Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
7 March 2009
Grimsby Town 5 (FIVE) Lincoln City 1
There's always a good crowd for the first game of the season.
Around 800 Impites prepared to dance on the Humber grave as the auld groond slowly filled to just below the handle, simmering nicely. What is that? Is the Ludford cowfield wobbling again? Why no, it's a crowd, making noises off without hint of a grumble, being an athlete's support. And no Boylenian waheying in sight.
Town lined up in the 3-5-2 formation as follows: Henderson, Atkinson, Bennett, Newey, Clarke, Boshell, Kalalalalala, Elliott, Heggggarty, Ak-Ak, Proudlock. The substitutes were Monty, Bore, Jarman, Widdowson and Forbes. Ah, the audacity of hope: when stuck in the mud put on some wellies on and revert to a Jake-the-Peg three at the back. The three mouseketeers stood on the edge of the penalty area heading balls back to Dave Moore, tripping over the massed ranks of mascots in the process. As Heggggarty and Clarke are neither fishy full-backs or foulish midfielders, the only place they can be is the nebulous world of betwixt and between, neither and both. It's where they exist anyway.
Lincoln's stalactites and stalagmites wore red shorts and white shirts; fortunately they wore their shorts on the bottoms and shirts on their chests, otherwise the police would have insisted the game starts at 9pm with no-one under 21 allowed inside the ground. They had a bit more bigness and beef up top and downstairs, with chunky Elding a particularly fetching barfly, interrupting his social life for an hour or two with a spot of paid jogging.
It can lift you up, but mostly let you down, take your world and turn it all around. That thing called Town. Which one will turn up today: TopTown, ToyTown or LazyTown?
Town kicked off towards the Osmond with Kalalalalalalala whelping it straight out for a goal kick.
There was hareming and scareming, with the ball kangarooing around like a learner in a Lada. We all have to start somewhere and the Porsche can come later. The midfield was a swamp of suffocating sherbet-dipping. The ball was a parcel to pass before someone hung the DJ. This paragraph will end with a throw-in.
They had a free kick, Kovacs headed it over; it wasn't anything to worry about. And there wasn't anything to worry about, apart from the eagerness of the linesman to get a decision wrong. Ball to hand, sir, ball to hand. The atoms kept colliding in the box, but there was no explosion, just enough pressure to keep the game inflated. This paragraph will end with a free kick.
Ooh, Town. Up, down, flying around, looping the loop and Proudlock shinned against the scoreboard from inside their area. Atkinson twirled and whirled and bedraggled a shot through a thicket of thorny knees but straight at Burch. Isolated moments of nearlyness, while the Impitites eased themselves in a midfield torpor. This paragraph will end with a drop ball.
They came, they saw, they hunkered down. Lincoln were tall, had the ball, but they'd rather be in a shopping mall. They had corners, they had free kicks, and the occasional flick and trick but Henderson didn't have to sing for his supper. We can't tell whether the Anti-Barnes is wonderful or woeful Wayne. Intrigued by the siren sounds of foghorns and leghorns beyond the burger van, beyond the trees, beyond the horizon Henderson wandered over the railway tracks, and hassled the startled Elding by the corner flag, twocking away for a throw-in.
There's always a throw-in around the corner flag, just like you're never more than six feet from an Andy, or is that a rat? These Daily Mail scare stories blend into each other, don't they. Don't drink more that two glasses of red potatoes near a mobile phone or you become a librarian, especially if you are man between the ages of 16 and 25 and wear baggy trousers. Ah, baggy trousers, dirty shirts, Kovacs pulling Ak-Ak's hair and eating dirt as the rubberman rolled and bounced along the touchline and bye-line before crossing. Beevers came to break it up: back of the 'ead with a plastic cup. Some day this half will end. Some day this paragraph will end.
N'Guessan shot straight at Henderson from outside of the penalty area. Bare facts, barely interesting.
JPK swept a shot onto a Lincoln head and scooped a dropper through and across the face of goal. Almost to Hegggarty, if Heggggarty had been almost there. Bare facts, the bare necessities of Town life.
Hegggarty failed, Horseface crossed, the ball just glided serenely through, with no need of a police escort. Proudlock crossed low, Beevers fell, stretched out his leg and poked back towards Burch, who picked it up. Bare facts, barely legal.
Lincoln were given a free kick for smiling, or was it that Newey supposedly handled the ball? Oakes peered through the wall calculating his angles, trigging his nometrics and coiling up, over and wide as Henderson posed for the cameras. It wasn't close, it was just near. Where do we go from here? Is it down to the Conference we fear?
