Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
26 December 2008
Grimsby Town 0 Notts Blanding 1
I see people!
With what counts as a Big Crowd these days crammed into the Stadium of Sighs, we had the annual return of the moaners and jonahs for their feast of festive fulminating. Will they be happy? What counts as happy?
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Stockdale, Bennett, The Blond The Bob The Atkinson, Hope, Clarke, Boshell, Kalala la-la-la-la-la la la-la-la la, Hegggarty, Proudofhislocks and Akpa Akpro. The substitutes were Monty, Jarman, Even Straighter Peter Bore, Christopher Llewellyn and a lump of dead wood, Mr Heywood. The patched quilt of many colours was thrown upon the cold knees Grimbarian gloom one more time, with just Boshell for Trotter, or Rodney for Del Boy as an unkind overcoat muttered into his mittens.
County turned up in an old Scunny kit, just to ratchet up the psychological warfare a notch. They'll be playing Engelbert Humperdinck songs at home games next. Quando, Quando, Quando, Quannnnnn-do.
As the kick-off loomed, the troupe of Russian doll mascots waddled off, all except the tiniest, who chased Clarke underneath the Frozen Beer Stand, before being shepherded to his dad by Captain Ryan. The crowd were lowing as their noses were glowing. It is time for you to stop all of your sobbin'. We'll never see the likes of Jim Dobbin again. Let's get robbin' these points.
County kicked off towards the Pontoon, lamping it straight out of play for a throw-in next to the corner flag. It's definitely the punt de jour, as Monsieur Ak-Ak was no doubt saying to Dave Moore over his macrobiotic croissant and chips.
County vigorously bumped town around, wallying the ball down the flanks in search of corners and throw-ins. A corner cleared, Ak-Ak brilliantly spun on the edge of the Town area with the ball on his chest and va-va-voomed away. The Countyite hugged and tugged but failed to mug Ak-Ak, who shrugged him aside and pelted off into the County half, alone, free, free as a DVD player when you buy a 40" HD plasma telly. Grrr, meddling bureaucrats! Pesky red tape! The referee stopped play, not letting Town have the advantage... the groans turned to rage as the green guffoon pointed towards the Pontoon... a free kick to them!
Oh dear, it's going to be one of those days.
It was one of those days. Don't bother reading on if your heart is faint; Town didn't get any better and everything else got worse.
Weston turned Stockdale into a pair of pumpkin underpants and hit the bye-line; his cross looped off a Town toe. Barnes walked back to Christmas and tipped the ball onto the bar and over. Town cleared the corner and Ak-Ak brilliantly turned and sped away into their half. Johnson legged him up and was booked. If you want to save some time, just repeat this five times, and simply change the name of the day tripper. They took it in turns to strangle Ak-Ak in dull, faraway places.
Town lumped free kicks vaguely towards their penalty area. From some they broke away; from others they choked the ball out for throw-ins. A ball boy lost a shoe.
Ak-Ak was felled again; Kalalalala was kicked in the head; Kalalalala was kicked in the chest; Kalala was pruned by a pair of secatuers made by local firm Thompson and Strachan. There was no flow, just whistles and bells, humping and dumping.
The ground was silent. The crowd was bored and so were the players.
Facey slashed wide and high; Strachan bumbled wider but lower. Is anything going to happen?
A-ha, at last, some football. Ak-Ak supercharged down the right, bumping his marker away with a flick of his ego. He looked up and espied yon Proudlock lurking unmarked upon the penalty spot. The cross was delightfully dinked and Proudlock headed straight down the middle, the ball hitting a Countyite shin; the moment was gone.
County clobbered the ball down their left. Canham grazed a flick and Facey, eight yards out and totally, completely and utterly unfettered by humankind, kindly leant back to slabber a half volley to infinity and beyond. Good job we didn't get him last summer then - we've got loads of players who can do that for less.
The ground was silent. The crowd was bored and so were the players. No passing, just rugby and the whistling pixie with his flagging elf under the Police Box. He was the linesman for the County and he drove the Main Stand mad.
Hey, what's this? Five minutes of feeding ducks with a bun? Town took some control and started to pass; Proudlock sumptuously flick-volleyed behind the defence for Boshell to run on to. Boshell ran on to it. His cross was blocked but his pass was not as Clarke levered a lullaby to Heggarty who winked past his marker and cranked a cross into the near post. Ak-Ak sauntered through a non-existent gap, opened up his body and side-footed wide. Kalalalalala swingled his hips past three as he shuffled across the face of the penalty area before underwhelmingly bedraggling a shot straight at Pilkington.
We've had our five minutes of fun - now get back to your stale biscuits and hard cheese; there is no pickle.
They shot, they poked a leg out, Barnes did a quite magnificent save. As the ball deflected off Boshell to Barnes' left a thieving Magpie poked the ball towards the bottom right corner. Barnes swayed to his left, swung to his right and brilliantly fingertipped the ball around the post. He does do saves then, and very good ones too.
Hope hopelessly nuddled a back header straight to Facey, but he just funked himself wide and eventually shot into the side netting after a little meander around Ramsden's toy department. Facey is Isaiah Rankin without the goal threat.
Yeah, Facey's rubbish, he kept falling over and kept passing the ball out of play. Let's all laugh at Facey, and we may even remember he used to play for 'Ull. Hark the herald mobiles sing! Man City have gone tiger hunting with their elephant and gun.
With about ten-ish minutes to go to half time they had some kind of attack type thing down their left and Town sort of cleared to the halfway line. Every Town player walked forward watching the ball while half the County team stood still. Clapham was hugely alone 30 yards out and was duly passed to. Well, I say passed, I say passed, boy: the ball went near him from a hump forward. That counts as a County pass. Town were outnumbered, with Stockdale in the land of gnomes, neither with the big people, or the little people, just alone with his fishing rod and toadstools. Triangles were triangulated and Town were strangulated with Weston tiptoeing behind what some journalists will state was a defence. As Weston neared, Barnes came out beyond his near post to meet him and the ball was clipped low across the face of goal. Facey, marked only by a team-mate and a few yards out, failed to miss an open goal which looked him in the mouth.
