Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 December 2009
New Olde Grimsby 1 Lucky Lancastrians 1
It's the most wonderful time of the year. There are parties for hosting and Morecambe for roasting. Sleigh bells ring, were you listening? On the pitch the snow was glistening as 49 Santa Shrimpers yo-ho-ho-ed in the blizzard. The Morecambe players slalomed to a cowbell accompaniment and the glitterati of Grimsby got out their sparkly hats and gloves. It may be cold, it may be Christmas, but there is no need to dress up like Audrey Hepburn.
A seasonal Town lined up in a stable 4-4-2 formation as follows: Captain Leggings Colgan, Bore, Atkinson, LankyLinwood, McCrory, Nicky Feathercut, Leary, Sweeney, Coulson, Ak-Ak, Proudlock. The substitutes were Overton, Wood, Wright, Clarke, Barry 'Jailbird' Conman, The Jarmster and The Bosh. With the little drummer boy snug in the Pontoon, who's the little donkey then?
Such deadly accuracy, such perfection honed upon the training pitches by a man paid to play this game because of his special skills. Barry the Jailbird hit 13 shots towards the empty net. We counted them all out, we counted them all in. One went into the goal, and seven hit old men and children on the head in the dankest, darkest corners of the Pontoon. Mere mortals could never even dream of such accuracy.
As Town practised in their groups, Ak-Ak's hat grew as the temperature plummeted: perhaps his hair was freezing, like a milk bottle. Yes, it was cold, cold, cold as the wind blew marshmallow flurries from behind the Pontoon.
Let's get on with the show.
First half: Dancing in the moonlight
Town kicked off towards the Osmond stand. Woah baby, you're looking good tonight!
Ak-Ak spun and snickled wide off a Morecombe toe, Proudlock skipped and tipped to the near post, where Coulson's swipe was knock-kneed wide by a knock-kneed defender. Atkinson mushed and Ak-Ak moshed lowly to Roche's right. Coulson twinkled and Ak-Ak winkled into the Osmond. Ten minutes, four shots, all Town. All passing, all movement, all lovely.
Leary snapped and Sweeney mapped out an escape route as Woods' whirligig hopped and skipped through the static Shrimpers. Town this, Town that, Town beautifully flowing in ripples across the powdery grass like starlings at dusk. Town are triangulating again: one-touch heaven on earth.
Let's not waste time on Morecambe; they had three deflected crosses. Colgan caught the first, punched the second and scrumbled the third away from his near post. Why waste time on a waste of time?
Ah, swoooooon as Proudlock swooped and swung. Look at that, it's just like the old days with Proudlock as Tony Rees and Feathercut as a cut-price Gary Childs. They forgot the moustaches though. It's just like starting over - it's time to spread our wings and fly up the league!
Oooh, Sweeney dipped and dropped a free kick round and over and under and beyond the wall. Roche plunged to his right, got out his extendable tent poles with beautifully carved hands on the end and finger-poked aside for a corner. Next! Coulson swivelled and swished through a thicket of legs and Roche again flew low to his right and punched to Ak-Ak, whose cross caused the centre-backs to come out in a rash and stick a post-it on their foreheads with the word 'turmoil' written on it in bright blue letters. Atkinson grazed the corner goalwards and some Town player did a silly walk nearby as the ball ambled past the right post.
À bout de souffle!
Leary bedraggled at the keeper; Sweeney coiled towards and beyond the far post while Roche hopped, skipped and jumped with ants in his pants. The half ended and Morecambe couldn't believe their luck as they came out of their underground bunker. Roof slates in the rose garden, the chimney tottering and the cat's in Cricklewood but they're alive! Town's hurricane had huffed and puffed but their house was still intact.
Morecambe had the ball occasionally, but Town's midfield snaffled like hungry hungry hippos, seeking and destroying at will. The whole of Town were fit, fast and furious. A team.
Second half: Dancing on ice
No changes were made by either team at half time.
