The long wait: Luton (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

21 October 2008

Grimsby Town 2 Harford's Horrible Hagglers 2

Midnight approaching, better get this done before I turn into Rupert Pupkin and kidnap Tom Newey.

A still cloudless night in the olde towne with around a hundred staunchly seething Hatterpeople sternly mithering in the Osmond stand. Judas Newell? Don't be silly Hatterpeople, don't be silly.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Clarke, Bennett, Heywood, Newey, Till, Hunt, Trotter, Hegggarty, Jarman and Straight Peter Bore, metrosexual marinerman. The substitutes were Monty, North, Llewellyn, Taylor, Stockdale and his plus fours. Where's his mashy niblick gone?

So have we finally sent the unwanted loansters back? If not, why not?

Luton turned up in all black with orange flashings. Barnes turned up in orange with black shorts. Town played in black and bits of white. The floodlights came on but there was darkness.

Oh look, they've signed Mickey Spillane. Is their entire team made up of fictional characters? Are we fictional characters? Are you really reading this? Well, they do have Kenny Logan in goal, George Roper in defence and Fanny Craddock up front, so perhaps they are.

First half
Town kicked off towards the still Hatters; yes, there are still hatters out there. Frantic, frenetic, fizzled, frazzled, and dazzled: it's Peter Bore! This time with a long-range effort from a yard out.

Trotter barundled and flicked, retrieved and repeated, wonderfully sliding a scoopy slice down the black alley behind Mick Harford's Mickey Spillane. Bore bi-dumpity-bumped through, shinning, tripping, skipping and snicking a shot underneath Logan, the Van Halen fan. The ball sneered towards goal, a defender bunjee jumped and spilt his own pint down the front of his shirt. All the while SPB zoomed on and crackled in. Forty seconds. What kept him?

Luton who? No, Luton Hoo!

Luton kicked the ball in the air.

Luton kicked the ball in the air behind Tom Newey.

Luton varied their style: they kicked the ball in the air towards Ryan Bennett.

You have to admire their tactical fluidity. When that failed they kicked the ball over Jamie Clarke's head.

Then Luton kicked the ball in the air but out of play.

What will they do next?

Foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, that's what. But the referee kept giving them free kicks. He is curious, they are orange. Hey Fenty, what about the orange? We never did get an answer, did we.

Luton kicked the ball in the air.

This is boring. This is Bore-ing! A twist, a turn and a beautiful pass down the left wing, Till za-zoomed as Jarman loomed on the edge of the area. He trundled, teed up a shot and flashed five yards wide.

Luton had a lot of corners and free kicks; Town players headed them away. The irritating Craddock punched the ball in, but Town had already been given a free kick. Lucky boy. Unlucky us. Luton kept kicking the ball in the air. This match was shapeless, formless, hopeless and devoid of interest, for the angry Lutonists had the appearance of dominance but all they were doing was lobbing impolite epithets into a dark hedge and hoping the delicate blossom would wilt.

Logan punched away a corner, but the ball fell to Jarman way out on the deepest recesses of the far left of the penalty area. The Jarmster croaked a shot low through a thicket of legs and Logan deflected the ball a yard or so wide.

Phwoar, what a scorcher! Jarman teasingly tippled a pass to Bore who, with his back to goal on the right of their penalty area, spun and flung a dripping, curling shot towards the top corner. Logan lurched to his left and licked the ball over the bar. He believed he could fly, he believed he could touch the sky. Enough to make you sick, isn't it. Why can't goalies be rubbish against us.

Luton kicked the ball in the air. Bennett let the ball drop behind him, Barnes didn't come off his line. Then he did as Craddock wiggled past Bennett, tapped the ball away from goal and went off on a gap year, seeking adventures in far-flung places in the mysterious east. He achieved his aim by eventually making contact with Barnes's arms as Pheromone Phil attempted to withdraw his big Yorkshire chops. Barnes was booked, the Pontoon bayed and brayed as CRADDOCK dragged the penalty towards the bottom right corner. Barnes hoovered right and clawed the ball up and away... but it spun in off the post.

Luton kicked the ball in the air. Heywood was outpaced by Craddock and they both fell over. The referee gave a free kick to Town. That was more a penalty than the one he gave. Lucky us, eh?

Then nothing of consequence happened. A Lutonite crossed into the gently frying onions in the burger bar near the Police Box. Hegggggarty headed softly to Logan. Hegggggggggggarty miscontrolled when alone in the area. And, erm, that's it. Luton kicked the ball in the air.

