The Road to Southport Pier: Southport (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

11 August 2012

Southport 1 Grimsby Town 1

What's the best way to dampen those Olympian heights of positivity and well-being that are gushing though the nation's veins? Start the football season.

Let's go.

A hot day of summer breezes causing sneezes in the 700 or so Mariners lazing on this sunny afternoon in the summertime. Another day, another year, another amazing journey towards our destiny. How will we get to eleventh place this year, oh Shorty 'n' Shouty? Give me two good reasons why I oughta stay.

Town lined up in an all-blue 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, S Pearson, Pond, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Niven, Artus, Cook, G Pearson. The substitutes were Hatton, Miller, Thanoj, Soares and Elding. Miller dropped. That's one good reason why I oughta go. The twitterati muttered something about births, so let's be positive about the management connecting with the all-inclusive zeitgeist of positivity to all men and women. Didn't we have Zeitgeist on trial last month?

Cease such rambling nonsense: the new season is upon us. A time of rebirth, renewal and regeneration. Be happy, be excited. Nothing can go wrong now.

First half: Absolutely awful
Town kicked off away from those sunbathing travelling Townites with torsos chiselled from chunks of the finest budget brand butter. Science and art collided. What a mess. What a stinking slow-mo mess of Mariner muddle and fuddle. Wake me up when it's time to go home.

Cookie Monster and his comedy sidekick looked slow and tired from the off, perhaps bored by the constant booming hoofs heading towards the resplendent Esplanade. Colbeck beat his marker and crossed; the monster munched on a crumb. Barely a moment, barely a game.

Barely a centre-half. Pond, sprouting a shaven boot-scraper mohican, fluffed and puffed like a particularly indolent Simon Ford impersonator. We don't need an impressionist: we have the surreal thing sitting in the dock of the bay; like us, just wasting time. Pond slipped, Gray miffed wide. Southport had moments of almostness when Townites powdered headers, but the solid back three shuffled these hints and potential maybes away from McKeown. Back three? As Winston Churchill, rattling his jewellery in the posh seats, was heard to say: Pond was in the team, but wasn't of the team.

For all their strumming on the stairs the Sandbaggers had two atrocious crosses and a wibbly-wobbly punch from Jamie Mac to take away from their party. Nothing comes of nothing. There's nothing to tell you about them apart from their obsession with a Whalley on their left. Wood simply bullied Wall-E with some smiling strong-arms and chest beating. The nearest they came to raising an east coast eyebrow was when Junior McStacy headed a cross a foot wide. Och aye, Degsie McNiven: Stacy Coldicott without the passing range. A decent player without the ball.

Town? I hear the plaintiff and fretful cry. Incoherent hoofers, offensively frigid in a rigid 4-4-2 of pre-determined defence. Pearson stoop-headed high at the near post, Pond bonked a free header way over and... and... and... and what? An Artus loopy header softly, serenely swinging into the arms of McMillan after some mystery crowd whistling caused the yellow-striped Sandpipers to freeze in terror and awe. Town did look dangerous when you closed your eyes and dreamed a little. Reality bites, rub in some Germolene.

Right, I'm off for a lie down with the big gold medal I've awarded myself for dredging up things to tell you. It was dreadful.

Second half: Barely better
No changes were made by either team at half time.

Ooh look, a microlight. Is that a balloon or just a Tesco bag? Umbrellas can be parasols, you know. I wonder what's in that yellow Yaris outside B & Q. Decking for a small patio, I reckon. Have they kicked off again? Why did they bother?

At some point relatively close to four o'clock the referee made a terrible error and allowed this game to continue. At some point beyond that point Dizzer was pointing some brickwork and Colbeck was released down the middle. Oi-oi, what's going on here then? Joltin' Joe jinked to his left, drew the keeper towards him and wouldn't shoot with his left foot. Swamped by a tide of yellow, the ball sauntered to Artus, who wouldn't shoot with his right foot. Cook barundled; McMillan flipped aside. A corner. Disley flicked wide at the near post, or was it Cook? Or was that later? Similar misses on a similar spot.

Thomas surged and swung a teaser low through the six-yard box. The keeper kneeled, defenders peeled and the ball hit Cook's forehead five yards out, looped vaguely goalwards and egged away. Cook spindle-poked at the near post; Pond grazed a free header nowhere. Town near but far as legs jellied.

The locals had to make do with the occasional Pond-based excitement. The man was born slippy, but Niven, Wood and Thomas had big dustpans and brushes. Think of them as Pond's personal Swarfega.

A member of the crowd went to the toilet just as Elding replaced Cook, who'd begun to perspire like a pudding in a pot. We had five minutes of fun and frolics as the Sandpipettes were bamboozled by Elding's pace. He stands still quicker than any other Town striker. Colbeck fizzled and McMillan magnificently plucked off Elding's tantalisingly stretching toenails. Ooh, ah, near here, nearer there as Townites got closer to almost touching the ball inside the penalty area. A corner floated, Elding free ten yards out: headed firmly wide.

And there's more. Town meandered on the left, Artus dinked delightfully, Thomas surged and tickled past yellow, crossed lowly and the keeper flip-flapped away from a few straying feet. Disley collapsed inside the six-yard box and mis-poked into the emptied net with an inelegant squirtle, then exited the pitch stage left pursued by bear hugs.

Southport had sporadic moments in a field, like teenagers with a can of shandy. They may even have headed a corner wide. Or high. It might have been a free kick. Or a cross. It wasn't anything. Let's not forget that volleyed big dipper either. Great views of the Lancashire coast.

With five minutes left, emboldened by the locals' inability to crush a grape, the joint heads on a management stick replaced G Pearson with Soares, resulting in Colbeck playing in the memorial Kingsley Black hole. That never fails. Never.

Within a minute failure duly arrived in Town's never-never land. Southport dinked down their left, Wall-E chased and Wood shepherded the trickling dummy as it lazed out for a goal kick with a parabolic shoulder-charge slam-dunk. Free kick, a yard in from the bye-line. Wall-E chipped, Grand arose above no-one in the middle of the goal and bonked firmly into the net from five or six yards out. For the second time in the half McKeown was forced to touch the ball. It's behind you.

What a load of tosh.

Four minutes were added, during which the heart grew heavy as the trippers' traffic jam out of town grew ever larger. Then we joined the queue. We couldn't get home quick enough.

What was that? Nothing, that's what. Town chucked the free gift in the bin without even bothering to unwrap it, starting as they finished last season: powerless and drifting.