Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 January 2021

Grimsby Town 1 Stevenage 2

After the meltdown in Ironland the road has just got tougher, oh yes, they always make us suffer.

A grey day of swirling bluster into the Pontoon on a patched-up pudding with wing-backs a-hoy. Two forwards? It's Monte Carlo or bust.

How many last chances do we have? It's now or never for tomorrow will be too late. Ooh, that reminds me, I've got a Viennetta in the freezer. Every cloud's got-a-silver-a-lining.

First half – If not now, when?

Stevenage kicked off towards the Osmond. What more is there to say?

The tarts from Herts were in a flutter at a terribly tame tumble at a nonentity cross after much malarkey in the muddery down in the Mariner's Rest. They crossed, they fell, play on. That's it in a nutshell.

Stevenage. They had the ball. Grimsby. They didn't.

Oh dear. Town in a temporary pickle after a Pollock back pass and bad pass. Move along, nothing to see here. Minutes are passing, no-one on the pitch is.

Slowly, slowly the Blundell buttterflies emerged into the light. Matete nicked, Jackson surged, and red stripes blocked. Blink and you'd miss it. Too late, Ethel, you blinked.

They had a shot. Wide it was. Slashed slapdashery from stripes in haberdashery. It makes no sense, then what does? Big wheels keep on turning, Meyanese keeps on burning those bridges with a silly slap and tackle. Yes, Rollin' downed a diver. A daytripper's free kick lofted, wafted, wasted. I only mention it for something to do.

We've got a brand new Rose in Town. At first sight El-Mizouni is broadly Danny Rose, a mid-paced, mid-sized, shuffler and scuffler who tips and taps and didn't do anything memorable. He exists. The question is not whether we need two Roses, but whether one is too much. But if not Rose, who else?

Did you blink again? Jackson action! Hendrie crossed. Ooooooh Matron, a corner, shortened and a bundle of nothing deep inside the Stevenage penalty area.

What's going on? There's too many of you crying at home. Oh, you know we've got to find a way to bring some understanding between these Town players today. Ah Matete laying low to Hendrie and Rose knocking the moss off the roof of the last house on the left.

A huge lump and Hanson jump, Jackson jived and Matete swayed right to swash low. Cumming plunged to puffle aside for what may have been a corner. Rose does not elevate one's mood. Or a corner.

Matete, Matete, Matete. Matete ooooooooh. A dribbling gurgle through a gaggle of geese almost burgled a goal as the ball gently swayed at the last past the right-hand post with Cumming drumming his fingers on the turf.

Pressure, passing, but never crossing. Town, more animated that usual, but still just a series of still images creating the illusion of movement. Hendrie and Habergham sticking in the mud, slashing, slicing and under-pricing their goods. Hanson can't head the ball that never arrives.

Stevenage? Long past their sell by date, they're lying on the shelf, waiting to be discounted before they rot. They don't exist, they've done nothing for half an hour, they are the wall upon which we bounce our ball. They're terrible, Muriel.

Listen lads, we can still do this!

Yeah, they're rubbish, we can beat them, we will beat them. We will score, we will survive.

Who are we kidding? We will implode.

As the half crawled to its ending, nibbles were nurdled and local lips curdled. Under the Frozen Horsebeer Stand, Rose's underpowered crossfield traffic flew straight to an idle tourist idly idling in plain sight. The idler simply lollipopped into the corridor of uncertainty behind and betwixt Menayese and Hendrie. The Mansfield misfit feebly, slackly wafted a pokey-prod against the lurking List who ran away and calmly passed under McKeown.

And Town struck back with great vengeance and furious anger as they ran off and List headed over after... who cares. Where's that Viennetta?

You know, for most of the half it wasn't insane to think Town might score. They had a method, they had the occasional threat. Have we seen the light? Have we got a lifebuoy?

But we are Town. And so I can only ascertain that the light at the end of the tunnel is the light of an oncoming train.

