An inside job: Rotherham (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

3 November 2007

So where is the Blue Minx Gentlemen's Club?

Rotherham United 2 Grimsby Town 1

Another doldrum-y day of low sun and no fun in ghost town central. In daylight you can see why the Beachholme was a reet good value holiday for them: the town centre is like a boarded up Barnsley (which is the only sensible thing to do with Barnsley, of course), its heart ripped out by a cathedral of commerce close by. At least Grimsby has retained it's sense of architectural uniqueness. Our concrete fades a different shade of grey.

Town lined up in a 4-5-1-ish formation as follows: Montgomery; Logan, Fenton, Whittle, Newey; Till, Hunt, Boshell, Toner, Hegggggggarty; and the return of the grand ol' Lump. The substitutes were Bennett, Taylor, Bore, Jarman and Clarke. Heggggarty floated between the midfield and Lumpy, just like a butterfly. And in matters of the cloth straight Peter Bore can be fickle as can be. He wore his lemon-coloured boots with pride, though there was no cowboy hat and whistle to accompany his manly posing; it's against FA regulations. Cuh!

Hang on! Where's Butler gone? Maybe he's saving his money to go and watch international Rod Stewart tribute artist Gerry Trew, live and exclusive in front of the Deputy Mayor of Rotherham. C'mon Fenty use your imagination: there must be someone in Cleethorpes who looks like Vince Hill.

Due to roadworks on the A631, the nearest Rotherham supporter was fifty yards away. We could barely see them or hear them and that's the way, uh-huh, we like it.

Oh, it's started, and I hadn't finished my hottish dog with uncooked onion chunks, which rather neatly encapsulates the Town squad too. Opponents are taking the Mickey out of us in food form now.

First half
Town kicked off towards a jumbo selection of seven hundred assorted cheese and nut crackers happily snapping, crackling and popping in support. Not a naughty word to be heard. Yet.

Oh, all right, maybe a couple when Newey did the Newey thing and Rotherham romped forward with gay abandon, tip-toeing through the tulips and wilting at Whittle's feet. Town broke with Hegggarty flittering and fluttering down the centre left, winning a corner. Someone, let us call that man Ciaran Toner, coiled a deeply dippy cross to the far post, where Fenton thundered and thrumped a firm header back across goal. Warrington parried on the line, the ball dropped behind Hegggarty and was scrapoodled away in a most ungainly, but effective, fashion.

Rotherham raced back, tipping and tapping, passing and moving. Oi! That's our USP, get your own. One, two, three, slippery slivers of shake 'n' vac football shimmered the ball from right to left and across the face of the penalty area. Harrison doodled on a notepad, stepped aside and cringled a low shot from twenty yards towards the bottom left corner of the goal. Montgomery perused his permutations, decided to retain his present sensible haircut and sensibly plunged late to his left, clutching safely.

A minute later the windy Millers repeated their foreplay, before Harrison sliced a yard wide and high from exactly the same position. You see, you have to vary your moves; where's your romance Rotherham? The Grimsby girl won't fall for your continental charms if you keep giving her the same bunch of flowers.

What a cracking game. This way, that way, across here, over there: both teams passed sleekly and with purpose, with Rotherham a soupcon quicker and slicker that Town, but looking just as, if not more, creakity in defence. With about eight minutes gone Fenton, midway inside the Town half, tried to rumba forward, but the band was playing a waltz. And then he saw, out of the corner of his eye, a little forward alone and so spry. Fenton tried to adjust his feet to the rhythm of the music, grabbing his partner's waist, but the taffeta dress was too smooth. He lost grip, he fell and the striker fell over the falling Fenton, just outside the area. Up rushed the ref and, out in the cold distance, a wild Yorkshire cat did growl demanding a red card. Out came the yellow, up went the free kick into the wall and away came town, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Flukey Fenton, it wasn't his last waltz, as the referee hadn't sent anyone off since 1822. He's an understanding man.

