Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
21 December 2012
Grimsby Town 1 Wrexham 0
Oh what a night, late December 2012 with 128 intrepid Wreckers treckers quarantined in the Osmand stand. The old rattle and hum was back in the old timber palace, and all it took was the offer of free convict pyjamas and some elasticated beardage. Don't feed them after midnight!
Town lined up in the safety dance 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, The Rusty Miller, Pond, Thomas, Marshall, Disley, Niven, Neilson, Cook and Hannah. The substitutes were Wood, Rankine, Thanoj, G Pearson and Southwell. The horror, the horror: S Pearson sickened off so we have the smoothest, silkiest defender in the league in his place. Calm down, calm down over there in Mu-Mu land; sometimes weakening can be strengthening.
Wrexham turned up and turned out in a Germanic green kit. What else is there to say? Eschew the intergalactic burgers and eat your crisps. This is real, proper football, like it used to be. Apart from it being Friday, of course. We still like our football on a Saturday, even if we don't go to Blackpool for our holiday any more.
First half: Green is the colour
The Wreckers kicked off towards the Pontoon with a puntette down the flank. Thomas assumed and Big Wright presumed to head infield and cause a microsecond of discomfort at the possibility of a potential of a suggestion that the ball wouldn't end up on top of the Main Stand. Never assume, never presume, just infer from the facts as presented. The ball ended up on top of the Main Stand.
The pace was higher than the tide, the tackles flew faster than a speeding bullet, the song remained the same. Intriguing and fascinating, and that was just Mighty's flashdancing.
On with the show. Thomas table-tapped his triangles to tiptoe through the tulips, crossing mesmerisingly near Hannah. A dragonner drooped the cross away and then another. Town tickled Welsh-based toes and went for the belly laugh. McKeown punted long, Cook flicked along and Hannah, briefly free inside the D, took a touch, spun and barundled safely wide of the right post.
Wrexham? Playing backgammon in the centre circle. All very interesting, but McKeown's a ludo lover, not a long-haired lover from near Liverpool.
Town kept the beat going, ra-tat-tat-tat. Don't be rude, young man - that was a paradiddle.
Niven swept his street clean, allowing Marshall to cross the road. Felled by a green bug-eyed monster, the Bury bustler re-arose and reversed the polarity on his electric underpants, shoeing the wandering Neilson into the penalty area. In a double triple bluff Neilson immediately reversed the polarity on his gel to swizzle a pass to the corner of the six-yard box. Disley fell over the foot that wasn't there.
Wasn't that a Hitchcock film, with James Stewart in the lead role as the wrongly accused upright everyman caught in a web of deceit and intrigue, with Peter Lorre as the sinister chairman and, of course, Tippi Hedren as the mysterious blonde in the ticket office with a secret? The secret is she knows how to work the computer.
A Marshall cross curled near, but was too far away from monochrome heads. Marshall flickered through the haze again to drift a disco drooper tantalisingly between Town heads and the far post. Town were dominant, but the dominoes can tumble.
After a quarter of an hour the aged and ancient Morrell crumpled and was wheeled off, a little bit like James Brown, with cape placed respectfully around his shoulders and ivory-tipped cane in hand. On came Cieslewicz, Mr C, and the world changed. Where once there was an ugly duckling of an old man muttering there was now a rapid response unit, thrusting and dusting Hatton for fingerprints.
Town were clamped ruthlessly, the ball kept meandering back to McKeown, and a cycle of strife was created. Jamie Mack whacked and the soup dragons devoured the croutons as he spilled the ball out of the bowl. They started to have shots. From afar, bumbling and stumbling wide without any hint or accusation, but the pattern was set.
A greeny poured across the face of the penalty area and plunged to earth as a striper sneezed. The wall was disgracefully made to go back ten yards and an elaborate constipated contrapulation was constructed. A decoy dragonner stood between wall and ball, a flick back, a flip-up volley and... happy Christmas. We do like slapstick pantomimes at Christmas. It's behind you!
But still they throttled Town. Pond raced across to swipe clear, hitting Thanoj straight in the Andis, bending him double with laughter, or something. The intense tackling intensified, flying burrito boyos flying hither and thither. Another free kick, under the Police Box, that's where it'll be. Keates dripped an arcing inswinger, McKeown glued himself to the line, Pond backed the ball inches over the bar from five yards out with a big green bloke hanging on his every word, and his back. Miller uncomforted a spinning dead bounce for Jamie Mack to spindle. McKeown hared out to the edge of the area and slicey-slid away from the advancing Mr C.
Things were getting hairy, which probably explains the crowd's failure to sing the traditional hymn to lost caravanners as hirsute Steve bounded by with the cash takings. He looked crestfallen: has his star fallen so far? Will he need a new gimmick to attract the attention of the crowd? A spinning bow tie and raspberry hoverboots perhaps? I haven't given away Christmas for him, have I?
In between the arbitrary abstractions and artificial attractions Town had an effort. A Marshall dragger deflected soppily and was saved sloppily by Mayebi.
They're getting closer. Pond brilliantly swipled Ormerod after a catalogue of bumbles off Townites slalomed the ball into the Town area. Jamie Mack pluck-slapped a distant drum and Mr C chanced his feet from far, far away, almost in a land beyond the sea. The ball snurkled through bodies, arrowing towards the bottom right corner. McKeown shuffled across and stooped to his knees to intercept. At the last moment the ball started to veer towards Spurn Point, with Jamie Mack stranded on one of those shifting sand banks. His iPhone had a signal and his battery power was 46 per cent, enough to listen to his Jackson Browne albums and have a mentally stimulating diversion on Sporcle while phoning the emergency services. Out went an arm and chest to bizarrely pectorate away.
