Ghost Town

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 March 2018

Coventry 4 Grimsby 0

They say we're young and we don't know, we won't find out until we go … to Coventry.

Another Saturday, another trip down the A46, the trail of tears for our fears of being trapped in a Fentyian Groundhog season. Decade. Millennium. Well, I don't know if all that's true. It's all in the mind.

Look into Mickey's eyes, listen to his voice, Town will do exactly what he says in a 4:4:2 formation as follows: McKeown, Davies, Collins, Mills, Fox, Dembele. McAllister, Woolford, Clifton, McSheffrey and Wilks. The substitutes were Killip, Hall-Johnson, Clarke, Berrett, DJ Jinky, Matt and Vernon. Sorry Mikey, I haven't gone under. I'm still staring into the abyss that is the Rugby Arena. I'm still staring into the abyss that is Town's midfield. Two old, slow Scunnyites as the beating heart? Really? Mills at centre back? Really? You know reality bites, don't you?

There's only one psychologist that works for Town: 1-2-3 Wahey! Dave Boylen, c'mon down to stop us going down.

Coventry: a bowl of soulless emptiness and a rugby pitch, hopelessly devoted to divots. We are, aren't we, all 875 of us in this footballing folly, where the noise from the Grimsby branch of the Whiffenpoofs floated away and the pitch was far, far away. Welcome to the future of disassociation football.

Let's get ready to grumble at Jolley's decision to send out the rag-tag and bobtail reserves.

1st half - are you experienced?

Coventry kicked off towards the Town support and away from the picture of Jimmy, who made their lives so wonderful.

The ball was a Mariners jumping bean, bibbling and a-bobbling in the bump'n'grind. Scrubby tufts. No, not a minor character in a Wodehouse short story, the pitch. By Jove Jeeves, he's controlled it! Ah, nope, it's a knock-on, scrum-down and kick for touch.

Minor Mariner moments. Almost a cross, almost the thought of a cross. Don't get cross, it's a work in progress. Two corners. Two Davies corners. Two underhit Davies corners. Two little boys had two little toys and each had a wooden hearse. Well, they were from Hull.

The wily McNutty sauntered and swept wide. The ball curled out of play but the bland played on. A toblerone of triangles bamboozled the Foxy One and Mills leapt behind McKeown to head graze the coil away for a corner. I refuse to reveal what happened next as there are moments in life when one gazes at Dave Moore and asks oneself "Do trousers matter?" The moment will pass.

Minor Mariner moments of passingness. A cross, a corner and tincture of mayhem as bumbles tumbled and the ball ricocheted off red socks loopily back to Burge. It could have gone anywhere. It went nowhere. Hey, that's Town.

Blue advancement, striped retreat. A dink and head-flick straight to Jamie Mack. Blue creeping, striped sneaking. A free kick coiled into McKeown's waiting midriff. Bayliss shinned into the crowd as attempts at football foundered on the cuckoos' footprints of Wasps nests gloop.

Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing-glove.

Minor Mariner moments as Wilks glided. A corner carooned in from the left, Mills glanced at the near post and Wilks kneed the ball off the line and away, away they ran as Dembele handled the matter, quite literally, pop-pickers.

A free kick coiled, bodies popped and the ball plopped away towards the touchline via a woeful Woolford scrape. Mills pursued the bear and listlessly legged up the bonny-bonny sky bloater near the corner flag. Grimes dripped and the lonely Vincenti, flicked in with Collins furiously flapping his fingers at McKeown's absence from the black and white hole, four yards out.

Well, let's look on the bright side – it's taking opponents longer to score against Town.

What's next? What's more? What's the point? Where's the glory in this boring story? Town may have had the ball in the Coventry half. Coventry may have had the ball inside the Town penalty area. Both things are theoretically possible outcomes of the humdrum hoo-haa of hopeless hackery that followed.

One minute was added to the game but subtracted from our lives. There has to be a karmic balance otherwise the universe would implode.

There was the thinnest veneer of almost adequateness for several minutes, sometimes. Just about. If you squint.

2nd half – all the pieces splatter

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Off we roamed with Dembele dribbling and crossing and then they dribbled and crossed and beefy Clarke-Harris slashed a swisher wayly wayward into the plastic unpopulation behind Jamie Mack. For a single small ballboy the only way was up in his search for the treasure. It was hidden under Jimmy Hill's chin, hence the need to send out a rescue party for the poor lad.

That stand, is going like a ghost stand, for fans don't go no more.

Remember John, the people are getting angry.

