Grimsbytown ride: Dagenham (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 December 2009

A Grimsby Team 1 A Bit of D&R 1

A still, crystal clear afternoon in the Theatre of Gloom with around 44½ Daggers and 23¾ Redders selling their apples and pears off the back of a lorry down at the old Bull and Bush Stand. Oi! Have a banana: the Dagenhamsters played in yellow.

Town XP version 7.3 (online updates not available until January) lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Captain Colgan, Bore, Atkinson, Lankyshire, McCrory, Nicky Feathercut, Leary, Sweeney, Coulson, Ak-Ak, Proudlock. The substitutes were Overton, Linwood, North, Clarke, Barry 'Jailbird' Conman, Hudson and Wright. They are who they are, they played where they were. Hudson is small, Wright is tall. They got us running and going out of our minds and got us thinking that we're wastin' our time. Not many brought themselves down to Blundell Park.

As the minutes ticked on and dust gathered upon the sea of plastic, we had the pantomime of Bradley Wood in a cast. No, not Babes in the Wood, but a huge plastic ankle cast as he hobbled around the perimeter with Shahin. They were November's team, this is December's team; they are already history.

History! Ah, 1998 and all that. Wayne, you were wonderful, but what's happened to your hair? From Rock Star to Widow Twanky in a decade. A bit like Town then.

Stop wallowin', start hollerin'! G-g-g-g-g-g-go kids.

First half: Standing orders
Town kicked off towards the Osmond stand to the sound of the suburbs as yellowmen yobs crowded out the centre of Town.

This is odd. The Cockernee rebels are strolling, Town are rolling. We're hassling them. Town passed, Proudlock rocked, Ak-Ak attacked and Leary wearily wibbled at Woberts. Proudlock dibbly-bibbled at Boberts and Nurse fell over the moon.

Town are playing football. Unbelievable, it's a different world.

Sweeney nicked, Ak-Ak flicked, Proudlock licked and Coulson bounded free inside their penalty area, but the ball bumbled and bombled away from his left foot. He turned, he crossed behind all and the moment was gone. But it was a moment of nearlyness: we haven't had them for a while, so things are looking up, as they always are when you're in the gutter.

Sweeney twinkled and Ak-Ak crinkled a cross beyond the Thunderdome: the dog isn't dead.

Ah, here it is. The Dagenham and the Redbridge fell over and the whole town sighed as a free kick was given 25 or so yards out. Yeah, yeah, we know what happens next: they score from their first attack with an unstoppable belter into the top corner. Let's get on with it.

Madam Currie mixed a potion and drank deeply from the well of comedy, tapping sideways to a slip-sliding colleague. Town's PIs with the roving eyes, Feathercut and McCrory, mugged the stumbling dice and ran up the pitch, pursued by a gaggle of scantily clad girls, a policeman and a saxophonist with a beret. Our blond bombshells skipped gaily through the fields, exchanging glances and passes before one of them, on the right of the penalty area, slippered a shot straight at Mr Roberts' big tummy. One must be fair to the lad: it's a big tummy and it's traditionally covered in fairy lights during December.

And Ak-Ak flibbered a gibbet from way wide of goal, comfortably wide of the goalkeeping Christmas tree.

What a lovely 20 minutes or so. All Town, all movement, all so very (listen carefully, I shall say this only once) very Buckleyesque. Mark I, not Mark III; the tan vinyl roof has been eschewed.

Then Dagenham woke up, pumping and punting behind the Town defence. Nurse chased and Nurse fell over, fell over again, then, having set up the three-card trick, didn't fall over. A dink from the bye-line cleared Colgan and dropped at the far post, six or seven yards out. Bore stretched his left boot to clear but poked the ball goalwards. It dribbled slowly towards the line. Slowly. The crowd aghast, the players amassed to chase the ball in but Colgan flew back and hoovered the ball up off the line.

Ak-Ak chased a chip and Mr Roberts hoofed the ball into Sidney Park, necessitating a trip down to Ramsden's to buy a new one. After a short board meeting Matthew Heywooden was given the contents of the petty cash box and told to give the change back. Well, there has to be some use for him. Bore flung it high and longish and after some head banging Feathercut lobbed the ball into a vacant lot beyond the far post. Daggerboys hesitated while the Barnsley scamp put in a cheeky cash bid, sight unseen. Stepping inside a failing flail, Coulson mashed the ball into the top of the net from a narrow angle. And there was happiness all around as he ran the full length of the Main Stand smiling, or perhaps taunting the local dentistry community with his Championship grin.

Antwi headed a corner straight at Colgan from a long, long, long way away from anywhere or anyone. That was them. That was it from them... or was it?

With about five minutes left of the half, with Town sauntering and toying with blunted Daggers, Bore was upended, five or so yards outside the penalty area, just right of centre. Sweeney, the Renaissance Man, got out his slide rule to calculate the angle of elevation required to beautifully caress the ball over the wall. Mr Roberts simply watched in awe as the ball gently turned and dipped onto the crossbar, bounced down upon the head of a retreating defender and away from a couple of approaching Townites. Sweeney swiped the resulting rebound towards Spurn Point and the moment ended.

