A convenient beard

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 March 2017

Grimsby Town 1 Whining Wycombe 2

A bright and beautiful day in the Costa Cleethorpes with 200 or so Furniture Village people having fun in the sun. I'm sure they'll find many ways to have a good time in the Osmond. The impossible dream is still alive for everyone inside Blundell Park. The season isn't yet dead for two deadbeat teams.

Town lined up in the now usual Marc-u-matic mystery machine as follows: McKeown, Mills, Collins, Pearson, Andrew, Gunning, Tombola, Osborne, Clements, Jones, and Dyson. The substitutes were Davies, Boyce, Comley, Maxwell, Vose, Vernon and Yussuf. What should I write? What can I say? How can I tell you how much I miss 4-4-2? Or any recognisable formation. We might as well pray until September.

The two-tone bluetones have given Dishy Dayle the chance of redemption on a slight return to former unglories. They'd also brought along a barely remembered borrowedboy, a huge immobile backside and Mr Bean. And don't forget the toothbrush in goal, or was it a tube of Refreshers?

Mr Bean will never get a job in the UAE with unethical hair like that.

Right, let's get this over with. Fish fingers do not fry themselves, you know.

First half: Getting better

Town kicked off towards the Pontoon. Well, that's that, then.

Up-and-at-'em Towning with multiple Tombola-ing. Crosses turned into corners and corners turned into a mush of Millsian slicing into the Pontoon. Tombola bowled along and along and along. Crosses turned into corners and corners turned into a goal kick.

Space: the final frontier. Space: between the lines, between the eyes, between the ears and Dyson roamed but Tombola's legs were, like life, far too short for plain crisps. Wycombe were giving Town some lebensraum.

We're hoofing to a faster pace, but look out – here come the masters at this race. Wycombe are in town again.

Bundling barges and big balls to the big man. Balls were bigged and finally bounced off the big bottom for a tickling slap from a slip of a lad. McKeown semi-spectacularly plucked to his right. Wycombe wellied straight down the middle with playground pushes and schoolyard shoves creating chaos and the hope that something, somewhere will turn up. Big booming balls of nonsense and a fellow without finesse volleyed over from six yards. A rumble, a tumble, a stumble, and I humbly suggest that the renting of Adams Park to Wasps has poisoned their minds.

The big bottom from Hillbottom Road is just an immobile distraction.

Tombola had their left-back on toast. Surging once and twice, causing consternation in the Wycombe nation as striped boots flicked near the crosses. Town bigged their balls and Jones excellently plucked under the Police box, spun and slap-shotted sleekly. Blackman sprawled right and pawed out into the middle of the penalty area. Dyson tapped into the centre of the open goal but, alas, Refresherman flew across to point blankly block. Tyson Dyson swiped into side netting.

Dyson calmly rolled the ball into the net, then set off on a chest-beating strut along the bottom of the Pontoon

Tittle-tattling in front of the Dentists and Mills chipped into the void. Tombola toasted his muffin once again, surging like Serge into the penalty area. Wood slid, Tombola tumbled and everyone stared at the referee. He stood still, looked at his linesman, stared at his linesman, saw his linesman flagging for a penalty and stood staring at his linesman. Ah, he's alive! Spotward pointing was observed.

Dyson calmly rolled the ball into the very bottom right corner of the side netting as Blackman scrummed left, then set off on a chest-beating strut along the bottom of the Pontoon.

Rucks and mauls and second-phase balls. Corners, corners, corners, and happily McKeown clawed flappily from the line. Humps and dumps and a long shot over, a long shot wide; that long shot they'll ever score reducing with every drop-kick and tumble. Corners and corners and up and unders. Oh the relentless tedium of the relentless annoyance at Town inviting this perpetual bombardment.

Stop panic-balling yer swipes out to their right-back. How about some passing, some movement?

Some movement, and a little passing. Andrew chipped and Osborne jinkled to the bye-line and levered lowly behind the bluetones. Jones the Tank Engine, eventually, ceased his forward momentum, manoeuvred in a great circle and his shot was bluescreened out. Gunning sliced back through the crowded penalty area and into the crowd.

A dinkle and Osborne jinkle on the right. A cross to the near post but a blue boot arrived before Jones. Tombola was whacked out near the corner flag. Clements coiled lowly to the near post and Blackman juggled his finances, causing minor peril in the banking sector. With much bundling around in March, Jones side-footed against the post from the bye-line.

A Tombola supersprint and cross to the near post was flick-flickety-flicked for a moment of almostness. Jones greedy waster-wafted over bar after a sweeping sexyball. A huge hump and Dyson brought the ball down with his little toe, swivelled and swayed a beautifully weighted pass into the nether regions. Jones surged and a double deflection arced to Refresherman's left. Out flung a long arm and a big paw toe.

Blue flailings and fallings and free kicks and dumpity-dumps into Town's box. Nothing but blocks and corners and long throws and a bunch of British bulldogs. Playtime is over, go back to class.

