A grand day out

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

23 February 2015

Barnet 1 Grimsby Town 3

A bright and crisp day in the amorphous, soulless blob of Britain where they have soggy chips and curled lips but no lights in the loos. Nearly a thousand Townites with inflated expectations and a pot pourri of plastic to blow up streamed in and in and in, the stewards amiably agog at the sight and sound of away supporters.

Ooh look, they've bought a scoreboard just in case we can't count.

And still they came with their balls, their parrots, their flamingos, their zimmer frames, their hammers, their dinosaurs, their ooh can't mention that one before the watershed, their sheep, their cows, their crowns. Woah, I can't even mention that one after the watershed. I can mention the rubber rings though.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Arnold, Jolley and John-Lewis. The substitutes were Parslow, McLaughlin, Brown, Pittman and Hannah. Same as last week and that worked so well. Nothing can go wrong now.

As the Town players turned, their eyes widened and their jaws dropped in wonder at the sight of a thousand Townites bouncing behind Jamie Mack, his goalmouth strewn with debatable inflatables. The poor huddled dribs and drabs in the home end sat in confusion and had to make do with their gathering fears and non-League loathings, their knitted hats and plastics macs.

It's a big game, let's go big-game hunting.

First half: A handful of songs

The Barneteers kicked off into the willowy wind and towards the beach party, where the net was full of airy jollity and the air full of noise. We got some new songs and blue songs and songs to bring you happiness. No more, no less.

An orange dinker caught Toto and Magnay between two stools. Confused by the rugby markings, a far-off linesman in a faraway world of his own flagged for a corner. The huge hulking homers arrived, then skulked back in a sulk. I'll let a little plot teaser in here – for every corner, every clip it was clunk-click every trip. Town's safety belt clamped down on nonsense.

Town. Soaking up the spillages and wiping the floor clean. Ooh, nearly. What was that? Mackreth crossing near the Feet of Clay. Jolley japes and jaffa cakes: what about the orange? Forget about the orange. All huff and puff, it's not enough for us to give a stuff. Lennie did some Lennieish Lennieness in Lenniely Lenniesque fashion. It's one of life's constants and it's nice to have something you can rely on. We're not used to tales of the unexpected.

Ah. Yond Jolley has a lean and hungry look. He sprints too much for Barnet: such men are dangerous.

Passing. Pace. Precision. A blur of blue and the orange was squeezed dry. Delicious soft cheese triangles dissected and vivisected the Bees. Arnie steamed in at the near post and carefully volleyed a foot wide. Jolley good, very nearly jolly good. A cross was chested past Stack by his chums and wellied off near the line. Near off the line? It's a bit like off-Broadway.

Things, happening. The right way round.

Town had shots, they're multiplying as the Bees were losing control. The pace Town were supplying was electrifying

Oh, them. Togwell limped off and some vaguely remembered his Scunnie-Bunnyman days, so remembered to pantomime boo. Falling and bawling, the ref began crawling to their rescue. Clay was booked, Villa snooked agin the wall. Gash was lashed, Villa mooked agin the wall. Or it may have been over the bar. Who cares. It's not even a breadcrumb of detail dropped from the fish finger of history.

Town corners, nearly things almost happened. Sorry, I couldn't hear myself in all this noise: things almost happened nearly. Four words – put them in any order you want: it'd still confuse the heck out of the Barnet defenders. Mackreth was toasting and roasting their chestnuts against an open fire with cross after cross. Lennie shot somehow, somehere. Arnie stepped in, stepped out and hit the steps behind the goal. Town: all very Jolley lively. Town: slick and quick on the counter with Barnet deflating.

Town had shots, they're multiplying as the Bees were losing control. The pace Town were supplying was electrifying.

It would be nice to score.

