Eternal sunshine of the artless slime: Fleetwood (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

13 August 2011

Grimsby Town 0 Fleetwood Town 2

You do realise that by the end of this report you will have no memory of the events that follow. Slowly, your mind will erase everything. You will be happy because you have nothing to make you unhappy. You will simply not know. It's for the best in this the best of all possible Fentyworlds.

Do you still wish to go ahead (seven, six)? Commencing countdown (five), engines on (four, three, two), check ignition (one) and may God's (blastoff) love be with you.

It was warm, it was still and it was still a narrow pitch with the very green, green grass of home. Very long, green, green grass of home. A couple of coachloads of Fluttering Fleeters hung about down at the Osmond end like a Creepy Crawley tribute act while thousands and thousands of Townites convinced themselves the world is still flat.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Silk, Garner, I'Anson, Ridley, Coulson, Thanoj, Disley, Makofo, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were Wood, Pearson, Artus, Spencer and Eagle. McKeown is going to be a human Weeble when he's 36, being short and prone to podgyness. Everyone else, well, Hearn has muscles coming out of his ears and Elding looks a bit porkily sneery. We'll leave the substitutes alone for now - they are still making Spencer's shirt and have given up trying to make shorts large enough. Has anyone seen Rob Eagle's hair? Or was it transferred during July, being one of last season's officially designated 'disasters'?

Fleetwood turned up in a pub club's version of the Arsenal kit. They turned up with some very pub club players too. McNulty's belly was a-wobbling and a-bobbling along like a water bed in a jacuzzi. Blond Bob was booed by some silly sausagers, as knees jerked through their vocal chords. If only that was literally, eh.

We have to talk about the football game now. Don't worry, you've paid for the treatment, so it is only temporary temporal pain. We promise you that your brain will be emptied and you will be comfortably numb at the end of the process

First half: Hope
Fleetwood made Town kick off towards the Pontoon. Ridley walloped and Elding shaped a beautifully languid pass straight to their left-back. They then ran rings round Shouty 'n' Shorty's carefully assembled pudding for five minutes, being lightly whipped rather than beaten with an egg.

Vieira slunk into the area and was repelled by one of six Town boots. Mangan danced a light fandango with Garner turning cartwheels 'cross the floor as McKeown flew out of his cuckoo's nest to divert danger. Danger was diligently diverted for several microseconds as Edwards flung a cross to the back post and some little chunky scuffler volleyed over. That was the first minute, that was.

The Fleeterpeople kept passing to each other. They kept moving around the pitch. They kept making the males in monochrome look inferior through the art of passing and movement - the biter bit me think, m'lord. The prosecution rests its case. Are this group of men really our Town or simply 'a Town'? A style guide executive decision: we are watching 'Town', not Town.

'Town' kicked the ball now and again. Disley ticked over professionally, competently, cleverly, coolly and almost entirely alone in his effectiveness and all-round adequacy. Thanoj was overrun, overawed and over the rainbow. There was piddling about as keeper kicked unto keeper for days on end. Then 'Town' varied the route to the Fleetwood goal kick by letting Ridley and Garner wallop and lump towards 'Elding'.

McKeown saved low, saved easily, then saved bumblingly as the foxy Fleets kept having shots after they did their passing thing. At one point Silk made a tackle that stopped something nearly happening. That is the point of Silk, just the one. He matched Ridley in inadequacy.

Hey, 'Town' nearly did something! A cross and almost a shot: Ridley tripped as Makofo flipped and flopped and Fleetwood had a throw-in. Oh so cynical, oh so negative, oh so what. Thanoj cutely passed inside the full-back and Serge surged . Serge surged: a recurring motif, a recurring error; these are moments to smile at as we indulge in some Makofo meanderings, like a stream-of-consciousness dribble. Ulysses this ain't.

Here we go again: Serge surged and 'Town' got a corner. You must remember, these are the highlights, the wet straw to which we grasp. And when you think about it, which I strongly advise you do not, as you will find yourself in an existential void from which there is no escape, the Serge surge is the only method seemingly on offer from this 'Town'. It's like an acid house Boyle's Law - random motion eventually results in the works of Shakespeare being played on spoons. And 'Town 'may even have a shot.

A long shot spilled, a long shot saved, Charlie's foot and Garner's nook. Forget it Jack, it's Fleetwood Town.

After 22 minutes 'Town' had a shot. Hearn kept a defender at bay and crumpled a cross into the very centre of their penalty area. Some Fleeters panicked and shinned the ball away off their ankles to Coulson, who coiled yards over the bar.

There then followed one hundred and twenty seconds of 'Town' pressure. The crowd stirred in to some noise-making activity and it all died down again as the wily Lancastrians indulged in some woe-is-me handwringing requiring a monogrammed handkerchief and ladies' fan.

Here we go: passing, movement, a one-two and a cross flip-tipped over by McKeown. Fleetwood aren't frightening, just better. Other crosses happened, things occurred down at the Osmond end. A header wide, a flapjack shot gathered, another plucked, another scrumbled aside, McKeown fell over Garner and then saved a free kick. Things, events, moments, the humdrum stuff of life. Other people's lives. We're continuing to watch other people be happy. Who is going to write that Dear John letter and save us from this terminal decline. We're shorter of breath and one day closer to this footballing death. Or are we dead already? Is this a real life, or is this fantasy?

