Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
3 March 2007
What's to be done with Michael O'Reddy? Leaving it to Gerry McEntee's goat didn't work.
Grimsby Town 2 Buried 0
Springtime for Buckley and Grims-ber-by: Cleethorpes is happy and gay. What a lovely day: the sun was up, the sky was blue and so were Straight Peter Bore's boots. Around 100 Buryites buried themselves into the Osmond stand watching their heroes (just for one day) huddle, cuddle and muddle about. Ah, a fashionista's delight: a kit that perfectly matched their eyes, form and mood. Bury catwalked in fading blue.
Town lined up in 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, McDermott, Whittle, Fenton, Newey, Bore, Bolland, Hunt, Toner, North and Old Lumpy. The substitutes were Murray, Boshell, Till, Rankin and Bloomer. The return of the Mac was greeted with the required reverence, though an unquantifiable number of eyebrows were raised at the sight of a long-forgotten bouncy castle among the substitutes. Isaiah Rankin? Who's he?
Into the light ran the Mighty Mariner. Hark the herald angel minces like a bad Dick Emery impersonator. Pulling his frilly red panties right up tight, he's just a dessicated follower of fashion. Go back to random arm waving and goalpost rubbing: it's what you do best.
Oh look - they've got their own Isaiah Rankin: Tony Bedeau, the bouncy castle with a slow puncture. Shush you can hear the hissing. Parrish and Bishop; Scott and Fitzgerald; Adams and Smith; Kennedy and Kennedy; Challinor held over a boiling pit of hot oil: Bury are a team full of word associations.
Come on Grimsby - go into your dance!
Booo Challinor booo!
Bury kicked off towards the Pontoon and out in the Humber a large red ship headed straight for the Main Stand. Quick, quick, call the coastguard. Think of the dental apocalypse! It's better than thinking of the football.
A throw-in. A throw-in. A throw-in. Stop me when you can think of the link. What happens next and does it stink? At least we're not playing in pink. There are people in the ground who weren't even born when Town played in pink; when fuchsia was the future. Dribbling again? No, Town were just hoofing.
Aroo-de-de-de-doo, aroo-de-de-de-dido. There's nothing to see, there's nothing to say. There's no-one stopping the ball being given away. Oh look - another throw-in. Booo Challinor hurled long and high and there was a little scrimmage, scrummage and rummage in the bottom of the barrel of old fishy leftovers. Barnes flapped away, the ball dropped, a Buryite momentarily appeared close to shooting, but some Town boot arrived. Panic over: the ship had turned towards Immingham.
And we all know that in Immingham no-one can hear you scream.
Town were a mess of mushy peas: everywhere and nowhere baby, that's where they were at. Bury mingled in the crowd, hustling, bustling and looking for an angle. A flick and hoik, and some little Buryman swanked into the area, behind Fenton and Whittle. The Pontoon gawped, but out of the mists of time a legendary hero rode on his imaginary black and white steed. Sir John of McDermott flung open the coffin lid and rose to the occasion, appearing in a puff of smoke to schmooze the attacker away from goal, then nibble the ball off his toes to set up a counterattack. That was Maccaness at its most Macca, and the crowd rose to acclaim this echo of a distant time. That's defending: that's McDermott.
Bury's eagerness was trumping Town's sleepiness. A corner on their right was coiled into the near post and the Lump collapsed in a controlled demolition, thigh slapping the ball a few inches wide of the near post. The next corner was curled into the centre of the penalty area and a Buryboy rose unmarked to nobble the ball safely over the bar. At both corners Bolland had lost his marker. Hmm, sounds familiar, doesn't it. Two Bury corners in the first ten minutes
Town had strung half a nearly pass together in ten minutes and Mr Purple was starting to dip his cup back into his gurglin' cracklin' cauldron. Lumpaldinho dangled a carrot and daintily turned on the left, massaging a pass to North, way out on the touchline. Little Danny boy wiggled and waggled, waggled and wiggled, and didn't dilly-dally on his way as he turned and crossed low from near the corner of the penalty area. The ball drifted slowly: bumbling, stumbling past one defender, two defenders, three potatoes and more.
Losing pace and Bury losing face, the ball still humbly apologised as it passed Kempson, who swiped and missed. The ball then waited at the bus stop for the 9X, which was a little late following a particularly slow old lady using the zebra crossing outside the Memorial Hall. And then, wouldn't you know, the driver felt a little queasy and had to have a lie down for a few minutes.
