Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
25 October 2015
Harrogate Town 1 Grimsby Town 4
Ah, the beautiful sparkling healthy spa waters of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The sort of place where they buy soup in cartons, not in tins. And keep a torch in the back of the car.
On a clearing day of westerly winds around and about 900 Townites careered into the genteel retreat for spinsters and sinister ministers like one big psychopathic carnivore. Woah, scary monsters and super creeps coming into town on their funky mopeds. Call the police.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Nsiala, Townsend, East, Clay, Disley, Arnold, Bogle and Amond. The substitutes were Warrington, Robertson, Brown, Venney, Mackreth, Marshall and Pittman. Tait was at right-back, East as the right midfielder. Two full-backs, eh; let's keep it tight, keep us shape, etc, etc, etc. It's not as though we've got a couple of spare right-wingers in our back pocket, is it.
The one and true Macca wandered towards the dug-outs, ambled towards the hordes of happy-clappy nostalgists. Duty called, duty performed. Right, let's get into character.
Oh dear, what can we do? They're in yellow and black and Town are in blue. I said what can we do? Let's scan the skies and be hypnotised by the red kites circling like vultures beyond the leylandii.
The grass is long, the pitch is short, the ground slopes north and the wind blows west. Ooh Betty, another slice of cake?
First half: I didn't know you cared
Town kicked off towards the Cough of Fear in the Hi-Ho Silver Lining Stand. What? Oh, they mean Kop of Fear. Those funny Yorkshire consonants, eh. What? Oh, we should have scored. Ten seconds, one punt, three touches and Arnold stroked straight into the keeper's midriff.
The artists formerly known as Sulphurites wellied a pungent pass into a Taitless void. Jamie Mack swayed lowly and leftly to snaffle a bedraggled truffle. Nearly a minute gone. The magic of the cup, two little teams searching for that moneygame draw against a big club. If we get through we may draw Accrington. Perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub of the green as Clayton's boot landed in Toto's inner thigh.
Clay draggled down the left as the big bald centre-back ached and pained. Amond sneaked behind and rolled lowly, slowly across Crook. Out came an arm and the matter was closed, never to be spoken of again in polite society. At least there's method in his missing.
That pitch is darn short you know. Crooks hoofed incessantly down pitch, downwind, right down McKeown's throat. Charmless and harmless. Townites wellied high and long. Harmless and charmless. A perfectly matched pair of neutered cats.
Omar spun, boggled to the turf and toggled the free kick micrometres wide of the left post as Crook stood motionless, admiring the biodiversity. Yellow men tumbled and blue men mumbled as free kicks were crumbled into and beyond by Joltin' Joe, the invisible ex-man. Colbeck took bad free kicks. The end.
After 15 minutes of lame local dunks, a chuck and tickle on their left and Knowles twizzled on the bye-line with all the poise of the Sphinx, but little of her mystery. Tottering Toto was befuddled and went for a wet weekend in a static caravan in Cleethorpes. The buzzing thing rolled along the bye-line and rolled the ball back to the unmarked Daniels, who walloped high across McKeown into the toppish left of the goal. They're dancing in Spofforth, down in Follifoot and not forgetting Kettlesing Bottom. Yes, they're dancing in the Stray. McKeown sprawled and crawled to his feet after the threat of some Dave Moore rubbage.
Ah that's better, some cool calm Celtic caressing always provides a soothing balm; you know you're safe with the Val Doonican of the Vanarama
Now don't you say everything is groovy, when the atmosphere's flat where the Mariners masses are sat.
Townsend fizzed a cross deeply and flatly as Amond awaited. Some yellowhead grazed away for a corner. The corner cleared and returned, returned and cleared and Amond dunked down the final return. Well I ask you, was it worth it?
Them – a bunch of free kicks and crosses, crosses and free kicks, into the hedge, over the wall, through the keyhole? Who'd watch football in a house like this? The travelling Wilburys began to chunter. A single, sole silly sizeist barracked the living legend, and the red kites swirled like vultures. We hadn't travelled across the country to watch this tat.
A triangulated throw-in deep down on the left burned them Yorkshire puddings. Townsend tickled, Townsend teased and Amond eased open his body and placed a precision pass across the keeper into the bottom right corner. Ah that's better, some cool calm Celtic caressing always provides a soothing balm; you know you're safe with the Val Doonican of the Vanarama.
