Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
2 January 2023
Under a pale, wan sky a crowd has gathered in black and white, and a bit of blue. Will something change on New Year's Day? In town? Does anything change in Grimsby?
Back again, back home, back in the land of non-belief where shadows are tapping at the window, ghastly voices a-hollering at Holohan. A resolution or revolution, has Hurst got a real solution? Well, you know, we'd all love to see a plan.
Town lined up in a 3-4-2-1, sometimes 5-4-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Maher, Efete, Green, Holohan, Amos, Clifton, Khan and McAtee. The substitutes were Glennon, Morris, Hunt, Keirnan, Scannell, Orsi and Richardson. Three at the back, five at the back, wing-backs, a front three, a single striker? Let's say New Town for a New Year were flexible and fluid, a bit like the pitch. When you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count Hurst out.
There's a big presence from the boys in blue, the boys to entertain you. And some Stickpot supporters too. Well, there's more than Salford brought, that counts as big doesn't it? We took five hundred more to them, so does that make us MASSIVE? Err, massive whats?
Ah yes, talking of massive whats, Boo-Challinor-Boo's boys had their usual infusion of iron in the blood, like we care, they never do anything against Town.
Stop fiffling and faffling, let's get this over with. I have an evening of parlour games and sausage rolls to go to.
1st half – Have we really got to go through with this?
Oh, has it started? Town attacked the Osmond End with a stick of wet celery. The ball plopped, men dropped, Madden had a strop. A nick, a knock, a half-forgotten block. Hippolyte accidentally crossed across the farthest face of bar and post with Crocumbling below.
Stop all the clocks, there's distant silence and a muffled Mariner drum. Collar collapsed, as did all around him, in mirth as he did in heaven. Argy-bargy, scrimps and scrapes, up and down and here we go again. Sometime during August a butterfly flapped its wings. As we never tire of saying up in the Pontoon, starting from any of variously arbitrary close alternative initial conditions the iterated points will arbitrarily spread out from each other.
And then Harry Clifton will scrape away from a foraging foreign boot after a Danny Amos shot is charged down.
Hoofing onto the roofing, the Hatters flatter themselves they are above this: our youth conclude they're too aloof. Any fool can make a rhyme, cowboys do it all the time. Horse manure that's for sure, they're still bleating, that's for sure.
What's going off out there? Scuttling almostness on the edge of blue. Did Holohan have a shot? Was Green pushed or simply slumping? Pressing, pressure, pressurised pressing where passes ripple and crosses overcurl, where Khan twiddles and Harry whirls. A sticky stalemate with stripes ascendant. What larks.
At last, dear reader, we have a moment. A cross, a block, a corner, a clearance. Holohan chippled deeply, Danny-Boy Amos hared into a vacancy beyond the farthest post and firmly, fruitily bethwonked straight at the keeper.
You know, sat here watching the pigeons search for stray chips, I can't help being reminded that prior to the 19th century Tug'o'War used to be called French and English. What do you say to that? Je ne savais pas. Little Harry hassled heartily, a one-man wolf pack snarling and scratching at every mad, sad or bad Hatter. Clifton clamped and clawed, roastering and roaming on the right, Efete passed, McAtee scooped ice cream rather than Hinchcliffe
What about the Stickpotters? What about them? Shall we indulge them with a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception? We shall: Kyle Wootton.
A blue corner cleared and dropping on to blue feet, skew-whiffed so widely it was a brilliant defence-splitting pass. And nothing happened. A tip, a tap, Efete dithered, a blue man looming if not blooming. And nothing happened. This is Stockport: nothing happened.
Humps and dumps, up, up and away. Efete sailed over two Stickmen, flattening one, heading the other. Waterfall roared over to mild-manner Michee, shaking his fists, waving his Viking axes, pointing at the warrior king. As Hursty said: "Fight your foes in the field or be burnt in your house!"
A funny thing happened on the way to half time - Maher unveiled a long throw. Not Cropperian in vastness, but still amply deep and drippy enough to scare wild horses. Some dripped, some flipped and one slipped off Waterfall and straight into the keeper's hands.
