On the waterfront

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 November 2015

Grimsby Town 3 Welling United 1

Hello winter! Great gustiness and the promise of a soaking greeted the 45 Redfans, some hand in hand, some gathered together in bands, down in the Osmond. Hey, open up your minds and open up your purses and buy a fish and finger pie or two. Don't you read the accounts? Income from matchday catering is down, down, deeper and down. Burgers don't grow in trees you know. And meanwhile back…

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Nsiala, Townsend, Arnold, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Amond, Jones. The substitutes were Robertson, Pearson, Brown, Mackreth and Marshall. At least there was no double date for the full-backs, but the absence of Pearson raised eyebrows and hackles. Jones looked like Amond and their keeper had a beard of bees.

You don't need a crash course in brain surgery to know it's going to rain later.

First half: An ecstasy of fumbling

Town kicked off towards the Pontoon with gay abandon. The tick and the tock, the nick and the knock, Monkhouse eyebrowed on and out as Amond awaited. The tentative drizzle let the grass shimmer and the ball sliver off with zip and whip. Wahey, look at the kaleidoscope of swirling stripey swivels in the faint red mist. We're gonna have a party.

After a few minutes these visitors from afar obtained temporary possession of the football. Huh, are we bovvered? The Wings moved down the wing, fiddling and piddling around near the covered corner as meandering monochromers occupied space almost within touching distance. Almost. Jefford swung a drippy drooper and the remarkably unmarked pint-sized Corne sauntered towards the near post and glanced down. The ball skipped of the gleaming, glistening grasslands and into the bottom left corner as many Mariners stood and stared. The first rule of comedy defending? Never turn your back on friend or foe, Toto.

The beard of bees tempted the Townite fates with some ostentatious over-celebrating. The little children started to laugh at him behind his back. Now, he definitely doesn't wear a mac in the pouring rain.

There was no time to grandstand and glare in grumblement. The world order was restored with a simple reboot. All we had to do to make it work was press the right button.

Arnold grazed a befuddlement up the touchline near the dug-outs and blazed away towards the corporate boxers. Jones elegantly glided and carefully caressed a side-splitting needle threader down the middle. Amond dummied and a red boot slid in front of Arnold to re-tickle him free. Amond coolly and cleverly slipped while shooting. The ball ballooned beyond the keeper, across the face of goal, for a perfect cross into the path of Arnold, who hook-steered a volley in from a few yards out.

Who's crying now, Mr Beard of Bees?

And still the stripes did swing. Amond twizzled and turned and was bumped on the right corner of their penalty area. A tickle and tease and the moment was lost as the ball dribbled away to nowhere. The ref waited for that disadvantage and blew. Marvellous tooting. Arnold and Townsend whispered sweet nothings behind fashionably hidden hands. Beardy boy stood in perfect isolation behind his wall, waiting for Arnold's inswinger to worm its way goalwards. Ah, stupid boy, you couldn't believe Townsend would take it? As everyone waited for the demon barber's cut and trim, Townsend did the shake and vac, arcing a swerving, swishing dream inside the top left corner, the ball smooching against the middle of the net. The Pontoon purred at the parabolic perfection.

The facts are unimportant, just remember the feeling: a Town team liberally attacking, liberated from the shackles of caution

And all that in the first six hundred seconds. Very strange.

Attack, attack, attack attack attack. Everyone had gone a bit giddy – the game rushed up and down in madcap mayhem. A surfeit of nearlyness, with wave upon wave of mariner menacings. Jones and Amond were a fluid whirligig of paisley-patterned passing and movement. Arnold za-zoomed past his man and King weirdly punched the cross straight at Jones. Townsend cheeked a free kick from the halfway line into the beating heart of the Pontoon. Corners were elevated upon command and Toto arose twicely to narrowly nearly do things of great interest. What happened? Err, I‘ve forgotten, but it was excitingly forgettable. The facts are unimportant, just remember the feeling: a Town team liberally attacking, liberated from the shackles of caution.

Oh sirs, it would have been a masterpiece. It would have been a recreation of John Cockerill's Huddersfield supermarket sweep. It would, but only if Craig Clay hadn't stopped to think. One-touch magnificence triangulated down the left, red shirts tumbling and stumbling in the slipstream, like old clothes hanging out on the washing line. With chests and toes Amond and Jones flick-tricked Clay free to freeze, not please. It coulda been a contender, you know.

Hey dudes, the movement we need is on the shoulders of the defenders. The glimmer twins interchanged and exchanged but there was no change in the scoreline. It's only rock and roll, but we liked it. Darn those red thighs. Welling, Welling, Welling, uh? I'd tell you more but they didn't get very far.

