Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 August 2014
Grimsby Town 1 Dover Athletic 1
A day. In Cleethorpes. Wind. Sun. Streets full of people, no-one there. A double dose of Doverites in the covered corner. Maybe 80, maybe more, maybe less, maybe it's because they're not Londoners that they've come up to Grimsby Town.
Town lined up in a 3-5-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Pearson, Nsiala, Boyce, Magnay, Clay, Brown, Disley, McLaughlin, John-Lewis, Connell. The substitutes were Bignot, Winfarrah, Mackreth, Pittman and Bemrose. Who, what, where, when, how? Magnay was at right wing-back, McLaughlin at left wing-back, you can work out for yourself where the rest were. That's the who and the where, the rest is a mystery, oh it's a mystery that'll turn suburbia inside out.
Big Dover turned out in a strident raspberry outfit – I have seen their fuchsia and it doesn't work. Does he know, does he care? We say Nsiala, the shirt says Nsalia. That's N'sane, he'll get N'somnia thinking about that. I have always thought at the back of my mind it's Nsiala? Do we need to spell it out?
Every minute Town stay in this league, they get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Someday this bore's gonna end.
First half: Love, truth and honesty
Nuneaton kicked off towards the Pontoon, which logic determines means Town attacked the empty end. Logic: what does that tell you when it comes to Town? Logic and proportion? Hang on, that was Tuesday, wasn't it? Wakey-wakey! We gotta get out of this rut, if it's the last thing we ever do.
Dover kicked off towards the Pontoon, which logic determines means Town attacked the empty end. Logic: what does that tell you when it comes to Town? Logic and proportion? Hang on, this is today, isn't it? This is different, totally different. And also not the same.
Chip and chase, muck and muddle, we're in a befuddle. Swap orange for pink, it's Tuesday all over again. Brown flibbled a way out wobbler straight at Walker after at least three connected passes. Pearson headed over the top into a vacancy in the dead zone outside the penalty area. The discount Shop bundled forward as Walker haired out and headed on. The keeper fingertipped and a defender strolled around to hoik away from near the goal-line. Don't criticise Mr John-Lewis for not scoring there. Not every miss is a howler.
Are we really that interested in Brown walloping high and Connell wasting a free kick in to the wall? You are? Well, I'm not
The Shop flipped and slipped a pass into an unmanned space to the left of their goal. Disley flopped a volley highly from ten yards out. DIzzerpointing exchanged tips with the Shop and weakly wobbled straight at Walker. Clay tickled the Dizzer free inside the penalty area. The old man creaked and a young pretender stepped across to swat away this fly. Alas, poor Disley, we knew him. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the Pontoon on a roar? Quite chap-fallen?
Say it ain't so Craig, say it ain't so.
Them be big, them be nimble, them be quick. Chief Hairbear Modeste waltzed his way down their right and tickled a teaser inside Magnay to set his hares free. Payne carefully rolled the ball across the frozen McKeown and the far post as a chum awaited unmarked in the centre.
Are we really that interested in Brown walloping high and Connell wasting a free kick in to the wall? You are? Well, I'm not.
Them: big but nothing. Town: mechanical stodge; listless lateral passing to statues.
Dover broke away with Magnay outpaced in the shadows of the Findus. The pink prance approached the Town penalty area but was swooshed away by an n'credible Nsiala n'tervention n'volving much stretchy bootage.
And then they missed. A pink punt, a pink head, and some kind of pink 'un sliced a volley droopily wide when unmarked a dozen yards out. Then another pinkerman sliced wide from the edge of the area.
That's all, folks.
I can't lie to you about our chances, but I do want your sympathy.
Second half: A handbag
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Townites move. Townites move with perceptible pace. At one point something almost happened. Connell and McLaughlin almost remembered that thing they called football. The ball hit a pink hand when helping on a dink. You'll get nowt from this ref, lad. Connell finally won a free kick and Town recreated a Japanese tea ceremony. Slow, delicate, methodical, painfully arch and painfully close to scoring.
Tippled back and forth, Brown eventually levered a dinky chip beyond the far post. Connell peeled way and from the right bye-line, hooked the ball back into the centre. John-Lewis awaited, dead centre, ten yards out, swung his right foot and swacked the ball against the inside of the left post. Cleared, returned, he arose again, in front of Mr Flappy, to glance wide.
The first miss may be regarded as misfortune; the second looked like carelessness.
Them – some kind of bumblage at a free kick or throw-in. Or was it a corner? Does it matter? A set piece set-to with Pearson's boot involved in minor scrapes and jaunty japes to divert danger.