On the halfway line a buzzboy was magnificently blocked by Magnay. The ball spoondled down the touchline in a big ballooning loop way, way, way away. Mackreth chased the lostest of causes as Johnson ambled and dawdled and pitifully tried to shield the ball out for a goal kick as Stack trotted towards the trundler. Mackreth wrenched himself around the wobbling weeble, carefully clipped into the near post and Jolley swept the ball into the open net as Stack & Co wept.

The steps were bouncing, the roof reverberating to the rock 'n' roll music of Town.

Hey, don't you know, McKeown was forced to touch the ball. Not in anger, more in sorrow. It may even be counted as a shot. Statistics, eh. They tell you Barnet are the best team in the division. What do they know?

Town pressed the tourniquet. Jolley retrieved an overhit cross, Magnay shook his hips and powdered a left-footer just over the bar. Lennie swiveled and swiped, Stack swayed and shovelled aside, low to his right. Magnay walloped a right-footer, right onto the roof.

Town were totally dominant, doing exceptionally what others have done mundanely to us. Town were compellingly professional: the Bees were being bottled and throttled.

Now, have they fixed the lights yet?

Second half: The inflatable invasion

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Barnet better shape up, they need a plan. Is rugby union really the one that they want?

Mad Mutt waved his arms, ordering his team to welly it into the corners, scolding those holding on to the ball. Gain yardage for line-outs, roll that maul, don't scrimp on the scrums. And don't sleep in the subway. It's more garryowen than Michael Owen and the Barnet fans were lowing as they were blowing it in the wind.

Chip and chase, chase and chip, hurry, scurry, don't you worry, for nothing is happening anywhere near Jamie Mack. Marty Mad Dog ordered his troops to bombard the corner flag behind Magnay. Like durrrr, dude. They'll run out of chips soon – they didn't cater for the Town thousand, nor Carl the Magnayficent.

Yawn, yawn, yawn. Higher, longer, drearier. Welly upfield, welly out of the field. MacDonald chased and clapped over the bar, over the stand and somewhere over the rainbow. Is that all there is to a table-tapping weekend near Barnet? Sorry, I must clean my ears out, a table-topping weekend near Barnet. Well, maybe tired and despondent after this and unable to raise any friends, Marty Mad Dog will go home and, tragically, accept a teaching post in Australia. I'd be shocked. And stunned.

Oh, I am shocked. And stunned. This wasn't called for, and so unnecessary.

Piffling about by Clay allowed the Bees to swarm. Toto swiped a clearance woefully, and Cook was shuffled across the face of the penalty area. Unmarked, 25 or so yards out in the centreish, Clifford carefully steered a shot towards the top corner. McKeown sailed high and left, two hands aloft. The ball kissed his gloves and smooched into the top corner.

That got them going. They kicked the ball higher, faster. Faster, pussycats, kick it into Mill Hill. Lennie's Toblerone shins and Clay's spatial unawareness started to irritate the rocking rumblers in the bouncy castle.

As Arnold raced over the halfway line the referee stopped play and ordered an uncontested drop-ball

Our corners resulted in their attacks. Nothing to report beyond the ebbing tide lapping against the sleepy shores of mediocrity. Remember that we're on the pitch when Lennie scores. The stewards got the joke too.

Jolley was smacked on the bonce halfway inside the Town half and crumpled to the ground. Play continued as Barnet dinked and jinked into the penalty area. Jolley was still prostrate, clutching his head. Town half cleared, Barneeters buzzed. Jolley was unmoved, play continued. Arnold pirouetted and danced through three challenges, soaring and surging upfield, Townites outnumbering the Orangers. As Arnold raced over the halfway line the referee stopped play and ordered an uncontested drop-ball.

Cue minor pandemonium on the pitch and among the indignant, incredulous but incredible inflatables. MacDonald cynically volleyed the drop-ball for a throw-in right by the corner flag. More inflated furore. Even Marty Mad Dog was chastened and ordered the ball to be given back. Even the man in the knitwear wasn't a nitwit.

