The hoof is out there

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

1 September 2013

I bought a large, succulent and magnificent looking melon. It looked lovely; I cut it open and it looked lovelier still. Mmmmmmouth watering expectation of the sensations and happiness to come. I ate the melon. An insipid, tasteless, insubstantial mush. It was not a satisfactory or particularly pleasant experience. To the outside observer of course, I had eaten a melon which looked fantastic, so I must be happy and all's right with the world, right? But I know the truth, for I support Grimsby Town. There's always another melon, this year's crop can't all be so deceptive and disappointing, can they?

In this week's edition of Mariners Metaphors, Shouty and Shorty are melon farmers.

There was a kind of hush all over the Stadium of Sighs as around 90 natty-chatty Nuneatoners nibbled their nachos and nutburgers down in the Osmond. A whirly-curly wind swirled eastwards, billowing trousers and echoes of our distant times across the ground. It's the top game in the Conference, the clash of the Titans.

Town lined up in the mightily popular, entertaining and successful 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Bignot, Pearson, Doig, Thomas, Thanoj, Disley, McLaughlin, Colbeck, John-Lewis and Rodman. The substitutes were Kerr, Walker, Neilson, Cook and Hearn. Rodman has had his hair cut, possibly in anticipation of some obtrusive wind-assisted flappage. How sensible, how professional.

Nuneaton turned up in red shirts with a whole set of sensible, simple surnames. And a gaunt Bulgar between the sheets. Yond Nuneaton have a lean and hungry look.

Remember, we've officially clicked now. Nothing can go wrong.

First half: For whom the bells toll

Town kicked off towards the Osmond.

WARNING: do not continue without consulting your medical practitioner. This report contains scenes of a footballing nature that readers will find offensive and upsetting.

It all started so innocently. A pleasant but breezy afternoon. Birds tweeted, even educated fleas tweeted as McLaughlin wafted a free kick onto the scoreboard. McLaughlin hurled longingly and the ball bumbled to Disley on the edge of the area, who carefully side-footed over roofs and far, far away.

You shall not see McLaughlin again. A séance was held in Tetney in an attempt to make contact, but they only got through to Bernie Winters. And Schnorbitz. They're doing fine by the way.

Nuneaton neat. Nuneaton nifty. Nuneaton nice. Nuneaton, recognisably a football team. Don't you wish Town had the resources to compete with the likes of Nuneaton. It makes a mockery of FIFA's Financial Fair Play rules.

A long distance slasher slashed wide and a bit high. Louis Moult massacred the mundane mutterers in Town's middle, squirtling a cross through the six-yard box after turning Pearson into an unused threadbare sock, bought as part of a three pack for £1.99 from the Boston Lidl. You see, these things are okay for a while.

Their keeper dropped a punted free kick. This was a high point of Town's attacking. This was the
acme of the 4-3-3 phase. This is it. This. This is the world in which we live. Live and let down.

Aswad Thomas was not on earth, but his avatar was being projected onto the turf. That's what Town's IT department does then. Nuneaton knitted voodoo dolls and stuck pins into Town's back four. Clearances were flailed, and Town just failed as Brown missed a free header.

We're waiting for them to score.

Wait no longer.

A corner from their right floated flat to the far post, Cowan arose above three stumbling chicken drumsticks to steer firmly into the top left corner of the net. Well done you lot, you deserve it. I'm talking to both lots out there.

When's the next one coming?

Ah, not long now. After a bit of this and a bit of that, which in the context of this game needn't be floated before your eyes, ears and nose but can be generally summed up as them being any good, Town dithered as the Nunnies knocked the ball around. A dithering Bognit allowed Sleath to pitter-patter and pootle up a soft scooped chip vaguely towards the far post. Brown wandered in behind the doddery Doig and calmly noodled across the star-jumping McKeown from six or seven yards out.

A rat-a-tat-tat of invective flew from a seat deep inside the Pontoon. He reads much; he is a great observer, and he looks quite through the deeds of men. Indeed, there were no deeds just weeds wilting in a Blundell wonderland.

With the famous old chant of "4-4-2" beginning to rumble up from the tundra, the present management whistled off McLaughlin and flung on Hearn the hunted. Two minutes later Town had their first attack of any substance. A cross from Bognit hung at the far post and Disley stumbled backwards to glance wide, as Rodman was perched behind.

More them, more them, again and again.

Moult meandered after Pearson and Doig considered opting in to the match, but rejected such outré notions. Passes were exchanged quickly and accurately by red-shirted occasional players and Moult flaggled lowly. McKeown saved well at the foot of our post. It may have been right now, or simply soon afterwards when a Nuneaton player rolled around inside the penalty area while awaiting a set piece. Thomas grizzled and waved his arms around, the ref turned and out came a red card. Sorry, no idea what happened, those are the facts as seen by these yawning eyes.

