Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
6 April 2013
Grimsby Town 2 Southport 2
Yeah, yeah, yeah summer is here! Well, the sun is up and the sky is blue. What more can you ask for these days? Keep your winter woolly handy – there's a cold wind blowing through the soul and across the foreheads of about 50 hollerin' Sandbaggers.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, Miller, Pearson, Thomas, Colbeck, Naylor, Artus, Marshall, Cook, Hannah. The substitutes were Wood, Thanoj, Taylor, Hearn and John-Lewis. The Devitt devotees were down in the dumps, and no-one was enamoured by the Naylor-Artus jazz funk combo that was the centrepiece of the afternoon's festival. A bit of Albanian folk-metal wouldn't go amiss. Get your bouzoukis out for the lads.
Southport were all tall young men in skyish blue with a Hedge, not The Hedge, in goal. Will the turning weather turn us into a football team again?
First half: Reality sandwiches
Southport kicked off towards the Pontoon and, err, hang on, I'll be back.
Ah, sorry, just needed to wash my car. You didn't miss anything, just a minor panic attack at a long throw. Now that was an important Southportent for the afternoon if ever there was one.
Southport, Southport, Port of the South, the Southern Harbourists were here, there and everywhere. Town? Nobody can deny that there's nothing there. Them, them, them, hoof over Hannah. Them, them, hoof over Hannah. Long throw, free kick, long throw, free kick, free header on the penalty spot. Free kicks coiling to The Mack, free kicks buffling nowhere. Then, them, hoof over Hannah.
Tiring? No, tiresome.
McKeown hassled by Owens, a Cruyffian turn and hoof over Hannah. Almost a cross by Town, almost a pass. Colbeck ran and ran and ran and ended up wrapped in chip paper inside a riddle. Marshall! Magic moments. A magic moment as the floor fell out of his car when he put the clutch down. One nice cross hanging on the wall. Where's Wally? At left-back, courtesy of Whalley's waltzes.
The Carpetbaggers hoiked it high and long. Miller ambled, Owens perambled, Jamie Mack scrambled in mutual indecision. Will he, won't he? Does he, doesn't he wear Harmony hairspray? Miller hoiky-hoofed out and Owens fizzled a long 'un deep, deep into the heart of the penalty area. Much monochrome meandering. The ball rolled off a blue sock and the unmolested Ledsham strolled forward to calmly pass into the bottom left corner with McKeown's left hand slowly flapping nearby.
Hands up who was surprised by this? You are! Take your head out of that black and white bucket and plant some shrubs.
Town's response was immediate. They immediately hoofed it higher and faster over Hannah's head and... hang on, I'll be back.
Sorry again. I just had to stare at the replacement bus timetable following that Hatfield landslip. Fascinating, totally fascinating stuff. I said fascinating, Paolo, calm down.
Oh hang on, what's this? The Cookie Monster moved mountains and from a grassy knoll took a sneaky pot shot at the privet. That, statisticians concurred, was a shot. What a shock. Don't knock it. Look at the clock. About half an hour had sauntered by like an old crisp packet.
Hoofs over Hannah? Wasn't that a Fred 'n' Ginger extravaganza from 1933?
And normal service was resumed. Daft ref, blue falling, free kicks wafted wide. Jamie Mack threw to the unmarked Thomas. Jamie Mack threw high and beyond the unmarked Thomas and straight to Whalley the walking wounded. Them, them, long throws and them. Town are simply absent.
An occasional moment of accidental connectivity resulted in a Town corner, cleared and returned to the edge of the 'D'. A chesty turn and speculative, underpowered COOK hook bouncity-bouncity-bouncity bounced in to the bottom right corner of the goal as the Hedge flapped slowly.
Well, there's a pleasant surprise.
And normal service was resumed. Daft ref, blues not falling, no free kick given. A welly over the top, Pearson panicked and tried to smother Owens in tough man love. The linesman flagged; the referee allowed Southport the advantage of hitting a long shot slowly at McKeown. Three little blue boys rushed to congratulate the referee on his decision making. They thoroughly agreed with his interpretation and were thrilled that he didn't apply the law to penalise Pearson, their fellow in arms.
Added time. Added time added to added time. On and on it went and, after much dillying and dallying within tutting distance of the Main Stand, the Sandpipers snitched into the Town area. Much Marinerdom was present, but none within hours of the football. They stood and watched as Whalley advanced, looked up and carefully dinked beyond the far post. Hatton hoped no-one was near. Alas, Ledsham arose and bonkled a header firmly in from three or four yards out.
Your starter for ten, no conferring: if added time is added to the added added time, how much added time is added? I said no conferring!
There is no more time or matters to add.
It was the least Town deserved for another gormless, shoddy stroll. Just to be clear: a fascinator is a hat, not a Premier League manager. You may seek your sausage roll now.