Second half: I should have known better

Wycombe made two changes at half time: Tombola's bunny was replaced by Mr Onion and Cowan-Hall turned up. Like a bad penny. We'll always have Paris to remind us of our darkest hour.

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Give us a clue Marcus.

The Buckingham Broncos ran around a bit. They tackled. They hassled the homester hustlers. That's all they did, that's all they needed to do. The home rabbits were boiled.

Dishy Dayle overhead kicked wide. Nothing to worry about, it's Dishy Dayle after all. Crosses flew across the face of goal towards an unmarked blue whale beyond the far post. Think Porkin at Wembley. Town were saved by the bulk. Free falling into nothin' and a free kick by the bottom left corner of the Town penalty area. Akinfenwa flick-grazed a helpful clearance from three yards.

Wycombe got a little too cocky and tried to pass the ball out of defence. Fools! Jones mugged a mug and Dyson joined the street gang for a little one-two. Jones bore down on goal and the chance slip-slided away as the Tank Engine went off the rails. He needs longer studs.

Town, unable to string a daisy, were punting nowhere. A shapeless, formless mess of muddled Marinerdom. Quite simply none of the players knew what to do. And the Wycombites cutely played upon the referee's inability to sift fouling from fooling. Town's only route to the sunny uplands was neutered, for whenever Tombola was near the ball a blue man hit the turf. So every time Town cleared, the Choirboys got a free kick, launching the ball back into the Town penalty area for some more slap and tickle rough and tumbling. Over and over and over and over and over and over and I wish it was all over.

It is now.

The slightest of slight stares at Mr Bean by the Wycombe bench resulted in a free kick. The ball wellied long and high to the edge of the Town area, Akinfenwa arose and the ball squirtled up and into the Town area into the dead zone twixt McKeown and the defence. Collins spun and swished a slicing looper over McKeown and into the net. There was no-one around: the ball could have been left alone to bumble gently towards the safety of the orange. Wycombe scored by accident. At least they had the grace to look embarrassed.

A foul throw, wiggle, wriggle and Cowan-Hall slap-shot across McKeown. A tackle would be nice. Town looked traumatised.

Osborne was replaced by Vose. Some of the Town fans looked traumatised as Town continued to avoid having a player on the left.

Five minutes of furious floundering, flouncing and argument followed as Gunning was strapped into a stretcher and carried off

Clements prodded under the Police Box and blue stockings denied themselves the opportunity to remain standing. Coiled and elevated, McKeown, for once and once only, edged out and punched clear. Bodies hit the mud and Gunning lay motionless on his back as the ball bumpled away from the penalty are towards the halfway line. On ticked time, Gunning remained on the ground, writhing slowly. Five, six, seven and more seconds later Cowan-Hall swizzled infield and flibbled an outstanding out-swinging wobbler into top left corner from 25 yards out.


Five minutes of furious floundering, flouncing and argument followed as Gunning was strapped into a stretcher and carried off. Maxwell, the human double wardrobe, pounded on and Town moved to three at the back. Sometimes, often, maybe, possibly, depending on when you blinked you could just about see some kind of formation, some structure.

And the goal remained undisallowed, for play had not been stopped. Decisions have consequences, as do non-decisions.

At least this roused Town out of their tepid torpor and they started to get into 'em. A basic requirement was thus met and about five minutes later Yussuf replaced Collins. Yussuf may have headed the ball once, it is alleged by sources close to the kitchen. Town ended up with three defenders and then seven other players in front of them. McKeown joined them in a free-floating role between the penalty areas: Town were playing with a rush keeper.

Jones sizzled and crossed, Vose underpowered a dribbler straight at Blackman. Vose dribbled along the bye-line, passed into the middle of the six-yard box and back. Flibbling flubbles, double-triple ricochets and Refresherman plunged and clutched the ball to his fluorescent bosom on the goal line.

Only five minutes were added and a further minute was lost through Southwell's slow bicycle race of a substitution. There's more. Mills dribbled down the right, along the bye-line and pulled a pass back to the penalty spot. To Akinfenwa. More lumping and dumping and the ball dropped beyond the far post for a monochrome lash which hit Blackman and ballooned over the bar for a corner. McKeown nuisanced himself and a Clements shot defloopled wide. Corners and pressure, blue breakaways smothered and huge hoiks. Finally, finally it all dribbled away to nothing as Jamie Mac chipped a cross into the side netting.

Where did it all go wrong? Obviously moving Sounds of the Sixties to 6am has completely thrown everyone. The rhythm of life is destroyed and Town are in danger of not finishing 12th.

It should have been an annoying draw, for Town were feckless and Wycombe toothless. The official dithering is a convenient beard for Town's continuing callow shallowness. There's a psychological softness to this Town and a structural weakness that keeps on getting exposed.

They look like a team of trialists.