Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
2 March 2015
Grimsby Town 1 Braintree Town 0
A sneakily breezy day in the Theatre of Groans with around 20 Braindrainers gathered in the faraway corner. The scoreboard beamed live pictures from the tunnel, cutting out like a found-footage slasher movie. Watching Town at home is a cheap horror show these days. The plot is the same, the thrills, spills and surprises telegraphed in advance, with cliché after cliché thrown in to the pot. Each game is a weaker, watered-down version of the previous instalment. Straight to download, it's Normal Activity #19.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Arnold, Pittman, John-Lewis. The substitutes were Parslow, Brown, Hannah, Jolley, and Palmer. With Hamish McWatson pawned to Gainsborough, My Little Ponytail was back in the saddle. Well, stables. Now, remind us Mr tactical-genius-with-the-coaching-badges, what was it about Pittman's calamitously casual cameo on Tuesday that demanded he be starting?
It can't be as woeful as Tuesday, can it?
First half: Total and utter rubbish
Town kicked off towards the Osmond Void.
The void, the deep, dark void we cannot avoid. I cannot lie to you about our chances. Or their chances. Chances are you know this already.
The first half contained the following items of football-connected activity: slapstick mess and miss in the fifth minute and Nathan Arnold overhit the corner. The corner? Yes that's right, not a corner, but the corner. The only corner in the entire game. You can stop now if you wish. Do not pass this point unless you have garlic and some strong holy water.
No-one was offside. No-one had a shot on target. Did anyone really have a shot? Does anyone care?
An up 'n' under. Pearson and McKeown dithered. Big Marks sparked a snark by rabbit-punching the ball over the dither twins. Yellow card up high in banana tree.
An up 'n' under throw-in was headed on boomblingly into the centre of the Town area. Toto tittered and tottered, McKeown wibbled and wobbled, big Marks shinny-shin-shinned and the ball scootled past the plunging, pawing, crawling keeper. On the ball skipped towards the bottom right corner, pursued by several inanimate objects. Mackreth scraped his foot around the ball, wedging it agin the post. Feet hacked, McKeown flapped, wee Jacky back-heeled across the line. Cue jaunty saxophone as Jamie Mack and his travelling band chased back across the goal-line. Everyone plunged headlong at the ball as it arrived at the left post. Toto swung his pants and passed out to the unmarked Davis, who carefully steered way, way over as monochromers danced and dived. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.
I have seen things you people wouldn't believe… the Shop on fire off the shoulders of the last defender... Town players passing the ball to each other at places like Ashton Gate. All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.
The crowd buzzed with anticipation that something, anything might happen. It didn't
Nathan Arnold took a corner. The ball sailed on and on and out for a throw-in. I have seen things you people would believe but don't wish to know. That was the full extent of Townness. Lennie didn't reach a pass. Arnold begrudgingly bedraggled nowhere slowly, like a taunting footballing metaphor for life under non-chairman John.
The big screen flittered between the score and a giant picture of Topcon John pointing, pointing at YOU. If he builds it, YOU will come. In his field of dreams.
One of them ran straight, then ran straight into the advertising boards and ran out of interest, walking off, walking home, walking the dog. I'd rather be walking the dog, and I haven't even got one.
The Magnayficent One was cut while cutting down some extraneous, superfluous shrubs. The referee ordered him off and wouldn't let him back as the Braindrainers attacked not once, not twice, but thricely. I say 'attack' – well, they had the ball.
Pearson ran forward with the ball. YES! The crowd buzzed with anticipation that something, anything might happen. It didn't. Clay plunged 20 yards out. The crowd buzzed with anticipation that something, anything might happen. It didn't. Arnold hit the wall, the crowd hit the roof.
The ref went on a card-crazy booking spree. Trains passed one way, then the other. A man cycled down Harrington Street. A bird perched atop the Findus, swooped into the Pontoon and rested upon the roof of the burger bar. And it was over. We could find mental sanctuary for 15 minutes before the torture resumed.
Off they all trouped to a chorus of disapproval. You don't know what we're booing.
Second half: Mindlessly shocking garbage
Neither team made any changes at half time.
After two minutes of cheese paring and sparring, Magnay slip-knotted a flat dinker from the halfway line. Disley sneaked forward, roamed freely and delightfully dinked a loopy header over the keeper from near the penalty spot. How delightful, how de-lovely.
A Jamie Mack punt, a bumble, a stumble and wee Jacky Mackreth wellied safely over the bar. At one point Lenell of John-Lewis kicked the football from a narrow angle and it moved across the face of the goal. At another indeterminate point in this foggy flatlining frippery the ball moved into the Briandrainers' penalty area.
And that is it. That really is it from Town. Not a shot more, not a shot less than that in the entirety of the entireness of this eternally dreadful dirge. Not even a cross. No corners, no miscued punts that can be spun-doctored into an effort. What an effort it was.
At least they were trying. Yes, very.
The big screen twinkled, the big screen glittered, drawing gazes away from the dross and tosh. It's the gospel according to TopCon John, 14:6: And we said John, we do not know where we are going, how do we know the way to a new stadium? And Topcon John said unto us, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no-one comes to the future but through me!”
Jolley replaced Arnold. Somehow this made things even worse.
The Orangemen punted into the corner behind Robertson. Lennie ran away from the throw-in, trundling Brundle volleyed loopily near the stanchion. Well, it's something, I suppose.
How could Town now cope with an onslaught from a team with one attacker and ten men?
Brown replaced the stodgy Feet of Clay and the Brainmen took off their substitute. Nothing changed. We were watching drunken drayhorses plough a field.
Wee Jacky was upended in full flight. Nothing happened.
Parslow came on for… John-Lewis, as Town moved to a 4-1-4-1 formation. Oh how the sleeping locals cheered at that. We do appreciate seeing tactical genius in action in real time. Then little Isaac was off, after a two-footed lunge near Jolley.
How could Town now cope with an onslaught from a team with one attacker and ten men? How had we managed to resist such free-flowing attacking from those infamous away day specialists?
There were three minutes of added time. Town heroically held on, against the odds. Marks missed a free header. Akinole twizzled and flattered way over the bar when free on the edge of the area as Town stood back and admired their shorts.
Brilliant! Marvellous! A stunningly executed victory! This is what football is all about. The crowds will surely flock back now. Who wouldn't wish to pay £18 to watch paint peel. Apart from winning, there are no redeeming features here. Watching Shorty's Town at Blundell Park is like watching a plumber fit a pipe, or a call centre operator answer the phone. We're watching men at work, where jeers flow and men chunter in the stands.
It was just like Tuesday – opponents messed up farcically in the fifth minute in front of the Pontoon. Nothing happened. Town scored in the 47th minute. Then nothing happened. Oh we are awful, but I suppose we like the three points.