Outside the wall

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

13 August 2018

Macclesfield Town 0 Grimsby Town 2

…he came in?

Macclesfield. Again. So many Mariners memories, so much pain, so much sorrow, will we feel the same tomorrow? This will be the last time we'll tell you no-one cares about your creative hub.

Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it?


We'll have to sing out loud because we'll have to make the crowd. You'd never guess The Macc Lads were back in the Big Time as tens of locals turned up to a community fun day with bouncy castle and a tombola. Vernon and Bolarinwa were so 2016, you'll just have to make do with Jolley's jumpers, we've come to spoil your party.

Town lined up in red in the oh-so-last-season look, a 4-1-4-1 formation double-weave pantaloon, as follows: McKeown, Davis, Whitmore, Collins, Dixon, Welsh, Woolford, Hessenthaler, Mitch Rose, Hooper and Cook. The substitutes were Russell, Hall-Johnson, Clifton, Wright, Robles, A Rose and Vernam. Who'd play where in a team like this? Let's look at the evidence. Big Harry was at right-back, replacing little Harry, with Welsh in the trench, Hooper on the left, Wolfman on the right and Cook alone atop this pine tree. No Fox today, has the milkman gone away? Maybe St Michael knows a fox should not be on the jury at a goose's trial.

Is that Colin Crompton or Norman Collier on the tannoy? They've had a meeting of the committee and they've passed a resolution to buy more pies. Spoiler alert: free after half time you know, if you'd held your nerve and your stomach in.

Ah yes, the Macc Lad in goal, tickertyboo-hoo-hoo, we remember you. And he remembers us, having had his haircut, for Taylor can no longer touch his hair every six seconds. Perhaps he's matured in the years since our passing; his stomach has. Perhaps his dream is to open a roastery in the Keswick area.

Town Textophobes out there: face down your fear of silk with Charmeuse pants. Dixon is, after all, at left back.

First half: Are they bovvered?

Town kicked off away from the 800 or so Townites and towards the slowly greying clouds of doubt and misery down in the Macclesfield end, a half-n-half seats and standing mushery in the low Murk Stand.
A no intensity, low impact shufflethon: blue scuffling, red huffling. Town tickling and Macc tottering. Woolford romped away but a blue hand on a blue day punched the ball to the safety of Mitch Rose's toeses. Another thrust, another blue-handed intervention, with the referee choosing to play disadvantage for Town.

Hess hassled and crossed deeply and dippily. Woolford arose to nod back across goal where Cook and Hooper lurked behind Big Blueness. Hassling Hess swept a dripper into the six-yard box. Rose missed and a Big Blue head nurdled.

Infiltrations and deliberations from the red corner, some light skipping and shadow boxing in the blue corner. The Silkmen were slickly going nowhere slowly. Lightweights against middleweights.

Cook sneaked a slip and forced a corner. Collins missed his cue, turned around to see the ball at his feet and, from 15 yards or so, swiped lowly through the twiggery. Hodgkiss cackled off the line by the foot of the right post while Tubby Taylor was roasting his coffee beans.

Macclesfield. Have they had a shot yet? Well, Jamie Mack chucked his flat cap on Smith's flat and soggy chip. Does that count? Whitmore simply stood in the way when Town were feeling a little blue. Ice cold is Alex.

Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel. Woolford's slo-mo jinkathon through several dozen denizens of this Dark Satanic Milltown brought gasps of delight from enthralled townsfolk and sad sighs of dismay as the shot hit Cook on its way towards history.

Ooh hello, there they are, there is somebody home. Big Smith, like a snowball down a mountain or a carnival balloon, a carousel that turned running rings around the loons on Town's left. He crinkled his chip into the chip eaters beyond the far post. A man and his mushy peas were sadly parted.

Our Welsh wizard dibbled and dobbled, swept up and swept over to the deep left, where Hooper hoped and Dixon loped. A cross, drizzled flatly, grazed away from hovering red heads. Woolford wobbled and wafted a cheeky low return into the centre of the centre of the penalty area. Cook held firm, and waited for red socks to move. Rose rambled into the void, Taylor launched his lifeboat and both hit the turf by the bye-line. Rose swivelled and hooked around the custard tart and against the post. Flibbling and snibbling by the breached brook, the ball was passed to the unmarked Cook, dead centre. He swept, we wept as a blue head diverted the goal-bound welly-waft away.

