Lying in the wreckage: Morecambe (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

17 November 2007

I blame it all on the Russian botnet.

Grimsby Town 1 Morecambe 2

A dark, dreary day in the old rice pudding. We need a dollop of jam! Where is our jam?

Look! Over there! There's some cocklepickerpeople down in the Osmond Stand, perhaps a hundred, perhaps not. You'd have thought a few more would have jaunted over, on what may be their only chance to visit the citadel of seething.

Withering Town lined up in a 3-5-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Clarke, Fenton, Newey, Till, Boshell, Hunt, Bolland, Hegggarty, Butler and Danny Boy North. The substitutes were Montgomery, The Lump, Taylor, Toner, and Bore. Hegggarty and Till as wingbacks, eh? This bloated sea beast has gossamer wings and may not fly; but will it float? Assume the crash position everybody: inflate the lifejacket, put your head between your knees and start praying.

First half
Morecambe kicked off towards the Pontoon. You've been a wonderful audience. Thank you and good night. Don't forget the T-shirt and programme are on sale in the foyer.

Oh, you're partial to a Saturday night slasher movie. You want the details, you want every drop of blood for your bucks.

Dull, lifeless and flat: that's Lincolnshire for you. This game too, as the seconds expanded into minutes and hours and days and months and years and decades and centuries and millennia, and please let me go home. I don't believe that only three minutes have elapsed since the whistle blew like the wind through meter-maid's knees.

Free kick, throw-in, not free kick, offside. Free kick, throw-in, not free kick, offside, rabbit, rabbit, ra-ra-rabbit snap-snap, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, ra-ra-rabbit snap-snap, rabbit, rabbit. Am I slowly going mad, or just getting angry? We've got Chas 'n' Dave up front. How can we survive this mental torture?

Imagine the participants as Mr Men, that's how! Dum, der-di dum di-dur di dum durr-durr durr. Dum, durr, di derrrrrrrrrrr. Mr Silly gave a free kick when Mr Slippy slipped on an imaginary banana. Mr Baldy bonked the ball into the wall made up of Mr Huffer, Mr Puffer, Mr Potter and Mr Trotter. Mr Bigger-and-balder woofed the rebound wide.

Nah, Mr Men only worked for five minutes. I'm bored Vivian!

Hey-hey-hey! Three Town passes and a Heggggarty cross out for a goal kick. We could give Austria a game of Mousetrap and still have change from a fiver. Kids, that's what life was like in the 70s. Sorry, I am in a dream here aren't I? This is as random as a duck on a tandem. Quack, quack.

Hang on, what's happening? Where are we? How many minutes have gone? Who? What Where? How? When? Yeah, answers anyone?

What was that? Did they cross, did they miss? Did they do something? Yes, they did - not us; them. A header from a cross and a goal kick followed. In context it was a ripping yarn to tell over a glass of port and a chunk of stale stilton. Town had shape but no movement; static and in fear, Town players reacted after an event. Hunt was tremendously tepid, teetering and tottering on a tightrope. Thar he goooooooeeeessssssss. Ker-plunk. The marbles fell on top as Town imploded. The midfielder enforcer was a strolling bone, a wasted shirt and the old problem with wingbacks was exposed minute after minute, as the Cocklepickers picked pockets with gay abandon.

It took 26 minutes for something to happen. Morecambe mumbled inside the Town area and the ball was accidentally swiped clear to Till, about 25 yards out. He ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran. Defenders backed off, and Till thwackled a shot against a big bottom, the ball rebounding to Bolland who swiped a shot straight at Joe E Lewis, the skullcapped keeper.

Moving pleasantly downwind and out of sight, they chose the moment to strike, just 30 seconds later. One of their bulky back-boys slipped a pass from near the managers' dug-out into the centre of the Town half. Fenton was the piggy in the middle as the ball sailed by, with Newby high-stepping away from Clarke. With one touch he flicked the ball into the left side of the Town area, turned and clipped a dinky sand wedge out of the bunker. With the slightest of deflections off Clarke's bootlaces, the ball lopped delicately over Barnes and plopped into the net off the very bottom of the right post. Let's not be churlish and deny Newby his day of glory.

