Life in the fast lane

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 January 2014

Grimsby Town 2 Huddersfield Town 3

On a dark deserted Cleethorpe Road, a cold breeze in my hair, the warm smell of burnt burgers is rising up through the air. Up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering light, the pitch was heavy and the hopes were dim, let's keep it below five shall we.

A dank and drenched January afternoon with a terrierific turnout of 1,700 sun-seeking Yorkists yearning for the comfort of old times – Beacholme, Cleethorpes, reet good value! A ram-packed raucous and rollicking cauldron of old-fashionedness, a heritage throwback to better times when times were better. Who needs antiseptic newness when you have a full Blundell Park? Even the silences were humming.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Bignot, Pearson, Doig, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Thanoj, Neilson, Cook, Hannah. The temperance seven of temptation were Hedge, Hatton, McLaughlin, Rodman, Southwell, Winfarrah and Humble.

Huddersfield turned up in yellow beards and a fancy dan 3-5-2 cha-cha-cha formation. I spy with my little eye someone disguised as a Weightwatchers Bluto. You're Martin Paterson and I claim my five pounds.

Young people of the world, take off your headphones, lift your eyes from your phone and behold a lost world – this is football. This is real life. This is magnificent. Where are the chips?

As you wander around this wreck of a town with its Dock Tower and plastic flowers, it's like we're back in 1981. It's the way life's meant to be.

First half: Take it to the limit

The 'Uddermen sprinted off towards the Pontoon. Yoiks Scooby! Tip-tap, tip-tap, tic-tac-toe, noughts and crosses – they're playing games with us. A blur of yellow and Kerplunk! A free header clawed away from the top left corner by Jamie Mack and scrumbled away from Paterson. Oh fiddlesticks and battleships. A corner, another corner. Another shot and more yellow swirls.

A lemon meringue with double cream, these Yorkists do move in never-ending whirls, waltzing while Town were tangoed. Ka-pow! Big booming cannons from the left and laser-guided boomlets right. McKeown pawing and clawing aside, squirtling, parrying, flapping, flopping and flipping. Over, wide, wide and over, Jamie Mack scooped and stopped, Doig and Pearson stuck their thumbs in the sea wall as wave upon wave lashed and crashed against their indomitable spirit.

A 20-minute masterclass in whizzing. A 20-minute master class in fizzing. A 20-minute masterclass in missing. Town were being hammered 0-0. Huddersfield were just too fast of foot and thought.

All tides ebb.

Slowly, slowly, slowly the waters stopped lashing and started to lap gently against toes. And Bignot's bottom. Don't forget Bignot's bottom. What a beautiful block, sir. Pearson magnificent, Deputy Doig the calm clam, Disley emerged from his hibernation. Thanoj tackled, Thanoj passed, Thanoj tackled again, like he did last summer. Cook leapt and won a header. Cook leapt and volleyed spectacularly speculatively.

Well I'm not saying that the battle was won, but the tide was turning. Town got closer and closer to the yellow zone, Colbeck crossed lowly, nobody home. Thomas dinked and jinked, moments of almostness, imperceptible incremental home improvements. Our shelf may stay up!

Cook, a transformed man, timing leaps, controlling that football thing, a pest, a presence, a fearsome centre-forward leading the line and being just fine

Thanoj dillied and dallied, a yellow man harried, but lost his way and didn't know where to roam. Pearson stepped in to divert danger; Neilson swept sweetly into the path of Colbeck, alone with his thought under the Frozen Horse Meat Stand. Joltin' Joe surged on and on with the massed Findusites rippling up in his slipstream like a storm surge heading your way, Yorkists. A terrified teenager attempted to introduce himself, but Colbeck ignored the fey chat-up and headed straight for the dancefloor, crackling lowly, firmly across the face of goal. Hannah tapped in and lapped up the adoration of the tumbling masses.

They cannae cope with Joe Colbeck! He chipped, he chased, he hared 'em, he scared 'em with hamster-wheel hassling. I repeat, they cannae cope with Joe Colbeck. I am prepared to attest that in a court of law. What's going on? Cook, a transformed man, timing leaps, controlling that football thing, a pest, a presence, a fearsome centre-forward leading the line and being just fine.

They parry, we thrust, but the defence was solidly solid and marvellously magnificent. McKeown an occasional scooper and party pooper at crosses, for the 'Uddermen couldn't winkle a whelk from a Weetabix. Town got into 'em, denying space and time to the space cadets who couldn't flow. Disley hooked a lost cause against a yellow hand for a non-penalty. Things happened, frequently, up there in the distance; the custards were dripping from a dead dog's eye and their faces grew longer and longer.

