The Idiot

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 January 2014

Grimsby Town 2 Gateshead 2

Hey there Geordie Boys, swinging down the street so fancy free, you wait till you see the loneliness waiting there inside the Osmond corner for you. On a clear day you can see forever and about 80 Heedbangers huddled together grooving with a dictaphone. Oh to be in Grimsby now that spring is here in January. Weird weather, weird hair in the Pontoon. Is the Ryan Sidebottom look compulsory for greying men of a certain age? Is that a perma-tan I see before me, or just an accountant? Someday this bore of a paragraph will end.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Bignot, McDonald, Pearson, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Kerr, Neilson, Hannah, John-Lewis. The five who sat down in Cleethorpes were Feefyfofield, Thanoj, McLaughlin, Rodman, Cook. No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination to chunter on; 4-4-2; you know who stood where, though possibly not why.

For those who like to know such things, Gateshead wore a faded electric blue two piece outfit, with a shimmering dark blue contrast on their lapels and sleeves. But no hats.

First half: Rashamon

The Geordie-lite boys kicked off towards the Pontoon with fast-paced triangles of Yorkism, but always window shopping, never stopping to buy. Peep, peep, peep. The referee. Three free kicks in three minutes, all wrong, wrong, wrong. You're an idiot. Put down those dowdy feathers and let the game fly a little bit.

McKeown punted, John-Lewis flicked and Joltin' Joe flabbergasted goalwards with Bartlett startled into parry-punching from the near post. An event, a happening, and moment of almostness between the tippy-tappy training ground exercises of north-eastern noodling.

Give it some ooooomph! Town oomphed and a Heedman headed away for a corner. Kerr coiled from the covered corner as Town repeated their Sincil Bank crowded house routine. Hannah snuck away at the back and cushion-volleyed to Neilson, who jinked and dinked for McDonald to bonkavert back into the top right corner from the centre. Well, that was all very easy. Hurrah hurrah for Dixie.

Tip-tap tip-top triangles of oscillating isosceles isolating Town's full-backs in search of an equilateraliser. What do you mean we're scalene the depths there? They tipped, Town tapped back to them again and again and here they come again. Infiltrating on the left, Maddison twizzled the ball slyly outside Thomas, who lunged slightly with his right leg. The ball rolled straight out of play and Maddison flopped face down in the dirt as he felt Aswad's errant lower limbs move near him.

The linesman pointed to the corner flag, the referee looked at the linesman and pointed to the penalty spot; the Town players looked witheringly at the referee and pointed to the linesman. Uproar and indignation throughout the nation. Off the preening ninny trotted before deciding he was right all along. Larkin stuttered twicely and rolled the ball slightly to McKeown's right, the keeper's hands missing by microseconds as it slipped underneath his little finger.

The Pontoon could see exactly what happened: Thomas had given Maddison the opportunity to successfully fall and he didn't fail to take a chance, take a chance- chance-chance to win a penalty. We'd have been livid if it was the other way round, of course. When you are having a pint with boys in a bar full of noise you'll be livid all right. That's the bravery of being out of range: we can have it both ways.

Hannah steered carefully wide of the right post as Bartlett stared at his left post and wondered when the mini ice age was going to arrive

Blimey, it's gone ten past three already, time for a cup of tea and a slice. Wahey, there it was, the Dizzer man skew-whiffed straight to Hannah, who steered carefully wide of the right post as Bartlett stared at his left post and wondered when the mini ice age was going to arrive. According to the Daily Express it's been a last season in the sun since 1974, oh you sad sweet dreamers. Believing the Daily Express is just something you put down to experience.

Fizzing sideways with gusto, Gateshead tiddly-om-pom-pommed by the seaside. Do they know they can't dig for worms? Town's windbreakers didn't even ruffle in the breeze. The ref built on his solid base of nutterdom by harassing Bignot and stalking Thomas and booking Maddison because it would look like he was being even. Kerr drizzled dreamily and Bartlett flapped away from under the bar as Pearson joined him in a steamy mid-air tango.

Whistle while you work, the referee's a twerp. A Blueman fall is a siren's call. It's a fandango of nonsense and irrationality. He's trying to ruin a good game. Can't the local constabulary arrest him for being a public nuisance? Well, that's probably four handballs by Townites now. Neilson thumped a cross away, Thomas dropped a chance in the gulley, Bignot parried an edge through first slip.

Hannah bedraggled badly. Oh dear. Hannah offside, Hannah offside, who is Hannah offside? Is she the new girl in the ticket office?

Gateshead ticked and ticked, and Town just waited, waited and waited to nick and knock. John-Lewis flicked and Disley roamed beyond the hills, bearing down upon goal and stabbed lowly straight at the onrushing Bartlett. Neilson caressed through a slither and Thomas raided and lumped longly onto Colbeck's toes. A weak drab stab and back to the lab. Kerr drooped a free kick onto Pearson's bonce, but the ball boinked nowhere from somewhere inside the six-yard box.

