Stormy Weather

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

16 February 2020

It's wild out there, wrap up warm.

A howling hurricane blew into, behind and across the hardy 63 Morecambites hiding in the Osmond. The old ground was singing and humming as the wind wobbled the corrugation and congregation. Blimey it's windy.

Town lined up initially in a shape-shifting 4-3-3 formation, as follows: McKeown, Hendrie, Waterfall, Pollock, Glennon, Whitehouse, Benson, Grandin, Vernam, Hanson, Clarke. The substitutes were Russell, Öhman, Garmston, Clifton, Tilley, Wright, Green. All change after the team building exercise in Essex; it's time for the big boys on a boggy pitch and blasting breeze. We don't want little Jimmy Tilley to fly off like Mary Poppins, we've only just been introduced.

What, no Kevin Ellison? Why, Derek Adams, you spoil us.

Let's get this over with and get home for tea.

1st half – Whistle down the wind
Town kicked off into the wind, towards the poor huddled lads and lasses from Shrimpland. After 10.23 seconds Pollock walloped the ball somewhere beyond the sea and hit the ships that go sailing.

Wibbles wobbled, dibs were dobbled and O'Sullivan swiped wide with McKeown diving simply for an unexpected gust that never arrived. Top Town tips were tapped, Glennon nibbled a nurdle nonchalantly and a Shrimper pounced on the whimper to swish to the D. Stockton swept around stray stripes and Jamie Mack's flying fingers flipped away from and over the top left corner. There were merely 63 mourners for the Morecambe corner.

Morecambites pressed up against Town's window staring and daring Town to give the ball an airing. A shrimp swept widely, a shrimp swept highly.

Town found a vortex through which to plough their furrowed brows. The Wolds Panther crept along the watchtower and a red leg stretched. Whitehouse's head arose before bigger heads and the ball skimmed across the aura of the crossbar.

A black bin liner tumbled along the touchline, rain curtains billowed beyond the halfway line, red shots, crosses, shot-crosses and cross-shots slapped and skipped through and stuck to McKeown. Time passed, so did Town. A long, long time ago in a far, far off land a man dressed in red did vertically wobble wide.

The shrimper squeeze eased as wind speeds rose and Grandin started to tidy up the mess, neatly and sweetly.

A modicum of Marinerdom as corners were lowly underpowered into nowhere – elevation's what you need if you want to be a record breaker. Slim Charles slimed through the spaces between friends, scratching a dribbler lowly and Mafoumbi shoveled away through the avenues and alleyways. Hendrie impersonated the Wolds Panther and slathered lowly from the same spot. Mafoumbi scooped up the ice cream.

Wind, rain, rainy wind, let's draw the rain curtains.

No added time as the ref couldn't wait to get inside for a cuppa. Perishing it was and his toupee was a-flapping.

A decent game of football considering the conditions, unfortunately mostly from them, who fortunately declined to shoot straight. Morecambe had worked out how to suppress Town at source - the old leave-it-to-the-centre-backs ruse. No damage reported, adjustments needed.

2nd half – The winds of change
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Sheets of rain swirling, curling in from the west and the east, there is no peace. It's in your face both ways as Town kicked both into and away from the wind.

Town need more verve, more Vernam.

Vroom-vroom, shake the room. A big drip from the left dropped vertically with hands and feet a-flapping inside the six-yard box. Mafoumbi missed his punch, the ball squiggled beyond and Vernam volleyed through the red wall. Mafoumbi was nut-megged, a red knee knocked off the line against their right-hand post, rebounding onto a red chest and back into the confusion of red socks. Mafoumbi turned around and, as if by magic, the ball was at his feet, so he picked it up.

Clarke za-zoomed and boomed longly from somewhere near Wonderland. The ball skimmed across the grass like an air hockey puck, gliding off the faintest of red toes a foot beyond the left post. The corner? I have nothing to report but Town's genius for wasting our time.

