Let's go fly a kite

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 November 2018

Northampton Town 2 Grimsby Town 2

The wind's in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin. Can't put my finger on what lies in store, but I feel what's to happen has happened before…

A still, grey afternoon with seven hundred be-hatted and be-coated marching Mariners bewitched by the moon arising behind a giant lift tower on the outskirts of some midland town.

Cue the oompah band.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, wilkommen to Northampton, the rose of the shires. Thanks, but we've brought our own Roses.

Town lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, David, Collins, Fox, Embleton, Hessenthaler, Clifton, Pringle, Vernam and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Whitmore, Welsh, Woolford, M Rose, A Rose and Cardwell. Who was where and where was what? Vernam was sort of behind and near Thomas and there were four little men in the middle. Nothing new to report.

There are three men and a dog watching up on the hill beyond. We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can't do without. I’m not thinking of JJ Hooper, are you?


Indeed sir. Let's arise above the trite and eschew shoe-based punning. Them purple people looked bigger and brawnier than us. Hey, what's new pussycat?

It's showtime.

First half: A man has dreams

Town kicked off away from the mass of Marinerdom.

Rolling the ball, rolling the ball, Danny Collins underhit a back-pass. Rolling the ball, rolling the ball, arriving at an inconvenient moment them heavy people hit Town in a soft spot. Slow-cooked lambs to the slaughter. Fox stretched and swiped to stud away for a corner, hit beyond and noddled back. Town in a tither, but saved by the flagging linesman.

Fox flagging, Town need lagging. A corner muggled to the near post, sliced up by a local, headed on and on by successive percussive home heads. Slapstick, slapdash, static scaredypants stripes and, alone beyond the far post, wily Williams slapped a volley highly.

A lot of this and even more of that, but not a lot from Town. Take out the word not. Dreadful dummies, a collection of calamitous corpses, an absence of body and soul, Town were dead leaves billowing across the pitch, barely an inconvenience for bikers, strikers and hitch-hikers.

Balls bounced, purple-people pounced, Town were trounced as Cobblers awaited their ounce of flesh. Holes, balls, bouncing, flouncing and Van Veen vas vlocked. Vimless, vacuous, vapid.

A free kick dripping, Cobblers slipping away and sipping at the water's edge. Toes dipped as balls were whipped and McKeown nipped the buds from these roses.

Once upon a time there was a small boy who crossed feebly to the near post after Little Harry had been cute. Just once.

And the holes in the string vest just get bigger. Their left wing-backer Buchanan surged behind hapless Hendrie and slapped narrowly. Jamie Mack flew low and right to finger-palm into the side netting. A corner, half not cleared and pressure, pressure, pressure. Foley surged, Foley sliced, Taylor turned and Davis swiped. The man in the maroon fell spectacularly and the ball rolled out of play. The linesman gave a throw-in – to Town. A right hullaballoo of howling and scowling.

It could be worse, it should be worse, could Town get any worse?

Hapless, helpless, hopeless.

A funny thing happened on the way to half time. Town did something. On the half-hour Slim Charles Vernam swished and swayed down and up the right, cut in and snickered slowly welly-welly-wide.

Something is brewing, it's about to begin.

Well, well, we haven't been as shocked and stunned since Leggy Mountbatten took a teaching job in Australia.
Northampton? Shocked. And stunned

Ah, but not quite yet. More marooning and a deeply dripped dunk from their right. The ball arced archly into the very centre of the penalty area as Buchanan sneaked betwixt and between his non-markers, stretching a toe or two. McKeown awaited and sighed to his right to pluck the drooper, arose immediately to fling outwards and off Town broke. Pinged right to left, Thomas tickled and Pringle dingled a dangle beyond the far post. Vernam waited, chested down inside and past a maroon man mountain, sweeping lowly and leftly under the keeper.

Well, well, we haven't been as shocked and stunned since Leggy Mountbatten took a teaching job in Australia.
Northampton? Shocked. And stunned.

From the off they wilted, with an identikit Town attack, little men scurrying in the spaces between friends. Right to left, left to right, Vernam swung lowly, Hessenthaler stooped and his glancing header glanced into an accidental maroonite on its way into the emptied nettage.

We're stunned. And shocked.

