddy free down the right. He reached the ball at the bye-line and levered a lovely cross over Hart to the far post. Goodfellow approached but a defender stooped to nod away for a corner. The bugle sounded and the cavalry approached; Shrewsbury hunkered down, digging furiously. The Town arrows rained down upon the cowering Shrews, but they held on. Macca to Parky to Woodhouse to everyone. One-touch passing: inside, outside, blue boots clattering; Macca shovelled a shot over. Sit down, take a rest. We'll be back.

Reddy cleared a Shrewsbury corner from near the goal line, and didn't they also have a free header which crawled a few inches wide? Or shall we forget that as it doesn't fit in with the agreed narrative? That's right - it didn't happen.

From the hour Hart started to time-waste in outrageously obvious fashion, soon followed by his chums and chummettes in blue. This only served to rile the Town fans, turning the volume up further. After 20 minutes of the half Parkinson was replaced by Mendes, which kept the potatoes boiling. A-ha! Russell Slade the alchemist: making the impossible possible. Who'd have ever thought the Town fans would cheer Mendes on?

Town had a throw-in on the left which Croft hurtled towards the corner of the six-yard box. Whittle jumped and two defenders thumped the ball away towards the penalty spot. Inviting and enticingly, the ball bounced free; Woodhouse stepped forward and harrumphed a drive towards goal. Two defenders threw themselves towards the ball and it hit one of them on the end of the fingers. The referee sighed, apologised and pointed towards the penalty spot, calculating that this was one sure way to stop Town scoring.

After forming a debating society, the house voted upon the motion and Mr Goodfellow was to take it. Well, he hasn't been here long; he may not have been trained how to miss. He took a huge run-up and fair incinerated the ball in to the top left corner. Hart went the right way but stood no chance. Goodfellow had scored a penalty. Isn't that worthy of at least a CBE?

The momentum was truly back with Town, so Shrewsbury nearly scored. It's the contrary logic you know and love. Someone wasn't defending properly somewhere. Both centre-backs challenged for the same ball and only succeeded in battering each other. The ball loopled into a whacking great space and Stallard was unmarked, six or seven yards out to the right of goal. Mildenhall shuffled out and pretended to be a comedy ghost, frightening the chunky chubster enough for him to clatter the ball against the Big M's big bony body.

A mere glitch in the procession of Townness, for the rest of the game was us, us, us. Croft sculptured a rare thing of beauty around, through, under and over a thousand defenders, sending Reddy free into the area. Rather than pass, rather than shoot, rather than control the ball, O'Reddy decided to admire the orb from a close distance. What is this thing before me? It's a ball, Michael; just kick it sometime, will you.

It's a ball, Curtis; don't kick it. What a waste. Disorganised and in disarray, Shrewsbury were crucified on the right. A corner to Town taken quickly and quickly belted into the toilets by the Driffield drifter.

With quarter of an hour left Town got a corner on the left and Goodfellow curled it away from goal, high, high and higher still. The Stick smooched forward and, about seven yards out, loomed over a defender and bazookered a towering header into the top left corner, crushing the defender as he fell to earth. The referee was already preparing to disappoint, and he did disappoint. Us.

And the officials did pile agony upon agony, for Town received no further favours. Pushes and pulls were ignored when committed by blue arms; Town players were unable to jump through the smothering presence of Shrew pillows upon their heads. Mendes was manhandled into the Pontoon by the left-back when chasing after the ball: no free kick given. Shrewsbury were slowing their time wasting down further, the referee exchanging chuckles with Hart as he did so. The linesman stood in front of Croft as he took throw-ins. The crowd were a constant leaping mass of fury; sound waves crashing down upon the lime green popsies. Goodfellow shot - well too high, to many sighs.

Crosses flung left, flung right, Hart a jumping jack flash punching, pushing and catching in a whirl of perpetual motion. Croft chucked in a drooper; Hart levered himself off a defender's shoulder to punch the ball away for a throw-in and remained on the ground, claiming death and mutilation by the unseen hand of Lump. The referee allowed his personal stylist on to repair the split ends and re-tinge his highlights. Hart somehow survived to limp and hobble back into goal. Reddy immediately floated a cross in from the right to Mendes, six yards out. Junior nodded and the ball was diverted towards the right of goal. Hart suddenly sprinted across his line and swooped the ball into his arms. What a miraculous recovery, and an excellent save.

Still Town ground forward; Goodfellow again, a shot blocked. A free kick lamped into the area by Croft, the ball falling to Reddy five yards out. He fell back, turned and hooked a bicycle-kick wide. Don't get excited. He was offside. A minute later, another free kick was cleared, returned and Macca, eight yards out to the right of goal, twisted, turned and mis-hit a volley into the ground and straight at Hart.

With a minute left Whittle was replaced by Futcher. There was still time for Futcher to be manhandled inside the area, obviously on the referee's blind side. With Town still shaking the bottle with both hands, the game ended; there were no bubbles left. The crowd trooped out, flattened by a decent keeper and a distinctly unwelcome referee.

Town tried, but they never looked likely to score. It took a stray fingertip to save a point. Reddy had one of his moonbeam days, where he is unaware of the ball, and Lumpy was a peripheral figure. But for all the disjointed, misfiring nature of this jalopy it was still one of the better home performances this calendar year. Still there's always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Is that it: is promotion broken like a baguette in the breeze? If we are going up then we aren't doing it the easy way, that's for sure.

Nicko's man of the match
Only two and a half candidates, as one of them is quite small. Jones the Stick for being the full stop at the end of every Shrewsbury sentence; Bolland for being the beating heart of this ailing patient; and Goodfellow, for a sustained display of effortless jinkery. Who is playing the old piano behind the green door? Why, it's Marc Goodfellow. C'mon everybody - give him a round of applause. Didn't he do well.

Markie's un-man of the match
I know he tries really hard, but one just cannot get away from the fact that Andy Parkinson was just incapable. Unfortunately he was in our team. He was so bad that the crowd wanted Mendes on, and they were serious. It's like kicking a dead man when he's already dead and in his grave.

Official warning
Ah, Mr Friend, he would not lend
Us another hand
Oh, Mr Friend, he did not tend
Towards the Mariners of Grimsby Town

So, Mr Friend, this is the end
You're no legend
Here's 0.125