Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
26 February 2005
Grimsby Town 2 Yo! Evil Town 1
A bright but blustery day in the Grumbledome with around 200 Yeovillians marvelling at the sight of police horses and perfect programme grammar. Who are they? Yo! Evil, apparently. Surely not with that disciplinary record. The wind, the wind, that great Grimsby wind, screaming in from the Humber, causing a rush of hat purchasing in the club shop. Keep your ears warm and the Mariners afloat.
How many mascots do Town have? There were more tiny tots taking pot shots at the Mighty Mariner than there were Chester fans. I suppose it's one way to reduce the debt.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Williams, Ramsden, Forbes, Whittle, Bull, Crowe, Fleming, Coldicott, Parkinson, Gritton and Reddy. The substitutes were Crane, McDermott, Jones, Pinault and Hockless. Indifference abounds: no Pinault, again, so no passing, again? Sighing, and shrieking in the stands - two stoppers and a runner in midfield. Is Mr Russell Slade a football manager or a carpet fitter? Ramsden at right-back? Crowe at right wing? Words failed a man with an active vocabulary of 476 words: he just squawked like a bodysnatcher.
As the substitutes kicked around on our home ground, filling up the moments that made up a dull ten minutes, we were treated to a masterclass in party tricks from Pinault in plus-fours: the walking talking work of art, the boy who stole our hearts. Hockless surly and resentful at his thunder being stolen, in front of his claque too. Is he the fans' favourite or some fans' favourite?
Which brings us neatly to Jevons, last year's Hockless - the après Terry Cooke, if you will. Ignored and applauded in equal measures. You can't hear people ignore, can you. Who's the Amankwaah at the back?
Dish of the Day: Martin Gritton's sushi, which, like the rest of the glitterati of Grimsby, he gets from Ernie Beckett's, no doubt. Do you want mushy peas and tea with that? If you insist on raw fish with your vinegared rice then watch out for those nematodes and worms. But enough about Sestanonovich; that was Tuesday's boo-fest. And be careful when cutting up your Hootie and the Blowfish. You might poison someone with soft southern boogie pop.
In an historic low for Grimsby Town Football Club, a player wore tights. Terrell in Tights sounds like an avant-garde Soho revue rather than a tough-tackling Town centre-half. He ain't as pretty as Justin Whittle, or tough like Jason Crowe. Nor does he have sideburns quite like Frank Worthington.
Yeovil kicked off towards the Pontoon and kept the ball, blatantly flouting the rules of association football. To quote Rule 14.3 (a) (iv): "the game shall be started by hoofing the ball out for a throw-in 23 yards from the bye-line". Rules are rules - c'mon ref.
They kept it, nothing much happened. Twirling and swirling, pretty, pretty patterns of green and white. Laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the pitch. It wasn't aimed at anyone. Town! No, Weale wheeled out and plucked the ball away from Reddy's flowing locks after someone, probably Fleming, headed a cross forward.
Yeah, boring. No, not really. Nothing happened, but it was a better quality of nothingness than Tuesday's little shop of horrors. A Coldicott curler down the left, Gritton raced on, turned inside and hit a perfect pass to Parkinson's toes. Lindegaard walked tall into the path of the pint-sized Parky and looked him right in the eye. The moment passed without publicity.
A Yeovil corner after a half-hearted shot blundered off Bull's big toe. It wasn't remotely dangerous, worrying or bothering. Amankwaah nodded off and nodded a zillion yards wide while the Town defence finished their game of backgammon. Do they only choose defenders with a double 'aa' in their name? Or perhaps it signifies what kind of batteries they run on.
Town on the attack! Well, I say 'attack'; more like Town players in their half of the pitch. There was a theoretical possibility of a shot, but insufficient data has been compiled for the Royal Society to come to a conclusion. It would be speculative to speculate about a spectacle. Gritton again, flicking Parkinson tentatively free down the inside left channel. Amankwaaaah stepped out in polite society, chucking a cup of water over Parky. Amankwaaaaaaaah, what is he good for?
Ten minutes of noodling and doodling. The crowd slightly bored, but not unhappy. It was pleasantly uninteresting.
The pitter-patter of tiny feet was heard, the Celtic jumpsuits were gaily galloping forward. Like any modern parent, old mother Town gave the children enough space for play, but within specified boundaries so no harm could be done. There, there, do what you like 30 yards from goal, but don't go near any sharp edges.
