Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
21 November 2008
Grimsby Town 3 Boringmouth 3
The heroic 80 battered souls of the south shivering in the Osmond: we salute you.
Us? Well, the days of Lennie Lawrence's leather loafers have long gone. This is Re-Newell: back to basics, back to school, back to snorkel parkas and back-to-back wins?
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Stockdale, Bennett, Blond Bob Atkinson, Newey, Clarke, Boshell, Trotter, Hegggarty, Proudlock, Jarman. The substitutes were Monty, North, Hope, Straight Peter Bore and Christopher Llewellyn. Proudlock had sensible hair. No frizz, no fringe and definitely no dyed black stripe down the centre. He's here for the beer only then. He did wear some white moonboots that looked like he'd just walked off a shift at Salvo's. After 12 hours freeze drying peas Adam Proudlock is back in Town and looking for answers. Where's his hairnet?
The teams warmed up round a wood-burning stove as the local populace scoured the executive boxes for sight of the invisible short-haired landlord from Liverpool. If you believe that, you'll be my clown, muppet and an April fool. And be a sunshine daisy from the FA.
Get back in your seats, it's time to play: two teams climbing the ladder of indifference to unblock their drainpipe of disappointment. Let the games begin.
Bournemouth kicked off towards the Pontoon. The ball blew backwards: a visual metaphor for both teams. Will the balls continue to mock us?
The Cherryboy keeper, far, far in the distance, pranced around his area like a baby bunny. Newey overhit a free kick. Ah, a Neweyian punt. That's as close as Radio Compost FM will get to an accurate description of him.
It started snowing.
It stopped snowing.
The wind blew the ball backwards. We're walking backwards to Christmas.
The concept of a Christmas number one single being about Christmas was really confined to the 1970s and 1980s. Another time, another place, another suitcase in another hall. Just look at the evidence: apart from good old Dickie Valentine's 'Christmas Alphabet' and Harry Belafonte's 'Mary's Boy Child', no number one referenced Christmas until 1973 when, officially, Christmas began. Christmas was, therefore, killed by Cliff Richard in 1990. FACT! There's a thesis in that. And that, over there on the pitch, is the antithesis of football.
They kicked the ball in the air; it didn't go backwards. Bennett was fouled slightly and Bournemouth kicked the ball in the air again. It went backwards as Atkinson, just outside the penalty area, fell back and sliced awfully. Bradbury sneaked up, barged Blond Bob aside and flumped a low drive goalwards from about a dozen yards out to the right of goal. Barnes jumped over the ball as it swished inside the near post. Bradbury had accidentally scored. Town had gone backwards again.
Newey overhit a chip and Bennett overhit a clip. Let us place our chinos in the trouser press of coincidence. Their keeper, Jalal the Hutt, gave a masterclass in slapstick: he could not kick, he could not catch, but he could pull his frilly nylons right up tight. Is he wearing lederhosen? Have you ever heard the German band? With a bing, with a bang, it's a song that he once sang.
Jalal sliced into the Lower Beer Stand. Jalal sliced into the open corner. Jalal sliced into the Osmond Stand. Jalal slapped against Jarman's thighs, as any good oompaah bandstander would. The ball rolled to Clarke and the keeper slowly retreated. Clarke passed it back. Jalal dropped a cross. Jalal flapped, Jalal flopped, Jalal will be flipping burgers next week. He's flipping useless.
Newey started painting his bathroom ceiling, which is a daft thing to do when you're 2,000 light years from home. Under the Police Box, down by the sea Newey curled a drifting, curling pass towards Barnes's ears. Barnes stumbled and leapt high to head the ball across the face of goal, chasing after it as Bradbury and Bennett pursued. Breathe in, breathe out. There, the panic attack is over.
Proudlock and Jarman passed to each other. The referee ended such nonsense with an arbitrary wolf whistle. He can't have any of that passing stuff. Whistle, whistle, beep-beep, roadrunner, roadrunner, blowing a thousand beeps an hour. Who was dragging who to whose level? A free kick to them for no reason. Bradbury headed a foot wide as Barnes stood and stared.
