GT Confidential: Mansfield (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

1 January 2011

Grimsby Town 7 (SEVEN) Mansfield Town 2 (NOT SEVEN)

Under a blood-grey sky a crowd gathered in black and white seats with around 500 souls staggering over from Mansfield to be penned into the covered corner. All was quiet on New Year's Day in the empty Osmond.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Arthur, Wood, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Bore, Sinclair, Cummins, Coulson, Connell, Ademeno. The substitutes were Croudson, Garner, Hudson, Eagle and Peacock. The contract rejectionists both played and just one person roused himself to heckle Cap'n Bob a bit. The rest was silence and that was a corned beef bap, not a sausage roll.

Mansfield turned up in a slightly distasteful orangey-yellow and blue striped shirt. A bit too lurid for us east coast sophisticates, far too garish and gaudy. They used to look so elegant in plain yellow shirts. They had a big bloke up front and a little chappie scuttling around at his shins; Duffy being Lady Penelope to Parker's Parker. No-one noticed or remembered Simon Grand, just one of a cast of a thousand bridging loans as our house collapsed.

Let's go through the round window.

First half: Gift vouchers and a flaming tumbler of sambuca
One of the teams kicked off, with Town defending the Pontoon. Bang-bang-bang! Block-block-block! Bore was sweetened behind the full-back; Cummins shot, Connell shot, someone else shot. Shots, shots, shots galore and all in the first minute. Mmm, lovely taster.

Wood shoved a bananaman; in curled in a free kick. Nothing. Sinclair slipped or karate-kicked Murray. A yellow card by the yellow ref.

Let's go!

Pacey, pacey, pacey Town! Rip-roaring Town, they're so dull, come on rip 'em to shreds! Coulson pickled, a defender tickled, Ridley hurtled and hurled a quick throw. Connell bounded away, volleyed a cross and Bore at the back post swished in from a handful of yards out. Five minutes gone.

Sinclair sneaked and tweaked to Coulson. The full-back was roasted and posted to his auntie in Morocco. Coulson side-stepped infield and fliggled a shot against a thigh, the ball swingling inside the near post as Pilkington wrestled with his id. Six minutes gone and so have Town, into the night with a glass of champagne and a top hat at a jaunty angle.

Oops, they've come back. Duffy duffled Kempson's coat and the ball bumbled into the D. Briscoe pirouetted and, with hardly any backlift, thrapped a stonking shot an inch or so over the bar. Hmm, maybe we'd need a third to secure a point.

What happened next? I know what you're thinking, but to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost count of Town's chances. Was that five shots or six by Town? Given that Alan Connell is the most powerful goalscoring machine in the Blue Square world Mansfield had to ask themselves one question: did they feel lucky?

They were. Cummins stepped forward, and Connell swizzled and scrimpled across Pilkington, who finger-scraped away. Kempson rose and shone a grazing header wide. Bore tore forward and spanked straight at the keeper. Stepover, stepover and Bore zoomed down the middle, but Pilkington slid out to deny the crowd the perfect goal. Connell hooky-volleyed from 30 yards, Connell swingy-volleyed from 20 yards, and there was more, much more of this and that, passing and movement with Town all a blur at this most wonderful, wonderful time of the year.

Oh Charles, Charles, one day you will score, we don't want you to be the new Tony Daws. Coulson skinned his rabbit and baked a cake for Charles, who turned and burned a rising shot against the bar from a dozen yards out.

It was beautiful, it was sublime, it was only 2-0.

In the 3First minute Mansfield had a cross. Ker-ching! Kempson managed to schwing it away.

Connell was felled by a forearm, unseen by the officials. Sinclair was attacked by a turbo-charged excavator and sent spinning like a top into the stratosphere. Just a booking for Madam Murray. Connell was upended somewhere and they took it in turns to whack Sinclair. Wood was walloped and play continued. On and on the smalltown brawling went, with Mansfield playing like they'd just been thrown out of the pub for unnecessary rowdiness and eating the plastic flowers. They should remember that a professional ain't a psychopath.

With a couple of minutes left, some gaudily clad chap swamped a high, swirling, lofty nonsense ball of hope into the Town penalty area. Atkinson waited, but Kenny Fingers sent a billet-doux inviting him to desist from considering attending to the matter. While Atkinson wondered what the heck he was on about Big Duffy trundled between them and noodled over the dilatory keeper.

Silly, stupid. A mistake. Typical Town.

In added time Ridley ambled onto the touchline with his foot on the ball and slowly turned back infield. A forty-ton lorry arrived, honking its horn and crashing Ridley into the ditch as he turned cartwheels 'cross the floor. We all felt a little sick and the crowd called out for war. Eventually Briscoe was only booked for the attempted hit and run.

