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Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

6 April 2015

Grimsby Town 2 Gateshead 2

All that security and I sneaked a big bag of paprika in under my sandwiches.

Young man, there's no need to feel down. I say young men of Grimsby, take your feet off to the ground. Why? 'Cause we've got a new Town and there's no need to be unhappy. It's nearly fun to be GTFC.

On a brightening day of decreasing dullness in the heaving heart of the Humber, 60 Heedbangers were corralled into the covered corner carousing with their cover versions. There they were, standing at the door of the old Flamingo, crying in the rain. These Heedbangers are big into disco and hi-NRG scene. They're so macho with their big blue hoodies.

Remember you can tell a macho, he has a funky walk. They say it loud, say it proud: they sing that they're glad to be Gateshead.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Mackreth, Brown, Disley, Arnold, Palmer and John-Lewis. The substitutes were Parslow, Clay, Chapell, Pittman and Jolley. It's same again Saturday. We had a swell time in Welling so what's good enough for the Land of the Giggling Sausage is good enough for the land of incremental decay.

The Osterless but Rodmanful Heed ambled around in a shimmering electric blue ensemble looking slightly dishevelled with half a back four, which I suppose is better than half of nothing. Surely some mistake, nope, centre-forward Shaw was at centre-back, midfield clogger Pattison was at left-back and their keeper looked n-n-n-n-n-nineteen. Hands were rubbed.

Two men on a lonely platform, one steward sitting by their side. Ah, ha, it's the safe standing experiment. We'll see if they're still standing after full time.

Look around, what do you see? I see a sea of faces in search of more and more applause. What shall we do now? Let's roar towards destiny.

First half: Damp squibs with a French dressing

Gateshead kicked off towards the Pontoon in a fashion. It was big and bland, full of tension and fear, for after 51 seconds of blue bumbling Brown's bolshie bundling resulted in a whacking wobbler being wibbled away woefully by Dixon. Palmer swept forward, Dixon swept up his own mess and placed it in the nearest bin.

Palmer was an unhappy static caravan and minor hairboy. Sainte-Luce sprinkled stardust down the centre. The Dizzerman used his charm to stop that nonsense. So leg-ups are not legal these days? Some of the returners were shocked, shocked. No-one was shocked at the yellow card flouncing.

Turn to the left. Turn to the right. The Heed are a semi-toon squad and they've come to our town to play football. A ticklish dink, a Rankine flick and Magnay's best mate sneaked one step beyond. Jamie Mack swooped. Beep-beep. The flag was a-flagging so what are you worried about?

Well, wouldn't you know, a Town corner. Elevation, Mr Arnold. Mr Arnold elevated. Pearson arose to steer wide of the right post. The ref was a-reffing so what are you getting excited about?

We're getting exercised by the ref. An accumulation of annoyances, a mutating cacophony of Mariner mutterings as marginal matters went the way of the neo-Geordies. Town touch, they fall. Town fall, they blush as these small town boys run away, turn away and get away with mugging.

Is this the same Rankine? Nah, can't be, this one keeps winning headers and moving: the Rankine cycle made flesh and bones. He flicked, Rodman leant back and all our cares just drifted out to space as the ball landed up on the roof.

Get into 'em, get into 'em, get into 'em. Free kicks to them, free kicks to them, free kicks to them. The game blanded down to a series of falls and squeals in a muddle in the middle. The Heedsters let Toto and Pearson have the ball, waiting for the punt that always came. Curtis headed back, Dixon dropped the ball as Palmer chugged. Curtis ankle-shinned towards then away from the opening goal. A moment of accidental almostness.

A vicious cycle of inertia and fear returning when the vicarious pleasure seekers return in droves. Typical Town

Lennie mugged Curtis and wee Jackie Mackreth volleyed where the air is fresh and sweet, away from the bustling crowd. Up on the roof. That's where the ball will be, right smack dab in the middle of town. The crowd subdued itself with silent introspection; unable to rouse itself to rouse the players who couldn't rouse themselves to rouse the crowd. A vicious cycle of inertia and fear returning when the vicarious pleasure seekers return in droves. Typical Town.