Newey started to paint his bathroom floor, which is a daft thing to do when you're cleaning windows. Under the Police Box of love Newey decided to go for a little walk. He turned and underhit a back-pass straight to the lurking Symes. Barnes back-pedalled and Atkinson slid superbly to swipe away the tears.
Finally, after 37 English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish minutes, Grimsby Town had an attack which resulted in a shot. Oh such beauty, crafted lovingly by hand from the tusks of the dead elephant in the room. For once Barnes rolled the ball out to Sticky Robdale on the Frozen Beer touchline. There was movement, there was purpose, there was a pass. Jarman rolled, Boshell tickled and Proudlock fizzled a drive across the face of goal and a few feet wide.
It was something, at least, and the first time Town had tried to pass rather than punt.
In ones and twos people started to drift away from their seats. What's more important: a Mars bar or a goal?
And Town took a semblance of control by - and you won't believe this, but stay with me; you'll love the punchline - controlling the ball. P&J prodded and probed, winning corners. Hegggarty overhit the first and overhit the second and so Boshell took the third, lofting beyond the back post. Bennett, unmarked and cradling a soothing cup-a-soup, strolled and rolled a cushioned header back into a gigantuanlynormous space a dozen yards out. Clarke waited as the ball slowly arrived and Cherryboys rushed, then magnificently twisted and slapped a swerving, sailing shot across the slides, across the swings, over the climbing frame and into the top right corner.
And the dam broke, there was thunder in Cherry ears.
Town surged on, Bournemouth cowered. A corner, a cross, a free kick, a cross, a goal! Newey clipped, Atkinson flicked and Bennett, unmarked at the far post, noodled a stooping header back across the keeper. Ah, that's better: serenity restored.
See what happens if you go for a packet of cheese and onion crisps too early?
The wind blew the ball backwards for another couple of minutes and the referee decided he needed to wash his toupee, so off they all trouped. Ahhhh, nice.
An awful half played in awful conditions. Town were largely dumb - aimlessly whacking with the wind behind resulted in nothing but the physical comedy of Shwan Jalal, soon to be appearing in pantomime with someone who once opened a door in Emmerdale. Hegggarty and Newey were particularly dreadful, being timid and clumsy, while Clarke had been a stuttering stammer when Town did try to speak. All Bournemouth had done was chip towards Lee Bradbury. Both teams seemed to be relying on the wobbling wind to unnerve opponents.
Town would do well to avoid victory now. But Town is, as we all know, Town. We've been successfully avoiding victory for years. It's what we do.
Neither team made a change at half time.
Town had, as usual, 15 minutes of fame. Pulverising the illiquid Bournemouthians into a milk shake. Stockdale crossed, Hegggarty swung his pants and swept a right-footed shot a foot past the left post. Proudlock jabbed a pass behind the defence, Clarke sidled forward and crackled a low cross through the penalty area. Hegggarty slid eight yards out and missed by an inch. Bosh retrieved, Newey piddled and Town got a corner. Bournemouth broke as far as the half way line and back Town smoothed: Boshell to Newey to Boshell to Newey to Heggarty to Hegggarty to Heggggggggarty to Heggggggggggggg... I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky. One... two... three... to Hegggarty and Town got a corner. It went low through all, past all, and love is all you need.
Pressure, pressure, pressure, Bosh shot and Bosh blocked. Trotter trotted through, Proudlock oozled while Jarman bamboozled then Symes headed wide. Eh? They kicked the ball and ran after it then crossed, that's what. Nothing to get hung up about. Clarke crossed, Jarman sneaked a header which skipped low to the keeper. Clarke crossed and Guyett's knocking knees flipped the ball over the bar from two yards out.
If it was anything it was all Town.
Oh! Igoe poke-lobbed Barnes from 30 yards, the ball landing on the roof of the net. Oh, oh well, they're still here then.
On the hour Town turned the pressure on the hose up to three - soft drizzle, persistent drench. Proudlock sneaked a corner, Hegggarty coiled it into the centre of the six-yard box and Atkinson stooped, put on a straw boater, caught a cane and flicked the ball into the bottom right corner like he was putting on a show, right here, right now.
There were are then, Bournemouth relegated: they'll never get 15 points back on us now, they're back where they started. That's it, we're safe. I've just seen a chicken cross the road - third one today.
