Ghosts in the machine

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 August 2018

Grimsby Town 1 Forest Green Rovers 4

It's here, here and now, right here, right now. This is our time, the past is a foreign country, we did things differently then. We're new, vibrant, modern and thrusting. Nothing can go wrong now. Nothing can go wrong now.

It's a beautiful day in a beautiful world in beautiful downtown Cleethorpes. The sun is high, the wind is light, the mood is lighter with just 72 Village People culture clashing down in the Osmond. Can vegetables be sacrificial lambs?

Town lined up in a 3-5-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Davis, Whitmore, Collins, Clifton, Rose, Welsh, Woolford, Dixon, Cook and Hooper. The substitutes were Russell, Famewo, Hall-Johnson, Fox, Hessenthaler, Robles and Vernam. Who and what and where? Davis is tall, Whitmore is hulking, Welsh gnarled, Cook neither one thing nor another and Clifton and Dixon were wing-backing. Hmm, Dixon and Cook didn't turn out much in pre-season; we don't seem very sturdy up front. No, no, no down with that downness – St Michael is leading the flock towards the promised land.

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. Let's get on with our triple promotion, double cup winning season of goals, goals, goals. Remember kids, drink responsibly from the cup of hope.

First half: The dawning of a new age

Town kicked off towards the pumping Pontoon with a tip and a tap, a slow-slow build from the back. Patience. Discipline. Sensible, short passing and movement. Ah, yes, wonderful, football is back in Town. The future is bright, the future is… the past. Sorry, that was in every pre-season game. This is the real thing: Whitmore hoofed it.

Chip and chase, chip, chip, chipping away at the old Sladian block of aimless, artless, actionless stodgeball. Has Cheapside's water not been decontaminated yet? I suppose you just can't get the plumbers these days.

Them, this, us that. A cross, probably, hopefully, hopelessly. Hooper chasing and chuck-ins flowed like a bird on a wing. Rose hurled long and flat, Sanchez plucked. Rose hurled flat and long, Sanchez plucked. Ad infinitum ad nauseam: the new club motto.

Cook chuntered and churned like a ripe old cheese, tumbling like dice, pestering like lice. Welsh curdled wayly over to the first cuckoo of summer.

Townites flailing, flicking and wafting wiffily from the derriere. Clifton caught unawares upfield of downfield, and a turquoise tearaway tickled a teasing cross tantalisingly across the universe. Pools of sorrow, waves of annoyance are drifting through Town's open defence and supporters closing minds.

Dreary-dreary me, it wasn't supposed to be like this any more.

Dixon chuckled a hurl and many eco-friendly heads headed for the sun. The ball grazed off a receding forehead and looped over Sanchez, across the face of goal. Rose chased, retrieved and rolled around bun-boy Mills and plunged to earth as walnuts were whipped. Mills was booked for hair crimes and the free kick… well, a train went by.

I sosceles, you sosceles, they soscelesed Town into prime Lincolnshire sausages with chips

Bellows squeezed and Town sneezed. A chip over Clifton and a West Countryman walloped. I sosceles, you sosceles, they soscelesed Town into prime Lincolnshire sausages with chips. A free man headed against Whitmore's thighs in front of McKeown's fingers, but the linesman flagged. Stop the clocks, erase that memory. It never happened, right? Wing-back woe and Dixon was chipped and pinned. Shepherd volleyed beyond the gaggle of Greenites gathered together and grooving behind Sanchez.

It would be lovely to have a shot, wouldn't it. Or a cross. Something, anything will do. Ah, some movement, some groovement. Hooper swept across to the marauding Dixon, Wolfman overlapped and a turquoise hand appeared, as if by magic. Step this way said the referee and Rose rocked up to roll right into the keeper's right-hand corner and past Sanchez's right-hand fingernails. That's right.

Town crept down the left and Dixon crossed near no-one. Sanchez shuffled along his line and caught the ball in front of the post and fell back into the goal. He rolled along the side netting and rolled his hands around the post to roll the perfect scotch egg from a sow's ear of a cross. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

Muckling, mickling, knickering, knockering and Reece-not-Rhys Brown-not-Browne carefully steered against advertising boards. Other things. Who cares, nothing happened in the end. The Fruiterers looked worrisome until they had to shoot. Pah, they'll never score, their powder's as puffed as ours.