Cook flat-batted a long hop for six, over long off, right into the pavilion. Taylor groped for what was left of his dignity as the ball flew into the toppish right corner before he could adjust his over-long shorts

Isn't it about time we scored? It's all very well tip-tapping, slapping the hosts around the head with a wet towel, but sometimes you just have to give 'em an old-fashioned whack around the chops. Triangles, head tennis, flicks and tricks, edging slowly towards Leek. Townites mumbled on the left and Hooper laid the ball back to the Cookie Monster, way out somewhere down there. Bluemen backed off and phwoar, what a scorcher! Cook flat-batted a long hop for six, over long off, right into the pavilion. Taylor groped for what was left of his dignity as the ball flew into the toppish right corner before he could adjust his over-long shorts.

Shall we sing the Cookie Monster Song? C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me. Oh Cookie, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie starts with C. Cooookie.

The Macc lads were mightily miffed by that biff and suddenly upped their pace, squeezing Town's tips, opening Town's taps. Pressure, crosses, big blue heads for a big blue day. A roll and whack from Whitaker walloped against Whitmore. Davis headed divingly and divinely. McKeown star jump proddy-poked as Marshmallow Maccer ducked out. A corner coiled and dipped and The Hess headed away from under the bar at the far post. Bodies flew in perfect harmony as Silky shots slapped against a sea of red.

Not now Arthur, or rather, yes now Arthur, please keep doing that. Little Arthur had a fascination with the car park. I think he thought he was playing footgolf.

The Hess jingle-jangled down the left and drooled into the deathly hallows. Heads or tails. Neither. Taylor flapped and Woolford retrieved, Davis swurgled and Cook spectacularly half-piked a bicycle kick down through the startled mess of Macc defenders. The startled Taylor, like any good satirist, punched up, up and away. He's a beautiful balloon of a man these days.

More! Hess! Oh. The Hess sliced his cheesy cracker into the rose gardens beyond.

One minute added when none were needed.

Well, that was alright. Competent low-level scuffling. That'll do, won't it?

Second half: Hoots mon

Neither team made any changes at half time.

It's oh so quiet, shsh shsh, it's all so still. It's kick and hush time.

Hess hurtled down the left, disturbing the pigeons and startling the starlings and starlets and clattering into the hoardings as he spliced his cross. Man down! The healing hands and hard stare of Dave Moore brought the lad back to life as up he popped from below the boards and… relax we're back to a full team.

Those silk panters? Nope. Nothing. Quiet as a town mouse in a library, with laryngitis.

Toblerone and Dixon out on his own, flinging highly, droopily beyond the far post. Rose arose and headed somewhere beyond the sea of fans in the stand from six yards out.

Ah, the townmouse has had a sip of some cough syrup. A gentle chip over Davis and a willowy welly through the Town penalty area, retrieved and dinked. Smith soared, Collins bored, and Big Smith glanced on and glanced widely.

On the hourish, Macclesfield made a double substitution, taking off players and replacing them with other players who were remarkably similar in stature and effectiveness. On came Scott Wilson, the fifth Beach Boy and Ayia Napa. Off went… two lads. It's not important.

Drifting away, drifting around, the sound of hounds barking in backyards beyond, disturbing an old man lazing in his deckchair, snoozing under his Daily Mirror. Minor infiltrations, minor interventions, Hess tapped out and Rose lunged. Arthur cartwheeled across the floor feeling kind of seasick and the home fans let out a roar. St Michael turned a whiter shade of pale.

Oh dear, Mitch Rose saw red for violence against blue. Town moved to a 4-4-1 formation, with Hess and Welsh the central planks in the scaffold. It's simply spiffing and true.

Right, get out yer tin hats, and get yer hair cut, get your flippin' hair cut.

A short back and down the sides from the free kick. In and out, Town shaken but not stirred all about and eventually the unmarked Ayia Napa shot across the face of goal. Big balls biggingly bigged by blue. Up and at us, down the flanks, through the Town keyhole, red jelly setting and no-one betting against an equaliser.

