Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
15 December 2012
Grimsby Town 4 Havant & Waterlooville 0
Well, would you drive 500 miles if Town slumber again?
A frost-free, cloudless afternoon of pure wintery joy for the 28 hardy Havanters in this northern outpost of cosmopolitan, multicultural Britain: the only professional football club to publicly embrace a civil partnership. There were even some Town fans present, rather than hunting for presents.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, S Pearson, Pond, Wood, Colbeck, Disley, Niven, Marshall, Cook, G Pearson. The substitutes were Miller, Rankine, Thanoj, Neilson and Southwell. Wood was at left-back: that is the news.
Right, let's go for a little catwalk. The Southern Belles rolled up in an eye-squintingly bright on-the-shoulder polycotton blouson with contrasting charcoal culottes. Hang on, where are my chromatic shades? Ah, yes, woah baby! Have they been tie-dying some bankrupt stock in a tub of Nesquik raspberry milkshake? Aren't they pretty in pink. Shocking, positively shocking.
At this time of year one can't help but think of those we have loved and loathed, dreaming of the past and our hearts beating fast. Anthony Elding should remember his pop aphorisms: the one who insists he was first in the line is the last to remember your name.
First half: Pretty Hopeless in Pink
Town kicked off towards the Osmond. Town scored. Game over, let's chat for 90 minutes.
Inconsequential manoeuvrings on the Town right ended with some kind of pushy-trip-shove. Who knows, who cares, I was listening to a man tell me how he counts birds. Don't worry, fellow elitists and outriders who know the difference between lemon and lime - the Pontoon has not relinquished its status as the Algonquin round table of the non-League. This was aviary- not Alfie-based discourse, of course.
And in all that jazz era joshing you missed it. Hatton swingled in a free kick from halfway between everywhere. S Pearson arose near the penalty spot to thunderingly bedonkle magnificently into the top left corner. That's sorted then, let's go for a spin in the old jalopy to celebrate. Do watch out for that scarf though - look what happened to Isadora Duncan, the old Blue Peter presenter.
They kicked off; we scored again. Almost. A Town throw-in under the double noses of S 'n' S was flicked on to Marshall, who snicked on to the lonely Colbeck. The dapper Yorkshire yapper snappered straight at the keeper's head. This time the lemonader fizzed up a hand and diverted in a slow, slow arc just beyond the far post. Marshall chased and, from the bye-line, skipped against the outside of the post.
Hey four minutes, two shots, one goal = efficiency in a simple geometric progression.
Another minute, another throw, another shot on target. Town are in danger of being ruthlessly proficient. Niven slippery-dickery plopped a skimming half-volley from 30 yards which slowly sliced towards the bottom left corner. Keeperboy plunged and pawed the ball aside. What happened at the corner? Do we really need to know everything in life? Let's just keep a little mystery in our back pocket for those dark days to come.
Some say they wore fuchsia. I have seen the fuchsia, it doesn't work...
It was one winter afternoon in the black heart of the English midlands. It was an event so shocking, so humiliating that no-one ever speaks of it in polite or even impolite company, and all known footage has been destroyed. The Mark of Lever scored with a towering back-post header from a corner, but even he denies this ever happened. It's true I tell yer, I was there, I saw it with my own eyes, Nurse Ratched.
The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.
Their middleweight boxer on the left wing kicked the ball relatively hard at one point. It went over the bar. The local populace went about its daily tasks unperturbed. We are hardy folk, having seen many things, horrors of which we never speak. And that's just some of the hairstyles of the rich and famous.
Triangles, triangles, Bradley Wood on a surging surge of great surginess. The ball flipped back to Marshall who, to everyone's great dismay, tried to cross with his left foot. Don't do that lad, it never works. The ball ached gently to the far post and Cook, eight yards out, calmly hopped and steered a header across Bananaman, who was thrown into confusion as his defence stood there right in front of him. Yeah, great cross lad, always knew you could do that. Oh-oh-oh-oh, no doubt about it.
Err, no, there's nothing to say about those in pink. Town were playing against randomly inflating bubblegum men. Ah, bubblegum pop. The classic era of bubblegum pop was 1968-1972, where the characteristics were repetitive riffs, solfege syllables and handclaps as percussion. And this was bubblegum football against bubblegum pink opponents.
Yummy, yummy, yummy, we've got ham rolls in our tummy, and Town are going through easily.
Eurgh, a bit of gristle. Colbeck was booked for tripping, man, under the freaky Findus stand of yellow and green towering over his head. Stupid, needless and unnecessary. But Fred Pontin did used to say book early for your holidays.
Hey kids, facts! A corner, shortened by the British Board of Match Reporting Classification to ensure a PG rating. Colbeck clipped in, G Pearson ducked and flickelled just over the far angle of post and bar. Or, depending on your view, the angle of far post and far bar. It was not that near, but neither was it that far. Is it Dusty Bin or a goal? Well, the two players involved were Colbeck and G Pearson, who many Town fans have already decided are rubbish. Where do you put rubbish? That's right, in the bin.
