Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
17 May 2016
Grimsby Town 3 Forest Green Rovers 1
I gotta tell ya, the life of the Town fan, there's no road map for that kinda territory, and exploring it can be painful.
Boy, I could tell you stories…
So many jokes, so many sneers, but all those "oh so nears" wear you down through the years. Remember when Donovan scored, Grovesie belted the ball, and Buckley dancing? I know that was then, but it could be again.
A tenement building on Wembley's East Side. Early afternoon traffic is audible as is the cry of the fishyfolk. It's hot in the city and everywhere you go you see an inflatable fish. Everywhere you go you hear the same song: "We've got Ho-booon, Patrick Ho-booon". The goal-less machine is an icon.
Town lined up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Gowling, Nsiala, Robertson, Clay, Disley, Nolan, Arnold, Bogle and Amond. The substitutes were East, Pearson, Marshall, Pittman and Hoban. 4-3-3. Let us pause for a moment, mute that internal dialogue and simply smile and clap and sing and bounce. This is our year, this is our time. This is our Town. Keep calm.
Sky of blue and puddle of green, the Gloucester Old Sports look so serene in their splendid isolation. There are some vegans vegetating in the distance; I'm sure they're having a lovely day out in That London. Forest Green are here for us to have someone to beat. This is all about us now.
So this is it then. The end of the beginning of a new era or the end of the end for The Hurst Years. It's now or never, and such delicious ice cream. Let's get into character. Let's go to work.
First half: Mind-Bogleing
The Green Goblins kicked off towards the audience, defending the ball-boy end. Town's narrow nonsense slacked itself into a minor fricasse as greens slimed into emptied space. Robertson legged up a lone loon. The rest is irrelevant, it really is.
Tap, tap, tap. Dizzer pointed, Clay clamped, Nolan nicked and ticked. It's Braintree redux, it's Nailsworth's apocalypse now, in a slow suffocation of cidermen. Disley caressed a low pass through the sludge and the blueboy flipped away. A corner, wasted. No elevation, you see. The lad couldn't hear us.
Tap, tap, tap. Omar's ankles were tapped. Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Bogle wobbled a wibbler straight at Blue Arnold's face, which was flappy-slapped sloppily.
Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Nolan deeply dipped a free kick beyond the far post. Amond nodded back into the vastness, a dehumanised vastness vaster than the Forest Green end. And Porkin's shorts. Omar stooped and steered straight down the middle. A big blue flappy hand flew to flip away. Oh, flipping hell.
Bogle arose between the sticks to head against the rusty old bus and the ball bumbled delightfully to destiny
Them Foresters, they be squatting in the jungle. Marsh-Brown mangled and mingled and swingled, rampaging like a wildebeest flowing across the savannah. Guthrie's toes were too small, especially his big toe, which is ironic. Messy messiness and a momentary lapse of reason. A Frear steer flicked off the somersaulting Tait. A wibble-wobble dibbly-dobbled in front of Jamie Mack, who scooped aside for Toto to take out the trash. Slackness and slowcoach Carter cartooned into the crowd. The end of laughter and soft lies.
Tap, tap, tap. Town called in the big guns. I love the small of napalm in the afternoon. Out came the comfort duvet, as Town unthreateningly dominated.
Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Bogle boggled, Nolan deeply dipped beyond the far post and Clay noodled back for some light scrambled eggage. Faster than a silver bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, the Demon Barber spun a tall poppy, wellified wonderfully and the Blue Meanie's tippermost fingers tapped onto the inside of the post, the ball dissecting and bisecting Bogle and the goal.
Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Omar was upended by a slowcoach. Nolan deeply dipped as their inferior Arnold's interior life froze. Bogle arose between the sticks to head against the rusty old bus and the ball bumbled delightfully to destiny. Bogle beat his chest and the Borough of Brent bounced to the rhythm of the Town nation.
