Saturday takeaway: Tamworth (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

26 March 2011

Grimsby Again 2 Tamworth Again 2

A short time ago in a chilly, grey and breezy galaxy far, far away...

Maybe we should just think of Town as a game show: Double Your Money! Fail of the Century! Slap, Bang, it's Ant 'n' Dec in charge this week. Or is it Harry and Paul? Sly and Robbie? Bert and Ernie? Ah, but they'll be Laurel and Hardy when we lose, of course. We must remember that we are Grimsby: our glass is neither half full nor half empty, for there is no glass at all, sir.

Where are our mystery men? Ah, there they are, ostentatiously taking the cone-based warm-up right in front of the Pontoon. They used the word 'bright' a lot, and one of them is quite loud. They'll learn. We don't do brightness - we're Gloomarians.

Ant 'n' Dec's Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Arthur, Bore, Atkinson, Watt, Ridley, Coulson, Hudson, Cummins, Eagle, Connell, Duffy. The substitutes were Croudson, Wood, Thanoj, Ademeno and Peacock. Being Learyless doesn't lead to weariness: so far so good. Or is Oh Leary hiding in the shark suit? Dean Sinclair? Turned up, clocked on, laid off. At least the warm-up routines were slightly different. It's evolution, not revolution. We need a revolution in the head, remember. We all want to change Town's world. But don't go carrying pictures of Chairman John.

Tamworth! A bunch of blokes in blue. Some spindly, some beefy, some with hair! They'd left all their better players on the injury table or substitutes' bench, with big-bottomed Perry the chief see-saw in the dug-out. They were built like a stereotypical non-League team: half rugby, half pub, half man, half biscuit.

Let's get on with this leaden pall.

First half: Take a bow for the new revolution
Town kicked off towards 70 or so tambourine-tapping Tamworthians with a huge punt down the middle. It went straight down the middle, then it started to hook a wee wee bit; my caddie then lost sight of it.

Town whacked down the fairway and Tamworth started to slice a smidge off line. You couldn't say the game started off fine. Combine windy weather with March meanders and two teams taking the direct line ensures a scrappy do, not Scooby Doo.

Ooh. After a bit of this and a bit of that Hudson nicked and flicked, Connell turned and gurned as the offside flag hit the air at the very moment the ball hit the net. In synchronicity, serendipity doo-dah, serendipity day, my oh my what a wonderless day.

The Tammies occasionally moved towards the Pontoon with their bullet-headed gruesome twosome gnarling and semi-snarling as the ball skipped and hopped and swerved and flew, flew like a bird up high in banana tree past them. And then, proving that the parrot and stick approach works, they almost had a moment. Bore superbly sauntered across from right-back to intercept a tease down the left. Satisfied with his day's work, Bore then decided to take a nap. Bradley-with-hair spun and glummed straight to Kenny Fingers.

Town carried on taking five and nine the direct line to Mr Fluffy, who kept winning headers. Let me repeat that: Mr Fluffy kept winning headers. Listen very carefully: I am likely to say that only once in his Town career. And lucky for Town we had legs eleven Coulson to run on and on and on. He's a little tinker.

Moments, this was a game of moments. Hudson calmed to Bore, who tapped to Coulson, who espied space beyond the valley of the Gwanja. Eagle waited and calmly steer-volleyed low into the bottom right corner from about 15 yards out. The Eagle had landed again.

And Town had a crackling five minutes, where the Tammies' shell cracked, but Town didn't shatter. Bore piddled and widdled by the corner flag, wiggling free and snipping to Coulson. He passed into the near post and Cummins scooped ice cream into the keeper's midriff. Bore walloped longly, Duffy rolled, Connell strolled and Couslon marvellously whackled towards the top right corner. Mitchell arced and spectacularly parry-tipped away for a corner, which was taken early, taken short and cleared to Coulson, who sliced over the angle of left post and bar.

Town were shooting, and shooting early.

Whoops, Watt twisted his flax in the shadow of the Findus, mis-hitting a clearance straight to Farrell. Nah, don't worry, bullet boy scruffled early and wide.

