When the wind blows again: Alfreton (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

2 February 2013

Grimsby Town 4 Alfreton Town 2

How many roads does an Alfreton man walk down before he reaches the Osmond stand? The answer, my friend, is written in the wind and is perfectly symmetrical: 85 roads for 85 fretting Alfs freezing in February. That's more than luscious Luton, the loveliest in our league. Those who are about to cry, we salute you.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, Miller, Pearson, Thomas, Luton's Marcus Marshall, Disley, Thanoj, Devitt, Brodie, Cook. The substitutes were Wood, Niven, Colbeck, Hannah and John-Lewis. There was consternation when staring at the constellation of stars jogging and jigging in the rigging: no Hannah! Beef and brawn rather than brains on the menu today then. A lardy winter stodge-up for lunch; how quaintly traditional. Will it butter the parsnips though?

Well, maybe it's just too windy for Hannah - he'll be blown backwards by the breeze. The clues were there when Devitt floated off like Mary Poppins when taking his jacket off. It's a big wind, baby, blowing straight down the pitch from behind the snugly snug Pontoon, where hairpieces and hats remained distinctly shevelled.

The blue boys from Barbieshire arrived with a smattering of lip-smacking old boys: the man with a misspelt youth and Pheromone Phil, the cosmopolitanly crimped orange and tanned keeper. At least they won't keep a clean sheet then.

First half: Fatball for thin men
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon and the breeze blew back their hair. And the ball. Devitt swayed and swished in the swirl, bending like a sapling, creaking like a crane. He woke up in the Findus stand doorway and the linesman knew his name. Get back on the pitch son.

The wind, the wind, the ball and the wind in perfect harmony. I'd like to teach Town to sing. A Town corner ricocheted and bumbled off boots and thighs and brains. I remember Brodie throwing punches around and Shouty preachin' from his chair. Eleven minutes of this flim-flam. There's got to be a better way. Did you bring the owl hat?

Alfreton flummoxing with frivolity and fashionable flingings from afar. They fizzed around and fooled around. Town kicked around on a piece of ground waiting for someone or something to show them the way.

A Hatton free kick from the shadow of the Findus boiled towards the top corner. Barnes flip-flapped aside in true Barnesian fashion. Another corner, another time, another place, another moment for Brodieite believers as he headed safely and accurately into Barnes's hands. Barnes threw unsafely and very accurately against a blue-boy's ankles, the ball bounding off blue calves to Devitt, who turned and coiled into the beating heart of Cleethorpes' busy north end. Cook, unmarked a dozen yards out, took a touch and stumble-volleyed straight at the frozen Barnes.

Don't believe the hype, and don't believe the type: these were isolated moments of connection in a world of dots. You can see what you want to see.

What's it all about Alfrie? Passing, Hatton backtracking, Arnold coiling carefully around the retreating roamer and into McKeown's ample arms. They pressed and passed, passed and pressed, hurled and curled and irritated. So what is it all about, Alfreton? Is it just for these moments you live?

Oh no, it's Richard Brodie. Don't open that cupboard, Brodie. Things fall out.

Jamie Mack flipped away a deep, deep cross and the ball rolled out towards the covered corner. Brodie strolled and Brodie slowed to slowly clear, weakly, straight to a blue man, who tapped to Boden on the edge of the area. The whole of North East Lincolnshire could see the future, and it didn't work for us. Brodie ran after Boden and shove-slid into the back of the slight man in flight. Durrr, dumbo, a foolish foul. Penalty.

Bradley stroked mid-height right, and McKeown plunged no height left.

Town got worse. The Alfretonians hurled more long throws and passed more passes. Town dumbed high balls highly: you're never more than two touches from a lump from a sucker. Arnold drifted and droned and drizzled lowly from afar, but straight at McKeown. Long shots drumbled; another long shot made use of Pearson's major asset. There may have been other shots, but attentions were diverted by the strange rigging linking Pontoon floodlight to a pole above the toilets. Are we harnessing the power of nature? Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening. Dr Fentystein's monster will rise!

Brodie wandered across the pitch and flapjacked wide and high. A moment that meant nothing and added up to nothing, but still some believed. He should have passed to unmarked chums. We're all getting fed up of this borrowed bully, disrupting the tranquil still waters bringing instant diskarma.

With five minutes of wind-blown toshness left, Pearson suddenly advanced under the Findus and curly-cued a sumptuous pass down the touchline with the outside of his rightest boot. Towards Brodie. What a waste of time that was, pfft. Brodie bothered, Brodie ran, Brodie turned infield and zimmered into the penalty area. What a Killock! Brodie descended under the invitation of a dangling blue leg as their right back Killock lived up to his name, silly boy.

Brodie ran after the ball, pushing little Jamie Devitt aside. Devitt stood before the Pontoon, almost bursting in to tears. Sir, sir, tell him, it's not fair! Headmaster Disley walked up to Brodie, wagged a finger and took the ball off him, handing it to the Irish imp. Barnes plunged right as Devitt rolled lowly and left.