And wouldn't you know it, Connell started to play football. He seeped into space and began to lever and lope, to snick and treat around the edge of the penalty box. Big Al exquisitely curled a pass with the outside of his boot into the path of The Shop, who pulled out of shooting as a Kentish man appeared. Ooh-la-la, a flick and Brown was freed but McLaughlin wouldn't shoot.
Finally, the old Connell was back and… so he was taken off and on scampered Pittman. There were boos for the removal, not the arrival.
Pittman was sparky and perky, visibly galvanising Town with his movement and desire. Suddenly Dover had problems with his nicking and knocking. Suddenly Town had a problem. A free kick on the halfway line, under the Frozen Horsemeat Stand after Mr Hairbear fainted like a Victorian lady at the sight of Mr Pearson's, the rugged local farmer, naked knees. It swung up and down, in and out, and through the six-yard box. They're big but, fortunately, not in shape to knock it in.
Modeste hurtled down their left, shimmering past Magnay and driving his sheep deep, deep into the Town half. Nsiala wandered across and shrugged off the little big man, who threw himself turfwards. Toto Le Hero walked away and sauntered up the right. And carried on sauntering, looked up and gently dinked a big lump. Half headed out and rolling across the edge of the penalty area, McLaughlin stepped forward and wellied goalwards. Walker shuffled right and the ball looped off Pittman's backside and spundled into the top left corner.
Mercy me, a goal. Whatever next? Oh yeah, wahey, a goal, woo-hoo, g-o-o-o-o-o-o Grimsby.
Rather than cuffing Nanetti around the ear and telling him to clear off otherwise they'll tell his mum, Disley, Clay and McLaughlin decided to launch a petition next Wednesday demanding that the local council put up a sign
The usual Town hump-and-hope, and John-Lewis lapped on a bouncing troll. Pittman raced away and scrumbled agin the keeper from a narrow angle, but got the ball back and carefully passed across the face of goal. Clay missed. The Shop took it off the toes of McLaughlin, then passed to the Goatman when surrounded by a sea of pink. The end of the affair. Well, what did you expect?
Town flowed like a mountain stream, with corners and rings and things to make it look good. In, out, cleared, and returned. A Doverite blubbed away to another Doverite, who walloped towards the halfway line and Nanetti the tiny, tiny screw-top hairdo. He used to play for QPR, you know. No, don't crow.
McLaughlin failed and Nanetti carried on towards the touchline. Disley, Clay and McLaughlin surrounded the pint-sized poppet, forming a committee of concerned locals. Rather than cuffing the tyke around the ear and telling him to clear off otherwise they'll tell his mum, they decided to launch a petition next Wednesday demanding that the local council put up a sign.
A twirl, a swirl and Nanetti was away, three Townites in a fountain. Nsiala was sucked into his world of wonder, leaving an existential emptiness on their left. Nanetti tickled and Lock carefully placed under the sliding Magnay, across McKeown and into bottom left corner.
Oh the joy that poured down from the stands. Sorry, I mistyped that: oh the boys that poured down from the stands and went home.
At this Mackreth replaced Clay. Some people were excited by this, having a hankering for a junior Joe Colbeck.
And still there's more flow and woe. Lennie collided with a clearance and orf Town trotted. Mackreth cranked a cross which managed to reach the edge of the six-yard box. Pittman sniggled in front of his marker, chested the ball up and spectacularly biked the ball through the six-yard box. The goal agaped, the keeper was somewhere off Spurn Point. The goal was open, the ball was a yard out.
How can I describe this to give you the full flavour of the moment? The goal was open, the ball was a yard out. Brown slid forward. Brown slid in with no Doverite invading his personal space. Brown slid in and knock-kneed the ball straight to the keeper. The goal was open, the ball was a yard out. It was impossible to miss. But Town succeeded again.
Have we finished yet? No, there's more. Way into added time anther nondescript moment of nothingness. A Pink chuck near the covered corner. Hurled long, bouncing, bouncing through to McKeown. The pink player kissed the turf, asking politely for a penalty. Pffft, you got to be crazy. Ah, this ref is crazy, isn't he? A penalty, a yellow card for Boyce and an undertaker stood beside the dug-out with some nails. A Dover diver or Grimsby grappler? Whatever. We're almost past caring.
Nanetti rolled low; McKeown plunged right and tippled the ball aside for a corner. Well done. The undertaker went home for his tea. There's always next week.
And at the very end Town broke free in a little cameo which perfectly encapsulated this new Town. Mackreth was released down the right on the halfway line with Pittman alone, alone, alone, alone, alone in the centre. Town had three players in their half, Dover one. Mackreth saw nothing, just running on and on and on, and was easily eased straight out of play. For a goal kick.
Town should have won easily, but also should have lost. Each game a couple of hundred fewer bother to sit in silence. Why? Because it's just like watching Lincoln.