Shins and ankles, ankles and shins. Bimbles and bombles as the ball pin-balled off divots. Oh, what is this? Paceyness in passing, nickles that knuckle and McAllister befrumbled wide and softly.

The comically inept linesman failed to inject humour into our lives, eventually flagging the non-offside Dembele offside when the offside Wilks had stopped because he knew he was offside. A bit off, eh?

McSheffrey intercepted waywardness with the keeper stranded in the boglands, but didn't shoot. Mariners mugged Midlanders and a huge hole a-gaped in the centre of the home defence. Alas Woolford was chasing tumbleweeds across the muddy floor with Wilks, poised waiting for the pass that never comes. Woolford dillied, and dallied, his pocket was picked and Clarke-Harris was dinkled into the Fox-free zone. Off he hared into the penalty area, awaited McKeown and casually stroked a pass across the face of the empty goal for McNutty to walk the ball in.

It's black and white, don't try to hide.

When all else fails bring on the youth team. Vernon replaced Wilks.

Yes. Scott Vernon came on to the pitch in your actual proper football match that's an official professional fixture. Whoever thought we'd see such a thing again? Hey, it could have been worse? Jamille Masochist was on the bench, remember.

When all else still fails, take off your old Scunnyites and put Berrett and Clifton in centre midfield. Now there's a combination none of you chose in Jolley's Bonkers Bingo.

Missing something? Ah, yes, basic factual information on the substitutions. On the hour DJ had replaced Woolford, and McAllister was off after an hour of professional scuttling near the ball.

Half an hour left. Time died as we entered the Vernon Vortex. It used to be the Parslow Point. Oh how we miss you Danny Parslow. You used to signify turning victories into furiously unfathomable draws. Now we have the mystery of how big defeats will be.

Whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Gateshead in January.

Mickles, muckles, muddles and a sky blue slice ballooning across the face of goal. Burge trotted across as Vernon sprinted in and shielded the ball beyond the far post, on the bye line. The keeper ran back and collided with a chum as Scott Vernon carefully chipped the ball over the slapstickers. Their Big Mac took a step back and casually headed off the line, straight down the middle. A muddling nonsense of fear-ridden shinning and striped legs successfully avoided connection with the football to facilitate the smooth transmission of attack into panic stricken defence.

Holes. A holey mess. A midfield of flyaway flimsiness, an absence of sense and sensibility, just men in a field standing around waving.

Shout, shout, let it all out. These are the players we can do without. We're talking to you.

Clifton slapped highly over. When was this game not over?

Coventry: jaunty, frisky and aware that this was a risk-free charity match. There was absolutely nothing they could do to avoid winning by as much as they wanted. The carcass of our old nag was lying in the middle of the rugby pitch, long, long deceased. Nobody had paid attention for months, they thought it was resting. Call the Council! We're a threat to public health, not the opposition's goal.

They made substitutions. Men skipped off, and men skipped on. They shot wide, shot high and shot wide again as the rotting apple crumbled.

Mills missed and Clarke-Harris's shot was toed away by McKeown. The corner zoomed to the penalty spot and Hyam headed down, McNutty stooped to flock on, Jamie Mack finger flipped onto the bar and McNutty stepped forward to nod into the vastly empty net. No-one moved. No-one had moved. Except those who are Grimsby until the third goal goes in, of course.

The older Town pros slapped there thighs in theatrical frustration.

The sky blues fell in. Waves of blue seething in the Town end. Our submarine is sunk. Stripes running parallel with sky blue, and Reid side-footed wide. More infiltrations between our statues, Jamie Mack swooped and Collins brilliantly blocked. Biamou shimmied and slapped and McKeown parry-punched away the latest torpedo sent scuttling towards the unprotected creaking, rusty old tanker.

Another attack, another overload of blue. Davies and Mills marked each other and a cross shivered towards the far post. Collins arose and noodled a lopper to the penalty spot. McNutty waited and swivel-volleyed high into the net.

Three minutes added. Why bother? They had another goal disallowed for offside. Whatever? Shoulders had long shrugged.

There was a ball boy sat on a milking stool in front of the Town support. He never moved a muscle all half. Even he looked embarrassed for us. There you are, a 12 year old feeling pity for our plight. That's where we are.

A half-adequate football team would have emerged with a "battling" point from a dreary scoreless draw. We are what we are and that was par for our course. Whatever fancy new ways the mustard is cut it's still the same old stinky mustard that's way past its best before date.

Nothing changes, nothing at all. Nothing can. We're doomed. We're doomed.