Cod Almighty | Article
by Pete Green
14 November 2003
Marcel Cas became a Grimsby Town player on 17 June 2003. The Grimsby Telegraph called him "the flying Dutchman" on 18 June 2003. Nobody knows why it took so long.
In towns that still point at aeroplanes the arrival of foreign footballers continues to be greeted with a certain awe. Having already been dragged reluctantly into something resembling excitement by Peter Furneaux's promise of ten new close-season signings, Town fans held their breaths as Paul Groves announced that Tony Crane would be followed into Blundell Park by a "European" player. As one, Grimsby recalled the exotic flavours of David Nielsen and Ivano Bonetti (without lingering on the bitter aftertastes) and licked its lips in anticipation of another unlikely love affair between the Pontoon and some young man plucked from Geneva or Gdansk with glorious technique and endearingly clumsy English.
When Marcel Cas stuck his monicker on the dotted, fans turned round and looked at each other with the vague sense of having been cheated. We'd heard of him, damn it; and a footballer somehow just didn't count as foreign if he'd already played for Notts County.
Town supporters were further dismayed by damning reports from their Meadow Lane counterparts, who were in the process of voting Cas their most disappointing player of the previous season. In mitigation the player cited Notts' style of play, complaining of the neckache that set in as he watched the ball whizz by overhead for an hour and half every week. Furthermore, he had ended his days with County in the Jevonian Leglock, confined to the reserves by appearance bonuses that came to exceed the club's increasingly desperate financial means. Hence a brief elevation to first division football with Sheffield United, who brushed aside competition from Oldham to take over the final three months of Cas's contract. (Of the six games he played in for the promotion-chasing Blades, two were drawn and four lost.)
Cas, it was explained, could play at right-back or right midfield, and was promptly fielded at centre-half in several pre-season friendlies, raising fears in some quarters that the new season could see a positional free-for-all that would make Lennie Lawrence look like he knew what he was doing. (As Groves tripped lucklessly through the night hoping to catch a falling striker, I for one was convinced Iain Anderson would start the season up front.) Though the Dutchman began the season at right-back, the Mariners' belated first win of the campaign, significantly, came as he traded places with Jason Crowe at Luton and delivered a grin-inducingly wonderful cross from the right wing for Michael Boulding's decisive headed goal.
It's in that position that Cas has produced his finest performances in a Town shirt so far: in the 4-0 disembowelling of Chesterfield and the goalless draw at Hillsborough, where he notoriously skinned and filleted Jon Beswetherick before deep-frying him in batter and serving him up with chips and mushy peas. Crowe's best showings so far have surprisingly been in central defence and central midfield, so there's no reason now why PG can't put Cas on the wing, leave him there, and watch the crosses come flying in.
Town fans have been given a glimpse into Cas's personality by his column in the Telegraph's weekly Matchday supplement, where poignant laments about missing his family back in Holland mingle with anecdotes about go-karting with the other players. Since my match previews started appearing on the same page I feel a close personal bond with Marcel (as I like to call him) and feel at least partly responsible for his mixed performance at Barnsley recently, having perhaps heaped too much pressure on by taking advantage of our proximity on page 7 and urging him to do to Tony Gallimore what he did to Beswetherick. Ah well – we'll always have Galli's penalty.