Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 January 2020

Mansfield Town 0 Grimsby Town 1

So we've entered the season of the white witch. It's strange, sure is strange. You don't need to pick at every stitch, just go with the flow on the Holloway Show. Hooray for Holloway, that screwy, ballyhooey Holloway!

A beautiful day in downtown Mansfield with near 1,400 travelling Townites tickled pink to have something to follow to beautiful downtown Mansfield. Past the upturned, burnt-out homeless person's trolley, the abandoned fridge and unhappy hoover. It's a home from home down the boulevard of broken dreams, up the alleyway of the apocalypse.

Town lined up in the familiar 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, Waterfall, Davis, Gibson, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Robson, Vernam, Ogbu, Wright. The substitutes were Russell, Öhman, Pollock, Hewitt, Whitehouse, Cardwell and Rose. With Cook half-baked, Moses gets another chance to lead us to the promised land. So button up your overcoat when the wind is free and keep the spoon out of the cup when you're drinking tea. Holloway's team talk or sound advice to the wary traveller down Mansfield way? Both? Neither?

Mansfield. They have players, they have fans, they have a tannoy even worse than Town's.

It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world out here post-Limboland. Let's believe we can fly, especially when you've heard the Pied Piper on Sky. We are his post-Quest quest, for us to follow his star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. Let's dream the impossible dream that we may end up 15th.

First half: the Intro

The Mansfield Maulers kicked off towards the massed ranks of mass hysteria that is Hollyver's New Model Army. One, two, three, kick! Come on everybody, clap your hands. Ooh, they're looking good. Are you having a good time? The Staggerers did the trouser press on Town.

A corner, a cross, a corner, a corner; acorns grow into mighty oaks in Sherwood Forest. Turn to the left, turn to the right, looking upstairs, looking behind, Jamie Mack collected them all in his little bag, his little green bag.

There's a moose loose aboot this hoose. Bibbling and babbling in the middle of nowhere, Waterfall lunged, a local plunged and poured out his inner soul as the referee was surrounded by yabbering yellows. As the lamb lay down dying, up went the red card of dread. Town in a tither and torment: who will fill in at centre-back while the brainiacs on banjo work out their masterplan? Why did you even ask, it's obvious. Harry Clifton is our Little Big Man, our Man for All Seasons, slotting in nicely next to Medium Harry for a couple of minutes.

That old, cold black and white cloud is comin' down. The cogs need time to whirr, who shall the substitute sentinel be, and who shall be sacrificed on the altar of pragmatism?

On the way to Pappas "The Lovely Kim"© had spotted an Öhman crossing the road! Ah no, it's Pollock's opportunity to be knock, knock, knocking on Ollie's door. Wright was deemed the expendable man for the coming Battle of Field Mill.

What do you need to know about life beyond the Waterfall?

Head for Pollock's Head. A magnificent promontory resistant to the erosion that has removed softer centre-backs, already nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Waves of crab-balling by the mundane Mansfielders as they chugged from side to side, baffilingly biffling against the Great Wall of Bone China. They Shall Not Pass. They Shall Pass Out Of Play. Town pac-manned in two disciplined banks of four, while Ogbu was mugged by local oiks. The ref took the Coleridgian approach to Mariners, giving only one in three fouls on Moses. Ogbu was fortunate not to receive a red card for his disgraceful attack on Pearce's hands with the back of his neck.

And all the while Town were waiting for the moment to strike without thinking. Nicks were knocked, knocks were nicked, Slim Charles scuttled sweetly and Moses swept safely, lowly and loopily straight to the inflatable keeper they'd hired for the kids to bounce on behind the Main Stand.

We knew that they were shot shy as Town teased and made them cry for someone to just have a shot. A free kick Pollocked and a yellow fellow did cause some to bellow. A long, long, long shot that took a long, long, long time to wobble through the bobbles. We were so happy it found Jamie Mack awake. That was Can you just dig it by Malvind Benning and the Bluenotes.

And now we'd like to do Hark the Angels Come. Hey, Nicky, what a pity you don't understand that The Lovely Kim© had put a spell on you. An up was undered, a yellow flicked on and the suspiciously free Maynard bounded away down the middle, pursued by a bare minimum of stripeyness. A touch to the left, a touch to the right, Gibson slid and Little Nicky passed lowly past the left post via the toes of McKeown. The hands of McKeown caught the corner and the love flowed like a mountain stream down from the choir behind.

You know Town had a corner. No elevation, no celebration.

Down in Mansfield when the wind blows free in the middle of Field Mill stands a lightning tree. Pollock never gives in too easily. Pollock's head, Pollock's thighs, Pollock's eyes. I cannot lie, this boy fries opposition chips.
Home falling, home bawling and an oh-so-clever free-kick was Gibsoned aside. Here comes the judge. And his verdict on the Staggering slyness? Very interesting. But stupid.

Four – F.O.U.R - minutes were added during which Pearce, their nutty professor, was finally, eventually, booked for the persistence of crime. Oh, and Town's knack for nicking their knocks led The Wolds Panther to prowl and howl across the hills from far, far away in a galaxy long ago. The Inflatable Keeper spectacularly bashed away from his face.

Stoic and heroic, Town were disciplined dervishes in defence of the realm. Against all odds and odd decisions by the odd officials, it was magnificent. It was not a bore, but it was only half way to paradise. So near, yet so far away.

