Hill's angles

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 August 2018

Grimsby Town 0 Rochdale 2

We're back home, with just pigeons and gulls for company, on a warm evening of delightful views across the vast swathes of plastic. Is it wise to sneak in a behind-closed-doors friendly after the season has started?

Town lined up in a 4:1:4:1 formation as follows: McKeown, Davis, Whitmore, Collins, Dixon, Welsh, Vernam, Woolford, Hessenthaler, Hooper and Cook. The substitutes were Russell, Famewo, Clifton, Wright, Robles, A Rose and Brandon Buckley. Vernam and Hooper were the flankers, with Woolford and The Hess on their wrong side in the middle.

Rochdale turned up in a whiter shade of pale purple ensemble. Puce? Lavender? Get out your colour charts, lilac and think of Rochdale.

Remember, it is always darkest before it becomes totally black.

First half: The team that wasn’t there

Town kicked off towards the 172 Cowboys and Cowgirls.

Puce, lilac or purple? What is? Their shirt colour and several faces in the crowd. Town: inert, unmoving nothingness with a salad dressing of slackness. Rochdale hunting in packs: solid, sturdy, snappy and superior.
Rochdale, Rochdale, Rochdale. Them. Them. Them. Passing. Moving. Passing again. Whirling, swirling, having a ball.

Cook half-mugged the lilac Lillis. Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. Town got a throw-in. The Hess surged down the left in his now usual way, with the usual ending. To the bye-line and the cross-pass-flick deflected for a corner. Coiled deeply, Whitmore arose and gently looped back across the face of goal and against the angle of post and bar. Welsh volleyed into the Constitutional Club's wine cellar. There you are: Town in totality in all their banality. That was the half that wasn't.

Jordan Cook: a lone monk walking the world with a leaky umbrella.

Constant cravings, incessant infiltrations, the lilac lads toyed with Town. Blocks by a socks, smothering and smattering, Town holding on. Big triangles, little triangles, men moving, Dixon sleeping. Henderson shuffled behind and Jamie Mack kicked away from his near post.

Dapper Dalers drifting through Town's string vest. When? Where? It's going to happen, it's coming, but who?
It only takes one man and this is the story of one such man, a sausage tosser extraordinaire. His name? Oliver Rathbone. A dink over Dixon, Rathbone roamed and carefully curled around McKeown. It's not hard being a footballer in Rochdale.

Five more minutes of pointless promenading and then it's time for some rich tea and sympathy. Are we even going to try win this game? Maybe Mikey knows his Mao: keep the enemy in the dark about where and when our forces will attack.

Second half: The existential void

Neither team made any changes at half time.

When you point a finger at the moon to indicate the moon, instead of looking at the moon, the stupid ones look at your finger.

Look over there, it's Charles Vernam churning butter.

Rochdale, loads of this and that, whenever they wanted, jive talking through the muddle in the middle. Town?
Well, good question.

Lilac shots, wide and high. A header wide, a header magnificently saved by Jamie Macc. They took off a couple of players and brought on two different players. Hang on sloopy, that's Calvin Andrew. No wonder they couldn't shoot.

You can't be a revolutionary if you don't eat chillis: Barney Robles replaced Dixon. Bottoms were shuffled, formations were danced. It is an irrelevance.

Barney knows how to fall. The Hess dinked a free kick and Whitmore, beyond the far post, headed back across the face of goal. McNutty nibbled away from the barely lurking Cook.

Them, themming to themselves. Ten minutes left, mucking about inside the Town half. Rochdale buzzed like hornets, rebounds, ricochets, tackles and Rathbone, 20 yards out, swayed and swung lowly into the bottom left corner.

What took them so long?

Aha. Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible. Hooper and Cook were replaced by Wright and A Rose. This was a good thing. This is a good thing. Good things happened. Town had pace, Town had players who didn't give up at the first snort of a defender's nostrils.

Barney fell, The Hess curled marginally over the crossbar. Rose powered towards goal, alarming the day trippers. A corner half cleared, quarter cleared and Collins volleyed inchlets over. Woolford's shot spun off lilac toes and an inch wide.

Town gave it a go after the game had gone, by which time half of the crowd that wasn't there was no longer there. Where Rochdale had virility Town had sterility. This was a complete waste of time, a soul-destroying non-game that showed how far away from the standard required in the division above this Town are. We were not worthy opponents.

Hail Dale! Everything but the goal.

Town? Please, let us not talk of such things in polite company.