Second half: Rags, ballads and harmonium songs
Neither team made any changes at half time and Town eventually emerged. The Sandpipers became engrossed by the sandy soil beneath their gleaming boots, contemplating digging for their post-match worms.
And here we go again. What's football all about? The three Ms: motivation, motivation, motivation. Hoofing over Hannah. It's motivating the crowd alright.
Southport did things, over there, at the far end, in the distance, beyond the sea. A cross bustled through the area as a little "ooh" burst out from the clutch of chaps and chappettes in yellow. A shot went over the bar. Was it near, was it far, was it just an illusion?
One more time, ladies and gentlemen: hoofing over Hannah.
Near the hour Hannah and Marshall were hooked off and replaced by Hearn the Hunter and the effervescent Taylor. The second coming of Hearn was greeted with garlands and confetti, an oral landslip buckling the lines.
Immediately Town upped the ante and upped the pace, and Southport retreated, ceding space and time. Suddenly Artus and Naylor began to have moments when they didn't have yappy dogs chewing their ankles. Artus curtsied a free kick inwards, the keeper stayed and swayed right on his line as Pearson rose to flick a header to the other side of the goal. The Hedge wilted and waited and the ball made brief acquaintance with top of the crossbar. Town stopped hoofing for a bit and, together with Hearn's presence, things almost happened.
The crowd's dander was up as Taylor waved them on like a fairground barker. A corner dropped to Taylor five yards out at the far post. He adjusted his feet to slice successfully wide and happily high. Penalty? Not on your welly, Nelly. Hatton plunged as a blue boot booted out for a throw-in. If that linesman says it was a throw-in, then it was a throw-in.
Hearn, sleeker and hairier than before, dinked and jinked dangerously. Hatton stopped running after a teasing Hearn flick. Pearson ram-raided forward, Hearn's drag 'n' drop just evaded the end of Pearson's toes as the Hedge scooped up some ice cream. The nearlyness was getting nearer to being closer. Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late. Naylor squelched along the bye-line and... up went the linesman's flag. I told you, that linesman doesn't make mistakes. Top-notch flagging, that's what we come for.
Colbeck underhit a tap in the sultry shadow of the Great Big Findus Stand and Whalley wiggled on a wild slalom through the remnants of Town's left side. Colbeck was frazzled into a beetroot crisp, Pearson was dazzled into a drinks dispenser and the wily Whalley poked goalwards from half a dozen yards out. McKeown sank to his knees by the near post and the ball scrumbled off his ample chest, spinning high across the face of goal and out for a corner. We set an example and ban the word ample.
Finally, Pearson was booked for hauling down a bluesbreaker after some terrible piddling between Hatton and Miller's shins. The pendulum hath swung, a free kick from their left swung high and beyond the far post. Townites slept as a big blue head bonked back into the middle of the penalty area. Pearson casually leaned on the bar, told an amusing anecdote that involved a parrot and a policeman, finished his whisky and swept the crumbs under the carpet. Or was it a walrus and a carpenter? Either way it's very rude of him to come and spoil their fun.
With five minutes left Town abandoned the subtle approach and brought on the Shopping Trolley for Colbeck, moving to a 4-3-3 formation. Yep, we're back to hoof and hope, but with taller and stronger players. How many wingers have we got? How many crosses have they managed this season? A corner overhit, Pearson retrieved, spun and caressed a marvellous cross just above Hearn's head. Best bit of wing-wizardry this year, and from a centre-back.
The seconds ticked away and Hedge was finally booked for growing too slowly. And Hearn shot from way away, way over as the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art scoreboard said 1990, sorry 90 minutes. Another game drifting away into obscurity, another moment to regret in this season of false hope. Another richly deserved home defeat, another dozen cars cleared from Brereton Avenue as the Pontoon emptied. Doo, doo, doo, doo-doo-doo, it's just another day in our sad seaside café.
So sad, so sad, sometimes it feels so sad for Southport. Town fumbled around on the left, Thomas levered, a blue head half cleared. Artus wrapped his own birthday presents and the Shopping Trolley tumbled and turned and shovelled the ball on to Taylor, on the left of their penalty area. Alone at the far post he'd dwelled, and the man of our dreams came to break their spell. One Taylor touch and a bedraggling shot scruffed between and through dangling blue socks, past the static Hedge and into the bottom right corner. Taylor ripped off his shirt and ran off to the nearest crowd, a gaggle of kids under the Police Box. The diddymen leapt as high as his chin and love was all around.
The crestfallen, semi-demi-Posh Scousers roused themselves for one last Whalley attack after Frankie flunked a corner. It all ended as it started, with parity and charity.
Town had gotten away with it, thanks to Taylor.