Once upon a time in the west

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 February 2019

Swindon Town 1 Grimsby Town 1

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Swindon? A beautiful day, we had lunch on the way and all for under £95 when you factor in petrol, food, drinks and the tickets, you know.

Ah, what a difference a month makes; we're looking up at the stars not staring at the Bananarama gutterballers. Listen lads, we can still do this!

Town lined up in the totally cool 5:3:2 formation as follows McKeown, Hendrie, Davis, Öhman, Collins, Ring, Hessenthaler, Embleton, Woolford, Cook and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Clifton, Vernam, Cardwell, and Dennis. The restoration of Medium Harry resulted in the COD defence, which pleased hacks and hicks, but left many sighing at the absence of Hall-Johnson. Ah well, Jolley knows best.

Swindon warmed up playing fast-fizzing pinball between the sprinklers, looking very young and snappy. Hang on – isn't Koiki that lad we tried to get in the summer? Booo, you're rubbish, obviously.

And the little blob of Town-ness, high up in the darkest corner of the darkest stand, were singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went around.

First half: Defences working overtime

Town kicked off towards the sun defending the empty end, the low sun blaring into Jamie Macc's eyes.

Four minutes, four chances. Here’s to you Mr Robinson as Town were overrun.

A chip and flick, Collins ambling, Woolery whacking, McKeown parry-tipping over spectacularly. A corner, a clearance, a red tumble. Fumbling, mumbling, a slippery tickle and McKeown smothered red toes. Town's trousers were pressed, a welly from way out, a deflection, and our custardian plucked.

Nick-knackery-nonsense from Town, with slow, low triangles of tosh. The Hess smothered and Robinson rolled goalwards. Laugh about it, shout about it, when they've got to choose, every way they'll lose with Jamie Mack in goal. Mr Robinson bounded away, McKeown slapped his clamp, Davis diverted the roller-stroller as Hess re-hassled.

Waves of red rolling, rolling, rolling over our rawhides, flashing, dashing, crashing over and wide. Öhman headed, Öhman headed, Öhman headed. Breathless, deathless and fortunately goalless.

Middling, muddling, Embleton swiped aside by a snowplough as Swindonites set sail for the New World. A caress inside Woolford, a cross across the face of goal, Jamie Macc lay down and ushered away through sheer force of personality. They shall not pass.

Indeed, Town did not pass. The ball or even the halfway line. Limp, languid, lightweight and lumbering.

A channel clip and slip by the stretching Öhman. Robinson ran off down the touchline on their left. Ludvig loped and put Robinson in his pantry with his cupcakes, manhandling the tearaway as he reached the corner of the penalty area.

A yellow card, a free kick, a big, hard McKeown fist away from lurking danger.

Town? A couple of bad crosses.

Ah Mr Robinson, look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes. Town totterings and Town teased by a fancy flip into the penalty area. Robinson's pathetic penalty crumble was not even penalised. As Town fans raged, the homesters were equally enraged by a series of throw-ins given to Town.

Swindonites began to pass out of play, to welly into the stands, to hoik, hoof, shin and generally lose their mojo. Town let them think. Nothing good comes of a lower-league footballer thinking

Yoiks! Town hoiks! Three up-and-unders and Thomas chased and turned in the D. Embleton thwacked and McCormick fist-flapped against the post that holds the net up and the ball ran along the back of the net.

Time slowed as Town cogitated, mulled, pondered and considered the meaning of life. Swindonites began to pass out of play, to welly into the stands, to hoik, hoof, shin and generally lose their mojo. Town let them think. Nothing good comes of a lower-league footballer thinking.

Town were boring them into mutual inadequacy.

Two minutes were added just because they were, for things that happened slowly sometime during the half. A final fling from the Wiltshire wilters, straight down the middle. A messy, muddling defensive line, with a big hole in the Mariner's middle. Woolery skipped away down the centre. Jamie Mack waited, staring in to the eyes of the advancing attacker. Who'll blink first? Woolery tried to walk around McKeown. Out stretched the long arm of the law, clawing aside. Woolery stumbled, turned and scraped towards the empty net. McKeown's comfort blanket swooped down and doused the fire.

Soulless and goalless. It should have been worse, it couldn't have been better. Town were utterly hopeless.

