I have to admit it's getting better, if not all the time

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

28 December 2019

Macclesfield Town 1 Grimsby Town 1

Is it safe?

Please don't worry. I'm not going into that cavity. That nerve's already dying.

A dank, mizzly, miserable day of comfort and joy for the locals as they celebrated the birth of renewed false hope for a better world, a better future. Macclesfield, the Frankenstein of the fourth. It's alive! Those points deductions are their present to us as Town try to replicate the glorious 2008-09 season. Ah, the kindness of strangers.

Town lined up in a bright fuchsia raspberry milkshake 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, Davis, Waterfall, Gibson, Hessenthaler, Clifton, Robson, Wright, Ogbu, Vernam. The substitutes were Russell, Hewitt, Starbuck, Pollock, Whitehouse, Rose and Cardwell. With the forwards falling like festive flies, opportunity knocked for Moses to miss today. And I mean that most sincerely, folks.

The pitch? Potholes in a mudheap. Never stray from the path boys, for there be quicksands in the sloppy gloopery. We fear Max Wright may simply disappear in the darkness, a plaintiff yelp for help floating across the moors. Or was it simply the wind howling through the Silkmen's boardroom?

As is traditional at Christmas, guests must bring something to the party. Town brought their own stewards and some sour cheeseballs of cheerless chuntering. Still, at least it stopped raining.

First half: lonely this Christmas

Town false-started with an up and under away from 400 hundred fans and a couple of dozen emotionally incontinent boozy booinghounds. Boggy, soggy and how much is that hot doggy in the window? I think I'll eschew the homeopathic hot chocolate if we ever venture down these mean streets again.

Ah, yes. Oh, yes. Mmm, yes. Town, pretty passing in pink, losing themselves in their dreaming and sleep. Stewards walk by in their coats. A cross into the crowd, a cross flap-a-doodled insufficiently near the Vernamator. Tinkling and winkling from right to left, Vernam va-voomed this way and that way, doing this trick and that trick, double-take dribbling to the bye-line and passing through the keyhole. David, who'd miss in a penalty area like this? Alas, Wright wrapped his toes around the pass and wrinkled lowly against the outside of the further post.

Shall we be fair to them in this story? There were Macc moments, here and there, once in a while. Once upon a time Hendrie legged up a long-legged loper way out left and Kelleher stopped to bonk a header crawling over the crossbar. Gibson, sadly in need of some medicinal compound, ran willy nilly and his legs they did recede. It was quite atrocious in every way as he set the ball of slapstickiness rolling for there was nicking and nacking and Jamie Mack hacking. And it all turned out nice in the end as they fouled a throw to nowhere.

Slapdashery from home feet, Vernam sizzled, the full-back was sozzled, and Wright shinned welly-welly over. Forget it all, for flags were up for some forbidden actions unseen by the throng in song and this sentence is long past the point you need to know, so go.

Ploppy noodling, scoops and barely a whoop as the ground fell into a torpor. Mud, mud, glorious mud, there's nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow me down to the hollow and there let us wallow in a glorious miss by Moses, stooping to steer a Hendrie cross wide.

An aerial ballet of dumb hippopotami happening hardly nowhere at all. Davis dived all at once with an ear-splitting splosh heading sideways straight to Osadebe. On the big lad raced, unmolested towards McKeown. What rhymes with splosh? Tosh. The ball may have arrived in Buxton by now, but only if it took the bus. What splendid powderpuffery.

As the end was nigh the locals had a frisson of excitement as blue shirts plunged and plundered free kicks. In the minute of added time a free kick that should have been a Town throw-in led to much curling and hurling and dinking and diving. Hendrie toe-scrumbled off a blue head and the ball inched an inch wide within an inch of the right post.

The tatty Silkmen threatened only through the errors of others. Town were, at least, creating chances with what football there was on the cabbage patch.

Well, at least it had continued to stop raining.

Second half: put the kettle on

Macclesfield replaced Fitzpatrick with that long-forgotten failed Town trialist Joe Ironside. Hey, he wasn't good enough for us in non-League so there's nothing to be worried about.

