Dearth, wind and dire

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

8 February 2016

Grimsby Town 3 Haven't Got a Stitch to Wearville 0

Solid Gold Saturday is threatening some aural terror: I gotta get to Cleethorpes before 1986. Re-mem-mem-remem-mem-ember when? Mike Lyons, he sleeps with the fishes.

When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies, you must have been at Gateshead last week. You'll need somebody to love the FA Trophy enough to go for a little walk down Blundell Avenue on a wet morning of billowing southerly blusters. Ah, and don't you know there are 36 southern blusterers in the Osmond. Well done.

Was wet, is windy. A beardless, hooded Monkhouse drifted by in silence. A paper cup slithered wildly as it made its way across the sodden turf. A smattering of chattering and nattering Townites sat here and there. Nothing's gonna change our world.

Town lined up in a mess as follows: McKeown, East, Pearson, Gowling, Horwood, Clay, Henderson, Nolan, Marshall, Bogle and Pittman. The substitutes were Warrington, Tait, Clifton, Amond and Arnold. If there was a diamond in midfield then nobody found it. Three central midfielders higgled and piggled, while three men stood further forward and far apart. Tinker with 4-4-2 at your peril: it fills us with inertia.

The Havanters turned up in red with a lithe big unit and a couple of old stocky pros dwindling their careers away in the Solent tea shops. More words will simply waste more time before the fun begins.

First half: A surrealistic pillow of wind

The Showaddywaddyians kicked off downwind towards the Pontoon. Omar chased a dunk and was hauled down, face down in the dirt, straight down the middle 20 yards out. No free kick, no sending-off. That was fun.

Gales of laughter, shades of life are ringing through the open tiers of emptiness. Turgid Townosity and whining, whinging singing scousiness at the Grimsby Auditorium on the same day? Mud blunders and Blood Brothers, a double-header to cry for.

You can hear happiness staggering on down Harrington Street. Footprints, dressed in red, pitter-pattered around static caravans and swingled a sneaky curler. The ball skipped and Jamie Mack slipped low and right to majestically fingertip aside. And the wind whispers 4-4-2.

Lee Bradbury, peacocking on the sidelines, all clumsy boots and peek-a-boo roots that he thinks so dashing. I bet the dandy highwayman is a Dapper Dan man. What do you mean get back to the football? What football?

Ah, Marcus Marshall, the wind beneath Town's wingless wings. Fly, fly away.

Omar did the Bogle-boggle thing. Wide, not high this time. Pittman walked around in circles and finally flibbled. Wide. That, my fine fellows, is more than everything.

The strolling drones curled over, curled wide, curled into McKeown's slappy hands and clipped low into McKeown's floppy fingers. Nothing happened but they did less nothing than Town's artless amblers. East underhit crosses, Horwood overhit crosses. Crabs crawled along the sandy shore. Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past? Henderson is Bobby Mitchell rolled into Phil Bonnyman. And the wind cries 4-4-2.

Oh, and then there were those moments that everyone will ignore, overlook and helpfully forget. Wiggle like a stick, wobble like a duck, that's what Horwood did when he did the Hucklebuck and handball. Penalty? What penalty? Head tennis, mumbling and a-stumbling, McKeown arose with their lithe big unit and fell over the goal-line, scrubbling around and ostentatiously holding the ball back over the line with his studs kissing the back of the net. Goal? What goal. Nope, we see no blips, but ooh what a big ship out there Grandma.

And as the crowd seeped and sauntered towards the catering vans Lithe Big Unit pestered Pearson and sausage-rolled to Gowling when chums were awaiting. A wasted opportunity, a waste of time. No-one had guts in the gusts. It definitely wasn't a diamond they'd trodden into the soles of their shoes.

The men on the messageboards were already typing up where these black and white rabbits should go.

Second half: Thirty seconds over Wonderland

Neither team made any changes at half time, though some diverted their attention from their phones long enough to wonder whether there were nearly four men in the Town midfield.

Them. A scramblerish shot. Saved. Them a corner. Or was it a free kick? Does it matter?

Henderson had a welly and their keeper slapped away from his chinny-chin-chin towards the Boglemeister, a dozen yards out to the right of goal. Omar chested up, spun around and spectacularly cleared the ball over the bar. We are a long way from the Bogle Wonderland of our autumn dreams.

That, as they say in places that say these things, was what happened. That tells you everything and nothing, which is a fine summary of what wasn't going off out there

East jingled and jumbled into the penalty area, stumbling over an invisible touch. No Havantian touch the man or ball, so obviously a corner, corner, and corner again. A bit of slapping and tickling here, there and everywhere. The ball arrived at Gowling's feet and one of Gowling's feet kicked the ball. The ball then hit red shins. That, as they say in places that say these things, was what happened. That tells you everything and nothing, which is a fine summary of what wasn't going off out there.

Pittman! No, sit down. Alone with the ball between him and goal. His mind and body were in perfect synergy. Sleep mode. Young plunged to smother, ricochets and rebounds pinged and ponged nowhere near goal.

Pittman! No, sit down. Marshall was physically forgotten, then slipped out of the pocket of their right-back to pass to the unmarked Pittman. His mind and body were in perfect synergy. Dither mode. He passed the ball and buck to Nolan via Horwood Junction. Nolan drivelled through a thicket of red legs straight at the keeper.


Henderson walloped from way out and Young scuttled across his line and shovelled a hot potato on to a surprised post. He needs to toughen up and not sleep on a bed of croissants. That's what they do in the south, isn't it?

Pittman! Yes, stand up. Arbitrary angles and ambles afar, a shot blocked. Pittman suddenly bethwacked a welly-skimmer that shimmered like a goldfish across and away from Young and into the sidiest part of the inside of the left side of the net.

Pittman's alive!

A Hampshire befuddlement and Pittman swayed away to cross through the middle of the six- yard box, tantalisingly between keeper and the unstretching Omar.

Typical, the moment Pittman arose from the dead off he went, replaced by Arnold. Pittman was in our lives for two minutes.

Them. Curly wide. Not interesting. Not interested.

Ah, I'm interested now. Bogle bundled and Henderson tapped the free kick quickly to Arnold on the edge of the penalty area. A slick flick-dummy revealed Nolan alone again, naturally, who simply, calmly passed low across keeper into the bottom left corner.

Tait replaced Marshall, and East moved to the right midfielder type general standing place. Bogle curdled some of their left-sided cream and griggled lowly. A save. A thing. Added time. Three minutes of things to do before we go home.

Yabba-dooby-dumb-dulls, noise, sounds, colour, lights, a Havant corner, plucked from the sky by Jamie Mack and flung to the demon barber. He ran and he ran to catch up with the sun, but it had already sunk. Nolan underlapped to overlap, and Arnold tinkled that particular ivory. Nolan nibbled some cheese and stroked an underhit tease with the outside of his right boot towards the unmarked Omar. Swallow lunged and toe-poked into the near post as Young dived behind. A little bit of soap will never wash away his tears.

The end.

Well done for getting this far. No matter how little they try, Town can't avoid this Trophy trot. This game happened, and now you need not remember anything more about it. When I snap my fingers it will be 1986.