Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
29 January 2008
Grimsby Town 1 Bury 0
We came to curry Futcher, not braise him.
The wind did wind and the rain did rain into the faces of around 12½ round shivering Shakers in the old timbers of the Osmond Stand. There are more of us than them, just. Is Emmerdale particularly enticing tonight?
Town lined up in the loobi-loo 5-3-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Hird, Atkinson, Fenton, Newey, Hegggggggarty, Clarke, Hunt, Boshell, old Father Jones and North. The substitutes were Montgomery, Bennett, Lemon Booty Bore, Taylor and Till. Bore's boots were made out of an old steward's coat, ideal for the air-sea rescue helicopters to spot him, but someone has to tell them he's missing first.
Hasn't anyone got to the bottom of Butler's back yet? You do remember Butler, don't you? He's the non-playing striker that followed Isaiah Rankin.
Bury wore white shirts and blue shorts. They looked perky, whereas Town didn't so much warm up as gather round a disconnected storage heater, convincing themselves it was heating up.
Are we really bothered?
Bury kicked off towards the Osmond end.
Are we bothered, really?
Bury carried on kicking towards the Osmond end. Bury started passing to each other towards the Osmond end. Bury started to pass quite a lot to each other towards the Osmond end.
Really, are we bothered?
Bury this, Bury that, Newey on walkabout throwing boomerangs. Clunk! A corner. Clunk- click every trip. No penalty. Did you spill my pint? Still no penalty. Adams skinning his rabbit called Tom, Bishop a picture at an exhibition of forward play. Strong, direct, subtle, supple and clever: the antithesis of North, the antipode of Jones. We are nothing; they are us last September. They pass, they pass, they pass, they pass, they pass and they pass. Is this still the pre-match warm-up? Are Town the cones?
Cones. Ice cream cones? Stubby or pointed? We're both. Will some stripey pass to another or is it shinty by the sea?
Let's be extremely positive John (Con). Some people have actually turned up tonight, even if it isn't the team.
Eighteen minutes. Eighteen long, long-gone minutes where dreams and hopes and trains and boats and planes disappeared. We're waiting here but where were you Town, the nowhere men? Sorry, I'm slipping into a catatonic state.
A shot. Yes, by them: Bishop slip-sliding away from Fenton and swishing straight at Barnes from outside the area. That really wasn't worth telling you about but there you go, that was the only thing that happened. Please, please release me, let me go. Help. Help. Send up the flares, send in the clowns. Three thousand people stuck in a dinghy, no sight of land, no sign of life, just the moon and the stars and the albatross hanging motionless above the waves.
Barry-Murphy curled a free kick in to the side netting while Barnes slunk into his shorts.
Search party to bridge: sensors indicate primitive life form in front of the Pontoon. We'll send an expendable crew member you've never seen before to investigate.
On the half-hour Town suddenly passed the ball, along the ground, to each other in a significant string. Fenton surged, North twirled and levered a scoop into the path of Hunt. He took a touch and was behind the defence with just the little gnome to beat. The gnome dived under his toadstool and Hunt shingled a shot against the legs of Grimble-Grumble. The little gnome stayed in his goal as North floogled and Fenton spoogled but the Bury defence moogled the ball away.
Search party to bridge: life form identified. Carbon-based bipeds; harmless and easily domesticated.
Yikes, here they come. Bury bashing, battering and finally bungling. Beautiful plumage between the penalty areas. Hmm, who did they remind us of?
Boshell crossed dangerously and Futcher swingled shakily for a Town corner. The corner was cleared and Bury had three men where Town had one and a half: I do not count supermodel Tom Newey as a full-grown defender. Bishop rocked and rolled, Adams flew down their right and Baker was free inside the area. Here it is, here's the goal Baker carefully side-footed towards goal from the centre of the area and Barnes tap-danced to his right as the ball went left. Out came a Yorkshire left leg and the ball was diverted by a Yorkshire boot. Give that man a Yorkshire tea made with Yorkshire water.
Pressure, power and Town pulverised by pretty flamingos. A shot blocked, a shot boombled over and another went wide. Scott headed over, Futcher threaded and the Pontoon dreaded the revenge of the Nerd. Do not fear the grim reaper, the wrong Futcher's got wider, not wiser, with age and rejection. A scramble to the left, a scramble to the right: Hunt shoed, Fenton glued himself to Bishop's backside and the ball was everywhere but in the net. Off the line? Maybe. Kneed and knocked over? Definitely.
Town aspired to be dire, for they were just a great big hole of holey holes. Not a pass was made, not a leg was moved by this bunch of gaping, gawping punters. Are we relying on Buckley's magic pixie potion that he sprinkles on the away team towels?
