Them's the vagaries

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 September 2015

Grimsby Town 1 Tranmere Rovers 1

If someone lives in a cul-de sac can you drop in and claim to be just passing by? Hello again Tranmere, we're going to have to put into operation that tricky manoeuvre that is acknowledgement without breaking stride. Rule number one: carry on walking…

Oh what a beautiful evening, oh what a beautiful day it is for the paltry and pathetic 150 utterly miserable Merseysiders mithering and muttering down memory lane in the Osmoaned Stand. They should remember the parable of the shrimp that went to the prawn's cocktail party and pulled a mussel. Lighten up lads, it's fun down in the forgotten land, where nobody can hear you scream.

Lockers outside the Pontoon? It's a question. Is there an answer?

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, East, Gowling, Nsiala, Robertson, Arnold, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Pittman and Bogle. The substitutes were Tait, Pearson, Robinson, Mackreth and Tomlinson. Hurrah! We're back to sanity, the old scuffler and shuffler routine in central midfield: it has been used for thousands of years and in its basic form it is both simple and strong. There's comfort and joy in the reunion of Mr Mortice and Mr Tenon.

Hang on, where's Amond?

With Jamie Mack in pink, their keeper in bright green and their outfielders in fluorescence of yellowness, there was a tube of Refreshers on the pitch. Their keeper? As he's Scott Davies, I suppose he's got Scotty Davies' eyes, even though his hair looks uncannily like London's Millennium Dome.

A Wagner on the pitch. We're locked into our own ring cycle thankyouverymuch. And he certainly ain't no mastersinger. Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap-FISH!-clap. Doh!

We've got all the accessories required for that big match atmosphere. The crowd and the dugout and the floodlights too. Right, OK, let's go crazy.

First half: Some call it codbore

The semi-detached suburban Scousers kicked off towards the Pontoon and out towards the lockers. Tranmere tipped to type, a tiki-taka taxi right into the parking lot, neat and nowhere.

Minutes passed; perhaps the players did too. McKeown to Monkhouse. McKeown to Monkhouse. Monkhouse! McKeown is punting to you.

Ooh, a thing. Bogle boggled and blasted against yellow. A corner. Arnold muggled low and a knee knocked. Elevation Mr Arnold. The corner was elevated deep into the heart of Dixie. Bogle arose to soft-noodle downward. The ball slowly be-bumbled up and kissed against the near post. There was no music, but there were statues. The keeper watched the world go by and Pittman wellied the ball in via the underside of the bar from a yard or so out. The semi-scouse secretaries of shuffling were not up to speed with Pittman shorthand.

Many a Mekki mucked a muckle and Harris happily huffled wimpily from afar. Tranmere's typewriter furiously zipped from side to side. Diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-dee, Ping. Diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle, diddle-dee. Ping.

McKeown to Monkhouse. McKeown to Monkhouse. What happened next?

McKeown to Monkhouse. McKeown to Monkhouse. And still the typists typed their memos, letters and reports.

Flippin' 'eck, it's James McKeown. He's back

A yellow corner, cleared and returned from under the Police Box. Inaction Jackson arose alone, four yards out and thumpered to McKeown's left. The Pink Panther leapt up and star-flipped over the bar with a wondrously wonderful wonder-save which had them wailing in the Wirral.

Flippin' 'eck, it's James McKeown. He's back.

The corner was taken quickly and short as Townites indulged in an orgy of self-congratulation. Unhulky Hogan flicked the ball and Gowling's head and had six metres of bandage strapped round his bleeding bonce. You there, what's the bleeding time? About five past eight.

Well, it's passing the time as we watch them passing the ball like pusillanimous pac-men, barely invading our space. East splattered, Jennings clattered and no-one was booked.

Bogle blocked, Bogle swished swelegantly, elegantly high after some dishy Dizzer dribbling. Do you think you'll be happy buttering this toast on the coast? It happened one night, and then it stopped for tea. Muscular monochromers and wishy-washy Wirralites filling time.

