Training ground day

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 December 2013

Barnet 1 Grimsby Town 2

Exciting and new – come inside; they’re expecting you! Yes, a new day, a new ground, welcome to the future of football – a windy farmyard. The Town less-than-two-hundred snuggled together like disappointed cows in unheated industrial units as the aristocracy shuffled into some unheated seats shoved up against the back wall of a local health club. Fantastically friendly staff, all very nice and clean, all very nice and shiny, but it’s a characterless, soulless training ground for a bigger club. All very antiseptic.

It will never strike fear into visitors. It’s like going to a small multiplex cinema on a ring road retail outlet. Is it milking time yet?

Town lined up in a 4-5-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Bignot, McDonald, Doig, Thomas, Colbeck, Thanoj, McLaughlin, Disley, Rodman, Cook. Lounging in the VIP seats with Mr Happy were Pearson, Hatton, Neilson, Southwell and Winfarrah. Ooh, there’s fancy, all scientific head chess games with silent Mr Ed, who will never be talking hoarse. A mass of mini-men in the middle in a wonky five-sided diamond. McLaughlin twinkled below Cook; how we wonder how we are going to score.

The Hairboys had Keanununununununununu Marsh-Brown back, which seemed to excite the gaggle of gigglers in their one and only stand of distinction, while their centre-backs matched Burgerboy, calorie for calorie. No salad in their buns.

And behind the empty home tin can, as empty tube trains crawled up the spine of the Jubilee Line, Wembley’s arch glittered in the cold. What about the Orange Stand, John? Has it got planning permission?

First half: Even cowsheds get the blues

The Cannons Park Casuals kicked off downwind towards Town’s patchwork quilt of huddled masses, with an oink-oink here, and a quack-quack there. Old McDonald no qualms; tick-tick-boom. Colbeck chased, Colbeck waited, Colbeck wafted a cross that was blocked for a corner. Repeat. Repeat. One-two-three-wahey! A McLaughlin corner coiled and drooped from the right, Cook arrived, arose and a-flicked gloriously and highly into the far corner.

The visiting geese honked in the milking sheds and a man called Billy came back from the toilet to see happiness among his peers.

Barnet’s fancy flicking smothered in a blanket of blue, Colbeck’s hares sent running, a cross blocked for a throw-in. Colbeck sent free. A cross blocked for a throw-in. Rodman drivelled, Cooked swivelled and swooned greatly from afar, the ball riffing lowly against the side netting as Stack didn’t stick his oar in.

The visiting geese honked in the milking sheds as Keanunununununu swayed around Bignot and straight out of play. What a cheeky smile he has. Lovely lad, lovely boots. Watch out Bignot, Keanunununu’s gonna step on you. He’ll be twisting his lemon boots, man.

More existential Colbeckian befoggery, more Town corners, more McLaughlin drooping, more Cookery, but too much air, too much heat. The soufflé rose too quickly and collapsed in a heap.

Bignot tied in a big knot by Keanunununununu, Byrne wall-passed with a wallflower to tippy-tappy-whacky wide. Thanoj did the Tirana tango and holes appeared in Town’s iron curtain

Town stopped. Boring. Boring. Boring. McKeown’s punts curled backwards in the swirly wind, like an unwanted prawn sandwich.

Oi, wakey, wakey! Bignot tied in a big knot by Keanunununununu, Byrne wall-passed with a wallflower to tippy-tappy-whacky wide. Thanoj did the Tirana tango and holes appeared in Town’s iron curtain. Keananununu skipped past the loos and levered lowly. As orange boots massed in the car park, McKeown parry-punched to the penalty spot and Thanoj did the Grimsby gavotte to sweep away the fears, tears and years as some one went off for a beer.

Those floodlights are very high and bright. Ooh look, there’s a tube train with someone in it. Who’s that girl standing at the window in the health club bar? Will this half ever end? Will this half ever get even halfway through?

Bignot scroobled into the box and carefully passed into the heart of the matter. No-one was home. Cook plopped a header softly goalwards. Technically, officially, this was a save. Make a note of this – it may come in useful when you go on Mastermind.

Aswad saved the day by Aswading danger away as the chuntering Cardigan was briefly alone inside the penalty area. Burgerboy’s extendable legs came in handy as Hash-Brown curled delightfully, dangerously and dinkily.

Fleeting moments of sanity between the yawns. Big booming balls!

Orange peeled to the ground out wide, under the Clean Toilets Stand. Villa smooched some Latin loving, whispering in the ear of the penalty area. Bodies flailed nearby; the ball drifted on and on, curling and whirling. McKeown waited, waited and waited until the final boot had wafted, and flew left to claw and flick away from the foot of the far post magnificently.

Barnet ticked over, Town were ticked off for banality. And finally Colbeck broke away and broke the back of the empty stand as others broke their backs to earn a day of leisure.

The bland were leading the bland.

Second half: A walk in the clouds

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Town retained their faith in fluffing about, using tickling sticks to feather and dust the locals into boredom. They seem used to boredom down Barnet way, but there’s darkness on the edge of Edgware. They started to fizz and pop their passes: this was orienteering, not rambling.

