Where have all the flowers gone?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 July 2005

Grimsby Town 0 Scunthorpe United 0

Home, home again, we like to be there when we can. A sultry sensuous sun-kissed beach in Barbados was where we weren't. An electric atmosphere for the big cup match? No: an electric storm throbbing away down Donna Nook way. A coachload of Scunnyites hardly bothered to wave their new-found social status at the fallen Madonna with a load of boobies in the team. It was raining, it was pouring, some old men were snoring deep, deep inside the Pontoon.

Town warmed up wearing red T-shirts, looking as lovely as the pitch. The annual guessing game began: so many new men, so little are those new men. Who's that then? Dunno, don't care yet.

Town lined up in what seemed at first to be a 3-4-3 formation, which gradually melted into a 5-2-1-2 formation as follows: The Man With No Name, McDermott, Crane, Ramsden, Jones, Newey, Bolland, Barwick, Parkinson, Gritton and Reddy. The substitutes were Lukic, Short Dave, Cohen, Toner and Whittle. Sir Macca and Newey played as full backs, rather than wing backs, Barwick was seen occupying air near Bolland and Parkinson seemed to be in Donovan's Hole. Which some thought was a rather poor John Wayne film. Lukic, the callow, willowy second keeper was relegated to the bench. A short, shaven-headed man with no number and no name was starting. Anonymous of Grimsby, or Grimsby are anonymous?

The scoreboard went through its own pre-season routine, flashing up the alphabet, numbers, some Cyrillic script, all in big, brash, brazen hussy red. They still missed the first letter of the team names: ARINERS 0 CUNTHORPE 0. And they didn't bother to do the teams either.

First half
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon with Bolland hoofing the ball up the left and missing the ball completely when it returned. Thereafter culture and sophistication disappeared from Blundell Park.

Scunnythorpey relied on Torpey's waddling weight and an indulgent referee, with their eager flicking and frittering. Keogh was a Hayes-alike pest, an irritating flan flinger falling to ground at the merest sneeze. A Taylor shot, over, boring.


Have we passed it yet?

At last a Town free kick, Newey knocking, Jones barging, the ball falling to Parkinson, flapping wide. Ooooh-ish. Scunthorpe keep the ball, Town give it back. Competitive dullness on a summer evening. The faces in the crowd dropping by the second. The horror, the horror – a season of this?

Scunny just messed up another open goal. We're used to this by now, aren't we? Newey, flummoxed by a simple give-and-go down the left. Taylor crossed; a Scunnyite side-footed against one, then two Town bottoms. Thank heavens Tony Crane eschewed that fruit diet. And another open goal. Respect is due to Russell Slade: it takes great skill to seek out and find a professional goalkeeper who makes every Mariner pine for the days of Anthony 'The Rock' Williams. The Man With No Name didn't so much flap as play chicken with the ball. Scunny hoofed into the area, he came, he pulled a face and ran away as the Morris Minor chuntered along to the Fitties. Mind the sleeping policeman. 

Suddenly Town awoke from their slumbers. Bolland disposed of a dawdling Iron defender, tapping Reddy free 25 yards out on the centre right. Reddy advanced and Musselwhite meandered forward; Reddy carefully sliced his shot high and wide of the big green pole holding up those sexy continental-style nets. Again Town flying into tackles, upping the intensity, shoulder-charging Scunthorpe into the advertising boards. Pressure, near excitement, Reddy roving, flattering, deceiving. Nothing tangible, just moments of reducing ennui.

Back came Scunthorpe, toying with this lower-division tea towel, their wings unclipped. Acres to roam, devoid of Town presence, crosses happily hung towards The Man With No Name. Such a poor fisherman. He dangled his little rod out into Chapman's Pond and caught nothing.

Eh up – some spark. Crane slid through Torpey, Crosby raged and chested Crane, Jones interceded on behalf of his client, law dictionary in hand. He has an aleeby, m'lud! Torpey is a git! What jury would ever convict given those facts? Twenty similarly dressed young men roistering on the seafront: call the police? Jones, Crane and Crosby booked. Something may have happened from the free kick. I can't remember, I don't care.

Brown, The Man With No Name is called Brown. Brown of Chester. That's a department store specialising in expensive jumpers. How ironic.

In added time Torpey comically sliced a shot across goal and Taylor shinned the ball in from five yards. Offside. Urgh.

Five minutes of adequacy from Town when the 'work ethic' really kicked in. Town tried, Town players ran around. Bolland was, at that point, the pick of the new boys with his energy and hints at ability to pass. Newey struggled positionally and appeared dreadfully one-paced, like a slimmed-down Barnard, though he did get stuck in with some last-ditch tackles. Barwick was like a three-year-old tube of Airwick: placed discreetly in the corner of the room, unnoticed, forgotten, of no practical use.