Urgh, tears and tantrums from Town, as Davies clapped a very ordinary shot towards the bottom left corner. Williams kept his feet firmly rooted to the ground (he's not going to let playing for glamorous Grimsby go to his head) and swayed to his left. The ball skipped off the turf and through his hands. Yet another goal conceded through a low shot to his left.
The crowd exploded; the Town players looked at him with disgust; only Bull showed any support. Well, he would, he's in the same boat. The one we all want to push out into the Humber without a paddle. What was Williams doing? Perhaps he'd been struck down with ennui. A daydreaming boy, tomorrow he'll pay the dues for dropping the load. A pie in the face for being a sleepin' bulldog.
Williams, a man alone, he didn't turn to face his demons in the Pontoon. Some of us may look like extras in The Dukes of Hazzard, but he's played for Hartlepool, he's seen worse.
The rest of the half - yes, all 35 minutes - was a series of flufferies and bufferies, with nothing of any interest, but you're going to read about them anyway. There's someone in deepest Peru who demands to know everything, a man who hankers for knowledge of misplaced crosses, and unusual flight-paths adopted by the roosting pigeons in the Main Stand. No plastic bags billowed across the pitch today, no sausage rolls were thrown at the corner flags. Just a humdrum hubbub of average nonsense.
Gritton crossed, no-one there. A blast from the recent past, Jevons finally touched the ball, skipping, slipping, flipping a rubbish shot way over the bar. Ah, the golden days of the golden boy, three years of shrugging and shaking, replayed again. He hasn't come back to taunt or haunt us after all. Same old, same old, from pheromone Phil. Some nice moments; way outside the box, though.
Twenty-five minutes and finally a Town effort on goal. A corner, a free header, flicked wide. Crowe the culprit, perhaps ten yards out, nearish the near post. Should have scored, didn't, no-one surprised. Hardly an "oooh" in the ground.
As the game bored on the Town fans began to get a bit annoyed. "Is this it?" Yeovil were barely better than Chester. Their defence looked dreadful: four sticks of celery and a banana, which I'm sure will turn up as Dish of the Day sometime.
How about today, Town? Just keep on pressing and Amankwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah will crumble; he's a large man whose legs move quickly sometimes. Any other resemblance to a professional footballer is entirely coincidental. Bananaman in goal seems to believe he's the sweeper; that or his six-yard box is electrified. He kept creeping up behind his centre-backs and shouting boo as they tried to clear.
Wahey, another shot from the helicopter boys. Sliced 18 yards wide from way outside the box. Have you got it yet? They didn't get inside the Town box, although Williams did, once, catch a Jevons cross - or was it a fallen star? Here's another, volleyed towards the KC and the Sunshine Band Stadium. Peter Taylor put in a bid. He needs a 37th-choice striker.
Gritton, turning, crossing and doing it again. Wasting his time really, Reddy was forever out wide, and everyone else was tending their prize marrows in their allotments. If we had a shot sometime, maybe, just maybe, we'd score. Looking back, I do have the faintest image burned upon my retina of Crowe shooting towards goal. Or perhaps the Chester farrago is forever etched upon my damaged psyche. I'm scarred for life! The horror, the horror.
More tippy-tappy stuff from Yeovil. Nothing to report. They looked like a Premier club's decent, but not scary, youth team. Lots of niceness, no punch.
Gritton received a free kick in the centre, turned and flaked a shot out for... a throw-in... to us. Now, for those who have short lunch hours that was a highlight, even more so than their midfielder's hair. Ramsden was booked for clobbering the moaning Pole, Tarachulski. That was really the only contribution Tarachulski made to road safety.
As the game wept towards half time Town's defence began to play like puppies: Bull crumbling when last man, Whittle shinning passes out of touch, playing head tennis inside the six-yard box as Williams stood and stared on his line.
Ramsden kicked one of their little men again, the referee had a chat, the half ended. One shot on target, one goal. Two distinctly average teams playing in a field.
You've had the action; what about the summary? Fleming was on the pitch, but that's all that can be said; Coldicott started to strut, an impassable barrier in front of the defence, even managing to pass accurately twice, and the game was only half over! Forbes had a pocket, and pollypocket Phil was in it. This Gall chap was supposed to be wizzo. Was he playing?
We just couldn't understand how they'd managed to score so many goals. It was easy to see why they'd conceded so many. The door was half open, it just needed a little shove.
Stu's half-time toilet talk
"They never did find the radioactive tiddlywink of Wintringham."