And the half ended with Mansfield players huggling around the referee demanding he protect them from the barbarous locals. Irony is not dead then.

Now that was something. Whatever next?

Second half: Apes, ivories and Lee Peacocks
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Mansfield came out with a kick and a rush to hush the locals. Biff! Arthur scooped up a Briscoe crossy-shot. Baff! Someone headed over from right in front of Kenny Fingers. Town sat back on the edge of their own area as the Staggers stomped and humped crosses to mitigate their losses.

And then Town broke away - all was well with the world.

Coulson mingled and tingled down the left, teasing for Sinclair, who was felled in the area. The ball ran loose to Connell, who was felled in the area. The ball squirted back towards Sinclair on the deep left. He arose and calmly rolled across to the unmarked Bore at the back post, who swished in from a handful of yards out. And we've got a handful of songs to sing you SPB. New songs and blue songs and songs that bring you happiness, but only if you sign a contract. No more, no less.

A swirl of monochrome, a New Year's Day waltz-fest around the Staggering statues. Connell flumped a free kick straight at the wall after Supercharged Charles was toppled. Coulson spun and flicked and was upended on the edge of the box as Bore was released behind the defence. The crowd bayed at the injustice than brayed in delight as Connell coiled the free kick over, around and into the top left corner as Pilkington shrunk below. Hang on, how many is that now? And still 35 minutes left. Get those slippers on and pass the port.

Woah, hang on sloopy. Flippin' 'eck lad! Briscoe biffed in a tremendous bazooka, straight into the top right corner from an angle, way, way out. If we want to be picky he shouldn't be on the pitch and the pass he got was from a free kick that was taken from the wrong place. Nah, let's not be picky. 'Twas a perfectly struck shot and, sat in the future reading about the past, we can be relaxed and magnanimous.

At this Peacock replaced Supercharge. We're gonna need a bigger boat! Town hung on, scrapping and scraping for ten rather desperate minutes of scrimping and limping as Mansfield bonked high and Town waited and waited and waited on the edge of their own penalty area. The Nottinghamshire nobblers had replaced tiny, irritating but ineffective Parker with Big Beefy Connor and the old script was being read out loud. Fingers frayed, nerves knocked, knees were bitten, and then we were smitten as SPB sha-zoomed and sha-zayed in an adorable giant slalom down the snowless slopes of Mount Mansfield.

The cow bells clonked and Bore went this way and that, wrapping his full-back in tinfoil and baking at gas mark 5, before slashing towards the near post from a narrow angle. Pilkington expected the cross and flung up a hand to punch away for a corner. Ridley riddled the corner, Murray mumbled on at the near post and Kempson cuffed an arcing header into the top right side of the net as the keeper wiggled his fingers.

Now, this is getting rather pleasant. That's five now, isn't it. Yep, five.

Eagle replaced Coulson, just to add some crafty style. And stylishly crafty he was, linking and dinking with Connell to set up the leaning power of Peacock to shave a curling volley millimetres over the bar. Peacock back-heeled, Connell stepped over, Bore was denied by the boot of last hope. And then they ran off around Kenny Fingers and someone, probably Kempson, cleared off the line. Hmmm, perhaps we need that killer sixth. What better way to guarantee a sixth goal than replace Sinclair with Hudson? Indeed, and that is exactly what happened.

Connell plunged to earth after turning Grand 20 or so yards out, straight dead middle of the pitch. Pilkington ran left, ran right, shouted and shouted again at his wall but continued to not so much make saves as do the sprinkler dance towards the ball. Connell mesmerised his victim with a sultry curling shot into the top right corner.

Get out your dancing shoes, the Man is on the run. Just dream, just imagineer the last 20 minutes. Town went in search of the perfect goal with dummies and hippy-hippy shakes. Peacock back-heeled into Connell's flightpath. Ooh nearly. Connell back-heeled to Bore. Oooooh, nearly. Just say ooooooooooooh.

As Cleethorpes was cleared of Nottinghamshire-registered motor vehicles the cream on top of the cherry on top of the icing on top of the marzipan was gorged upon. Yum-yum. A glorious sweep of imperious swagger flowed towards the Pontoon. On the left, below the Findus stand, without hesitation but in repetition, Connell let the ball drop and back-heeled a flick to Peacock, who caressed a perfect pass into the electric Bore's path. One touch, one shot, one more hat-trick to the enigmatic winger and career flinger. Hohhh, suits you sir. Suits you.

Now, it's Connell's turn. Another free kick crawled micrometres over the crossbar, a bicycle kick wide, a stooper-looper-blooper way over and that was the game that was, better than the rest.


Welcome to the newly opened Fleur de Lys club: it was everything you desire. Town really did look like the stars.