Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
22 April 2018
Swindon 0 Grimsby 1
A scintillatingly sizzling shining sun shone down on beautiful downtown Swindon, the Scunthorpe of the South. How do you kill five hours in Swindon? You just kill five hours in Swindon.
They have a display of knitted notables on display in the local museum. The Diana Dors is uncanny. Exactly as she would look today if you dug her body up. How undignified for local dignitaries. We won't dig up Lou Macari if you don't dig up Jan Age Fjortoft's dive over Mark Lever’s leg in 1994. Is that a deal?
Why are we here again?
Town lined up in Jolley's jolly pragmatic 4:1:4:1 formation as follows: McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Clarke, Collins, Fox, Rose, Clifton, Summerfield, Woolford, Hooper and Cardwell. The substitutes were Killip, Suliman, Davies, Dembele, McSheffrey, Jackson and Matt. It is what it is, we are where we are, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Now, get off your horse and drink your milk.
The locals. Ah, Pheromone Phil Brown, the man whose career is drifting down like a frazzled feather from the fourteenth floor of a tower block. He's too good for Town you know, but not too good to go down to Wiltingshire. Perhaps the tanning shops rate higher on Tripadvisor.
It's a special day with a special price with some very special guests - the rickety wobbling heroes of 1993, when Swindon legally achieved promotion to the promised land. Oh look it's… that bloke. And another one, with real hair. Now we're talking! Here's a crying, talking, sleeping, walking, living legend: it's Fraser Digby, sans washbag.
We do like pooping parties.
1st half – Hats off to Harry
Swindon kicked off towards the empty end and under 600 Grimsby noses. Tiddling, piddling and Mullin bedraggled widely after Rose and Clarke muddled their puddings.
Clifton clipped and Hooper… well, Hooper. Miffling, muffling, scuffling and please don't play any skiffle. We prefer washbags to washboards. Rose long chucked chuckily as Robins clucked. Clifton turned and hooky-wellied over the angle of post and bar, and the bar at the back of the home end.
Long balls. Short balls. Balls. The case for the prosecution rests, your honour.
Collins' backside, Collins' shins. Collins. The case for the defence rests, your honour.
Timorous Townites turned like cheese and a Robin stribbled straight at Jamie Mack.
Moments of movement, movements in moments and a magic moment from Hall-Johnson, swinging a beautiful dreamer through the six-yard box. Everyone came in funny disguises as Hooper almost stretched. Almost.
Balls. Short balls. Long balls. Bouncing balls. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. Robins robbed and Summerfield conducted a string quartet with Woolford released, briefly glimpsing the whites of the keeper's gloves. The old dreadnought stepped inside and poked beyond Summerfield. Alas, alack, a lack of whack let the Swindonites get it back.
Swindon, bigging their ball more longily, stretching left and right, hugging touchlines and awaiting the big boom. They boomed. Richards arose and noddled a noodle. Linguini wellied over like a wally.
Hard work on the training ground brings rewards, we know that. A Town corner and men moved in paisley patterns. The ball was dragged back to the edge of the area, a dummy and Woolford was alone with a bouncing ball, dead centre in the D. Some lad in the car park will get a finder’s fee. See, someone gets a reward for all that hard work during the week.
As Town ebbed Swindon flowed forward, exposing the fragility in the heads, if not the hearts, of Town's fringe. Hooper miscontrolled and in a thrice Mullins was walloping from afar, McKeown carefully waited for the ball to skittle through the various limbs and nonchalantly parry-pushed aside. They're big into recycling down Witlshire way, as the ball came back and Taylor headed into the brown bins behind the empty stand.
We’re on a spin cycle, in and out, up and down and round and round we go again. Yes, we know we'll have to twist again in the summer. Corner, free kick, up and unders. Panic and pandemonium. A vertical slice and Rose backed away from the plummeting ball. Bouncing bobbling and an unmolested red boot successfully converted the try from the penalty spot. Stripey slackness and monochrome madness, Rose ducked and dummied on the six-yard line. A red boot befuddled a crinkle across goal and Mullin dived forward whilst surreptitiously scratching his left ear. The ball arrived inside the goal and everyone in blue was up in arms, raising their arms. The ref pointed one way then the other and Mullin was booked for a rubbish impression of Maradona. He should have worn a wig.
Somewhere in the farcical flap-jackery McKeown beat down a close-encounter shot and Collins raised the carpet. On the half way line Hooper slacked off his shins and off Anderson surged down the middle, flicking right to the unmarked Richards, who carefully side-footed against the forehead of the crossbar.
Collins. A man for this part of the season. Arising at a free kick Danny Boy nodded down inches from Cardwell’s toes. It was almost something.