Booo Challinor hipped Hunt aside and the ball decided it was quicker to walk. People say believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. The ground was silent and Warrington crumpled to his left as the ball rolled gently, gently, gently into the bottom left corner. I heard a rumour that Danny North had scored. No shots, one goal. Nice.
At this the game changed... not one bit. Bury still barged about and Town were still dreaming of eclectic sheep. Buckley remained furious with the ambling ambassadors of artball. Oh, a Bury shot, saved, and Buckley raved on. You better watch out, there may be clogs about: Hunt was booked for upending some Blueboy. Roll on sweet scoreboard, another Bury moment of almostness: a cross wibbled through, bouncing and flouncing wide of the right post.
Ah yes, the scoreboard. Have they bought some new software? The teams were in lower case, so the scores were being whispered today. So much more relaxing, don't you think. Like the crowd and the players, the scoreboard was at ease with the future, almost complacent. Knowin' that their door is always open and the path is free to walk, there's every reason to be.
After about 23 minutes Bore was tripped 23 yards out on the right. "Let Newey take it!" cried the hordes and his dad. Newey took it and everyone was happy. Caressed in a loving arc towards the far post, the ball was met by Fenton, but a defender bonked it away to the edge of the area. Toner waited, the ball bounced once, and Toner twisted his body, wrenched back his right foot horizontally and smoothed a thwacking volley into the top right corner as the banana-keeper unzipped and flopped into the recycled waste bin.
Well, this is easy, isn't it.
A minute later the Old Lump nodded on a high hoik into the middle of the penalty area. North waltzed around Challinor and was free with just Warrington, at 94 the oldest professional in the league, between him and glory. The ball bounced, North pounced and smackerooned a volley inches over the crossbar. Tut-tut, master North; Yoda says a sitter you have missed, mmmmm.
Would you rather watch a singing glove puppet accompanied by washboard tie, or the next ten minutes? It depends how far you're into the oeuvre of Deryck Guyler, I suppose. I didn't know he provided percussion for Shakin' Stevens?
Ah yes, the 34th minute. My favourite. Town attacked crossed and scored. Wahey, then boo-hoo. Bore surged, Jones and Toner had a fight for their right to party and the ball dropped to Hunt, a dozen yards out, whose shot clipped a Bury boot and looped high into the top right corner. The referee disallowed this goal because it wasn't aesthetically pleasing enough, or he felt sorry for Bury. Or maybe a barely perceptible shove and shake by Jones the Lump - but he can't help it, it's his metabolism. Or his glands. Or he's got big bones, or something. Or he's made of iron ore. This game's a bit of a bore, it's rotten to the core.
There was a rumour that was spread around Town by the women and children that Gary Jones had a shot which went wide. Nah, that's just image building. Go back to watching the curious trajectory of the yellow plastic bag near the covered corner betwixt Dentists and Osmond stands.
The purple and puce gang bellowed in rage, their ire fired by dire bumblings. Yeah, this is terrible, Town should be beating this lot, shouldn't they.
Town began to place passes in the vague direction of teammates and began to stop the Shakeypeople: in context, an improvement. But still nothing happened, for at the slightest hint of something interesting occurring the referee would halt play. He knew how to whistle, Steve, for he kept putting his lips together and blowing, blowing, blowing. Bury broke through and play was stopped for a free kick to them way back inside their half. Thanks, Mr Rhubarb, you've earned your custard.
In the final couple of minutes Town suddenly started to look like Town. Sumptuous one-touch passing and movement, flowing like wildebeest across the savannah: a sight of some awe. Jones flicked, North tricked and played a rolling one-two with Bore, who was lobbed free behind the defence on the right. Inside the area, behind the defence, perhaps ten yards out and wide of goal, he dragged a shot through the six-yard box as Town legs dangled nearby.
And back Town came with Jones doing a belly dance to mesmerise Kempson and North filleting his fish-faced marker in the centre. Roistering forward and drawing the final defender closer, he waited for the perfect moment to rub Bore free. Bore crossed low to the near post where Hunt, a dozen yards out, ordered some garlic prawns, pirouetted, complained about the stale salsa dip, and placed a low shot across Warrington. The ball rolled, bombled, skipped over North's feet and missed by micrometres and nanoseconds.
Wasn't that pleasant. Town were awful but should have scored four and could have scored six. Bury just existed as a footballing quorum; they were needed to make the game legal. Bolland was in one of his Mr Fluffy Bunnykins moods, in the wrong place at the wrong time and relying on Hunt to stick his finger in the polder. The wingers were peripheral observers, with Toner barely capable of controlling the ball and, generally, there was an air of lethargy and contentment, John MBErmott and Fenton excepted. What little went on upstream was down to Jones's noodle and North's irrepressible work-rate.