"Bring Pinault on for Williams. We don't need a keeper."
"I only came today because it was too cold to go out."
"Our immutable law of the ex says they play even worse against us than for us."
"So Halifax is the new York."
No changes were made by either team at half time.
How would their fruit and veg defence cope with a second-half onslaught from the Pontoon? Let the ceremony begin.
Town kicked off and booted it away and Yeovil nearly scored. Breaking away down their right, some bloke - could even have been the heavenly Jevonly boy - slapped a stinger from the corner of the penalty area towards Williams' top near post. Up came a light blue arm, over the bar flipped the ball. Corner, scramblage, corner, shottage, nothing of noteage.
Town started to do the second-half-attacking-the-Pontoon-thing they do, finally dinking passes behind full-backs and up to Gritton and Reddy, not over their heads, with midfielders vaguely supporting. Result: Pontoon vaguely supporting. A brief flurry of Town attacks saw Gritton almost flick Parky free, Reddy rave down the right, Gritton down the left. Yeovillians were being pushed back slowly towards their bizarre bananakeeper. Crosses, corners, free kicks, and only a terrible Crowe volley to tell you about. Pressure slowly turning, belief slowly, slowly seeping through the Town arteries.
After five or so minutes of the half the crowd dulled again, as the game boogied down in midfield slap and tickles. Then, out of nowhere, the crowd threw off the shackles of months of boredom and pain, deciding this was the moment to start supporting. A minor Town attack, a throw and suddenly the roars started. Then "Pinault, Pinault, Pinault, Pinault": an incessant beat tapped out. Demands made but ignored.
Ah, but the very thought of him was enough to cause Yeovil to wilt. They fear his name. A free kick out on the left, the crowd still calling. The ball was pumped into the centre of the area. Gritton challenged and the ball was bibbled away, but only to the edge of the box, where Reddy swizzled and smashed a volley low to the keeper's right. The ball squeezed through Weale's hands and skidded and stumbled towards the right corner, energy lost with each revolution. Gritton raced forward, slid and toe-poked the ball in from a foot out, as the ball crawled to a halt.
The valve was open with the steam whistling out. The world was different.
Just after the restart Gritton and Reddy tackled each other as they laid off a pass to Crowe. With the toothsome twosome writhing on the floor, the referee took one look and allowed play to continue, with Crowe taking the high-speed monorail as his full-back waited for the 9X. Surging on, urged on by the roused Pontoon, Crowe caused minor panic with a cross that was shinned away for a corner. The noise was like old times. The Yeovilites quaked. Have they never heard a crowd before?
They quivered when, with about 25 minutes left, Pinault raced on to replace the existential enigma Terry 'The Sausage Dog' Fleming. The crowd noise ratcheted up to another level. Flicking and tricking down the right, Ramsden swayed a cross to the far post; Gritton, stumbling backwards, headed at Weale from about six yards out. Monochrome momentum sweeping over the Mummerset men, Town encamped in their half, the Weebles were wobbling. A sound not heard for months, like the first cuckoo of spring: "Mariners, Mariners".
But they hadn't fallen down yet. A break, a blur of green, the Town defence pulled right, exposed to the left, Davies took his windsurfer into the Town area and flibbled a low shot across Williams and... just wide of the far post. It's still alive Doctor. Another break down their right, a cross, Jevons headed wide at the near post. The patient is demanding food and a daily paper, better keep an eye on it. Not 'nil by mouth' just yet.
With 20 minutes left Town scored a second. Sorry - Town should have scored a second. Reddy, in the centre circle, facing the Town goal, perched on his left leg and flicked the ball over the top with his right. Parkinson sprinted off, behind the full-back, one nod, the ball slipping goalwards. Onwards, ever onwards, into the area, Weale falling, defenders stretching and Parkinson shot with his left foot from about 12 yards out, just wide of goal. The ball bumbled through the area, across the face of goal and missed the left post by inches.
Weale, a flapper, a slapper, a trapper of balls, but not a catcher or saver. Crosses rabbit-punched away, back-passes casually stroked to team-mates, inches from Reddy and Gritton. He loved coming out of his area and Town could have had a couple more with his one-man song and dance show. Out on the left he almost tackled his full back with the ball stationary underneath the Police Box. Skiverton passed to Parkinson, Parky failed to shoot with the keeper still a few yards outside his area. Have we finally found a worse keeper than Williams?
