Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
23 May 2016
Grimsby Town 0 Halifax Town 1
Hey, it's party time! Woo-hoo, yeah, right, get down and boogie along Wembley Way. Last week was business, today is pleasure, and pleasure alone. It doesn't matter, does it? Does it?
The northern sun turned to a southern comfort blanket of greyness as the Vase watchers trundled out as we sauntered in. Ah, so that's the pre-match entertainment: the Green Lawnmowers formation grass-cutting team, complete with smoke bombs and balletic twirls in the centre circle. It's a family fun day Sunday here in charcoal burning land. Rows of Town fans that look all the same, the kids just don't understand.
Town lined up lopsided like last week in a 4-3-wideishman-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Nolan, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Amond and Bogle. The substitutes were East, Gowling, Venney, Pittman and Arnold. Last week there was no left side, this week there was no right side. We'll see if the addition of humans to the left actually results in there being a left side. It's nice of Hurst to give Monkhouse a Wembley wave-off. And still no Anthony Straker. Hurst, what a party-pooper.
Unlike last week the opposition had supporters, a mass of blue in the far corner, making noises for their boyses. The Town support was curiously split, with the masses huddled in the corners and a huge expanse of emptiness in the middle. The clapping fish will die in the puddle.
This doesn't matter, it's a freebie, our first pre-season match at our new ground.
First half: Boring tosh
The Shaymen kicked off towards the doughnut end. Or it may have been Town who ticked the box. Frankly, my dear reader, I don't give a damn.
Boring. Boooooooooooooooooring. Why bother if you can't be bothered? Boring. Boring. Tap, tap, slow, slow, tap. Underhit, overhit, wobbling free. The Faxmen cometh, with Buckleyan triangles on the wings, eviscerating and lacerating the old creaky lefties. The right side? There is no right side. There is no right side of the Town, as a matter of fact it's all dark.
I remember Elvis Presley. No, hang on, I remember Bogle boggling a bit. A shot? Well, go on then, yes, he had a shot. They did things. They moved, they passed, Town tottered and their fans tittered. Panic in the streets of north London and Hummmmmberside as Feetov Clay's head delicately, deliciously dinked back to Jamie Mack via Burrows. Are you watching Fruity Forest Green? That's how we do things in the Football League.
Ooh, Amond headed straight at their keeper and oh, so what, nothing of any consequence happened. Men collided, men fell over. There was a ball on the pitch, but we weren't having a ball at the end-of-season soirée.
Remind me why we bothered to come to London? Why hello there, Mr Pearce, haven't seen you since 1982. It's an excuse for an old school reunion for old timers. Do you remember Wolfman? Carlos Fandango with the super wide wheels? Ah old times, when Town didn't do Wembley. Woah, hang on, they're out again.
Second half: A muddling mess
Huh, rain. And for once I didn't bring my brolly.
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Burrow borrowed over, Omar jinked jauntily and Nolan slip-slided a shot of no consequence away. Peniket pinged past the timid toes of Toto and crossed lowly beyond the fluttering fingers of McKeown. Pearson passed to the awaiting Tait who turned and tinkled straight to a blueman on the edge of the area. McManus swept high and around Jamie Mack into the centre left of the goal, then swept over to where his crowd wept.
Exactly what Town deserved. They'll get some flack for slack.
Now then, where's that famed team spirit? What a mess of muddled monochrome. Halifax this and Halifax that, pace and poise, slinking and dinking, and just remind me which of these teams is the League team?
A-ha, something wicked this way comes, at last. Arnold replaced Clay and for mere moments there was an almost proper 4-4-2, with old Monkyman dwindling on the periphery. Bogle boggled his party piece, Nolan surged into a bluewall and Monkhouse's Town career ended with a dignified Wembley retreat. And now the end is near we have Pittman on and 4-3-3. Nothing can go wrong now, it never fails. And always so stylish.
Vertical leaps and birds that go cheap. Arnold cut in and dragged weakly. Arnold zigger-zagger, zigger-zaggered through and the blue world was saved by the keeper's feet. Ay-up lad, here we go again, terrible Totoness and Peniket scuttled and skittled.
East replaced Tait. There is no need to embellish with relish. That is simply a fact, fill in your own blanks. Halifax sat back and waited for Town's dumb dinks to fail. Corners and corners and false class consciousness. Pearson arose and headed straight at Johnson.
Four minutes were added. It should have been seven, but hey do we care? We'd have just got home slightly later. Halifax counterattacks countered by Town players attacking the stray cats. More lumps and dumps and corners for Town. McKeown rose, orange and green clashed. The ball fell, bodies plunged and East swivel-scrounged lowly. The ball swished off the keeper, skipped up and was hoiked away from near the line by a big blue boot. Off they raced and Omar hauled down a Faxerboy.
And still there's more. Arnold jingle-jangled his tambourine and blimped through blue legs straight at the keeper. And then there is no more.
The end of the game and non-League life. Out without a bang, with barely a whimper.
Last week the players did it for the manager. This week they didn't do it for the fans. It may not matter much in the grand scheme of life, but it did matter on Sunday 22 May 2016, when ten thousand of us spent a whole day and yet more money following and supporting. Hang your heads on the beach.
How should we record the end of our dark days? Grandstanding grandiloquence? Sentimental soppery? Like our retreat from Wembley, let it be in dignified silence. Remember, when in the Bananarama no-one can hear you scream.