The end of the beginning, and perhaps the beginning of an end.Well, that's that then. Any false hope had been removed from Town's troubled table.

Colbeck moved to right-back, which at least reminded us he was on the pitch. The Nunniemen had more nearly moments and Moult stretched to chink a cross goalwards, forcing McKeown to palm aside. Yes, you may ask about the defence. You won't get an answer.

The end of the beginning, and perhaps the beginning of an end.

I think that clicking sound you heard last Monday was arthritis in the teams joints, Mr Shouty.

Hideous in every way.

Second half: Death in the afternoon

Town ran back before the Maltesers had melted in your mouth and a Town junior, Walker, replaced Colbeck in the all-star selection.

Why are we bothering? I distinctly remember a couple of moments when Town players kicked the ball to each other consecutively. Then someone hoofed it towards The Unhappy Shopper. That's the way it is.

Moult miffled a free kick over the bar. You don't need to know this, but what the heck, why not. They did other things that I have forgotten simply because there was no tension or expectation, only people staring at their phones. Yes, all around people in the Pontoon were watching the game on Twitter. It was the only way to cope with the trauma. To be there, yet be apart from the being. See John, we're present physically, but emotionally we've become completely detached. Now deconstruct that red flag.

Arbitrary barging and Disley almost had an opportunity to miss, but he missed the opportunity to miss. He messed up his missing as Nuneaton cleared up and went up the other end doing something or other. Up, up and away in a beautiful balloon. Nimble bread, you don't get that these days. Or Slimcea. The not big Bognit was being a Slimcea girl. He's no Bradley Wood.

Them, them, them. How nice to see some football now and again. Disley sank into existential quicksands, mind and body communicating via an unmanned switchboard in Tuvalu. Never in the field of Town inactivity have we seen the Dizzer so feeble and incompetent. He still ran around, often in failed attempts at legging up irritating midland munchkins, but achieved nothing of substance. He tried but increasingly failed, increasingly badly.

The Nunnies – nifty and shifty – curse your footballing skills and will! Streete stood next to the post and headed over, Streete flicked over, dodgems and dreaming inside the penalty area with the ball apologising towards an emptying net. McKeown appeared from behind a mulberry bush to pluck away his extraneous eyebrows. Their corners induced panic every time. Mind you, so did everything they did. It's merely a question of degrees of panic.

Aimless and artless, a reductive recidivism of dumb balls by Dumbos.A handball by Bognit ignored, a Doig felling pondered: the referee took pity upon the poor full-timers to avoid penalties and more sendings off. Sleath shot, McKeown saved at the near post after loads and loads of ducking, diving, wriggling and wiggling while Townites held their noses and fainted.

We had a corner, they had an attack. It's how it went. But sir, you simply describe events, what of the style, the method, the smell of the grass, the roar of the crowd? What was it like? A foul rag and bone shop of the heart. A real horror show, like. Slow, deliberate passing between defenders always ended up with a hoof down the sides. Aimless and artless, a reductive recidivism of dumb balls by Dumbos.

With about 15 minutes or so left, Cook replaced John-Lewis. LJL lost his purpose and mojo when Town moved to two strikers. From being a non-scoring occasional mini-pest he shrank to being a third Nuneaton centre back. He's the Greta Garbo of Town strikers: he can only play alone. He tries, so don't heckle him, heckle the selectors for picking the three minute hero and 4-3-3. Though perhaps not on the radio, jaunty Johnny T. That wouldn't be a positive enough.

Cook put himself about in an old-fashioned centre forwards barging and charging British bulldogs sort of way. The crowd awoke, Rodman won a corner, Rodman took the corner, Cook arose aheaded and Town were "back" in the game they'd never been in. There was a bit of a do or two, but nothing untoward happened except Hearn slashing madly and maddeningly wildly wide as monochromers lurked unattended in the middle of the middle of the penalty area.

Did I tell you there were three minutes added? There were three minutes added. It meant we had to wait three more minutes before going home. After three minutes we went home, with an isolated boo
barely ringing in anyone's ears.

Town got far more than they deserved from a disgraceful anti-performance. Nothing, nothing can be retrieved form this wreckage. Some players were appallingly uninterested, others appallingly incapable. Disley led by unexample, the rest followed his lead. Tactically outthought, Town were paceless and faceless; toothless hoofers without any clear idea of how to defend, to attack, to pass or to move.

The concrete and clay beneath their 4-3-3 feet began to crumble many, many months ago. The tide is high and washing the debris away as everyone else moves on. Friends, Grimbarians countymen, remember that cowards die many times before their deaths! Let us march on Rome and demand the head of Caesar and his tribunes.

The song remains the same. Beware the ides of autumn.