Luton hadn't had a shot, but had scored. Town hadn't passed a pass, had had shots, but only scored one. Luton played fairground football: all dodgems and bearded ladies. Finesse? That's where Harford thinks you'll find the town of Barrow.

Second half
Neither team made a change at half time, both wearing the same colour shirts and some colourless football.

Luton kicked the ball in the air, Town defenders headed the ball away. Repeat ad nauseum.

Hunt rolled on through the middle and the ball was whisked off his toes as someone stirred their tea. Shall we "ooh"?

Luton were awful, Luton did nothing.

Trotter awoke and started to rumble forward; something was stirring.

Near the hour Bore chased a hopeful lob down towards the corner 'twixt Frozen Beer Stand and Pontoon. He wiggled and waggled, waggled and wiggled and Spillane attempted to strip search the felon thricely as progress was made along the touchline and in to the penalty area. The referee waved play on, giving Town the benefit of the advantage rule. And again as Bore crossed the line. And a third time Bore was hauled down, a yard or so inside the area. A free kick was given a yard or so outside the area and a lone Pontoonite was heard to assert that he disagreed with the official's decision. Everyone else just booed.

Till waited; the hapless, hatless Hatters shivered and shook; and Bennett, six or so yards out at the far post, calmly nudged his marker aside and steered a soothing header into the bottom left corner. A lone Pontoonite was heard to suggest that karmic justice had been served. Everyone else just cheered.

Luton did not exist.

Trotter swept imperiously across the park, dunking a perfect pass onto Hegggarty's toes and the first time cross wobbled a dipped through the six-yard box with lumpen Logan screeching like a dormouse. Davis grazed the ball away from Jarman a yard out at the far post. Shall we "ooooooh"? We shall. The corner was cleared, Town retained possession, Hegggarty spun and hung a cross to nowhere, but the ball suddenly swerved and dropped behind Logan, who stumbled back and pawed the ball over the bar with the very tips of his fingers.

Luton kicked the ball in the air, and Bennett sliced a clearance high and high and high towards Barnes, quivering and quaking in his line. The ball still hung high. And still. The black army of fiendish ants advanced and Barnes dropped the ball between his legs. The ravished ants swarmed upon him like he was a discarded breadcrumb. Barnes emerged with the ball after some emergency crop spraying.

And then, in the 64th minute, Luton officially had a shot; an effort, an attempt at goal. A free kick on their right was wafted high in to the deserted, ghostly plastic of the Osmond.

Both sides started to make changes; I don't care about theirs and neither should you. They are not worthy of our time, for they brought nothing to the party except a tattered Tesco carrier bag with some Moldovan wine and half a four-pack of Aldi lager. North replaced Jarman. North moved a couple of times.

Ooh, Till had a shot. He should have passed instead.

Luton kicked the ball in the air and, miraculously, with ten minutes left, someone wearing one of their shirts headed the ball towards goal. Barnes missed a punch, the Doobie Brothers reformed, and the ball was kicked off the line by a male employed by Grimsby Town Football Club. It may have been a steward.

Llewellyn replaced Hegggarty. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. He performed like a rather drab Peter Beagrie tribute act, one that forgets to include the skill and pace.

With a couple of minutes left Bore was released on the left and swayed beautifully infield, past a frolicking couple in dark material. A feint and shimmy and a swerving shot curled around Logan and around the post. I think that's what the coaching staff call "his potential".

All was well, the win was here. Go home Lutonites, with the misery your miserable football deserves. Four minutes of added time? Where did that come from?

One minute safely ambled by with Town shrugging in the corners. Another minute shuffled past like old men on their way to the betting shop. Yep, they're banging on the door, ready to collect their winnings. Let them in, let them in!

A third minute tocked through, with Luton wondering where Wonderland is. A goal kick, time to polish our medals and sharpen our smiles, and amuse ourselves playing games for a while. A drop-kick dropped inside the Luton half, rebounding off North, probably; yeah, let's assume for the sake of a narrative arc that it was him. The ball fell to a Lutonist and he ran off with it. The Town defence ran backwards for Christmas. They kept on moving forward and Town players carried on running back towards Barnes with a bucket of sand and a feather duster. Where was Newey? Craddock stepped inside the ephemeral master of slack to curl a low shot around Barnes and into the bottom right corner from about 20 yards out.

The end.

Let's hope this is the end of this tuppenny novella: The Ship That Never Was.