Sultans of Ping

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

9 October 2022

Grimsby Town 3 Crawley Town 0

Autumn's in the air, everywhere I look around, in every sight and every sound. Now I don't know if I'm being foolish, I don't know if I'm being wise, but it's time to put on a jumper. Which one? Pure new wool, and perfect stitches, not the type of jumper that makes you itch. Oh no.

Sun, sand and it's totally bland out there in Marinerland. There's yawns with their prawns up in the corporate shellzone as the rise and demise of the farcical Cryptocrawlers causes enervation in our nation. And all the while, deep down in the bowels of the Pontoon grown men chomp on their pre-match meal: Danny Bhunafield in a bap. How apt that it's the name of a replacement meat meal. Wouldn't we all prefer Macca's meat feast melt?

Football. Do we have to?

Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon, Holohan, Clifton, Keirnan, Khan, Maguire-Drew and Taylor. The substitutes were Pardington, Maher, Green, Hunt, Wearne, Orsi and Pepple. Yeah, whatever.

Crawley. Yeah, whatever. They play in red.

Football, I suppose we have to.

First half: Uninspired carpets

They, that is them, kicked off towards the Pontoon and the ball went out of play, either now or then. Does it matter when? It's always going out of play sometime soon this afternoon.

Tip, tap, slap, it's all rondos and roulades from the rolling redsters. Town? We prefer arctic rolls. Where's me spoon? Shall I change the tune?

Is this indoor league? Ha'pennies were shoved, and bags were telled. What is the object of this game? Taylor toppled and two Townites stood on the tee at the Thorpe Park par three, one waiting to pitch, the other to putt. To get a ball past wooden pins into a hole that is guarded by wooden pegs. Glennon plopped over the spinning tops and Addai stood and stared as long as sheep and cows, watching the squirrels hide their nuts in the grass as the ball dropped nicely into the mid-right corner.


Tippy-tappy, no-one happy-clappy as little Harry, being snippy and snappy, clipped straight at the keeper.

Shall we blame it on the bossa nova? Ah, poor Kev, standin' all alone, lookin' sad and shy, as his little red roosters began to dance, swayin' to and fro. And soon he knew they'd let him go if they carry on missing like this.

Like what? Like this.

Striped mayhem and a red corner headed widely wide by Chucky. A quick free kick with Efete a-sleeping and Chucky slapped straight at Max. Nadesan niddled and nurdled through slapsticks and Chucky's slap snuck off Smith's diving derriere. Big Tony Craig bigged a header bigly from the big corner.

Oh yes, Chucky Chukwuemeka. Give him a ball and a yard of grass, he'll give you a move with an imperfect pass. He's a nice young man with a lovely smile.

Moments, now and again, the illusion of movement. Less animation more stop motion capture. A Town corner hacked and honked, Efete slashed and missed, Maguire-Drew jinked and jived, dinked and Addai wasn't required to dive. What memories will we have of this game? Efete, all alone in the sunlight, diddling and fiddling by the nearest post as redsters lurked, dawdling as tips were tapped. He was not alone in his haze in this phase.

And then we had the curious incident of the linesman that wouldn't flag. Big dips and panic in the streets of North East Lincolnshire. Waterfall walloped against Smith's nose, the ball slathered off his smacker, against Chucky's shins and Telford slip-slided away. Gawps from the gaggle of Grimsby defenders who set off to surround sound the ref.  Give him his due, he listened to logic, marching off to his obdurate support act and insisted the flag arose. And everyone was happy.

Town? If God meant the game to be played up there he would've put goal posts in the air. A bit of something, almost, is as good as it got. Khan and Clifton hit the red wall, Holohan should have shot but didn't. Holohan shouldn't have shot, then did. Keirnan ran away, cut in and spluttered a daisy cutter to Addai. Passes underhit, crosses overhit, jokers to the left, clowns to the right. And here we are, stuck in the middle of the pitch, middle of the table, watching gruel.

And still they beat out their rhythm on their tambourines as Kev's little show ponies trotted around running rings around the moon. In the shadows of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand red triangles were triangulated, Efete's mind was addled and Chucky's cross-shot flew past the stretching toes of Telford.

Two minutes were added. Kiernan appeared to be chasing the ball at one point. The point of this? There is no point in analysing an empty jam jar. Crawley were a coached fantasy of pre-set passing and movement, empty ersatz exhibitionists lacking moral fibre. Town were striped somnambulists who could stay upright.


Second half: Where's me jumper?

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Would you feel pity if any of these dots started moving?

Waterfall entered the ministry of silly walks after Efete let the ball go over his head and, well, nothing really. From their corner Kiernan ran off and he simply failed, passing behind everyone to no-one. Is this it, is this the moment of connectivity? Taylor crossed, Big Bren stooped at the near post and Big Bren headed into the toilet. And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains of these moments in our lives - the sound of silence.

Pickets were pocked, Khan swished and swayed in the centre of the middle, caressing cutely 'twixt right-back and the flailing, ailing lumps of redness. The keeper came, the keeper stayed, Holohan roamed beyond the receding red wall and cutely passed inside the nearest post, in off Addai's tapping toes.

And on that bombshell Crawley changed their shorts. On came silly Tilley and Davis, a young man who has a full range of passing, for he can pass out of play over long distances. Marvellous.

You know, if God meant the game to be played up high he would've built pitches in the sky. There's still nothing but amateur kabaddi going off out there.

A throw most foul, an offside unseen and fun-size Toblerones in their Christmas stockings. Crawley crept up the left and Crocombe's expert texpert leap and lap diverted Telford's coil for a corner. Corners. They had corners. And what happened at these corners? They simply reminded us that Waterfall has a head.

Just past the hour Jogging Maguire-Drew was replaced by Green. In place of purposeless jogging we had purposeless hassling. Green chased the ball around like an eager but particularly dim puppy. At one point he even controlled the ball.

It's merely a game of who can kick the ball out of play quickest. Town will always win that game.

Occasionally there was hope of a better life. Holohan mugged a minion in the middle but life fizzled out as Kiernan headed for the nearest cul-de-sac. Taylor manwrestled his marker, sweetly rolling into the path of the unmarked Green. Alas our eager pup placed his shot against the last red sock on earth as the goal gaped beyond.

Are you interested in Kiernan's leg-up and booking? OK, here are the details. He legged someone up and got booked. And there's double subbing from both sides now. On came Pepple and Maher for Khan and Kiernan, with Town moving to three at the back.

The more they change the more things stay the same.

With five minutes left Clifton pumped and Pepple chased two Creepy Crawlies. Several sneezes later they all fell down and Taylor walked away apologetically to pass past Addai into the bottom right corner.

Never trust a goalkeeper wearing a short-sleeved shirt. They are not serious people.

And what next? Crawley crossed the ball, they missed the ball. That's all.

Three minutes were added during which Town tripled up on a short time-wasting corner that wasted no time at all, just annoyed everyone, including the ref who booked Taylor for Town's irrational timidity.

And now to bed.

Town barely vibrated, but it was more than enough against the central Sussex inter-school under-18 chess team. Crawley are a coached wet blanket. They look lovely, all pretty-pretty patterns but no oomph and no defensive organisation. Still, that's not our problem.

There is nothing to take from this but the win. It was one of those games where you really wished there had been a stiff breeze blowing some rubbish across the pitch. At least then there would have been something to watch.