Almost immediately Hunt was replaced by Toner and Town reverted to 4-4-2 with Hegggarty as left-back, Clarke as right-back. Toner ran around quickly and had some oomph, unlike anyone else. If you expect me to say anything else, forget it Jack, it's Grimsby Town.

After 36 minutes Whittle and Rankin wandered towards the burger bar next to the Pontoon. I'm counting that as a shot on target, though I couldn't tell whether Isaiaiaiaiaiah had a desire for onions. If he does he'll only keep repeating himself, repeating himself. So if you see him ask him, ask him, won't you, won't you.

Morecambe had a couple of headers, one of which may have caused Barnes to wake up. And Fenton headed a corner over from six yards. The half ended with a Town cross caught, then another cross caught, and then another cross caught. Then a cross-court volley. Ooh, I say, Virginia! Sorry, someone switched over to the Masters Tennis.

That is that, if indeed that was anything at all.

Second half
North was replaced by Taylor at half time. North had done nothing but fall over, leading one to conclude that we must begin CAMLOST now (the Campaign for Longer Studs), or the end is near. We're about to be pulled behind the final curtain.

Town kicked off in the usual way, with the usual result. Hegggarty crinkled and crossed beautifully, but no-one was there. Toner clipped another cross into the near post, but there was nobody home. Town pressed and wheezed into action. The pistons moved, the steam plumed and the old calliope churned out the first few bars of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. Till burst down the wing, cut infield and swirled a shot which went up-diddly-up-up and down-diddly-down-down and 14 yards wide.

At last we're starting to roll.

Oh, it's a rolling pin, and we're the dough.

Town let Morecambe pass the ball to each other down their left. Clarke and Till stood away from opponents, triangles were triangulated and Town were strangulated. A deep cross to the far post was headed back across Barnes by the unmarked twisting Twiss. And the Town fans really got behind their team as only they can. What an irresistible force we are together.

They nearly scored again a minute later. Town had no-one on the right, and Twiss crinkled a low shot across Barnes, who clung on as boots tickled his ivories. Oh, and again, another shot. They were near then far; it's getting colder and colder by the second. We have nothing, we are hollow men. We have no soul, nor hope; we are the end.

We are the world! Taylor is the one who'll make a brighter day. A Town attack dwindled as a cross was over hit and Bolland chased the fullback into the corner as he turned to roll a back-pass towards the keeper. A-ha, Taylor sprouted wings and flew forward intercepting the ball, twisting, turning and instantly burning hope into the heart of every feeble-hearted Mariner. From a narrow angle the ball slowly bumbled through Lewis and just inside the near post.

Now we've a game.

Town roared into the wobbling whelkers as crosses were crossed and corners were cornered. Butler fell and a free kick was given about 20 yards out, just to the left of centre. A wall organically mushroomed as little shrimps coalesced around the largest pair of shorts in football (T Crane excepted). Mushrooms? Shrimps? Is this a stir-fry? Our lonesome loanee nudged himself into the wall as big bad Artell cupped Butler's buttocks, then fell like a WWF wrestler when approached by an irate grandmother. These jousting bucks butted each other as Newey crikey-ed a curling shot around the wall and 3mm wide of the post. Shot on, chance on, crikey Roly; my money was on Newey to waste it.

And, erm, well, Town had the ball a lot and moved forward towards the Pontoon a lot, but nothing was happening inside the area. The standard of crossing was appalling, despite a surfeit of opportunities to lamp the ball in. Underhit, overhit, wobbling free, the crosses from Grimsby were hit dreadfully. Woah! Taylor chased a tickle down the right, overhauling an overweight bundle of flesh to hook a volley across the face of goal from a narrow angle. Woo, sir, woo. Taylor tricked and flicked and Butler turned on the left edge of the Morecambe penalty area, taking one step and swooshing a half-volley a couple of feet high and wide. Town were moving, and Morecombe's short, fat, hairy-legged defenders were shaking.

