An education: York (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 October 2011

York City 2 Grimsby Town 1

What a day for a daydream, what a day for the daydreaming boys in the massed ranks piled along the concrete and clay terraces of Olde Yorke. After the Barrowboy tumbling and fumbling, around 900 didn't take a break from Town: they did have a trip to the KitKat.

Town lined up in all white again in a 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Silk, Kempson, Garner, Ridley, Church, Disley, Artus, Coulson, Duffy and Hearn. The substitutes were Wood, Pearson, Eagle, Thanoj and Elding. We thought that it was over but it's true, oh so true: 4-3-3. We were s-i-i-i-i-ighing, over you. Still, lovely day, lovely pitch.

York tuned up in red shirts and blue shorts and lots and lots of little men frolicking about near the 'Simply Sausages' signage. Is that a sign of the times?

York have ambitions: they've finally put a roof on the vague male toilet area, or the male vague toilet area, depending on your attitude to life.

First half: Passing the time
Town kicked off away from the milling mass of Marinerdom with a chipolata sausage down the left and... lovely blue sky.

Heading, heading and Yorkers falling. They zip and nip between the public art that is Town. Mmm, tasty morsels of passing and that movement thing from mein hosts. Tipping, tapping and Town counterattacking after Artus intercepted and swished to Coulson. Testing, testing, one-two, one-two. Disley tipped, Duffy winked and Coulson dinked. Disley arose near the penalty spot, with his back to the sun, to loopy-head over the uncapped Ingham. Well, well said the rocking chair, a Town goal out of the blue sky. York had been daydreaming about John Sebastian's pink-hooped trousers again.

York. York. York. And then York again. Oh look, yoiks Scooby, it's York!

You could have a 2,000-word dissertation on the wondrous weavings of the knotty knittings of York City if you wish. Or just the basic facts: I'll show you where it hurt Town. Boy, it really hurts to watch Town being unravelled so beautifully.

Boucard, the footballing hairdresser, teased and wheezed in the very centre of the pitch, rolling his boots dismissively over the ball to pick away at Town's seams. York's wingers stayed wide, their midfielders constantly moved betwixt and between Town's Fun Boy Three. It ain't what they did, but the way that they did it that had us in a spin. Chambers bedraggled and McLaughlin bee-bumbled his stingers straight at McKeown.

This way, that way, sneaking, peaking, switching and pitching their wares in a blur of red. Town lacerated down the right, then the left, with a cross from the bye-line and Walker, unmarked in the centre, diving and steering a bullet header goalwards. McKeown calmly eased to his right and superbly parried away.

More of the same, more of the pain. They are coming through in waves.

Disley was disrobed and McLaughlin stroked to Walker from the bye-line, who steered straight at McKeown. Tiki-taki, one-two-three first-time triangular strangles mangled Town's right and the ball was swiftly switched in and across the face of the penalty area. Walker lurked beyond Ridley, the last man standing, and into his path the parcel was passed. McKeown threw himself forward, Church hurled himself across and the shot canoodled off an employee of Grimsby Town Football Club. Magnificent. You have to say that's magnificent the way they moved, the way they grooved.

They squeezed Town like a an old accordion, always with extra players beyond the far post. They were marvellous to watch. Marvellous. We marvelled.

The seeds of doubt were sowing as Chambers rose over Silk's ear and headed wide. Lips were pursed, eyebrows raised as the sky refused to fall in. A cross-shot bedoodle-di-dooed through. York were crop spraying, knowing that the weeds would die eventually. They just had patience, patience, patience. Nothing hurried, everything curried.

They nicked, they nacked, they finally whacked. Town half-cleared and in an instant the Yorkists were back with their one-touch passing and movement schtick. From right to left and crossed back again before Town eyes had blinked. Silk rose beyond the far post and headed back across the goalmouth, behind Walker, near the penalty spot. Walker flipped himself up and bicycled brilliantly against the inside of the right post. It wasn't lucky: it was just fantastic technique. We don't need to dress it up with hyperbole. The motion spoke for itself.

And finally Town reappeared in their half. Coulson interrupted some soft shoe shuffling; Disley swapped his jumper with Hearn and shimmy-shammy dummied into the area. Ingham advanced and tilled the earth as Disley poked against the keeper's teeth. And sometime around then Coulson cut in from the right and curled wide of the far post. It may have been close, it may have been far but it was one of the three times Town got inside the York penalty area. Unless you count the countless aimless, semi-panicky hoofles and soufflés from Town's back four.

