Going through the motions

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

16 April 2023

There's four more of these?

Do we have to? Why? What's the point? We're nothing but bit players in other people's stories now. We're just not used to not being the centre of attention.

Oh, if we must, here we are again, waiting for the next instalment of Paul Hurst's exciting experiments in time and motion. At least it's a beautiful day and we love this town.

Town lined up in a stuttering 2-2-2-2-2 formation as follows: Crocombe, Smith, Maher, Efete, Gallacher, Green, Morris, Clifton, Khan, Taylor and Lloyd. The substitutes were Emmanuel, Glennon, Holohan, Hunt, Khouri, McAtee and Orsi. What's new pussycats? Gallacher at left-back. In time we'll find out if he's got the motion to rock Glennon's boat. Or not.

Mansfield warmed up in front of some human bananas. We cannot begrudge them their fun in the sun. Oh, apparently we can. Boo, hiss, silly people dressing up and carrying inflatables. Where's your dignity?

Oh, it's started.

1st half – Get on with it
Town kicked off towards the ram-packed Osmond, away from the almost-packed Pontoon, and in between some dentists did dream of opening a fish restaurant with Dion Dublin, or perhaps of growing sunflowers with Stuart Broad. One has to have dreams.

Up and out, front to back, along the goal line, up and out the other side. Quinn tricked, Efete flicked, yellow socks nicked and out came a yellow card. How long gone? Forty three seconds.

Gallacher needs longer studs. He can't stand up for falling down.

Up and out and back to back from full-back to full-back via the wobbling boots of Crocombe. Smith cornered, Smith snookered and Smith passed towards static stripes. The Staggermen got no time for explanations, got no time to lose, swarming over the shilly-shallyers and dilly-dallyers of Olde Grimsbye Towne.

Hewitt ducked and glanced a header from a corner. The offside Keillor-Dunn sprinkled into a void and calamity was avoided by Crocombe running back and scooping after the ball tinkled past several timid toes. Yellows felled and Yellows yelled, clutching their pearls and demanding something must be done.

Look yonder, there: something to ponder. The pigeon of doom is fluttering overhead as deep beneath there's rolling waves of neurotic mumbling at the sclerotic fumblings. Total football? Total tosh.

Incursions and diversions, left and right. Town, have they actually crossed into the Mansfield half yet? The answer, my friend, is not on your Nellie.

Ooh, Clifton's legs moved but the surge was wasted by Khan's urge to avoid offal and so his name shall be written in the grime on lorries bound for Harwich and beyond. Efete crossed and Lloyd's head hit the ball or the ball hit Lloyd's head or was that last week? Efete crossed near Taylor. Efete: he crosses and make people cross.

Now don't you get the impression these isolated flurries of unincompetence amount to a hill of beans. If Sussex Rec Pepball is what you choose you tend to get burned, you tend to get bruised. The obsession with lateral tappings left many a heart on a sleeve.

Stags dominant but decidedly dreary. Akins wriggled and waggled wide, Wallace wrangled and swingled wide. Free falling far away and a procession of peeping tomfoolery. Free kicks dingled and dangled and angled in. Human beings collided, human being fell down. Mansfielders got nervous when they saw an open door. They are only human.

Heading for the home end they start to roam, then they're in Town's penalty area. But everybody knows there's nothing doing. Nothing comes of nothing for there is nothing.

Moments of extreme nothingness between ordinary nothingness.

With five minutes left a throw-in that wasn't under the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. All stripes retreated expecting a huge Hewitt hurl, but a soft and gentle plop left little Harry alone dangling with dithering behind. Morris stayed at home and Elliott roamed freely to cross into the centre of the middle. On the penalty spot Bowery pipe-cleanered his left leg around Gallacher and scruffled a pass under Crocombe's flopping left hand.

Well, golly gee what have they done? At least it doesn't matter anymore. Much.

Dismal defending, awful attacking: Quinn carefully coiled wide.

Three minutes were added and Khan was mugged in broad daylight, the crime caught by at least three CCTV cameras. The referee saw no ships and Keillor-Dunn smuggled so wide, so high, from so far away that one can only say so what.

"So what?"

Mismatched matchsticks in a game of Kerplunk, Town had set themselves up to fail. And in that they were succeeding fabulously.

