Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 May 2015
Grimsby Town 1 Bristol Rovers 1 (p)
Biggleswade. It only means one thing: sausage sandwiches in Sainsburys.
This season started with a miss, but we always knew it would come to this: Bristol Rovers our one true foe, the blockage in our drains, the obstinate obstacle on our path to glory. We two slackers really shouldn't have let Barnet get away with basic bullyball. Oh well, here we are again, as happy as you can be at Wembley.
The mood, the atmosphere? For what it's worth thousands of people in the streets. Singing songs and carrying signs, mostly saying "hooray for our side". But stop. Hey, what's that sound? Everybody look – it's Grimsby Town. Young blokes sitting on the benches shouting out rude names. That's the sound of this suburb, this day. Is this our time?
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Mackreth, Brown, Disley, Arnold, Palmer and John-Lewis. The substitutes were Parslow, Clay, Pittman, Jolley and Hannah. Woah, what's going on? Wasn't Jamboy supposed to be down and out near Primrose Hill? Where's Gosh Jowling? Ah, suited but not booted and in the stands.
What a beautiful green carpet, as long and lush as Mike Newell.
We looked into the distance and what did we see? Passive pirates in a silent sea of blue.
First half: Bump 'n' grind on acid
Town kicked off towards those simmering gasometers. Ups were upped, unders were thundered and Pearson swiped away. The ball squirtled free on the halfway line and the demon barber scampered, swayed, shook and sizzled on a diagonal drift from right to left. Bluemen were skittled and Arnold scraped lowly towards the penalty spot. Lennie toe-poked, Puddy prodded and into the net bumbled the ball off Lennie's nose as the amazing Pudding flopped and flapped desperately and deliciously. You've been Lennied. They say it's your birthday. We're gonna have a good time.
The quintessential Lennie goal. He misses but scores by accident, with a ricochet off his nose. We're on the money, on the ball and having a holiday on the buses (£25 return trip to Mablethorpe).
Yes we're going to a party-party. Yes we're going to a party-party.
Toto dozed, Taylor tumbled and McKeown grasped the nettle. Pearson throttled the boiling little kettle, the leg-wiggling oik. The referee wagged his fingers.
Biff-bang, clang-clang-clang, they're off their trolley. There is no doubt that the Puddycat crept out of his area as Pirates were pickled and panicked. Brown mugged a chugger and Lennie ATTACKED THE NEAR POST. The ball lodged under the sliding shop door and he swivelled a hooky flip which Puddy cat-flapped aside. Corners. Attacking. Cor, Town, eh!
More corners. Toto noodled over. Another, half cleared. Arnold dropped his shoulder, swung his pants and swished towards the top left corner. Puddy groaned left as the ball gently arced away at the last moment.
And then it came. Around 20 minutes in. The moment. The award for biggest chicken in the bucket goes to… Ross Joyce. Town lumped over the top and Palmer hared away down the right. Puddy pitter-patted out of his area with his arms outstretched. Palmer lofted, Puddy star-jumped and the ball hit a human arm. Behind Puddycat was no-one and nothing but an empty net.
Now what will it be Mr Referee? The right way or the highway?
Pffft, you ain't getting a penalty there. Foot to ball. Taylor's such a terrible tumbler
The blue end fell silent, the black end bayed. A yellow card from a yellow man and much colourful epitheting flew from the east.
After this, what? Palmer's daisy cutter and a lot of Mariners mowing. That's all. The rest of the half was various shades of blue.
Oooh, passing? Well, it would be, but Lennie fell over and the artless artisans from Avon arrived on the edge of Town. A cross, a header and Toto's knees went all trembly when he remembered he was at Wembley. Nsiala nslashed over the bar with his nshins. The corner dripped to the far post and was met by befuddlement, the ball was betwixt and between. Palmer pathetically morris-danced past the bouncing ball and Harrison walloped through monochrome and McKeown's wave.
Oh, now we can hear you. You only sing when you are etcetering.
Let's get the drum beat going again. This is a typical away game. Keeping shape and hanging on to what we've got. Robertson mugged himself on the bye-line and tiny Taylor tumbled as Jamboy retrieved. Pffft, you ain't getting a penalty there. Foot to ball. Taylor's such a terrible tumbler.