With about five minutes to half time Town had a throw-in under the Frozen Beer Stand. This was as close as it got to excitement. Hegggarty hurled and Clarke twirled, breaking through a couple of barging, blocking tackles. The ball spun on the corner of the penalty area and Clarke cha-cha-cha-ed, swung his pants and coiled a drifting, dripping shot around and over a defender. The ball sailed on past the static gnome, slapping the inside of the far post and bounced down and in, and Bury were down and out. My word, something happened and it had happened right now: Clarke has scored a crackerjacker.
Boshell was blocked and Town won a corner. Fenton headed it over. That's it, Town's done for the half. Let's skip down the lane to half time.
La-li-la-li-la. One, two three, what are we fighting for, next stop is Immingham?
In the third of the two minutes added on Bury had one last go, and Town had one last go at pratfalling. Adams, inevitably, minced Newey's meat and the ball arrived inside the Town area, perhaps six yards out, in the middle. Bishop was surrounded by a couple of dozen Town defenders, but still turned and lampooned a low, left-footed shot across the face of goal. Barnes stood upright, poked out his left boot and the ball squishled past the far post and a corner was given. How did it miss? It hit some small part of a foreign field that is temporarily Grimsby.
And that was that. Town had two shots, two crosses and about two passes too. They looked like a pub team and played like a pub team. In which case they must be an elephant in a tutu. It was just appalling and Bury should have been two goals up, but they weren't, for the witchcraft was still working.
Still, Town can't be this bad again, can they?
They were. Nothing changed at half time, or after half time. The Gigg Lane groovers carried on passing and carried on moving, rolling passes up to Bishop using their fixed wingers to rotate around this rock. Adams carried on making Newey look like a fool and the Town midfield spluttered and spurtled incoherently. Two parts of the machine moved, but a small cog was rusted, its teeth blunt and gnawed, so the engine seized up, throwing oil and smoke everywhere.
Hunt was terrible: not marking, not watching, not moving and not having any interest in what was going on around him. He just jogged in straight lines, often with his back to the ball.
Atkinson and Fenton stuck manfully to their task, but all around were spluttering their misremembered lines.
Jones and North: were they playing?
Fenton blocked a shot, Adams pulled Newey's pigtails and called him Mr Smelly. Scott glanced a free header wide and it was just like the first half: a full quarter-hour of dross.
Town were just occupying the spaces between Bury players: this was a lesson in pass and move.
On the hour Town had an attack. Well, sort of. Clarke levered a lofted pass from right to left towards Hegggarty out near the corner of the penalty area. Little Nick boomed a header to the keeper and Provett proved prone to error as he dropped the ball, but North was a little slow to follow up. Provett the gnome was truly terrible. He had nothing to do but did it badly: he couldn't kick, he could hardly catch, and his shorts were too big.
There then followed five minutes of Town pressure which, in the context of this game, was stunning. Why are we abandoning our successful strategy and playing football? Why are we passing to each other? Why are we moving? Ah, Boshell, driving forward and forcing a reaction through sheer willpower. Town even got a corner out of it. Boshell roamed, but the ramblers ambled. He had nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, and tried to shoot, but it was deflected for a corner. Savour this, for there's nothing else left.
At some point Bury brought on old big nose, Yeo. He's past it. He turned outside the area and shot softly straight to Barnes. Town's defence disappeared overnight and Bury had three against one. Adams ticked a snickering pass to Yeo, unmarked a dozen yards out on the centre-right of the Town area. He waited, he wafted his left boot and the ball gently skewered wide.
Oh, and again: Yeo on the right, squittling a bumbler wide. And again bibbling a bumbler. They're very good at avoiding scoring.
Town. I told you forget it: half of them were just musical statues.
In the last ten minutes Bennett replaced Hird and then Taylor replaced North. Futcher fouled Taylor and there were three minutes of added time. Hasn't time flown by, are you the driver of a train?
In the very last minute of the very last minute of added time Bury had a throw-in underneath the Police Box. Town allowed themselves to be outnumbered and a short throw was taken, with the ball being lobbed gently towards goal. Adams wandered unmarked towards the near post and steered a loopy back header over Barnes. The ball drifted up, up and away towards the top right corner, swerving around the post and dropping an inch wide. Is there nothing we can do to avoid victory?
Desolate and disconsolate, the Lancashire lollipops lolloped off, having made the fatal mistake in this division of trying to play football. It's not allowed.
This was an embarrassment and in such circumstances the best thing to do is go to bed and pretend it never happened. When you get up just look at the league table and imagine what this game could have been like. You cannot imagine what it was really like.
Or as the Korean babelfish says: "Thanks me. It ended now but in order for the good thing to substitute silence when it will split hazard and I will go."
I'm still alive, and so are you.