Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
20 March 2016
Grimsby Town 2 Bognor Regis Town 1
A grey day with a hint of mizzle in the air and 183 Rockers rocked up for the tinfoil trophy. You could cut the tension with a shrug. Are we being smug, will we be mugs? Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn? Remember how she said we might meet them again some sunny day. Unthinkable? The Bismarck was unsinkable, a shark is unwinkable and this paragraph is unlinkable. Accidents can happen, but you don't want to hear it. The future's not ours to see.
Town lined up in the 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Pearson, Gowling, Horwood, East, Nolan, Disley, Arnold, Hoban and Amond. The substitutes were Robertson, Nsiala, Clay, Venney and Bogle. Everyone was utterly delighted that we'd gone back to the two right-backs approach to hedge trimming. And nobody, absolutely nobody, even contemplated that playing Omar Bogle from the very start would result in happiness and goals and things. No, no, wait, there's been a recount. Everybody bar one person thought that playing Omar Bogle from the very start would result in happiness and goals and things. Hello there Hideaway Hoban, the Galway grappler. More a singing cowboy than stinging striker, git out that geetar and strum your hit 'Lazy Ol' Moon'.
Oh yes, the Bognor Regisers. Their cheeky boy was still injured so some other young man was where he wasn't very often last week, and watch out for the right-back, he's dead OK.
Shall we get on with the film show? Wembley waits at the end of the rainbow. Who cares what this is about as long as the kids go.
First half: The shook-up shopping trolleys
They kicked off towards the Pontoon, or perhaps Town kicked off towards the Osmond? Any way the wind blows it doesn't really matter. Shall we carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters?
Davis went on a hazy, crazy, mazy run through one, two, three Townites and was trampled underfoot. Ah, he's now met Mr Disley's experienced boots. Nobbled. Off he went. A minute gone and their best player gone. The Dizzer had checked his points and fixed his overdrive. We're talkin' 'bout the gentleman's love of a tackle.
A mess of tackleless Taitless Mariner muddledom in the East as white shirts wandered at will. Pearson nodded wimpily back to the penalty spot and balding Beck badly befuddled straight to Jamie Mack. Warning lights flashed on the map.
I opened my eyes, and to no-one's surprise, there was Amond with the ball in the back of the net, right in the back of the net. How did that happen? Amusingly bemusing triangles from a throw-in and Arnold dinked to the near post. Amond collided with their keeper, the ball rolled into no man's land and Hoban hit the turf and kissed the mud. What on earth is going on out there? The referee pointed spotward. Amond passed the ball low and left as the Smith the keeper sighed low and right. It's just what we expect, isn't it. The new normal.
Between the bibbling and bobbling moments of occasional distractions things appeared, as if by magic. A lob over the top, Hoban and Smith arose, and headed each other. The ball boinged up and Amond nodded over a defender and wide. Minutes later Smith arose with a bandaged head and a hungry heart.
Where's the creative tension, where's the jeopardy in the third act? Ah, the scriptwriter is following the clichés – here comes the sludge
A Horwood howitzer besizzled past the angle of the left post and bar, causing plastic Vikings to scatter in the Osmond. Sussex slackery and Disley tickled Amond free. What a nice man Amond is, such a Samaritan. He doesn't pass by a man in need. He passed directly to the unmarked Hoban, on the penalty spot. Alas poor Patrick, we know him well now. The fumbling forward stumbled and stalled, passed the buck to East who wafted wastefully. Arnold spun a yarn and darned some socks, wibbling lowly. Smith plunged left and pushed aside, exactly as he'd done last Saturday.
This is yawnsomely easy. Where's the creative tension, where's the jeopardy in the third act?
Ah, the scriptwriter is following the clichés – here comes the sludge. A mess of Mariner muddledom under the Frozen Horsemeat Stand and a not very long throw. Pearson failed, the ball bumbled out to where East wasn't, and Beck steered a low volley through the twiglets into the bottom left corner. That's nice for them. We were absolutely thrilled for them.