Dream, is it all a dream? It seems so very real.

Second half: Heartache tonight

Neither side made any changes at half time.

Minor moments here and there, but nothing to get hung about. Town repelled the yellow flow without fuss or favour from the ref. A cracking, crackling game of crunch and nutmegs. Equality, fraternity, what a diabolical liberty!

From nowhere of note, something wicked this way came. A yellowman drifted in from their left and plunged near many monochromers as the ball rolled on to a chum. The purple poltroon pointed to the earth with vigorous vim, 20 or so yards out, centre-ish right. A wall was wobbled together with wattle and daub as McKeown hopped around anxiously behind. Norwood coiled over the wall, around and under McKeown, who'd wandered off towards the bright lights of Oslo. An echo of distant time came billowing across the sands of time – so very Nigel Batch, so very January 1986, but with reduced permage. Norwood is no Charlie Nicholas – different hair, a different kind of flair, and we're not talking trousers.

Town did not wilt, the crowd gave the pinball wizards a tilt, and Town's light mauve patch turned to deepest purple. Flipping flicks and clipping crosses, back-heels in high heels, swishing and swaying in sumptuous balletic movements that moved defence into attack with football, football, football.

Flicks and tricks under the Police Box. Colbeck boomed highly beyond the far post. Hoiked down, spun, rolled and careered by Cook off a yellow leg, the ball spundelled up into a void. Two stripes waited: Disley arose and nodded between Smithies' legs and swarms of happy humans tumbled down the steps and over seats, hugging and hollerin', smothering the Dizzer in love.

All Town, all Town, up close and personal in their faces, toe to toe, eye to eye, breaking on through to the other side. The Terriers were terrified: this is terrierific! The dopes were on the rope. McLaughlin replaced Thanoj and Town's pack of hounds sensed a limping llama ripe for dinnertime delight. Pressure, pressure, pressure, the tightening of the Town tourniquet.

A goatish corner flappled panickly at the near post, another squirmed aside, returned by Cook and Thomas bonked firmly from three yards. As if by magic the shopkeeper appeared to thrust an arm and push up from the goal-line and onto the roof of the net. Another corner, beautifully coiled to the near post, into a gaping yellowless hole inhabited by Doig and Thomas. A little lad trembled at the post as Thomas firmly bedoinked downwards and into the folklore of Grimsby Town – everything missed by the merest of inches. A defining and decisive moment of almostness. We coulda been a contender.

Under pressure, they're cracking. Can't we give ourselves one more chance?

As the board was being readied to show four minutes added, the 'Udders upped the ante, upped their pace and pushed up the pitch

At this Rodman replaced Neilson. The Yorkshire puddings were sagging, snapping at each other; discipline disappeared and they wilted like soggy spinach in a soup of their own misery. They shot long, wide and handsomely high, scrubbled off their own players and big booming balls went straight out of play. If all else failed a Townite blocked, blocked and blocked again. McKeown clutched a corner, clutched a cross and gently restarted Town's rhythmic gymnastic display with controlled rolls. It was all going so well.

A tiny troll came on and started jumping over toadstools and between legs. He turned, he shot and the ball wobbled and dipped and Jamie Mack flapped and slipped, pushing straight to the unmarked Paterson, who swept in from ten yards. Oh yeah, I forgot, they have some supporters. Three minutes left, that's all. Three minutes.

As the board was being readied to show four minutes added, the 'Udders upped the ante, upped their pace and pushed up the pitch. Pulled apart, fringes flopping, they slowly unravelled our comfortable cardigan on the right. A dinky little reverse pass released their wing back behind Colbeck and a low cross zipped through the area, slowly squiffling into the net via one of various bodies, later identified as Thomas's ankles.

Can't we just give ourselves one more chance? Listen lads, we can still do this! It's here, the moment! Minor pandemonium inside their area. Cook swung off Rodman's toes and the ball drivelled off Yorkshire shins and softly to Smithies.

And we sank to our knees, all spent. All physical, mental and emotional energy spent by everyone in black and white and yellow. We had nothing more to give, crowd, nor players. The game was up, the end was nigh. A beautiful, cruel, magnificent game. No-one deserved to lose, and Town deserved to lose even less.

It was just like old times and they even threw in a last-minute loser too.

Ours was no disgrace. Hold your head high, be proud of your roots, your team, our football. This was how it used to be. It can be again.