Two things happened, that's all. Town just got in the way and Tranmere had nothing to say. Rule number one: carry on walking.

Second half: When the evening sun goes down

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Town continued to wander around zombieland, being no-dimensionally obsessed with the concept of the Baron's head. McKeown just kept kicking it into the Frozen Horsemeat Stand. Again and again. And again. Oh, and again.

Tranmere replaced Mekki with Blissett, the irritatingly flexible fiend.

Just normal stuff going on, ricochets and nicks and knocks on the halfway line. The demon barber cutely caressed a little tweak to no-one and there was suddenly yellow peril. Norwood surged on their centre-left and flicked as Blissett spread his wings and flew behind Toto and beyond Gowling, roaming from their right. Jamie Mack slapped out some hover-boots and slid out as Inspector Gadget stretched and pressed the button marked bendy-boots. Blissett extended his right leg to reverse-poky-lift over the floundering flapper and into the bottom left corner.

Town were still in the dressing room, polishing their medals and sharpening their smiles while Tranmere were amusing themselves playing football for a while.

Flat, fickle and in a pickle.

On the hour a flick was switched and switch was flicked. A small moment of almost football and the crowd made a noise, the players ran around and remembered to pass to each other. Just one look, that's all it took.

Corners, clearances, head tennis, scrimbles, scrumbles and a mass block of yellow. Some passing, even movement, with wall-passing Clay swiggering Pittman free. A shot delayed, a dice rolled and Monkhouse flibbered over from narrowness. Clay swaggered and claggered from afar, the ball drifting, drifting wide.

Corner, clearances, head tennis, scrimbles, scrumbles and the ball fell to Arnold on the edge of the area. He espied Davies stranded on a sandbank and carefully steer-poked a daisy cutter skimming towards the bottom left corner. Old Hill stepped back onto the goal-line and slapped away.

Shall I mention them again? Oh, if you insist. Them.

The lesser-spotted Pittman was finally replaced by Tomlinson, a squat, burly Amondish figure with a brisk and brusque approach

A Clay mis-pass let to a bit of dishevelment and Dawson stepped inside East, walloped through toes, knees, thighs and strains. McKeown parry-punched and Inspector Gadget was offside as Gowliing toe-poked away. That was them. There was no more of them down in the deep, far distance. They were lost in the haze of the drunken hour.

Omar. Pass it!

The relentless Clay surged relentlessly and The Baron was tackled tremendously as the net considered trembling. It was almost a moment.

The lesser-spotted Pittman was finally replaced by Tomlinson, a squat, burly Amondish figure with a brisk and brusque approach. Pressure and pressure and more pressure still. Tranmere sunk into a sinkhole as Town remorselessly plugged away at their wattle and daub dam. Clay shuffled a military two-step into the penalty area, clicking to Monkhouse, who clacked on to Tomlinson, who steered a curler towards the right corner. The sea of yellow finally swamped the ball near the line.

Corners. Nothing happened. Attacks. Nothing happened. Falling over. Nothing happened. A big punting diagonal towards the Police Box. Something almost happened. Tomlinson perfectly intercepted with a single, deft touch, cutting infield into a marvellously massive oasis of emptiness, and immediately smeggered goalwards. Davies arched up and back to fingertip the riser over the bar. Decent save, decent attempt. A bit of oomph.

Mackreth replaced Arnold. He crossed twice. Minutes were added. It ended.

Well, there we are. As my memory turns back the pages I can see the happy years we've both had before. Two clubs drifting across the lonely floor of football. It wasn't awful, it wasn't much, it was just professional stalemate between the flimsy and the whimsy. Town only played for half an hour.

A result that wasn't unfair, but one everyone will be dissatisfied with. It was just another day in the way-out sad café, a day that happened, and then it ended, and we just carried on as normal.