Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 April 2009
Grimsby Town 3 Port Vale 0
'Tis true that we are in great danger, the greater therefore should our courage be.
Six thousand overcoats on an overcast day in the home of the great escapologists, with just a hundred and a bit jolly Valers wasting space and their time down in the depths of the Osmond Stand. C'mon Chairman Moan, stick the Macc Lads in the covered corner and get that wraparound whole Grimsby experience. Empty seats is so Wembley.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: Henderson, Stickdale, Atkinson, Bennett, Widdowson, Jarman, Boshell, Sweeney, Heggggarty, Conlon and Proudlock. The substitutes were Leapy Lund, Heywood, Clarke, the headless F-f-f-f-f-orbes and Llewellyn. After a scientific study of the effects of 4-3-3 upon the health of the Grimsby nation, and a march to Riby Square under the slogan Not In Our Name, Mikey, we returned to normal Town life. Ah, Jarman returns, but no Hunt: no bite. Ou est Monsieur Ak-Ak?
The latest ex-player wheeled out to rouse the rabble was the reliable verb, John McDermott, whose cardigan capers will not put him in the forefront of fashionable Grimsby life. Or even the unfashionable. Ah, Macca, those we have sorely missed. At least Sticky's been Macca-ing recently.
Do we really care about them? Vale are not special and trotted out in a two-tone blue ensemble with a few big men lumbering and lurching across the green, green grass of home. The comatose Perry looks like he's had too many delicious chocolate éclairs in his life. He's a big man, but he's not in shape.
The old ground is still standing though the paint is cracked and dry. The end of our world in not nigh, we're on a high. The game's afoot, follow your spirit: Cry for Barry, Grimsby and St George Kerr!
Town kicked off towards the Osmond Stand with a little touch of Barry on the right. After a couple of minutes of fluting muzak, the Valiants pottered and pooted and the linesman tooted. Sweeney, made in Scotland from girders, flipped in a free kick and, well, it grazed off a dozy Vale head for a rosy corner.
At this moment a solitary shepherd ascended the Pontoon steps and barked at the sheepish citizens below him on the hill of hope.
Sweeney clipped and Conlon swaggered and pump action shot-gunned a header goalwards. Martin, made in Potterland from burgers, parried and the ball bumbled into an alluring hole six yards out. No mortals moved, but a man-mountain did. Conlon shape-shifted forward and slashed a shot through the trembling tea-pots.
Bournemouth have scored! That's nice too.
What a nice day.
Proudlock wept down the right, swept a pass into the path of the barbarous Conlon and watched Thin Barry steer the shot straight at Martin. Nice move. This is so nice. Everybody cares about the weather, everybody should know better, what a waste of time.
All they ever seemed to want is the chance to chuck the ball in towards a bunch of big blokes. Long throws, free kicks and corners, that's Vale's Marshall Plan. Subtle they ain't. Good they ain't. They ain't nowt but a holiday waiting to happen.
Porky Perry plunged under a Sweeney swipe and a ridiculous free kick was given, dead centre, 20 yards out. Henderson carefully placed his men in the wall, nudged them left, tugged them right, and sighed as they melted like wet cheese as Marshall churled over and around the bobbing urchins and an inch past the left post. They had a few long throws. Henderson dominated, danger was drowned in a bucket of Wayne-ness.
Town oohed, Town aahed. A flick, a trick and something nearly happened. Proudlock panicked Martin and McCombe into an unhappy slappy into the depths of the Main Stand. Jarman leveraged his equity to ping a cross from the corner flag onto Boshell's head, a dozen yards out. Alas, the Bosh bonked a looper over the angle of bar and post. A cross dripped, a cross drooped and Martin scooped them away from nearby monochromers. It was all very satisfyingly simple and played far, far away from Henderson.
After about 20 minutes Town got another corner, again on the left. After some minor foreplay the ball rippled back out to Sweeney, who stroked Hegggggarty's chinny-chin-chin. He huffed, he puffed and blew a cross into the near post. A tallboy shook his drawers and loopily-looped the ball up, up and away like a beautiful balloon beyond the far post. Jarman lurked alone, Jarman jerked his body and beautifully controlled a shimmering volley all along the watchtower across the keeper into the bottom right corner. Perfection personified.
Two corners, two goals. It's all in the game Vale: play or be played.
A mild moment of minor mayhem at a long throw resulted in Widdowson leapy-peeping to head a scuffling bumbled volley away from the near post. Stay cool everyone: Henderson had it covered anyway. Henderson, he's a king-sized duvet in these chilly times; snuggle up inside his protective aura. Bennett skewered a header vaguely backwards after a skittling steepler was bombed from their back. The ball dropped outside the penalty area and Henderson vroomed out and manfully headed back to Bennett as porky Perry shoulder-charged him aside.
Isn't it wonderful to have faith in the goalkeeper, that there is no knotty twist in the stomach every time the ball goes towards the Town penalty area.