Town pressed in the shadow of the Frozen Horsemeat Stand. A blue arm diverted danger and Magnay hurled a throw-in to The Shop. Lennie underhit a terrible return pass and Rodman ran away in his patented style. On he glided towards the halfway line, pursued vaguely by monochromers. Disley toed away from Magic Alex, but straight into the flight path of minor hair boy.

Unable to upend the flying Frenchman, Disley desisted from fly-tipping on sandy soil. Pearson awaited and stepped away from swiping. On the Gallic galloper from Guadeloupe ran, gathering momentum, gathering defenders like ripening brie to a crispy baguette. Sainte-Luce swayed past Toto, drifted into the 'D' and smooched a sweet, sweet smacker into the top right corner. A right little belter.

Brown boomed a diagonal big 'un near Mackreth and a blue leg diverted into the path of The Dizzer. A tidy tickle and Mackreth crossed deeply. Arnold volleyed, Palmer cleared back to Arnold who volleyed into the turf and offside-Lennie headed wider than Mad Jack McWide.

And in the end of the beginning, Toto headed Rankine's forearm. Pearson jabbed and jabbered, Rankine grabbed and gabbed; and both ended up with yellow flashing before their very eyes, playmates. Disley slapped wide from the resulting punt. It's grumble time already.

Boo, hiss, general grrring at everyone and no-one baby, that's where we're at. Oh, go on then, why not, it's a free hit. Boooooo, you black-clad fig leaf of foolish tweeting. It's all your fault that Town are stodgy, with static strikers and flaccid full-backs. All punts and shunts, curiously inert, passionless and playing with fear in their hearts against a team with barely any defenders.

There was no vim and verve, it was all so very normal. The momentum was dampening before our eyes and making the youngsters' eyes dampen.

Second half: Raging balls

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Hear the noise, feel the beat of the tambourine. Three and half sides of a muddy rectangle rocking and rolling, imploring on the dwindling dashers and mashers. All Town, Town, Town for ever and ever and ever and ever until the 68th minute.

Roaaaaar. Magnay and Robertson began to roam, pinning the Heedmen back and back. Waves and waves of attacks crashing on and on relentlessly. Mackreth crossed, Palmer leant back and soft-headed wide and high. Magnay crossed, Palmer leant back and soft-headed high and wide as Lennie waited to get on his bike behind. The echoes boomed, and the booms echoed to a world beyond the burger bars. Arnold bedraggled, Lennie, well, Lennied, Palmer almost moved.

Get into 'em, get into 'em, get into 'em. Town got into 'em. Incessant, irrepressible, inevitable.

Mackreth magnificently swung his left foot and the ball wobbled furiously left, right, up and down and frazzled into the bottom right corne

More and more and more and more, on and on we go. Brown retrieved, Magnay burst beyond as a decoy and Wee Jack, underneath the Police Box, turned inside. The ball bumped up off a divot, Mackreth magnificently swung his left foot and the ball wobbled furiously left, right, up and down and frazzled into the bottom right corner. And the crowd went wild, the players disappeared into a delighted duvet of dark coats and spurious leisurewear.

Even the safe standers were bouncing. Gateheaders shrivelling before us. Guess who just got back today? Big Mo was back in town.

Off they kicked, back they trundled to their keeper as Lennie trundled too. A flibbling fly-kick hung in the air, dropped on Arnold's head and Palmer was sent free, free as a bird down the centre-left. The pony-tailed peacock shankled a shinny shot burblingly across the face of goal, perfectly dissecting the emotional hinterland between Lennie and the post. It was neither one thing nor the other and ended up being neither.

More, more, more, how do we like it? Just like it is, but with goals please.

Palmer headed over again, probably. The tourniquet tightened with Heedsters teetering and tottering; Town were on the edge of happiness. Robertson flagelled straight at Dixon. Lennie almost had a shot but didn't. Captain Sensible forced his way down the right and carefully caressed a perfectly weighted pass from the bye-line. Lennie leant back and cleared the roof and probably Ramsden's car park. Mackreth surged, Lennie headed straight at and into the arms of Dixon from six yards.

And then the tide of Town terrificness started to ebb slowly out to sea, and the crowd, one by one, sat down. A series of throw-ins in front of the Main Stand caused mass narcolepsy as silence descended; momentum was lost, Town becalmed and simply bobbling helplessly in the windless Bananarama oceans of despair.

