Fool and the Gang

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

6 October 2019

Oh dear, we've got that Hungarian ref again, Egregious Berkery. He can't be that bad again, can he? Can he?

A calm, still day with near 700 day trippers slipping quietly into their traditional seats for this clash of East Midlands Titans. Well, titans will clash.

Town started off in 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, Davis, Waterfall, Gibson, Cook, Hessenthaler, Robson, Ogbu, Hanson and Wright. The substitutes were Russell, Pollock, Hewitt, Clifton, Whitehouse, Green and Rose. Ah, after last week's confounding confederacy of youth, we're back to the big men, balling formation, but with Maximum Wright's vim and verve the tactical curve ball.

Mansfield turned up in their traditional kit and traditional tubby keeper. Kevin Pressman clearly did not eat all the pies then. So here lies the inflatable blimp that is Conrad Logan, who decided to turn up for a Stag weekend in Cleethorpes in fancy dress. As who? Ah yes, it's as old Rutger Hauer's replicant character in Blade Runner. Well, in Cleethorpes you do tend to see things people won't believe.

Fiery the angels fell, deep thunder rolled around the shores, the game is afoot.

First half: Spoilers and toilers

Town kicked off towards the Osmond stand in a rush and in a minute a corner. In a minute and a bit Waterfall arose beyond the far post. Logan had fun plopping the bonk back.

(Spoiler alert – if only we'd known this was his only save we could have gone to B&Q to buy a toilet seat. They have different sizes, you know.)

Huffle, scuffle, tumble, grumble.

(Spoiler alert – if only we'd known this was the entire game on loopy auto repeat we could have gone to the moon and back before Town had another shot.)

The occasional Maximum rightness, an infrequent lump and dump. A handball claim as a kick took a nick inside the yellow penalty area. Cook dinked diagonally; Hanson arose alone to guide low and right of the blimp and into the net. Sit down, the linesman is waving.

Yellowmen yelled, clutching various body parts. Free kicks a go-go on tap. Town, be persistent, but please keep your distance – you know their resistance to diving is low.

Gibson caressed, Hanson was possessed by the devil and trundled through on the centre-left. Lucky Logan lurched out and Big Jim casually sculptured a skip-skipperty-slop past this mass of flesh and across the face of the far post.

A corner. Robson wallied well over. A moment that cannot be regarded as anything but Polyfilla.

A corner, perhaps another, maybe one earlier, definitely one later. Insufficient elevation, over-sufficient elevation and we aren't going to celebrate some good times.

Near the half-hour mark, after a sequence of trips and clips by a rotation of rotting rodents, Max Wright limped off, replaced by Green.

Green is for go! Go where? He's everywhere and nowhere, baby, that's where he's at. Town subsided into a sinkhole, never to be seen again.

Moments of yellow flowing from their tumbling lice. A free kick for scweaming and their rambling Rose pooper-scooped a header gently to Jamie Mack. It is a fact that had McKeown been a mouse called Gerald then the ball may well have rolled into the net.

(Spoiler alert – if only we'd known this was the only save made by Mr James McKeown all game we could have gone to the dogs.)

McKeown? He's getting rather old but he's a good mouse.

Them. A free kick boringly over from Benning. Them. Falling, bawling, head clutching whiners. Sorry, what was that? Was Moses mugged or did Ogbu oscillate around his own shorts? How fascinating it is to watch primary school children run around at playtime. The unstructured piffle of unplottable patterns would make a strong contender for next year's Turner Prize.

How has Bishop avoided a yellow card? Why has Cook received a yellow card? When is this going to end? After two added minutes of joyless text.

Disjointed, disgruntled, dismayingly dreary. Town had by far the best of a bad lunch.

Second half: Fool if you think it's over

Neither team made any changes at half time.

There's a bit of buttery toast on the table but nothing going on to worry your chickens, dead or alive. White whipped away from dithering Cook, His Hessyness blocked, Khan cheeky chopped from the Humber Bridge and the yellow Rose arose to whatever, whenever, wherever for ever and ever and ever you'll be the one to miss.

