Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
16 April 2017
Grimsby 2 Cambridge 1
Meet the new boss, same as the old–old-old-old-old-old-old boss, not forgetting the mezzanine flaws of caretakers and road-sweepers in between. Here we go round the mulberry bush again with the second coming of Slade, the resurrection of Russ. I suppose it is Easter, so it's all a question of faith. Do you believe?
Drizzle, mizzle, grey and murky. Behold the bright new dawn with nearly 500 perspiring dreamers down, down, deep and down in the Osmond. Ah yes, the glittering prize of the fourth division play-offs, it's enough to bring anyone and everyone out in a cold sweat that Stevenage could pip our dandies.
Town lined up the old patented Sladian 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Boyce, Collins, Andrew, Berrett, Gunning, Clements, Osborne, S Jones, and Dyson. The substitutes were Davies, D Jones, Pearson, Disley, Tombola, Vose and Yussuf. Berrett is back! You could feel the storm surge of inertia in Immingham. Calm down Russ. I said surge, not Serge, so no seething needed. No Frenchman here, no straitjacket required. Ah-ha, we're back to sensible soccer. It may be boring, but it is unlikely to be a mess. A basic four defenders and four midfielders routine, with Berrett wide right, Osborne wide left. Can't complain, won't complain.
The Amberites rolled out with Ikpeazu, a huge hulking hippopotamus, up front. Less a human more a Stretch-Akinfenwa action doll. He is a big man and he is in shape - to anchor a tug-o-war team. Any more cow pie for the Big Chickpea?
One tip Russ, round here it’s Wilkie, not Wilko. Get your etymology right for the lads. You don't want to fall foul of those erratically egregious etymologists and entomologists before a ball has been hoofed.
Everything seems a little calmer, like old slippers, a nice big car rug and a cup of cocoa before the season is put to bed.
1st Half – stomp your hands, clap your feet
Town kicked off towards the Osmond, with everyone lining up under the Frozen Horse Beer Stand. Do you need to be told what happened next?
Men standing in the right places. Men running at the right time. Men running to where they should be standing at the right moment, and on the left too. The Amberites were repulsed without fuss or flutters. There just aren't any holes in the desert anymore. Hey, nothing was happening, but that's okay. Our horizons have shrunk, we aspire to boredom and mediocrity, the psychological safety of the known world after the furious madness from the massed gadgets of Marcus. Professor Brainstorm's experiments with household objects didn't work. A hand mixer, wine glass, aerosol spraycan and rubber band is not a solid back four. At least we're back to real instruments now. Let the band play on with its tentative set of early Slade covers; it's the shape of things to come. Let's just get down and get with it.
Town Towning Townily down in the distance with flibbering and jibbering and a bit of chippy chasing. A corner curled and Gunning arose at the far post to donk down but straight onto Big Chickpea's nose.
Gavin Gunning uses a granny knot to tie his laces. That explains all the flapping.
The rain still rained and occasional tables were turned. Jones shimmied at a chuck-in and leathered a lamp in the damp off a thick amber thigh. The ball ballooned and Norris the rubber gloved man clutched without impediment. Why do you need to know something that didn't happen? Some straws have to be clutched.
Cambridge's tactics were, if not pure, extremely simple – hit the big man with the unpronounceable name and let smaller men bounce off his enormous thighs. Balls were bigged and Chickpeaman jumped at Boyce and Collins. The pastel peeper saw no fault in the yellow stars. Berrett was booked for a ride on a giant water slide. Berrett fouled again and... fingers were wagged. Grumbling and growling, the crowd rousing at the accumulating awfulness and clouds of doubt burst into thunder in his ears. Alas he did not seem to hear as Osborne was cynically barged face down in the dirt when he chased a hoof.
Andrew plopped a distant free kick, Clements drooped a distanter free kick. Norris plucked and Norris parried. Norris had finally touched the ball with his hands.
Running. Men running. Tackling. Men tackling. You get the drift. This is the way life used to be, except we haven't got Michael Reddy and his holy-watered boots this time.
McKeown punched a cross. McKeown had finally touched the ball.
And finally the worm turned. Irked by excessive dawdling, or perhaps a surfeit of lumping, the pastel peeper ceased giving the Amberites free kicks on demand, and Town finally, finally were awarded free kicks on the half way line.
Amber lights flashing as an amber crossed and little Berry launched himself above the static Boyce to thunkle beyond the top left corner. Thank you for your thunkling.
Do something useful with your life. Why don't you nip out to B&Q now and buy some Polyfilla to insert here. It stopped raining, the sun seeped out, and the game got worse as the weather got better
Woah, you've missed a bit. Boyce mis-headed and Ikpeazu bundled and scraped a scrumble out left to the marauding Berry. A shimmy and slap and the ball sailed nicely over the angle of near post and near bar to be near but far.
