Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
4 November 2006
Grimsby Town 1 Bastard Franchise Scum 3
A windless day in an fanless stadium: so just another day in paradise. Around 150 people from somewhere else sat in the Osmond stand while the locals muttered to themselves in deep foreboding as the Mighty Mariner messed around in the centre circle with a plastic guitar. Now you would not think to look at him but he was famous long ago for playing the electric violin.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Croft, Fenton, Whittle, Newey, James, Ravenhill, Bolland, Toner, Rankin, Bore. The substitutes were McDermott, North, Murray, the Boshell and Hegggggarty. Ah, Town's central defence: it's big and it's bland, full of tension and fear, whereas the midfield was just bland. The return of Ravenfail filled us with inertia. So playing well gets Passing Danny B dropped: what kind of incentive is that?
As the clock ticked towards three, Reddy, Harkins, Cohen and Lumpy wandered across the pitch all dressed in grey. Reddy has had his hair crimped. And he can thank his lucky stars that, unlike Ivan Campo, he's not the bastard son of Dean Friedman.
The other team played in red and they had a player named after a brand of toilet paper. They are the goon squad and they've come to Town. Beep, beep.
The Town players had a little huddle-cuddle before kick-off. Judge Justin Whittle laid down the law: something about fat fenland fraudsters don't go to jail if they cry like a baby, I think.
Town kicked off towards the Osmond stand.
Hey, hey, hey kids! They've got Sideshow Bob at left-back. We'll be back right after this message from our sponsors: "Don't send me no more letters no, not unless you mail them."
After five minutes of breathing and watching grown men play human dodgems, Toner tinkled, twisted and toasted two defenders on the left before surging into the penalty area. He looked up and saw Bore and James reeling and peeling in the distance, then clipped a cross to the far post. James took a step back and lathered a left-footed volley low to the left of their keeper, who scoopled the ball up from the foot of the post. You know, that was football.
Our day trippers put a token back into the dodgem and set off again, careering into Town, nudging, nurdling, clipping, pulling, pushing and generally being low-level nuisances. A horrible game of shove ha'penny in human form. They were like us last year, except a bit better at fouling unseen.
After another five minutes of breathing and watching grown men play British bulldog, Mr Toilet Paper fell over just outside the Town area, on the other team's centre-left, and was awarded his swimming certificate for successfully completing a dive. Sideshow Bob tossed his caber aside and curled a left-footed free kick around the wall towards the bottom right corner. Barnes swayed superbly and parried the shot aside, getting up and catching the returned cross.
James fell over in their penalty area. Some Town fans claimed a penalty, others didn't. Play continued and the world still turned on its axis.
After a five further minutes of madcap crazy 1970s-style disco ducking (part one) a long, long welly upfield was chased by Bore down the centre-left. He outpaced a big bit of balsa wood, waited for the ball to drop and thwackled a low shot across the face of goal. It missed, but we "ooh"-ed. Hang on, that can't be right. Surely that should be a further five minutes, Father? While Town stroked their chins and read Fowler's Modern English Usage, Toilet Paper Man barundled through from the halfway line, shoving and hipping Fenton aside, before dragging a sneezing shot straight at Barnes from 15 yards away from goal.
Further or farther: there is a large intermediary class of instances in which the choice between the two forms is arbitrary - much like Town's selection policy for central midfield. Are they there, the Midwich Cuckoos? I said father, not farther; do pay attention.
On the half hour James, underneath what is probably the best stand on that side of the pitch, turned infield and collapsed. He remained motionless upon the ground for ages before play stopped. He was eventually carted off on a stretcher, with Dave Moore, two St John's Ambulancers and Justin Whittle as his pall bearers. On came Hegggarty, with Toner moving to the right wing.
This set of men that Town were contractually obliged to play against were dispiritingly dull. They were athletes on the cynical side of professional: their aim to was destroy and hope a couple of big blokes could get away with a few things upfield. Toilet Paper Man was a festering boil that could cause problems. Where's the TCP?
It's still in the bathroom cupboard. TPM rolled, rocked and mocked through the Town defence from the halfway line and in to the area, twiddling inside as Whittle meandered off to Hornsea Potteries for a little gift to cheer Rodgerseseses up in these times of trouble. About eight yards out, on the left with an entire goal of entirety before him, TPM straggled a shot a couple of yards wide.
