How to beat a rotten egg

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

11 November 2018

Grimsby Town 3-1

Cold, murky, miserable and empty: welcome to our winter wonderland. There is no danger of letting any daylight into the magic of the FA Cup. We haven't had that spirit here since 1989. Still voices are calling from far away in the Dentists Stand: oh woe, oh woe, woah, woah, woah, what no Roses?

Town lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, Davis, Collins, Famewo, Embleton, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Pringle, Vernam and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Fox, Hall-Johnson, Welsh, Woolford, Cook and Cardwell. Mitch missing, Akheeeem tied up, what have we got left? Well, we're finally up to our full complement of Harrys. Nothing can go wrong now.

The Others? They turned up in exactly the sort of ostentatious leisurewear you'd expect from a fake football business, gaudy gold bars inside imperial red. They look like discount store own-brand biscuit wrappers.

Let's dunk 'em in our tea.

First half: Cracking the shell

Town kicked off towards the Osmond stand.

Scuttling, scuffling, huffing and puffing. Biscuit crumbs on the tablecloth, Hendrie swept them into the bin. There's a man dressed as a gnome to my left. Whining, dining, biding his time for his first grimble-grumble.

Ooh, we're having a big adventure amidst the grass, fresh air at last as their yellow keeper flapped. The Hess slashed: the ball crashed into the 150 strange people clustered behind.

Dibbly-dobbing, bob-bob-bobbing along. A faking frontman gambolled and with time on his hands swept lowly, then wept like Al Bowlly, as McKeown rested upon his chaise longue and kicked the cat away into the corner. Dinner for one please, James.

Biscuits barrelled, the corner headed down and an unmarked stranger leant back and swept over the bar.
Little Harry under-jumped a bouncing ball for he simply is not tall. Don't worry, no need to call Saul, it's all good, man.

Town goals are like elephants' heartbeats. We must use them wisely. Vernam coiled delightfully into the far corner but the flag was flying. What a waste, or it could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution. Yeah, it's thinking like that gets you to be an inmate in a long-term institution.

A biscuit boy dinked down Town's left and Collins let the ball go out. The ball didn't go out. Red retriever rolled and A N Other rumpled across Jamie Macc into the right side of the goal.

Swept back, swept in, swept away.

There's only one thing to do: yawn and be withdrawn and watch the world go by.

Oh no, it's the magic cup of woe, overflowing with lowing locals. Energised Embleton jinky-jink-jinked and swept straight at a stranger on the shore. Thomas tickled and Embleton scruffed low and slow to yellow. There is nothing of substance, just still images giving the illusion of movement.

Them. The Others? A corner that wasn't a corner, headed over. A scamp skimped away alone and poked a prod past McKeown. The ball trickled straight and true, a few millilitres past the left post.

One minute was added. The puffball piddling ended.

Town: I think it's safe to say it's time to open fire or the dream is over.

Second half: Whip until frothy

Neither team made any changes at half time. And the cold, icy rain belted down.

Gaze around this wreck of a town, so long in Blundell Avenue, not knowing what to say or do. Is there hope?

Piddling and paddling, hustling and hassling, Town drove the rogues back. Their keeper picked up the ball and roamed around his area, left and right, right and left. Get on with it!

When all die have been thrown, and cards churned, there's always the awesome power of the anachronistic heckle. Steps! Their keeper, discombobulated by plaintive cries from the Pontoon, the distant cries of the fishfolk, threw the ball out to Pringle. Town tittered and teetered across the face of the area. Embleton shimmied and shammied in from the left, coiling craftily a careful cracker into the top left corner.

Some say he's lazy, but it takes time, he keeps on goin' and guess now we know why.

A goal in the second half? Ambassador, you spoil us.

Embleton this way and that, slapping wide, slapping straight at the hat-stand. Is only Embleton allowed to shoot?

Two goals in a game? Ambassador, you really spoil us

Gaudy giddiness and Famewo tangling his toes. A shot slipping lowly across Jamie Macc's fingernails and across the face of the far post. A corner. And? You needs 'ands when you have to stop the bus.

Striped slinking and linking, ticking and tocking. A corner shorted, a corner shortly, a short corner cleared. Pressing, pressing, no messing. Pringle tapped, Hendrie clapped a cross into the middle of a muddle. Men cuddled and befuddled as Thomas crumbled and swivelled horizontally on his backside to sweep lowly under yellow. Oh hello!

Two goals in a game? Ambassador, you really spoil us.

The aliens invaded our space. Rip-roaring into the void, spinning and flinging as Collins atoned for his sins by spectacularly arching around behind Jamie Macc to screwtoply head off the line.

Slap wide, slap high, slap your thighs, what a bunch of slappers.

Busy and buzzy, we're feeling quite fuzzy as Town's ants swarmed over the heap of compost. Little Harry hassled down the right, surrounded by gaudiness, but crossing lowly, knocked straight back where it came from. Clifton continued running, hit the bye-line and reversed the polarity on warp drive. Vernam, alone a dozen yards out, swivelled and swept across the face of goal into the top right corner past the barely grasping fingers of fakery.

Three goals. In a season! Ambassador, this is getting creepy.

Town frolicked gaily, Pringle wingled and the keeper de-plucked lowly. The Others carried on at our convenience. They could carry on following that camel all night for all we care as they slapped high and wide, then wide and high.

Hah, let's hang on to what we've got. Pringle was replaced by Welsh, for Jolley's first, faint echo of the Parslow Point.

Red slaps at night, stripey delight.

With five minutes left, Cardwell came on for Thomas and Town were in a triple Harry lockdown.

Four minutes were added. Yeah, yeah, The Others carried on doing their half-hearted, ersatz Mansfield thing and carried on slapping. Who cares about that when Town're laying the ultimate trump card – the Double Parslow. Woolford came on for Embleton. Did you ever think you'd get to see a Double Parslow in your lifetime?

Well, that was nice. A lashing of cold rain and the alien ant farm dissolved. Town attacked the opposition goal. Town ran a bit faster. Town started to play like a football team in a competition rather than an interpretive dance troupe doing a matinee show on a provincial tour. The opposition have no role in this story: it's all about us.

A bit of oomphing goes a long-long-long-long way. Town oomphed and who's crying now?