Fixtures and results so far
The season in poetry
Purple shouty man's season
Man of the match
Superman of the match
Un-man of the match
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Six assorted cupcakes: Macclesfield (h) report
25 August 2007
Cuckoo clocks and
plastic socks, lampshades of old antique leather. Ah, walking down
the Grimsby Road... you won't get those evocative sights in
Grimsby Town 1 Macclesfield Town 1
On the day summer
popped in for a cup of tea and a jam tart, around 120 Macc lads got
out of the traffic jam and popped into the Osmond Stand to tart
about. I suppose they're getting used to us now; Cleethorpes isn't
exciting any more.
Town lined up in a
4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Bennett, Fenton,
Whittle, Newey, Till, Bolland, Boshell, Toner, North, Rankin.
The substitutes were Montgomery, Tiny Taylor, the Lump, James Shunt
and don't-mention-the-right-back Clarke. A-ha, the patent Buckley
formation returns, and goals will surely follow. The grumblers have
what they want, so nothing can go wrong now.
Are we bothered about
them? Oh yes, for Macclesfield catwalked their new summer collection
a blue shirt with a swizzy zigzag across the front, like
they'd been slashed by a dyslexic Zorro. There's always one team who
has to have a silly shirt it's just their turn.
Oh yeah, Martin
Gritton. He's had his hair cut neatly and looks like an accountant.
Their goalkeeper, way off in the distance, had a frizzy darkness
hovering upon his scalp, which offered hope for an interesting
distraction in the second half. The rest of them had about 12 hairs
between them, for they favoured the bullet-headed Saxon mother's son
The clock says it's
2:56, it's time to inflate the bouncy castle. Please take off your
shoes and steel-capped socks. OK, you can start jumping about now.
Town kicked off towards
the Osmond stand with the usual Newey high punt from left to right,
avoiding Till and going out for a throw-in. Within a minute North was
poleaxed and prostrate in the shadow of the Frozen Beer Stand. Well,
it's a hot afternoon and the fair-haired funster's got to stay out of
the sun when he can. Perhaps he didn't put strong enough suncream on
and Dave Moore had to run out with Boots own brand warp factor 12.
You can never be too careful these days. The word you are striving
for is 'etiolated'.
My my my, it's hot. Shall we have a little snooze?
Mwurrr-urgh. What was
that? Newey clobbered by an accidental elbow? Now I'm sitting here,
listening to an ice-cold sneer as the Pontoon's purple wind chimes
tinkle an old favourite. It's taken Mr Purple just seven minutes to
explode into space. Is that what athletics commentators would call "a
happened, The ball went out of play and came back in, before going
out again. Like standing on Cleethorpes beach, the tide brought in
some old rubbish and left it at your feet. Most of it is harmless,
and after staring at it for a while you go home, mildly disappointed.
Macclesfield had a
corner and a cross. Town had Isaiah Rankin shivering and shaking down
the left, like a hyperactive limbo dancer. You just know that he's
going to lean too far and fall on his backside, but we can all clap
along and cheer when he does. It keeps the customer satisfied.
Zorro-astrians heckled, Town just couldn't get their zinging
one-liners out. You know what the secret of great comedy is...
being funny. This was just a bit dull, with Town unable to pass and
the game having no pattern or flow. It was men running around in the
sunshine; they may as well have flung a frisbee.
After 13 long, hot
summer minutes Town won a corner on the left after the crazy world of
Isaiah Rankin shimmied in the haze. Toner coiled it to the far post
where Fenton rose and nodded back into the centre. The ball dropped a
couple of yards out and a Macc boot wellied clear from near the goal
line. Something stirred.
A couple of minutes
later, after noodling and voodoo-ing in the middle of the pitch,
Newey burst forward and sublimely dinked a delicate dipping chip
diagonally over the top. North, on the centre-right, bundled into the
area, stumbled as Lee ran out and mumbled a shot against the keeper
from about six yards out. Till muckled the corner into Bennett, whose
header was ferreted away by a succession of Macc heads, tails,
bedknobs and broomsticks.