Town's midfield was a little loose, but that just added to the gaiety of the nation. Fluid and fluctuating, the game was brought to you by the letter F. Toner and Hegggarty hassled in the centre, distracting the shoppers as Logan pick-pocketed a dawdling Yorkist. The ball bounced and Logan flipped it over this man, spun and flipped again, then again, then again. Such grace and beauty, such a chance as he twisted just one more time, jumped up and tackled himself in mid-air, perpendicular and pole-axed by his own athleticism when faced with just an old grey man between him and some stylishly pinned netting. The obligatory Logan's run had ended in an audacious, aeronautical slip by the slip of a lad as Warrington gratefully picked up the rolling disappointment.

Rotherham's nippers pestered and prodded Town's flabby middle-aged spread. Corners and crosses, blocks and shots: Town held firm, even if Toner didn't hold an attempted shot by Mills, their chunky midfield moped. It hit his forehead, not his forearm. Well, maybe not.

Town's formation was working excellently, snuffing out most of the ground-based assaults with some energy and interesting displays of flag waving and country dancing when approaching the descreasingly grumpy Grimbarians choi-oiking old Warrington. Heggggarty was having a subtle impact with his ankle-snapping and twisting, linking lay offs. Pity about old Lumpy being immobile and ineffective, losing every header to bushy-bonced Coughlin, the huge cooling tower in the heart of the Rotherham defence. After nearly twenty minutes Hegggarty's eyebrows were plucked and Town were given a free kick twenty or so yards out on the centre left. The wall crept forward and back like a slightly tipsy great aunt at a distant relative's funeral and Newey calmly stroked a dipping, curling shot over the wall. Warrington arched back and finger tipped the ball away from underneath the cross bar for a corner.

Nothing came of the corner. Can we have a little rest now?

Yes, the players calmed down and started to play some chess, with much chin stroking and double bluffs. No pawns were sacrificed as the middle of the board, sorry, pitch, became like a game of pac-man on Prozac. Isn't that what Ponceyship teams use to analyse games?

Run away now kids, someone's switched the game to level four! Logan and Till stood away from Brogan and allowed a couple of crosses to sail unmolested into the area. Whittle, Fenton and Monty dealt with most, but a final chuntering cross was headed high and wide at the far post by some bloke. Mrs Mills tickled some Town ivories when stooping to conquer a header 15 yards wide and Whittle put on a blindfold as he rolled a Russian roulette back pass towards Monty, who had to hurtle out of his area to thwack clear from their Taylor. Ah yes, Monty: let's have a little word about him shall we. Absolutely fine so far. He's quicker off his line than Barnes and far more decisive. He's sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always certain. And isn't that what we need from a keeper?

The referee was beginning to irk: the locals for not sending off Fenton or giving them that penalty, and Town fans for his general laissez-faire attitude to Rotherhamite bumping and grinding. Bonus ball! Two balls on the pitch! He played on as Town's flippers flicked. Why do you think he did it? I don't know. Perhaps he has such supple wrists.

Ah yes, football. Toner upset the applecart with a surprising zimmer and zoom infield; with a swish and a sway and a bottle of hairspray he snickled a low shot from thirty or so yard out, which Warrington swept up in his arms by the right post. And back Town came, with Hegggarty trundling forward towards their right corner flag. Toner stood still, Jones put on Stuart Campbell's old cloak of invisibility, and little Nick was mugged by three bad bears as his friends ran away. The ball was played infield towards the centre circle, where a red man stood alone. Logan watched, then stuttered, then stumbled, then tumbled towards ball and man, missing a tackle and off Rotherham hared. There was a bit of Millers' muddling on the edge of the area, with flicks and fancy tricks. The ball bombled against shins and limped on, a home boot mailed a billet doux and Hudson sneaked behind the stargazing Logan. Monty came out and Hudson, from a few yards to the right of goal, swiped a slow, low shot across and under Monty's left hand, the ball crawling into the net. Now that's a bit annoying.

Town didn't crumble like an apple, continuing to play contained, deliberate football, using Jones as a decoy: that's all he was good for. There was pressure, there were crosses and Town were in the slight ascendant. The flow was with Town and Hegggarty steered a first time volley lowly to Warrington's right, which he easily scoopled off the turf. Town counter-attacked swiftly and deeply into their half, with Newey, Toner and Hegggarty roaring down the left. The referee stopped play as their Taylor stayed down after a challenge years earlier. He soon got up. Rotherham were ordered to kick the ball back to Montgomery. That irked as the locals smirked.

