Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
30 January 2017
Steamage Steve 2 Grimsby Town 0
First there is the opportunity, then the betrayal. Much has changed, but just as much remains the same.
Ah, the great outdoors. Cloudless and cloudy, sunshine and rain, there was nippy weather in the joyless jockstrap in the backside of Hertfordshire as the marching Mariners joined the queues for the full body searches, telemetric testing and facial profiling. They let a man in with a pocketful of pens. Have they never seen Casino?
Town lined up in the new orthodoxy - hail to the 3-5-2 formation - as follows: Henderson, Boyce, Collins, Pearson, Mills, Osborne, Comley, Clements, Andrew, Vernon and Bogle. The substitutes were McKeown, Jones, Gunning, Davies, Disley, Assante and Yussuf. Yeah, same lot as last week, in the same places, probably doing the same thing. If Steamage Stevenage, the serial losers, are as rotten as Notts County then we may luck out again.
Stevenage: a non-League town with non-League ground, non-League food, a non-League pitch, with non-League shirts and non-League niceness from their non-League fans. What a drag, what an acidic flashback this is. You take ages to get in and when you do you can't get out, all the while festering and stewing at the miserableness of everything and getting angry at the impossibility of getting angry at the locals. Except the club, of course, following in a long line of mein hosts utterly amazed and overwhelmed by the unexpected arrival of everyone they sold tickets to. Amateurs.
As the warm-ups ended, Yussuf wellied the final ball at the open goal but into the crowd, straight at the man in the longest coat this side of Tombstone, stirring a newly-purchased hot drink. Man saw ball, ball saw cup. Man stood tall, stood staunchly and strong-armed the ball to dead-bat down - and all without spilling a drop of his drink. It's called experience.
C'mon Town, don't spill the beans, we want Stevenage on toast.
1st Half – you’re so Lamex
Town kicked off in grey towards the Town thirteen hundred. We looked into their eyes. We saw an emptiness. We could tell already that we'd wasted another day of our lives.
Omar bogled, someone crossed and Omar tumbled. They threw in, they crossed, they fell and Schumacher, deadly centred, dead eyed and deadened our day by coiling a swifty out-swerver over the wall into the top right corner. What a load of cobblers. Three minutes in and we already knew that we'd wasted another day of our lives.
The pitch a mess, the team a mess, oh what a circus, oh what a non-show. Hustled and hassled by the Hertfordshire hand-me-downs into a fog of fug. A parting on the left and strangers on the right, a hollowed out husk at the core. Shapeless, hapless, and fans fast becoming furious as the queue for entrance slowly diminished.
Is it better to have queued and missed the loss, or never have queued at all and seen the dross?
Town may have had a corner, someone may have headed over, or it may have been them. Busses pulled up at the home end and the lonely top decker carried on reading his phone.
Balls. Them. Big balls from Town. Apt. Town without aptitude or attitude. Town simply without.
Omar fell, Omar waffled the free kick woefully, waywardly way over the bar. Clements ran into a cul-de-sac and collapsed in a souffle of disappointment. Omar wobbled the free kick woefully, waywardly way wide of the champagne bar at St Pancras.
Stevenagers claimed a penalty, apparently, for something. Who cares?
Town claimed to be a football team, apparently. Who cares? Mmm, good question. Comley tackled, Osborne tackled and tried to tack towards the homester goal. The others? Yawning chasms of trotting ordinariness. Clements ducked out of a challenge. Clements pulled out of a tackle. These are facts, proveable facts.
Stevenagers buzzed around passing and crossing. Godden cut inside and swiped high and wide into the SEAT showroom. A redster cut in and swiped high and wide, startling the lonely phone readers on the double decker. They crossed the ball: sometimes Collins headed it; sometimes Henderson caught it. Ooh, sometimes the truth is harder than the pain inside.
It rained. Then it stopped raining. What a shower. Indeed.
In the time added on for the heck of it, Osborne bewiggled and befiddled a dribbler that slunk through to their goalkeeper. Their goalkeeper picked the ball up. This was the only save made by either goalkeeper. The word save may be an example of hyperbole.
Utterly wretched. Stevenage were awfully mundane, Town simply awful.
2nd Half – free fallin'
Nothing changed. Same old, same old story with the same old, same old players.
Townites made a determined multi-manned effort to not clear and Ogilvie finagled down and through the Town right infiltration, clipping a clopping cross at the near post. Henderson carry-clawed the ball out. A corner. Pfft, yeah.
A nick, a knock and Omar flicked Vernon free on the left behind the defence. Jones hurtled out and throttled the non-danger as old Scott trudged through the sludge. You know, some people actually, factually stood up when the Vernon Vortex was in full flow. A triumph of hope over absurdity.
Some badly-shirted boy cut infield and swiped high and wide. Again. A triumph of hope over the roof and far, far away. If at first you don't succeed, don't bother trying for the twelvtieth time.
After ten or so minutes, ten or so minutes had passed, unlike any footballer on the pitch. The footballers off the pitch were faultless. Oh yes, the point of this sentence... ermm... is there a point? Ah, I remember, Yussuf replaced a player that wasn't even playing, Clements.
Push to the left, back to the right, twist and turn 'til you've got it right. At last, a bit of something. A trick, a tease, a cross, but no loss of earnings for any Steamage defenders. There are very strong rumours on that internet of yours that Omar Bogle had a shot which forced their goalkeeper to hold the football in his hands. Rumours was also a highly popular musical album in the 1970s. It’s got nothing to do with football, just like Town today.
The stuff of nothing way out on Town's right touchline. A free kick for whatever, blah, blah, blah and all that. Henderson ran out to welly, Mills tapped and rapped straight into hurtling Hendo's shins with a bad shirt approaching. Henderson tackled bad shirt number one, but succeeded in prodding straight to bad shirt number 7. McAnuff side-stepped Henderson's slideshow and gently chipped over the retreating Boyce and into the emptied net. What a slapstick hoedown of amateur pantomimes.
There was no mass exodus of the bereft and bereaved, probably because half the crowd had only just got in.
Do we really need to carry on with this fandango of foolish frolics? Mills crossed into the crowd and Bignot, cross at the cross and all that jazz, hauled off the Zakster and on came Davies, who instantly fell over two Stevenagers who had fallen over themselves. Omar had another shot blocked. They headed in a corner which was disallowed after professional Hendo-pleadings. They had a break and Godden completely missed the ball and, err, err... Ah, what about the break where Henderson ran out, ran back and Godden gently lobbed into the waiting arms of the golden gloves?
At a time between, before and possibly after these things that h-hardly h-ever h-happened, Assante replaced Boyce and Town moved to a... a... a… little bungalow near Cromer. I say bungalow, it may have been a tent, or a brightly-coloured caravanette bought from that road behind Earl's Court where all those Aussies sell their brightly-coloured caravanettes. The dull ones are round the corner. There were four defenders and two central midfielders. Beyond the horizon lay a world of mystery and wonder.
Assante? Who knows? He chased a couple of over-hit chips and wasn’t passed to by the dribbling Osborne. I suppose we'd better record for posterity that Ben Davies coiled a free kick onto the roof of the net. There, duty done.
Four minutes added. When you boil it down the egg was rotten, but the sky was lovely.
Prepare yourself for the fall. You're gonna fall, it's almost predictable. C'mon Marcus, get the balance right.