Scunthorpe were distinctly average for the fourth division, and Town managed to hold out, just. Town were very bunched and hunched in the middle, the wings a forbidden planet. Scunthorpe always had extra players, time, space and the inclination to promenade along slurping their candyfloss and slush puppies.

Stu's half-time toilet talk
"So where are Town in Maslow's pyramid?"
"I've seen the future and it hurts."

Second half
Bolland was replaced by Short Dave. He was tiny. We had no idea who he was. If in doubt, call someone Dave; it often works – and work he did. A busy, bustly scamp, hurrying and scurrying around. Eager to please and please he did. Fetching and carrying off the back three, attempting to set up passing pavements through the midfield. You fool! That was then, this is now. Pass it back to big Craney and let him welly it down the flanks.

I might as well get the exciting Town news out of the way early, so you can carry on with your life: maybe twist a paper clip into an amusing vegetable, or stare out of the window at an imaginary toad. Why does all comedy musing always lead back to Tony Gallimore? We miss him, don't we. We didn't know what we had until Ronnie Bull arrived. Near the end Newey clipped a long cross to the far post area, near the edge of the penalty box. The Lord of all Maccfullness strode in and shinned a volley towards the near post. That was it. Town did 'score', but it was offside a long, long time before Barwick nudged the ball in from a yard out.

A man in the Pontoon wandered by with the hair of a Radio 1 DJ from 1985. Bruno Brookes dragged out of a cultural dustbin and wearing a shirt with personality.

Scunthorpe had much hoo-hah-ing inside the Town box, especially from free kicks and corners. Panicky flappage and many semi-skimmed shots flying high, high, towards the sky, disturbing the Pontoon pigeons. Ramsden and Crane kept kneeing crosses away from Brown; Jones kept failing to stop Johnson turning and squirming shots wide. Johnson? Yes, they brought on old Tommy Johnson, whose major contribution to road safety was to stamp on Terry Airwick after the ex-Scunthorpe reserve tried to slice his ankles off. Barwick booked, Johnson irate only, free kick on the edge of the area, headed out by Cohen for a... goal kick. Yeah, Town made more substitutions: Cohen replaced the inert Gritton after an hour, and a bit later Whittle came on for Crane.

Pity poor Cohen: Russ's chicken chaser ran after the ball, but hardly touched it. He can run quickly, though; we saw that. It's the bit with the ball that was missing. I think he'd like it to stay in play now and again. Wouldn't we all?

Luckily Jones has telescopic legs, like Inspector Gadget.

Keogh missed a sitter after Barwick was dispossessed 30 yards out. Arrogance got the better of him – not our problem. Anything else? Whittle deflected a shot against Brown's chest, which is one way to ensure a save was made. That's all the so-called action.

Apart from the penalties. Town players wandered about trying to avoid Russ's all-seeing eye while Scunthorpe went into a huddle and looked like they knew what they were doing. Short Dave walked up to the Pontoon, plonked the ball down and chipped it against the crossbar, with Musselwhite going the wrong way. Crosby walloped his straight in. Newey placed the ball into the bottom right corner. Scunthorpe scored again, easily. Reddy shuffled in, the ref made him take it again, and he rolled it low to the left. Brown got a hand to the next penalty, but it went in. Parkinson tapped softly at thigh height to Musselwhite's left, who parried easily. Sparrow curled the ball into the top left corner. Another cup run ended. Town'll lose out on the big TV money for the next game, darn it. We went home, not illusioned.

Argh. You want the lowdown on the style, the new players. Newey was determined, though still uncertain where to stand (we'll ignore his howling mis-control right in front of the managers' bench: he missed the ball completely when free). We warmed to Short Dave, despite his penalty miss. He's a ticker. Brown was tremendously terrible: turn right at the Big McDonald's and keep going. Let's be kind... Barwick hasn't yet done anything to assuage the concerns of the cybermariners. Cohen was on the pitch but wasn't given the ball.

The 'old players' did what we know they can, and can't, do. Parkinson was omnipresent but pitifully ineffective. Reddy and Gritton seemed to give up; Ramsden was positionally perfect; Jones and Crane managed to avert danger through sheer size. I don't have to say anything about McDermott: we know, don't we.

We can't see any method yet. Fingers crossed – it may turn up when Russ does some hoovering later. Town did look fit, so there's something to hang on your doorknob before you go to bed.

Oh and Short Dave is Lee Fowler. He'll always be Dave to me.