Three little birds

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

13 March 2017

Clappedout Orient 0 Grinsby 3

A warm and jolly spring afternoon in London's busy East End with a thousand boppers and shoppers from the north and a mini-bus of trip-hoppers from some far-off Flanders fields seeping into half a stand, which is better than half of nothing.

Poor old clapped out Orient, destroyed from within by a Latin loafer. The only hope is euthanasia. Their only hope is death and resurrection. What's so funny about peace, love and understanding? Oh, we want three points. Good luck Leytoners, after five o'clock.

L'Orient and Town, old friends sat on a park bench like bookends.

Has Marcus the Wordmangler, our very own wizard of the drivel, gone totally insane? I see four defenders, I see four midfielders, I see two strikers standing in straight lines across the pitch. It's Bignot's satirical Not-The-4-4-2 formation: McKeown, Mills, Pearson, Collins, Andrew, Bolarinwa, Disley, Comley, Vose, Jones and Dyson. The substitutes were Davies, Boyce, wetbum Maxwell, Osborne, Asante, Yussuf and Vernon.

Let me tell you how it will be, it's 4-4-2 with Craig Disley. He's the captain, yeah, the captain and he's playing for no-one but Town.

In each corner of the ground stood a block of flats with rubberneckers partying on balconies with a free and clear view of the whole pitch, unlike us paying customers. Whatever. We've come to spoil your wake and the weekend starts here.

Back in school again, Maxwell played the fool again as the sprinklers went up his London derriere causing a slapstick pratfall.

Orient looked like a reserve team: a couple of big old bruisers and loads of little lads, eager-beaver puppies bouncing off the walls of their owner's indifference. Ah look, there's Mr Semedo, the worst left-back ever, now at left wing. How quaint, the witty bon mots of Radio 4's Myles Jupp at full-back. Perhaps he'll stop Vose in his tracks with a gentle aside. That's all it usually takes, after all.

Town turned up in white socks. Where's the garlic?

Can you imagine us years from today sharing the same division quietly?

Is that a Tijuana Taxi I hear for Mr Bechetti?

First half: Parklife

L'Orient kicked off towards the little corner of London that was temporarily Grimsbyland and the weekend rave started with a Belgian beat. Tipping and tapping, nicking and whacking, a nothing of nowhereness and McKeown picked up a back-pass. Carry on, nothing to see here.

Lumps and laces, this ain't the Buckley aces. Wallop and thwack way beyond our stars to a galaxy far, far away. The ball rolled towards the work experience lad in goal for Les Orienteers. He waited and waited until he smelled Jones' aftershave as The Steam Engine re-enacted popular adverts of the 1970s. Hai Karate! The fly-kick flew off striped studs and squirted across the penalty area. Charlie Farley felt a little bit peckish and sauntered along to pick up a penguin near Dyson.

Noodle if you wish, the Town crowd just carried on with their karaoke party. Half a pound of tuppenny rice, half a pound of treacle, mix it up and make it nice, pop goes their season. Oh dear, the weasel caught his beakle in the treacle. Their line broke, Vose stroked, their full-back got choked as Andrew canoodled a coiler to the far post. Jones arose above to steer into the right side of the net and Orient will go to Woking in a little row boat. Clap, pat, clap, pat, clap-clap-slap!

A fantastically poor half of alleged football where Town were untroubled by the troubled youth of Leyton

Semedo this, Semedo that as the trickily tailed trickster swizzled and fizzled in ever decreasing circles to cross. To cross, to cross, to cross, to keep on crossing, keep on crossing. One fine day he'll be the one to make a cross that doesn't end in McKeown's hands. Sexy Semedo, what have you done? You made a fool of our man Tom. He ran rings round everyone including himself.

McKeown caught a cross, caught a cross, punched a cross, caught a cross, kicked a cross and was mildly cross when a cross went out without the need for his loving touch.

Semedo skewed wide, Semedo skewered wide. They had the ball, but that is all.

Town? Standing still in that Not-The-4-4-2 formation and tackling, but offensively awful with Vose a dilatory dawdler and Tombola terrible by his own standards. Oh the Serge of Makofo, where art thou? Jones' and Dyson's first touches were faultlessly elegant and a perfect lay-off for Orienteers. McKeown's quick chucks to the woeful wingers just brought more crossing practice. McKeown's donkey drops downfield simply delayed his catching practice for a few seconds.

What else of note 'cept the rock 'n' roll jukebox jiving in the Mariners mosh pit? Jamie Mack sat down for another of those unsubtle tactical timeouts. Pearson intercepted wonderfully, set off on a mazy dribble and, well, shall we just leave with this phrase… Tombola's toes intervened.

And in the dying seconds of a dying half in a dying club in a dying part of London, Vose wibbled a wobble of a free kick that bounced up and was parry-pushed aside at the near post by Charley Farley.

