Wonderboy: Boston (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 August 2006

Grimsby Town 3 Boston United 2

This game had a bad bit and a good bit. The bad was an rusty can of prunes; the good was peaches and cream.

Blundell Park or open-air Shakespeare. What do you take me for, some kind of bird-watching freak? Hey nonny NO!

Six hundred potato-men all in a row, singing and swinging in the Osmond as the Town fans seeped in like rising damp. Everything has changed, but everything is still the same. As the teams were read out, some managed to get in a hearty boooooo before the season had even started. A magnificent effort from the Beagrie-booing boo boys from Pontoon row C.

This new Town lined up in a proper 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, McDermott, Whittle, Futcher, Newey, Rankin, Harkins, Bolland, Beagrie, the only Jones in the village and Reddy-to-go. The substitutes were Bore, North, Croft, Toner and Barwick. Rankin played on the right of midfield and the rest, like the Dock Tower, is obvious. Too many white boots, my dear Mozart, and where do we start with the shirt? And what about those white socks with the subliminal messages up the back? Let's rock, dude.

Have you bought the wristband? What would Fenty say? Let's be positive. Yes! The season starts here.

First half
No! Meet the new Town, same as the old Town. The half stripe, half biscuits kicked off towards the Osmond, roping the ball back to Newey, who... lamped the ball high down the left for Reddy to chase. It's déjà vu all over again.

Boston played in all red. Details, facts, proof of extra-terrestrial life: some of you want them, don't you. I'll drop 'em in now and again, like a Beagrie free kick.

Within a minute Tait, on their centre-left, spun and walloped a swizzering volley across the face of goal and a few nano-inches over the angle of post and bar. Phil 'The Tower' Barnes was cool. Another minute, another Tait effort. A throw-in on the Boston right was as interesting as the Prickwillow drainage museum. Excuse me while I scratch an itch. Oh, what was that? A cross chuckled in and Tait, about 15 yards out, grazed a glancing, looping header over Barnes. The ball slowly arced over, skipping, shimmering in the haze, drifting on, on and against the inside of the left post, bouncing down along the goalline and out to Mr Macca, white-booted, but reliably reliable.

Let's whistle a happy tune, shall we.

Boom, bang, Canoville whacked a shot near Barnes from 25 yards out. Three minutes, three efforts, three nails in the pre-prepared coffin.

Have we anything positive to report? One of the ball boys caught a balloon and was really happy.

Here's the good news. Boston didn't miss an open goal for another five minutes. Beagrie absent, Newey flapping, Canoville free inside the box near the bye-line. His cross whippled in low, stroked off someone's thigh and rolled gently across the face of goal, a yard or so out. Greaves, large and unmarked, stretched forward at the far post and a wicker man was being prepared behind the Main Stand. Greaves tapped and Barnes threw himself across, his feet almost caught in the netting. The ball moved slowly, time more slowly still, and Barnes managed to get one hand on it, right on the goal-line. The only part of his body not inside the goal were the fingers on one hand.

The Carlsberg Stand: probably the best whingers in the world. It doesn't sound right, does it - the Carlsberg Stand. It could be anywhere; where's the sense of Grimsby? The question to the panel is this: the Stones/Smiths/Findus/Carlsberg Stand - what do we call it? A modish, voguish S2FC? The artists formerly known as Barrett? The Frozen Beer Stand? I propose we call it The Thing. Yes, I am avoiding the game; it's distraction therapy. I need it, so do you.

After about ten minutes Town players co-ordinated their movements such that the ball was moved between them purposefully, causing the day-trippers from Potatoland to put down their copies of Hello, put on some suncream and put up a windbreak. Reddy riverdanced past three down the left and crossed dangerously. Some Bostonian dipped and dunked the ball away from the near post. That was it. Town were 'orrible, just lumping the ball up towards Jones' head, or over the top for Reddy to rave after. So last year, so dull, so gormless.