A few minutes before half time a Boshell corner was cleared back to Boshell whose cross was cleared back to Boshell, whose cross was cleared back to Boshell. Ah, hang on, there's a hole in my bucket of memory. Thricely he tried, and on the third day Boshell created the cow, crossing curlingly into the middle of the area. Proudlock leapt in front of his marker, poked out his toes and steered a stoopling snick over Burch and into the bottom right corner. A significant amount of appreciation was expressed audibly by three quarters of the ground. Oh yes.
Town upped their aunties haggling for the price of everything. Kalalalalala wrestled and rolled, was fouled, fouled and fouled again but persisted in his camel-less adventure across the desert of Lincoln's 'D'. He swished and squirmed a shot across Burch and inches wide of the right post.
And that was that.
Ooh-oooh-ooooh. One-nil up, we're one-nil up, we needed that, oh how we needed that. Ah, it's only half time and all Town do is treat us bad, break our hearts and leave us sad. Let's postpone this paradise for an hour.
No changes were made by either team at half time.
Let's skip past the first two minutes and 28 seconds. Pinball in never interesting as a spectator sport. A few bells ring and lights flash, but it soon palls.
Lincoln broke quickly - one, two, three, boing - their Clarke headed a few inches wide of the near post after a Kerr cross from their right. Thomas of Newey, Thomas of Newey, where art thou? Oh, there you are: Peter Jackson chatted and patted Newey at a break in play. Remember, King Konk, Newey said he isn't fit enough to play for you. Kerr cross, surely that can't be right? Town were cross with Kerr after his non-stop yapping and cracking and there was much huffing and puffing of chests after some nonsense down near the Osmond.
Town broke wonderfully with precise one-touch passing. Hegggggarty crossed, Ak-Ak rose above Elliott and, from ten yards out, headed a foot or so wide. Boshell and half the Pontoon rose in fury claiming a rogue Impish hand had diverted. Town pressed with corners and free kicks flying gently into the cauldron. A push once, a push twice, a handball ignored: crowd and team as one in righteous anger. Kerr blocked a Boshell cross with his hand, just outside the area on the left. The referee moved the ball back three yards, paced out eight and made Boshell retake it. He then measured out ten paces from the wall, and moved the ball back again, walked back to the wall and booked Boshell for taking the free kick too quickly. Let's look at the evidence... yep, guilty as charged. He's mad. He's inventing rules.
Boshell was finally allowed to chip the free kick to the far post. Proudlock plunged and the ball ricocheted off Ak-Ak's chest straight to Burch. Town's moments had come and gone. We've been here before, we know the score; we know what happens next.
Sinclair fell over where he thought Proudlock would be and MadRef gave them a free kick just inside the Town half. They took it from further forward, chipping in towards the near post while the ball was still moving. Newey held his arm out, rigid as a juggernaut, and shouldered the ball aside. A penalty. Another needless penalty given away by the airhead, just like at Sincil Blank. N'Guessan strode forward and calmly plonked the ball down the centre-right as Henderson flew further and lower to his right.
At this Widdowson came on for the limping Elliott who had spent some time off the field after a clattering - the third time Town had been reduced to ten men. Bye-bye Mr Elliott, you can head the ball and now you're heading back to Donny. We can see you used to be a good footballer, you'll do well in those Old Masters six-a-side games. Widdowson went to wing-back, and Heggggarty swooshed up to the left-sided midfield role. Historians will look upon this moment as a tactical masterstroke.
Elding headed softly at Henderson, another Imp grazed a header nicely wide. The game began to slowly stretch out, end to end; who would break on through to the other side? Boshell broke, Hegggarty swung his pants and the ricochet fell to Clarke, whose shot was blocked by a hand. The game was winding up to something. Newey was decapitated by one of their subs with a late, late stretching side scoop. Kerrrrr, the galloping tourniquet, posted Kalalalala into the Main Stand. Only yellow cards emerged. You could feel something was about to explode, the low growl, the stands shaking, the crowd permanently upon its feet raging and howling. The Town in ferment, but who would be in torment?
Ah, this is what you want. TISWAS - This Is Saturday, We Are Scoring.
With a dozen minutes left the world went haywire. Pigeons flew backwards to the lavatory, a bus driver had change for a fiver and the locals started to treasure the Town. Newey, Newey, Newey, Newey, still Newey, Newey on the ground, Newey in the air, Newey all around, and so the feeling grows. Ak-Ak! Newey felt it in his fingers and in his toes, roaming, rolling, persisting, dragging and thundering past tackles and shackles after exchanging glances with Heggggarty. He bundled into the area, fell under a tackle, scraped the ball around while face down in the dirt and Ak-Ak leapt into this breach to thrash across the keeper and into the bottom left corner.