And still Town squeezed the lemon, but did it have any pips to pop? Boshell burst forward from the Town half, devouring the delicious turf. On he roamed with support to left and right. Big Bentley legged Bosh up, but the momentum was with Town. Boshell burst through a tackle and stroked a perfect pass around and through the remnants of the Morecambe defence. Taylor sprinted down the left, drilled into the penalty area and hit the bye-line. He waited for reinforcements and espied Ciaran Toner unmarked on the edge of the area. A pass was rolled carefully and precisely back and Toner steered a first-time shot against the post, the ball rolling along the back of the net. That's the post holding the back of the net up and the back of the back of the net. A goal kick.

Twiss had another shot. I don't care, do you? We have no time to stand and care about the opposition.

Heggarty and Toner teased, Taylor sneaked into the area and laid a pass back to Boshell, who shot across the face of goal. The ball zimmered through legs and squirtled off a full back's ankles a couple of feet out for a Town corner. Lewis dropped the incoming corner on his goal line, but the referee awarded a free kick. About this time Butler was replaced by the Lump and Town pressed on and on. Another corner! Floated to the near post towards the Lump and grazed away for... another corner! Boshell clipped it flatly to the far post where Fenton lurked. Bolland, six yards out, sneaked in front of Fenton and steered the header sighingly wide.

Morecambe couldn't get out of their half as the gruesome twosome in the heart of Town's midfield won everything. Boshell, again, snicked the ball away in midfield and embarked on a driving run down the centre-left. He nicked the ball past one player and as another approached he slightly overhit his next nudge. Desperately straining to line up three cherries he leapt into the tackle and onto the defender. And off the pitch: another sending-off.

Well, that was that, wasn't it.

Morecambe had several breaks and shots, Barnes did a couple of saves, Newey scraped one cross-shot away from the line and Fenton diverted another. Did Barnes do a double save? Do you care - are you still here? We know it's a foregone conclusion. Try as Town might, and they did try, nothing was going to change, was it. We huffed and we puffed and we blew our own house down.

The last ten minutes were taken up with the cocklepickerpeople accepting the offer of short breaks in an out-of-season at bargain prices, and time-wasting. Town didn't give up, but passes were too short or too long and crosses continued to be universally useless. Balls lost behind the Pontoon and down the executive pass-holders' tunnel. And don't you wish that's exactly where a ball would be lodged.

In added time Toner, 25 yards out, volleyed a namby-pamby clearance three yards wide. Or rather mishit a dribbling volley wide. It wasn't worth standing up for. Then everyone did stand up as a cross was headed clear to Toner, 20 yards out. He leapt up, curled his body and hooked a dripping volley goalwards. For a microsecond a light flickered in a room far away, then darkness fell. The ball arced over heads and shoulders towards the top right corner, but dipped soothingly into Lewis's waiting hands.

Those heady days of early season profligacy are haunting us: failure is now a self-fulfilling prophecy. Depleted shouldn't mean defeated, but the players played like they feared the ball. And the crowd. If they fear our reaction then the only way to change that, in the short term, is to change ourselves. Now isn't the time for self-pitying indulgence. We'll have to turn off the critical faculties and offer unreserved support during those 90 minutes. It's the only way we can help to get what we want - survival.

We Town fans are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Nicko's Unsponsored half-Man of the Match
Simply because he ran around a lot and added some vim and verve to the attack, it has to be little Andy-Pandy Taylor. He earned his curry today, while Ciaran Toner can have an onion bhaji for having a go.

Official Warning
Little twerp. The sending off was probably the decision Mr P Miller got nearest to being right. Butler kept winning free kicks by falling in instalments and Miller managed to give Town a goal kick when everyone could hear the ball snick off a Town boot. We laughed at him, but he got his revenge. It's like refs are the wimpy sidekick to the schoolyard bully - they stick a sneaky punch in the kidneys when you're already lying on the floor. Can't they be incompetent in our favour when and where it matters? Specifically, he couldn't tell a pushchair from a pram, so 3.000.

The Others
Dunno. They had nothing to play against, so it was a nice training session for them. They creaked and groaned when Taylor arrived and Boshell started to prompt ground-based attacks, but coped adequately with artless hoofs. After the second goal they played an attractive pass and move style, which frequently carved Town open - but anyone can do that at the moment. This wasn't a test for them, not even a mock. Analysed through the filter of our own inadequacies, they looked competent enough to survive this season, though it helps that they've borrowed a keeper who exudes confidence, for their defence carries a lot of excess baggage in their shorts.