One day Toner will take a set piece that lands within the territorial waters of a Town player.
In added time Town's three-wheeler suddenly sparked into a bit of life. Toner bewitched Sideshow Bob and caressed a careful cross to the far post, where Hegggarty, unmarked about ten yards out, leant back and grazed a header unhelpfully wide. A minute or so later there was what alcoholics call a moment of clarity: three first-time passes starting and ending with Heggggarty sent free down the left. He crossed; the unmarked Bore rose and nooddled high and wide from eight yards out in the centre. You just knew Town would relapse and hit the bottle again.
It was boring, but better than usual against deeply dull opponents who were built to blast. Two or three isolated moments of Town football broke out between the juvenile delinquency, but deep down you knew Toilet Paper Man would be let loose. Town passed occasionally, almost by accident. Thwack and hack gets you through a jungle, not a bungle.
I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.
Neither team made any changes at half time, nor were there any more male bonding sessions in public. The huddle was history, so the befuddled muddle stepped in a puddle and we all got soaked.
Town started the second half as they always do - about three weeks later than their opponents. Apart from substituting Bore for North with five minutes left Town contributed only one thing in the second half, and that's at the very end, the coda, the bit after the credit, or in this case the debits.
Bore was kicked from behind and the associates of the purple-faced man decided to show their support with some of the wittiest sarcasm ever heard ever. "Oooh he's been shot."
Five minutes into the half and the visiting athletes in red had a corner on their left, which was cleared back to the taker. Town players remained inside the six-yard box as the ball was passed to an unmarked man on the corner of the penalty area. He looked up and clipped the ball onto the head of the unmarked Toilet Paper Man, six yards out, who nodded in to the middle of the goal.
It's loud and tasteless and I've heard it before: the dwindling band of Mariners got right behind the manager.
After ten minutes of sullen, simmering fury the doors of perception were thrust open. Some bloke in red whacked the ball over the top down their right. Toilet Paper was offside, but walking back. Fenton stopped, then ran into Toilet Paper as their number 20 ran through unmolested and lofted the ball over Barnes from just outside the area, into the bottom left corner.
Ah, what chance for Town? You can hear them blow if you lean your head out far enough. Let's check to see that nobody is escaping. Too late! Two dozen of the less fortified whiners were already banging on the gates demanding to be released early from their sentence.
"Let's get physical!" came the demand from the depths of the Pontoon. Yes! That's the answer: salvation in the back catalogue of Olivia Newton John. Though I did detect, Mr Rodger, that this man was no longer hopelessly devoted to you.
In Xanadu a pleasuredome positive John did dream. Perhaps no longer, eh. With ten minutes left they, that is them, got a corner on their right. Curled longingly, deepingly to the far post, the ball dropped six yards out. Bolland and one of them clashed and the ball was poked goalwards. Barnes dived, saved, parried and their number 20, standing all alone on the goal line, simply tapped it in.
And someone said to Rodger: "You're in the wrong place, my friend. You better leave."
They hooted, they hollered, they went home early in a deafening din of denunciation. There is no pleasure in other people's leisure. They had some more shots, no-one cared, no-one was watching the pitch. The loyal few sat silently, staring at the floor, or watching the celebratory fireworks exploding high above the Osmond stand. What is there to celebrate?
In added time Newey crossed, but was blocked; Heggggarty crossed, but was blocked; and the ball continued towards the corner flag. Newey crossed again to the centre of the penalty area and Ravenhill leant back and brilliantly stroked a left-footed volley shimmering into the bottom right corner. Three people made a very small noise. Perhaps they were sneezing. The game ended.
And the only sound that's left, after the ambulances go, is Mighty Mariner sweeping up on Desolation Row.
I do believe I've had enough.
Nicko's unsponsored man of the match
There is none, no-one. The second half did not exist: we sent out a bunch of holograms.
How can we complain about Mr S Bratt? We must look within ourselves for the cause of our failings. He could have been harder on them, but wasn't overly lenient or one-eyed. He was, in context, quite good. I'm going to give him 8.329.
They do not have a name. They have no identity. They don't exist. They do not deserve to be considered a football club. They are an aberration and abomination and there is, therefore, no discussion to be had.