In the last minute of the half Town smoothly eased themselves forward from left to right after Logan had disrobed Harrison in the centre. Toner fizzled across the pitch and tapped the ball aside to Logan, who attacked the full back and carefully clipped a cross to the far post. The ball sailed over all in red and The Lump, perhaps five yards out and completely unmarked, glided upon his own thermals. Warrington did a star jump in the vague direction of The Lump, who hung and stung a header back across the keeper and a couple of inches over the bar. Now that's what I call missing #43.

So far, so typical for this season. Town had had the better chances but did not score and three small errors by the same player led to a goal being conceded. The reversion to only one striker had resulted in Town looking more lively as an attacking force and largely nullified the local hamsters. Logan was a wandering minstrel at right back, Hunt a little tepid, Till was anonymous and Jones listless, but apart from them there was much to be pleased at. Apart from the score, of course.

Second half
Bennett replaced Till at half time, with Logan moving forward. Forty-five minutes too late.

Town started in sprightly fashion, pushing and flushing Rotherham back towards their keeper. A minute in Toner curled a free kick from the right corner of their penalty area which dropped at the far post, inches in front of the nodding Whittle. A minute later Newey curled a free kick from the left corner of their area which caused Andy Pandy Warrington to flap like a dandy.

Town continued to press, with Bennett's long throws causing consternated concern in their constipated defence; or was perhaps it was constipated concern in their consternated defence. Corner followed corner and, as sure as eggs is eggs, once Boshell took a corner Town frightened the horses. Bosh flighted a corner from the right to the far post where Fenton felt the groovytational pull and flew like a hot air balloon above a little local lad to pour thunder into our hearts from six yards out. Burn baby burn, he's our Bunsen burner!

The Millers stirred some more yeast into their pot and started to rise again when cooked at gas mark 4 (180 degrees for electric oven and 160 for fan assisted ovens). They passed, they moved and Mills open his body and steered a shot safely over and wide from the left corner of the Town penalty area. Hey, don't worry, the Town defence was deep and crisp and even. Monty was protected by a big woolly blanket of calm.

This little breeze blew by and the game became becalmed. Ahhhh, lovely. Town passing between them, Fenton to Bennett to Logan to Hunt to Whittle, and back to Fenton again. So very, very relaxing, like a hot bubble bath, you could just drift away...

Ga-flunk! What was that? How many more ways can we find to avoid happiness? On the hour the clock struck thirteen and we had some more furious madness from the massed gadgets in Fenton's brain. As last man he waited for a Rotherhamite, then shook his hips suggestively, waddling past the boy, but over-hitting the ball straight to Harrison, near the centre circle. Fenton carried on, missed a tackle, turned and decided the only way to stop disaster was to use his charm, scrumptiously legging Harrison up. Old Nick should have taken Buckley's half time advice to wear the funky eye patch. That's what it's in the kit bag for, to disguise the naughty boys and confuse the referee. A wig, a feather boa, some glitter on the right cheek. Anything'll do. It's the only way to avoid getting sent off.

Alas Fenton had eschewed make-up and prosthetics and was dismissed to prepare himself for a flea in his ear and a solid iron bar across his knuckles. If he's lucky. Fenton, you're a fool. Even this ref couldn't avoid getting a red card out, and he's not sent anyone off since handlebar moustaches were de rigueur for the stylish man about Town.

With this, Bennett moved into the centre and Logan back to right back. Shame, as Rotherham had been completely nullified down their left since the arrival of master Bennett.

Well, that's that then, isn't it. Shall we take bets for when the castle walls will finally fall?

O'Grady wiggled on their left after some patient interplay before strumping a low cross-shot towards the near post. Monty descended from on high and covered the ball in a soothing balm. Mrs Mills crossed into the crowd and Heggggarty was replaced by our Taylor. Town were now playing in a decapitated Christmas tree formation, for we had no fairy atop our tree.

