Do Eccentric Sheep Dream of Grimsby Town?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

29 October 2017

A bright clear day in the Stadium of Snores with a wicked wind blowing into the faces of the 200 Campunters hiding in plain sight in the Osmond. Why are you here? Surely there's a poetry recital in a quiet quad that'll float your boat? Oh look, a crisp packet. Plain crisps. Life's too short for plain football. Why are we here, don't the real Grimsby Town play next Tuesday?

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows McKeown, Davies, Clarke, Collins, Dixon, Dembele, Berrett, Summerfield, Woolford, Vernon and Jones. The substitutes were Killip, Mills, K Osborne, Kelly, DJ Jinky, Cardwell and Hooper. Sladeball, you fill me with inertia.

Cambridge? Ikpeazu is huge, Legge is long, Forde is fattening for Christmas.

Deep in the deepest recesses of the Pontoon the percussion section had a band practice. Was that Queen with a little bossa-nova underbeat? We Will, We Will Mock You. Dave Boylen is still alive, so we clapped and Chairman John burst out of a cake. Happy Birthday, Mr Resident of Grimsby.

Do you really want to know what happened next?

1st half – The gruesome twosome of tosh

The game did start with one of the players in one of the teams kicking the ball to another player in the same team. Then he kicked it out of play. Does it matter who and where? It doesn't matter anymore. We're stuck in an interminable groove, like an indecisive jazz pianist waiting for midnight.

Ooh, hang on, a thing. Jones hassled the tasselled and tousled Legge downwind, then spun round and round like a record on the far right of their penalty area, waiting for a friend. Friendless but fearless, Jones carefully coiled a creeper around the rotunda in goal. The ball hit the inside of the far post, bounced across the face of goal and… and we settled back into our comfortable haze of soft mid-table rage.

Air, wind and balls. Men chasing rainbows. Dembele was slaughtered from behind when flying free and the referee whistled down the wind.

Dixon rubbishness: weak, wafty, woeful and then some unrubbishness. Clarke watched balls drop, balls bounce and suffered a mugging by the chugging Chick Pea. There were moments when concern was expressed, but then Chick Pea fell over his own contradictions.

Balls and windy wafts into the lofts of Harrington Street.

Ooh Jones again. A shot. Fatty Forde's boots were made for walking and walking's what they did to flicker aside. Pressure at our leisure with Summerfield corners from the covered corner drooping into the near post thricely, twicely nicely causing panic in hearts and minds. Forde mushed and pushed and shovelled over and out from the goal-line. Summerfield swept, Vernon glanced from afar and Fatty Forde flew right to fantastically fist away.

Then Woolford took the corners. Please go back to sleep, the daydream is over. Time for the recurring nightmare of nonsense non-football: the stolid, stale stinkyness of Sladeball II.

I was reading a file at work this week and a law enforcement officer ordered a man to "please stand away from the wig". That's a true story. Unfortunately, so is this game.

Mingoia was felled by a full-face thwack during five seconds of farce. Chick Pea Soup dribbled down Town's tatty tuxedo, and dribbled out of play. How can a man so large be so nimble and as delicate as a thimble?

Hey, isn't that the theme from Hawaii Five-O? Or the Star-Spangled Banner? I always get those two mixed up.

Against the walk of play these Canterpunting counter attackers almost scored. Town's creakers croaked and a Dixonless space was filled with fluorescence. To the bye-line and a cross rolled back to the unmarked hugeness, seven yards out, Chick Pea Soup scruffled against his own ineptitude and the ball crawled in embarrassment across the face of goal and wide, wide and wide of the right post.

Whenever, whatever, whoever, why did we ever bother? Minutes of motionless muddling, and a bunch of barging budgerigars fell over. Free kicks that were kicked freely. Long chucks chucked longly and icky Chicky Dupiaza overheaded a limp-limbed muffler into McKeown.

Three minutes were added for the gaiety of the nation and to this half of eventual hopelessness. For 17 minutes occasional things happened and people stayed awake. It was all a dream, wasn't it.

2nd half – It's very cruel to feed us gruel

No changes were made by either team at half time.

Town almost did something. But didn't. While the black and white gallows humour flowed down the stands, the ball moved up the right, was crossed and went round and round and round and round and round and round and round in dispiriting spirals and finally down the plughole. We're through the looking glass and Grimsby Road is paved with cheese.

I sat next to a man who'd been given a free ticket. He wanted his money back. He wanted his life back. You won't get it. He won't be back.

Days passed, unlike the players. Slapstick, slipshod slicing and shoddy shanks. I hear footsteps slowly walking. It must be Martyn Woolford. Jones tickled, Dembele dribbled around Fatty Forde and clipped across the face of the open goal as old men got older nearby.

It was like watching concrete set. Concrete that had already set, ten years ago. And then been dug up and chucked in a skip.

Windy you say. Yes, I know, but you don't have to kick the ball in the air.

Sleep. Sleep. I know that they're only sleeping. A fluorescent flouncer freed and McKeown marvellously finger-flipped lowly to save the day, on the hour.

A change, it had to come, we knew it all along. Hooperman on for Jones, to a chorus of disapproval, the crowd making the exact noise Jones' face was pulling.

Vernon chased a swirl, slipped, skidded, and cleared with his back, all in one perfect movement that summed up his and our afternoon of entertainment.

Dembele suddenly swept and, well, it was something: a shot, inches over. And that was it. That was the shot, and he was off in a shot. We wanted to shoot Russ as Dembele was replaced by DJ Jinky to a symphony of shrieking.

Tepidity, timidity, Town inanity. Cambridge clamping, Cambridge corners, Summerfield grazed on, Davies swayed off the line. Flipping and flapping and a crackerjack flashed across the face of goal, and Clarke headed away from the line at the far post. More leftish absence and Chick Pea skiffled lowly and the ball skimpily skipped away off McKeown's stiff little fingers.

Three further minutes were added. I’m sorry, I give up on this trash. We used to love them, but it's all over now. I have one question to ask: was James Berrett on the pitch?

They wasted our time, they wasted their own time: what a waste of time.