2nd half – Hurry up, I've a train to catch
Glennon replaced Gallacher at half time.

The temperature is rising and we're slowly realising that Town have awoken from their fantasy football dreams. Just stick it in the mixer. Glennon roamed and raided their right. A long chuck dropped but Taylor had nowhere to go.

Intensity. Action. Noise. This is what we want.

Lloyd fizzed, Clifton whizzed, Morris's whack was parried away by a flying horizontal outfielder. Uproaring at the ungiven penalty, Town soaring and no-one is snoring now. Off they raced, back we came. Green winkled, Khan dinkled and Lloyd bounded free, tumbling over the keeper's star-grope. Yellow card, not red card. Khan awaited, Khan took two steps and caressed lowly. Pym plunged rightly, parrying uply but Lloyd arrived to nod sagely down into the bottom left corner.

I'm not saying that the battle was won, but all those kids sat in the sun saw that just a little bit of oomph is all it takes.

Taylor lofted, Little Harry persisted, Lloyd scooped and Pym plucked. Glennon crinkled, Khan jinkled and coiled lowly wide. Glennon glided, Clifton slided and Efete shanked to Pym as many an unmolested stripe lurked. Ooh the tide was turning.

And what of them? The occasional forage, flip and slip. A hoof on to the roof as Hiram hung 'em high, wafting a free kick satisfyingly dimly into the darkest portions of the Osmond after Maher tripped a live wire. Double blocks from double striped socks and Quinn headed into the Fanzone from the ozone layer.

Clifton played squash upon Taylor's wall but the cunning clip-cross eluded all toes. Khan. Can't. Wide. And high. Like a choo-choo-train truckin' down the track we've got a one way ticket to the moon. Bada bing, bada boom, Clifton lofted, Lloyd volleyed and Pym spectacularly leapt left to parry aside.

You've gotta get up close to blow them away.

Half way through the half Town took off Taylor and Morris with Orsi-Orsi and Holohan bounding on. Now then, do we need to talk about Gavan? Take our seaside qualms and write the next line yourself. We've no wish to be rude about him.

And Mansfield went Router Oner, lamping high and often to Big Bowery and his holding brother, Akins. A whip, a chip and Maher duck-headed from a Quinn jink and cross. Maher was booked for tripping again after being turned again and Akins' low free kick was lowly scooped by the Kiwikeeper. Wide, high, high and wide, hither down thither, please don't get out your zither.

A bouncing-bouncing ball in the middle of it all. Quinn ducked and clutched his head, sending Akins free. A slapshot slipped through many striped legs but Crocombe calmly punched away and as Town broke back Quinn decided to re-collapse clutching his head.

Not for the first, and not for the last time the whistling Hairboy stopped play to kneel at the shrine to the Miracle of Mansfield. There must be something magical in the seaside air for so many Staggermen to recover from mortal injury.

Orsi-Orsi nudged and moments of almost-ness flowed from his swinging hips. Barging, charging, a-looping, scooping and Lloyd shinned wide from nearby after Clifton chased and chipped.

Are we interested in a Khan shot bocked? No. We are not. Khan down, Khan up and Khan off as Town double subbed again, as McAtee and Khouri emerged. But who else shall leave this field of dreams? Mr Green. It was going to be Lloyd but Khan had already sat down for tea.

A sweep with Michee asleep and Smith stood tall as Efete missed his leg up. More blocks, more socks, more moments for daytripping sadness.

Off came the shackles with flying tackles, Khouri was thrown into a skip and Glennon whipped the free kick into the outer reaches of the twilight zone. Please do adjust your set squares.

Five minutes were added. McAtee swinked, Holohan carefully placed and Pym carefully plucked.

And finally, I checked the time, it was almost time. A curious spell of Yellow pressure and an intangible crime. Cover your eyes as Bowery felt the gaze of Glennon against his skin. Either a penalty or a dive, so what's it gonna be Mr Hairman? There's no guilt within his mind. He don't need this pressure on.

Let's call the whole thing off.

Another atrocious first half. Another frantic and furious slapfest attempting to save the day. Another shocking set of officials. Another day in the way out café.

Don't try and play chess with tiddlywinks. You don't ask a thoroughbred to pull a cart, and you don't enter a carthorse for The Derby. Horses for courses.