The comic meanderings
continued, with the occasional Macclesfield foray into the outer
reaches of the Town penalty area. Green pestered but was no match for
brother Justin's sharp extremities or Fenton's mind-reading. We shall
treasure one little moment of magnificence, with Fenton stepping back
a pace to allow Green his little party piece tango turn, then walking
away with the ball as the travelling salesman booked into the local
Travelodge. They had a couple of crosses which went through the area.
One was even mildly concerning until Whittle stooped and steered the
Are we a set piece team
now? Another corner, another moment of high danger for the Cheshire
cheesecakes. Fenton soared near the penalty spot and bammelled a
header down towards goal. Rankin lurked; a defender jerked his boot
around the breezeblock and thwacked the ball off the line. They
couldn't cope with Town's aerial dominance. A Newey free kick was
headed over by Fenton. See, more proof for your pudding.
Town were shapeless and
shiftless, but in the ascendant. Rankin's roving was worrying the
sheep and Boshell was starting to tease. After 25 minutes Toner
juggled his way through the aisles and curled a superb cross into the
centre of the penalty area. North, unmarked less than a dozen yards
out, adjusted his neckerchief and steered a header back towards the
top right corner of the goal. The crowd rose to acclaim the first of
many goals this afternoon as the ball rolled along the back of the
net. Ah, that's the back of the back of the
net, for the ball had crept over the angle of post and bar, clipping
the pole and rolling along on the crest of a wave of misplaced
Three passes; Boshell
flipping, Fenton roaming, Rankin rolling and Rankin free. Rankin did
the jitterbug and collided with the onrushing Lee six yards out on
their left, the ball rebounding off Isaiah's shins and out for a goal
kick. It should be several-nil by now, with the Mariners mundane and
Here we go again.
Rankin roistering free down the left like a hearty breakfast,
boistering into the area near the bye-line and rolling a precision
cross precisely two feet behind Danny North, unmarked eight yards
out. North poked the ball back to Bolland, who flipped the ball aside
to the unmarked Till, just inside the area. And all the while Tommy
Lee was searching for the keys to his moped, scrabbling between
cushions and screaming at his mates. The goal was open. Till took a
touch, then another, then bazoomed a shot goalwards. The ball ignored
Regan, dismissed Lee with a jaunty wink and was kneed off the line by
some bloke with hair.
There is no football to
describe. It was like the Romanian National Grid: just isolated
moments of connectivity, where a light flickered to briefly
illuminate a drab world.
After 36 minutes Martin
Gritton tried to shoot. The ball apologised against Whittle's ankles,
20 yards from Barnes, who was wearing a violently vibrant orange kit.
That was really as close as they got until they got closer. With
three minutes left the Zorro-astrians tried a little haw-hi-haw in
the centre, tickling a tip past Whittle just outside the area.
Whittle fell, Green was nearly clear, but Sgt Rock breakdanced and
body-popped, swirling around to swipe the ball away. Ah, but straight
to Reid on the left edge of the Town area. He bedraggled a fumbling
shot across goal; Green groped his right leg forward and deflected
the ball an inch past Barnes' right post. A stumble, a rumble, a
fumble and nearly a grumble. That's their only effort in the first
half, and it should have been a goal.
In the last minute of
added time Town started to link passes together in a string of
adequacy. Fenton plucked a mouse from a bale of straw, releasing
Boshell, who calmly turned and caressed a chip through the
centre-left of the Macc defence. Rankin strong-armed his way through
and hurtled towards goal. Lee ran out; Rankin waited then smithered a
tremendous drive from about ten yards out. The ball thrashed against
the post and decapitated a steward.
The disappointed all
shuffled round in circles as they slunk off for half time Rich Tea
and a symphony of Buckleyian advice. Town were absolutely stuffing
them 0-0 playing, by our new standards, poorly. Macclesfield
tried hard but kept passing the ball to Town, which was nice of them.
Their only real threat came down their left where Thomas was often
unmarked, with Till caught betwixt and between and Bennett drifting
across to cover the centre. These were moments of potential, for
nothing happened. Much like when Till had the ball near their penalty
All in all, much ado
The Lump replaced the
ineffective Till at half time, with Rankin sent out to the right
di-dum, be-dum di-dum di-dum". Tommy Lee made his way towards us
to the sound of the opening bars of 'Thriller'. He has early
eighties frizzy jazz-funk hair. Perhaps he rolls the sleeves of his
jacket up to his elbows and wears a lot of pastel shades too. He
could always get a job as a Level 42 tribute band keyboard player
one of those hand-held strap-on ones, of course.
