Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
2 January 2015
Sulkymen 1 Silkmen 2
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. A new year, a new hope: things can only get better. A belting wind blew diagonally from the open corner into the faces of the 50 or so Macclads muttering in the gloom. Never let a comedian cut your hair, especially a drunken one.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Bignot, Pearson, Parslow, Thomas, Mackreth, Clay, Brown, Arnold, Pittman and John-Lewis. The substitutes were Walker, Disley, McLaughlin, Hannah and Watson. That's not a defence, it's a collection of ill-fitting cardigans.
Macclesfield turned up in blue with just enough players to sit on the bench. These fancy-dan rich clubs with their swagger and huge squads. Tsk, we'll show 'em. We'll show 'em how not to do it.
You may wish to be informed before you embark on this perambulation through the canyons of displaced pain that no animals were injured in the construction of this personal catharsis.
Right, close your eyes, fasten your seatbelts. You're in for a bumpy cry.
First half: Shooting stars
Town kicked off towards the emptiness. It's a bit blowy out there. They crossed and no-one was there. They cornered, Percy ducked and the ball serenely sailed through the lack of humans and out for a goal kick.
Aswad swaggered and swung superbly into the deep dark heart of Maccness. Lennie flapped his left foot, flapped his right foot and missed from six yards out. Another year over, a new one just begun in the same way.
Ooh they had the ball, ooh they had a tika-taki break, ooh they had the ball. Ooh they had a shot. Ooh the rain is falling, I said ooh-ooh the rain is falling, and Percy stoop-headed a free kick wide. They crossed, Bignot missed the ball, Granola chested wide. Is that bloke really called Granola?
How bored are we? Steve Wraith wandered by with his little box of numbers, locks a-flowing in wind. Silence. Yes, how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
Free kickage, panic and confusion, and McKeown star-flapped crazily off the head of the cereal bar kid. Shapeless toshery from Town, passing to them, passing out of play, passing the buck and relying on luck. Woah, something. Lennie spun to the bye-line and pulled a pass back to Pittman on the penalty spot, who knock-kneed wide of the far post. Something, but nothing.
A blue raid, a blue cross, Bignot missed the ball six yards out, confusing the heck out of the unmarked silkymen behind. Ah, I see, Bignot got a copy of Defending for Dummies for Christmas and took it literally.
Yeah, great, woo and indeed hoo. Now try a bit harder, will you, and pass the ball to each other. It does help, you know
Town diddled and fiddled on the right corner of their penalty area. A tackle, a pass, a lamp down the line and Percy was back-peddling on a pedalo. And back and back and back and into the area. A Percy poke, a blue cross and McKeown flop-punched into the path of the trundling Johnstone, who slapped straight back into the nettage.
Town immediately upped their intensity to strolling. Macclads quivered and a packet of Quavers flew by. A corner was elevated on demand. Taylor sank as a Cheshire cat grinned away. Brown headed back into the area and a little blue boy helpfully teed up Pittman to surprisingly spin and make us grin with a low welly into the bottom left corner. Yeah, great, woo and indeed hoo. Now try a bit harder, will you, and pass the ball to each other. It does help, you know.
I remember Jack Mackreth. He crossed the ball once. Moke jinked and winked against the outermost of the near post. Lennie cleared the roof. It's not over, but a large lady is clearing her throat.
Is that it? I wish it was. Isolated moments of collective, connected adequacy interspersed with insulting dross. A mess. We'll need two to draw, I tell yer. We'll need a dozen better players to get promoted, I tell yer.
Second half: House of fools
No changes were made at half time. Hurst is still the manager.
Lennie turned, Lennie ran, Lennie carried on running and shot and Taylor saved lowly. And that's as good as it gets. A man to my right spent 15 minutes on the telephone giving his wife instructions on how to connect their new television. There was a bit of confusion over which HDMI cable went into which hole and whether the pink slot was pink or purple, but happily she was able to watch the second half of Thunderball. I think he got the point.
Oh look, it's raining.
The wind picked up steam, blowing cartons and paper bags across the pitch and towards the dentists. Oi Taylor, do something useful. There's a packet of Quavers behind you – pick it up, will you? Alas, like many a young person, Taylor just left litter to flounce around causing a nuisance and a blot on the landscape.
Hannah replaced Pittman. Muted mumbling. A pair of polystyrene cups stumbled across the pitch cartwheeling along the halfway line towards the manager's dug-out, like Lincolnshire tumbleweed.
Football was ruining a good wind.
A Silkyman crossed from their left and the ball died in the gale, arcing perfectly onto a blue boot. A volley, a sprawling parry from Jamie Mack, a moment of almostness. You could even convince yourselves at that moment that you were attending a professional football match. Well, almost.
Hamish McPorkson rolled on to replace last year's model, Lennie the red-bowed reindeer. No-one could rouse enough energy or interest to even muffle a moan. The windy Rubicon had been crossed somewhere during this turgid drudge. There were what swivel-eyed loyalists would claim to be 'shots' on goal by humans who loyal-eyed swivellists would claim to be 'Town players'. They were way out, way wide and way high. They were awful.
You think that's puerile and stupid? Just keep watching Grimsby Town. It turns your mind to mush
McKeown miskicked near blue men again. Nothing happened.
Here's a thing for you conspiracy theorists. John Fenty is actually a lizard in human suit, for North East Lincolnshire is actually run by a secret society called the Dumbuminati. Yeah, actually. And Town were denied victory by the ref when Percy ticked home a corner several centuries after Pearson tumbled over a blue body. Or lizards in blue.
You think that's puerile and stupid? Just keep watching Grimsby Town. It turns your mind to mush.
Thomas plunged under a challenge and decided to lay down a little. Off the blue men roamed as monochromers sauntered back. Moke crossed, and McKeown flew low and fluffed straight to Whitaker, who calmly passed into the empty net from beyond the grave.
McLaughlin replaced Clay and many men in macs walked straight out of the ground. Ten more minutes of wind were played, during which Macclesfield broke and a blueboy tried to chip McKeown, but didn't.
The end of this affair and one day this will be the end of Hurst's elaborate plans, for there's no safety or surprise any more. Can't score, can't stop conceding – we're desperately in need of some stranger's hand in this desperate land.
You may have noticed there is no suggestion that Grimsby Town footballers entered the penalty area in front of the Pontoon. Just the facts, just the facts. The facts are before us – four years of facts. Not four minutes, or four games, or four months but four years of the same thing.
Who cares, eh? What's the point? A strategy of doing just enough is not enough. Enough is enough: something's gotta change.