And so 'Town' did advance towards the Pontoon as Davies underwhelmed a fly-kick and Hearn barundled back towards him. The shot was deflected as Elding appeared unmarked to the side, hiding in clear sight. Elding is Proudlock without the motivation or athleticism. There's no point telling you about the corner. And once more Serge surged and surged and surged and ran into a hedge.

With a couple of minutes left Silk, who'd been hobbled earlier, was replaced by Wood.

There was nothing. No shots, no method, no vision, no ideas. The full-backs were useless, the wingers accidental participants, the strikers going through a divorce before they've even finished their first date and the midfield was one man and a boy. The centre-backs did OK though.

Still, all that's needed is a bit of shouting and running around, applying the Alan Latchley 'three Ms' method - motivation, motivation, motivation. Shouty can shout - what more do we need to succeed?

Second half: Hopeless
No changes were made by either team at half time. De plane, de plane! Welcome to Fentysy Island. An aeroplane appeared above the Osmond stand, looping the loop and defying the ground with twists and turns and stalls and falls. Shall we just watch that instead?

The football carried on as before, with shapeless nonsense from those in the colours of the home team. 'Town' got a corner and Coulson turned and poke-hooked into the side netting. Whatever you imagine it to be, that's more exciting than it was.

Shall I tell you about the snidey, sneaky side to Fleetwood? They were professional in that non-League way that 'top' non-League sides are. They just did lots of little things like constantly walk in front of a 'Town' player when the ball had gone out of play or for a free kick, or little shoves and sledges. They'd tap the ball away, or demand attention at the slightest of winks. They worked the ref, and got 'Town' players worked up.

And so Fleetwood then brought on their pantomime villain, Brodie, for Vieira. Brodie is nasty, gnarly, narky and a useless footballer. He is what a nuisance value player should be - he diverts attention from others and discombobulates the opposition. The rest of the game was a silly, slappy playground squabble between uppity third years and the slightly bigger, more streetwise fourth years. Everyone just wanted to go and tell teacher, so teacher ran off to the staff room for a cup of tea and just let them get on with it.

Just before the hour Fleetwood cleared some kind of 'Town' something of nothing. A chunky chap dinked a diagonal pass from near the managers' dug-out to the far corner of the penalty area. Garner let it bounce and the ball spun back on the green, green grass of home. Mangan took a touch and carefully prod-poked around McKeown into the bottom left corner.

Did anyone seriously believe 'Town' would score? There was nothing new here, just worse players playing worse than before. New brooms, same dust. You can be tough on dust, but also the causes of dust.

Elding finally emerged from his igloo with a long-range pinger which pinged a couple of yards wide after Hearn had a shot blocked. The schoolkids started bumping chests again and teacher warned them they might have to do lines after school if they carried on being nasty to each other. And finally there was a moment that counts as a moment and not a desperate crawl over the flaking furniture. 'Town' brought Fleetwood down to their level with some head tennis. Elding swivelled and dinked to Coulson, who jinked past his fishy full-back, hit the bye-line and crossed oooingly. The ball swept through and past all to the Sergemeister. Davies tipped the shot over. Corner? Nothing happened, of course.

And finally Elding and Thanoj were replaced by the two Frankies: Artus and Spencer. And in a packed shirt tonight Spencer rumbled around like Emile Heskey's goofy but grumpy elder brother. Spencer has even more presence than Fleetwood's Mac. The crowd got riled, the players went wild as the Fleeters took every opportunity to feign and frown. Pushes were shoved, and shoves were pushed. Serge fell in the penalty area, Hearn swished over, Spencer slapped and tickled, plunged and poured scorn on the referee as stags rutted.

Artus curled a free kick low towards goal. Davies squatted and punched the ball off his line to Coulson, who bicycle-poked wide. And so let us repeat the spin cycle: lots of fights and snarls. Serge fell in the box, Spencer plunged at a corner and the referee stood and watched like a bewildered octogenarian at a rave. He'd read about such things, but never believed they really happened.

Brodie left an elbow in I'Anson's face and play continued. 'Town' players took it in turns to hunt down Brodie and leave an impression, and we are not talking Mike Yarwood. The linesman studiously avoided looking at Brodie and indentations were made upon the tree stump. Wood was booked as Brodie did a sitting down mid-air divette as Junior Psycho helped him to his feet.

With a couple of minutes left Hearn 'scored', but Spencer had already trodden on the geraniums. An unknown length of time was added during which 'Town' continued to do whatever they were doing and McKeown went up for a couple of corners. In the fifth or so minute added for all that time-wasting Fleetwood walloped clear to the half-way line. Ridley was pathetically weak and Brodie rocked and rolled off toward goal. McKeown came out and parried the scrubber aside, but the ball rolled to Donnelly who swept in from a yard or so out.

It's over now, and it never even started for 'Town'.

One day you'll awake and look around, see four grey walls surround you and realise you were only dreaming. It's still the same old prison cell with the same old prison governor.

The last few memories are dissolving, we are nearly there now. You will be completely cured and have no recollections of Cleethorpes on 13 August 2011.

Three... two... one.

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.