Rotherham started to turn the tourniquet very, very slowly. We hardly noticed. Bennett stopped everything and Whittle sniffled and snaffled when required. Nothing was going near Monty and the ground was silent at yonder Yorkists end. Suddenly Yates was free on the edge of the box, but chesting and turning he gurned a weak effort straight to Montgomery. The chiffon scarf gently rubbed against Town's Adam's apple as Tonge grooved down their right pulling a low pass back to Mills on the corner of the area. He swept a sweet shot goalwards. The ball dodged heads and tails, sliding towards the top left corner, whereupon Monty arced backwards to tip the ball over for a corner. The corner was swung in to the near post, a head glanced, bodies fell, Monty tumbled and the ball lodged under his legs on the line as boots nudged and nurdled. The referee gave Town a free kick for someone having a crush on Lumpy.

Hey, we might get away with this after all!

With just over ten minutes left Town repelled another bit of slap and tickle, when Hudson infiltrated the penalty area cranked a shot goalwards. The ball hit Logan, then Whittle, then Newsham, then Mrs Mills, before Logan spun and walked the ball away. It's finally falling for us, isn't it.

Half cleared, the ball spindled upwards towards the middle of the Town half. Lumpy and a smaller Rotherhamite leapt, with a red-shirted arm bopping Jones on the head. The referee waved play on and the ball was flipped in two easy moves to their right back, way out there baby. He slung a dripping, curving cross into the heart of the penalty area. Whittle left his man and shivered across to clear, but missed the ball. O'Grady, now alone, a dozen yards out opened his body and steered a shinning shot down into the ground and across Monty into the bottom left corner.

Shall we go home now?

A minute later Hudson handballed and fell over a few yards out as Montgomery slid and smothered, and Logan was replaced by Straight Peter Bore. Town shuffled into a 3-4-2 formation and you can guess where everyone was, starting with Fenton crying in the dressing room. Balls were balled higher and longer and, finally Cyril, Lumpy won a header. Then another. Town exerted pressure, in the sense that the ball and a lot of players were within the Rotherham penalty area. A Bennett long throw caused minor peril as Bore chested the ball down inside the six yard box, but the wrong boot clobbered clear. Boshell whipped a dipping volley from the edge of the penalty area which was caught by an ecstatic estate agent in row B, and a minute later he dribbled past one, then two, before plunging to earth inside the area. No penalty, no free kick, no foul, no dive, no card, no chance, no more time.

Another defeat after another moment of mentalism from a senior professional. That's four points in a week tossed away through personal stupidity. Town just robbed themselves again. It isn't as though they played badly this time. Who's gonna water our plants? Who's gonna patch our pants?

Perhaps we should lobby FIFA to change the scoring system: let's make it more like ice skating. Things would be so much easier, though with our luck we'd get a bunch of fur-coated judges from Goole with ichthyophobia.

Nicko's Unsponsored half-Man of the Match
At half time Hegggarty was heading for the laurel leaves and asti spumanti photo-opportunity with the Deputy Mayor, but things went a little haywire. Boshell was consistently sensible, keeping possession and prodding appropriately, whilst until the second goal Whittle had been faultless. But overall, for just having less of a psychic aura, it's Gary Montgomery. Two decent saves and a lot of small things done well add up to a feeling that he was just safe and sound.

Markie Un-Man of the Match
Nick Fenton is an idiot.

Official Warning
Mr G Hegley

He's a serial non-booker and so the bookings he did give were fully warranted. You have to do a lot to get his right-hand moving towards his backside and Newey and Fenton did. He was irritatingly lenient for a lot of small fouls on Town, as Rotherham had a sneaky line in mid-air bumpings to create space for themselves, and annoyingly incoherent in applying advantage.

He didn't beat us, we did that ourselves, and his imperfections were generally small surface scratches. You didn't need a tetanus jab for that, and so 6.472 seems an entirely reasonable figure to pluck from thin air, nurse. We need the smelling salts for our own team.

The Others
Nice, neat and nifty going forward, they had a brittle heart which Town managed to avoid breaking. How kind of us. They moved forward like a younger, quicker Town without ever resorting to lumping long balls down the sides or over the top. They relied for brawn on Mills, Coughlin and Sharps, and everyone else for brain.

The two teams were, overall, very evenly matched and a draw would have been fair to both. Pleasing on the eye, they may be but they don't appear to have enough body fat to sustain a challenge for automatic promotion. File under interesting and to be admired.