The dam burst, love and affection flowed down to the pitch and Lincoln were swept away by the torrent of terrifficness. The ground was bouncing.
Town's bouncing bomb had cracked their concrete and the clay beneath their feet began to crumble. There was thunder in our tears. We shouted and everyone seemed to hear. Lincoln pinged for a couple of minutes, Town ponged back with a Hegggarty thrust. Ak-Ak brilliantly rolled away and rolled a cross towards the unmarked Proudlock. At the last second Burch snapped his finger and snipped the ball away from the twinkly toes of Adam for a corner. Boshell clipped, Ak-Ak flicked, Kerr kicked the ball off the line and against the chest of Proudlock, who waited for the bounce and massacred it into the roof of the net.
The town was bouncing.
From the kick-off Lincoln pinged forward in an L-registered VW caravanette. But Town pinned them back with a sumptuous weekend break in an luxury hotel with all mod cons and complimentary chocolates. Hegggarty was released, Boshell raided down the wing, but the cross was flat-ironed straight to the unmarked Proudlock, a dozen yards out, who leaned back and draggy-steered a low left-footed hook inside the left post. Jarman sprinted onto the pitch to hug The Master, who simply stood before the Pontoon and bowed like a matador. Hail El Rubio! Scorchio! The bull is dead. Free burgers for a month.
The county was bouncing, registering 3.2 on the Richter scale.
Re-Newell, ever the dour pragmatist, decided to batten down the hatches, tie up the box in six rolls of sellotape and really clamp the midfield by bringing on his best defensive midfielder: Bore replaced Kalalalala. Now that is extracting more Michaels than there are in the Dublin and Massachusetts branches of Marks and Spencer.
Are we greedy, do we want five? Oh yes, oh yes indeed. We want Ludwig van Newellhoven's glorious fifth.
N'Guessan drifted in and wafted high. Newey snoozed under a long diagonal punt and Elding lobbed millimetres wide as Newey woke up and stood by the post. We need that killer fifth.
With shimmering hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants, El Rubio did the old soft-shoe shuffle to release the rampaging Widdowson. Burch came off his line and flung himself at the Mighty Joe's feet, enough to cause a slap and tickle wide.
There were oodles of added time, long enough for the travelling Impites to drift away and clear Cleethorpes by the time we got to see our phoenix from the flames.
Do we want some icing sugar sprinkled atop our cake?
Six-foot-six, he stood on the ground, he weighed two hundred and thirty-five pounds. But I saw that giant of a man brought down to his knees by a team called Town. Kovacs was swallowed by the irresistible Humber tidal bore, a once-yearly confluence of events that sees the sea crash down upon unsuspecting tourists. Ak-Ak wrapped himself around Kovacs like a python, rolled goalwards and escaped the desperate clutches of the spurned lover who crawled after him begging for forgiveness. On he shimmered, hurdling the barbed wire fences and privet hedges as tackles thwacked towards his shins. The ball rolled on towards the edge of the area and Ak-Ak stretch-stretch-stretched to sweep it majestically back across Burch's flailing gloves and into the bottom right corner. A beautiful thing, a beautiful day.
Never has a man's gast been so flabbered.
With the game finally wrapped in a velvet bag of diamond-encrusted joy, Jarman replaced Proudlock, allowing the citizens of Grumbleside to genuflect and reflect. Tambourines were shaken and off he walked ahead of a marching band. The skies above are clear again. For this weekend anyway, happy days are here again.
The wind, the rain, the pain of Tuesday brushed into the skip of stale history by a dozen minutes of madness and mayhem: that's all it took to get the mojo back. Town got a fix of something, and the adrenalin surge was magnificent to behold. The score was an accurate reflection of the last quarter of an hour, but this is simply Town retrieving the boot from the other foot. We've been kicked in this period so often that we aren't going to complain about skewed scorelines. This was about confidence, and with it came competence.
Town were just irresistible.
We have a striking partnership. Ak-Ak moved from minor pest to bringer of pestilence once he scored, and Proudlock's goals speak more than words. Hat-tricks are not lucky. The rock was the back three, give or take several Newey moments which one has to factor in as normal - even he made some decent interceptions and was a thrusting presence when advancing from the back. Henderson only had a couple of routine stops to make, nothing difficult, and was extremely positive again. Clarke was diffident at the start and Hegggarty physically weak, but the minor reshuffle was Town's double diamond which energised and revitalised.
We had nothing to fear but fear itself. Is this Town's New Deal?
Who'll start the conga to Saltergate?