Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
17 January 2009
Wycombe Wanderers 0 Grimsby Town 1
Sod off 2008, hello 2009. We've been waiting for you for so long. Right, let's get started.
Down the Hillybilllybottom cul-de-sac of despair we went as a white horse lolloped down a distant field. It's a sign! Oh white horses let us ride away to our world of dreams so far away. That'd be Barnet.
Town lined up in the 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Clarke, Bennett, Atkinson, Widdowson, Jarman, Kalalalalala, Sinclair, Elliott, Proudlock and "John Lewis Ak-Ak-Ak-how-do-you-say-that?", as twice introduced by the tannoying-ah-nnounce-aaaah! The substitutes were Monty, Llewellyn, North, Heywood and He-GARti.
Elliott, stocky and ambling his way through the warm-up, Widdowson and Sinclair stretching warily as several hundred eyes peered at these latest short-term saviours. Well, they look like professional footballers, which is a start. Watkiss wandered lonely as a cloud as the players sprinted with their arms up and went through their routines. Kalalala was bossing all, ordering aggressively, visibly coaching Bennett and the Blond Bob, which is growing towards a Tom Petty squiggle. It just won't back down at the back, like his defending.
Town turned up in the red kit and there's no more to say. The weekend begins here.
Wycombe kicked off towards the 350 or so Town fans gazing into yonder hills as low clouds scudded across a burning sky. Zebroski pointed goalwards but Sinclair cleared with a back-heel from behind his left shoulder, straight to Kalalala and off Town went on their jolly way. Until Elliott was clobbered as soon as he got near the ball. Hello, good evening and welcome: that was the first minute that was.
Harrold rolled like a pest but Bennett stood firm and the opening minutes ticked by adequately. Elliott leapt high and headed infield. Interesting. Sinclair crunched. Very good. And Widdowson swiped Zebedee into the advertising boards. Excellent!
Mmm, very nice. Kalala snatched a lollipop from a small Wycombe child and lobbed the ball out to Clarke. A touch and pass and Jarman finagled a shimmying scuttle past his marker and off he went down the wing to coil a low cross to the near post. As if by magic Ak-Ak appeared to steer-volley a few inches past the near post. Phwoar, quick as silver, almost golden. Passing, movement, pace.
Wycombe ain't doing nothing. I say Wycombe ain't not doing nothing. I say Barnes kicked the ball straight to them and Bennett sliced a cross out for a corner. I say Wycombe did something. Don't worry, Town defenders defended: corners and free kicks were piffled aside. Barnes even came out to clutch a cross. It all seems so nice and simple, like a higher division team just soaking up the initial surge and waiting to pounce. Nice and easy bro'.
Proudlock induced a free kick and Elliott carefully sized things up and wafted way over the bar. Elliott headed a Barnes punt. Elliot headed a Bennett clump. Elliott heads well. Kalalala flumbled a shot uninterestingly wide after a free kick was fluffed. It was something, and more than the locals were doing. Wycombe? Top? Then why aren't we?
Where's Widdowson? Where's Widdowson? Where's Widdowson? Oh there he is. Zebroski surged down the wing unmolested with a huge hole in front of him. Panic set in among the viewing ranks, but suddenly the boy appeared and slid from Oxfordshire to swipe danger into the hills. Let's blame it on the sat-nav, but he did get there in the end. Or we could blame it on the boogie, depending on which decade your mind lives in.
Purrrrrrrrr. Sinclair and Kalalalalalalala were an impregnable barrier of constant ankle pecking, diluting Doherty, handcuffing Holt and simply wrapping Wycombe in cling-film. They couldn't get anything going near goal, they were thoroughly neutralised and we were energised. Proudlock pecked down the right after Elliott and Jarman had combined. The moonbooted Alpha Male sweetly swung his pants and Ak-Ak twisted and bent his body between two defenders and under some floorboards to volley spectacularly. It hit something young, something borrowed and something blue. Ak-Ak frightened the life out of them with his twisty bending and sprints. He is a man with rubber legs, and we shall call him Norris.
