Moribund, the burgermeister: Barrow (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 November 2010

Grimsby Town 1 Barrow 1

Darn it, I forgot the thermos flask. Where would Gandhi have been without his thermos flask?

On the dullest of days around 124 Bluebirds flew east to the land of the rising glum. The tannoyman could announce the size of the travelling support in darts style, just to add some zing to the merriment. Ah, but is that as in 70s faux doo-wop rock 'n' roll revivalists, or as in "from the oche"? We need a fans' forum to tell The Man.

Ooh, who is that ostentatious burger cruncher of Old Grimsby Town? He can walk, he can talk, he can eat! Well, Fenty's tried potions and waxen dolls, but none of his motions could find any cures so now he's the Selwyn Gummer of Grimsby. Well done John, you are still our King Midas (in reverse).

Town lined up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows: Arthur, Wood, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Hudson, Wright, Eagle, Coulson, Connell, Ademeno. The substitutes were Croudson, Corner, Garner, Cummins, and Bore. Coulson flayed on the left, while Ademeno twirled on the right with Connell the squeezebox; Wright was the oil sump in the midfield engine. That's the set-up; what's the punchline?

Barrow turned up in yellow. We never do well against teams in yellow. Or blue. Or red. Or white. Or purple. Ah, but when it comes to colours: what about the orange, John?

First half: the last scrapings off an ox's shin
They made Town kick off towards the Pontoon. Atkinson pinged, Coulson singed and the Pontoon whinged as Eagle's corner dropped next to Kempson, via a yellow hand, and rolled to the keeper.

Charles surged slightly, and the Pontoon stopped checking their phones for signs of life beyond Blundell Park. Charles surged mightily and Masters swept up a swooky dribbler of a shot. Yep, according to most mobile phone networks things are happening in the world. Out there, beyond the Fentydome.

Southport had done nothing. No, no, no... Barrow, it's Barrow isn't it. They all look the same, they all play the same, the same thing happens week after week after week. We're on a permanent tape loop in a living museum. Pick up the headphones and hear John Tondeur lose the will to live! It's just like being there! Ah, we are here. But are the players?

Town moved pleasingly between box and box. The space, the space, the pace, the purr, the grrr as Connell and Coulson took a touch too much, passed when they should shoot, shot when they should pass and generally played with Toblerone shins.

Ah, look, a moment. Pass, pass, move, pass: Hudson crossed, Connell headed over from three yards. It looks good to the innocent eye, but we guilty partners in this season-long conspiracy of silence knew we were watching history repeat itself as farce. We know what's happening: Town have the sheen of superiority, the veneer of vim, the varnish of verve, the appearance of adequacy. If looks could kill they probably will. Carry on like this and we'll be whistling tunes as we hide in the dunes by the seaside. We're already hiding in treetops, shouting out rude names.

Crosses and stuff. Connell long-range poke chipped safely over.

Crosses and stuff. Their spindly Bolland slurped a Wood cross over his own crossbar.

Cross and stuff, stuff and crosses. It's trite to say we might score. We know. We know. We know.

After 20 minutes of Town not shooting the Barrowboys had a bit of a do down the Osmond end. Swirly, curly-wurly crosses drooped and looped as Town simply cleared the ball back to the yellow dusters. Repeat, repeat, repeat. A corner loomed in from their right. Chadwick ducked and the ball skipped like a kangaroo off the ground onto the face of the crossbar. Kenny Fingers swatted away and I really can't be bothered to tell you nothing happened except what usually happens.

Barrow had a shot at some point; it went way over. No animals were injured in the making of the movie, which will go straight to DVD. They must have been as filled with ennui as us: Cleethorpes in November has rarely been exciting.

Coulson flibbled a shot from way outside the area. It snickered off a yellow knee, spun around the keeper and pinged off the foot of the right post. There really is nothing else to tell you.

Town played without gusto, almost as if it were merely a technical exercise. This is not ice dancing: you don't get points for style. Connell was almost incapable of controlling the ball, Coulson was a fitful, fretful presence, and the apprentice silver dude soon mottled on the mantelpiece. Town relied on channel hopping, with the midfield area a cultural desert avoided by both teams.