You could see the future from every seat. The Jelly Green Giants melted. Off we go again, here we are again. Amond chased a big booming diagonal wallop into the far left corner flag. Robertson crinkled and a limester flicked away to the edge of the penalty area. Are you ready, hey, are ready for this, are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Out of the doorway the bullet ripped from Arnold's slinky right boot. Boom! Off the blue boy's chest. Bang! Bogle flew to cartwheel a spectacular hook right back through the hapless and the hopeless to bring happiness to the world. Oh the agony, the ecstasy, is this really life or is it a fantasy?
We're floating in almost pec-c-c-uliar way. Our stars look very different today.
Last year we hoped, this year we expected. Forest Green? Vegetable men where are you, ha, ha-ha ha, ha-ha-ha. Come on over and join the conga on the concourse. Nothing can go wrong now.
Would that it 'twere so simple.
Second half: The power of the clapping fish
On came Porkin for invisible Williams. Boom bang-a-bang, boom bang-a-bang, everyone knows which way they are going: route one, hit the fatman.
What have we got to fear but Frear itself? And Marsh-Brown, the pesky pest. Wingers swinging, balls boinging and Keanunanunu careering through the middle with hazy, crazy, mazy whirlygigging. Jamie Mack flapped away. Marsh-Brown mayonnaise with chips, it's a royale with cheese. Flicking, flocking and a green bedribbler slowly slithered across the face of goal. What about the orange? McKeown slapsticked as the ball rolled, rolled, and rolled to the enormously unmarked wedge of flesh. The goal was awaiting and Porkin pleased with a pathetic old man shuffle and shake and carefully missed the openest of goals.
Corners and Marsh-Brownies. Panic and Pipe cleaners. Something nearly happened, but beautiful black shorts appeared, as if by magic. Gasp! They came again. Nsiala's insulation kept us warm and dry. Town sinking backwards, the ball getting higher and higher baby. This game's a living thing, it'll be a terrible thing to lose.
Stop, look around. Here it comes. Fourteen thousand on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Thirty minutes of torture
Space. Absence. Far, far away across the field and way out left, Town players retreating. Marsh-Brown dribbled and slapped a smurgling drifter into toppest corner, into the golden spot 'twixt bar and post. Unstoppable. Wasn't stopped. Some eyes are filled with tears. Stop, look around. Here it comes. Fourteen thousand on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Thirty minutes of torture.
Pressure, crosses, bellows wheezing, McKeown pleasing with plucks and chucks. Moments of almostness and almost famous. Porkin stamping, Gowling not howling and Toto totally terrific. Big booming balls, lumps and dumps, chips with everything; Porkin rolls, no sauce. Hold on, stay on, keep on keeping on. Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish! Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap. Fish!
And suddenly all is calm. It was just a breeze. Was it all a dream? Ten minutes. Six hundred seconds. One more heave and keep on running.
Tap, tap, tap. Tick, tick, tick.
Nolan surged, Amond stepped inside and scuffled straight at their Arnold. Hey, Arnold-on-Arnold action! The blueman flipped away the Demon Barber's number two cut. Look at the clock, watch the digit counter fall.
Tap, tap, tap. Tick, tick, tick.
Pitman replaced Amond to rictus grins of delight. Robertson tried to avoid a Porkin charge and a silly corner fluttered the tummies of many a Townite. Nothing happened.
Tap, tap, tap. Tick, tick, tick.
Here he is, at last! Hoban arrived as Bogle milked all available cows, wearing the cloak of love, taking longer to get off than James Brown. Feel the love Omar, feel the lurve.
Five minutes? Where did that come from? Here comes the siege, head for the hills, here comes Big Bertha… Tap, tap, tap. Tick, tick, tick.
In the fourth of the fifth Nolan surged upwards and inwards, slippering slinkily into the path of old Hobbly Hoban. We arose as one to greet history as Hoban's shot slithered off green thighs, spinning to a stop betwixt Arnold and Arnold. A glance at the gloved one, a Demon Barber sidestep and scrape, a la Donovan in '98, and Arnold was buried, face down in the dirt, beneath the happiest humans on Earth. This is it. This is our time, this is our Town.
Pearson replaced the tearful Nathan and finally, after six years, the gates opened and we were released from prison.
Party time. It's our party, cry if you want to.
People, it's over. It really is over. Look up to the skies and sing. It's morning again in Grimbaria.