Muck in the studs

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 February 2021

Newport County 1 Grimsby Town 0

We're setting sail for the place on the map from which no-one has ever returned with a win. Yes, it's that perennial favourite: our visit to the Exiles on Drain Street. We're always plonkers at Rodney Parade.

Newly-new-new Town in blue huddled together, taking the first opportunity to be formally introduced to each other.

And what's left of the Hollow Way? Luke Spokes, the sole survivor drawn to Town by the promise of the joker and the fool. The past will soon be past, can anyone pass on that pudding pitch?

Let's get down to some rugby roulette. If all else fails I'll get out the Stylophone, very much the Matt Green of music.

First half – Newport state of mind

Newport kicked off towards the home end. That's nice.

Wow, it's like it's a whole new team out there. Bunney hops on the left, Mighty Joe Adams advancing on the right. Football, on a cabbage patch, marvellous. Have we got our Town back?

What about the full-backs? Bunney coiled longly, Payne sneaked behind a wandering Welsh rabbit and Townsend flew out to flip and flap on the edge of the area. Alas, an amberite walked away with our prize.

Surprise, surprise! Solid strikers, wingy wizardry, midfield mastery, a little alliteration goes a long way, just like El-Miz's diagonal dripper, right onto Mighty Joe's toes. In a flash Adams was past his dance partner, the cross was cleared as Payne was near.

Eastwood rolled and Hewitt galloped gaily down the right. And further down the right, and further-further down the right. How much further can a man go without crossing the Usk? This far and no farther. Hanson's header was safely finger-flipped over by Townsend. Corners by Bunney, bespoke elevation for your home comfort. Hanson headed wayly over.

Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings, soaring, tumbling, Town freewheeling: it's a whole new world out there, a dazzling place we never knew under that listing ship of fools.

Them. Heave-ho, humpty-dumpty numptyball into the turnips, hoping something would turn up. Lumpy scurrying, a corner, flicked on at the near post skimpering across the face of goal with no amber toes in the same post code.

A boom in the gloom, Hanson turned centrally, Adams jingle-jangled jauntily to jink and dink. Townsend parry-punched and Big Jim nodded the corner, well somewhere. At least we're not nodding off now.

Waterfall tapped wiffly backwards into the gloop, Eastwood scrapped a scrape away from lurking amber and a soupcon of minor panickery was observed in the trenches. Big booming balls! Crowd pandemonium as Baker chased a Garryowen. Stay frosty playmates, Little Harry hassled the hustler and none of our cattle were rustled, nor hairs ruffled on anyone's chinny-chin-chin.

There is only us.

Payne bumble-rumbled pestily and El-Miz dreamed a dream with a long, low fizzer. Do you hear the people sing? There are only empty chairs at an empty table as the keeper kept low and kept hold of the ball.

You have to admire the purity of his vision. Passing, passing, always passing; Matete maturing, Adams alluring as he scampered to the bye-line. Payne spun at the near post and Townsend flat-batted aside. Can we believe our eyes? Town oozing excellence, battering these cod-contenders for the glittering prizes.

An amber bungled back pass, Townsend slipped and El-Miz almost burgled the rickety old house. We're never lucky in love.

Nowhere nothingness, the ball rolling towards the dug-outs and El-Miz flip-slipped the ball to Payne. Bennett arrived on his motorised Rotavator, readying the ground to plant his potatoes. Payne in pain, and only the dismally insane thought that a dismissal went against the grain of common decency.

Bunney brushed the free kick quickly down the line, deep down into their penalty area, way on down where we hoped it would, well... something, anything. El- Miz threw some shapes, threw a dummy and went through the keyhole down a rabbit hole. The boy's got soul, but we still ain't got a goal.

What more? This is what's more: Matete mangled by locals and Townsend scooped Bunney's long walloped free kick.

Two minutes were added. And yes, that's it. It's always tea time.

Mmm, curiouser and curiouser. Town: delightful and utterly dominant. The good times are back, how far are we off the play-offs?

Second half – By any means necessary

Farqharson replaced Baker at half time as Newport moved to a back four.

How long is forever? Sometimes just one second, sometimes entire second halves of Town games.

Long, long, long balling and throw-ins as Newport played to the pitch by not playing on the pitch. Town slow on the uptake of the up'n'unders and scrappy doo-doos. Eastwood had to hack after a Bunney back pass bobbled widely wide. Huge hurling, lips a-curling as Waterfall headed out and some arbitrary bloke whacked back in for some pinball lizardry. And Maynard calmly passed across Eastwood.

Of course.

Divots became craters as the pitch somehow managed to deteriorate even further. Mortars were lobbed and the dull thud of leather upon mud boomed out as one-by-one the listeners tuned out.

Newport simply stood back and watched blue boats sinking in the swamp. A grubber kick and fancy flick and a home goal disallowed for offside.

El-Miz. A shot. A shot over.

You know no wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.

Change. Adams became Lamy, who wibbled and wobbled and their keeper groped at the feet of Payne at the near post.

A cross, a Hanson header into the void and the watching world aghast as the keeper cried with Payne stood nearby and the goal briefly a-gaped.

Who will save us?


On came our little bit of retail therapy, bounding on eagerly in place of Big Jim, as Town camped like timorous cubs on the edge of the home penalty area. Matete beat out the tempo, left, right, right again with Lennie the Lion in the roaming Reesian role. A turn, a cross, Payne swung but an amber boot clung on.

Now the mud at Rodney Parade is very viscous indeed and, like their defence, very tenacious; it stuck to Townites like porridge. Wave upon wave of attacks came down the tracks but the monstrous mud sucked Town in.

Town still passing, still back-passing, still crazy after all these years. Little Harry, the unexpected fulcrum, finally succumbed to the soil, buried alive by a bobble. Scrimshaw nicked and bore down on goal, alone. Eastwood saved and saved again and five minutes were added.

We have nothing to give but our mud, sweat and tears at the futility of it all. Bunney crossed and Payne headed wayly over and, well, you know the score by now.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

We're running out of time, but at least the team are running around and the management haven't run out of ideas. There's something stirring.