Gateshead hadn't been into Town's half for several days. The grass was growing, the birds were chirruping upon the blossom. Rabbits were gambolling gaily as McKeown laced daisy chains and laughed.

And then the dam burst thunderously in our ears. We shouted at the ref, but he just didn't seem to hear. The man with hair twinkled onto a squirting ball of nothingness and dived at Robertson just over the halfway line. Gallingly, the black-clad clot fell for the Gallic shrugging. The free kick was dinked and bobbled around, half cleared with Arnold a-tumbling under a hipster challenge from that hair boy. A shot ricocheted off several ankles variously and rumbled straight into the path of Sainte-Luce, who wellied left, low and hard under McKeown from the centre-left of the Town penalty area. And we're left bereft.

Well, you could hear a pint drop.

Could we raise ourselves from the dread again?

Lennie was swiped to the turf on the edge of the box. Magnay crossed deeply. The keeper was a bit drippy and the ball dropped near Palmer, near the goal-line. Boombling around off shoulders, pony-tails and thighs of grown men, boots and hands flailed like an am-dram Ray Cooney farce. Out it went, back to Mackreth and back the ball went into Dixon's arms, eventually, after further juggling and jiggling.

Minutes ticked by as the keeper took longer and longer to drop- and fly-kick. The game and the season dribbling away to nothingness: it's so typical Town. A big crowd, a big dip in pleasure. Town's tragical history tour continues, where dissatisfaction's guaranteed.

Less than ten minutes left: Jolley replaced Arnold and, to everyone's surprise, the Shop was closed early for Easter. On came Pittman. Wahey, a second Town corner. Sit down, don't get excited, even though Brown didn't take it short. The first rule of Town support is don't believe it until it has happened. It hasn't happened, it isn't happening: now you see life for what it is.

It's not all dreams, ooh it's not all bliss, especially when Town miss. Out crept the faint hearts, one by one, then in twos, then in dribs and drabs of disappointed dozens.Out crept the faint hearts, one by one, then in twos, then in dribs and drabs of disappointed dozens. They're Grimsby 'til they cry

Rodman scrumbled scruffily, McKeown unnecessarily scrambled his eggs. Well, it is Easter, I suppose. Rankine wallied a free kick towards the Comicon Convention, or perhaps the Dance Festival. Cleethorpes really is the beating heart of culture today. Elsewhere in Cleethorpes. Town, typical Town, just when you thought it was safe to have hope, they drag you back down. Out strode more grizzlers and grumblers. They're Grimsby 'til they cry.

With two minutes left Chapell came on for Pearson and Town moved to a 3-4-3 formation. Ooh, aren't we so fancy. Chapell immediately wooed the wilting locals with a silky sidestepped step-over straight into touch.

As the scoreboard flashed four minutes of added time Magnay was mangled down by the Heed corner. Out came a yellow card, out came a red card, off went Gjokaj. I didn't even realise he was on the pitch.

And up went a final defiant, hopeful rumble. Once more into the breach and all that, one last heave before the ho-hum of the play-offs. The rumble turned to a roar as the ref started to explore the nether regions of the rules, awarding free kicks for looking at him in a funny way, walking on the cracks in our season, that sort of thing.

Ten second, nine seconds, eight seconds left… Brown ticked, Mackreth tocked past his marker one final time, swinging in a delicious dripping cross to the heart of the penalty area. Monochromers gathered, Disley leapt like a king to nod especially spectacularly, marvellously, magnificently, coolly and cutely down past Dixon in to the bottom left corner and bring 100 faint hearts streaming back in from Blundell Avenue to join the mass love-in down in Burger Bar Corner.

It felt like a win, the Easter Monday damp squib of Alfreton suddenly resurrected. How apt. Craig Disley, a Mariner Messiah.

It could have been worse. It should have been so much better. They had two shots on target. Town had innumerable moments but nothing tremendously tangible. From their vantage point they didn't deserve to lose. From ours they were there to be trampled upon. And therein lies the tale. Perspective. It depends where you're safe-standing.

It's not over yet.