It's a dead-end job, the money is low and the time goes by so slow. Ball-boy indolence is universal.
Hall-Johnson swung another cracking cross through the corridor of uncertainty. Who are we kidding, we're absolutely certain no Townite would arrive. We only ooooohed to be polite to Hooper's friends and family.
One minute was added, the traditional starting pistol for the middle-aged man toilet shuffle. A bunch of nothing, nowhere, and Collins slid through a feeble redster to poke the ball to Rose, on the half way line. A simple turn and caress into the emptiness. Hardworking Harry hustled and hassled beyond their blond bombshell chasing a lost cause. Cardwell tumbled, possibly under the influence of a ley line, perhaps tripped by a telluric current. Once a year Harry takes a trip, always first class, always well equipped. The ground fell silent, awaiting the fickle finger of footballing fate. Which way is it going to be? Arise and roar, for we have our only chance to score. A penalty. Rose swept low and right as we wept with joy high and left in the stands. Rose wiggled his ears in celebration and was booked.
Swindon pinged off semi-frantically and some red-shirted lad poked a lob way over from the edge of the penalty area. Then they trudged off to the sound of Brown staring at the referee.
Hah, take that Fjortoft, the toilet door is safe from a memorial slamming.
2nd half – Up against the wall
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Swindon had figures hugging each touchline, waiting for the big boom, for a Townite to dawdle and dither, and for the great leaps by their forwards. Simple tips and simple taps from simple men. Mullin simply curled safely around McKeown's right post.
Hooper surged and biffled widely. It probably looked good on telly.
Under pressure, bearing down on Town, wearing down our Town. Redness right, redness left. Crosses, passes, running about, tricks and flicks, and Danny Collins, the staunchiest of the staunch. Danny Collins.
Woolford hugged a twister and a free kick from way out on their right was sneakily sneaked. Anderson ambled back out of the area and swept a coiler drifting away into the far, far corner. McKeown spectacularly flew right to parry away. Back they came and a redster marvellously mashed into the car park.
Clarke disappeared and Collins stepped in front of the traffic. A cross flew through, but no-one was there. The tide is turning.
The tide had turned.
Clifton clipped and dipped and Town had a corner. And another. We've got corners coming out of our ears. Fox dripped in from the right as Town surrounded the keeper, the ball dripped and dropped, Hooper was blocked and blocked again, the ball fell in front of goal and Hooper slapped. The ball diverted squirmily off red thighs. The next squirmed off red foreheads. The next headed over by Collins. The next, well, that's another story for another time.
With 20 minutes left Davies replaced Hall-Johnson and Matt replaced Cardwell, who'd simply run out of steam running around on his own.
Swindon. Yep, still on the pitch. But so was Danny Collins.
Clarke rose at the far post and headed down. Rose did a mid-air soft shoe shuffle and a red boot scuffled off the line. In two shakes of a camel's headscarf Davies was scuttling back towards goal, hassled by a homester. Old Ben and McKeown played piggy in the middle with the red-faced redmen to the sound of distant chuckling.
Ah, such a shame Little Harry couldn’t grow an inch to head home.
Blazing high, blazing wide, Brown's eyes were blazing with fury at the indolent ineptness of his inheritance. Ooh, lovely.
A Town break and a fleeting overload of monochrome bearing down on the Swindon goal. Summerfield tapped and Hooper mimed disappointment as the ball was not an inch closer than an inch away from his toes.
With five minutes left Suliman came on for the hobbling Hooper. Why? Cramp. Yes, that is the right word. One has to be precise in Jolley's new world of words. Biffing long, banging longer, as Town sat back and invited mortar shelling. Boom and bust as Twine twanged unexpectedly. The Town fans perfectly aligned behind the flight of the ball saw it wibble left, wobble right and, at the last second, wiggle lefter to avoid contact with the goal, crawling just over and past the angle of post and bar. Phew what a scorcher.
Four minutes were added.
Repeat biffs, repeat bangs, repeat the name Danny Collins. Even Clarke started to staunch the flow without Tobleroning. Woah, hang on. Nope, we're fine. A big dipper dipped bigly over. Just.
Time ticked as Matt jumped with the keeper. A corner taken, time wasted. There's some people waiting to run towards the pitch, they think it's all over. It is now.
As the whistle blew Little Harry ran over to the Town fans and was smothered in love. He works hard for his money and we'll make sure he's treated right.
Wasn't that lovely, wasn't that wonderful. It was certainly precious and delicious to scupper Brown's supper. Town were a well-drilled, highly motivated team. We can't ask for anything more. We haven't had that for a long time.
One more heave lads, one more heave before we leave this dismal year behind.