Magnay upended a flightless bird and out came the yellow card again. Magnay professionally wrestled Harrison to the ground and was subject to a final finger wag. This ref really doesn't want to send anyone off, does he?
Brown spun himself into a cotton ball and off the Brizzlers roamed with Town undermanned and caught catching a tan. Lines was tickled to find himself alone, a dozen yards out. Town were tickled to find he was struck by levophobia or possibly ligyrophobia. He passed on responsibility for failure and we had the obligatory Magnayficent block.
A punt from nowhere to nowhere with no-one near. Pearson bumbled and stumbled the ball backwards, into the void. Taylor pounced, McKeown flounced out to slidey-swipe as the ball and Pirate passed by. With the ball squishing away Taylor remembered to tumble.
What will it be?
A yellow card for the terrible tumbler, the diminutive dastardly diver, the piratical poltroon.
Well, we didn't expect that. Events. Town attacking. Things happening randomly. The ref being rubbish. Oh, yes, we did expect that. We expected low-grade chess and we got hungry hungry hippos. Time for the manager's mystical magic powers to dampen down this entertaining chaos.
Second half: Slugs and snails
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Nothing happened. Two glaciers slowly melted into a giant puddle of a muddle in the middle.
But nothing happened to the sound of the Bouncing Boys and the massed Mariners choral society. Hear that noise? That was us Black and White minstrels. Them over there? Up to London for a show. An audience, not a crowd. Watchers. Where's the feeling, where's the heart? This is our town, this is our Town.
Still nothing going on anywhere but in the Town end. We bounce, we sing, we clap, we stomp. This is our town, where less is more and more is always less.
Pittman replaced Palmer for vertical leaps and occasional bleeps. Robertson collapsed and we'd reached the Parslow Point. Did anything happen in front of the Lincolnshire lads and lasses with the smiles upon their faces? Old Percy Parslow raided and whippled a wonderful cross. No-one there. See, nothing happened. We saw nothing happening slower and slower and slower as legs buckled, minds melted, and passes were strayed not sprayed.
Did anything happen down there in front of the day-trippers? No.
We have the pain and pleasure of grown men wilting as the penalties of Damocles swung above them. Two heavyweights have slugged themselves into a stupor. Where's the towel?
Moments of movement, occasional accidents of passing. A jumble of rumbles and grumbles, a hotchpotch of hoofs and grouses. They had a shot. Wahey! And Jamie Mack had to catch it too. Let's call it a shot on target.
Feetov Clay replaced the increasingly receding Brown, ground down to a near standstill by the concrete and clay beneath his feet. Feetov flicked, Lennie licked his lips but forgot his spoon. Wee Jackie ducked as Puddingboy flapped. The ball gently trickled and was snickled away. The moment passed.
A free kick deeply dumped. A header soared soaringly towards the briefly audible blueness beyond. A free kick deeply dumped. Monkhouse stumble-shinned nowhere. He's a real nowhere man. Pittman scrumped to the near post, Lennie hid at the back post rather than ATTACKING THE NEAR POST. The moments passed.
With a minute left the ball was wellied into the west and Mildenhall replaced the Puddycat. Now there's a contrived plot twist.
And so it was as all knew it would be. A firing squad.
We could offer Brizzle a job-share next season. C'mon, it's only fair. Shall we toss for who does the Conference before Christmas?
Dizzer pointed east. The firing squad was to be before us.
To the victor: Yeovil. To the loser: Boreham Wood.
They scored, we scored, they scored, we scored, they scored, oh… Poor, poor Jon-Paul with a poor lifting loft into the deflation of Town fans. Details irrelevant, time playing out with the inevitability that was predicted before the season even began. We're lying in the wreckage of one penalty. We're sat here waiting for the end to begin again.
Down and out. It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
A Town penalty failure at the new Wembley? It's traditional.
No-one deserved to win this single game, where neither deserved not to go up, and yet neither quite deserved not to stay down.
One game meaning so much to so many, yet so few. So many jobs decided by arbitrary cowardice and one man's small mistake. So many ifs and buts over ten months, so many buts and ifs over two hours. Neither of the keepers made any real saves: it was all about who didn't score first. Poor, poor Pittman. You aren't Richard Brodie. There is no blame for one small, cruel moment.
We've been waiting such a long time, but it's still not here. What's another year?