It was unedifying, uninspired and unsurprising.

[Hello to all of you reading this as part of the Holker Street Newsletter, by the way. It's like Conference supporters' answer to the Dave TV channel, except Dave tend to ask permission before they repeat things - ed.]

Second half: boiled brains and offal
Ademeno was replaced by Bore with Town reverting to a 4-4-2 formation. Bore played up front with Connell, with Coulson on the right wing. It made a difference, for a bit.

Bore ran around quickly, and Barrow nearly rolled over. Slick Peter Bore licked his lips on the left and lollipopped a strivvelling snorter goalwards. Masters arched his back and his eyebrows to superbly tip over. Coulson dribbled, Eagle sliced over. Connell spun and clip-chipped a la Hoddle from the medium right edge of the penalty area. The ball crawled over Masters towards the top left corner, but he grasped, grappled and clawed it away with his fingerest tips, and a full-back walloped away from the goal-line. The ball returned, Connell returned to his favourite pastime - spinning and gurning a low shot low to the left. Masters lowed like a cow and that was that.

All Town, all half action, almost something to remember: Barrow were passengers on the paddle ship.

On the hour Atkinson grappled with Chadwick, the human octopus, and the ref decided it was their turn to get a free kick. Sheridan tapped it quickly into the area and Blundell chased. The ball bounced off Blundell's hand. He carried on, he crossed, Chadwick swung and swept a bumbly shot from a dozen yards out through legs and past Kenny Fingers. They had finally had an attack resulting in a shot. Shall we play "what happened next?", or go straight to the mystery guest round? The sound of Pontoon silence sent a golden message to the board. We couldn't even be bothered to be angered by the handball in the build-up. The crowd has given up.

Five minutes later Town got a free kick on the left. Wright dinked it in to the centre of the area. Atkinson, unmarked eight or so yards out, bonked a header into the right side of the net. What is the point of celebrating? It was going to happen anyway, it's the law. It's like cheering the postman delivering the electricity bill.

Barrow got all medieval on our wingers, and the referee's patience snapped. Yellow after yellow to the men in yellow, with Chadwick being a complete and utter pop-up toaster in the royal wedding gift list. The ref ordered a drop ball when Town had the ball and Chadwick snidely tried to lob Arthur when kicking it back.

Around this time Eagle, who receded after half time, was replaced by our gawky teenager. Corner went on up front with Connell, with Bore moving to the right wing and Coulson to the left. A tweak that nearly sneaked a win. Connell tangoed and Coulson's splinter was deflected wide. Kempson free-headed wide from the corner. Oh and ah, near and far. Some things almost happened as Town queued up to not shoot inside the Barrow area.

Ooh, what's this? The Barrow boys trying to pull a fast one? Their substitute forward, Grant , broke and poked at Kenny, who picked up and threw to the unmarked Bore. He ran and ran in a straight line, coating Edwards in goose fat with a pickled onion on the side. Straight Peter Bore flew like the wind, into the area, swishing a low cross towards the onrushing swirl of monochrome. Connell slid and stretched, Coulson swept goalwards from a narrow angle and the ball hit something near line and bounced away. Yellow thigh, white post? Who knows what, but it wasn't the netting, so this is just clouds in our coffee.

Ooh, hello! Grant poke-lobbed from a million miles out. Don't worry, about a thing, 'cos every little thing is going to be all right. Of course it's going to be a draw. We only draw at home to teams in yellow.

Sure, sure kid, Town had chances. A Hudson volley was blocked, Hudson slashed wide, but did you really think Town would break the law and win? And finally it is the "What happened next?" round. Wood was scythed and a little apple fricassee ensued; there were four minutes added to clear the ground of booers.

It ended, as it always would do, as a dissatisfying draw. There were moments when it soared to adequacy, but it was dull. Dull: there was no atmosphere because the crowd have no interest or belief. Dull: because the team play with frequent technical proficiency but no heart. There is no intensity in their play: it is like an academic exercise where they must show all their workings to get the marks.

A note to management: you should draw curtains, not football games.