Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
14 December 2015
Grimsby Town 1 Solihull Moors 1
Rain. Mud. December. Saturday afternoon. Choices.
FA Trophy. Christmas shopping. Central heating. A pair of slippers and a hot chocolate. Sitting on a couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing Premiership games, stuffing junk food into their mouths and junk into their brains. Choices. We all have choices. Life is about the choices you make.
Some chose leisurewear and matching luggage, DIY and wondering who they are on a Saturday afternoon. A thousand people chose to sit in the wind and rain, watching wheelie bins go by.
Paul Hurst made choices. He chose a job. He chose this career. He chose to give his reserves a chance of a future. What life would they choose?
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Jones, Henderson, Brown, Marshall, Bogle, Alabi. The substitutes were Townsend, Mackreth, Clay, Venney and Pittman. Ah, two Big Units up front; one chose lime boots, one chose tangerine boots. Decisions have been made. No-one was complaining about the understudy audition. It made sense – now would they seize the day or seize up?
Choices. Decisions. Solihull turned up in blue and yellow hoops. Someone chose that colour scheme.
Shorty sent this lot along as a surrogate band. Now we're gonna find out where his plans really stand.
First half: Shake your booties
The yellow and blue Moorons kicked off towards the Pontoon. How rude? Not at all sir, for that is what their banner declared them to be. They be a coachload of self-deprecating, self-aware and self-raising Bananarama flowers.
We be waiting for the goal rush.
Marshall wasted, Marshall wafted, Marshall stacked up a full house of fey flops. Hash Brown and the stately Henderson were beach chalets at Mablethorpe. Look at them lime boots go. Big Unit Alabi is Frank Zappa's daughter.
Bogle boggled and toggled from afar. A corner. Nothing happened. The Big Units were placed against the wall and Alabi piffled, or possibly wiffled, at the strapping Siegrist. Enough wiffling about wiffling – there was the appearance of activity in the distance as monochromes pac-manned from side to side.
The clues were there. Micro moments of nearlyness. Town's centre parting is never a good look. Tait missed and messed; the ball flipped from their left to right. A little scurrier scuttled and swished a swinger and Asante, their new Omar, ATTACKED THE NEAR POST. Boots prodded, old Pinky flapped his arms and the ball gently spooned up and across the face of goal, drifting an inch past the far post.
Town had a hollow, brittle centre. A meringue, a soufflé: a candyfloss confection of homespun absence. Brown and Henderson lacked speed, lacked endurance, lacked cohesion and positioning. The Moormen had aerial dominance, and kept sliding into the vast void twixt defence and non-midfield. Corners, attacks, moments and panic. A corner on their right, dunked middlingly into the human pudding. Men rose, yellow heads dominant. The ball dropped seven yards out. A space, a hole, another absence of stripes. Brown spun and hooked through Jamie Mack as Alabi flinched and Robertson watched Town flop while standing on the ground.
If you want to, you can believe anything. Henderson spotted the keeper wandering and tried an audacious Eagle from the halfway line. Siegrist waved goodbye as the ball drooped and dripped into the first row. Bogle barked straight into the keeper's midriff.
Finally Town found pace, intensity, and desire. For a minute
And finally Town found pace, intensity, and desire. For a minute. Three things almost happened in that minute. One-two Alabi unbuckled his shoes and Siegrist blocked away. The ball was retrieved and returned. Bogle burst through, slapped across the keeper and against the inside of the post. The ball was retrieved and returned. Henderson slap-shot and Siegrist slinked aside and over.
And we're back to abnormal. Marshall? The phantom menace rolls and falls on green. He's trying our temper. Jones? Oooh it gets dark, it get lonely on the other side from the ball. Oh, Craig Disley: we pine a lot, we find a lot falls through without you.
And on we drifted. A bit of them, a pink save and some scuttling by Toto to clear up his own mess. And then came Alabi, advancing along the bye-line. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And nothing. And we end part one of this modern parable with another Henderson scuttleshot scruffled aside scuffily.
There's a hole in our shoe that is letting in water.
Second half: It must be a camel
Innovation's what you need if you're gonna be a record breaker. Venney and Mackreth replaced Tait and Jones at half time, with Town moving to a 3-5-2 formation. "Who stood where?" I hear you ask in an imaginary conversation between two people who have not and will never meet. Much like Alabi and Bogle. Mackreth and the Marshall were the nominal wing-backs, while Venney patrolled that hitherto abandoned goldmine lying between defence and the sunshine boys, the Brown-Henderson shoeshine shufflers.
And where there was despair, Mackreth brought hope; where there was error, Venney brought a warm glow of competence and some faith in the future.
Wee Jackie Mackie's darting and dashing had the yellows creaking. A little bit of pace pepped up the pudding. Crosses were crossed, passes were passed, and Omar squaffled over from afar. Omar often squaffles from afar. It's his signature dish.
Asante was aware of Toto's tendency for touchline dozing, so set a trap and bided his time. The time has come. Off The New Omar sprang, into the area, with bodies slip-sliding away in his wake. The ball squiffed free and Brown slapped. McKeown swiped. That's that. They had shots now and again. A cheeky Eagle chip which Pinky parried and a wind-assisted corner which McKeown groped around a yellow neck to flip off the line. And some more tales of topographic Toto, of course. It really is a problem when Toto has time to think.
Between the sheets of rain there were just occasional monochromers moving, but at least some control was now asserted by Venney, the human mop
Venney surged through space and time, opening up possibilities. As if by tragic, Marshall appeared to weakly bedraggle wide.
At last one-touch passing at pace. Mackreth dinked up the line in front of several idling dentists. Brown carefully caressed a first-time steer into the path of the flying Bogle. Omar finally resisted the urge to save the world on his own and needled through the haystacks. Alabi checked the brand of underpants worn by his marker, tickled his chin and drickled through the keeper to become a carthorse turning cartwheels in the rain.
Omar just can't shake off that bout of Rooneyitis. He shoots, he dribbles, he forgets to get inside the penalty area. Oof. Another Bogle boggler, just over. In between the sheets of rain there were just occasional monochromers moving, but at least some control was now asserted by Venney, the human mop.
There were three minutes added, most of which were taken up with what appeared to be pressure exerted by Grimsby Town football players. Well, Mackreth had a go. Corners, crosses, crosses and corners, and Wee Jackie Mackie leant back and swiped well wide. The end of the affair.
What have we learned from this experience? The reserves are a wet comfort blanket, unreliable en masse. These spare tyres are deflated and in need of vulcanisation. Or replacement.