Isn't it good to complain about winning: it feels so right, so Grimsby.
Neither side made any changes at half time, though Bury walked out five minutes early and had a Sladean natter in the middle of the pitch, sans whiteboard and magic markers. Casper had clearly lost his magic markers at the Christmas party.
After a couple of minutes North was dinked over the top. He chased, he thighed, he won a corner as Challinor shinned the ball away. The corner? Nothing happened.
Bury shimmied and simmered around the edge of their own penalty area, for sometimes they'd win headers and sometimes not. Sometimes a rebound would fall to them, and sometimes not. Sometimes Challinor would take a long throw and sometimes not. Ah, this is one of the sometimes that was, rather than wasn't, but ended up in the same dustbin anyway. Bishop freed on their right, slunk into a smidgeon of space and lashed a shot at the near post from an acute angle. Barnes stood tall and pushed the ball away for a corner, then jumped tall and punched the corner away. Don't they do scouting? Don't they realise that Barnes makes saves and stuff when he's as far away from Town fans as possible? They should have tried that sort of thing in the first half, silly billies.
Hey, see! Barnes caught a cross. Told you. A scientifically proven theory using self-selected evidence. No religion can go wrong with that logic. Pass the cucumber sandwiches on the left-hand side, vicar. Wasn't Rosetta Stone a soul singer?
Ah, Warrington, so old he needs carbon dating, or perhaps someone has the patience to count the rings round his stomach. Penny-farthings on the street - riding; motorcars were funny things - frightening. Bows and hoops and spinning tops, coming out to catch, he drops the lot. That's what we all think of you.
Sorry, I forgot, booo Challinor booo.
Bury's approach to defending was simple: don't ever pass it back to the old codger in goal. If in doubt, Kempson whacked the ball out of the ground, and their left-back, Kennedy, just headed the ball out. So, back to square one
A throw-in. A throw-in. A throw-in. Stop me when you can think of the link. Televised sport just isn't the same without your host, David Vine. His career ended with televised weightlifting, you know. That's a parable of our modern age: life ending with men grunting in clouds of chalk.
With all this sentimental wallowing in bygone broadcasting, Bury were duped into error. North nicked the ball away from a dawdling chunk of Lancashire cheese and flipped it from the left into the centre of the penalty area. Jones, unmarked, flicked the ball on to Bore, who was also unmarked. Bury defender flew across and blocked the eventual shot. Bore retrieved the ball but was easily dispossessed. And from this moment Straight Peter shrank: he was a substitution waiting to happen.
Shall we complain about the referee again? Toner wriggled through three challenges and was clamped by two Burymen. No free kick. Newey raided and was scythed down after dribbling past two defenders. No free kick. Whittle brilliantly swiped the ball off Bishop's toes on the edge of the Town area. A free kick. Fortunately, every team has a Tony Gallimore, and the free kick hit the shins of the third man from the left.
At least it got us grrrrrrring.
On the hour a free kick to Town was lofted, cleared and returned low to the centre. Fenton, near the penalty spot, swivelled and with magnificent technique clipped a low volley across the face of goal. Grandad Warrington watched from his deckchair on the sea front and the ball signed a couple of autographs on the way past the post.
Town were disjointed, fitful, but comfortable in their numbness. There was always a Town foot, knee or head arriving just as a Bury boot flailed. Bury tried, really tried, but looked a bit clueless. They wanted corners, they wanted throw-ins, but never really threatened. They were just flinging and hoping something would turn up - that old Mr Micawber football we've had to endure for half a decade.
Whoops, they nearly scored. Three passes, three players moving and one of their Kennedys eight or so yards out pounced on a pass back from the bye-line. Barnes rushed out, spread himself and loomed like a vampire. The dud Kennedy's shot thudded against Barnes and away for a corner. The corner curled in and landed on the roof of the net, causing eighteen of the more nervous Pontoonites to gasp in horror, as if their neighbours had revealed themselves to be lovers of morris dancing. My advice to such phobics is not to drive past the Hope Tavern at Holton-le-Moor on a solstice eve. In deepest, darkest Lincolnshire pagans roam freely, and enjoy a good carvery.
