Flushed away: Chester (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

9 January 2007

Which idiot decided to rearrange this game?

Grimsby Town 0 Chester City 2

Wet, miserable, wet, moody, wet and wet: and that's before the game started. A coach-load of Chesterians hung their washing on the Siegfried Line down in the Osmond as the rain flung itself across the pitch into the covered corner.

Look around you. What do you see? There ain't nobody here but us chickens.

Town lined up in the usual 4:4:2 formation as follows: Barnes, McDermott, Whittle, Grand, Newey, Till, Pulis, Ravenfail, Rizzo, Lump and Paterson. The substitutes were Murray, North, Heggggarty, Harkins and Boshell. Yet another defence and yet another midfield to moan about. How long will it take Mr Purple to complain about Ratso Rizzo? What is the cultural reference of choice for the pint sized Aussie hairdo? Grease, Muppet or a Midnight Cowboy? Ooh look - that's a big ship going by.

Chester played in yellow clothing, with their defenders possibly in sou'westers.

After a period of silence the crowd hushed: let the ceremony begin.

First half
Chester kicked off towards the Pontoon. Thar' she blows!

Goal kick, throw in, goal kick, goal kick, kick-goal, in-throw, koala bear, throw-up, bleurgh, bleurghbllllleeeeeeeeeer... Please put 50p in the meter.

Town are treacle sponge and Chester are the custard: Town were drowned in yellow. They flick, they trick and are quick. They pass, they move and show us how to groove. Have Town got a midfield. Have Town got a plan? Have Town got out of their own half yet? So many questions and only one answer.

Ten, eleven, twelve minutes ticking, ticking, ticking on, we're strapped to a chair waiting for the man with the knotty rope. Nothing has happened. Nothing, no, nothing at all that you want to hear. Twelve minutes of formation dancing from the Chester cha-cha club; Walters gliding and Blundell riding the surf.

The thirteenth minute was just the same.

By chance Town advanced into the Deviants' half. Well, Jones was felled inside the Town half, so Newey had the opportunity to launch a long high hump vaguely goalwards: he lumped the ball towards Lump. The ball looped high and Grand, a dozen yards out , twisted and headed softly at Danby. Hold that moment in your hearts, it's just about as good as it gets.

After a couple more minutes of swivellings and swervings Chester won a corner on their right. Martinez swung the ball into the middle of the area and a bunch of Deviants hung about on a street corner, abusing the locals and kicking a tin can around. Barnes stood on his line, hiding behind a Town defender as the ball fell to Artell, eight yards out in the centre, who thwacked a shot straight down the middle. Unsighted but alert, Barnes swayed to his right and superbly parried. The ball dropped upon the line and McD swiped it up, up and away releasing Town for a swift counter-attack of such fluency and grace you cannot imagine. You'll have to, 'cos it didn't happen.

Town's midfield were an empty shell, the pearl long since nabbed by a passing treasure seeker; Till and Rizzo just defending and protecting their full backs. No-one passed and everyone cried as they turned to Barnes and watched the skies. He drop-kicked away, never rolling the ball, but then again, no-one wanted it.

Here we go, yellow flurries down their right: space, the final frontier. This is the starless team, Grimsby Town. Our five second mission is to timidly go where many men have gone before. Acres, oodles and spoodles of time, space and possibly something in the fifth dimension for Chester to wallow in. Take three heaped tablespoons of Deviants to one teaspoon of Mariner and bake in an oven for 90 minutes. Where's Tom Newey? I say, has anybody seen Tom Newey? A measured cross, using a theodolyte and phrenology, curled into the centre. Walters leaned across Whittle, flicked his head to one side with a cheeky, cheery wink to the photographers and watched the ball crawl over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.

Fill the next five minutes with a jam sandwich. Raspberry or blackcurrant, I suggest. Don't put peanut butter on, I've got a chronic analogy. Doctors can't cure it.

Weren't there a lot of lights on that ship! Where's that paper bag gone? What happened to the Kestrel of Doom? Two balls on the pitch and still Town couldn't get it. Let's pump up the volume to a monastic hush.

After 26 minutes we awoke from our torpor. McDermott, tired of the trundlings and fumblings on the outermost reaches of the empire, surged down the right, swept on by a tide of apathy; swishing infield, the ball skipped on. Old Macca , twenty five yards out near the corner of the penalty area, swaggled a swerving, curving shot that shaved Danby's whiskers and just managed to avoid the crossbar on its way to the toilets.

For five minutes Town were Town. Chester's midfield sank back and Town picked up every loose pass, rebound and clearance. There were ripple upon ripple of Town attacks. Town triangles down the left, in triplicate! Rizzo to Paterson to Rizzo to Newey to Rizzo to Newey, oh such beauteous movement. Newey was freed and roaming, phoning in a long, long cross to the far post where Jones awaited. Danby plucked his eyebrows and the ball from the sky and we could get on with the rest of our lives. That was the one and only Town thing worth mentioning: we crossed and their goalie caught it. That really was it. An isolated moment of adequacy in a sock drawer full of holes.

