Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
13 April 2014
Grimsby Town 2 Chester 1
A sneezy, breezy day of warm sun and fancy dress fun with around 200 Deviants dozing in the deep, dark heart of the Osmond stand. Now, remember, don't do any of your imaginary booing today – the Short One will get upset and stomp off home to his mum.
Who knew Topcon John was big into blues-rock fusion with a hint of psychedelic folk? He digs it, man. He just wants some Blind Faith, to see a sea of joy among those sleeping in the ground. Far out and groovy. It probably explains the ten-minute drum solos in the Pontoon.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, Pearson, Boyce, McLaughlin, Rodman, Kerr, Disley, Neilson, Jennings, Tounkara. The substitutes were McDonald, Thanoj, Winfarrah, Hannah and Cook. Now, I know what you're thinking. McLaughlin at left-back. We've got to ask ourselves one question: ”Do we feel lucky?” Well, do you?
The Shopping Trolley is still in the canal, so yes, we do.
Well, all right, do what you like. A battalion of boozy boys swanked around in 70s gear. Or what now passes for the 70s. I remember it being a bit more beige down Heneage Road, and we didn't pass it in the 70s – it was far too muddy.
Chester had clearly been invited to the same party and turned up in their purple spandex jumpsuits. Did they bring the Watney's Party Seven? Whatever happened to the Watney Cup? Time is linear, memory's a stranger, and history's for fools! Modern football only makes perfect sense if you express it in dollars and cents, pounds, shillings and pence.
First half: Do what you like
Town kicked off towards the Osmond. Yeah, whatever.
The fancy dress party jiggered and jaggered and starting singing. Singing. For no reason. They were having a party and they were loving it, because it was a party with a little atmosphere.
At least it distracted from the splendour on the grass. All that colour and noise. Hang on, that lad's dressed as Freddie Mercury. In Radio Gaga. Wrong decade. Remove him from the amphitheatre; off with his wig. Standards are slipping. Jennings sliced a shot for a throw-in. A penny for your thoughts?
Purples in a haze, Rodman roaming and Neilson droning, Kerr carefully levered over the bar from inside the 'D'. Tounkara controlled the football. Tounkara almost did something. An enormous Barry White wandered in front of the Pontoon. Don't worry, Jamie Mack – it's only love doing its thing.
After a period of time that was officially measured in 15 of your Earth minutes, there was something to get hung up about. Living life in the non-League is easy with eyes closed, though it's possible to misunderstand all you see. Bundling barrelling bumbling nowhere much, the ball was high or low. Neilson appeared in a puff of smoke to swerve and surge from the halfway line. On and on he flew with the Deviants retreating and trembling. He flagellated goalwards and Chapman flew left to parry-push aside.
Jennings did something successfully and fortunately passed to someone who really could do something of note. Rodman teased and wheezed and waived his right to a lawyer, throddling through the area, dazzling with dainty sways and carefully rolling a pass into a vacant space at the near post occupied only by a monochromer Ten yards out, Tounkara carefully mishit a pass, boombling and bumbling into the bottom left corner as the keeper sighed.
That's alright. That is I think it's not too bad. But that's not what a striker is for, is it?
The purple stars? Nothing, then something, but it was nothing in the end. Mahon cut in from their left and walloped from afar against a black and white bottom. The ball ballooned out behind Hatton and Hobson poked between McKeown's legs. Ooh nasty. Ooh offside.
This is the dimension of imagination. This is the far left edge of the Chester penalty area, a space mainly inhabited by butterflies and worms
They had a few crosses and free kicks right at the end of the half. Nothing happened. That was them, forever in blue jeans.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. This is the far left edge of the Chester penalty area, a space mainly inhabited by butterflies and worms.
The ball bounced bouncily, nowhere much of interest. Tonka Boy chased out. Jarrett stretched into the area and clattered the Gallic Shrug, who flew, flew, flew out of the area and landed on the Constitutional Club's bowling green. The ref pointed spotward. We're in a Lennieless pickle! Oh what to do, what to do.
Hatton picked up the ball, Tounkara took it off him, Rodman put it on the penalty spot and Neilson trudged forward and drudged terribly mid-height to the keeper's right. Chapman swooped and swooned to flap away with ease.
The rest is swirls in your coffee. Now to you and me, we amateur moaners at the church of St John the Dentist, nothing happened. To the connoisseurs and cognoscenti, the literati and glitterati, this was a fascinating tactical tussle. Burr had outfoxed the Short One by countering Town's counter-defending with counterfeit-counter-intuitive-defending. Town couldn't pass it back to McKeown because Chester kept intercepting and either passing out of play or straight back to a Townite further up the pitch. Town had no choice but to attack. Messin' with our minds, man. They don't practise that at Cheapside.
If you think anything else happened, you really were at Hyde Park in 1969. When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, you've probably had one of the burgers.
Oh, it's half time.
