Fandangos in space

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

27 September 2015

Nil-by-Southport, Grindsby 4

A funny old, sunny old day in the seaside retreat for sophisticated Scouserpeople. Like a west coast Mablethorpe, behold the vast vista of the void. What do you see? I see the sea. Somewhere, I think. Shall we amble up to Heartbreak Avenue?

With one turnstile open, the Town five hundred were dispersed between us and them, the thrifty from the fifty-year-olds with spare fivers going all la-di-da in the seats. Hey, for want of the price of tea and a slice, 'twas the only way for the latecomers to get in before kick-off.

Town lined up in the comforting 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, East, Pearson, Gowling, Robertson, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Tomlinson and Pittman. The substitutes were Tait, Nsiala, Marshall, Bogle and Amond.

Has the Bogle bubble burst already? Well, have you seen his boots? Pop bubblegum pink. Shocking, positively shocking. We have an Amond, they've got an Almond, but we've left our Arnold behind. That'd be far too confusing for simple folk. And referees.

C'mon people, let's see action. Let's see freedom from lumps into the air.

First half: Prophets, seers and sages

The amber amblers from the avenue of broken dreams kicked off towards the Town fans, facing some men in skid-mark blue. Hang on a minute, that's not Town. It's one of those tribute acts with a punning title: live at 3 o'clock on the Pyramid Stage, it's Grinsby Down. They've sent them along as a surrogate band, to find out where we fans really stand. Or sit. Oi, we're over here, the ones with our heads in our hands. Are the real GTFC lost again on the highways and byways of north-west England?

Southport rolled over and around the blue stockings, those lookalikes standing in the shadows. Well, they were just passing time until the real Town turned up. Rutherford rolled around, Almond strolled around, and Townish wandered around around around around around. The wind is low, the birds will sing, are Town going to do anything?

Is that the team bus at the roundabout? Nope, just a charabanc from Congleton Glee Club. Knees up Scotty Brown, knees up Scotty Brown, up the table we must go, don't get your fruit from Tesco. The seats are a little small, after all.

Almond arced a free kick, which Jamie Mack arced high and right to pluck and drop and smother with a flop. Another Rutherford rumble and tumble, and a free kick arched in to the DMZ. Heads, knees and tails and an overhead fumble from the giant deadwood centre-forward.

Town were still on the sea front, and the front two were still choo-choo-chooing together on the model railway. Southport were walking with their hula hoops around the day trippers. The Southport Comedy festival isn't until next week.

It took Town so long to turn up, then they turned up.

Seventeen minutes of horrible history and Town finally moved the football towards the Sandgrounders' penalty area. Just one look, yeah, that's all it took. A comedy tumble and a Town free kick bumbled in from the right. Pittman's stumbling slow thigh diverted the ball up and a tall poppy noodled vaguely away. Clay, 20 or so yards out, calmly adjusted his TV set and looped a volley over and across Tony Visconti and into the top left corner.

Now there's a surprise.

Mackreth dinked to the far post where several blue shirts awaited and Disley calmly steered a noodle highly, and highly satisfactorily

The locals continued to lollop and troll, with more ungymnastic forward rolls. A coiling free kick was head-tennised and fell betwixt and between in the six-yard box. Jamie Mack hesitated, then duveted a sprawling slap as the giant deadwood branched out. Gowling headed another one clear, then another one, and perhaps another one and another was headed wide by one of them.

East wellied a clearance against Rutherford's body and the folds of flesh continue to reverberate across the globe, a bit like the French Revolution. Wee Jacky Macky exchanged Toblerones and toe-poked wimpily straight at the Viscount Visconti.

On the half-hour Tomlinson suddenly bothered, suddenly turned and suddenly smackered a whacker. Visconti veered right to spectacularly air guitar aside for a corner. Mackreth dinked it in and out it came slowly, via a raggedy Pittman dribble. Back he dinked, and Pittman dribbled it back out again to Mackreth. Slowly Mackreth dinked to the far post where several blue shirts awaited and Disley calmly steered a noodle highly, and highly satisfactorily.

Did I tell you Pittman was booked for a late slippy-slidey tackle which left Davies in a heap of old clothes? The locals weren't happy. Well, we heard a vague grumble from men in hats. It may have been indigestion. Tomlinson kept nibbling amber ankles. The locals weren't happy. Well, we heard vague mumbles from men in blazers. It may have simply been old age.