Chester this, Chester that. A cross here, a corner here and there, and pressure, pressure, pressure upon Barnes. Town were all slippings and slappings with no control, no desire, no sense, and nonsense. Ravenfail won two big slidey tackles. Well done laddie, about time you did something right. He charged down a cross and hared off down the right as the Deviants retreated. Paterson swung wide and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally Ravenfail passed. It's just too little, too late, a little too wrong; Pitter-Pato couldn't wait. Pulis looked small and sinking in the quicksands. Are we going to bask in the warm glow of a Lumpy shimmy-shammy wiggle and nutmeg in front of the Lower Frozen Beer Thing Stand? Beware: that rope isn't attached to anything.

Macca swiped another bundled scramble off the line and a minute later they came back again. A cross flung high, Walters, on the penalty spot, rose above his marker and steered a header back across Barnes towards the top right corner. Pheromone Phil soared, stuck out a big left hand and tippled the ball over, from just under the crossbar. Magnificent save.

There were ten minutes to half time.

And then it was half time.

It's still 0-0: how did that happen? Or not happen? Shall we check for crop circles?

Second half
With Chester freezing and seething in the centre circle Town only sent out Justin Whittle: he's slain Shearer, so he can take Chester on his own. Maybe he weighs his foes by weekly wage.

Oh, pity, the other ten ran out to join him.

Excuse me a minute, the doorbell has rung. Err, I've just got this thing to do, then I'll get back to you. I need to tidy my pens, so if you don't mind waiting. Ooh, the kettle's boiled, I won't be long.

You still here?

After seven minutes of Town grasping towards the stars, but merely reaching the drain cover, our gallivanting guests galloped down their right into the Neweyzone and beyond. Grand intervened and a corner followed. Hoiked high, hooped long, Westwood rose above someone and pummelled a header against the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced down on the line and up went a Town boot, down went Artell's head, and into the net it went. Like the fella once said: aint' that a kick in the head.

You can go to the toilet now if you wish, you won't be needed for a quarter of an hour.

Better now? I do hope you washed your hands. Till and Rizzo were replaced by Harkins and North. Like that'll make things better. Paterson moved to the left and Town played a lop-sided 4:3:1:2 type formation.

Finally the Mighty Mariner arrived, amusing the teenagers by baring his plastic posterior at a bunch of Chester substitutes. The tubbiest sub ran around the corner flag and bumped Mighty to the ground, then picked up the corner flag. Ah-ha, doesn't this mean that the referee has to abandon the game? No. Darn. Mighty Mariner got his flying V guitar out and pretended to smash it up. Was that a comment on the team Mighty?

With just under twenty minutes left Newey roared down the left. On the touchline inside the Chester half he dillied, dallied and eventually rolled the ball forward but Paterson had spun away behind his marker. Oh how we laughed at this slapstick mishap. Ooh vicar, where's Tom's trousers? Some Chesterian skipped gaily down the wing as Town retreated and retreated and retreated. Then retreated again. Marples crossed and Blundell, eight or so yards out, waited behind Macca at the far post, stooping, twisting and steering a skimming header down past Barnes into the bottom right corner. Nice name.

What more to say? Boshell came on for Pulis with quarter of an hour left and for the first time Town had some rhythm to their beat. Too late. What a waste. Newey did a great run through several challenges and ..and...and.. waited for Artell before shooting against his legs. Erm, Grand and Jones collided when unmarked at the far post after Harkins swung a cross with devilish spin from way out on the left. Harkins was disrobed whilst playing the ball across the edge of the Town area, just like he did against Northampton. They had a shot which Barnes scooped off the mud. Martinez tried an audacious volley from the touchline which Barnes caught, then dropped and faffed about in an homage to Paul Reece. There were three minutes of added time, during which the rain didn't stop.

To be a Town fan is to carry a huge sense of emptiness around. And to be sat with emptiness around, of course.

Town were physically and mentally feeble: a collective shambles with some individual disgraces. The black and white scarecrows just stood still in a field for 90 minutes. They were befuddled by the puddles and in the middle there was muddle. In the end they all congregated in the centre, hiding behind each other.

They were paid for that and that is their shame.

Nicko's unsponsored man of the match
A rock standing out in an ocean of doubt. Oh, all right, a rather moderately sized pebble then. Simon Grand was exceedingly OK.

Markie's un-man of the match
Where do you start? Pulis was small and invisible; Till was slight and invisible; Lumpy had one of his Livvo on Mogodon days, whilst Ravenhill barely redeemed himself with a tackle or two to go with his inability to control the football. Overall I'd plump for Tom Newey, for abandoning the left back berth and crowning his evening of errors and erratics when Rizzo went on an eighty yard diagonal run. Chester broke and Newey stood still pointing the far away Rizzo towards a couple of unmarked Deviants. DIY, Tom, it's the season of DIY - try it sometime.

Official Warning
Mr K Wright allowed Chester to take free kicks from wherever they pleased, but suddenly became Mr Fussy when he eventually gave Town one. Town were so, so poor that this man took virtually no part in the game. When he did he was not consistent. He gets a bog standard 5.500.

The Others
They simply outclassed, outfought, outthought and outed this set of Town players for what they are: a collection of the unfit, untried and unwanted. Walters and Blundell were smooth operators at the top of their tree and overall they played football as we'd like it to be. Faster, higher, stronger: each yellow man was superior; these Cheshire cats purred contentedly having licked all our cream off the plate. Weaknesses? How would we know, we never asked.