An alternative Christmas panto

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

27 December 2017

Grimsby Town 1 Mansfield Town 1

Après le deluge de Noël, all is calm, all is bright in the land of make believe with six hundred and more Staggerers wrapped up tight against the wicked wind and jingling all the way into the Osmond.

Town lined up in the one and only truly original 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Davies, Dembele, Rose, Summerfield, Woolford, Matt and Jones. The substitutes were Killip, Dixon, K Osborne, DJ Jinky, Berrett, Hooper and Vernon. So, same again… oh no, it’s Martyn Woolford!

Perhaps it's our Christmas present to Mansfield, a little novelty toy to distract them while we prepare our dinner.

The Staggerboys turned up in their blended shirt-shorts with a big, butch Jimmy Summerville in goal and surprisingly small Mansfield Town boys upfield. This ain't the usual Fatman fayre. Has he gone all la-di-da and sophisticated now he's in Chad Valley? Does he use a bouquet and trowel on the beach?

Shall we stay and watch the football? I suppose it's one way of avoiding the marauding Morrismen of Meggies.

First half: Tears of a clown

Town kicked off towards the Osmond with a subtle hoof towards the roof over the heads of their youth, but not as far as Louth. Slipping and sliding, kicking and screaming as both teams got on the deadwood stage towards Crapsville Arizona. You know the nearer the destination the more they were all slip slidin' away.

Formless funball and funless formball; meaningless but not motionless. A Dembele dribble here, a Dembele dribble there, here a dribble, there a dribble, everywhere a dribble-wibble. Their MacDonald had the ball with nowhere to go.

Clarke hurled his short long throws on to yellow heads, and then his long short throws onto the heads of yellowmen. At five hurls a game, and say 43 games, that’s over 200 Clarke non-long chucks a season. It can't come up tails every time, can it, Rosencrantz?

Wahey, whip-crack-away. Monochrome swarming, it's a global warning with the curtains flappin' and the Mitch Rose a-snappin' the reins. Careering from left to right, clattering towards and away from goal at the same time. It's Mitch Rose's cat, simultaneously in control and not in control of the ball. Into the area and a pass that was not a pass, but also a rebound off a stray yellow ankle. It's a beautiful sky, a wonderful day. Rose passed the ball over Logan into the centre of the emptying net.

Woolford zimmered his frame into a static caravan by the dug-outs. The free kick was clipped and cleared, returned whence it cameth. Pearce spun around Mills and successfully avoided scoring through the medium of mime and whacking well wide from eight yards.

Woolford statically discharged a standing yellowman in the very same place. The free kick was clipped and cleared, returned whenceth it came. A header headed and McKeown leant upon his walking stick to chew upon a straw. Mornin', lovely day. Aye, the cows feeling strumpy today.

Mansfield: moments, messy and mushy, a shot so bad it was a bad pass, a Danny Boy Rose volley way, way over the hills and far, far away.

Wandering and dreaming, words have different meanings, yes they do. Wiggling and waggling all over the shopfloor from Dembele and Matt. Alas, poor Woolford, we knew him, perhaps not a fellow of infinite zest though. A touch, a touch too long. A yellow submarine sailed in from the sun to block and Jones finally ended the moment with a flashdance over the bar of the Constitutional Club.

Men were booked for tugs and shrugs by the mug in a claret jug jersey.

Dave Moore gave Jamie Mac a medicinal glare. Killip put his tracky bottoms back on and sat back to chomp on some more chocolate. McKeown carried on, then collapsed

A Clarke short long throw missed all and bimbled bobblingly into the six-yard box for some seasonal cheer and pantomimic delight. It's behind you! Summerfield slurped the corner slinkily, missing all and a big yellow taxi put up a parking lot at the far post.

And all the while the Pontoon were watching James McKeown grimace and stretch and purse his lips while limping and hobbling. On the half hour Killip took off his tracksuit as Dave Moore glowered on and gave Jamie Mac a medicinal glare. Killip put his tracky bottoms back on and sat back to chomp on some more chocolate. McKeown carried on, then collapsed after drop-kicking downfield. The Floppy Fringer took his tracky bottoms off again, took one more chomp on his fun size Fredo, and made a grand entrance into football. And slipped as Collins headed the ball back.

Hey, relax, Killip's cucumbers are cooler than a hula hoop.

You know, not a lot happened after that, as we stared into the oven and watched our Christmas goose nicely roasting in his own fat. Go on, stick a skewer in its rear end and see if it's ready. Evans was gently simmering, then the bilious gasbag exploded in the 44th minute. Oh, yes, this is what we want. This is why we come to the panto, it's our very own tradition.

Boo, hiss, you evil robber baron.