One minute was added. Rose spread his wings and Clifton learned to fly down the flanks. Pinged along the penalty area, Rose didn't shoot and swept back out wide. In again, out again and Welsh walloped from where Rose didn't, through the wilderness and straight into Sanchez's huge hands.

1-0 Rose (pen). Everything's changed, but nothing's changed. Nothing happened, nothing looked like happening, nothing looked like it would ever happen ever again. Town looked like they hadn't a cluedo how to play football. But twenty minutes with Professor Jolley, in the changing rooms, with a whiteboard will solve this crime.

Second half: The gaffes that keep on giving

Neither team made any changes at half time.

A pass, a movement, Woolford swurged and Rose's blamp bumped off a blimp for a corner. Mills' hair came out of its bun and well, does he or doesn't he? Of course he does. Only Harmony hairspray gives that long- lasting hold which is easy to brush out.

A bit of turquoise teasing, wheezing those bellows with Town sinking, allowing infiltrations on the left. Collins retreated and Reid tweeted to Winchester, who dribbled and dived woefully inside the penalty area. Town hacked and tacked when a good old-fashioned welly would do. Piddling about, fiddling about, and more turquoise tappings. A cross dinked beyond the far post with Clifton unseen. Harmony Mills volleyed back and across into the middle of the six-yard box. Alone, without a chaperone, Winchester stumbled through the open door and into the chamber, passing the ball into the bottom right corner.

It's hard enough to hear the whines inside Blundell Park, the air inside just hangs in delusion.

When you're in a mess there's only one way to get out and that's to get stuck in. Get stuck in. Revved up in a rage, Rose lunged and a New Ager plunged. The free kick flumped bumpingly through without fuss or fear to McKeown.

Woolford. Dixon. A cross. To the near post. Hooper hooked. Well, it's something. I'm not cross at a cross to the near post.

On the hour RHJ and Hassling Hess replaced Dixon and Woolford. At last some vim and verve, sometimes a cat needs to lyst. Now something's gonna happen; the weekend starts here.

Minutes ticked by. Nothing was happening nowhere. Hall-Johnson lobbed to Collins, on the touchline under the Police Box, who swept the ball back to McKeown. McKeown… McKeown… where art thou? I could have sworn McKeown was in town today. We saw his car parked up and his children were mascots, surely he was here…somewhere? The ball rolled along the looming loam as a distant grey figure entered from stage left. The ball rolled on and on and on and inside the left post, as many a marinerman swore at McKeown for not being in Town's penalty area today. Read it and weep the tears of falling Angols: Collins, own goal. The fruity Foresters didn't even celebrate, confused and embarrassed at the comedy capering from their hosts.

McKeown pointed to the void and Blundell Park echoed in the well of silence

Back off boogaloo! A long shot bombling wide and McKeown took no chances, flying low and right to finger-flip away anyway. The corner drooped over Whitmore and Doidge, softly creeping as Town's defence was sleeping, dodged Davis' half nelson to duck down and dunk across McKeown into the rightside of the goal, absent of a man on the post. McKeown pointed to the void and Blundell Park echoed in the well of silence.

Does St Michael's vision planted in your brain still remain? Unlike those diehard occasionals, who trooped out in a strop at this latest flop during the long, long periods of nothingness that followed. Vernam replaced Davis, halving the Harry quotient as Town moved to a back four and who knows, who cares what was in front of them. Hooper headed the ball inside their penalty area. Please carry on with your life, you have no need for further information.

Ticking away, minutes, hope, life. Town tippled across the back four with Collins rolling to RHJ, just outside the penalty area on the centre-left. Hall-Johnson studded a back-pass with his right foot perfectly into the walking path of Doidge who walked past the flailing McKeown, walked the ball into the net and was walking back to the halfway line in happiness whistling yay, yay, yay, yay ba-dum be-do.

Sometime way, way at the end when far, far too late Hooper swept over, Hessenthaler surged past many and Rose resumed his doomed love affair with Sanchez's waiting hands.

Six minutes were added to allow the roads to clear. Roads were cleared, throats were cleared, welcome to the real houseplants of Grimsby, Mr Jolley.

A new era, a new nadir. So bad it was laughable, where what could go wrong did go wrong. Clear their minds, Michael – take 'em to Britain's best Buddhist garden, halfway between Newark and Gainsborough. That's halfway to paradise, isn't it? You'll not get away without being force-fed a scone though.

We're the cats who licked the curdling cream. Grimsby Town: ad infinitum ad nauseam.