And finally, Cyril, Stockport had a shot. Madden. Wide. Forty three minutes. Facts.
Three minutes were added. Fact.
Town had far the better of a satisfyingly mediocre midfield can-can between two teams that can’t-can’t shoot.
2nd half – The solid time of change
Neither team made any changes at half time.
And we're off. Rock'n'roll down the right and Efete crossed across the face of goal, dissecting and bisecting, trundling through the only parabola of safety for Stockporters. McAtee, McAtoo just get bigger shoes.
A long time ago in a land far, far away Wootton dissolved and they had a free kick. Crocombe put on his flat cap and brown overalls and swept the floor. And while you're at it, Max, can you fix the plumbing. It's about time we had some hot water.
Into them, into them, Town right in and at 'em with an impressive full-court press. Mugging and chugging and Holohan dip-volleyed over the Pontoon when friends who drive Mini Countrymans were around and about.
And we're back, foot on the throttle, let's spin the bottle. In the shadows of the Police Box, Maher chucked a drooper into the near post. A big blancmange of bodies rose up and Big Luke noddled onwards into the middle of an unmanned puddle. Khan skipped between some static caravaners, swept across the keeper into the right corner and was swept off his feet by men with bigger chins and firmer shins.
Shaken and stirred The Stockpotters upped the pace of the scuttles and shuffles. A cross, cleared by Smith, a header back into the twilight zone, a shot, a magnificent Max aside, but straight into the path of Collar, ten yard out. The goal a-gaping, a goal awaiting, Will the Wally stood on the ball to make most of those present exceedingly happy.
Town eschewing pretty-pretty passing, playing a simple game of chip and chase. Ooh McAtee through, McAtee offside. Ooh-ooh McAtee through again. Slickness, quickness and a cross to the near post. MacDonald semi-comedically swished and sliced. A corner spooned and carooned, Holohan retrieved his own bumble, and Clifton big dipped a volley into the nether regions of North Cleethorpes.
Oh look, they've got a corner. Ah, lovely, Lewis ducked and dunked high and wide.
Oh look, we've got a corner. Khan dripped from the left. With Hinchcliffe stranded behind a wall of illusion, Waterfall arose but eight yards out and thwistled a thwacking header onto the roof of the net. It was harder to miss.
With 20 minutes left on came the Lemonheads, a triple subbing for the boys in blue. Off went people and on came people. No, not Pepple, he's nowhere to be seen. One lump or two? A header wide, a header high, Amos steered a dinklet away from lurkers. Corners, corners, that make more corners.
Up and down, up and down, round and round and round again. If in doubt launch it. No time to piddle about, no need to fiddle on the floor. If in doubt hold your head. Isn't it time for some Crocramp?
With about quarter of an hour left Big Bren replaced the thoroughly exhausted McAtee, who had torn around chasing down rainbows all afternoon. Maher down, Maher up, Big Luke down, Big Luke up. Crocramp! An up and under over Keirnan. Khan ran past, ran on, cut in and MacDonald's head diverted a delightful goalbound coil.
Just hang on, to what we've got. Time, slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future. Launch it, hoof it, get rid, keep it, hold it. Launch it, hoof it, get rid! How's your head Michee?
Punting, shunting, Hatters hunting high and low, Crocombe punched, Michee mithered, McDonald scraped wide as a monochrome hedge grew magically in front of him. It's Super Cramp Time.
Six minutes added.
Blue corners, striped headers, blue throws, blue crosses. Arise Sir Max. Wave your hands in the air like you don't care. Another corner, another blue header heading high, heading wide.
At the very end of the end of the six minutes of added time, yet before the end of the end of the match, Morris replaced Clifton. A Morris block, a blue corner, a Big Luke forehead. Are we there yet? We are, we are there. Everyone got up and sang. We are family again.
We do seem to have a hoodoo over the Hatters. They shrivel and shrink when they see stripes coming over the hills. Funny that. Well, I'm laughing.
The top and the bottom is that Town came top in a tremendous tug'o'war tussle that had very little association football attached to it. Do we care? No.