They're getting closer. Wrexham rubbed on the right, laughed on the left and gently ebbed and flowed in front of the Pontoon. Hatton missed a tackle, Hatton pass-tackled directly to a Greener, Thomas casually cleared to a perky pest and back they came. Big Wright wiggled and wriggled out wide, turning Thomas into a temporarily ordinary footballer and crimpled lowly. A double triple dip deflection off Town toes and chests spluttered the ball across the face of goal. A balletic Hatton upside down cake calypso flipped the ball off a Welsh head five yards out.
And that was as near and far as things got. Town held on 'til half time and there was great joy in the Pontoon at this parity; the Main Stand was magnanimous, if not unanimous, in appreciating the avoidance of concession. Even the dimmest bulb in Town's filament could see Wrexham were the most formidable opponents encountered so far.
Second half: Hannah and his Sitters
Neither team made any change at half time.
And the game started the second half as it had the first, with Town buzzing like buzzy things. Buzzing: it's the word on every Town player's tweetlips. Maybe they have tinnitus.
Town created a micro-moment that resembled a fleeting glimpse of a threat of something happening, but Niven scruffled a shot so scruffily that you will not find any trace of this in parish records. It's like it never happened. Did it? Did what? That's near Swindon, isn't it?
Oh a clever-trevor corner. Hannah whispered into Neilson's ears as they walked around the keeper. Neilson spun in a huge arc to roll from far post to near post as everyone else ran the other way. Marshall, on the right, rolled the ball carefully into the supremely spacious space created and Neilson whoopsy-daisied an air shot off his standing foot. Nice video, shame about the song.
And more glacial Townness, as they kept knocking on the green door. Green door, what's that secret you're keeping? Pond peeled to the farthest farness of the far bit of the Wrexham penalty area, heading further farther, or is that farther further? Hannah retrieved and returned the complimentary tickets to the local panto. Pond put on his top hat and tails to Fred through the green tambourines with a soft-shoe shuffle, his beautiful cross diverted away from the awaiting Marshall by some bloke without much hair. The Town corner dribbled away from the area and in a bound Mr C was free. Panic, don't panic. Niven, the tartan yard dog, yapped and snapped away the fear.
And as in the first half, after quarter of an hour the Wreckers returned. As locals laughed, a misthrown throw-in looped limply nowhere. 'Tis the season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la-la, la la la laaaarghhh. Two touches, a spin and a cross drifted over static jumpers towards two unmarked and unwanted guests. The ball managed to miss forehead and post by micro-inches, so all was well with the world. An inch is as near as the moon in black and white. What could have happened didn't happen, so let's just carry on with our lives as though it never happened. Which it didn't, of course. So there's no need to dwell on it, whatever it wasn't. If? If what? Carry on.
She wasn't looking, you know. Fried onion-based hilarity was avoided by the freakish bounce of ball on an uneven concrete surface as a Wrexham clearance made a pleasingly direct route towards the burger bar 'twixt Pontoon and Main Stand.
Ah, if Town can keep their heads when all around are losing theirs. Thomas intercepted some pooh sticks, releasing Neilson in the shadow of the Findus. A bit of hippy-hippy shaking had two troubadours in a tangle as Thomas sneaked up the side, awaiting the return pass. The pass was returned and Thomas slashed wastefully wide of the near post as Cook and Hannah snuck into open water in front of goal. Who's interested in Cook's floppily-doppily header that doppily-floppled to the keeper? No-one. Thought not.
Town attacked but had no shots; Wrexham countered but had not shots. Apart from the one time they did. A wasteful stretchy slide was wastefully sliced wide when Town were not over-endowed with magnificence or bodies. A fascinating chanceless contest between well matched gladiators; both sides capable of stopping the cavalry.
When all else fails, just launch it. McKeown punted, Cook grazed, Hannah flicked and in three simple moves Neilson was wiggling his way through the Welsh wall with a shot sniggering high off a thigh. A corner, flung and hung from the left, half cleared to Hatton who crimpled to nowhere, to no-one. The ball slowly dribbled towards the bye-line, and it was left for dead. By all but Pond, who hurtled after it and back-heeled to Neilson. And the spin-cycle of pressure was turned up to 11. It came in, it came out, Thomas messed up an incursion, and the Wrexies were off again, with a long diagonal setting Mr C free. A-ha, nobody expects the Hatton thigh that deflected to Disley who caressed a sublime pass beyond the right-back. Thomas took it in his stride, tipping over the defender, racing on into the penalty area and carefully coiling a low cross between keeper and penalty spot. As if by magic Hannah appeared to steer into the bottom right corner. Pace, precision and persistence = Pontoon pleasure.
Fired up by the smell of fried onion, Town roared on, pressing and pressuring the guests into spilling their sherry while balancing their nuts. Their keeper was more a flipper than a flapper, tipping a dink near the penalty spot and panicking his crew. Disley's body talked and Cook did a Poutonian step over Disley's prone body to slap a shot off a green sock and narrowly wide. There was more flipping from the keeper than in the burger bar, but they were off again, hurtling Townwards. Nothing further to report - come back in a couple of minutes when the scoreboard has finished defragmenting its disks.
Southwell replaced Neilson with three minutes left, allowing a polite round of applause to be his last memory of his months in the Blundell bubble.
There were three minutes of added time during which Town carefully, cleverly piddled about and lost possession by the corner flag in front of the Police Box. Always a prelude to disaster, that. Town sank back on the edge of their own penalty area and allowed the green horde to rampage in front of them. An unnecessarily large hole appeared on the centre-left and one of Wrexham's subs waited for a half cleared noodle to return to earth. It returned to earth with a whimper as the lad mishit a low, slicing dribbler which slowly sliced and dribbled very slowly an inch or two past the left-hand post.
That was handy, that was it. We're simply having a wonderful Christmas time. It's a wonderful life.