Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
20 August 2017
Stevenage 3 Grimsby Town 1
Look into my eyes, is this paradise? No mate, we're under the flightpath to Luton Airport.
A warm and windy day with near 800 grizzling Grimbarians gathered together in groups awaiting the full cavity body searches to enter the temple of gloom, the cut-price rundown Cheltenham. OAPs with a bottle of water? A high-security risk, of course. They still let that man in with a pocket full of pens. I suppose they still haven't seen Casino.
Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: McKeown; Mills, Clarke, Collins, Dixon; Rose; Kelly, Summerfield, Jones, Dembele; Hooper. The substitutes were Killip, K Osborne, Davies, McAllister, DJ Jinky, Tombola and Cardwell. Rose and Hooper were the solitary floaters; the rest is obvious. Hooper had been so effective in his Coventry cameo as a lone striker, hadn't he? Who could possibly have been surprised or alarmed at him starting alone atop? Oh, everyone but Russ. Well, what do we know, eh?
The Lamexers lined up in a lame kit, like a washed-out inside-out shirt, oh you're so non-League footballkit.com. Town? Give us a twirl. Blue, blue, electric blue, that's the colour of Town's kit. Don't you wonder sometimes about Town's sound and vision?
First half: The lame game
Town kicked off away from the massed Marinerdom and towards the north. Oh look, a plane. A plane with a blue tail.
Tip, tap and an eventual whack. The ball drifting into solitude over Hooper's head. Again. Again. Again. Again. Does he move? Does he exist? Why am I here? Do I exist?
Oh look, another plane. A plane with a yellow tail. Yellow plane up high in banana tree. This game is driving me insane
And here’s a plane with an orange tail. It's an Easyjet plane, and before you know it Town are on their knees.
Blue blocks with blue socks, and lameness and way out waywardness from the Lamexers. Rose stretched, Rose booked and Pett stroked around and over the wall, around and over the goal and a man held onto his sausage roll. Flitting and fluttering betwixt and between the thin blue lines. Blip ahoy! McKeown was mugged in mid-air and Smith biffled towards and through and past the emptiness.
As a treat for us day-trippers Townites moved in free flowing waves towards Fryer. Well, I say Townites, Jones got fed up with Clarkian wallops and Hooperian shrugging and just belted off upfield with the ball at his feet. A red leg upended far, far away with our heads up in the clouds. Oh look another orange plane. Summerfield, 30 or so yards out, strolled up, stroked a little dipper and Fryer scooped the lollipop up off the turf. Everyone turned round and wandered back upfield, missing the comedy, Mr Grimsdale, as the slippery slapper sloppily slithered to scoop the ball back from the goal-line.
Let's get back to normal. Oh look, a big red plane.
Let's get back to normal, here they come again.
Blue blocks on a blue day and the onomatopoeic Fraser Franks headed safely overly over from a corner or a free kick or a free header at some kind of kick. Don't worry, after Brexit all non-nationals will be screened for onomatopoeia. And alliteration. No purple planes, but a turquoise plane, a yellow plane, an orange plane, a plain old corner, non-marking and a volley freely wallied. Bibbling and bubbling and a hooky bike kick after a nifty nudge on Hooper. Stevenage are on a different plane.
Newton and Mills headed each other and Newton remained seated and, after much head-bandaging, resumed, goo-goo-ga-joob. We're sitting in an English football ground waiting for the fun, if the fun don't come we'll get our tan from the pain of watching Town.
Newton meandered around searching, looking for love, and scrimpled for McKeown to scoop. How long before they score? We're waiting for them to score so we can abandon hope in this dismal dull affair.
A big old booming Stevenage cross hoiked way, way too far beyond the far post. Mills ambled as Pett chased to retrieve on the touchline. Mills stood off, Pett settled his debts and chumpled a clip into the penalty area, not much nowhere. The ball sailed past blue bodies and Newton bumpled the ball up off his thigh and happily hooked over his shoulder in a gentle arc over McKeown and into the left corner. Blue hands on blue hips, blue shoulders shrugged, and Town kicked off. I guess that's why they call it the blues.
Miss and Mr stewards sitting pretty little stewards in a row. Some Town fans are crying, they're cryyyying, they're crying 'cos you're blocking the view and can't see the pitch. More Town fans complained 'cos the stewards weren't blocking our view. Have they no humanity? First they take our umbrellas, then they take our orange juice, if we tolerate this our excuses will be next.