After a couple of long, long, long stoppages for what can only be regarded as emotional turmoil, they realised that a little bit of soap will never, never, never ever erase the pain. So the pinks piddled before they burned. Disley disrobed his newly acquainted laddie friend and trundled a one-two with Colbeck. Alone on the right Disley's head was spinning like a whirlpool as he rolled a cross-shot across Bananaman, who clutched as G Pearson lurked without menace somewhere over the rainbow. More triangles and tap-dancing. Cook steered low and the shot was blocked near the keeper, possibly by the keeper. More moments, all downtown where the lights were bright.
A poor corner, poorly cleared, poorly crossed back, poorly poured off a pink boot. Pond leant back and powdered his kegger against a post, not the post. Missed by a foot, sir.
And as we squelched towards the comfort of a comfort break, Wood mugged a pink pounder under the eyes and noses of those Main Stand dentists and opticians. Niven tugged the showboat along and Marshall floated the ball gently into the penalty area towards the near post. Now I'd like to play a game that is so much fun and it's not so very hard to do. The name of the game is Simple Simon says, and I would like for you to play it to. Put your hands in the air, shake them all about. G Pearson sauntered unmolested, the ball grazed off his forehead and over the lemonade lollipop.
Fun isn't it.
Pearson was too embarrassed to celebrate. It's was all too easy.
And finally there was one minute of added time. It should have been at least five, but no-one was really bothered by then. Time for the skateboarding duck! Havant had their moment in the setting sun. Kabba, their perky, pesky little number 10, wiggled past Marshall and Niven in a hazy, crazy sponsored walk from corner flag to six-yard box. He poked low and McKeown's left glove emerged from its thousand-hour sleep to parry.
How many goals would Town be bothered to score? This was not a competitive match: this was a footballing nativity play. Ah, look, Havant's left-back is playing Silent Night on the xylophone. Most of the right notes, not necessarily in the right order.
Second half: Pinky and the Brainless
Disley was replaced by the be-gloved Thanoj at half time.
Town decided to spice up their life by giving their houseguests a 15-minute head start. Please Town, don't spoil the day, they're miles away, and after all you're only sleeping.
Hatton weaked a tackle, Hatton stood off as his raspberry foe espied the scene before him, plumping for a plop into the centre of the penalty area. Pond was still wrapping up his secret Santa gift for Simon Ford as the unmarked Big Palmer headed weakly down and straight at McKeown from six or seven yards out. There were even a couple of minor moments of almost nearlyness for Havanters when they managed to cross the football into the Grimsby Town penalty area. Town were coasting, cruising and other words beginning with C.
And what would they be? How about conserving? Or confabulating?
Near the hour Cook meandered menacingly to crimple a delightfully dangerous cross. G Pearson, clearly irritated by the lack of competence and competitiveness from the pinkers, cleared for them, but Colbeck retrieved and the cycle of life carried on. The ball squished to their left-back and Colbeck hared across and lunged, studs up. The left foot swiped the chipper chappy off his feet, the right foot crashed into his shins. Colbeck got up and walked off the pitch without waiting for the card or looking at the referee, stopping only to have a shovey-shouty flappette with a couple of scowling southerners. It should have been a straight red, as much for sheer cynical stupidity as for the physical act itself.
And once Town were relieved of this millstone, they broke free with abandon to re-dominate.
Within a minute Niven carefully caressed upfield directly to the Cookie Monster, who chesty-turned his marker into an oven ready dish and cooked him at 200oC (180oC for fan ovens). On Cook purred, in to the area on their left, crackling low across Bananama into the bottom right corner. Splendid, that's what he was supposed to do, and what he had just done. Absolutely splendid.
And the half chances and half moments of danger kept on a-coming as Town found fluency and verve. Thanoj delightfully flicked and ticked, Cook rampaged in British bulldog style, brandling through some flimsy doors. Niven patrolled the spaces between players' ears as well as between the penalty areas to stop them with yard dog yapping.
There were plenty of moments, but nothing tremendously worthwhile telling you about. It's 4-0, why layer more cheese on top of the cheesy cheesecake?
At some point G Pearson was replaced by Southwell. At another point Cook was replaced by Rankine. Neither of the substitutes added to the gaiety of the nation. Southwell continued to show why he got a contract and then why he isn't in the team - a good thing immediately followed by a bad. At times it's like someone tackling themselves.
In all the long, long minutes that followed Colbeck's folly there was just one more Town moment worth recording. Hatton, that curious egg of a non-defender, shankled Rankine free, ran after the human decoy, spindle-turned beautifully under the Police Box, miscontrolled and acted as human chaff for Thanoj, who swayed right and coiled inches over the angle of left post and bar.
Let us be completely clear for the sake of history - Havant did launch some attacks and had a few shots. Palmer's dipping volley after some penalty area ping-pong was the most interesting. McKeown caught two crosses and punched another. There was a corner that caused mild concern for a microsecond, but other than that it was the usual fare.
Oh, and in the four minutes of added time they nearly scored a comedy own goal with a back header. Bananaboy had to run back and scoop like a 70s sitcom character. But it didn't go in, so it was merely a comedic moment spurned.
In the second half we had to make our own entertainment. How many puns in the box? How many references in popular culture can you crowbar into one heckle? What is that old lady on about? Did their keeper have fish and chips for lunch? What have tomatoes got to do with the price of fish?
Havant haven't got what it takes, so Town didn't meet their Waterlooville. Ho-ho-ho. Town did what they should have done and did it extremely easily. Better than Buxton, even if the Pink Promenaders weren't.