Contagion: Luton (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

21 October 2011

Grimsby Town 0 Luton Town 1

What happens when bad players happen to mad support? We need to talk about Grimsby - a nihilistic tale of guilt and horror coming to a non-league ground far away from you.

Nearly 200 Hatters were full of hollow laughter down in the Osmond on a stillish, temperate evening of darkness and postprandial perambulations in the Pontoon. There is no buzz within the ground, barely a low hum of indifference from the remnants of the tattered retreating army.

This Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Silk, Kempson, I'Anson, Wood, Coulson, Disley, Church, Makofo, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were Pearson, Artus, Eagle, Spencer and Duffy. The merry-go-round goes round and round, the black and the white blurring into grey. There are only shades of grey. Wood at left back, I'Anson hauled out of the classroom and still the other meandering misfits muddling through. Perm any eight from ten, eyes down, fingers on the buzzer, your starter for ten.

First half: These Things Take Time
Town might have kicked off but they definitely attacked the Osmond in theory. In theory light is a wave and a particle. We saw no light for ten minutes, so the theory was irrelevant.

It was all them.

Luton tipped and tapped and were dancing in the moonlight with James Dance on their right. Wood blocked, chopped and flopped as the soft-shoe shuffler hoppity-hopped and popped up crosses. Town had aspirations to eventually rise to the heights of second best in this game as the orangers blurred around them. A-ha! Two wingers winging.

Tic-tac-toe ender! Luton leapfrogged on Town's left, Fleetwood bestumbled through the centre and flickered straight at McKeown's gloves from near the penalty spot. There was much huffling and shuffling as the ball was removed from the immediate vicinity of the goal. A corner, a free header and Kovacs mumbled at McKeown from a few yards out.

Luton this and Luton that, all orange crushes and orange cordial invites to watch them party. Fleetwood rocked and roamed, twisting and turning with grace and as a favour didn't shoot. The question on no-one's lips was "would we rather Jack Lester than Fleetwood's Mac?" One has to distract oneself with tortuous pap-culture shoe horns these days.

I'Anson stationed himself perfectly to intercept crosses and mauled his man. Who is his man, man? I'm not your man. Then wham, it hit us. This mysterious monster moving among faces in the crowded penalty area was the creature from an old black and white lagoon… it's Tommy Wrong. Tommy was terrible for Town, and wasn't up to much for the Town of Orange.

And then a funny thing happened. Luton stopped being embarrassingly superior, just comfortable in their slippers. Or maybe Town stopped being so cringing and misshapen. Coulson ran and ran and ran down the right. No Townite was near, nor far, so a cross was slung to where someone would have been if they were. They still weren't, but Makofo emerged from his magic invisibility cloak to retrieve and fiddle and jig way, way away near the covered corner. Who knows, who cares what happened next - it may have involved an attempt by Church to dunk his biscuit in the cold tea of Town's heritage passing museum - but it came to a climax with Hearn doing the irrepressible Hearn 'runaround now, kids' routine. He ran around and through and over and past and waffled lowly across Tyler, who flicked away as Elding waddled to the far post. That was nearly something.

The game moved on apace, with nothing happening but a lot of busy-bodying about. It wasn't dull, even if nothing had appeared to happen. Oh, Elding volleyed from 30 yards. There was no rufflage in the Luton barbershop quartet: Tyler had no trouble oozing out the low note.

More moving about by men in the middle. The game was almost distracting us from important discussions on the cheapest place to buy breakfast cereals.

Kempson proved that an orang-utan wrote Troilus and Cressida using an iPad by sweeping a long hoof directly into the warpath of Elding, the flying chorizo. So flustered were the Bedford pans that Grimsby Town players actually, factually controlled the football and passed it three times to each other. It all ended, as all Grimsby fairytales do, with the Makofonator swizzling behind the defence and doing some sort of low flapperjack that hits someone near goal but never, ever considers entering the net.

The fruits of Serge's labour: nothing. Jacob Grimm survived his brother by nearly four years, and was working on the word Frucht when he collapsed at his desk. See, fruit is dangerous. FACT!

