Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

23 January 2017

Grimsby Town 2 The Nolan Sitters 0

A dankishly grim day of fine mizzle greeted 700 maudlin Magpies, bringing sorrow and the hope of joy to the Osmond end. Ah yes, the Magpie is a most illustrious bird, but dwells in the dumps.

Town lined up in the new black and white fashionable 3-5-2 formation as follows: Henderson, Boyce, Collins, Pearson, Mills, Osborne, Comley, Clements, Andrew, Vernon and Bogle. The substitutes were McKeown, Davies, Jones, Gunning, Disley, Asante and Yussuf. Five defenders on the pitch, three on the bench, behold Bignot's wingless wonders. And wonder: what future for the forlorn trudgers of the recent past? Gowling espied gingerly tiptoeing with Tombola across the silvery turf towards the Frozen Beer Stand. Perhaps Josh's off for a trim at Nathan Arnold's mobile barber kiosk? Is the demon barber the best barber in Town? It's up there.

Clements was heavily strapped and bearded, Osborne a little spindly and ran just like Summerfield. Omar 2 was a substitute. Omar 2? Asante, of course, Omar's replacement at Solihull is now his pre-replacement at Town. Or he could just be a very brazen stalker, hidden in plain sight.

The return of the Vernon Vortex had many a Mariner mind spinning. Perhaps opportunity knocks for him to show the new faces he's more than a number in a black and white book.

County turned up in faintly fading red shirts, more towards the pastel end of the colour wheel of fortune. Will the arrow ever point their way again?

While the wheel is spinning, spinning, spinning, let's dream of winning, winning, winning again at home. It's nice to do that now and again. It keeps the customers satisfied.

Right, let's open the toy store and play.

First half: One for sorrow

Town kicked off towards the Osmond. I say that, but equally it may have been a wildebeest flowing across the savannah.

Town: getting to know you, getting to know one another. Hello, you must be Mr Osborne, so nice to meet you. Don't be shy, we won't bite… just yet. Is this Mr Clements? Err, there is a Mr Clements, isn't there? Townites clumped together, bumping into each other in eagerness to please. There are plenty of holes in the desert, but the Piemen were still putting their pennies in the one-armed bandits, hoping for something to turn up.

Ooh hello. A corner, shortly overhit and Boyce arose beyond the treeline and nothing happened at all, so why mention it? Hey, it's something to do. It breaks up the monotony of the same thing not happening again and again and again.

Henderson caught crosses, Town crossed the halfway line. Town crossed into their penalty area, they cleared. Henderson caught crosses, Town crossed the halfway line. Town crossed into their penalty area, they cleared. They cleared… they cleared… they cleared. Clearly they cleared. They cleared clearly. Are you clear?

I still haven't seen Clements. Have you? Osborne? Behold the metamorphosis of the frog into a princeling of persistence.

County were without finesse, without any imagination, without class or style. Just a big welly and barge. Like a poor person's poor version of a poor Sam Allardyce team playing poorly

Near the half-hour Osborne jinked and dinked on the left. Awful Audel awfulled a stretchy pokelet out towards the corner flag. Tootle pootled and Osborne nicked and knocked back into the centre of the penalty area. The remarkably unmarked Bogle scrunchily swept a bubbly rumbler across the keeper into the bottom left corner. See, that wasn't difficult. Just a bit of oomph and their soufflé collapsed.

Oh, hang on, you're wondering about Notts County. No, who are they? What did they do? They fell over when approached by strangers in the street. They jostled strangers who approached their front gate. They squealed a lot, they sighed a lot, they didn't do a lot. All they wanted to do was kick the ball as high as possible and as far as possible and ruck and muck. They were without finesse, without any imagination, without class or style. Just a big welly and barge. Like a poor person's poor version of a poor Sam Allardyce team playing poorly. Sure, they ran around a lot. So does a two-year-old child if you leave them alone. The infinite monkey can type out the complete works of Shakespeare. Big Sam-ball eventually results in a result. One day.

They kept handballing. Nelson Whistler saw no ships.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot what almost happened once. They handballed and Forte crossed and for once, and once only, it wasn't smoothed away by our smooth operators. So poor was this cross that it accidentally hit the post. Accidents will happen, when all that's said and done.

Town began to gel into the appearance of the approximation of a football team. Omar plunged, Omar arose and Bogled the free kick through the blancmange. Collins clutched the bumbler to his bosom and children everywhere could sleep happily. Osborne was unethically cleansed by an old Scunnyman, but advantage was played. Vernon trickled a teaser behind the non-defence and Omar spun to massacre massively over the bar and into the depths of the mumbling midlanders.

Is it that time already? It surely is. Let us join a queue, for we are nothing if not British to the core. Three minutes were added in which Andrew flagellated across the penalty area and Mills stretchy-slidey prodded wide from somewhere that wasn't near, but also not far either.