Second half: Generals and majors

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Normal service has been resumed, with the red-red-Robins knock-knock-knocking on Macca's door. Way out in the centre, Bennett's long pop swerved and nerves jingle-jangled. McKeown flew low and left to parry aside. The corner fizzed lowly and Thomas, at the near post, sliced through and over the waiting crowds.

Corners, free kicks, crosses and passes: slapped away, clapped away, sliced away, bottomed away, blocked away, headed away, way-way away. That's how to play away, play away, to play away.

Robinson arose alone at a corner, biffing with his bonce. McKeown's fingers flipped, the ball sailed over him and the bar.

Breathless, deathless, but Town are not Hess-less. A mugging, a shrugging and magnificent surge to slip Cook free. Alas, dear reader, there is no happy ending, as the Cookie Monster miffed straight at McCormick.

On the hour, with Little Harry waiting, Woolford had a magnificently adequate minute, perhaps the best minute of his life today. And then on came Clifton for the old stager.

Dribbling into the doldrums of dreary, weary mid-table noodling. Soporific Swindon, torpid Town. Nothing happening nowhere. A punt, a challenge, a Robin remained on the ground, holding his head. Thomas declined to arise, holding an indeterminate part of his body. The linesman flagging, a free kick to Swindon, a gasp and groan from the Grimsbyites. And the referee declined to wave a second yellow at Thomas the Tank Engine. Phew, we got away with that one.

Nothing, nowhere, the humdrum kabaddi of fourth division football. A redster sprung on to a half clearance, surging into the centre. Öhman stepped forward and collided with the slippery Swindoner. The fickle finger of fate pointed down for a free kick then over to the stands as a yellow card was wafted at Long-Legged Ludvig. Getting sent off for Town this season feels like a rite of passage. Ludvig, you are now truly a Grimsby defender.

Getting sent off for Town this season feels like a rite of passage. Ludvig, you are now truly a Grimsby defender

Off came Cook, on came Whitmore and the fancy pants free kick ended up in an existential crisis. They knew not what they were, who there were or where they were.

A bit of Town chivvying and chasing and Little Harry wellied way over. Well, at least he had a go.

Nothing happening nowhere, red tipping and tapping, Townites sinking into walls of indifference. Way out on their right a cross was deeply dipped. A lone redster ambled between Collins and Davis, McKeown patted the header back to Robinson, who passed the ball back into the net and the church bells softly chime…

At this, Collins was replaced by Dennis and Town moved to a 4-3-2 formation. So, here is more evidence that Jolley is the anti-Hurst. This is usually the Parslow Point, so what is its antithesis? Should we have a public vote on what to call it? They always work out well.

Town kicked off, Town passed, Town pressed. Clifton nicked and knocked, Embleton dinked, Hendrie sneaked suspiciously around the back of Koiki to stoop and steer into the bottom left corner. And, lo, he brought joy to the world. Well, our world. That's the only one that counts, right?

Woah, hold on to your toupée. Woolery arose alone six yards out, glancing against the inside of the left post. McKeown and Whitmore scrambled and Jamie Macc plopped upon the bouncing bomb.

Town: going for… gold! The Hess surged, Thomas let fly, the ball sailed. A long hoik was beautifully plucked, Thomas tipping, Dennis dripping a coiling curler inches of the angle of post and bar. A long hoik was beautifully plucked, Dennis dinked, Thomas winked from way away, safely over.

Swindon imploding, muttering about their chips, chattering and chuntering about slips.

McKeown slapped a goal kick down the left when everyone was on the right. A redster missed, Dennis ran along their back line and wastefully wafted over. Well, nobody's perfect.

Robins rocking, Robins rolling. A free kick way out was wellied way, way over by some bloke of no consequence. Koiki the cat sneaked through the flap and Jamie Macc snapped his legs together to scribble-scramble aside.

Five minutes were added with Town in the ascendancy. A corner clipped, Whitmore headed on in their soft chewy centre. A bit of bumbling and that, sir, is that.

Town were a shallow stream of unconsciousness up to the very moment Öhman was sent off. And then they roared into the game and could, probably should, have stolen the family silver.

The changes had to come, we knew it all along: Little Harry gave us oomph and Dennis gave us menace.

Let's tip our hats to our new constitution, take a bow for the Jolley revolution. Just smile and grin at the changes all around. This Town don't dissolve: when the going gets tough this Town get going.