The circle game

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

3 January 2016

Grimsby Town 1 Guiseley 1

A grey day of misty sheets of murk swishing and swirling in paisley patterns up and down the ground, with about a hundred Yorkites flattening their caps and vowels down in the Osmond.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Gowling, Nsiala, Robertson, Arnold, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Amond and Bogle. The substitutes were East, Pearson, Brown, Marshall and Pittman. There you are, the new old world order, post Townsend. Forward to the past, and please remember to pass the ball forward.

Guiseley… Guiseley… we've seen them somewhere, sometime before, haven't we? Pictures hanging in a hallway and the fragment of a song, half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong? Ah, Danny Boshell, but where's the Blond Bob? They have the tiniest keeper, with the longest culottes: Drench getting slowly soaked in the mizzle.

Shall we sit smugly back and observe the mechanical removal of meat from the carcass?

First half: Shrugging and chugging

They made Town kick off towards the Pontoon. We are vain and we are blind, we hate people when they're not polite. Hey there, party poopers.

Town started to revolve, rotate, rotovate and barely motivate the crowd with Pacman pacing, lobster loping and turtle traipsing nowhere slowly. The yellow press slowly clamped until the ball arrived with Omar, inside the area. They backed off, Omar turned and bedraggled bumblingly across the Drench and, well, that's your lot for ages.

Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream. This drudgery was never ending or beginning like a footballing Escher sketch, an unlovely etch-a-sketch scrawl of arch angular attrition. Town went round and round in slow circles, going nowhere. This was a constipated classic of static interference from dulled day trippers. Not so much parking their minibus as plonking their deckchairs and going for a paddle. Remember to knot your hankies and watch the sailing dinghies, mother.

Bogle tuned Arnold in, but that static interference cut out the melody and there was just black and white noise. Disley's toes poked a Toto pass into the awaiting arms of the king of culottes. Movement! Bogle boggled, Amond toggled and Clay carefully placed a shot wide and high. Clay mugged, Amond chugged a pass behind the unmarked Omar.

Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand? The wheels within wheels of this bus went round and round. And round. And round. Dear Guiseley, won't you come out to play?

Them. Free kick. Edge of area. Hit wall. That is all and more than all.

Now children, until we have something to say we'll return to the test card.

Norburn adjusted his limbs and scythed a monumentally magnificent half-volley bazinger straight into the left side of the net. Unstoppable, unforgettable, incredible, inevitable

Monkhouse squiffled wide. Arnold wobbled a skiffler from afar. Drench touched the ball. That is all and more than all.

Them. Again! How cheeky. The indomitable Lamb Loins of Leeds passed the ball around a bit, then passed the ball around a bit more near the Town penalty area. A throw-in, under the outermost most extreme corner of the Frozen Horsemeat Stand, was tobleroned around. You know, one of those giant comedy toblerones that is for Christmas. Gowling headed away the toblerone cross, straight to a lurking Leedsite. Twenty yards out, on the edge of the D, Norburn adjusted his limbs and scythed a monumentally magnificent half-volley bazinger straight into the left side of the net. Unstoppable, unforgettable, incredible, inevitable.

No. Nothing else to tell you. We'll return to the test card for five minutes and then you can run off home and have jam and bread for tea.

Town were tepidly dominant and dominantly tepid: too slow, too static, too many soggy chips. Town were playing with a misplaced sense of entitlement and a lack of intensity. Where are the prophets of passing, where are the visionaries of vim, where are the poets of passion? Do you realise this half was totally fugazi?

Second half: Bugging and mugging

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Toto was told off for whistling a happy tune. Amond crossed with no-one there, because Omar doesn't do that sort of thing. The ball has to come to Omar: it's about respect. Arnold crossed and Monkhouse wasn't there. The team that wasn't there. Unfortunately, we were there to see them not being there.

McKeown to Gowling to Toto to Tait to Disley to Clay to Toto to Gowling to McKeown. Circles within circles within circles within circles, lost in a daze in the haze of a maze of their own making. A cycle of circular circularity leading nowhere but where you started. All roads lead to a poem about the existential crisis in post-industrial society. Just what is being when there is nothing left in Freeman Street?

My thoughts seem to stray to places far away. At last! A change of scenery. An occasional break from the cycle of life had a squinting squelching punt flibbling through towards Jamie Mack. Craddock pursued without heart or hope, just for something to do, and fell over McKeown, lying face down in the dirt two yards from the goal-line. Play continued way off in the distance. Craddock bobbled up and off towards the halfway line, collapsing in a time-warping heap. He stayed on the pitch, receiving treatment for a broken heart. Play resumed.