Between these moments the ball wobbled through the air, vaguely and variously near and far from wherever and whoever it may have been intended for. Their keeper stood on a back-pass, stood on the ball again when rearranging his frilly nylons, and still managed to slap clear. It made us chuckle anyway; maybe you had to be there. Comedy is in the eye of the season ticket be-holder.

Mmm, now that was nice. Passing, passing and passing again! Cummins lofted onto the fairway from a bunker, and Coulson carefully crossed. Mr Fluffy's swipe was blocked and the keeper was rolling helplessly on the floor as the ball rolled towards Connell, who took some to time out to tread some grapes before twiddling against Gwanja's bottom.

And the nuts on Town's rear wheel loosened. Watt chased a punt, hopped, hobbled, fell to earth clutching his hamstring and off he went. Wood ran on to left-back, with that giant Lee Ridley smoothing over the cracks alongside Cap'n Bob. Town searched for the right spanner while holding the wheel together using a rubber band and reducing their speed. A long wallop had Atkinson and Kenny Fingers jiving with bunnies and one of the Tamworth pot-bellied pigs oinked into the void to slidey-swipe several years wide. Wakey wakey. Ooh, lovely pluck there Kenny, like proper goalkeeping and that.

And as the doddering doodlings etched towards half time Town exerted a little bit of pressure - a cross here, a long throw there, here a cross, there a cross, everywhere a cross-cross. A goalbound free kick bumped off Cummins' shins, who chased and crossed right on to Mr Fluffy's manicured hair. The bounce had been taken out of his hair by the wind and the ball plopped weakly to the keeper.

Town had had the better of some distinctly humdrum windbreaks. The infrequent moments of adequacy were from New Town (but looking very like Old Town). Tamworth had their moments, with their right winger, Lake-Geneva, being particularly bothersome. Ant raved a lot on the touch line, getting a round of applause for shouting at the referee. We do that all the time in the Pontoon. Dec held his chin in a thoughtful pose.

It wasn't awful: it was more like other teams - get it up there quickly and shoot when it drops. Remember: whenever bicycles are broken, or menaced by international communism, Bicycle Repair Men are ready!

Second half: Get on your knees and pray
Neither team made any changes at half time. Tamworth kicked off with a huge punt down the middle. It went straight down the middle, then it started to sling its hook in the swirling, twirling breeze of many coats. The wind was in danger of ruining a bad game.

There were three minutes of aimless hooks and slices, shinned glances and artless smacks and whacks. And then Coulson hassled and hustled their full-back in to the corner flag. Fearing Bore's long chuck, a pass was contemplated over a Grande Moccachino at the nearest coffee shop. Perhaps the full-back was reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot on his Kindle. He looked a Kindle kind of guy. Hudson tasselled and tailed, sneaking into the corner of the area and carefully, calmly stroked the ball around legs and low into the bottom right corner.

They've got us floating on a cloud. Woo, ooh, ooh, aah, hang on... this is Town after all. Two up against a team in blue who've hardly placed a footprint on Town's beach? This is one instant replay we haven't got to have.

What are we worried about, nothing can go wrong now! Look at the plumage...

All Town. Lovely, lovely chance after chance Town. Whack! Duffy nodded, Connell chested, Eagle prodded, Connell's sidey-slidey shot gracefully winked over the bar. Tip-tap, one-two and Duffy neared as they cleared for a corner which Eagle curled a few inches beyond the far post nearly in. Another corner, taken short, taken early, parcelled to Hudson, dead centre, who slapped and slurped through a thicket of blue. The keeper scoopy-shovelled and the pressure remained until an awful, self indulgent Fluffy volley.

Tamworth? They had a soft shot. At least Arthur was required to touch the ball. Tamworth? They took off a hairstyle from 1988, and brought on Thomas, the tricky-dicky winger from the autumn almanac. They had pace and sneakiness down both wings now; if they had strikers it would be worrying.