Boston, of all teams, Boston were humiliating Town, with movement, pace and a collective cohesion. Town were old, slow and like an all-star pub team. Joachim was released, but offside. Phew, fortunate Town, as Town were as holey as their underpants. After a quarter of an hour, the underpants couldn't hold it all any longer. A Boston attack was repelled, with Joachim wandering yards offside. Tait retrieved, a dozen yards inside the Town half on their left, and lob-volleyed the ball over the top. Newey saw Joachim, waved his hand and watched as Green ran past. Barnes advanced while Green controlled the ball and, from the edge of the area, croaked a low shot into the bottom right corner. Are you surprised? If so, why?

Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston, on and on and on and on. They're just toying with the dead dogs. Canoville flipping a long shot, Barnes saved. Joachim busting through and Barnes dusting the ball for fingerprints. Canoville again, or was it Green, or both? Shots pinging, Barnes winning over the Pontoon. Town a mess in defence, swamped by the red mist, with the midfield huffling and puffling: outpaced, out-thought and outfought. Town were embarrassing, infuriating and deflating, a hollow shell cracked open by a stare.

Harkins runs like he's on his way to Amarillo; he's been weeping like a willow.

Reddy was booked for a dreadful, stupid thwack from behind just because the referee loves Milk Tray and wouldn't give him a free kick. The referee ignited the Town fans' fury; well, something had to. A Newey free kick, lumped long with Futcher waiting at the far post and felled by a forearm. The referee saw, but did not see. A minute or so later Jones was rumpled by a stray arm, again no action.

Town had a spell of pressure, keeping possession, moving the ball across the pitch, in and out of the area. Boston were slightly swaying in the gentle Town breeze. At least it's something, a bit of that football Rodger promised. Thirty seconds ain't bad: it's thirty seconds more than we're used to.

On the half hour Harkins won possession in the centre circle and placed a perfectly weighted pass along the ground, through the centre-left. Reddy was free, Reddy was hacked down, 30 yards out, by Canoville. We bayed for red, but yellow emerged, unsurprisingly, since Reddy was heading east, my son, not towards goal. Around this time Futcher headed a corner onto the top of the Osmond. That was Town's effort in the first half. Rankin fizzled down the right and crashed a dangerous cross through the middle of the area, but no-one was near.

It's all so depressing. Do you want to hear more? Are you a masochist?

More Boston attacks, more jive dancing by Newey. Futcher: a relative rock where formerly he was merely a relative of a rock. Beagrie and Rankin switched wings. The old man did his thing: nothing happened. Where have all the good times gone? Where have all the flowers gone? Where have all the groaners gone? Ah, there they are, a healthy boo. Yes, the half ended as it began, with a Newey slice hoofed down the left. Depressingly dismal. If only the cinema were still alive, we could have gone to watch a film in the second half (fact of the day for teenagers: there used to be a cinema where there is now a McDonalds), but not Over the Hedge - we'd been watching that for 45 minutes already.

Town In A Word

Second half
No changes were made by either team at half time.

Boston kicked off and Town backed off, with Tait turning, gurning and causing a minor oil spillage. Call the fire brigade, the fire brigade, the fire brigade... oh, sorry, Roy Wood suddenly appeared in my right ear.

Attacking the Pontoon, Town were a little more cohesive in their punting, Jones flicking a header for Reddy to rove down the left. Moments of potential interest, but Boston's defence had memorised the script and were word perfect on opening night, luvvie.

A Boston surge, Town in a muddled-up, shook-up twirl. Green, on the edge of the area on their centre-right, tried a spectacular overhead bicycle kick. Barnes watched as the ball dropped just over the angle of post and bar on his left. Boston were pumping, their supporters alive to the sound of music.

Six or seven minutes in to the half Town staged a music hall revival, complete with an old cheesy comedian in bowler hat, painted cheeks and bright tie. Jones tickled Reddy free down the left and off he raced, nodding the ball down into the area and barundling down upon Marriott. The keeper stood tall and Reddy, a dozen yards out and wide, thwacked a drive straight at their custard custodian's head. Marriott parried aside and Town had a corner. Excitement city Arizona. Ooh, it's a corner. Whittle and Futcher trundled forward after police had cordoned off several major junctions to allow the convoy of slow-moving heavy objects to pass. The corner was headed clear and Boston broke.