And away with your grumbles - Town swept forward, with North nurdling and gurdling his way through one, two and three challenges on the left. Into the area, to the bye-line, he cut back and swiped a shot straight at Grandad's chest from eight yards out. Jones and Bore waited in vain for a pass, unmarked and unloved at the far side of the moon.
With 20 minutes left Boshell replaced the unfortunate Hunt, who was by far the better of the two central midfielders. Hunt had dutifully tidied up after everyone without asking for a cup of tea or even a cheery hello. But the Mighty Bosh was on and there was, at last, some rhythm to the line dancing. Clap your hands and say yeah. Take two steps to the left and three to the right. Shout yee-haw everybody. Don't you feel so much better now?
A few minutes later Bore was finally replaced by Till, who ran around a bit, which is slightly more than Bore was doing in the end. Maccadermott started to recede, with passes and dinks and hoiks and humps passing just over, just behind, and always just out of reach. It's an age thing. But Bury didn't... no need to finish off or describe further. That's their afternoon in three words.
Oooh, Boshell, cleansing the centre and clipping a pouting cross into the box, which Fenton bumped a couple of feet wide from the penalty spot. Ah, Boshell, doing those important little things that no-one notices. Even Bolland doesn't look so bad now. Hooray, for Bolly would if only Bolly could.
Ah, Dannyboy, bursting into the penalty area on the left. With a dirty hat pulled low across his face, North whacked the ball straight out of play and fell over the leg that wasn't there. The Pontoon hushed in embarrassment, awaiting a yellow card, the referee gave a corner. The only thing it couldn't be, apart from leg before wicket, or a small South American burrowing mammal. Yes, it was more likely to be a large South American burrowing mammal than a corner. Town did the decent thing and didn't threaten to even think about having an effort on goal.
What else, what else, before you head off down Brereton Avenue for your chips and Sports Telegraph? An awful shot by them - Pouton would have been embarrassed. No need for further details. And with four minutes left North was replaced by Rankin, a bit-part actor who only gets four minutes. Is he a boiled egg? Isaiah bravely waved the boys goodbye again, touching the ball once. Well, he's had his share of losing, I suppose. Someone should buy him a Rosemary Conley video to get him aerobically fit.
The game finished as it started. A throw-in. A throw-in. A throw-in. We can go home now, with those three points in our wagon. Don't get too excited - we came up short of the seven goals we should have scored.
Town spluttered and fluttered occasionally; the goals were at once comical and magical, though the best moments were lost in the general dross. The problem today was that everybody was acting like it was the last game of the season, that business has been satisfactorily concluded. Though Buckley wasn't, as could be seen and heard.
This was a dull routine win, and a month ago we pined for these sweet Norwegian fjords of dull safety pins and cotton nappies. Now you know how happy we can be. It isn't quite over yet, but, really, it is, isn't it. It's all about next year from now on. Don't be stupid, be a smarty - come and join Buckley's party.
Nicko's unofficial man of the match
Fenton was rather showily imperious in a Franz Beckenbauer way, rather than his occasional Franz Kafkaesque stumblings, and Macca was the essence of pure Macca for 70 minutes. North was tireless and effective, and Hunt did what he was supposed to do. But the record shows he took the blows - Lumpaldinho. Dainty, delicate, robust and rampaging: all those things and more.
Mr D McDermid was totally and utterly useless to the extent that the Pontoon were beginning to heckle him for bad decisions in our favour. Whistle-happy and unfeasibly lenient within the same minute, he was just plain irrational. When Toner and Newey hit the ground they were either fouled or had dived, so why did he just wave play on? Giving a corner when North dived was hilarious, as was him ignoring a Buryboy scampering away towards Barnes when awarding a free kick in nowheresville for nowt but a stare.
He wasn't biased: he was just rubbish. Even the warm thrill of confusion he created is not enough to save him. Stand back, he could be dangerous! This space cadet glows with a radiation count of 3.222.
Bury weren't as nifty as they were in the autumn, but then again we're not as bad as we were. They were not fortunate with decisions and rebounds, but they allowed themselves to be unlucky with dithering defending and artless attacking. They just wanted set pieces, but they don't have the bulk to do it well, nor any plan of action to befuddle fellow fourth divisioners. Their entire game plan seems to be based on hope. At least old man Warrington owns all his own teeth, which he keeps in a jar by the door, but what is he for? They need Fettis back and some strikers who will shoot. They're up to their armpits and don't seem to have a clue how to get out of the quicksand. Hopefully they'll plonk their feet upon Boston's head.
The worst team at Blundell Park since, err, Town.