Time of the season

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

8 November 2015

Grimsby Town 5 St Albans City 1

A barmy, balmy afternoon in the house of fun with over 100 velvet-voiced old Verulamiums bobbing along in the Osmond, hiding from a wicked westerly wind. The rest? We were there. Waiting like Mariner Micawbers for something to turn up.

Ah, dear old St Albans, the sort of place people live but never come from, and where hurricanes hardly happen. It's a happy place full of happy people, but not Happy Shoppers. Far too grand. Strictly Waitrose. We know that in Harrogate people buy soup in a carton, not a tin. In St Albans they have it handmade and hand-delivered by artisans. On a pushbike.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Gowling, Townsend, Arnold, Clay, Brown, Monkhouse, Bogle and Pittman. The substitutes were Warrington, Robertson, East, Nsiala, Marshall, Mackreth and Amond. The two right-backs rule has finally been broken and, at least in theory, square pegs are in square holes. We're struggling to find a catch in the plan.

Look down yonder at the bouncing blues and yodelling yellers. What are they unfurling? What does that banner say? Like the Short One's obsession with double-stitching with full-backs, it's a mystery, oh it's a mystery. I'm still searching for a clue.

First half: He's not there

Woah, it's started. Someone kicked off and the yellow men kicked towards the Pontoon.

They had a shot. High. Ho. Hiiiiii-ho. Hi-ho. Hi-ho, it's offside Omar will go. Shinkles and shankles with overhit winkles and underhit tinkles. It's nice to know they reserve special balls for the FA Cup.

Townsend took a mini break down the left and tickled a cross lowly to the near post. Omar fell over the lime and limpid green keeper. A corner, a second scene with Pittman in flight between two defenders. The keeper flew low and right, and several legs stretched to welly away from near the line.

Brown hit the post… that holds up the Osmond roof. The Hertfordshire hillbillies kept falling over and kept getting free kicks. Gowling messed a flappy swipe, Pearson blocked. A sloppy day on poppy day.

Pittman chivvied and chased to chip into the biggest hole in the world. Welch wallowed in flapland. Bogle's woefully timid hop-waft avoided contact with the human race and the special ball.

Somewhere in the distance, hidden from view, the bannerman held his banner high. He was ten feet tall and touched the sky as he was hauled away by security. It's still a mystery. Did he want to turn suburbia inside out? Or was it something to do with sinkholes.

Townsend adjusted his theodolite to account for the curvature of the Earth and swanked a big dripper into the top right corner

Omar, Omar, Omar. Glowing slightly from his toes, psychic emanations sometimes fly. Tickled away on the right, Bogle boogied into the penalty area and waited for the keeper, waited for the defence and a big blue leg blocked. Omar, Omar, Omar. Snickled away on the right, Bogle did his little tap dance toe-heel-jump and Arnold poke-sliced nowhere from somewhere else.

Omar, Omar, Omar. Bogle fell over around the 'D'. Townsend adjusted his theodolite to account for the curvature of the Earth and swanked a big dripper into the top right corner.

They kicked off. They got a corner. They took a quick, short corner. Tait disrupted. Tait ran off with the spoon. Tait exchanged glances with Omar. Tait scored. Tait was offside. A series of factual events.

There are no other facts between the facts. Just knee-knocking nibbles and frothing at Townite trotting. It's a rotting day. Please don't bother trying to find Omar today, he's not there.

Is this a thing? Pearson headed a corner over after Welch went for a wander beyond the fridge. No, not fridge – he was beyond the fringe of the far post. Who goes beyond the fridge these days? It's where true happiness lies.

At the end of the half Omar limped off and Amond grinned on. Clay lofted waftily behind the defence. Welch wandered, Chappell headed back to where he wasn't. Amond arrived for a sneaky cheeky tap into the emptiness in the time added on for his arrival.

He had arrived; should he ever have been left at the station?

Right, that's done. Who's next in our jaunt down the list Britain's of happiest towns? Harrogate, number 1. Check. St Albans, number 5. Check. Will it be number 4? Exeter – too far away? Number 3? Ah yes, Ipswich, that's for the third round. Let's go back to the 90s for long a tailback at the Copthorne roundabout. Happy days.

Second half: Hold your head up high

Neither team made any changes at half time. Do we really need to do this? We've won, haven't we?

Doo-bi-doo. Space. Pace. Pittman through. An underhit bedribbler as chums waited, arms aloft.

Doo-bi-doo-bi-doo. Pace. Space. Townsend through. A walloping welly well wide from a narrow angle.

How many do we want? Pittman fell over. Pittman fell over somewhere else. Pittman was accompanied by a whoopy whistle and sat on a whoopee cushion. This is physical comedy, not football.

And, don't you know, around the hour these southern men started to believe they could fly. Town seized up collectively. Too many wafts and wellies, my dear Mozart. There is never a time for Town to stand and stare. St Albans were unhindered in their work, allowed the time and the space, and began to play neat little triangles of tipping and tapping, getting closer and closer to Town's penalty area.

A long chuck was ducked straight at Jamie Mack, who soft patted to no-one but himself. Crosses started to zimmer in. Yellow shirts flew up high in banana tree. Amond was mugged under the Frozen Horsemeat Stand and off the mugger flew, pursued by an irate Irishmen. On and on the yellowman went as the defence backed off, the midfield cupboard bare. Understaffed on the right, tubby Theophanous took a pass, took a touch, stepped field and thwacked a blastering blisterball in off the underside of the crossbar as the pink plunger pondered the possibilities. Unstoppable: he put his mind to it and his weight behind it.

Five minutes of unedifying panic. A bit of a slapping with a limp, wet fish of triangles, urgency and oomph. A block, a slice, a swipe and their window closed, the blinds were pulled and the light switched off. There's nobody home.

Hey, Arnold disrupted and Amond rolled the demon barber free down the right. Arnold zoomed away

Tait roamed and raided; Monkhouse powderpuffed a header. Robertson replaced Monkhouse and Townsend moved to left wing. Changing the parameters of the same experiment, eh. We look forward to the four full-backs experience.

Hey, Arnold disrupted and Amond rolled the demon barber free down the right. Arnold zoomed away, awaited the arrival of some stripes and carefully rolled a pass to the far post. Pittman slid in, and was ankle-tapped for his troubles. Game over, and game over for Pittman, who was replaced by Marshall a minute later.

I'll ask the question again. How many do we want?

Townsend surged and splurged under a light yellow lever. Up went a yellow card. A sensible chap would have just let the world keep spinning. We were not in the world of the sensible with the officiating. The linesman under the Police Box risked arrest for a series of bizarre flagging incidents, but why bother with mere details of history. To the victors the spoils.

Pearson headed down the middle and Amond cleverly waltzed away from the centre, dragging away the last defender. Marshall ran into the vacant space, straight down the middle, straight through, to poke straight through and under the keeper.

Sorry, it's boring now. Why don't we end this and we can have an early tea. Pressure, things, moments, and Brown hit the outside of the post. The real proper post, not one of them fake ones behind the goal or in the back gardens of England.

We're from Grimsby. Our motto? No soggy chips. Nice and crisp and Brown chipped to the far post. Amond awaited, arose and all around smiled. Five'll do, no point in carrying on, it's cruel and unnecessary and frankly flattering. Five minutes were added. Five minutes later we all got up and formed a queue. The drums went bang as the trumpets blew and we marched back down into the second round again.

I'll tell it to you slowly and tell you what you really need to know. In the end it was just what should have happened. There were significant misfires in the engine. It was just a game where the fittest survived.

Worth seeing the goals, but not worth going to see the game.