Cook clipped a free kick which didn't take us far beyond our imagination.

And all the while they fell in battle, one by one, as monochromers approached.

There is a theory, out there, somewhere, that one of the officials' decisions was correct. It's just a theory, untested, and as yet without any scientific evidence underpinning it

On the hour, on the ball, on the button, strictly on the QT. Wrestlemania in the middle and White dredged Robson, creating a third shipping channel for Immingham. Shoving, shouting, pouting and grouting and finally out came the red card, to much boo-hooing from yellow peril.

Up to this point the officials had merely been a bit annoying. They really upped their Z game to go on a crazy rampage of rottenness. Where there was truth, they brought error; where there was a discord in the crowd, they brought harmony in unified rage at the staggering ineptness. There is a theory, out there, somewhere, that one of their decisions was correct. It's just a theory, untested, and as yet without any scientific evidence underpinning it. I suppose what is important is not what is true, but what they believe to be true, for that is true faith in one's abilities.

Green was booked after twirling free and being hauled back, presumably for persistently being fouled. And all the while yellowmen plunged when stripes neared, causing a Pavlovian dog whistle to blow.

Finally Ogbu was replaced by Ahkeem Rose. Moses had a 'mare. He doesn’t play well with Hanson on the pitch.

Brief yellowness caused brief concerns, but you can rely on them to be underpants. A short corner routine saw them offside themselves, a little lad dribbled along the bye-line and pulled back through the desert on a horse with no name.

Up to this point the officials had merely been appalling.

Barging and charging in the middle of the Mansfield half. A yellowman plunged, the referee looked and allowed play to continue as Town attacked. Hess drove on. A pass, a pass, a cross swooned to the far post. A yellow boot poked away from the awaiting Rose. The ball rolled and rolled and rolled and as it was about to roll out of play for a corner. The referee whistled a happy tune, pointed to the prostrate plunger, picked up the ball and walked back 30 yards.

Consternation and condemnation throughout the nation as Town were not given the corner but an uncontested drop-ball. And then the player who was allegedly injured was waved back onfield behind The Hess's back. And dispossessed him.

Howls, growls, and words with many vowels.

Balls out of play not given, the whistling on demand never ceased for yellow. Mansfield made a substitution that is possibly still in its embryonic stages as you read this in the year 2525, if the world is still alive. The referee, bamboozled by the absence of action, eventually turned to the nearest yellowman and asked what he should do next.

It's quite an experience to live in faux fear of the far-flung ball. Blimpy Logan claimed it was not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent as an angry Pontoonite threw the ball back a little bit hard at him. The ball deflected off his chest and he stood in front of the crowd pointing, demanding action. A pathetic overreaction designed to waste more time, which was duly indulged.

Football? This has nothing to do with football.

A moment! Rose za-zoomed and cross-shot across the face of goal. No reason to get excited, nobody kindly poked.

Let us not start falsely hoping now the hour is getting late.

At some point between all the roaring and snoring Whitehouse replaced Cook.

Six minutes added. Is that all?

We knew what was coming. The suckers will be punched; the guilty will be rewarded for their crimes. McKeown came out farly and didn't punch a punt. Town lumping shoddily, panicky-plopping artless wellies. In the last of the last minutes Whitehouse underhit a lob, missed the tackle and off they zoomed down their left. Hamilton turbo-charged past Hendrie's Trabant. Luke legged him up subtly with a hoe, way out east.

The free kick dripped into the centre. A bundle of blue shorts caused chaos and Pearce hook-scramble-slammed in from around the penalty spot. Jamie Macc furiously ran after the linesman claiming handball as the tourists celebrated winning a little stick of Cleethorpes rock.

And that's all we have time for this week.

The game ended with Blimpy trolling the Pontoon and McKeown haranguing the narky Bishop as he Loganned the Findus.

Town were absolutely terrible, completely incapable of creating anything, looking less a team than a photo opportunity. Mansfield simply managed their expectations and the referee. They spoiled and soiled as Town toiled and the crowd boiled.