La-di-da, Proudlock was booked for tumbling in their penalty area. Heggggarty squiffled a volley wide after the old one-two from P and C and Dodds lost his nerve after squirtling through three challenges and staring into Henderson's broodingly smiling Oirish eyes. Isolated moments in a dead rubber.
Sweeney sweetly reversed swung into Proudlock's orbit, but Martin hared off his line to scoop again. In between these bursts of adequacy there was pac-man football. Town were satisfied to move across the pitch, blocking the broken Potterpeople's path.
Oh, they are still alive. With about five minutes left Marshall was walking down the street. concentratin' on truckin' right. He pulled his cap down over his eyes, switched on the radio and hammocked between Town's palm trees. Ping! He flibbled a dipping half-volley over Henderson and onto the top of the crossbar. Ooh, saucy. We'll have to sprinkle some salt on these slugs to protect our prize turnips.
Town had barely bothered and were sauntering to the safety zone. Maybe we've learned to swim and we don't need these armbands.
What a nice day.
Port Vale sacrificed one of their hilariously inept full-backy types at half time, bringing on someone small, somewhere. They may have even amended their formation. That is assuming they had a formation in the first half, of course. They had eleven players wearing the same kit, of that there is no doubt.
Heggggarty swooped, the crowd didn't swoon. Proudlock did the Charleston inside the penalty area, moving their dead horse of a centre-back to tears as his future as a pot of glue flashed before him and Conlon leaned back and noodled the cross goalwards, but without power. Nearly, but not, as the keeper strode along his line.
Bosh, Sticky, Bosh and Jarman: linking and dinking, picking the nits from the old Vale wig. Jarman crooned a curly-wurly cross lowly towards the near post and Martin slunk low, brilliantly dummying the centre-back and cushion parrying perfectly into the path of Conlon, who simply poked into the empty net from a couple of yards out as the sun briefly peeked out from behind its camouflage net.
Game over. How are those deviant gangsters going on?
In the 5Second minute the referee, of his own volition, awarded Town a free kick after two blue meanies had clattered Henderson. This never happened again. Town only got two more free kicks, both after the linesmen had waved furiously. The crowd were aware of this imbalance and occupied the time baiting the egregious purveyor of effluence.
Dum-di-dum. Town shuffled horizontally, content to kettle and comb. Proudlock became dazzled by his own salmon pink boots, Hegggarty ran out of puff and Town dropped into automatic cruise control, sun roof open, shades on, hand out of the window singing along to their old James Last easy listening compilation whilst licking a Fab. The holiday has been booked, just saving ourselves to pay the deposit off next week. Sticky had a shot of some sort, after some kind of movement and passing type thing. Whatever, it's 3-0, there must be a fact more worthy of retaining than something that didn't almost happen that didn't matter.
Hey-hey! They a had a shot. Henderson obligingly slid to rid the kitchen of a mouse infestation. Shall we save ourselves an irritation or two? Proudlock was replaced by Forbes a minute after getting a finger-wagging from the referee for complaining about the lack of free kicks. Bennett wrestled Proudlock away, instructing him to shut up. Forbes? The headless chicken's headless chicken. He's keen, bless his little poly-cotton socks. Twenty five minutes of perpetual motion powered a 100 watt bulb in the dressing room long enough for Proudlock to comb his hair in the mirror. Forbes is eco-friendly.
Oh, they had another shot, little substitute Thompson poked a dipping volley way over from a dozen yards after some sort of higgledy-piggeldy half clearance from a vague moment of danger And another and another. A message to you Sweeney: stop this messing around. Henderson smartly plumpled a bouncing cross shot around the post and the corner was rubbishly mishit to the near pot. A flick here, a boot there: off the post, off the line and offside. Hegggarty and Henderson did things, and some Valer prodded into the empty net. Yeah, whatever, blah-blah-blah.
Let's just entertain ourselves watching Jarman shuttle and scuttle the Vale ships with crunching, munching tackles. The boy gets in to them on demand.
With about five minutes left Boshell broke and waited, waited and waited for Heggarty to arrive. He passed, Hegggarty wafted high and wide and was replaced by Llewellyn, being applauded off the pitch for once. He should have been taken off about half an hour earlier as he was clearly ever-ready and ever-willing but without energy. Unlike Jarman, he isn't a Duracell bunny.
Forbes was booked for being fouled, Clarke replaced Boshell and no-one could work out why the tannoy suddenly demanded we show the players some respect. Shall we go home now?
That was easy, wasn't it.
This wasn't a football match, but a stroll along the beach collecting some interesting shells on the way. It was a pleasantly diverting occasion which taxed no-one. Port Vale were fantastic, just what we wanted of our very special guests. They may as well have stayed at home. Perhaps they did and sent along a surrogate band. I think they are about to find out where their fans really stand.
Town did what they needed. After just four minutes it was obvious that they wouldn't have to push too hard against the bedroom door. We'll save the wooing and the wine for another day, when the maiden is less willing.