Surging out of convalescence: Hornchurch (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

14 January 2012

Grimsby Town 4 Hornchurch 0

A still but chill day in the Theatre of Non-League Dreams with around 100 urchins from the rhyming Ryman slinking and thinking, wishin' and hopin' in the Osmond. It's the Mighty Urchins versus Mighty Mariners, the mightiest tie in FAT 2.

Town lined up in the slimline tonic 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Silk, Pearson, Garner, Townsend, Coulson, Thanoj, Artus, McCarthy, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were Wood, I'Anson, Makofo, Duffy and the little fishy dishy Dayle Southwell. With Miller and the unseen mystery man Hughes-Mason-Hughes unavailable for comment it was Pearson's chance to step up 2 the street. Town's tight-knit group of urban street dancers were pitted against the best hip-hoppers in Hornchurch in a high-stakes showdown. Fab gear, as I believe trendy young things say these days in the coffee bars of Soho and Solihull. If you want to know a tactical detail, Coulson started on the right, McCarthy on the left.

The Urchins rolled out of their barrel in a plain, unsponsored, hazy purple and white kit. Are Town playing the Hornchurch Premier Inn? They do have a pizza delivery boy at left-back and the old portly night porter at centre-forward. Hey, hey, hey, that's why they are dressed as purple people eaters: their keeper is Sheb Woolley and he's flabbier than Jamie Mack too. Must be what hours misspent in a snooker hall do for your complexion.

Right, let's show you what we can do with a load of balls and a snooker cue. Rack ‘em up!

First half: He used to play for Arsenal you know
Town broke off towards the Osmond with a cunningly weighted safety shot onto the baulk cushion. Oh, that's who he is: their roly-poly number nine is Tommy Black! Like Jason Crowe, he used to play for Arsenal you know!

Hearn surged: no-one was there.

Town passed around and about without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Just for a minute, mind, just for a minute. An Urchin sneezed, Black snickered into Pearson's hinterland and the Pontoon roared as there's many a slip twixt cup and lip. Roly-poly man slightly miscontrolled the ball and just gave up as it rolled slowly towards the bye-line, mixing ineptitude and apathy, and turning his team-mates as purple as their shirts.

Ten minutes of experimental jazz was just a noodling warm-up to an afternoon of family favourites. There was no tension. The future was ours to see.

Town did a bit of this and a bit of that which involved moving their legs. Silk patted a throw-in to Coulson, who shimmied right, sending his alleged marker towards the nearest Little Chef, and boom-dangled a shot from an angle. Old Sheb sailed left and parried away spectacularly from the near post for a corner which Coulson clipped flatly to the far post. Woolley waited. Well, he saw the thing comin' out of the sky, it had one long horn and one big eye. Pearson arose to bedonk firmly into the net. The tannoy announcer got giddy and Elding's name was pronounced man and goal. But Elding was still a bachelor boy. As time goes by he'll probably meet a ball and fall in love. Yay, that's exciting. Hurrah.

Hearn half through, half fell. No penalty. They don't like his thigh and shoulder straining. Their dilithium crystals started to overheat, for their engines hadn't been tested at warp speed. Coulson wasted a free kick, wafting into a bagatelle of bodies as Town strolled around, physically superior and tactically tighter. The Mariner metronome ticked achingly slowly left to right to left to McCarthy to waste, for Hearn to fall over the ball, for Garner to shingle a header at the keeper's feet.

In between all this perambulating the Urchins had a shot. McKeown let his folds of flesh absorb the energy with a weird stomach catch. A-ha, the dead cat bounced! Roly-poly man spun and plunged to Earth between two stools, proving that Weebles wobble and they do fall down. To the chuckling delight of the paying throngs, tubby Tommy wanted a penalty. He was almost booked for his chutzpah. He just fell under the weight of his own disappointment. Once he was a king. He had a shot later. Nothing of consequence, it was no more than a pass-back. Hornchurch passed the ball accurately to each other if they were given time. When they got near McKeown they were given no time. That was all.

Hearn twist-and-shouted around a purple tissue and wallied low. The keeper parried up and Artus stumble-wumbled as the goal agaped, wanting to wait to control a balloon rather shoot. Hearn waited too long for a ball to drop, so didn't shoot, in another moment of possible almostness. It was a bit boring waiting for Town's second goal. The ref was so bored that he started to give patronisingly pleasant decisions to the southern raiders. Nothing happened at all.