Still Yeovil continued to treat us to a masterclass in non-League defending, continually passing directly to Town players. Do you think we frightened them with all that noise? Pinault intercepting on the halfway line, nodding to Parky, racing into the unmanned Yeovil half. Parkinson passed too late, Pinault given offside. The celery being salted.
Eh up matey, what's this? A soft free kick to Yeovil, a hoopster crumpling when the wind blew. Just outside the area, to the left of Williams' goal, all set for you-know-who to make us miserable now. Williams hid behind the wall, a chasm to his left, Jevons hovering. YES! Some daft full-back type curled the ball over the bar.
Yeovil were a little worrying on the break with their impressive movement, but there's always a Town foot, knee and backside around when you need it. Whittle huge, hulking, happily nodding crosses clear. Forbes oozing and schmoozing these little green bug-eyed monsters away.
And still they passed to Town. And still Town avoided shooting. With three minutes left another dreadful pass by a Yeovillian defender went straight to Parkinson on the left, about 35 yards out. Parky purred down the wing, drew two defenders on his sketch pad and sidled through a gap between them, cutting infield towards the corner of the penalty area. Another defender feinted with a swish of his hip, a fourth mesmerised into a catatonic state by his swinging pants. In the centre, near the penalty spot, Parkinson snitched a low shot slightly to the right of Weale. The ball trundled in, the town erupted with joy. After eight months of missing he's finally done it; what a little cracker. Celery soup for tea with some nice cheesey baps.
"Seventeenth? We're having a laugh..."
Yeovil had no option but to pour forward, leaving gaps for Town to cruise into. Almost from the off Town should have scored again, Reddy hassling a defender into error, racing clear down the right with just Weale to beat. He looked up, saw Pinault unmarked beyond the penalty spot and overhit his final touch, passing straight to the sliding banana. Grrr, should have been three.
There were two minutes of added time, most of which were wasted by Town in the various corners. A free kick to Yeovil, smashed high into the box, Whittle tumbling, a free kick to Town! Ticking away, 40 seconds left, Town dawdling. Twenty seconds left, a Yeovil throw-in. Ten seconds left, breathing stops. The ball headed into the Town area, behind Ramsden. Jevons goalside, Ramsden dancing cheek to cheek, Jevons fell.
A momentary silence. Four thousand pairs of eyes immediately turn to stare at one man. A thought bubble rose from his head, one leg planted forward, both arms together, then out again, like Barbara Windsor in Carry On Camping. No penalty. The Yeovillers' bra fell off and they chased the ref, harangued him for something or other, can't think what, then slunk off as the game was over. Take up thy cider and walk.
What was that all about then? Table-toppingly average opponents; Town roaring back, backed by a roaring crowd. Have we just had enough of feeling sorry for ourselves, let's go out on a high? We've tried everything else. Perhaps backing the team might just help. Well, they responded and gave us something to feed off. Our love isn't unconditional: they have to show they care too.
Defensively Town were rock solid, apart from Williams' usual error. I suppose we just have to factor that into the equation now by deducting the square root of Williams' shoe size. Elsewhere there was a conspicuous attempt to avoid lumping and pumping. It would help if we had anyone who could actually pass it somewhere in the team. But at least they tried to do the right thing. And clearly it was enough, wasn't it.
For Yeovil, Weale is the banana skin waiting to madden. They twittered about in the middle of the pitch, and did nothing spectacular going forward. They were supposed to be good, to be scary; they caused less problems than Notts County. What's all the fuss about?
There we are. When they get the zen in motion, Town can do it; but then we know that. A dozen more zen games and who knows, eh? We may even finish in the top half. This was a good day, when Town finally got what they deserved out of a game. Let's just suck on that lollipop. Mmm, tasty.
Nicko's man of the match
Ramsden did exceedingly well in a daft position, and Terrell Forbes was generally flawless. But you can't make a man wearing stockings the man of the match. It's the law. So, for all-round effort and for the cheek in stealing Reddy's goal it's Mr Martin Gritton. Why? As the man says: "Does Jimmy Saville wear a tracksuit?"
Mr D Drysdale from Clee Road was not particularly anything. Perhaps a little indulgent at times, not clamping down on the inability of Yeovil players to withstand a peck on the cheek and some light ear blowing. Hey, but he came up trumps at the end. So 8.653, but if you wear green hooped shirts, you'd probably take 10 away. It's about time a referee didn't annoy us.