And at the end of the half Lanky-Lanky-Lanky-Lanky-Lancashire upended Benson after a fortuitous double rebound had sent him free and was booked. Let's not forget the bit of a do inside the Town six-yard box either. Benson was a right nuisance, twisting, turning and almost burning Town as a cross wasn't cleared. The ricochet fell to Miller eight yards out, who carefully steered the ball into the nether regions of the Pontoon.

That really was it from them. And us. That ends the first half of the show and we'll be back for more after this short break. Please remember ice cream and nuts are available now!

In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but nowadays anything goes through the Town defence. But not yet today. Something looks different about this Town. They look... like a team.

Second half: Motion daggered
No changes were made by either team at half time.

The Daggermen kicked off with a rush. They'd woken up. Oh dear. Hassle, hurry, bash and crash: our capital cousins had cranked their amp up to 6. You see, that's one better than gas mark 5. Our chicken may be cooked by five o'clock.

Swoon at the swishing! Ak-Ak and Proudlock, Sweeney and Feathercut, all passing fancies and dashing looks as the Dags were stripped of their copper wiring down the right. Feathercut was tripped, Sweeney clipped a teasing dipper over the wall and a couple of inches over the bar, as dogged Dagfenders bobbed up and down like fretting apples at Halloween.

It's getting louder.

Nurse winkled free and crossed to no-one, Currie crumpled wide and they had a cornerfest. After a mess and a muddle Benson wrestled Atkinson to the floor and belly-flopped in to the goal way after the whistle had blown. After a muddle and a mess a Nurse cross waltzed through the six-yard box and Benson, alone at the far post, leant back and stroked the ball against the crossbar. On Earth we call that missing.

Nurse, pass me the ear defenders.

Green dug a hole in Sweeney and was booked. Nurse waddled past Bore and crossed low, Town cleared. Green sautéed McCrory and crossed high, Town cleared. Ak-Ak rubber-manned Antwi, sliding and swivelling on his bottom to delicately lift the ball off the defender's toes like a gentleman thief . A cross, a cross, and a corner headed inches wide by Atkinson. Ooooh.

Hither and thither the game flowed like a mountain stream, and we have but the smallest of dreams. The Daggermen thrust their rapier towards Colgan, who parried aside. A lunge left was cleared by Lankyshire, a high slash was repulsed by Atkinson. Bore and Leary calmly swept the floor and Sweeney tried to be clever, but only succeeded in being dumb. The ball was lost again, McCrory and Green slid, the ball snicked the Cockernee way and Nurse, at the near post, glancy-looped a header over Colgan in to the top right corner. An hour gone and the lead gone. The game gone?

At this Proudlock was gone, replaced by North, who spent half an hour being Danny North. He sometimes does good things, mostly does bad things, but rarely does anything out of the blue.

They had finished. McCrory was defenestrated and Colgan just managed to fingertip the cross enough to divert the ball from Benson's forehead to earlobe. After a mess and a muddle Bore ran away with the ball. Ak-Ak had a purple patch of rubbernecking rubber-legging, twisting their number three into a bookable rage. Little did we realise that the referee was on a tight schedule, he had a train to catch. He sneaked a peak at the back of the shirt and decided not to book Seth Ofori-Twumasi - too many letters, my dear Mozart.

Bore and North mowed the grass down near the Police Box, then carelessly sowed grass seeds. North brilliantly controlled a high ball over his shoulder then crossed dreadfully to no-one. The ball returned and he repeated his folly. Bore and North again dissected frogs and other amphibians, crossing low and hard and causing pandemonium inside the London lads' defence. Antwi slashed maniacally at the near post, the ball spun off his boot, looped over and across Mr Roberts and swerved an inch past the far post.

This is very good by our standards this season. Clarke replaced Feathercut.

Coulson feigned to pass, cut inside and drifted a sniggling shot inches past the far post. This is good, this is like football. Town were playing association football as we know it, contributing greatly to a game of football between professionals. It's only taken four months this season.

Dagenham had a shot, a shot, a header and another shot. But nothing very worrying resulted from all their twists and turns. So confident was Woods that Barry Conman came on for Ak-Ak. B(J)C just gave away free kicks and then did something. After some tender caresses down the Town right, he flicked Coulson free and as the Dagfence approached, he sliced his shot well, well wide. 'Tis a pity he has no left foot.

There were three minutes added during which Dagenham had a couple of lumpy free kicks which Town lumped away and then, finally, in the last seconds of the game, Conman controlled a high pass on his chest, right on the edge of the penalty area, right in the centre. Leaning back, he was hauled down by the defender, just as he flipped the ball into Clarke's path. Free kick. Sweeney waited, but the ball was laid off to Clarke, who shot against an ankle and the game ended right there, right then.

Isn't it just typical Town? Just when you thought you'd escaped caring, they drag you back in with some hope. Town looked like a team and played like a team. It wasn't a case of seeing what they were trying to do: they were actually doing it, in all areas of the pitch.

Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is rain, somewhere there is Grimsby Town and we will win again.