Two minutes were added and two shots were shotted by the fenland funsters. Dozing under the Police Box, a chuck was hurled and Mr Chickpea swooned to swing lowly. Berry arrived and Collins blocked and a welly from the rebound boombled through the milling millipedes of outstretching toes.
Back to basics with a basic shape and basically Town were simply organised. Just standing in the right places was enough to repel relatively hum-drum amblers in amber.
Cambridge were slighty less unlikely to score. That is all.
2nd Half – all join hands
Neither team made any changes at half time as the drenching drizzle returned.
There was verve, there was swerve, there were more moments of almostness than our former normal. Dyson dished out some eggs and Osborne roamed, but no-one was home.
Dyson spun and threaded his needles out to the human dynamo, out left. Osborne wiggled and waggled, shifting and drifting infield, his coiler grazing off the last Fenland forehead to swerve over the far angle of post and bar. Andrew underhit the corner and, ooh look, sandwiches. Corned beef. Nothing fancy, just basic. Nothing can go wrong now.
It is possible that the weeping angels moved towards Mr James McKeown. One cannot rule out the possibility that in blinking such moments were missed.
Town, Town, Town, and more Town, flibbertigibbetting down the flanks and circling their tanks on the lawn. Tips were tapped and Clements' flimsy French-fancy of a flick nearly had grown men seething as an Amberite advanced. Fear not, for where there was once despair there is now hope. Osborne hoovered up the mess and swept out to Berrett, who swept on and swept across the face of goal. Norris punched away and Clements cushion-nodded back to Osborne, dead centre on the edge of the area. As a careless Cantabridgian clogged, Osborne spun to earth and the fickle finger of fate pointed spotward.
Norris waited, leapt up and twanged the bar, drenching himself and delighting the masses as Dyson swept low and left into the very side of the side netting, as the keeper's fingers fluttered nearby.
Breathe in, breathe out. Relax.
No, not you Town. Dillying and dallying on the right and a speculative welly shivered off a Town defender, squirtling out to their right where lurked the lonely Elito. A stabby poke flew straight and straight against McKeown's shins at the near post. Amber fiddling and piddling around on their right as monochromers marked their own shoelaces. O'Neil slapped lowly and Jamie Mack slightly spurtled, spilling his drink on the way to the table.
Between these moments other moments hardly happened. A bunch of barge-ball and arm-wrestling with an overarching Osbornian omnipotence. He's here, he's there, he's almost everywhere, Jamey O, Jamey O.
With about 20 minutes left Tombola replaced Berrett. Mmm, how can one put this nicely? Tombola had a more positive contribution to road safety without the ball, the highpoints being two critical falls in the Town box to win free kicks when danger lurked and loomed in the gloom. All the bad boys were standing in the shadows.
Them chucking badly, chucking to Chickpea who chintzed through some dolly mixtures and pokey-rolled a piffling prod across the face of goal and well wide. Unclearances uncleared thricely and Gunning heading nowhere. Back and back the amber tide sloshed and Chickpea spun a swipe well over, well wide on the turn.
With five or so minutes left an up'n'under from McKeown dropped off Dyson's head into the flight path of the unstoppable tractor. Jones trundled through the centre and awaited the arrival of the human dynamo. As if by magic, Jamey Osborne appeared swishing and swaying to the bye-line, crinkling low and hard across the face of goal. Clements sauntered to the far post and swept in from six yards.
Breathe out, breathe in, get in that bubble bath and have a good old soak.
Disley replaced Jones. Whoops, someone miscounted their chickens. Stripey saunters and monochromer mooching and the Amberites failed to understand that their goose was cooked. An understandable confusion, for geese are just floating chickens, aren't they. A succession of slackness and Mills stood off some bloke or other as a cross was crossed from out wide. The ball dripped into a vacant space two or three yards out at the far post. Andrew stood and stared, McKeown flapped and glared as Halliday ducked. Hang on, maybe it's ducks that are chickens that float. So what are geese? That must have been what Andrew and Jamie Mack were arguing about.
Five minutes were added. Cambridge pumped up their volume with a whole bunch of big balls. No alarms, no surprises, please. This is my final bellyache: there was unnecessary panic in the disco. And now the end is near we've reached the final curtain with Tombola setting off in search of the last parsnip. Alone against a retreating defender Tombola eschewed a simple sprint, eschewed the simple pass out to the onrushing unmarked Osborne, and chewed the scenery with a Shakespearean tragedy of a back heel. Straight to the only Amberite left in Cleethorpes. His mates had already run off down the tunnel for their fish and chip supper.
And then we could smile.
Town were not a mess and good things didn't happen by accident. Chaos has been replaced by order, for even though the wrong players may have been in the wrong places, they knew what they were supposed to be doing and they did it.
Things just fitted. It was like finding an old pair of boots at the back of the cupboard.