They had the ball, we had the chances. Pressure, pressure, pressure. In, out, Colbeck back-heeled, Neilson needled and wheedled, Neilson lost the ball, Neilson retrieved, Neilson arrived on the ground and Hannah coiled the free kick from 20-odd yards. Bartlett flew at half-mast to parry.

More, more and more again; moments when things almost happened. Someone crossed and someone cried, Hannah loop-lobbed over and across from the right, Bartlett scrambled eggs and flapped his wings near the ball as it dropped by the far post. A corner, a goal kick, no a corner; which is it, Mr Silly? Finally, Joyce the joyless nerk pointed towards the corner flag.

And finally, deeply inside the time added for all their log rolling, they had an actual, factual, really and not-made-up shot. Sure, sure they'd approached Town's area, they fallen over, they'd even kicked a couple of free kicks into the Town area, but not even a scuffed, accidental sliced hack of a possibility of a shot. Not even an overhit clearance that may have rumbled in to the net had McKeown had gone on an impromptu weekend break to Bratislava. Nothing but a John-Lewis arm slap away of a cross that was seen and heard by all but the…

Oh, you want to know about their shot. Well, a couple of flukey ricochets and the ball squished to Chandler, about 30 yards out. He hit it hard, it swerved and McKeown sailed sweetly and safely to his left to parry away, safely without danger.

Town handled the ball six times; the referee noticed none of them. Gatesheaders crumpled under the weight of their own ennui six times, the referee noticed what no-one else saw six times. He booked arbitrarily, he pointed arbitrarily; he was trying hard to ruin a good game.

Town couldn't shoot, Gateshead couldn't get close to shooting. Everyone wanted to shoot the ref.

Second half: The parallax view

Neither team made any changes at half time. The same referee emerged, for there hadn't been an unfortunate incident with a wet, cold tea towel.

The game was itchy and scratchy, still hobbled by the official madness: the Pavlovian linesman and the wilfully crowd-baiting referee. Thomas raided, Hannah steered wide at the near post. Bignot raided, a blueman sliced over his own crossbar. Bignot raided and was hauled back as he crossed; the anti-advantage was played to Town's anti-advantage.

Town faffed about, with Disley the chief faffer as he waited until next Tuesday for a Colbeck pass. Mugged in the middle, Colbeck hared back and launched a sliding tackle into his quarry. The ball did emerge with Colbeck's feet, but there was some humanity in between at some point. The Town players swamped the referee, Colbeck walked away and the nit in charge forgot who'd done the foul, so had to put his card back. Dinked down the middle, bodies collided, the ball dropped dead centre on the edge of the area and Irritating Maddison slapped a low volley into the left side of the net.

The crowd in ferment, directed directly at the referee. The accuracy of the details is irrelevant: it's the ambience that gets right to the heart of the matter.

A Townite was booked, then another – why? Oral displeasure? Naughty words? Accurate summaries of the match official's performance. I'm not a lip reader, but I did read a book once. Green it was.

Do not take the absence of description to mean that no further ref-based nonsense occurred. I'm as tired as you of going on about how rubbish he was

The Yorkshire terrier was replaced by Rodman. Things began to occur. Geordielite follicles were ruffled. And Rod the Drain Man flopped his fringe foppishly to teasey-weasy the full backs. Pearson boomed a header from a corner straight to Bartlett, Rodman ballet danced from under the Police Box and across the face of the penalty area, springing and twirling, fluttering his toes, twinkling his eyes and winking at Neilson. A flick scoop from the chubby charmer released the hounds and Rodman, seven yards wide and out, scooped over and across the keeper, and over the awaiting Hannah. Brilliant, but…

Gateshead? Timewasting, ticking over, passive and passionless. They may have had a cross, they had a free kick or two, for do not take the absence of description to mean that no further ref-based nonsense occurred. I'm as tired as you of going on about how rubbish he was.

Cook replaced Hannah Offside. Thomas kept being penalised for existing. Kerr dropped a skyer at mid-off, and Town kept passing. The ball bounced off Cook and Rodman set off on another mesmeric meander into the muddled middle, exchanging an accidental moment with The Shopping Trolley on the way.

On he drifted from right to left, across face of the area, attracting little bluebottles to his honey trap. He's in a fix, in a bind, in a muddle, being cuddled by a trio of Tynesiders. What can our hero do: in a bound he was free, with a double twist and nutmeg on the bye-line, right in the corner of the area. A swish of his sand wedge and the ball fizzled through a blanket of blue onto Bignot's head, six yards out, and the rest is history.

Neilson was booked, McLaughlin replaced Kerr and Gateshead even had a shot. There were four minutes of added time during which Town rather piddled about a bit too delicately and it all ended with a Bignot slipshod shot as he slipped.

We all had a darn good boooo at the trio of trouble as they waddled off, surrounded by narked and moaning Mariners.

Town should have won, could have lost, and the Geordie Boys are still dreaming of the team that they could be. Life is a reality and they won't get this compliant a ref every week. And there's our rub, our old complaint of a nutty professor in charge. It was all about him.