Town reaction? To list events would be to be paint over the woodworm. Here comes the brilliant white gloss. Arnold was smothered by Smith after Hoban and Amond had slid many rules. Generic messiness at corners was the road to nowhere and Horwood's cheeky nutmeggery allowed him time and space to calculate the precise parabola to place the ball in the keeper's hands. He passed his exams with ease. Oh, hang on, I've missed a bit up there on the top corner… Oh no, just a shadow of those memories of from the time before the Post-Christmas Dwindle.
Them? Ah, there were tantalising glimpses into a better future. Pearson couldn't cope with Prior, their rangy rover, so Gowling took over. Prior simply rolled around Gowling to swipe-curl from way out. McKeown flew low and left to pluck the eyebrows of the painted laddy. A couple of crosses, a brace of bobbles and a hatful of hollow-cheeked huffing and puffing which didn't blow Town's house down. Some slates were dislodged and, on closer inspection, we noticed some starlings roosting in the eves.
Those drums were humming.
Second half: The bashful bobcats
Neither team made any changes at half time, which drifted on and on and on as the keeper was late out. Come on laddie, I've a train to catch on Tuesday. Time for some witty badinage with the bandaged Bognorite. Oh, no-one can be bothered.
Just fast forward through ten minutes of unnecessary turkey trotting from the south coasters. Pressure, crosses, corners, nothing but turtle neck sweaters and stretched pants.
Now, this is what we came for. Captain Sensible sketched out a knitting pattern for Arnold and Horwood to turn into a beautiful jumper. The ball arced lovingly into the centre of the goal, seven yards out, Hoban leant back and magnificently swept way over the bar for a last-ditch clearance to keep the tie alive.
What? He plays for us? At least John-Lewis perfected the art of scoring by accident.
Did they do anything more? Probably, but no need for any pinkervention by McKeown.
Arnold badgered a Bognorite and swayed through the centre, tickling a pass through the legs of Al-Ebd into the uninhabited nether regions of the penalty area, and into Amond's flightpath. Alas the ball bumbled along on the crest of a bobble and Smith superbly swooped to smother Amond's narrow-angled clip.
Cause and effect: Bogle on, Town score. He doesn't even need to touch the ball. It's about presence
Ooh, hang on, I remember now, ah-ooo-erm, yes I remember. Them! Pleasant aerobics from the White Shadows display team and Charman swervy-swept a mid-paced curler which allowed McKeown to show off with a spectacular old-fashioned aerial clutch high and left. Say cheese, Jamie.
You're going to like this… not a lot, but you are going to like it. He's got this trick and that trick, he's the man who excels, it's Omar Bog-elz replacing Hideaway Hoban.
With ten minutes left Nolan hoiked an oop 'n' under vaguely into the Bognor penalty area. Amond sneaked around the back, cleverly steered a perfect lay off to Tait and hared off towards the NEAR POST. Tait tootled to tease lowly and Amond shinned high into the net from five yards out.
Cause and effect: Bogle on, Town score. He doesn't even need to touch the ball. It's about presence.
And as we dawdled towards teatime the referee went on a booking-crazy rampage. He didn't like Omar's chest beating at all. Ah Omar, things happen when he's around, don't close your eyes. Finally something wonderful nearly happened. Football. Omar's magnificent leap and steer, Arnold and Horwood exchanging glances with sumptuous one-flick slick trickery and Bogle's outrageous mid-air back-heel sent Arnold behind the defence. Omar peeled into the centre and slipped-skipped a shinner straight at Smith from Arnold's low return. One of the great goals that never was.
OK, OK, let's get this over with, we all have lawns to mow, kettles to boil and rivers to cross. Five minutes were added during which Horwood crossed across the face of goal near Amond, Venney replaced Amond but never touched the ball, and Bognor had a shot.
The end. We all went home, and the Rockmen had a little end of the pier party. Well, Blundell Park will just have to be their Wembley.
Wembley. Again. Who'd ever thought there would be a time we'd get bored of going to Wembley. And now here we are at the end of time.