Macc kicked off, Town
got the ball. Within a minute normal service had been resumed.
Boshell sumptuously levered the ball over the top, down the centre,
straight into North's flight path. North chested the ball forward and
let it bounce, then, from a dozen yards out in the centre-left,
volleyed with the outside of his right boot. The ball thundered past
Lee, arcing slightly as it dipped and twanged against the post,
belting Lee on the back of his head as it rebounded out. It was
cleared, excitement over.
Bolland ah yes,
I remember him well was free, but his cross petered out in
the blue morass. Rankin pootered down the right but crossed behind
North and Toner, resulting in a bit of scramble, but no shot, or
chance, just general "ooo"-ing. Bolland again bundling in
the box: a corner. Fenton boomed the ball back across goal and North,
three yards out, twisted, turned and missed the dropping ball, it
bouncing sagely into Lee's waiting bosom. Another burst from Newey: a
cross, Rankin waited but was crowded out by trippers waiting for the
candyfloss to set.
Lots of huffle, but
nowt but a scuffle to show.
Oh Danny boy! Town had
Macclesfield in a ditzy whirl of confusion. The ball was tapped left
and right, a kaleidoscope of colour, mesmerising the Macc lads with
Tales of the Unexpected. Toner chipped, Rankin retrieved at the far
post and lumped the ball back. Regan, on the six-yard line, volleyed
a brilliant cross across the face of goal. North, unmarked five yards
out in the centre, leant back and deflected the ball a few feet over
the crossbar. We're never going to score, are we.
After about ten minutes
Lee bonked a drop-kick downfield, Green shoved Fenton in the back,
and the ball bounced into the area. Green flabbered a shot towards
the bottom left corner and the belisha beacon plopped down and
Town were disjointed
with old Lumpy in one of his immobile hindrance modes. On the hour
Taylor replaced Rankin, with North moving to the right wing. This was
disastrous. North neither stood in the right place nor moved towards
the right positions. He became unable, even by his own occasional
standards, to control the ball or pass to a team-mate. He acted as a
surrogate 12th man for Macclesfield; Bennett was exposed
and Macc pressed that button. A cross from the left whizzed through
the area and another was dinked into the centre. Men jumped, the ball
hardly deviated and smacked off the inside of the far post before
being cartwheeled clear to North, 30 yards out on the touchline.
North daftly fouled some blueboy, giving them a free kick.
The free kick was
curled in towards the far post. Players rose, players fell, the ball
carried on and bounced. Players stopped. Except Regan who, from row C
of the Osmond stand, hooked the ball back across goal as Barnes
belatedly moved across and beyond his line. Gritton,
alone, two yards out, apologetically tapped the ball in. There was no
celebration. The ground was silent for a few seconds, then the purple piper played his tune and his choir
did softly sing three lullabies in an acid tongue. Straight from the
court of the crimson king.
Town were still a mess,
then with 25 minutes left, Hunt replaced North. Boshell was
instructed to be behind Jones and Taylor, which suggests a once
fashionable diamond formation. But with Town, diamond formations
aren't forever, as after about five minutes Boshell moved to the
right wing. This revved the game back towards Town, for Boshell...oh,
hang on did I tell you about a shot from Levi Reid which bewitched
through the area and just wide of the right post? Hang on, I'll just
check... no, I hadn't. Anyway, as I was saying before a random
memory rudely interrupted, fings ain't wot they used to be.
Town this, Town that;
roving in front, sneaking down the side of the Macc lads. A series of
corners and free kicks and don't forget the toothbrush of Bennett's
long throws: all panic-inducing inside the tremulous heart of the
Silkymen. With about 15 minutes left, Taylor pestered and won a
corner, which Boshell strolled over to take on the right. The corner
was clipped low and fast to the far post where Bennett, 15 yards out,
thudded a header goalwards. Lee moved across his line and, as it
passed, Taylor stepped outside the line of off
stump, flicked his little head and diverted the ball into the right
corner. Well done lad, we're all a little bit happier now.
