Sweet gingerbread men: Grantham (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 July 2007

Grantham Town 0 Grimsby Town 3

Town played in that light blue confection, while the other GTFC played in white shirts and black shorts. Neither Fireman Stacy nor Diddy Dave were named in their squad or visible. Peter Bore has outrageously camp lemon boots, like he's run through a field of sherbet dips. The Grantham ground is a council athletics stadium with two modernist stands down the sides. The turnstiles are secrets never to be told, and two of us managed to get through them without turning the stiles. So add at least two to the attendance figure.

The ground being an athletics stadium meant no hint of an atmosphere, and the game had the air of a kickabout in the park. It had a horrible dead feeling about the place, but hey, that's Grotty Grantham for you. The flip side of all this space was that, sitting atop the West stand, we had a glorious vista: Grantham's pipes, pots and disused factories in the foreground and the rolling hills of Dakota in the background. Way, way off in the distance a hot air balloon drifted away.

The ground being an athletics stadium also meant that the pitch shared markings with the javelin (north to south rings like old-style picturating of radar in comics) and hammer (south to north, multicoloured bands giving Bore ideas for his latest bootage).

First half
Montgomery, Burge, Bennett, Whittle, Newey, Till, Smith, Bolland, Heggggarty, Jones, Taylor
Burge played at right-back and the unknown Smith in the centre of midfield. Burge is not a right- back: he is a small bouncy boy without a turn of pace. He did one decent tackle and one good backheel when overlapping in attack. Smith looked decent (shirt tucked in, hair neatly combed and he'd washed his hands), playing simple passes well and tidying up in front of the back four, like a shrunken Jim Dobbin. He did have some cunning passes up his sleeve. If we didn't already have four and a half central midfielders then we should consider signing him. He had some poise and some calm.

Grantham had two dangerous free kicks and couple of fluffiness sessions at corners. Other than that there was nothing to disturb the confident keeper, who has an excellent throw. In fact, not once did Montgomery drop-kick the ball; he only kicked it when a back-pass was being charged down. Apart from right-back Town were unruffled in defence. Mind you, they should be, shouldn't they.

Upfield was a different matter. The game was disjointed and not an appealing spectacle, for the grass was long and was hiding bumps and divots. The ball bounced in peculiar fashion and it was clearly difficult to dribble. That didn't stop Till being by far the most dangerous (and impressive) Town player. He used his pace well and also looked up before crossing. Hegggarty was awful really, barely controlling the ball and losing out for pace and aggression against his full-back. He scored the second goal (after Till flew and teased a cross to the far post where Hegggarty was unmarked) but also missed two simple one-on-one chances against the small Grantham keeper. Both were missed from eight yards out.

Taylor's first goal came when Newey stroked a pass down the left, releasing tiny Taylor behind the defence. He's fast, he was calm, he rolled the ball around the goalie. Taylor's second goal came after Till terrorised, hit the bye-line, looked up and rolled a pass to the unmarked forward on the penalty spot.

Bolland was his usual runaround-now-kids mixture of dolly drops and nonsense. That Yorkshire chicken hasn't found its head yet.

The half-time perambulation looking for the snack stand resulted in an unguided tour of all the facilities. We saw the Town directors drinking coffee - Peter Furneaux is the chief pourer, by the way. He played mother for Fenty. We accidentally wandered through the dressing room areas and walked up the tunnel. What happened to security? These are the creme de la creme of - oooooh look, there's Dave Gilbert.

Second half
Barnes, Clarke, Fenton, Courtley, Quinn, Bore, Boshell, Hunt, Toner, Rankin, North
Indeed, Dave Gilbert did play the whole of the second half for the wrong GTFC.

Boshell stroked North free down the right, who sauntered into the area and rolled a pass back to Bore, eight yards out. The lemon drop kid side-footed across the keeper towards the right-hand corner of the goal, but Rrrrrrrrrrrankin apeared from nowhere to chest the ball away from the line. The crowd laughed at Isaiaiaiaiah, not with him. A minute or so later Town riverdanced again, with North, then Toner having point blank range shots diverted away by the plunging keeper.

The rest was dreadful. Nothing happened upfield. Hunt and Boshell commanded the centre, but there wasn't anything going on around them. One-foot Toner was shocking - just standing in the way, miscontrolling and ambling to no effect. Poor little Quinn was often played into a cul-de-sac of trouble, and seeing woeful Rrrankin riding to the rescue wouldn't have calmed his nerves. Overall Rankin was less of a threat or footballer than Grantham's rag-tag and bobtail collection of portly and chortling forwards.

Clarke proved once again that he is not a full-back. He was outpaced by their left winger (who wasn't even as 'fast' as Heggggarty), then out-thought, then outfought, all in the space of three seconds. Only the winger falling over the ball stopped any Barnes wobbling. Fortunately for Clarke, Grantham rarely attacked down their left. He made three important interceptions which the kindly would point to as indications of his growing presence and confidence. He only 'intercepted' because he was hopelessly out of position, neither covering his centre-back nor marking his winger, caught in a no man's land exactly ten yards from everyone. He is not a full-back and never will be. He doesn't possess the physical or mental attributes to be one and no amount of coaching will make him one. He is a mistake.

Barnes made one save when a midfielder was tipped through after a quick free kick. The Town keeper placed his bulk in front of the stroller and the shot wedged between his legs. Barnes let a cross and a corner dip into his six-yard box, allowing a free header each time. He just does not exude confidence, and the defence didn't have confidence in him.

I will not Bore you with much talk of Bore, other than to say that halfway through the half he was fouled as he turned a player. He rolled, agonised and ostentatiously limped, hobbled and cried. Buckley was not pleased at all by Bore's performance: listless, aimless, and his crossing was dreadful. Courtley looked OK - about the same standard and height as Chamberlain and Higgins from last year. He's left-footed.

The floodlights came on, the balloon disappeared off towards Peterborough and the Town coach driver ran off to start the engine for a quick getaway. The football descended into Rankian farce, then North shot straight at the keeper when unmarked. Then Fenton grazed a header back over the keeper, across the face of the crossbar and over. Then it was over and we were out of the car park pronto.

Good things: Taylor, Boshell, Hunt, Newey, Bennett, Fenton, Whittle and above all Till. Bad things: right-back (we have none), Rankin, Toner, Bore, Hegggggarty. Not bad things: North, Courtley, Montgomery, Smith, Jones.

So we have no right-backs, nor left midfielders. We aren't sure about our keeper and the strikers all have flaws. We haven't moved on from June, have we.