Yeah, yeah, minutes of mumblings and grumblings during which more planes flew over and more Clarke wallops flew through to Fryer.
As half time was imminent Dixon fell foul of an insurance scam, running into the back of a right-winger at a roundabout when the road was clear. The free kick was dumped airily near the penalty spot and many bodies arose. The ball dropped and Smith swung his pants and the ball calmly sauntered through a hive of inactivity and into the bottom left corner, with Jamie Mack unsighted and unmoving. In celebration, Fraser Franks was pelted with some shortcrust pie top. Relax, the meat filling remained within the orbit of the phantom flan flinger.
Four minutes were added during which four minutes elapsed.
Town? Aimless soggy chips towards a puff pastry filler. All we can salvage from the memory card is that Summerfield free kick, two mishit nothings and Dembele almost sneaking in at the near post. What did Stevenage do? Move around and pass the ball to each other now and again. That was more than enough to dominate against the humiliatingly bereft bluesmen. Bereft of what? Everything. The whole half was spent waiting for Stevenage to score in between the plane spotting.
What a waste of time and pastry.
Second half: Time and emotion
The flaky and ephemeral supermodel Kelly and Hooper were replaced by Tombola and Cardwell. Kelly and Hooper? I remember Peter Sweeney and Adam Proudlock. Buck up or else buckaroo.
Ah, that's better, a semblance of botheredness, a soupcon of commitment, a smidgeon of an idea. Dembele was raked and scraped again, and again; the assassin had just a little chat with the ref. Jones smuggled, Tombola huggled and scruggled a cross. Fryer ached low and clung on at the foot of the near post. Dembele dribbled delightfully and won a corner, taken shortly with Summerfield. Lost, retrieved and won again, Dembele's persistence and swervings got him along the bye-line, He opened up his body and side-footed across Fryer, across the face of goal and across the face of the far post.
C'mon Town, you can do this, someone chip Fryer. You know it makes sense.
More persistent nibblings and Jones dripped a cross into the heart of the penalty area. Cardwell placed himself near the action, which was more than enough to discombobulate the dreadful dope. Fryer flew nowhere near anywhere and a red head eyebrowed away for a Town corner. Dripped into the Clarke zone and headed goalwards, Gorman leant left and the ball rolled away off his left hand. Scruffled away during the minor hullaballooing and general booing, Mills waited to hurl longily. Suddenly a peep and point from the pastel poltroon. Gorman tumbled to earth clutching his head and out came a red card. Jones was sent off.
Three games, three red cards. Russ has brought some consistency to Town.
Washed out weaving, Town fans leaving. Holes and spaces, men filling the void. Time passing. Words, sentences. It's a sentence watching Town. You know there's definitely more orange planes than any other colour. Oh yes, and finally a third goal arrived. Space: the final frontier, and a washed out substitute wandered around unhindered as Summerfield and Dixon kept a respectful distance. Kennedy manoeuvred on to his left foot and, from the left edge of the Town penalty area, carefully caressed a practice shot around and over McKeown into the top right corner.
Ah, the cue for more Town fans to do an impression of your average Mackem. Flip, flip, flip went their seats, bang, bang, bang went their belief in the New Russ Order.
Only Summerfield tried to gee-up Grimsby. The rest were singularly individual, standing alone, staring into space with hands on hips feeling sorry for themselves, or perhaps wistfully, ruefully regretting signing a contract. Oh how we share those regrets.
Cardwell headed over and pretty Tom Pett scruffed for McKeown to freefallingly flip aside.
Mmm, that's different: a plane with a white tail and dark underbelly wobbled over. Stevenage. Still only in Stevenage. Someday this bore's going to end. Am I still here?
With ten minutes left Rose was clattered way out left. Summerfield coiled, Fryer flew into the twilight zone and Collins back-grazed into the openest of open goals. Bare facts, the bare necessities of strife.
DJ Jinky replaced Dembele. There you are, another fact.
Minutes were added as the Town trickle out became a torrent of abuse. It's the end of laughter. The players approached an outpouring of vile bile towards the wrong targets. The players who came nearest were the least culpable, being simply the nearest target for the furious five fans who'd run out of pies to chuck.
Grimsby Town 2017-18: hopeless and without hope. The existential questions remain, flashing ever brighter, the klaxons blaring ever louder: how do Town expect to score goals, and who is going to score them? We're no trick ponies in a deadbeat dead-end circus. Enthusiasm euthanised before the schools go back.
Ah, the pace of modern life and our modern life is rubbish.