The ref wandered over and started wagging his finger. Oh yes, here it comes, all stand up for the festive fun…

Four minutes were added and Evans was still there. Ah well, perhaps the ref is simply building some tension into the show.

Oh, football. Err, OK. It was OK. They had the ball and didn't do anything much with it; Town didn't have the ball and accidentally did something with it more often, a bit. We're only here for the tears of that clown Evans.

Second half: Angol on a pinhead

Mansfield made a change at half time. Big Boy Bennett replaced White.

I worry about Ben Killip. His fringe is far too floppy and distracting him. He's forever brushing it away. Doesn't Dave Moore have a pair of shears?

Yellow peril, movement, pace, purpose and devilment. Up and at 'em, into Killip's face and looking for free kicks. Matt targeted for felling and falling. A header caught, a swipe from afar drifting… drifting… drifting. C'mon, stay awake! A cross-shot shot across Killip's bows and he parried aside for a Staggerman to steer into the side netting. Their Rose stooped to steer straight into Killip's midriff. Not much will escape the gravitational pull of Ben Killip's stomach.

Evans. Still there. Not moaning. Not groaning. We didn't pay our money for this. C'mon, you know what your public wants. And the public gets what the public wants, doesn't it?

Aha. Town. Davies dribbled and drabbled, sweeping and surging and swaying and spraying lowly into the heart of the darkness. Pinball pratfalling, Woolford slapped across the face of goal against a black-shorted man and the ball begrudged wide amid tap-dancing.

Oh dear, what a shame, never mind. There'll be another bustle along in a minute.

Oh yes, lovely. Dembele Dembeled along the touchline; Jones and Matt exposed their lazy diamond on the right. The Jam-man dinkled delightfully into the vast void in the centre of their penalty area. Logan lay down before Rose and invited home happiness. Rose fell over the ball, tackled himself and the ball into Logan's legs. The ball shankled off his ankles, inches wide.

He's no Lenell John-Lewis, the master of the pratfall goal.

Whoops, here it comes. Ricobounds and rebochets, and the ball boombled behind the defence. Hemmings squawked towards goal, but Killip flew out to swoop and smother superbly, then arise to wallop downfield.

Twenty minutes left so Town slowed down and sank back, all hands on deck, all men please return to base. Matt was booked for persistent nudging, the final straw being a blatant feigned faint from a fellow professional, which irked the long-limbed loanee. And then he was off, replaced by Scott Vernon.

I am obliged to report facts. Town had decided to play with nine men. Martin Woolford wears the Town kit and receives money for doing so. Don't blame him – it's a job and he's trying hard. Scott Vernon wears the Town kit and receives money for doing so. He's trying too. Vernon succeeded in failing. His sole contribution was to block a goal-bound Woolford shot. He managed to stop the one thing Woolford did that wasn't risible.

The ball flibbled off the spinning substitute, bumpling back off Davies, and Angol bibbled a bobble off the inside of the right post from tennish yards

And Hooper came on for Jones. They made changes too but who really cares about that? Why bother with the details of our foes? It's all about us, isn't it? Oh, if you must – they brought on Alfie Potter and Angol, one of the Hair Bear Bunch. Pfft, like who cares. We're Grimsby Town, we'll ignore who we want…

Summerfield shimmered a corner deeply beyond the far post. Collins arose and carefully thunkled back across the face of goal. Logan was lucky as our Rose arose and missed a noodle and two little yellowmen rose to noddle off the line.

Time ticking, cream needs licking and an awful lot of flicking and flinging. Mansfielders advanced down their left with absent Townites backing away. A surge and sweep, the ball flibbled off the spinning substitute, bumpling back off Davies, and Angol bibbled a bobble off the inside of the right post from tennish yards as Collins appealed for handball.

You could see that coming from the moment Angol came on. He had pace and purpose and he looked a cut above, but he definitely needs a haircut if he wants to advance his career in life insurance.

Town shrank again and the Staggerers played a little funk on their ukulele. Tobleroning under the Frozen Horsebeer Stand, Townites frazzled and dazzled by movement. A swinging dinging cross arced around Clarke and into the six-yard box. Their Rose succeeded in failing to score by magnificently toe-pokey-prodding over the bar.

And so we ended as we always do, waiting for the opposition to score as SladeTown sat back in a blob of negativity. A Potter cross-shot shot across, Pearce plonked a header wide and there are some sausage rolls in the oven. Hey, we all have different priorities.

Three minutes were added, during which Dembele dribbliness merely led to a Summerfield shot that is lost in the mints of thyme.

There you are: occasional moments of hilarity and joy, but with an unsatisfactory ending. Hey, that's Christmas.