And Town woke up. Marshall jinky-jinked and jingle-jangled a tantalising cross above many. In added time a Town tree was felled by the touchline on the right. Devitt flung in a high droppy cross, the ball dropping dead in the centre. A muffled scramble followed, with Brodie centre stage, tugging and trundling, stumbling and poking. The ball hit a blue sock, through the decrepit decaying timbers of the old abandoned barn, thwiddled and spun sleepily into the bottom right corner. Brodie. A goal.

Town had gotten away with it despite those meddling kids, and so had Brodie. It was an ugly mugging in broad daylight.

Second half: A trick of the light
Neither team made any changes at half time.

We had the wind beneath our wings but nothing changed. The Alfries' Arnold tacked and cropped a low 'un inches wide as McKeown leant on his thigh in a sailor suit and cheeky smile. There ain't nothing like a dame, nothing in the world.

Ah, that breeze abates and the dude abides in the Alfreton abode. Land ahoy! Bali Hai! Indeed that was bally high. Keep the ball down, keep the noise down, keep your nose clean, keep the home fires burning, keep on keepin' on. Their keeper's on a ham roll diet.

And remember: keep your mouth shut and never, ever rat on your friends, Henry.

Devitt twisted and twittered lowly to the foot of the left-hand post in fewer than 140 characters. Barnes flattened the ball and flattened the mood. Miller suavely interjected straight on to Brodie's bonce. Ooh I say. Cook lifted spirits and the ball and Brodie lofted a lilting looper into the arms of the waiting Barnster.

Thanoj chugged a passing pedestrian and chortled up the undermanned centre-left. Brodie peeled his bananas to the wing and out went the pass. Alfreton akimbo! The brooding Brodie, who looks like a roadie, rolled a cross towards the emerging striking solution. Cook, six yards out, back-flicked with his left foot through his own legs into the near post, leaving Barnes grappling with the imponderable nature of marzipan. Now that was nice. Unlike marzipan.

After meticulously slow passing, passing, passing, passing, Hatton crossed droopily. RoboCook chested and thwacked low. What about the orange? Barnes was present and the ball was delivered straight through his letterbox.

At some point around the hour Colbeck replaced Devitt, with Marshall moving to the left. This was neither a good thing nor a bad thing, for the song remained the same. It may have been before or after things that happened, but it did happen.

You think it's all over? Don't put your wellies on the counter just yet. They carried on carrying on, they're never gonna give it up. A corner from their left, swinked into the near post. Heads arose, maybe Kempson, maybe Disley flicked on and the world and his grandma watched as Aswad coolly hopped and nodded off... the line.

Brodie booked... Brodie off and on came the LJL, the chainstore mascara. He has muscles. Unnoticed by the complacent, Clayton came on for the Derby drollers at the same time. He's always been a persistent pest. Barnes punted highly and longly and we all realised, as the ball drooped, that the wind had dropped. Pearson faced his own goal and decide the safest thing to do was to head towards an unmarked Alfretonian. The eggs were scrambled and Clayton smackered straightly and low from a dozen yards out as monochromers mingled and mangled in front of him.

We're gonna need four to draw.

Disley bestrode the midfield and steamrolled over larger lumps in an impromptu game of head tennis. The Dizzer did a drop shot behind the defence and Streete dredged the river Cook. No need for Hawkeye, that's a penalty. Play on? Grrr, darn rabbits. A Townite crunched on the right corner of their penalty area. A wall was suggested and Hatton flagellated. Barnes superbly rabbit-punched the whirling whizzer away from his top left corner.

If you want that little bit of creativity, that certain je ne sais quoi, who you gonna call? That's right: Derek Niven. Off came Thanoj and on came the Stacyette Scots stormtrooper. Disley disrobed the fair maids of Alfreton by ticking ticklishly to Colbeck. He crossed beyond RoboCook and Marshall lobbed gently back in to the centre. The blueboys were lost in pants. John-Lewis ducked and dunked a header from six or so yards towards the bottom right corner. Barnes brilliantly batted aside, but Disley stepped forward to riffle high into the roof of the net, not the stand.

And still the Alfries attacked. Nothing too frightening, but many moments of almostness, which just dissolved on the edge of the Town area as they comprehended the enormity of their task. Town had scrambles and stuff. A near-post Colbeck cross ended up on the toes of LJL after some Niven mishit magic. The big moon-unit alpha male bashed over, dislodging a steward's balaclava. Don't forget Cook's low dragger that was dragged low across the Barnes door.

The towel straighteners among you will demand to know how much added time there was. Enough to boil an egg, but not enough to fry a sausage. And in one bound we were free at the top.

It wasn't a fantastic four, for the performance was at best infuriatingly inconsistent. The first half was particularly poor, with little cohesion anywhere, especially up front, and certainly no gumption in how to deal with the conditions and opposition tactics. As Alfreton tired Town got more of a grip, but were never really comfortable in their shorts. So what was this game all about? The wind and the pain. And down at the Osmond end you'll hear a sigh, a soggy lullaby from the blueboys.

If only fools are kind, Alfries, then I guess it's wise to be cruel. Nur-nur-ni-nur-nur Nicky. Points in the bag are worth unplayed games in the bush.