Second half – Stuck in the mud

Neither side made any changes at half time.

Ah, but they did, for the new town battlers tactically tweaked and twerked to smother our little prince of passing, our Obi-Wan. Oh whither our wing-backs, slow and old, it was enervating viewing if truth be told.

Matete, dispossessed by the pitch, ah, that's the hitch. We'll have to await the turnips being dug up before we have any satisfaction. Can't you see we're on a losing streak. We're on the eve of destruction and the seeds were sown in the summer. Or rather not sown.

List away! All alone on the bye-line, slicing a cross to no-one and against the inside of the far post. And there be a throw-in. And they did header highly wide. And? And then there was none.

Moments, at times. Hanson hurly-burled, Hendrie's cross deflected for several corners to Town. And what do we take from this? Rose's corner-taking is utterly useless. It's meaningless, it's ridiculous, it's not my favourite waste of time.

A misled header from the ailing Luke flumbled to a roving redster on Town's right. A simple pass dissected our frogs and Jamie Mack swamped Norris as Pollock slid in a sympathetic symphony.

Payne on, Payne over and offside after rumble-bumble British bulldogs in the playground. Have you got it yet? Ira is no more in this story, he was a bit of pest with zest in the first half and, like the rest, a shrunken violet as the sun set on the Grimsby empire.

People who jump like Waterfall sometimes make mistakes. A hoof and duck from the bigger Luke snoodled the ball tantalisingly along the edge of the penalty area. McKeown reached out, looked over his shoulder, and the referee was there a wafting yellow plastic for handball.

Their free kick? Yes it was, that's all.

Town unable to get over the half way line, wilting in the wind. Drifting, drifting, slowly drifting off, wake me up before we go-go to Bromley. No width, slow wing-backs stuck in the mud, and they did something only they may remember after a Meyanese fluff and faff. Long shot, shot from a long, long way away, went further, that sort of thing.

Matete's alive! Hendrie hustled and many Mariners failed to shoot despite having legs.

Newton prodded in front of Hendrie or was it the other way around at the other end? Which end? When will this end? Has it ever started?

Ticking away, dribbling away, slip-sliding away. Spokes and Preston replaced Meyanese and Habergham as Town moved to 4-4-2. Matete was multi-mugged in midfield and they messed up a 4v2 counter attack.

Slam it to the left, shake it to the right, stick it in the mixer and spice up your life! Lumping and dumping, Cumming dropping his aitches then his britches. Spokes poked overly and then smothered in a red mist. 

Four minutes were added. All you need is positivity

One minute: nope, nothing to report.

Two minutes: all clear on the southern front.

Three minutes…

…and through the darkness a light shone, bursting out in technicolor and surround sound. A muddle in the middle, Matete threaded the needle and Payne darned his socks, slicing down the centre and rolling under the keeper.

Hearts in Herts sank, the Mariner nation danced on their grave, for the miracle working has begun. The catalyst has converted. We are saved, we will survive.

Just when we thought we were out, we drag ourselves back in. We should have changed that stupid lock, we should have made Waterfall take the bus, if we'd known for just one second they'd be back to bother us.

Stevenage knocked the ball back to the right-back who swirly lumped long. Waterfall dithered, hoping for a gust of wind. McKeown remembered to race out, Stevens sneaked in and stretched as we watched the ball plop-plop-plop into the hell hole of the empty, empty goal.

And shall the wrathful fight each other on the surface of the river Humber.

And that was it, not a second more, not a second less.

Hello Wrexham our old friends, we'll be back to play you again. We'd prefer it if you came up to us rather than we descend the rickety old stairs into the cellar, but whatever will be will be.

Perhaps it would be easier for us to live with Town if we adopted Gramsci's concept of pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will for the remainder of the season. Optimism without realism handicaps a society. Realism without optimism defeats it.

The end obscures everything and nothing. Town are better than they were, but not getting better enough, quick enough to change the course of history. Let's stop self-harming first.