You have the facts, just the bare facts. In between these events York had the ball and were on a different footballing planet.

Second half: Timing the pass
No changes were made by either team at half time, though Town did appear to shuffle into a 4-4-2.

York still had the ball all the time, but started to play in front of Town as the wings were closed off. So fewer things happened. Pressure remained, pressure mounted, but the gaps were plugged simply by having men stand in the right places. The danger to Town was when Town attacked, for space emerged derrière.

Hang on, what were we saying? A Town half-attack broke down in tears and the Minstermen thought about serialising their adventures. Mr Small sneaked in front of Mr Daydream to head Mr Uppity's cross over from right in front of goal. Mr Noisy and Mr Nobody didn't look Mr Happy.

Funny thing, this 4-4-2 formation: things happen. Hearn turned and Coulson had memories of Mansfield, curling a left-footed drifter... straight into Ingham's midriff. And here we go again. Coulson sniffled forward and Hearn twisty-turny-twinkered into side netting. Moments. Not magic, but diverting and inverting the narrative arc.

Boucard twirled his cape outside the Town penalty area to threadneedle a pass through to the far left. towards an advancing Minstermen midget gem. Mr Mack came flying out to distract and the ball was caressed into the six-yard box where Garner awaited and cleared. A bit. Back came York with a crossy-shot which sniggled between legs, and McKeown grasped to parry-push away from the bottom left corner. Chambers retrieved, twizzled and lampooned way over.

With about 25 minutes left Duffy was replaced by Elding. Let us not be rude about him until we have something to be rude about.

Ah, you can be rude now. Three minutes and ten seconds. That's how long it took for the cliché to arrive. Dizzy Mr Disley intercepted and sneak-tweaked a sexy pass into the flightpath of Elding. In the area, unmarked and with the keeper knocking knees, there is only one outcome possible. There are known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns, and Anthony Elding in front of goal with just the keeper to beat. We know the only mystery is by how far his shot will go wide. At least a yard this time. First there are misses, then there are sighs, and then before you know where you are, you're sayin' goodbye to another three points. We know all there is to know about the sighing game with Anthony Elding.

It's almost amusing now.

More befuddled dancing by Yorkites was ended with a hump and Hearn twisty-turned a snorting drive over the angle of post and crossbar. Who you calling a Moke? Oh, I see, down these mean streets a York manager must go, who is neither tarnished nor afraid to take off his best player. They took off Boucard and brought on Adriano Mini Moke, who was the thinnest player on the pitch. It's a good job it wasn't windy or he'd have been wafted towards Wetherby, with the big orange balloon with giant gondola that floated gently overhead. This isn't an episode of 'Allo 'Allo is it?

Ooh, Garner stretched to save the moment. Oooooh, McKeown chased punts and played basketball inside the area. Ooooooooh-ooooh, Kempson screeched at full throttle towards Chambers. It was a stick-or-bust kinda tackle from a stick-or-bust kinda guy. Fortunately today, Matthew, Big Dazzer came as a footballer and wasn't bust, though he was often flushed by the little pixies who danced around his toes. A throw-in, not a penalty, ensued.

With a few minutes left before the park and ride beckoned, York carried on carrying on down their right. A quick throw, a quick cross and out it splurged beyond the far post. Moke arrived, Silk retreated and the ball was rolled to Chambers at the near post, who turned and steered a low shot into the bottom left corner as Garner stood and admired the views towards the Minster. It wasn't a surprise for, though they had few efforts, they had been prodding and probing all afternoon: nearly here, nearly there, just short, just long, slightly too hard, slightly too high in a succession of moments of almostness. Their persistence and patience paid off.

And Town reverted from Plan A+ to plan A-. Everybody charge... now!

The rest of the game was a succession of up-and-unders, headers and glances falling near but far from Town socks. Elding burst free with the control of an artichoke. A corner emerged, but Town don't score from corners, or even threaten to consider scoring from corners. Corner begat corner, begat long throws, begat corners, begat hoiks and humps and headers and slices and headers and corners and headers and Hearn poked and missed the ball five yards out as the goal awaited some kissage. The ball was returned with a header and a scramble and a block and a shot and a block and stop the clock: it's over.

Spirit? Yes. Organisation? Eventually. York were far too competent to be defeated or deflated by such simple bare necessities. When you look under the rocks and plants, take a glance at the fancy ants in the blue pants. They taught us a lesson.