Galbraith hoiked the ball high into the Town half, with Macca and Newey hovering around Joachim. The ball dropped and Macca stuck out his right leg to divert the ball to Newey, about 30 yards out near The Thing stand. Uncle Tom Cobblers turned in the widest, slowest arc possible, allowing Galbraith to nick the ball and flap it across the pitch to Joachim, who turned it on to little man Tait. Town defence? Behind you! Tait wandered on a few yards and passed the ball into the near post area. Joachim ambled in front of Newey and side-footed the ball into the top left corner. No messin'; simple, nice and easy does it. Who's the Daddy of Lincolnshire football?

This was not good. We were not happy. That is an understatement of an understatement.

But Town didn't implode totally; they actually started to create opportunities. Rankin thumped a swinging shot into the top rows of the Pontoon. Reddy rumbled past two defenders, hit the bye-line and curled a lovely cross towards Jones, near the penalty spot. He-who-was-Lumpy (his full Cherokee name) leant back and steered a hooking volley a yard over the bar. A little later something else happened. Oh yes - Reddy raced, and Jones stepped inside two challenges and curled a shot towards the left corner, but Marriott was placed perfectly to pluck. He's a little plucker, as the Pontoon noted.

And then Town receded again, the tide going out early this season. The sands exposed, drying out the footprints of the little children, with the dead fish, the dried-up seaweed, the discarded detritus of passing ships clearly visible on Rodger's beach. Will anyone want to come back to this run-down hovel? It needs a makeover! Call the DIY cavalry.

Bore stood up, took off his bib and prepared to enter his field of dreams. If we build him up, he will come. He's coming, he's coming, he's sitting down again. Rodger delayed, the crowd bayed, and on 67 minutes Reddy was replaced by Bore at a Town throw-in. The crowd booed. It was a free hit to boo, well, everything. Boo Reddy going off, boo Reddy, boo Rodger, boo, boo, boo-hoo-hoo. They just wanted their mummy. If you need to be told, Rankin moved to centre-forward with Bore on the right wing.

The throw was thrown down the right and Rankin twinkled his toes, causing two defenders to perform their death throes in the jaws of marauding cod. Rankin surged towards the bye-line, thrust Ellender into a passing wheelie bin (green for garden waste) and looked up. He saw things. He saw a Town player running quickly in the penalty area. He rolled the ball into a space, seven or eight yards out at the near post. BOOORRRRRE sprang forward, stared at the ball, waited and carefully, precisely, steered a low shot across and under Marriott. A fantastic finish, a fantastic entrance. How many seconds had he been on the pitch? Ten at most. First touch, first goal, first glimmer of hope.

Suddenly Town were Town. Gone were the half-paced lumpings. Run Rankin, run Rankin, run, run, run. Isaiah was immense, a towering presence, frightening the Boston defence, where previously they had been eating ice cream. As if by magic Peter Beagrie appeared. Step right this way. Rankin tunnelled to the bye-line again, Bore supported. Bore drifted to the bye-line, Rankin supported. The Boston jellyfish was scooped up by the grand old whale. Mmm, tasty!

Town got a free kick somewhere. Newey humped it straight down the middle. Futcher, outside the box, jumped, but the ball carried on. Bouncing, bouncing again, Rankin rolled around Greaves and was suddenly to the left of the penalty spot, with Marriott waddling towards him. Rankin poked the ball through the yellow diver and into the centre-right of goal. The Town fans were bouncing, the ground rocking and rolling just like Isaiah. We roared as Town poured through the breech.

A couple of minutes later Beagrie tickled, Jones wiggled and Rankin bullied his way past three challenges, drifting infield from the left. About 25 yards out, he curled a bamboozling shot over and around Marriott. The ball banged down off the underside of the crossbar, onto the goalline and out again. A minute later Bore did a stepover through two tackles, drifted into the penalty area and rolled the ball back to Rankin, 15 yards out. Isaiah mis-hit a left-footed shot, which was booted away by Ryan.