After precisely 24 minutes and some seconds someone hit the ball down the Town left. Williamson mistimed his leap and grazed the ball up and further down the flank, releasing Ak-Ak. Oooh! You can say that again. Oooh! Ak-Ak sauntered clear, espied his options, eschewed everything but the right one and clattered a drooping cross to the far post. Proudlock peeled away, stood his ground and blocked the last defender, allowing the ball to spiral down eight or so yards out. Jarman steadied himself, leant to one side and carefully slapped a volley across the keeper into the bottom right corner. Grow a little moustache and call yourself Gary. How very Childsian in its technically excellent execution. Perfick!
Here's what happened in the next 20 minutes: Zebroski grazed a near-post header very wide and Harrold missed from five yards out. And Barnes spectacularly caught a cross. And that's it. You could have spent your time daydreaming of Jarmanesque perfection, but you'd miss all those wonderfully dull but effective things done in defence of the realm. That Harrold miss... the only thing they did and it was pretty darn close. A corner cleared, clipped back, headed across goal, Harrold very free, leaning back, plonked wide. Oh yes.
Anything else? Just after the Town goal Wycombe's centre-backs collided, forcing one of them off. They brought on TJ Hooker, moving a full back into the centre. TJ Hooker was pleasantly poor. And all the while Town just smothered them with love.
And that's the rub of this half: Town were a thoroughly competent professional team, more than matching the division leaders. What is there to worry about if we can keep all these players for a month?
Long ago, high on a mountain in Columbio. lived a young winger-boy, Angelo: Wycombe replaced Bloomfield with Balanta. Town didn't need to change anything, so they didn't.
"Armée noire et blanche de Mike Newell. G-T-F-C!" And so it started, and never finished. "Armée noire et blanche de Mike Newell. G-T-F-C!" As the minutes ticked by the intensity grew, the rafters rattled, and the seats did shake. "Armée noire et blanche de Mike Newell. G-T-F-C!"
Kalalalalala swibbed the kick off cutely down the left, with Ak-Ak sneaking between two defenders and assisting the ball into his own flightpath by using an available limb. He would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for that pesky ref. Joy and happiness crushed by meddling bureaucracy.
Wycombe abandoned their mix and match direct style for an even more direct style: welcome to The Crazy World of Peter Taylor. After the game in your mind, your tiny mind, you know you've really been so blind. Any more of this and you'll be falling far too far behind the promotion pace.
Harrold festered under a long punt forward, causing minor mayhem. Sanity was restored by Atkinson's sensible boots. Harrold pushed and pulled after a long punted free kick, dragging Bennett to the floor on the edge of the six-yard box, spinning and grinning a shot over far post and far bar into la-la land.
The hairychairboys punted and vigged vigorously. Town's defence stood on the deck smouldering, legs akimbo, roaring in defiance. Ye Shall Not Pass. They Did Not Pass.
Sinclair snaffled and Kalalala bullied ye olde Scottish terriers aside, plunging and pouring forward with heterosexual abandon. Sinclair clipped a corner, Bennett headed back across goal and Proudlock nodded past Shearer. A blue thigh thighed the ball away from near the line, but straight back to Mr Moonboots, who steered a shot under Shearer, through one potato, two potato, but a third potato hackled the ball off the line. Oh, oh, and oh again as a third shot was blocked by a wall of blue bodies.
They cannae handle Norris the Rubberman as Ak-Ak, lithe and supple, sleek and slinky, bent his body and ran.
A shot blocked, a break canoodled by a blanket of blue. Town purred with the midfield machine smoothly changing up through the gears, Jarman pumped into action, Elliott leapt and nodded firmly, with the magnificent wedge holding forth between east and west. The local peacocks prodded and preened on the periphery, relying on pace and the fortune of ricochets and rebounds for momentum.
Gasp as Zebroski bundled through Widdowson. Gawp as the unmarked McGleish carefully placed his shot three inches wide. Grapple with the mysteries of happenstance. Is life just a series of accidental accidents? Wycombe started to pen Town back with huge lumps forward, but the back line remained a line, camped on the edge of the area, expecting Barnes to sweep up anything that plopped behind. He did. Wycombe were reduced to crabbing laterally, 30 and more yards out. Woodman pinged a long shot; Barnes easily saved. Doherty moaned a shot wider still; the homesters groaned.
There is no pain, they are receding.
