Remembrance of things past

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

24 March 2021

Barrow 0 Grimsby Town 1

What distant visions do we have today? It's breezy in breeze-block Barrow, less a football ground than an abandoned Cumbrian Fell Farm.

I see hooded men with pitchforks forking the pitch and I ask myself what o'clock it could be? Ah I hear the whistling of a ref, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuates the distance like the note of a bird in a forest.

There must be a game afoot.

Hey, let's be careful out there.

First half – Holker Street Blues

Town kicked off down wind, towards land and after three seconds the bluesmen had a throw deep down, deeper and down towards the town centre.

The traffic light was stuck on red.

Glorious, stirring sight! The poetry of motion! Hendrie coiled down the right and Lennie rocked and Lennie rolled an old bluesman, galumphing down the wing, into the penalty area and the cross was cleared at the near post.

The corner? You have asked and I shall answer. A critically acclaimed mini-series from 2000, being David Simon's creative bridge between Homicide: Life of the Streets and The Wire and sharing many of the same actors, but in contrasting roles. Oh, you mean the Town corner. There's a wind in the willows and a new moon on Sunday.

A cheeky chuck-in and calamity avoided as home James snuck past Clifton and higgles were piggled near a near post and locals, when interviewed later by the newshounds of the North West, said something nearly happened. But didn't.

The Barrowboys like to keep themselves to themselves.

Balls blowing backwards, sideways, upways and down the avenues and alleyways where the soul of a man is easy to buy, they say. Shinks and shanks and a blue corner swept longingly to a lonely lankyman from Lancashire who noodled back and behind a big blue shirt and gently gently, gently rolling away, away, away.

Up, up, up, out, out, out, chuck-in, chuck-out, chuck it away. Let's start again.

A stripe stumbled where the sun don't shine. Spokes hoiked the free kick way beyond the farthest post. Hanson headed and Hewitt back-hooked onto the roof of the net. Hendrie hurled, Hanson headed on, but hurricanes hardly happen: Menayese hooked over.

Oi lino, wakey, wakey! Their own, their very own Dirk McQuigley was way offside but Rollin was rolling to stop the amateur trolling.

Rose. Why?


Why is that traffic light always red?

Rose: busy, doing nothing.

Lennie flailing like a dervish as a Town free kick drooped into his sphere of influence. Lennie air-rolling and plundering over as big balls boomed. Lennie, he's trying. No-one can ever claim that Town let Payne take the strain.

Rose underhit a back pass and Jamie Mack waddled out to wallop down wind and out of sight. A devilish swirl, Payne twirled and slapped over there. Where? There on the stairs, right there.

Quigley dived over an invisible foot and Hendrie nutmegged himself whilst accidentally shinning away from a blanket of blue. I think he's even combed his hair.

Days passed by, seasons changed, whole industries and civilisations rose and fell. And still Barrow were kicking directly out of play for a Town throw-in that Clifton threw back for them to kick out of play, that Little Harry threw back for the Assyrian Empire to rise again.

And as the sun died and humanity amused itself to death Hewitt rose as James's head fell. Coiled whippily, Hewitt nodded their free kick over and we all nodded off. And when we awoke all there ever was was tentative Town tippling and a big Barrow backside as Big Jim was charged down.

One minute had been added.

Two teams really spoiling a bad wind.

Second half – One step closer

Neither team made any changes at half time. And whatever it is that he's got up his sleeve, well, I hope it isn't contagious.

Barrow. My, my, they're hopeless, so there is hope yet.

I've got a feeling, a feeling deep inside. Oh yeah, oh yeah.

After 10 minutes staring at a human goldfish it is possible that what follows is merely a fever dream. What is reality? Is this really their reality?

I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

A Little Harry lapse led to larks in the mud and Quigley slithered ponderously over from somewhere near Morecambe Bay. Is this really all there is to Barrow on a wet Tuesday in March? It surely is.

Yeah, I've got a feeling.

Is this it? Big Jim reverse-released Stefan Payneful, who simply slipped. Well, it's a highlight.

In between those mundane moments of men in anoraks chasing balloons in Barrow there was hope for humanity. Spokes swept widely, Hendrie crossed highly and Lennie rose to clear to the halfway line. I said Lennie cleared to the halfway line. I said Lennie cleared to the halfway line.

Chips and chases, stripes in spaces. Joel Dixon, which an internet search reveals to be a male person presently employed as the Barrow goalkeeper, flapped a corner down to Rose who slipped as he slapped and the ball may well have arrived in Belfast by the time you read this.

Barrow boinking big balls in the hope of a hurl. A long chuck flicked on and a bit of a do deep down in defence of our realm in a festival of breakdancing and river dancing. Chucking, ducking and back to square one as Dixon dropkicked back to McKeown, who flykicked back to Dixon.

Matete with all the right angles tangled up in Blues. Hendrie threw, Lennie arm-bobbled pestily on the left angle and looked to his right side and saw Luke. A tip back, Spokes spanked a ripper straight into the top left corner without passing go or touching the sides.

Levitations and celebrations, we used to think that happiness hadn't been invented. We're happy and contented, for at least a minute. Oh no, hope!

Up and under, up and under. Thar she blows! Rose miskicked and one of their Taylors miskicked widely high. Booming balls up in the gloom. A bluesmen plunged and a free kick, way out right, was scraped by Spokes from the near post over the far post. The corner swooned in the bluster, McKeown arose and plopped the ball onto Hewitt's head and the ball rolled out as Jamie Mack crawled and a Barrowboy pawed at dirt.

Double home subbing, happened so fast, blink and you'd miss the arrival of Jamie Devitt. Was he really on the pitch, or was that a paper transaction, one for the taxman? We didn't blink and we didn't miss Rose being replaced by Coke. A nation sighed in satisfaction.

Batten down the hatches, there's a storm a-coming. Matete threw his head at many feet, big-balling Barrowboys, chucking and mucking about. Coke stared down a bazooka, Menayese slip-slid away some slight shenanigans.

Okay, got your breath back? We go again.

Boom-boom-boom, a flick on their left and Quigley snapshot highly. Jamie Mack arose to paw up and aside and out for a goal kick. A goal kick? Yes, a goal kick. Mistakes are sometimes made in Town's favour you know.

Oh you have to say that's magnificent: Matete hoover scooped the whole county of Cumbria, Carlisle included. He's here, there and everywhere.

Sneaky chuck, quick and short. A wiggle and lob and yakkety-yak, take out the papers and the trash. Bouncing, pouncing, and Barrowboys flouncing as the ball dribbled away.

We hold these truths to be self-evident – that where Town are leading with minutes remaining, in the interest of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a substitution shall be made. Matt Green replaced Payne.

Four minutes were added.

High wallops into the corners. Huge hurling. Out! Out! Out! Boomed back and back and back again as Blues snack-attacked and Quigley squiggled muffily to the plunging custardian. Back they boomed with a waddle and a quack, a wallop and a whack and slapstick at the back stick and back and back an up and a crackle through the hedge snagged against Coke. He's the real thing.

One last heave, here they come...


A suitable ending.

Ev'rybody's had a hard year and ev'rybody let their hair down. Finally ev'rybody pulled their socks up and Luke Spokes put his foot down.

Oh yeah, oh yeah.