A fantastically poor half of alleged football where Town were untroubled by the troubled youth of Leyton. Forget the football, hear the sound of the faces in crowd, we'll sing you a song with few words and no tune.

Mustn't grumble.

Second half: Leisure

Out came the Leytoners. A minute or so later out trotted Town. We waited. And waited. And waited. The police helicopter hovered overhead, a team of tracker dogs went down the tunnel and the League referee's spokesman held a tearful press conference pleading for little Lee to come home to his family. It's OK, we're not angry, we just want you to restart the game so we can all go home.

Neither team had made any changes at half time.

Town continued their slack-a-thon to safety and Orient semi-swarmed without conviction. A cross or two or three and McKeown caught, caught, kicked, punched, caught and caught. It's déjà vu all over again. And again.

A stumble, a tumble, a free kick and Hunt scroopled safely over the bar.

Let's play name that tune. What's the Town choir singing now?

"Because maybe, we're gonna do our shopping at Sainsbury's." Actually it's an Asda opposite the tube station. Ouch, my ears are alight.

The Town crowd moshed on, bouncing bouncity-bouncity bouncity-bouncity bouncity-bounce-bounce-bounce. The noise incessant, we're rocking all over the world, some Orienteers roused in to counterattacking with some kind of vague rage, twisting and shouting towards the burbling Town mass.

And there in the home stands, old friends, winter companions, old men lost in their overcoats, lost in nostalgia for the light, just waiting for the sunset. Not long now, Leytoners, not long to go before a new day with new horizons. The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Osborne replaced Tombola. You have to be cruel to be kind in the right measure.

Ah, football, I see it through the barricades, through the brouhaha, through curious tones of the bass and baritones. Andrew roamed under the tuneless Town fans and dimpled deeply. Keeperboy flippy-flapped and Jones spectacularly biked a kick into the overcoaters. Mills hurled, the ball bounded up and much noobbliness resulted for almost a second.

Vose swerved and swerved a swerving shot wide and wider. It happened, you may as well know. Vose swerved infield and bedrumbled straight to Charley Farley, who clutched the ball to his bosom, put it down his jumper, through his trousers and out again. Well, you know teenagers – they get bored. It was either that or Sock It To Me Sumo with Semedo.

Disley dinked deliciously beyond the last defender, beyond the far post and Vernon volleyed like Van Basten

Osborne nicked and ticked a tock into the right side of the vastly unmanned Orient half. Dyson stepped back into the Town half and hared off goalwards, pursued by bears. Dyson saw the whites of the keeper's eyes, cut back across a desperate slide, then… cut back further rather than shooting. The ball hit red legs and the moment had passed without the dénouement desired.

And at this Asante replaced Tyson Dyson.

Asante moved like Omar, shimmied like Omar, and scared a non-League defence like Omar. A chuck from Andrew, an Asante swivel and swipe, a Jones back-heel and Andrew flew in from the touchline, into the area and blamped over the angle of post and bar.

Ah, Asante again, fighting, fighting, rocking and rolling on to a Vosian stroke down the touchline, under the Geek Chorus. A sway, a feint, a spin and rev up the line, to the bye-line. The Dutch Destroyer looked up, saw Jones at the nearish post and calmly passed to the remarkably unmarked Steam Engine. A touch, a pass goalwards and the keeper kicked the ball against the retreating Kennedy and the ball spindled in. OMG an OG.

And they briefly awoke, the last dying embers of the spirit. A nippy, nifty lad, let's call him Joe Schmo from Koroma, swivelled and swivelled, and swivelled around the Dizzer and swiped a dipper just over the crossbar.

And on came slimline Scott Vernon for Jones the Steam Engine. What a tonic.

Tricks, flicks, movement at pace. From Vernon! It's funny but it's true.

A clearance and space and Vose annoyed the cognoscenti by taking the opportunity to walk back to happiness. The gurgling of disapproval turned to roars of approval as Disley dinked deliciously beyond the last defender, beyond the far post and Vernon volleyed like Van Basten.

What's happening here? Something's going on that's not quite clear. Ah yes, Town fans are dancing on the ceiling. We're going to carry on having a party. Pearson majestically stood in the way of a Semedo surge and with the penultimate kick Kennedy disrobed Comley, swept forward and slapped agin the foot of the left post.

There was nothing to beat, but at least this time Town were organised and disciplined with sensible players playing sensibly in a sensible structure. That's all it needed: a strong central core of competence and wise headery.

Orient just look too young, too small, too tired of life. We've seen that look before. We know.

Hey Orienteers, don't worry 'bout a thing, 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright. As you transition to another place listen to our words of wisdom. The Bananarama isn't the end of laughter: it's the just beginning of a new life.

But boy, what a noise. What a thrumming party.