Hoo-haa, Wilson swayed to the rhythm, danced to the rhythm and blocked by double Townness. Antes were upped, balls were balled, heads were headed, as Town went to the barricades. Mariners to the mattresses, and in the bungle, this mighty bungle no fishes were sleeping tonight.

We're gonna need help from above to repel the Macc attack. That's easier said than done.

The skies darkened and a huge shadow was cast over the pitch as giant goose circled overhead seeking a quiet, unpopulated landing zone to rest and snooze, one guaranteed to permit an overnight stay. There's only one safe place in this corner of a Cheshire field – the Town penalty area. Down it plopped on the left and started to wander, then settled down for the afternoon.

When you're on the pitch you steal the show, our little Canada goose. Brilliant distraction tactics from Jolley there

Moss Rose to Jodrell Bank, the goose has landed. Wahey, comedic montage ahoy – cut to Yakety Sax. Goose stopped play. There will be a pitch inspection in three minutes after the stewards have chased our helpful interloper around the penalty area.

When you're on the pitch you steal the show, our little Canada goose. Brilliant distraction tactics from Jolley there. That's what the Super-dooper FIFA Pro-Plus galactic triple A+ coaching badge gets you. Mind control over wild animals.

Revved up and ready to rumble, the Macc Lads motored on. Hodgkiss hit the bye-line and McKeown beat out the cross at the near post. Crosses and crosses and crosses and crosses. All crossed into the stands. Lovely, keep doing that Arthur.

Surges and splurges, dinking and dunking, Jamie Mack splatter-clattered, the ball squirmed, Welsh and Whitmore plastered the walls and the Silk doors of perception were shut. A corner swooned, a big man headed bigly, downly, Jamie Mack swiped out. Eggs were beaten and scrambled but Town were not on Macc toast. Butter wouldn't melt on Town's toast, oh no.

Ooh that's nice, a Town mini-break. Just a couple of minutes without an overnight stay, but just enough time for a biscuit in a tea shop. Woolford soft dinked but Hooper and Cook were not alive to the sound of the Wolfman's music.

And here it comes, what we've been waiting for, Opponents bring on their tallest player for the last ten minutes. Off went a full back and on came Nathan Blissett. Nathan Blissett? Oh him, he only ever scores against Town.

Hugeness up front, huge balls, huge pressure. This is huge.

Biff-bang, crashing, slashing, flashing through, over and wide. Wilson crimpled from their right, through boots and socks. Jamie Mack's big right boot slapped away at the foot of the right post. And Arthur wellied over. Is that the best you can do? Well, that's Arthur's theme. It's crazy but it's true.

Hacking and thwacking, thwocks are blocked. Harem scarem space invaders, tickles and tackles, Town all of a tither and an open goal closed as Big Smith was diverted off big red chests. For those who were about to dive, we salute you.

As time ticked on Jolley tinkered: Cook and Hooper swapped places, casting Cook to the farthest reaches of the Silk Road. Ah-ha, preparation for the longest walk when replaced by Vernam. With five or six minutes left Cook was replaced by Vernam and walked a long way, slowly.

It's a blue cross day, bluemen cross at their crosses flying into the blue hills. Lovely.

At the exact moment where six minutes were to be added, McKeown fly-kicked deep into the Macclesfield half. Vernam jumped near Kelleher, the ball drifted on slowly towards the right corner flag. Grimes hop-scotched to shepherd the ball and stumbled as slim Charles robbed and rolled. Vernam headed into the penalty area to a rising roar, crackled lowly to the near post and Taylor sighed lowly, laughably as the cat crept in. And the Macc fans crept out again in a stream of conscious uncoupling.

Need we speak of the further five minutes? The deed was done, the blue goose was cooked.

Stout, staunch, solid, professional.

The return of the old Jolley ways brought forth a replica of the magnificent last seven games from last season. Town looked like a team, a competent team who knew what they were supposed to be doing. And did it. It was enough, and sometimes enough is enough.

In spite of all the danger, Macclesfield never looked like scoring. There was always a palpable sense that a red short, boot, thigh or derriere would appear, as if by magic. And it was rather magical to see the lengths Townites went hunting high and low for the ball.

One swallow does not make a summer, but one goose cleaving the murk of a mad first win may be the spring we need.

Isn't this where…