The Macc lads had changed their tune: just stare into space and watch Ironside jump in Gibson's face. I guess that's why they call it the blues. A huge hoik from Leek, Ironside arose above Gibson to flick on to their hairboy. Welch-Hayes dripped a dribbler back into Jumpin' Joe's flightpath and he jinked in a ker-razy straight line across the face of the area. Davis lunged as blue plunged. Ironside swept the penalty right and Jamie Mack plunged even righter, the ball bumping off his thigh into the top of the net.

As they say in the Dentists' Stand: "Thus far I find you rather detestable. May I say that without hurting your feelings?"

Oh yes, the ficklest of fans did their Fenty dance, bravely storming through some tape into the long lonely terrace beyond, selflessly self-kettling. The chaff separating from the wheat. They can act real rude and totally removed and act like an imbecile. Oh, and they did.

The lack of perspective and self-awareness was a truly awesome spectacle, the immediate switch to uninventive invective almost laughable and objectively self-defeating. They are, truly, Grimsby till they cry.

Despite the dozen rotten eggs in our fan basket, Town roared back. Gibson thwonked a clearance, Ogbu spun and ran, the Hess coiled a dipper in the centre and Vernam glanced against the bar. Near the hour, Rose replaced the passive and distinctly non-aggressive Ogbu, with Moses muttering like Muttley as he trudged off.

It's such a shame, we had such high hopes that Moses would lead us to the promised land of slightly upper mid-table, but summer dreams were ripped at the seams. Oh those summer nights.

Snap out of it, there's something strange in the neighbourhood. Little Harry hoiked clear down the left touchline and blue toes trembled. Rose hinted at a challenge and Slim Charles sneakily pick-pocketed a blue pedestrian. Now here's a tale of the unexpected, for the Wolds Panther has fantastic ideas for a fantastic world. He can make the illogical logical.

Rose flicked, Vernam ran on and on and on, wiggling right, waggling left, ignoring the unmarked Wright far, far away and carefully clipping across the keeper and into the bottom left corner. The netting riffled and there was a kind of hush all over the world.

What is this we have witnessed? Listen very carefully, get closer now and you will see what I mean. It isn't a dream. It was a goal, scored by Grimsby Town.

During the mass pink love-in Gibson sat down holding various parts of his various legs; his body just couldn't talk the shock of it all. At which point we can safely announce to the world that All Nonsense Was Ended. Pollock arrived. No-one shall pass. No-one did. Blue body parts were dispatched to many parts of Cheshire.
On occasions in the last half hour blue shirts moved towards McKeown. Sure, sure they dumped it, lumped but apart from one header from one corner there was not a thing to be worried about. I told you, Pollock was on hand to deal with any issue that arose. Ball or man was going to end up in the home stands. Well, both, though not necessarily in that order.

In moments of muddy clarity Town threatened to threaten. Over the top, round the back, round the bend, lobbing, throbbing and sobbing as jobbing pros almost made connections. Rose hooky-volleyed into the night after everyone was for tennis. Robson slow-cooked a coiling free kick for Evans the Keeper to pluck. The Hess was hooked off and Whitehouse bounded. Rose spun through three and crackled a cross-shot while many a pink short awaited a pass.

Four minutes were added and things almost nearly happened if you close your eyes and count to three. Robson retrieved possession with a swizzling hook, Rose twisted, slipped, got up and flung himself over a tackle that never arrived. Slim Charles ailed in from afar and finally some tremendous Town tobleroning in the far left corner left Whitehouse swaying goalwards. Blue bodies flew and the shot carooned away into the night.

Town were better than a poor side on a poor pitch; the draw was the very least Town deserved. Apart from Ogbu, they all ran around and were prepared to get hurt. Yes, we all expect this as a basic requirement, but beggars can't be choosers these days. The players looked suitably crestfallen and confused by the nitwittery from the two dozen rotten eggs as they were clearly not simply going through a contractual obligation.

It's not getting worse, in fact it's getting better, getting better all the time (I know it couldn't get much worse). They're doing the best that they can.