And on the half-hour Thanoj arm-wrestled, McCarthy passed the parcel and Silk loopy-loop-looped a loopy high cross. Coulson, on the bye-line, flick-volleyed across the face of goal with the outside of his right boot and Elding apologised into the emptiest of empty nets from a negligible distance. The tannoy announcer got giddy again and Elding's name was pronounced man and goal. This time fact and fiction married.

Forget the next 15 minutes. I have. Town had the ball: nothing happened.

In added time Town pooper-scooped around on the right and Silk loopy-loop-looped a loopy high cross to the far post. Woolley froze. Elding waited and waited and waited and bowed his head in deference, the ball deflecting off his magnetic aura and into the left corner.

What's Town's line? It's eating purple people and it sure is fine.

Second half: And now he doesn't
Duffy replaced Hearn at half time and we had the dream strike partnership at last. Hornchurch's dreams came true.

With our baby-faced assassin gone, we got the second-half blues. Oh yeah. It was just like last week, a non-performance in the second half. A waste of time watching: the game won, the opposition incapable of opening their presents.

From the off their number 11, Spencer, sauntered down the centre and walloped a low drifter past McKeown and against the left post. Roly-poly man wasted space frequently as purple reigned, though they didn't cause any sorrow or pain. For a while.

Smith shivered past Silk after bold slickness. McKeown crept out and chesty-hand-blocked for a corner. As Town dozed, the purple people sneaked a quick short, sharp shock into the system, causing crowd pandemonium in the heart of Grimsby's busy west end. Town didn't clear, didn't clear and didn't clear again as a big lad dropped a volley which dipped and swung and thought about shaving some foam off the left post.

Scruffy mauling and falling in the middle of nowhere led to rebounds and ricochets and Smith roaming free behind Silk, again. McKeown crept out, again, and blocked, again. This time the ball rolled back to Smith. He probably passed, or the ball may just have spontaneously decided it wanted to see the world; the evidence is not clear but roly-poly man will admit his guilt. With keeper flummoxed and flailing on the ground, the ball chuntered slowly across the six-yard box to Black, who carefully swept the ball against the combined sliding mass of Silk and Townsend. Waving like the Queen, the ball took a trip over the crossbar and off went little Tommy. How can he be saved?

Town? Yawn on, yawn on, with yawns in your heart. McCarthy's woeful weak waft and Elding's backwards grazer from a Coulson dripper were Town's contributions to road safety. Nothing, nothing else of any note, except Thanoj finally being booked for his eleventieth foul, and being replaced by the calm, rational, sane and serene Bradley Wood. The game was so won that even junior psycho couldn't be bothered to go around bullying the freshers.

The Hornchurch Drum & Trumpet Corps Boys conga-ed along the Osmond twirling their shirts and generally having a jolly time as the game just drifted on in front of the bored and the awed. Roly-poly was taken off so we had less to chuckle at. If Shouty and Shorty had an ounce of human decency they'd bring on the Serge of Makofo to add some physical comedy to the flat beer and stale crisps. We want the Serge-anator!

With 20 minutes left we finally had a moment to justify remaining seated in the freezer compartment. At this moment Duffy moved, Duffy controlled the ball, Duffy passed the ball. This was Rob Duffy's moment of destiny. He had succeeded. Mark it in your diary. After 71 minutes Duffy finally bothered and Town tip-toed towards the left, with Townsend receiving the ball in the land beyond the shadow of the Findus. With a purple nutmeg and sexy sway, two grown men were removed from history. Fifteen yards out and wide, Townsend opened his body and coiled a right-footed shot around and across the keeper, with the left-back sliding in front of the post to not clear.

Duffy didn't try again. He had done one thing once and Town scored. That's more than enough. That's more than usual.

Hornchurch had 20 minutes of pressure and nearly efforts, which is fine for them and their support, but hardly anything where McKeown had to put his hands upon the ball. So there is nothing tangible to describe, just lots of them passing and cutting through Town. But there was always one Town player capable of being bothered enough, and that is all it took to stop them.

As Southwell replaced Elding a selection of Town teenagers conga-ed behind an unsuspecting man on his way to the toilet. The stewards panicked - they hadn't seen such relaxed glee and good humour at Blundell Park since about 1998. The game ended, everyone went home, though not in a mass conga: it wasn't that good. Let's save such collective communal moments for the next round.

Turned up. Won. There you are. It was a curiously unsatisfying afternoon in Cleethorpes. Town are like Stapeley Water Gardens at the moment: a nice day out, but best take a flask.