An arm and a leg: Lincoln (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 February 2010

Grimsby Town 2 Lincoln and the strumpet 2

Hey, it's nearly March, and that's when our season starts. One, two, three... where's Dave Boylen?

Into the Town strolled some brimstone baritone anticyclone rolling stones from the west, all lanky legs and lanky hair. They'll miss us, they need us, for our bumper away turnout keeps many of these clubs afloat. Oh Lincolnites, what's it like to be non-League? Any tips?

Town staunched up in a 4-4-2 formation, as follows: Captain Colgan, Bore, Lankyshire, Atkinson, Widdowson, Coulson, Sinclair, Hudson, Devitt, Peacock, Wright. The substitutes were Overton, Linwood, Leary, Proudlock, Ak-Ak, Fletcher and left a little bit of Hegggartivity in reserve. Coulson started on the left, Devitt on the right and Peacock, the new Pouton, boiled his cup-a-soups upfront for an all-tartan terror attack.

Lincoln, the sort of place they eat cod.

Why are the Impies in camouflage? Out they walked in slight grey and black shirts, slight grey shorts and black socks. Mmmm, looks familiar. How could they have known that Grimsby Town would be wearing black and white? What a million to one shot, what a coincidence! Tsk, whodathoughit eh? They should play in skins if they're daft enough only to bring the monochrome kit. That, as they say in the corridors of Grimsby power, will learn them. Or they should do double performatives after school.

The referee is in pink, and we know what that means. The ref's in pink, in pink, in pink, so Town will sink, will sink, will sink.

Shall we just get on with it then.

First half: Huffin' and puffin'
Lincoln kicked off towards the Pontoon and established their credentials by chipping the ball straight out of play.

Town did something, then didn't. WIddowson wobbled down the left and won a corner. Devitt dinked, Pearce pouted and Sinclair sheered a volley so wide it has gone off the edge of this

The linesman in front of the madmen, drummers and hummers in the Dentists Stand was blinded by the light, a low winter sun burning his retina and causing chaos: he couldn't tell between the mingled monochromers. Broughton wandered back from offside to flick a punt and someone stumbled vaguely way out, or something. The free kick was dumped deep, beyond the poisoned adventurers towards the Emnityvile Horror. Atkinson was wishin' and hopin' the ball would drift but Brawny Brawling Broughton levitated upon his tantric mantra and bonked a header towards the near post. Hirsute Herd hopped, skipped, casually flicked his leg out and shinny-looped the ball into the net from a yard or so out. These things happen: they just did. Three minutes gone, Town gone to the dogs.

Lincoln sat back and waited, Town plopped the ball between the centre-backs and waited. Lincoln sat back and Peacock headed to Wright who fell over ten yards out.

Lincoln sat back and waited, Town plopped the ball between the back four, then triangulated furiously up the left. Coulson cut in and hammocked straight at Burch. Hudson hawked himself infield and boodled a mumbler that stumbled to Burch eventually as Lincoln sat back and caught Town on the counterattack. A little bloke crossed and Broughton steered his milk float into a hedge. No animals were harmed during the filming of this fictional event.

Town stepped up their plopping. The rate of ploppage increased geometrically as Coulson and Devitt changed wings. Widddowson took a trip far, far away, crossing to the near post and Wright steery-poked softly wide. Town plopped again, then again, beautifully plopping from left to right to left again with Hudson momentarily free on the edge of the penalty area and slide-squawking a shot which veered beyond the post via the medium of synthetic rubber attached to a synthetic Lincoln foot.

They had a break, they shot rubbishly at Colgan from somewhere uninteresting. Impies can wax their moustaches at such ephemera, we have our own false eyelashes to paint. Look in the mirror, pull down your right eye and don't blink: Atkinson waffled a something that forced Burch to consider changing his aftershave. That Old Spice has been in the bathroom cabinet since 1976, drink it or sink.