At this the worm turned. MacDonald spent the rest of the game diving for pearls but coming up with some old baked bean cans and milk bottles. His plunging in plain sight was rewarded with dismissive disdain from the now marvellous main man in black. What a nitwit.

With about 20 minutes left, the wobbly Jolley with legs of jelly was replaced by Pittman as Barnet abandoned their subtle game of up 'n' unders into the corners for even upperer unders into the middle of the six-yard box. Jamie Mack punched and parried, smacked and hacked away the grubbers and drop-kicks. Toto manhandled the pests aside, Pearson nodded, Magnay prodded and Robertson wasn't even noticed, so effective was his positioning.

And finally Cyril, a Barneteer was booked for scything through the Feet of Clay.

As the Beemen tried to carpet-bomb, Town hoovered their hallway. Disley robbed, Arnie lobbed, Pittman swivelled, swerved and crossed to the penalty spot. Arnold glided gracefully in front of the static caravaners and gracefully glided a volley wide of the left post as Stack slumped sadly the other way. On Earth we call that missing.

With five minutes left those orangers piddled around on their left. Villa cut back to the corner of the penalty area and gloriously coiled a dripper towards the top left corner. Jamie Mack soared superbly to sail on magical thermals and hand-slap aside.

The game swung up and down. They wellied up, Town kept the ball down, breaking in waves, not breaking bad. Arnie released Pittman down the left, who looked up, saw Lennie alone and dinked delightfully. Timmmmmber! Lennie slowly dived turfwards, shouldering the ball back to the near post. Bumbling slowly, slowly, slowly towards the net, Stack changed direction, flipped the ball aside and scrambled it into his chest amid a blizzard of boots.

Moments amid the momentum swinging towards our bouncing castle as the rudimentary clocks ticked on to 89 minutes

Clay scuttled through, Stack whisked the ball off his toes. Moments amid the momentum swinging towards our bouncing castle as the rudimentary clocks ticked on to 89 minutes.

Town broke on the right, Lennie plunged. Magnay shaped to chip the free kick into the area, but tapped short and sweet down the line to Mackreth. A tickle and tease and pass back infield. Clay slow curly-looped a drooper over everyone's shoulder into the unmanned hole at the near post. The Dizzer ran on and on to the edge of the six-yard box and shinned slowly lowly across and through Stack into the far corner. Then everybody was dancing with the captain. We all had fun the whole night long and the ship sailed on.

The job was done. Clay was replaced by Parslow. Gotta keep us shape, remember. No need to get carried away.

Off Town broke again. The Dizzer lofted highly down the right into the corner of the area. There are some inflatables on the pitch – they think it's all over… it is now. Lennie crackled lowly from a narrow angle. Stack plunged low and got tangled up in his zimmer frame. The ball squirtled into the centre of the six-yard box and Pittman swept in from three yards. Over the wall the Town players went to join the beach party. We're jiggin' in the riggin' and dancing with the captain again.

Is it all over? It will be once we get that free kick out of the way. A beeman plunged between two Townites on the edge of the area, Villa coiled, McKeown smartly parried away high to his right.

It really is all over now. Bye-bye, Barnet.

After a little wibble and wobble in terms of controlling the game, nothing really came of it except that annoying equaliser. Barnet bombarded but created nothing: they were like a dopey bee in March. You can hear it in the distance, sometimes see it, but it isn't going to cause you any sorrow or pain. Their shots were all from distance. Town were impressively professional, without being sufficiently ruthless early enough.

But this game wasn't so much about what was on the pitch, but what came out from the stands. You could see the players being energised, awe-struck and proud to represent the shirt from the moment they ran out. They played like Our Boys again. Barnet even turned up the tannoy to try and drown out the sound of the Mariner mojo returning. We haven't been like that for 20 years. Our hopes and hearts were inflated as the players deflated the Barnet balloon. It was a quite wonderful experience to be inside the heaving happy throng.

It's about time we crushed some grapes rather than slip on them. Roll on Telford, like we rolled over Barnet. Full steam ahead, destination unknown.