Ebbs flowed, and flows ebbed. A huge hurl curled and swirled into Town's penalty area as stripes sought sanctuary. A mess, a muddle and a red boot blimped into to the sidest of nettings. Hendrie slurped at a hanging basket and a Shrimper slithered away, way away down the right, scuttling to the bye-line, scraping a cross-shot across the face of goal. A red foot slid, a red foot missed, Glennon almost scraped away and the rain curtains descended to draw a veil over that plot development.

Town corners, Town pressure, Town shots potted meat. Whitehouse highly, Benson skipping off red shins safely into the keeper's midriff. Benson bashed a free kick from outer space and a stray shrimper wafted a leg as it passed by. The corner shortened, the cross craftily coiled and Pollock glanced freely wide at the nearest post.

Half way through the half Green replaced Whitehouse and Town moved overtly to 4-4-2. Green fouled near the Police Box, they fouled up the free kick. Clarke swept the clearance magnificently crossfield from the half way line deep, deep into the depths of their penalty area using the various vortexes to befuddle the keeper, who stuttered like Norman Collier. Will he, won't he? Won't he, will he? Hanson ran and ran and ran, blown forward with the wind beneath his wings. Blown on like a transatlantic airliner, arriving five minutes before he left. Mafoumbi apologised as he bowed and Hanson delicately dinked from a narrow angle way out, and the ball nestled nicely into the bottom left side netting.

Fire up the Vernamator! Dribbling, wibbling, poking wide, sent free by A Burnleyboy and mesmerising his three markers with his dancing feet. Slim Charles stepped infield and coiled around the keeper, but Lavelle's big bonce glanced away for a wasted corner.

Wasted it was, but only wasted as far as Hendrie, who surged in from the South Atlantic and bazookered from nearer the half way line. The ball wibbled vertically and Mafoumbi leapt rightly to spectacularly parry aside.

Morecambe threw on triplets, half their subs bench, for the last 15 minutes. Sports scientists would call that a marginal gain.

And a marginal gain for us, for now they only doubled up on The Wolds Panther. Vernam drifted through the Shrimping saplings, bending in the wind to curl around yellow fingers and the far post. Oh, and Stockton slapped safely over after a cha-cha-cha.

With ten minutes left Little Harry replaced Grandin. Grandin, Grandin, you're lovely, that's what we all think of you. For when he retires from football he’s going to open a drapers shop in the fashionable part of some unfashionable town called Neat & Tidy.

Vernam's face was hugged by an alien, but he wasn't put in quarantine as protocol demands. A free kick to Town, a handful of yards beyond the right corner of the Morecambe penalty area. Benson sized up the joint, the three man wall jumped and Cooney raised an elbow, deflecting the ball in a crazy parabola, up, up and away. Mafoumbi stood motionless, the ball drooped and dropped into the top left corner off the face of the crossbar. What a farce, Cooney had nudge-nudge, wink-winked for Town.

At this Clarke was replaced by Tilley. And we all sat back and relaxed, working out how many ifs there are to the play-offs.

Three minutes were added. Oh, it seems that there are only seven ifs to the play-offs. What? What's going off down there?

Town passed amongst themselves to run down the clock, back and forth across the back four. And The Shrimping schemes finally hit gold as Waterfall shinned woefully across the penalty area. The ball hung up, blew back and McKeown flipped away from a stray stranger's head near the penalty spot. A free kick, a yellow card and Phillips snickered a snorter through the crumbling wall.

And that was that.

Given the wild wind howling inconsistently through the old home town, it was an excellent game of football between two perfectly adequate teams trying to play football. Morecambe were professional enough to smother Town in the first half, Town were professional and patient enough to adjust and drive past the temporary roadworks.

The game turned when Town went to 4-4-2, with Grandin and Benson looking a very solid central midfield, and striped wingery causing minor havoc.

Passing…movement…4-4-2…pride…passion…how very last century.