Ooh, something! Devitt trickled past a chocolate soldier who hauled him back near the corner flag. He dripped a cross to the far post and Atkinson rose and didn't shine, thudding a header way over from way inside the six-yard box.

Town fell asleep, allowing a drop kick to bounce, Broughton to turn and Broughton not so much leg it in to the area as seep like damp in a forgotten outside toilet. Don't worry, no-one uses outside loos anymore, Broughton can be relied upon to miss. It was a lovely weighted back-pass.

Ah, now's the time to rub those hands together. Lincoln sat back and waited, Town plopped the ball between the centre-backs and waltzed forward with verve. A shot blocked, a shot hacked, a shot in the arm as the tourniquet tightened. City hacked, Town tacked into the prevailing wind.

Devitt whipped in a free kick from the left, the ball ba-dooming up, up, up, up, up and still further up. Burch had inexplicably run, run, run, run away to the beach where local Tartan tearaway Tommy Wright had buried him up to his neck in the sand using just a 99p yellow plastic spade. The ball is, by the way, still rising towards Venus like a cheeky weather balloon. So far and fast did it rise that the players had a giddy moment and regressed to their six-year-old selves. They all flapped around and waited underneath for the satellite to descend. It hit the earth with a thud and everyone fell over. Legs flailed, defenders wailed and the linesman flagged. A coroner's inquest decided this was goal by misadventure. Leapy Peacock had, apparently, scored. Three quarters of the ground was, obviously, happy.

Town pressed, Impies fouled. Herd fouling again, again and again until finally the referee produced his little book of poetry. Herd hauled Hudson to the floor and the referee... realised he'd already been booked. It was all action but no thrills.

There were three minutes added. After the three minutes had been added they all walked off.

Second half: The chest with five fingers
No changes were made by either team at half time, but finally that terrible kit clash was addressed: the officious officials changed from pink to electric blue shirts so they wouldn't be so confused about their X and Y chromosome ratio. Now, who didn't get a giant chromosome in their Christmas stocking this year?

And the sun went in.

A bit of this, a bit of that and Coulson magnificently hook-slid to sweep the ball off the toes of Saunders, right on the touchline, right in front of the dug-outs. The perky yapper swooned up the touchline and swerved a beautiful cross on to the penalty spot. Peacock hooked a volley against Pearce's massive thighs. The ball bounced off Watts' massive bottom and both Impites fell over. The Mohican Mariner waltzed, the impaled Imp schmaltzed and Peacock calmly stroked the ball over the wilting keeper. It only takes 46 seconds to score a goal. Wahey!

Lincoln roamed and gloamed a rinky-dinkycross, flicked away from a lurking Lincolnite by Lancashire. Coulson persecuted, Devitt tickled and Widdowson shimmered behind the defence and sliced into the Pontoon with the unmarked Peacock imploring a pass.

And then the cream startled to curdle, and Town gurgled.

Cometh the hour, cometh the con. Lincoln pressed and Town levered half clearances, half away. The cucumber sliced and Town became tangled in a wrangle as Kerr angled a dink into the Town area. Some tiny Impy slipped to the floor as he passed Atkinson. The eye receives the messages and sends them to the brain, but there's no guarantee the referee can perceive the same. A few Lincolnistas honked lightly and not one Townite in this whole wide world of the living blinked. Ah, the curse of the pastel poltroon strikes again. A soppy-floppy hand pointed spotward. Why? W.H.Y? Ah, the universal unanswerable question. Computers dissolve in smoke and stutters for less. Argggh, not ha.

Now everyone was looking at Brian Gilmore's eyes. He looked left, looked right and bedraggled a terrible penalty low and just off centre. Colgan flung himself right and nearly over flung, managing to parry-knee a block. Yesssssssssssss!! Justice! Noooooooooooooooooooooooo, injustice! The ball rolled straight back to happy Gilmore, who walloped it in to the top of the now empty net.