And the busy buzzybodies started to tire as the referee started to tire of their delayed clatters and snarky chatters. And still they wellied from keeper to keeper. When Town bothered things almost happened. Arnold wizard waltzed to the bye-line and crinkled a cross through the keeper's legs and across the face of goal.
As the end nighed a simple yellow chuck and hook discombobulated Town's right side. Daniels skipped into the void and Toto stood still, arms aloft. Daniels poked the ball and hurled himself inarticulately over the leg he expected to be there. It's that ref, isn't it, so we all expected him to point spotward. Hurrah, hurrah for dixie. The fine fellow pointed west instead of east and out came a yellow card for the tearful tumbler.
That'll do for now; it could have been worse, though it should have been better. Town were just scruffy in possession, structurally dishevelled and collectively distracted. Harrogate were keen and eager.
Second half: Rising damp
Neither team made any changes at half time. The red kites still circled portentously and the Harrogutters kicked off pretentiously with an allusion to post-impressionism and a visual leitmotif based on Charles Reep's analysis of Swindon v Brentford in March 1950.
A bit of hoo-hah nowhere much ended with Daniels be-thwacking straight as an arrow through thicket and thin from way out left. Jamie Mack buckled his left leg and swum low to parry aside. That's just about them for ages. Sure, they approached now and again, but they had no fizz in their bang. Nothing to get hung about. It was all very Reepian.
Arnold spun plates while whistling popular tunes from the 1960s, crossing deeply. A collision of indecision at the furthest post and East teed himself up for a volley, eight yards out. Alas, the bearded blocker was stung by a flying bald bee. Well, this may have been now, it may have been then, but it happened sometime during the delightful denouement to the afternoon sojourn into high society.
Town cleared a corner and Disley wafted the demon barber free. Arnold soared and sizzled, crumbling over a poky yellow leg. The ref pointed towards the penalty spot, causing much homely harrumphing and day tripper delight. Omar stood over the ball in his distinctly distinctive Omar way and everyone knew which way he was going to prod the ball. Crook slouched lowly and left and Bogle arose to nod the rebound into the right corner. Yes sir, his eyes were full of hesitation but Bogle had scored from the penalty he'd missed, claiming an assist and promenading in penance before the massed Mariners.
They kicked off, Town kicked it back, and that was that. Pearson thumped a header forward which grazed off a yellow head and Arnold sauntered away, all alone, to calmly roll the ball around the keeper into the bottom left corner.
Venney got stuck in, challenging a giant for a header, passing and crossing and looking thoroughly comfortable. All very pleasing indeed
Yes, yes, they kept trying, but their dream was over. Punting and shunting only got them as far as the edge of the Town penalty area. As soon as they got there the clam snapped shut. The only worry was Disley dicing with short-term disaster, daring the referee to book him for persistent, low-level impeding.
Bogle fell with the big bald bloke and went off for a facial. On came Pittman for some perky vertical leaps and bleeps. A throw-in lobbed gently across the face of the penalty area. Arnold toe-hooked on, Pittman swivel-flicked over the top, and Amond wandered into the deserted tundra to carefully, casually, coolly caress a clip over the advancing Crook. Cool, real cool.
Harrogate fell apart a bit, losing physical power and mental will. The keeper kept throwing or kicking straight to Townites. Pittman drivelled back to an open goal for Crook to retrieve, and other things nearly happened, but didn't in the end.
Finally Disley was withdrawn and on came… tiny tot Venney and not Brown. Headers and this-and-thattery, Venney got stuck in, challenging a giant for a header, passing and crossing and looking thoroughly comfortable. All very pleasing indeed.
Pittman delayed and delayed a pass and Amond dinked to not score his hat-trick, courtesy of an unfathomably correct decision by the linesman. How unlucky can you get in life. Pittman arose to glance wide. Pittman snickered and snarked lowly straight at Crook. There we are: things. The rest of the time? East kept getting in the way.
Macca's muckers did have moments, you know. A couple of surges where they were shepherded like sheep into a safe pen in the valleys and dales. Town indulged in some defending without tackling, like the old pros used to do, in the old times, when we were kings. And the unmarked Cecil headed weakly at McKeown.
And we all lived happily ever after.
Well, there we are. Nice little ground in a nice little town. Nice to see McDermott, to see McDermott nice. It was all very nice.