Morecambe had a shot. I repeat: Morecambe had a shot. On 49 minutes Stanley, or at least I presume it was Stanley, wombled a long shot straight at Colgan.
And back to abnormal. Town, Town, Town! Sweeney spinning plates and singing a selection of show tunes in Swahili is a wondrous sight at a most wonderful time of the year. Town burned the wings, Atkinson headed a corner through a phalanx of philistines and Roche threw his hands in front of his face and pushed the ball over. Coulson picked a pocket or two and hurtled towards the Pontoon; Proudlock swung his pants and levered a left-foot shot which hit Roche's inner ankle and squirtled past the post. And again. Town broke and Proudlock broke our hearts by slicing towards the burger van. They smell so edible too.
On the hour Morecambe got a corner on their right. How nice for their shrugging Santas for their team to come and see them. Town players turned and trotted back towards goal while tiny Hunter, the corkscrew chucker, tapped it short. And Town were in a tizz. A cross looped, shoulders drooped, and the ball was scooped in by Mullin from near the near post as it bumbled through the bagatelle board.
Now, what is Woods' Town? A paper exercise, a house of straw, a field of mental pansies, tin men, straw dogs or metal gurus?
There was no change: the game was still flowing northwards with incessant Town raiding. Leary smiggled a bumbler across Roche after some tippy-tappy passing. Proudlock miskicked, Coulson crossed, and McCrory tossed teasing trinkets into the play pen. Roche was the evil gatekeeper; the man was getting annoying.
Does he ride a red-nosed jaguar and do a ton upon his sleigh? Do the fairies keep him sober for a day? Well, here it is: Barry Conlon replacing Mr Rubber Legs Ak-Ak, his hair finally frozen solid. You cannot play football with a glacier on your head.
With the arrival of the beast Town resorted to some lumpen lumping. Discombobulated by this change of emphasis, the Shrimps were boiled in some lemon-scented water with a hint of chilli; serve with a sprig of parsley and a dose of salt. Town pressed their thumbs to the side of Morecambe's head. Linwood hung around after a free kick was cleared and Leary went in to the woods to catch himself some dinner. Emerging with a pelt of squirrel skins and a large furry hat, he hoiked a deep cross in rom near the Police Box. The ball half cleared, Proudlock had passing thoughts but passed on the duty of saviour to Peter Sweeney, stood a yard or so behind him, 25 or so yards out.
Sweeney allowed the ball to rear up off his chest, carefully adjusted his underwear and beautifully, magnificently dipped a left-foot volley over the bunch of blokes between him and the goal. The ball sailed on and on, hanging in the air and whistling as it began to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. Roche joined the crowd in motionless awe, just watching this shooting star as it burned in sparkling shades of blue and green. The brief silence was ended by the sweet kiss of ball upon netting. Seek this out and watch in slow motion. Perfect technique for a perfect goal. Just purr. Sweeney had scored a sensational scorcher. He didn't just hit it: he measured it.
Morecambe hadn't had a shot after their goal, and didn't again. Two shots, one goal, outplayed and holding on. This is all about us.
Conlon flapped a droopy cross to Bore, who droopy crossed to Leary, who droopy headed weakly across Roche. Feathercut smangled a shot from the centre which sniffled off a red sock and ballooned into Roche's hands. A Bore cross deflected into Roche's hands and a Jarman cross wiggled and waggled in front of Coulson and Conlon. Ah now, you see, The Jarman replaced The Proudlock with five minutes left. Just because something didn't happen doesn't mean nothing happened. Town kept their foot on Morecambe's neck to the last second. They didn't wilt physically or mentally: they played with intensity from first to last, and with style too. The only thing that wasn't perfect was the score.
The midfield was the powerhouse. Even laughable Leary was excellent, being a controlled menace, fetching the water for Sweeney to paint startling landscapes. Coulson pitter-pattered incessantly with Feathercut filling the right spaces at the right times. The strikers moved and the defence was immoveable. Woods' evolution is in the head.
Look to the future now, it's only just begun.