We only score from a
It's Macc's own fault
they brought on another defender and played three in the middle. It
just meant that Town were encamped in front of the Pontoon. A long
throw from Bennett was flicked and Lumpy numped the ball straight to
Lee. A free kick was bunkled to the far post where Whittle rose and
headed across the face of goal. Bolland ran in, unmarked and two
yards out, and waited for the ball to arrive. It did, at the same
time as a Macclesfield shoulder. Bolland and the shoulder missed the
ball, which looped on across goal and a few inches wide of the left
post. Lee came out for a cross and flapped it against his own
defender. Ooh, aah, so near, yet so far. Many moments of almostness.
Here we go again. A
Toner free kick coiled to the far post where Bolland, five yards out,
headed straight at Lee.
making substitutions during what appeared to be added time. Who
knows, the fourth official didn't put the board up for either or
neither. Let's just guess what's going off out there, shall we? In
this limbo land which time forgot, Green soft-shoe shuffled along the
right edge of the Town area. Whittle was sent away to have some dance
lessons and Green flibbered a screeching shot high to the near post.
Barnes parry-punched the ball aside, phewsomely well. Is that it?
No, there's just one
more thing. A helter-skelter whirlywheel of misfortune saw a Town
corner drop, be slashed, be thwacked, be mishit and be dragged wide.
The ball was here, there and everywhere inside the area. Whittle's
shot was charged down but flew across the goal to Hunt, eight yards
out. With his back to goal and a slab of Cheshire cheese between him
and the net, he spun and shankled a shot towards the top right
corner. The ball swayed and the Pontoon swore as it sailed across the
angle of post and bar and out for a goal kick.
Oh, is that it?
How did Town manage to
avoid victory? Without ever being any good, Town had managed to hit
the post twice, miss three one-on-ones with the keeper, have around
four cleared off or near the line, and miss two free headers. Well
done lads it took a lot of hard work to not humiliate
Macclesfield. We could even have lost it too. Ridiculous. And by far
the worst performance of the season so far,
with a low quotient of cohesive passing football being played.
Macclesfield were adept at hassling, which meant Town often looked a
man short in midfield. Can't we just play with 12 and hope no-one
We're in exactly the
same position as this time last year, though statistics tell you
nothing but numbers. There's a difference between quality and
quantity. It won't be long now we just have to be patient.
unsponsored man of the match
Not too many shone
today, though Taylor was sprightly and effective as a pesky
substitute. He resembled a lower-league Michael Owen with his
acceleration and pester-power. That's modern kids for you. Rankin was
at his most persistent and fittest, but he never looks like scoring.
Fenton was Town's most persistent and dangerous attacker, and didn't
seem to do anything wrong in defence. However it was noticeable that
Town were only threatening to play football, or create a chance, in
open play when Danny Boshell was on the
ball. He was flexible and our only footballer. We'll gloss over a
couple of others. Maybe they don't like the heat.
Haywood was less annoying than he has been in the past.
His biggest problems were his linesmen, one of whom was terminally
incapable of seeing Taylor onside (at least two terrible decisions
when Taylor was away). Ah, but having not been negative enough, he
was intriguingly creative with his decisions. Sometimes advantages
were given, others not; sometimes a nudge was a foul, others not. He
favoured neither side in his inconsistencies, but decided to go card
crazy towards the end, and all towards the badly shirted boys. More
crθme fraiche than yoghurt today. How about 5.734?
distinctly average. They were not dreadful, just inferior to a
sub-standard performance from Town. They are organised and, provided
they have a little luck, quite capable of not getting beaten in
matches of association football. These silkyboys are designed, and
hope, for nothing more than the avoidance of relegation. You cut your
cloth accordingly, don't you.
Their defence was as
comforting as a knitted shed and they had an over-reliance upon pace
as a striking option. Green and Gritton have enough nous to cause
difficulties, if given time, space and defenders who desist form
bare-knuckle fighting. Their keeper is small and their kit is
terrible. In short, they should not be regarding anything above 20th
place as achievable. I wish them no ill-will, but they are unlikely
to have too many happy days ahead. At least they don't play