Second half: and the Outro

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Oh what a circus, oh what a show. We've gone all crazy, falling over ourselves to get the mood music right. The little drummer boy on the biscuit tin, leading the glitterati of Grimsby in a groove. Drop out with Sir Peter Scott on duck call and representing the flower people of Fulstow, it's Quasimodo on bells.

A bit of urging and surging, yellow splurging, verging on danger. Pollock's bonce, Little Harry's twinkling toes, and let's not forget Harry Davis on vibraphone. Niiiiiice.

The marvellous monochrome wall descended. Marvellousness and marvellousity.

Benning succumbed to Town's full court press, passing directly to Hendrie. A roll up to Ogbu, a roll of the boot and Little Harry skipped away. It takes two to tango, but Clifton jigged along to a little light bossa nova. Two staggered as Little Harry swaggered through the centre, swaying left and carefully rolling four yards wide with the unmarked Vernam imploring lefter.

The little yellow birds were tap, tap, tapping at the window, but Town wouldn't let them in. The Hess brilliantly swivel-swiped away from a frolicker, but Hendrie dillied his dallies to be disrobed in full view of the paying public. How embarrassing. A rock, a roll and Mellis wellied over the centre of goal. Nah, Jamie Mac had it covered.

What a lazy day in old Mansfield Town. Let's take it easy, let's take in the sights, maybe hit the cultural quarter later, after a long lunch? The Staggerboss pursued the ball into the Town dugout, frustrated by a relaxed attitude to resuming the day tripping. And then was frustrated by the weedy ref wafting a matching card. Happy families, Graham.

Rose replaced Ogbu. There you are, for those who like things shaken not stirred: a straight fact - a straight swap. Rose was immediately flattened by Pearce.

The little yellow birds were tap, tap, tapping at the window again. Nay lad, you still can't come in. An infiltration, a cross, stoop-stopped by Pollock, levered away by Little Harry. Benning whacked and Jamie Mack battered away. The ball returned and a soaring lone yellowman nodded down. McKeown sprawled and the ball crawled over the bar for a sensational offside. Maccanificence lost to history.

Flibbling and flabbling in the middling. Robson scraped around the halfway line and Rose raced on in a striped swarm. The Hess took the ball up, Rose delightfully dummied a mis-control for Gibson to surge and sweep lowly. How lovely, how kind. Benning, unerring in volleying spectacularly into the vast and empty net from six yards with Vernam approaching the outskirts of Mansfield from Newark, via Reg Taylor's Garden Centre, having stayed to have another slice of lemon drizzle cake.

And the Striped Wall collapsed into delirium. What a team, these Zebra Kids with Horace Batchelor on percussion.

Bash the biscuit tin, beat out the rhythm of the night, for the rhythm is gonna get'cha, the rhythm is gonna get'cha.

Woah, calm down. Let's sway to a gentle rhythm, let's keep things nice and slow. McKeown was booked for contemplating the metamorphosis of the frog at a goal kick. Gibson was booked for pondering the duality of light. The ref was clearly an anti-intellectual snob. Life's not all meat pies, you know.

Yellow heads bashing against that monochrome wall. Again and again and again. A rare roam and raid through Clifton, the Sultan of Scuttle. Tip-tap, Rose turned and a right old hubbling-bubbling scrimble-scramble ended when the biggest blimp in the playground simply sat on the ball. More Little Harryness and Pearce failed to cling on to Rambling Rose, who plopped a pinger straight over the bar from the edge of the area.

Mansfield moments, just moments of momentary possibilities. Gibson blocked before anything was something and so it was nothing. McDonald cheekily big-dippered from way-way out but straight into McKeown's soothing gloves. They made changes but changeless as canal water, nestling in yellow nowhere. It is their story so far.

With 10 minutes left, not long after he started a-hobbling, Gibson was replaced by Whitehouse. Who to left-back then? Why did you even ask? It's obvious. Little Harry. And what a wonderful world it is with Little Harry sealing up the leaking left.

More paddling in the canal with humps and dumps. Hendrie lay down, wishin' and hopin'. Life continued uninterrupted by shrill whistling or by squirrels. A one and a two and a quick three-four on the edge of the area. Ah, the memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime. Mellis won't remember his rising slicer crawling over the angle of post and bar by the time his parsnips are buttered for tea tonight.

Five minutes were added for all those moments that never happened which delayed nothing. The homesters dribbled out of play as the home crowd dribbled out of the home stands. Us? We're going nowhere quickly, we've a date with the Pied Piper of the Pontoon. Hang on we've had over five minutes; are we there yet?

Hendrie hurled, Preston plonked back, Maynard spun and dippy-volleyed from thirty yards out. McKeown back-pedalled as the ball looped and dropped and, at the very last micro-second, a purple arm flew up and flipped the ball crawlingly over the bar. And the whistle blew.

The end, yet also the beginning.

The players jogged and jigged towards the bobbling mass, we danced and we sung and the church bells rung. Under the influence of the Pied Piper, the entire squad held hands and bowed in Bundesliga fashion. Jah, das is sehr gut.

What a day, what a performance, what the heck is going on? Mansfield hardly got near McKeown and Town broke intelligently with some menace. We still can't shoot, but from little acorns a giant oak shall grow.

We have lift off.