Is that it? That's more than it, that's it and a bit of everything and nothing. It's a practice match. No fear, no fury, nor worries, just watching Town ease into a new groove. Excuse me, I have a queue to join.

Second half: Two for joy

Neither team made any changes at half time. Oh no, hang on there – apparently they replaced Milsom with their Osborne. Who knew, who cared, who could tell the difference?

Handballs a-go-go. Still.

There was a pass, there was a move. Town believe in angles. Something good in everything I see. I had a dream and Comley scrunched, Andrew crossed, and what did Omar do? He tried to shoot, of course. It went wide. Or high. Or high and wide. Or was blocked. Or there was more than one of these moments. Or less. Is it real, is it a dream, is it simply a story that tells a greater truth and that fact need not be true?

Who needs facts when you have Omar Bogle for a few more days?

Ooh, nice foreplay. Mills and Osborne tickled a few fancies and Comley's thwacker snickled off red thighs, ballooned up, up in the air and Collins safely gathered. Hey, a shot. On target. We're having that on the record.

Bogle. Way off.

Two of Town's midfield began to break beyond the confines of the wrestling match, to drift and dribble, to sway and swingle. To pass. To move. Perchance to dream?

Big booming balls as the concertina began to wheeze. Pearson boomed bigly onto Andrew's big toe. Infield swinging and a slapshot slapped off a cerise bottom. The corner? Lost in the mist of time.

And still they plunged to Earth. Boring. Yes, I think they began to bore to the Earth's core, trying to hide from their reality. Or perhaps the Australian league.

The number 21 flashed and off trudged Vernon, disconsolately staring at the number of his nemesis, number 11. Number 11… number 11… who's our number 11? As he reached the touchline Vernon stared at a man in red, picked up a water bottle and started an earnest tactical discussion with the nearest Townite. Carry on, nothing to see here. County replaced Forte with Gibson and the world carried on turning.

Sometime, possibly now, maybe earlier, the Notts County football team exerted ninety seconds of concerted pressure. Well, Town did help them along with a series of non-clearances and perfumed invitations. At last, a thing of them. A deep cross dripping dippily beyond the far post. Duffy arrived. Duffy headed down and into the side netting. The ship disappeared below the waves, the survivors clinging to seaweed as the night drew in. They did have another shot – Town got a throw-in. That was them. That's all.

And then did the Dizzer replace the new Stuart Campbell.

Osborne, growing up before our eyes, growing into the shirt and growing into our hearts as a direct dribbler

Things happened. Lovely. Passing, movement and Mills, a dozen yards out, bumphed towards the near post. The keeper stuttered and slung himself left to magnificently muffle away for a corner, which the Dizzer poked slightly, narrowly wide from the clearance.

Osborne, growing up before our eyes, growing into the shirt and growing into our hearts as a direct dribbler. Osborne sliced across the keeper and a yard wide with an already trademarked incision into the heart of the opponents.

Town purring, town ticking and Disley stroked through the eye of the needle to Osborne, who turned and dribbled and tickled behind the retreating lumps. Omar spun on the right and lampooned lowly across the keeper, who parried across the face of the open, open goal. Vernon saw his manifest destiny. A tap in for a yard? No sirs, that is no way to enter history, let him do it in style. Vernon dummied on the goal-line, swivelled on an enormous sixpence like an elephantine Cruyff and swished back into the net between flummoxed full-back and grasping goalie.

Cue half a dozen home seats flipping and the Brereton Avenue clearance recommenced. Perhaps they care too much.

Big booming balls as Town squeezed their box and Pearson transformed himself into a thoroughly modern Millie, pinging out left and right to the flying wing-backs. The highlight, also the lowlight, as Andrew eventually piffled and puffled into a truffle of toshery.

As time passed by Davies replaced Osborne, then Gunning replaced Vernon as Town moved to what astrologers and astronauts call a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Boyce at right-back, Gunning lurking around the middle, betwixt and between the sheets. That's just the seven defenders on the pitch then. Oh how we pine for the freeform jazz of The Short One's days of carefree sexy football.

In added time, a bit of disco dancing and prancing and Davies pulled some moves of the dancefloor. A free kick, dead centre. Topknot Aborah spooned over the wall and towards the top right corner. Henderson sprang rightly and plucky-flipped from the very toppermost of the top right corner for a top-notch save.

Off Town tottered and Andrew boomed bigly from left to right. Mills shazizzelled past the red mist, sashayed to the bye-line and pulled the ball into the flightpath of the unmarked Davies. Stretching, tumbling and fumbling, Davies stretchy-poked over and five minutes were added.

That just meant I got my Chinese takeaway five minutes later.

What a pleasant stroll that was. Well done Marcus for fixing up a kickabout for your new groovesters to integrate into the pack. By the end you could see what the future is supposed to look like. It was easy, but Town were up against straw men.