Ooh, a corner. Ooh, missed by everyone. Jalal flapped, remaining prostate after the merest of collisions with Bennett. The southern softie eventually twitched his nose. P&J twinked and Guyett slobbered in to the back of Jarman. Booking, free kick, don't let Newey take it! They did.
Town played pooh sticks inside the Bournemouth area, taking it in turns to show off their latest little moves on the dance floor. After some break dancing by Clarke, a foxtrot by Proudlock and a Wiltshire wagonwheel from Jarman, Hegggarty slappered a shot off a red boot which Jalal saved at the foot of his right post. His first save of the night. His only save of the night.
Town slept and Igoe sliced wonderfully wide from the edge of the penalty area. Town awoke to take a goal kick. The ball hung in the air and dropped vertically on the halfway line. The rest of the game was taken up thusly. As Town pressed, Bournemouth started to get the inkling of a twinkling in their eye; Igoe drifted into space and started to propagate swift attacks. They kept falling over when they got near Barnes, but the clues were there: Igoe was dangerous; he was their best hope of something.
Igoe? He went! Replaced by someone taller. Wahey! They've taken off their best player. Anderton? He just stands still and lobs the ball diagonally like a footballing nodding donkey. Bradbury? He's just moving flesh. The rest? Pfft.
With around ten minutes left the beat-the-traffickers started to drift away, safe in the knowledge that all was well, the game was won, for nothing, no-not-nothing was going on out there. Bournemouth hadn't even got inside Town's penalty area. They'd spent their pennies.
Oh, how did that happen? Hegggarty was walking, Newey dozing and a Cherryboy was allowed to cross deeply in to the Town area. Some redboy, way, way out headed firmly down and across Barnes. No danger, surely. Barnes lowly plunged to his left and palmed the ball aside - straight to the immobile Anderton, who stroked the ball into the empty net. Now that's plain silly.
Still, at least Barnes did, technically, statistically, officially, make a save, even if it only delayed disaster by a second. His first save of the night. His only save of the night.
After a couple of minutes of self-pitying, shuffling Proudlock wonderfully turned past Guyett, who just legged him up, then legged it off as yellow number two was followed by red number one. Now, rationally, this really did seal the deal, didn't it.
We are Grimsby, we are nothing but the silhouette of irrationality. Save us, oh save us, oh mystery man in the executive box. He's a mystery because you don't know who he is, that's all.
Clarke skruggled the free kick safely, uninterestingly over. Or wide, or both. So what. Yeah, yeah, yeah, what time is it?
With Bournemouth down to ten men Town rather impressively laid another layer of iced panic on the fruity cake of fear. The wings were abandoned and everyone hugged each other in the middle, scurried back towards Barnes, and just hacked at the ball if it came near them. Barnes was invisible, hiding somewhere behind the Osmond.
Bournemouth walloped the ball forward. Town backed off and Bournemouth were allowed to control the ball and pass to each other around the edge of the area.
Town gave it back.
Town gave it back.
Town gave it back.
Cooper advanced and Boshell slipped. Cooper waltzed sideways across the face of the area, exchanged passes with Anderton and mis-hit a shot vaguely goalwards. It appeared to be going slowly, slowly wide, but Bradbury, about a dozen yards out, slid to poke it in to the exact spot Barnes had been a millisecond earlier, while Newey stood nearby. Fewer than one hundred people were happy in Town tonight.
There were three minutes of added time. And at this point it was decided to make a substitution - North replaced the irrepressible Jarman, who had just tracked back twice from the halfway line as others sauntered, clearing from the corner flag with a superlative rolling Berbatovian turn. North may have touched the ball, he may not. Who was paying attention? Town were now hanging on for a point. Hanging on!
It all ended with Newey, slipped free inside the penalty area, crossing into the Pontoon with a lazy dink, which is as close as Radio Humberside will ever get to an accurate description of him.
The fortnightly disembowelling continues. A terrible game played in a terrible wind with a terrible referee. Town were terrible, but still cruising past feeble opponents who had, rather helpfully, forgotten to bring a goalkeeper. Unfortunately so had we. Phil Barnes - how many saves?
The last ten minutes were feeble-minded dross. It's all in the mind. Have they got more moral fibre than a shredded wheat?