And now we've got that Town feeling once again. Soaking up some shy stroking, Sinclair mugged a Blueman, and Kalalalalalala taunted his way forward, creeping a dinker beyond the far post. TJ Hooker chested the ball back towards Shearer, but Ak-Ak had read this children's book and knew the ending. In he swept on the west wind, gliding up to the plunging keeper, dazzling with a triple Salkow with twist, scoopling the ball in one movement across and over the bamboozled keeper from the narrowest of angles. Alas Sir Knight, a dragon breathed fire and burned our tea cosies. Or a defender headed it off the line; one of the two.
Harrold poked wide, Harrold scooped high. Ha-rrold! Moments, mere moments for them to hang their cardigans upon, where rebounds rebounded and bobbles bobbed. Quietly, efficiently, professionally and remarkably, Town moved together, ate together, sighed together, laughed together and were together at all times. There were no holes. No-one slept on duty. A metaphorical cap was doffed.
And when Wycombites floundered, Town flung flans forward. Surging down the centre Kalala was unshakable. Elliot popped a cork goalwards, but a blue bottom blocked. Town retrieved, Sinclair weaved and Elliott poked a wobbler straight at Shearer. Where's Wally? Behind you! No, in front of you! Shearer spun in several circles as the ball hid behind his back. Behind you! And we though the pantomime season was over. Not with the Hiillybillybottom boys.
A policemen's hat is not a happy one when knocked askew by a slicing Wycombite clearance. He took a bow. We were in benign, forgiving mood with three points almost in our wagon.
Running away from danger, hiding from every stranger, Balanta swished and swayed in from their right and, well, it looked nice. They higgled and piggled down the Town left and Balanta slashed nicely wide from nicely away. Who was worried?
"...comme un buttie graisseux de pommes frites..."
With just over ten of your Buckinghamshah minutes left, Proudlock was replaced by Lulu-Llewellyn, hardly our holy hand-grenade of Antioch, and Town moved to a 4-5-1 formation. Harrold flubber-du-dibbed into the side netting as Wycombe played a squeezebox. Shins ahoy! Ahoy-hoy Barnesy! Off his line to droop and scoop off blue toes; Wycombe were grasping at moments again Ahoy-hoy Barnesy again! Off his line to stand tall and chest away from someone after more nicks and knocks had fallen the way of the Chair. These desperate Dans were flinging cow pies at Bennett and Atkinson, but they just poured some fruity sauce on and had a late lunch.
It's Ski Saturday. Shwoosh - Kalalalalala on the giant slalom, the cowbells ringing as he weaved left and right, whistling Pop Looks Bach and turning Chairboys into footstools on a mazy, crazy 50-yard run. A corner! A cross from Sinclair! A sitter missed by Elliott, headed six inches over from six yards out!
Four minutes of added time?
Wycombe did what you'd expect them to do. Base camp set, cannons booming; they may even had have a shot. They did have two bookings as their impending demise turned their minds to mush with some right horror show-like tackles through several Townites. We can take a tap or two; they're wasting their own time. At the last a corner. Oh no, this is it, we remember Elvis Presley and the last time we played. Everybody out! Shearer bounded towards Barnes like an old English sheepdog, tongue flapping, ears bouncing and the ball grazed beyond the far post. Clarke chased it and the imploring Townites sucked a shot from him as Shearer retreated. The ball drifted and drifted, falling short and rolling towards the car park... and Llewellyn. Do we need to carry on? No, we have our booty and the world will reel in shock and awe.
The Town fans poured forward as Ak-Ak jogged towards them revving and rolling his arms, bouncing along the rows of eager hands, high-fiving and hugging his people. Some say Mr Re-Newell even smiled. Or maybe his eyebrows just stopped dancing.
It was like the Buckley promotion team of '98: solid, reliable and committed professionals, doing sensible things efficiently. We even had a Childs-like goal to make romantic sentimental hearts skip several beats. Has the dam burst? Is this the start of the beginning or another false dawn? This doesn't feel false. It didn't look false. It was not false. Start breathing again. On paper Town had a team of decent players; on grass it was a good team playing decently. We pricked a very big balloon.
A beautiful day on Humberside: went the day well. C'mon and join the party.