Corners zipped in and through, over and out, with elevation almost leading to elation. Townsend coiled in from the right. Monkhouse miskicked two yards out, a fumble, tumble and right old jumble with the Beard of Bees rattled and Gowling wattled over. Townsend crinkled in from the right. Amond steer-passed goalwards and a wall of red formed a temporary dam along the goal-line.

Around the half-hour they had a shot. Big bloke, wobbled from afar. The shot wobbled, not the big bloke; he wasn't a lump of lard. What else from them? Moments but no Macca interventions required. One more shot, wide, high and that's your lot. A collection of memories and might-have-beens for the Wingmen of Welling.

Let's get back to the story, that sub-plot went nowhere. Perhaps they'll be written out of the second draft of the screenplay. They're a maguffin.

This river flows one way. Townsend finagled fabulously onto Amond's chest, Jones winked, and Arnold flamblasted over the angle of post and bar. Did you blink? Ah, that's why you missed it. Jones swayed and wellied straight at the Welling keeper. Toto winkled down at a free kick and a Jones half-volley hooked over the Pontoon from the middle of the middle of the penalty area.

And finally the Town triangles tipped Jones free. As he shot he slipped and we all slipped away for some teatime texting.

A curiously exciting half where their keeper flapped and flounced but only made one save, and Jamie Mack made none whatsoever. Town were free-flowing, yet stilted, defensively sound yet rather dishevelled. Toto was having an airhead day, while Disley and Monkhouse were staring in the mirror and seeing their career mortality. Old heads, but old legs. A bit like The Drifters but with smaller lapels.

Welling were annoyingly persistent and committed. We liked last year's model better. We could clip those wings with ease.

Second half: Rolling home again (not as hot as a docker's armpit)

Welling made a change at half time, bringing on a taller man at right-back. I think they'd noticed the big balls to the big man routine.

Take a break. Read a few emails, stare at the sky and dream a little dream of what might have been. Think about your wishlist for Christmas. What appeals? Nostalgia? If you are an entomologist, is all you want for Christmas a beetle?

Drab and dreary. The game and the weather. The mizzle turned to drizzle turned to a drenching as sheets of rain provided a curtain of pain. Welling carried on carrying on. They tried to the end and they got in the way a lot. They had a shot. It went over the bar. That's the long and the short and the tall.

Like a wannabe school bully, this silly billy kept trying to needle and nurdle, to goad Gowling into some continental slapping. The referee simply wagged his finger

Oh Mr Porter, you're so vain. Like a wannabe school bully, this silly billy kept trying to needle and nurdle, to goad Gowling into some continental slapping. The referee simply wagged his finger. Welling brought on Taylor, roughing up the Town. Nothing happened.

With Welling standing closer, Townites dissolved as the ball was hit longer and higher. Jones disappeared and wilted. Arnold was forgotten. Nothing happened.

And then things did happen. At the appointed substitution time there was no activity, the crowd muttered and murmured. Whatever could this mean? Two minutes later the Snippy One replaced Arnold with Mackreth, with many an eyebrow hitting the moon.

The oomph and zip started to return. Tait swayed and walloped and King parry-punched aside. Mackreth shimmied and shook his way into the penalty area and crankled lowly through the throng; the ball missing fingers toes, post and net. Finally a corner, and Amond arose to carefully nod. King flipped to finger-flop over from under the bar.

And still the stripey waves crashed over the red wall. Townsend and Monkhouse isoscelesed a chuck and crinkled a cross highly and far. Amond rose beyond the far post to head back across goal. Some red legs goose-stepped away from beyond the other post straight to Clay, who volleyed a drooper achingly arcing inches past the left post.

And still there's more. Townsend elevated into a Kentish confusion and Marshall toed a spinning slapshot into a red back which gently looped into King's arms.

Oh. Yes. Marshall had replaced Jones.

Oh. Yes. There's still more, with a return to the first-half flow of fun-filled football. One-touch toe-pokes and flickerings sent Mackreth free into the penalty area. The semi-scouse scrabbler shot low and King sunk to plunge and paw. Spring-heeled Jack mucked the rebound against red bottoms.

There were three minutes added, which had the compulsory failed time-waste in the corner flag and full-scale panicked retreat. After a full-body Toto slide-swipe to block, Monkhouse nicked and knocked with Amond, before wafting into the centre. Three stripes against one red shirt, surely, nothing can go wrong now. Marshall stooped to steer into the flightpath of Amond, alone inside the penalty area with only a chunk of concrete sliding towards him. Amond carefully, precisely, deliberately flicked the ball into the centre, where Mackreth beat Marshall to the tap.

And that's your lot. The end.

Rain? Town don't mind, the football's fine, for the ball zipped along the turf, which allowed them to shine. When Town remembered to pass the ball along the ground. No wellies against Welling please, we're Grimsby.

The artisans of Welling were the type of opponents that usually trip Town up – but they didn't. Hurrah.