Coulson-Connell-Coulson: first time riser a foot over! Purrsomely pleasant moments on a relaxing afternoon. Tamworth are merely on the pitch, wake me up when they go-go.

They won't go though. A corner, pinged and ponged in Sunday morning fashion off the line and then lashed back at Arthur. They had more big players than Town, it was starting to show.

With about 20 minutes left Ademeno replaced Duffy, in a sensible change that won the full roar of approval from the massed Mariners. He'd just been booked for moaning and fouling too often and had stopped being useful. A sound move Ant 'n' Dec, well done...

Wuh? Uh? Wuh-uh? Did they just take off Connell? They did. They did do, they did do dat. Connell was as aghast as the crowd, trotting off to sit obediently on the bench, then sneaking off to the changing rooms when The Management weren't looking. Duffy and Ademeno together at last - the free-scoring, free-wheelin' troubadours of Town!

And Town typically crumpled. Bore dozed, passing to a Blueman inside the penalty area, but the cross flickled across the face of goal near no-one. Tamworth were finally roused from their gloomy state, being woken by the bray of an ass in Cleethorpes marketplace.

Scroll on a minute: Cummins missed and messed, Ridley half-blocked and quarter-cleared to Lake-Geneva, who weedled into the box and crossed loppily and sloppily. Atkinson stood legs akimbo, prodded and missed, leaving a blue shirt alone to poke into the net from three yards. With his first touch Big Fat Perry had scored.

Ademeno infiltrated the Tamworth trenches spun and sliced over from eight yards. That's the Charles thing, isn't it.

Peacock stood on the halfway line, ready to come on. At this very moment Ridley collapsed. So we'll never know whether the lady loves milk tray, for Leapy had to come on to replace the emergency centre-back. Wood to centre-back, someone else to full-back? Three at the back?

Clink! Screw! Bend! Inflate! Alter Saddle!

Is it a stockbroker? Is it a quantity surveyor? Is it a church warden? No, it's Lee Peacock at centre-half. His first touch was the deepest, an exquisite backpass from the half way line, curled sensationally with the outside of his right boot - for a corner. Up went the sturdy hearty oaks of Merry England as in came the corner towards the melange of Mariners and the Tamworth trifles. There's a price to pay, we'd prefer the plague: their Marshall Stack sidestepped a slide, ignored the shimmering presence of the ephemeral, ethereal Peacock throne and lashed in from a narrow angle off the underside of the bar

The Town world looks just the same, and history ain't changed yet.

Sure-sure, there was a bit of hiffle and piffle going on. Town pressure, in the sense of having the ball near the Pontoon and moving towards the goal occasionally. Bore finally started attacking, a humpy-lumpy whack dropped onto a blue arm; 'Charles' fell over and sliced over; Duffy thumpered a free header a foot over and wide; Leapy smocked a volley scruffily into the ground and it bumbled, stumbled, slowly, lowly and well wide.

And in added time they could, and should, have won. Them not us. Them. A clearance led to a break, with Town undermanned and underwhelming in their attempts to re-man the barricades. Wood half magnificently blocked, but the ball rebounded into the flight path of Bradley-with-hair, who, with great care and attention to detail, managed to pass to the only non-blue meanie in the box. A solitary, lonely Bore in the middle of the middle of the six-yard box kept Town's dreams of finishing 10th alive. It's important to have dreams.

Oh, one last thing at the very last - Mitchell again missed a corner and it dropped next to Atkinson, five yards beyond the far post. He missed it. The end.

So far there's nothing in the street looks any different to me. Meet the new players, same as the old players; that's the bottom line for the two Rons. At least they can't have been suckered by a simple victory into believing their mere presence is enough to transform ducklings into swans.

In the context of this game, the injuries to Watt and Ridley were critical to the ending - Tamworth simply sent the big men up and Town didn't have anyone left big enough or nousy enough. But Town were not clever enough to avoid the onslaught: they expected it, so they prepared for it, therefore it happened. They didn't seize the moment, or take control of their own destiny. What's new?

Only nine more pre-season games left. What's another year? They'll get used to being alone.