A Colbeck free kick drifted through all and just past the far post in a passing imitation of a chance. One day Town will be back to say hello to we few, we napping few.

Orange squashing, orange juice flowing. Byrne, a sub-Kerrian snapper, gave the ball a fair old whack from well out. If it had gone in it would have been a goal.

Town ruffled, Town complacent, Town just chairs to Barnet’s musical youth. Long shots wide, high, plucked and sucked by Jamie Mack. Town sinking, Barnet blinking close. Inside the area, outside the area, to the bye-line, crossing and flossing Town’s teeth. Town wellied long, Cook crowded out by the throng of the long and the short and the tall. Possession refused at every instance. Town didn’t have tactics or method: they had the ability to kick downwind to Stack, the unemployed elf guarding Santa David’s grotty grotto.

Ahoy there Mr Bond! Burgerboy dreaming, Bignot dozing and Val Cardigan sat on his rocking chair to strum an easy listening classic slightly off key. On Earth we call that missing.

For a few minutes Town rose above the pallid, were vaguely inspired rather than insipid. Thomas raided and accidentally almost crossed directly into goal. Colbeck finally crossed without hitting civilians, but no-one was around. Rodman retrieved, re-crossed and still Town’s cupboard was bare. A Thanoj blaster was blocked; Rodman swished and swayed, but took a touch too much and the brief moment of time ended when Colbeck listened to the small band behind the goal and tried to curl a corner directly into the far corner. The customer isn’t always right.

Don’t kid yourself: this is small beer dragged from the dregs. A rank mix of bitter and mild chucked in the slop bucket of Town life.

And here they come again, Hash-Brown more than a menace, more like a proper footballer and all that. He can sure run quickly and quicker still with the ball at his dancing feet. He swept and swivelled from the edge of the penalty area. McKeown superbly slapped away from the foot of the left post. Jamie Mack’s big right foot slurped away as Orangers infiltrated on the left. Bibble-bobbling and hooky orange volley. A long shot smothered and blocked by flying blue, another wide; crosses oohing and aahing through the maelstrom and muddle. The home crowd really got up a head of sonic steam. You could almost hear two of them speak. C’mon, Tim!

Barnet passing crisply and cruising through Town in a souped-up Ford Focus, windows open, shades up and beatbox blaring. Is all that artwork just artifice? Where’s the beef? Boom, a big old-fashioned chip down the channel had Keanununununununu raddling and addling Bignot’s brain. Panicked by pace, Bignot retreated to Moscow, was befuddled and fell into a puddle of doubt. Marsh-Brown spun and spun and swept on and on and through McKeown from a narrowing angle.

Now you can hear the Bees roar. Oh no, Bees don’t roar – they buzz faintly in the distance before dying

Now you can hear the Bees roar. Oh no, Bees don’t roar – they buzz faintly in the distance before dying in the cold, dark winter of disconnected events.

At some point Hyde had replaced Val Cardigan. Hyde looked good, Hyde scissor-kicked, Hyde swivelled and swiped from afar, forcing McKeown to pooper-scoop in the local park. Hyde was a buzzing busy bee.

Ah, Rodman. Swayed infield, curled outfield wastefully as blue shirts glared, and off he went. Winfarrah and Southwell replaced McLaughlin and Rodman and Town moved to 4-4-2. All is well with the world.

Nothing nowhere and near the end of the affair, Winfarrah headed back towards blue men in the distance. Cook turned and flicked, and Dishy Dayle bounded free down the centre-right, miles and miles beyond the nearest human settlement. And the Barnet defence. Stack sank as Southwell poked early into the left side and ran off peering beyond the limelights into the Tin Can Stand, looking for some Town fans to wobble his head near. He found five middle-aged men in varying stages of delighted delirium hidden beneath layers of post-modern clothing.

As if by magic, Dishy Dayle had arrived from another planet to be officially not offside, but officially a supersub.

Oh look over there, it’s Billy-boy. You missed it again!

Apprehension creeping, Town seeping backwards, inviting and inciting Bees. A clippity-clop cross flattened from their left. Hyde dived and grazed on. The ball dawdled across goal and dipped towards the bottom left corner. McKeown scoopled, the ball boobled out of his bosom and some kindly local slap-slid over the rainbow from a yard or so out.

There were three minutes of added time

Wahey, a welly and chase. Colbeck hurtled, Stack spurtled out then ran back as Joltin’ Joe raced on and into the penalty area. Bluemen arrived, Colbeck kept his head down and himself to himself, as he slashed outrageously poorly into the milk shed, disturbing a tub of full-fat butter sitting innocently in the far corner.

Back the Beemen came. An up and under, a bit of panic. McDonald a statue, Bignot missing and messing as Hyde spindled and swiped curlingly across McKeown and against the inside of the left post. The ball bounced back across the face of goal and bodies jumped around like tots in an inflatable bathing pool.

And so to bed.

Their keeper never had to make a save, and Barnet kept finding ways to over-indulge before Christmas, but the scores are indeed on the doors.

It was nothing special, in fact it was a bit of a bore. If I tell you a joke about Joe Colbeck you’ve probably heard it before. But at the moment Town have a talent for winning: it’s a wonderful thing, if not wonderful to watch.

That’ll do, eh?