The grilled Craddock gingered across the centre circle and sat down again as Town had an attacking throw-in. McKeown pointed out some basic facts to the referee, and was ordered to retreat with a finger-wagging. Craddock limped off and on came Dickinson, a man approaching the optimum Imp size. Play restarted with a drop ball, the referee ordering a welly back to McKeown.

Finally something for the silent masses to curdle over.

And on the hour Marshall replaced Monkhouse. Things started to nearly happen. There was a man moving on the left. The Yorkists were very slightly discombobulated by someone running with the football rather than standing around watching it sail off shins and skip away after soggy chipping.

An Arnold free kick was dumped dippily and deeply beyond the far post. Gowling arose and firmly headed back across goal and inchlets wide. Bogle bounced off yellow shoulders on the edge of the penalty area. The free kick was wasted backwards with a rehearsed routine of cleverness. Things were different, for they weren't the same. Passing was more pingy and zingy, feet were moving, the wide players were roaming widely and Guiseley were being stretched across the pitch. Space. It emerged.

Was it a throw-in, was it a chip, you'll have to wait and see. Marshall exchanged tickles with the roaming Robertson, who bustled down the touchline and fliggled a cross in the empty shadow of the covered corner. Yellow studs diverted the ball down, it skipped up and a yellow head grazed on. The ball sailed over distraught defenders straight in to the middle of the six-yard box, straight into the path of the remarkably unmarked Amond, who simply swept in from three yards. Remember that as long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden. It's about being there.

Guiseley abandoned any pretence of trying to get another goal and just tried to hang on to what they'd got by whinging, whining, ducking, diving and all-out timewasting

You'd have thought opponents would have learned to accompany Amond wherever he goes.

Brown replaced Clay.

At this Guiseley reverted to full-on irritating spoiler mode, abandoning their attacking intent. Oh hang on, they did that at the Ferrybridge services, somewhere between the croissants and the last toilet break before Grimsby. They abandoned any pretence of trying to get another goal and just tried to hang on to what they'd got by whinging, whining, ducking, diving and all-out timewasting. Dickinson cuffed Toto and ate up 20 seconds with a stern finger-wag. Dickinson snowploughed Gowling and ate up a further 30 seconds in getting booked. Dickinson squealed uproariously when diving under a non-challenge by Toto inside the penalty area. Everyone else on the pitch was just embarrassed for him and pretended it never happened.

Gowling miscontrolled terribly and legged up some yellow bloke. Boshell body-blocked Disley, Hatfield hauled down Marshall on a break. Time ticked on, cards wafted.

Bogle wiggled on the narrow left of the penalty area and clam-blasted lowly. Finally Drench was forced to make a save, as his legs went one way, his body the other. Bogle waggled from way-away and Drench scooped up like an amateur beach volleyballer. Tait chucked and a bit of bundling resulted in nothing to declare, your honour. Quite frankly there's no point in mentioning it. Something that almost nearly happened if something had occurred, maybe. Yeah, that close.

And with less than whatever time was left, but it wasn't much, Pittman replaced the almost absent Arnold. There is a possibility Pittman touched the ball. Not that I can remember: I was in a state of footballing catatonia, not Catalonia. The only tiki-taka on our minds was the chicken tiki-taka masala for tea. Mmmm, spicy food. Mmmm, terrible puns. Those were eaten later.

With a couple of minutes left Town slowly triangulated the life out of these wilting Yorkists. Tait crooned a deep cross and Amond gently leaned into the sole remaining defender. Alone, free and without impediment Bogle arose to carefully glance yards wide. Now that's what I call missing.

Just five minutes were added for all their toiling at spoiling. You know what happened in that five minutes? Toto gently headed wide and we all headed home with a distinct sense of déjà vu.

McKeown spent the entire second half as libero, with literally only back-passes to keep him awake. Town were less impotent and inert the longer the game went on, but there was no collective gumption shown. A simple tactic easily stymied them – a tactic that has worked almost without fail over the last three years. There is nothing new here, except that Town now have a pixie in the pie shop, so losses becomes draws.

We've just shown everyone, again, why Town won't be top, but will get in the play offs. There's a lot to relearn, and some recruitment to do.