Training day: Redditch (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

11 December 2010

Grimsby Town 3 Redditch United 0

Come on, come on, come on, come into our arms Redditch. Could this be magic? Town have never had any magic in a cup, but Trophies and Shields are our thing.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Arthur, Wood, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Bore, Cummins, Sinclair, Coulson, Connell, Ademeno. The substitutes were Croudson, Garner, Hudson, Eagle, Peacock. Everyone looked gleaming, with no marks on foreheads or bandaged knuckles, and definitely no mauve boots.

The spell has been broken! We're beyond the Groundhog games! Redditch turned up in red! That's it Redditch, you've lost already, Town are xanthophobic, although there is a bit of oikophobia about. Luckily with only Pontoon and Findus open, there aren't that many oiks about.

Redditch brought 48 fans under a huge, blanketing, upside-down flag. We can only admire their fortitude and determination. And we did. No humiliation, just humility: the hardcore Town thousand were very grown up about things. Weird.

First half: Carry on camping
Redditch kicked off towards the Pontoon and half an hour later we saw them again. Redditch were very old-fashioned: they had numbers, not names, from one to eleven. I'm afraid they are just a number, though they may also be free men.

Town tipped, Town tapped; Town flicked, Town flacked. Nothing happened. Then nothing happened again, but always, always far, far away in the distance. After nothing happened a third time, a lip curled deep in the Pontoon. "Ooh, stop messin' about, Town." Nurse, nurse, fetch matron, someone has sprayed themselves with Esprit de Williams. I think his name is Julian, for his friend had sandy hair.

Oh-aye, here's something at last: Ademeno flashed, Bore mashed and Connell crashed low. Keeperperson smuggled and snuggled away. Town were practising their moves in the mirror before they hit those new-fangled discolotheques and nightclubs. Sinclair and Cummins prowled the dance floor like grizzled old bouncers ejecting Redditchians for inappropriate shoe shuffling.

A corner corned in from the left. Kempson rose at the far post and noodled straight at keeperperson from not very far away. It was something of nothing, and nothing of something.

After a dozen or so minutes of gazing at the setting sun, Town metronomed in front of the Ditchmen, with Sinclair, the sensible fulcrum, nodding to Bore, who flipped to stocky Charles, who snicked to Mick, who stroked to Connell, who licked to Coulson, who walked into the penalty area and tipped over the keeper. Poang! Town had scored. Like an Ikea chair, this goal was a functional design for easy living; economically produced in ergonomic perfection. You can't get excited by it, but can admire its technical accuracy.

So how many would Town bother to score then?

Atkinson scrumped high; Ademeno turned to roll a flick to Connell, 30 or so yards out. The Ace Face swayed left, left again, left again and swept a precision arrow into the bullseye: top right corner, top goal from the top man. Topman? Don't shop there, he don't pay his taxes, so you can't get no education. There's greed and then there's Green. We're rambling for a reason, just as Connell had ambled for his seasonal gift to us.

The game was over, if it had ever started. This was not a contest. Redditch were a blank canvass upon which Town arbitrarily sploshed paint. It was all a bit Jackson Pollock: mostly a mess, but with occasional moments of beauty.

Ah, Charles, one day you may score a goal. Such flashing blades as Town blurred the Ditchers with some country dancing. One-touch passing and movement heaven as Ademeno swirly-gigged at the keeper from outside the area. It would have been a lovely goal.

The only tension in the game was whether Town would score the most perfect goal ever ever ever. And boy did they try. Over-elaborate, indulgent, experimental, speculative and sometimes groovy - this was Town's White Album. Peter Bore was awful. He just couldn't be bothered; he was simply filling space. Perhaps the footballing personification of 'Revolution #9'. Or maybe 'Rocky Raccoon'. At least there was enough good stuff on side one to ignore him.

There is nothing else to report. It was like that one-touch kickabout they do, warming up before the game, when half the team stand around in a circle and the other half live in the middle, chasing. All very well to keep warm, but hardly a spectator sport.

Town became collectively shoddy for a short while, with it all being just a little bit too easy. Redditch even had three or four long shots. One was on target; the others got further and further away, their mojo hardly rising.

There was nothing to worry about. This was an exercise in exercising. We could only hope the players remembered people had paid for 90 minutes of entertainment and that they would carry on regardless of the scoreline. If Town really wanted, Redditch would be frying tonight.

Second half: Carry on cruising
Neither team made any changes at half time.

It carried on like it had before, but without the tension. Coulson had a couple of flurries, but when he knocked on the door there was nobody home, no-one would come out to play. Look around around around around around. Connell kept reverse-swinging passes way down the leg side, conceding a succession of wides. At least with Town having such a large total on the scoreboard there was no damage caused.

For 20 minutes this white noise continued. The little drummer boys contented themselves with that old staple "Neil Warnock's got no eyebrows". Err, no, not that. "Neil Woodseseses black and white army", that's it. Actually, Neil Warnock hasn't got any eyebrows, has he. And with that bouffant he's beginning to look like a 17th-century dandy gone to seed in the court of Louis XIV. Everybody is laughing, everybody is happy.

And then finally the Gobernesque Bore was replaced by Eagle. Bore had been pitifully poor, looking like he was sulking because Mum wouldn't let him go Christmas shopping. Eagle ran onto the pitch, ran beyond the far post and poked a Ridley punt which keeperman pushed aside. Within five seconds Eagle had contributed more to road safety than Bore's hour of inane muttering. Everything Eagle did was excellent, bright, positive and professional. The game became interesting again.

And a couple of minutes later Eagle simpled a corner onto Connell's head. There we are, another goal.

With that, Neil Woods decided to add some comedy to the mix as Peacock, whose hair is beginning to stray towards Miss Marple, replaced Ademeno. Peacock scraped at keeperman, drizzled at keeperman, spun and slashed wide of keeperman and the posts, missed a Coulson cross, got it back and waited several years for Eagle to be marked, then passed to him. Peacock wasted everyone's time by not passing but drowning in his own Beagrie-esque way: he now just looks like he used to be a professional footballer.

And Connell stumbled-bumped straight at Mr Keeper the goalkeeper when sent free a few yards out, a few yards wide. Eagle slapped wide.

And all the while Kenny the Fingers stayed awake enough to catch a couple of crosses. That's all he had to do, that's all he needed to do, and he did it. Redditch were not opponents but travellers with observer status. Town were professional: they didn't allow it to become a challenge.

The game ended in the end and is either the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning of Town's hibernation. Does that mean Town are like Blue Peter tortoises? They often died, but it doesn't matter as a new one will come along and we can go through the whole cycle again.

It's all very well trying to compose a symphony with violins and a bit of bassoon, but everything must fit together in perfect harmony. It's the small things that matter. Just don't forget to practise the triangle.