A chucking triangle by the old men on the left and Robertson flat-volley-crossed to the near post. Pittman arose to squingle a twisty header high beyond the hopes and fears of the home keeper.

Wright the Whiner ducked and Pittman's boot grazed his cheeks. They had nothing left to play for but a sending-off. Less high boot, more low head. Wright should have been booked for dangerous ducking. What excellent refereeringsmanship.

It was ruddy awful, with both teams magnificent in the art of buck-passing. Southport had no defence; Town had no excuse for shambling, shuffling, half-paced ambling through the lethargy in Lancashire.

Statistically satisfying, aesthetically appalling. There's double figures here if they can be bothered.

Second half: Just a collection of antiques and curios

Southport replaced their right-back Challoner with a spritely cheery chap called Allen and moved Jones back from right wing. There you are: facts, not fiction or flights of rhetorical fancy. Facts. Facts as dry as Martini. Boring, wasn't it. Plot spoiler alert – now you know what the second half was like.

Straight off Town attacked with plodding precision. Clay ticked Mackreth free and a corner ensued. Or was that later? Does it matter? Dinked deeply, the deeply dippy defenders dozed. Pearson shuffled to retrieve and performed a vaguely Cruyffian turn on the bye-line. I say 'vaguely' – it shared a birthday, both having started in 1974. Pearson's majestic, stately stepover was followed by a delightful dink back to the other, the old far post. Gowling soared above a non-defender and powered straight in there, son. Boosh. Four-nil. Let's get the ice creams in; I'll have a 99. Mmm, that could be the scoreline if we tried a bit.

Clay ticked Mackreth free. Wee Jacky swept a cross across and Tomlinson swept the cross over. A bit of passing and Pittman turned his marker magically into a mushroom. Instead of shooting he crossed to no-one. Instead of staying on the pitch he was substituted for Bogle. The pink-booted, short-studded Bogle, a man who couldn't stand up for falling down. Longer studs, Omar, longer studs.

Tomlinson: permanently offside by several dumb, insolent cheque-cashing yards. Except when he wasn't and the linesmen flagged anyway. Bogle dinked Tomlinson free and he hurdle-hooked pathetically straight at the keeper. This was one of the times Tomlinson wasn't offside but was. Or was it one of those where he was but wasn't? Bogle scored, but there's that fag again. That wasn't a linesman but a pre-programmed motion detector.

The Town fans were so bored that they started cheese-rolling each other down the terraces in the bins

The Sandgrinders replaced their tubby troubadour of tap dancing, roly-poly Rutherford, with Charlie Joyce. Wasn't he in Budgie? No word on whether Laughing Spam Fritter is in their reserves, or on the lunch menu. That may explain the grumbling of the men in hats. Remember, we saw this so you didn't have to. The mind wanders even more than the Southport defence on these dreamy days at the back end of summer in the back of beyond.

Marshall replaced Monkhouse and we had a cameo of lithe swirling and swooning, where there is absolutely nothing to report except movement. There was a lot of froth on the coffee, but he was booked for a turn and squeal as he collided with an amber-clad clot.

The Town fans were so bored that they started cheese-rolling each other down the terraces in the bins. You think that sentence doesn't make sense? Think of it like the 1960s. If it doesn't make sense you're far too square, daddio. Ike and Tina Turner? You better or you'll end up in a hedge.

Tattooed Tait replaced Mackreth and East played at right wingish. Don't hang around here waiting for nothing to happen. You're too late, it already hasn't. Robertson near the end… oh pah, pfft and piffle. He wiffled and waffled.

And at the end of the end their old man Steptoe, Jones the Chump, legged up Clay and welled the ball into his back from a yard away. Out came the red, off walked the old fool amid much mithering in the Mersey.

There you are, strip it down to basics and the second half was a series of things that didn't happen. Southport kept having the ball and twirling around in circles before Almond tried a long shot. Southport: the end of the line, the end of the road. They have robes and monkeys and lazy diamond-studded flunkies in their houses on Lord Street. If Town had tried even slightly, double figures was on. They were playing a house of cards with a house of straw up front.

It was utterly humiliating to only win 4-0. A decent team roused into any gear at all would have scored double figures. The score is embarrassing… to Town for scoring so few. Oh the shame.