And then Town's desk collapsed as Fleetwood bumbled and rumbled with a Scottish country dance through the middle of the Town defence. As he turned a third time McKeown leapt and fingertipped aside the poke from the bloke.

These were the moments that can be recalled. In between there was just men and their motors. Luton were in a camper van, Town in a charabanc. There was parity, if not clarity of purpose from the homesters.

Parity on down, dudes. That'd do.

Second half: What Difference Does it Make?
Neither side made any changes at half time.

Seconds. Minutes. Whole lifetimes for the more ephemeral lepidoptera passed before anyone passed the ball. They may have crossed it, for there is the dimmest of memories of McKeown's gloves gleaming against the ball in the floodlights. Call Mystic Mick, we need those soothing sayers, not the nay-sayers. Wait… wait. I can see it now… Disley. He was moving towards us… the ball was at his feet… no, gone.

Now, is there a Wayne in the dressing room?

They had a free kick. Dance dipped it high and wide. It might have been close, it probably wasn't. It got the Mad Hatters oohing while we were snoozing.

Near the hour Eagle replaced the Sergeanator, to much satisfaction. But we all know that satisfaction isn't guaranteed on Town's tragical history tour (spoiler alert). Eagle participated appropriately twice, and these details shall be revealed to you exclusively in this media outlet. The rest of the time he lived down to his detractors' expectations by planting shrinking violets in Town's allotment.

In between the voids there was space. Between the space there were moments. Not magic moments, just moments. Coulson ran and ran and ran and ran and poked straight at Tyler when others were free and willing. They had a shot. It went over. Eagle mis-flighted a glider, retrieved and flicked Hearn into an orange chasm near the burger van. The Nottingham gnasher gnawed at his marker, bulldozed into the area and bullwhipped a low drive to the near post. Tyler spectacularly, but easily, parried away for a corner.

A corner. Forget it.

Oh, they headed over. Oh, they‘ve scored. About time too, we've been waiting all night for this.

Luton did some vague attacking and Town sort of cleared in a halfway to paradise sort of way. There was hibbling and there was bibbling outside the Town penalty area, with the ball dinked over the top, skidding towards the bye-line on the right. I'Anson put his hand in the air and no-one did the locomotion. As static as a caravan, as rigid as a juggernaut, clench your fists, point your knuckles straight ahead. Town's defence tried to look like a teddy bear, pretending to look vertically dead. An orangeman chased, stopped the ball on the bye-line, turned and chippled into the middle of the six-yard box. Kempson sighed nearby as Tommy Wrong bumped into the ball, diverting it into the net off the crossbar.

Do you hear that sound? Exactly. Nothing. The silent bell tolled for club and county.

Duffy replaced Elding and won a few headers. So what. Tyler tipped an Eagle free kick over for a corner. It was going over anyway: the presentation of a corner was a tactical decision by Luton. There is no better way to launch a counter-attack on Town than concede a corner. Coulson curled a free kick around the wall and Tyler, almost with disdain, parried away. That was all. That was the sum total of Town's intense bombardment. Spirit? Buy it from the offie down the road - they've sold out of it at Blundell Park. We don't know when new stock will arrive.

Luton brought on John Paul George and Ringo Kissock, the Messi of the Midlands and he amused some with his scampy scurrying. To waste some more time Luton proved conclusively that they are not too orangey for Danny Crow by allowing him more precious moments on his field of dreams.

Town? Let's get right to the point. We don't pop our corks for every guy we see. The minute he walked in the joint, Luton could see he was a man of distinction, the real Big Spencer: so clobbered him immediately. There were no further occurrences or events to note. This game just putrefied into a non-existence.

It was the reaction to the expected that really dismayed. There is nothing new to say any more. Win, lose, sun or rain, night or day, home or away, it is the same plot that is being lost. For those who watched on TV, has this night opened your eyes?

Mundane, miserable, mediocre, of marginal importance: Mariners.