The day the music died

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

12 April 2015

Grimsby Town 0 Wrexham 1

Last night I dreamed Town went to Mansfield again.

Around 60 North Walian wailers whistled as the wind blew down Blundell Park and into their cheery-beery faces for the first pre-play-off-season friendly. All that security and I sneaked a huge bag of turmeric in under my sandwiches. You have to spice up your Town life somehow.

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 Hannah. What more can I say?

All you need to know to picture the scene is that the Wreckers wore green.

I'll say no more. Let's get on with the chore.

First half: Too bored to boo

Wrexham kicked off towards the Pontoon and into the wind. Town hassled 'em, Brown looped a volley widely over. Things were never the same in Manderley.

Wrexham had the ball. Wrexham passed it to each other. Town didn't have the ball even when they had it. Magnay passed the ball out of play and Mr Brown came dressed as a clown. Lennie a-stumbled like a knock-kneed nincompoop, Palmer attained a CBA in applied egotism, Arnold avoided human contact, Mackreth stood like a little boy alone and lost underneath the Frozen Horsemeat Stand.

Them. Some shots. Town. Some clots.

Bishop hoiked over the Pontoon, some other bloke was blocked, another bedraggled, yet another bebumbled with a stinger. We're waiting for them to score before we snore.

Shoddiness and shirking in a haze of shimmering green. Magnay retreated, turned himself inside out like a newly washed sock and Clarke, outside the penalty area, leant back casually to arc flatly around McKeown and into the right corner of the net, halfway up.

You know we can't even be bothered to groan these days. A mild tut or two is all you'll get out of the hard core.

After 22 minutes 53 seconds the referee awarded the first free kick of the game. It really is a huge bag of turmeric. I may have to write it into my will, to be shared equally between my nephew and niece, if they ever get beyond a fetishist food fixation with fish fingers and carrots. Well, they do live in Hampshire. Funny folk down there.

If Town really, really raised their game they could be classed as insipid

A corner, or free kick or something, whatever. Half cleared, Hudson swiped at the far post and Jamie Mack swept up. And begin the metronome: McKeown to Magnay to Mackreth. Stop! Pass back, fall over, and panic.

And begin the metronome: McKeown to Magnay to Mackreth. Stop! Pass back, fall over, and panic.

Don't ask me how, but it was. A Town corner. Higgling and piggling at the near post and Toto whacked against a green back. Palmer egoed a pokey crackle with the outside of his right boot. Passing gannets were mildly amused and slightly disturbed.

The Wreckers broke as Toto muffled his waffles. Town were all a-titter and Twitter was in a frenzy as a green man avoided scoring the second, carefully caressing wide as Jamie Mack played peek-a-boo behind a thicket of humanity.

And Jamboy was cleverly, cynically rugby tackled just out of eyesight. Off he limped. On he limped back. And that was that.

There was nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing to draw out from this putrid, pusillanimous palaver. If Town really, really raised their game they could be classed as insipid. Unless you provide me with photographic evidence and two signed affidavits from reputable witnesses, I will not believe that Wrexham's goalkeeper was present.

There's never a good time to do an impression of Welling.

Second half: Carry on failing

Robertson was replaced by Chapell. Mackreth moved back to right-back and Magnay to left-back. Chapell and Mackreth together at last: the glimmer twins with glamorous boots. Which is which and who is who?

Lennie ran down the middle. I say ran. I say middle. I say Lennie. It may be an allegory, a metaphor, or just a vague almostness of something nearly happening, maybe.

Would anyone like to have a go at describing Town's method? No? Can anyone be bothered to have a go generally? No.

Scrambles near and around the Town box now and again. There really isn't anything to report, just a bit of this and that occasionally down in front of the Whistlers and wailers. A long-range wallop went over the bar.  A long-range wallop from a free kick went over the bar. Them, not us. Don't hallucinate – the dream is over.

Two green men got in a tizz in the Wreckers' half. Palmer bore down on goal, I say bore… yes, I am bored. The ponytailed peacock piddled about and nothing happened. Town. No crosses. No shots. Nothing, nothing at all.

Jennings nurdled a low cross into the six-yard area. McKeown awaited and Mackreth scroopled a swinging shiner over. Town can't even score own goals.

I remember Marc Goodfellow. I have no need to store a memory of the non-League version

Come the 70th minute, cometh the first Shorty tactical substitution. Today, Matthew, he shall be mostly taking off the Peacock and bringing on a figure from the past, a forgotten son. Ross Hannah: one last chance to be our market square hero.

Hannah did a cross, Lennie wasn't there. Lennie was neither here, there nor anywhere on planet Earth today. If they made a Carry On film about Town he'd be played by Bernard Bresslaw. The title? Carry on Failing.

Pittman replaced Mackreth. Theoretically this was a tactical change involving a switch to a 3-4-3 formation. I like to live in the real world; really, nothing changed. It was a mess of monochrome muddling.

And then it happened. Town had a shot. In the 82nd minute Chapell pokey-prodded several feet over the bar from outside the penalty area.

Look, I hadn't mentioned Chapell before because I was brought up good and proper, like. We won't need to speak of him again soon. I remember Marc Goodfellow. I have no need to store a memory of the non-League version.

And then it happened again. Well, almost. Pittman headed softly, vaguely towards goal after a free kick. Their goalkeeper touched the ball. I instructed a private investigator to find out who their goalkeeper was. Coughlin was his name, and probably still is. It could have been a collie dog or a cauliflower and you'd have the same result.

The game ended not with a bang but with a simper. Perhaps time will mellow it, make it a moment for laughter. But now it was not funny; in the now, we did not laugh. It was not the future: it was the present. It was too vivid and too real and too normal, albeit a shockingly sub-standard version of normal.

The routine of life goes on, whatever happens; we do the same things, go through the little performance of eating, sleeping, washing, and watching Town dribble away into dreary disappointment.