Let's see, what else happened...
Stockdale fell and Bore replaced him, with Clarke moving back to... the position he was already in. Yes, Bore played at right-back. He could run as fast as Weston, which was handy. It seemed to do the trick with this one-trick pony.
And then of course there was... nothing. It was dire. Mr Purple had come back for this?
Town had just let them dictate the way the game was played. Fractured, disjointed, ugly barging and whacking with only a five-minute spell of occasional football. Kalalala and Boshell spent the entire half dancing around some chairs as if at a school disco, neither wishing to make the first move. Had they ever met before? There was nothing in midfield to discuss, no penetration down the flanks and the front two where chasing daffodils, with Ak-Ak looking particularly dispirited, or perhaps the constant tripping had taken its toll. We didn't have the fuel injection model today, just a family runaround.
In a phrase: grimy tat. No refunds accepted.
Neither team made a change at half time.
Those still queuing for a sausage saw more stylish onion/meat-type-product movement on the griddle than the those staring out in the darkening space between Osmond and Pontoon. There were people out there, running around. What were they doing?
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft. Please take them away to do your experiments. They're yours, and so are we.
The ball bounced, Proudlock was free 30 yards out. Why bother running when you can whack it in? He volleyed a dipping swerver straight at Pilkington, who parried spectacularly away for a corner. The corners were rubbish. The returned crosses were only slightly better than a bunch of workmen digging a hole. Oi, don't dig there, dig it elsewhere. C'mon Town - you're digging it round and it ought to be square!
At some point someone almost looked like they were going to shoot. Almost.
Pilkington took his time lacing daisies as Ak-Ak helpfully retrieved the ball and placed it on the six-yard line. Again and again and again. And again, just for luck. His time wasting had begun in earnest. We can count you know. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten...
The shape of this game is wrong, it's much, much too long. And you can't put hole where a hole don't belong. Poor Bosh, poor Hope, poor me and you for this reversion to another time.
They got a free kick for nothing but a feint perhaps 25 yards out on their right. Floated and glanced, the header snickled inches past the left post. Moments, fragments of memory come flooding up to me now. I remember so little, but far too much of the events of that terrible day. Did Jamie Clarke really cushion-head into the centre, just six yards out, and Proudlock didn't bother to lunge? Surely a professional wouldn't idly observe with a goal bonus begging to be pickpocketed? Did Hegggggarty really loop around in three dimensions to Cruyffianly turn his full back into a suspicious pink ribbon, then the unmarked Ak-Ak awfully pass the cross to Pilkington from just eight yards out? Surely a professional is able to use his left foot for more than a sewing machine and line dancing?
Hey, it's time to groan towards the unctuous urchin. Ak-Ak chased an over-hit cross, keeping it in play BY AT LEAST A FOOT and crossing dangerously to... Maybe you could hear John Tondeur singing in the wires, maybe you could hear through the whine that the Wichita Linesman was still on the line. A goal kick was given.
Weston finally got past Bore, Barnes saved. Bosh was flicked free, Bosh was tripped. Another booking to the karate kids and Boshell slippered the blocked free kick a foot or so over. It was all so, so... so... so. Ennui, ennui, some seasonal ennui. Sleep, sleep, I know that I'm only sleeping. Through closed eyes I see West Wycombe skies on the ceiling.
A lone seagull fluttered overhead, glistening in the floodlights and framed against a mauve sky.
Facey missed again, business as usual. Yeah, I know what you're saying baby, It's business time. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven... get on with it Pilkington. Woah, woah, woah, woah, did I nod off there. Facey to Pilkington. I'll just rewind the tape.
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Facey was sent free after looking a gazillion inches offside. Barnes rushed out and lay down before the feet of Facey, who just passed the shot against the thick shins of the Barnster.
Hardly worth rewinding for, was it.
They didn't get a penalty when someone dived over Heggggarty's martial arts slappity-sluppitty something-type challenge, and then the less than perspiring Proudlock was replaced by Jarman, with the shrinking Bosh replaced by the effervescent elephant that is slimline Chris Llewellyn. I suppose now we can see that Trotter brought more than a can of Irn Bru to the party. He's tall and Kalalala knows what to do when he's around.
Ooh. Clarke had a header. Ak-Ak wove some extremely minor magic and spindled a cross to the far post. Three Town players converged with just a single Countyite quivering by the post. They all bumped into each other and someone, who we shall call Clarke, headed into the side netting.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve...
Has it finished yet? Can we go home? We wouldn't score if they went home yesterday. Canham spun and creaked a shot over the left angle of post and bar when seemingly unmarked a dozen yards out. Is it still going on? Clarke got in Ak-Ak's way then fell into a slicing shot that sliced wide as sliced things do. My, my - there's three minutes of added time. And Pilkington held on to the ball. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen...
And this is where the game got really interesting. No it didn't, it's where it didn't end. The referee had been counting too. He added on another minute, then another, then another as County made the slowest substitution in the world ever, as Johnson's hair turned grey, then white, and finally fell out into his wheelchair as he left the pitch. Town had corners, Town had throw-ins, Town had nothing resembling any hope of a chance of a possibility of a shot. It was gormless and Town were pointless.
The Pontoon can count to 14. We can count every single one of our points. There is nothing left to say, it was what it was. Nothing.
So there it was: an unmerry Christmas; everybody but us was having fun. Look to the future now, Re-Newell's only just begun.