Bore and Rankin, unstoppable; ten minutes of magnificence to haul Town back from inglorious ignominy. Another Town attack and a Town corner on the left. Beagrie crafted the ball into the centre and Futcher glanced it to the far post. Bore, unmarked, waiting... The ball dropped, bouncing once and the ground in silence, waiting... BBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE took one step and kerranged an unstoppable, brilliantly placed half-volley high into the top of the net from near the corner of the six-yard box. The ground was in tumult, Boston in turmoil, Evans a turnip. We're still jumping with happiness as you read this, and if the net hadn't got in the way the ball would be still circling the globe at an altitude of seven feet four inches.

This is no Jonny Rowan. This is Peter Bore.

Town's waves continued to roll over and swamp the broken barges of Boston. Beagrie drifted infield past two alleged tackles and his shot looped off a defender's shin and onto the roof of the net. And then the sublimest moment of the lot. With five minutes left Bore collected a pass near the managers' dugouts. One, two, three tackles stepped over, twisted through and rolled past by the lithe, lanky local lad. He looked up, saw Rankin pumped up and primed to sprint and caressed, in full flight , a perfectly weighted through pass. Rankin ran on and the killer fourth was demanded. Rankin stopped, Marriott stooped and the attempted pass into the net ballooned off the keeper's left foot and away from goal.

We're laughing on the outside, but crying with joy on the inside.

With a couple of minutes left Jones, Beagrie and Bolland played grandad's keepy-uppy in the left-hand corner for a minute or so. It was so beautiful, where minutes earlier it had been a slag heap of dungful vegetables.

And then Boston piled forward as the referee started to give them free kicks. Whittle wibbled under a long ball as Joachim attempted to mug him. Somehow the ball bounded free to Barnes. Barnes came out to punch a long free kick and missed; the ball arced slowly behind him towards an empty net. Bolland jogged around and posted the ball through the letterbox of number 23 Constitutional Avenue. No signature required. A minute later Barnes punched the ball off Whittle's head straight to a Bostonian. Panic on the streets of Humberside. Well, there would have been if they'd been broadcasting. Barnes came out again to punch, half clearing. Pressure mounting, Town sinking, Barnes starting to flap, the referee starting to blow... the game over.

So awful, so great. A fig leaf or a portent? Who can tell after 90 minutes of the season? There's hope, there's worry. We're slow, we're fast, we hoof, we pass. Town played like their kit. With Reddy on the pitch Town played like last year: always, always seeking to release him with quick, long whacks. They aren't passes, they are aspirations. The second, the very second Reddy went off (and Rankin went up front) Town were marvellous. Bore and Rankin already have a rapport, an almost telepathic connection, and Bore's arrival somehow created space for Beagrie to bloom. That, and Barnes, is the good bit. Elsewhere Town rather got away with some glaring faults. Let's hope Bolland and Harkins are unfit, for if this is them at full pelt... gulp. The tortoise and the porpoise.

You see: passing and passion works. Who needs the rusty can of prunes?


Nicko's unsponsored man of the match
What a 20-minute debut by Bore! But for 90 minutes of trying, then flying, it's Isaiah Rankin, giving his all, give it all for you and me. A big man's performance; he's our little big man.

Official Warning
A rolling stone should gather Jon Moss. Weak. Bowed to Boston, mostly, booking Bolland because Evans moaned. Get a grip, man! Anything above 4.327 would be a travesty.

The Others
Eyes too close together, teeth too far apart, never trust the others.

For an hour Boston were superior in every department (except department stores, of course - Binns is better than Oldrids). It was beyond embarrassment. A file was about to be opened by the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if charges could be brought for these crimes against nature. They were a team, they knew what they were doing, and where their team-mates were. They should have been four up and then they fell apart. Let's all visit Steve Evans' amazing house of straw, an open-air theatre production. Just one puff is all it took.

Joachim shouldn't be playing this low down (how can they afford him?) and Green was his usual pesky presence out wide. Tait roamed freely and Galbraith was in need of a good slapping, having seemingly spent the summer watching the Dennis Wise 'How to...' series of videos. Like their manager, there was something dark underneath the superficial smile. They were surprisingly easily pricked.