A minute later, another goal. Town kicked off stupidly and the Impites ran off with the spoon. The cross looped off a toe and Colgan back-pedalled; hairy Herd jumped into Colgan and the ball plopped into the net. They seemed miffed by it being disallowed, as though that wasn't in the contract they'd signed.

And Town slapped them for twenty minutes.

Coulson bamboozled and bewitched when he began his beguiling beguine. Saunders was fried in his own chicken batter as the Barnsley chop brushed him aside to cross superbly. From the bye-line, Peacock arrived and steered the ball over from four yards out as an Imp tugged his boats. A couple of minutes later Bore chucked a quick throw-in to Coulson, who volley-crossed into the centre. Sinclair flung himself forward and the ball hit various people variously before double dipping off for a corner. Ping-pong, Wright bonged high.

And still they came, wave upon wave of Town attacks: Coulson stripping his marker down to his underpants and smothering him in lard; Peacock roistered and ruled the centre, and Devitt deviated from the norm and produced cross after cross after cross. Scramble followed eggs and Burch fell to the floor as his defenders dug Tom, Dick and Harry. The goal was open, the ball was rolling seven yards out, Wright was alone, Wright was suddenly on the floor as the ball trickled towards the bottom right corner. Peacock stretched, Watts strapped on his skis and jumped into the void without a crash helmet. The ball trickled an inch wide and Watts never got up.

With the prone loaner diverting attention from the felling of Wright, the moment passed, as the Pontoon was in ferment over the incident. Kerr and Pearce argued with half a dozen teenagers. Watts was stretchered away, to applause. The sound and the fury during his injury were not about him.

The spell was broken by the long, long delay and Lincoln even had a couple of breakaways, shooting scuffily-wuffily wide. Broughton and Kerr were finally booked and Burch produced a really exceptional save when Devitt lashed a low drive towards the near post through a thicket of legs. Burch saw it late and saved one-handed, grabbing the rebound as it bumped off his elbow on the turf as Town boots arrived. Corners and crosses, Town players were nudged and nurdled. Peacock was hauled to the ground by Swaibu after a corner; no penalty.

With five minutes left Fletcher finally replaced Wright, who had been inconsistently ineffective, and momentum swung its pants towards the lady from Lincoln for that last dance.

A little Imp lamped a big dipper and Colgan parry-punched aside for a corner, from which Pearce rose and smackerooned a header to the far post. Hudson leapt and played a little pinball wizardry, banging the ball up and down off his head on to the bar, onto the goal-line and wallied away. They didn't even get a bonus ball out of that.

Who knows how many minutes were added at the end, the bland just played on. Town, Town, Town, encamped in the Lincoln penalty area. Headed in, headed out, Town players falling and a whole bunch of mauling going on. Fletcher was flicked away by Pearce as he rushed through, someone did something that was almost something but wasn't and then, in the eighth minute of time immemorial, we had what will go down in those history books that 70 year old fans of lower league teams write every so often as "the controversial incident".

I'm no doctor but as far as I am concerned a chest does not have five fingers attached. A corner was cleared beyond the far post to Devitt, who controlled it and knocked it back towards the centre. Herd approached, left arm raised above his head, right arm outstretched at 90 degrees, his body twisting towards the Pontoon. The ball hit his arm near the point of his elbow. Are we seeing what we wish to see? Was it our desperate mirage?

We can tell a referee from an elbow at 20 yards in clear daylight with an unobstructed view. The Pontoon could see it. The players could see it. The referee chose to imagine an alternate reality. He was in another land where the breeze and the trees and flowers, like his shirt and the words of Grimsby wisdom, were blue.

That was the end.

It was a cracking game for the neutral, with incidents and accidents and some fine individual skills displayed. Town were cohesive and committed, with some added potency on the wings and up front with Peacock, our own Captain Scarlet. If things weren't as they are, things would be fine. They still could be.