Second half: Sleeping in the ground
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Don't worry, the Short One had a plan. Not Plan A, but A Plan. You know, like a 1970s kitchen. Jennings was withdrawn into the midfield holding role for Chester, sitting at the base of a diamond they never knew they had. What riches! If you can't have a striker in form then get one in formica.
What drivelling nonsense! Are you talking about that paragraph, the paralytic fancy dressers or the second half in general? Ah, never reveal your endings, I say. Turn to the last page for whodunnit if you must, but you'll miss all the twists and turns and fun of the fair, the rollercoaster ride of emotions on the journey that'll make you laugh, make you cry, make you dance in the aisles.
Kerr tricked and treated; Neilson pleated his hair and pleated a pass to the Tonka boy. He ooh-la-laahed in the shadow of the Frozen Horse Stand, swingling into the area and ignoring the awaiting Jennings and Rodman to slowly, lowly trundle a shot into the waiting arms of the waiting keeper.
Hatton has a long throw, you know. He throws it long straight into the arms of the waiting keeper. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again to perfect the art of not succeeding. Hatton's long throw tactic works perfectly now.
Oh, do excuse me, how awfully rude. I haven't properly introduced you to our house guests. Meet Chester, they are… called Chester. We bumped into them about six months ago after not seeing them for absolutely years. They live in a converted cow shed on the edge of nowhere and they are struggling awfully at the moment. Please do give them a hand, they are frightfully proud and won't want to take charity, please don't make it look obvious.
A corner, a short corner, a short corner clipped and McKeown tried to make it look like he had missed his punch. Well done, I bet you let your nephew win at Top Trumps too. The ball drifted to the unmarked Jarrett who carefully volleyed over.
Neilson surged and tipped infield, teased the Chesterites and tapped sideways. Jennings, alone on the edge of the area, flicked with the outside of his right boot and the ball pathetically, embarrassingly skulked ten yards wide.
Cook replaced the newly popular Tounkara. On he bounded, a free kick awarded, chipped straight onto his bonce and carefully steered back into the middle of the penalty area. Straight to Jennings. Straight to the unmarked Jennings. Straight to the unmarked Jennings seven yards out, dead centre. He flicked with the outside of his right boot, steering softly, straight to the keeper.
A McLaughlin clearance was charged down and flicked behind him. A winger winged to the bye-line and caroused a tempting little teaser into the middle of the area. Pearson stretched and carefully, accidentally toed the ball into McKeown's midriff.
What more, sire? A welly and Cook wonderfully controlled and turned and burned goalwards, swinging west and then east to leave purple deposits in his wake; Jennings running behind with a plastic bag in hand. On the edge of the area Cook eschewed two unmarked Townites to bedraggle a snorter three yards wide.
There was a policeman in the street, watching, but did he do anything? Oh, no, he turned away and let the youth of today get away with some antisocial attacking
You know this is beginning to sound like an interesting game. Events taken out of context can seem so meaningful, m' lud.
Kerr was mugged, losing his mobile phone, dignity and the ball. You know there was a policeman in the street, watching, but did he do anything? Oh, no, he turned away and let the youth of today get away with some antisocial attacking. Purple boy slashed lowly from their left, McKeown plunged and pawed aside. Newly arrived substitute Purple Boy spooned over and wide from the right-hand side.
At this the Brains Trust decided that attack was the best form of defence, taking off Chester's holding midfielder and replacing him with Thanoj. Town moved to a formation which maybe was the fluid 4-5-1, sometimes 4-3-3, but isn't often either.
Within minutes the trust we placed in the Brains of Blundell Park was rewarded. Nothing, nowhere much going on over near the Police Box. Neilson whistled while he worked, turning three or more Deviants into twerps with a misty-eyed mazy dribble along the touchline, rolling around a final Deviant on the bye-line and advancing goalwards. Chapman and his mates shuffled towards the incoming chubby charmer, who passed between several legs. The ball arrived as Cook's boot arrived to lash in low from four or five yards out.
Rodman was replaced by anagrammatically challenged Caine Winfarrah. Doodle away, hi-diddle-di-dee, what shall I have for tea? Four minutes were added and, by jiggerdy-gee, the Purplers accidentally obtained some fleetingly false hope.
Way out right a pigeon-toed, under-growed flyin' purple wingerlevered a lollipop cross which sailed and swung and hung. Well, he saw a thing comin' out of the sky, McKeown stumbled as he ate his pie and adjusted his tie. In it went, plopping in off the far post. Caton had become a purple people pleaser.
Town made something simple harder than it needed to be. One summer I worked at Salvesen's on the pea line. The supervisor was obsessed with ensuring that the water sprays were set absolutely perfectly so as to be just enough to ensure the machines didn't grind to a halt, but did not expend any more energy and water than required. The machines kept breaking down when there were more muddy peas than normal, or when he got it slightly wrong.
You can try to be too clever.