Cobbling higgles and piggles, disconcerted by Town tweaking, discombobulated by Town attacking. There's things half in shadow, things half in light, the Marooners' marauding receding into the night.

A couple of minutes were added and Northampton nobbled ever onwards, ever upwards. A holy commotion as holes appeared on the right. A clippy chip and Williams arose six yards out, dead centre, to guide the ball back to the bottom right corner. McKeown adjusted his feet, his body, his centre of gravity to plunge low and right to flick on to the inside of the post. The ball bounced up and along the line, but Danny Collins arrived to whack away and clean away any stains.

You have to say that's Maccanificent.

The whistle blew and Mitch Rose ran on to the pitch to hug and hail Jamie Macc as the Town seven hundred serenaded the striped stopper with a hymn to his handiwork.

From being holograms of hopelessness, Town managed to cobble together parity with the Cobblers. A tweak here, a couple of passes there; it just shows that puny persistence goes a long, long, long, long way.

You've got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone.

Second half: Jolly holiday

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Northampton yawned straight back into Town with some intense inertia and enervating ennui. Marvellous, Town can cope with the honey-glazed carrot of complacency.

Infiltrations and deliberations as Town began to tick along nicely with Little Harry a prominent prong nibbling at their toes. Deliberations and a lack of infiltration as Embleton fell and a free kick dissolved into the night.
After ten minutes of nice noodling, Northampton whipped off a wandering full-back and moved to three at the back. Excellent, doctor. More space for our little men to stroll into. A Pringle high droopy loop was flip-flopped for a corner from the angle of post and bar. Let's skip past the corner: it lacked sustained dramatic interest, or a punchline.

An accumulation of moments of slithering slippyness and Cobbling sloppiness, Town's crisps were browning nicely. I do love the whirling of dervishes: space on the flanks, Pringle dingle dangling, the beauty of rare innocence.

Them? A couple of long, long, long forgotten shots and crosses and that are less of an anecdote than cutting the lawn.

A-ha, we're getting serious now, for it's Triple Harry Time. On came Cardwell for Thomas. Within a minute Cardwell had headed some fairy liquid into the keeper's soft squelchy hands.

How inconvenient, how rude. The hosts want to play their own records on the record machine. One-two-three-four, down he falls upon the floor. A Clifton clip, a maroon free kick, and Dick Van Veen va-voomed an out-swerving dip over the wall, across McKeown and into the bottom right corner.

Pringle dinked a slow coiler, Davis headed down, the ball rolled off maroon legs across the face of the goal and Cardwell calmly tapped in from a couple of yards out, to be consumed by a hundred anoraks

Mumbling and grumbling about their tumbling but who you gonna call in our hour of need? We need Ahkeem Rose, we need Ahkeem Rose. And we have Ahkeem Rose, replacing Vernam as Jolley did heed the call: now just give him the ball.

When the day is grey and ordinary, Ahkeem makes the sun shine bright.

Muscular muscling, a spin and sprint. Down the boy went at the left corner flag. Pringle dinked a slow coiler, Davis headed down, the ball rolled off maroon legs across the face of the goal and Cardwell calmly tapped in from a couple of yards out, to be consumed by a hundred anoraks.

Northampton? Shocked… and stunned.

Back Town roared, slicing and dicing, flicking and nicking, robbing and a little sobbing as Hessenthaler caressed a cross from the right. Rose arose six yards out and firmly bonked over, with Davis arising and awaiting higher behind. The goal kick was wellied downfield, flicked on and Collins slipped. Van Veen fell to the floor behind. Out came the red card, over went the free kick and Whitmore came on for Pringle.

Furious flinging and spurious slinging from the homesters just gave Town goal kicks. A free kick was shallowly, callowly clipperty-clopped to Jamie Mack and four minutes were added.

And Town laid siege to the Town goal. Our Town. Rose won another free kick after a bit of hoo-hahing and a weird mis-hit volley spindled to Cornell. Cardwell massaged the ball into the corner and Marooners wellied out for a striped corner.

And that was that, the game ended without a last fling.

Well, what a cracking second half. The maroon marauders were morose at having meandered into a muddle in the middle of this match, but it was their own fault for cruising at altitude. Jolley beat Curle at chess. Or rather Jolley played chess, Curle played draughts.

The heart still beats, and our little boys were persistent in standing up for themselves. This Town are growing up.