Slade in Flames

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

14 January 2018

Grimsby 1 Newport 2

Welcome to this week's film. Set in the hardships of northern England's working class society, we bring you Grimsby Town, a parody of a modern football club. It's the story of rags to even raggier, full of grit, double-dealings and the harsh, unforgiving realities of fourth division football and fourth division football supporters. Warning: not every story has a happy ending.

A mundane non-day of nothingness, sort of grey, sort of cold, sort it Slade. Down in the Osmond 99 red balloons go by. Ah, there's someone here from somewhere else as Slade's bore machine springs into life.

Town lined up in 4-4-2 formation as follows: Kean, Mills, K Osborne, Clarke, Davies, Woolford, Berrett, Summerfield, Dembele, Vernon and Vernam. The substitutes were Killip, Dixon, Collins, DJ Jinky, Rose, Matt and Jones. Berrett and Summerfield reunited at last, and the old heads and old legs retained; how bedazzling. Russell Slade, you fill us with inertia. Oh what's this, a new toy! A cast-off Caistorboy, so at least he's local. Young Charles Vernam is our latest Luke to Vernon's Yoda.

Newport, in white and red of course. They've got Amond, Pádraig Amond. I don't think Slade understands.

United we fall, divided we stand. Town are in such a muddle there's a pre-kick-off huddle–cuddle. 

Where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother, they're here.

1st half – save all your misses for me

Town kicked off towards the Celtic fringe. Osborne hoofed for a throw-in. Three down and ten.

Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve? One who keeps tearing around, and one who can't move. Vernon and Verman, they sound like a travelling circus, so send in the clowns.

Sixth tackle coming up, prepare for a kick to touch.

In nither and nether regions on their centre right, Labadie the tumbler stumbled under a Berrettian pseudo-psycho frisk. Crinkled lowly into the corridor of uncertainty, Kean certainly flapped alarmingly, flipping the ball up towards a fortunately monochrome head. I say fortunate, perhaps the inhabitant of the shorts doesn't feel so lucky, punk.

Movement, passing, almost football. Welsh rabbitting in the headlights and Vernon didn't score when offside. Passing, movement, swishing and swaying. Vernam delayed and sliced his cheese at a jaunty angle. He'll need a load more pickle to balance the taste of the waste.

Dembele drifted across the face of the area, one of the flaying Vs strummed in perfect harmony with Woolford. The declining chair cut in from the right and be-driggle-draggled back against the outermost aura of the post.

And for all you sat a home watching your twitter feeds, it's sofa, so good.

Wiffling around down the Town left, with white shorts wobbling free. Amond turned across the face of the penalty area, across Osborne and Davies, wandering and dreaming the ball off to the leftish winger. Stripes ambled nearby as Willmott, unmolested with a clear view, walloped mid-range, mid-paced, mid-height inside the near post as Kean's hands waved.

Not rage. Not anger. Not anything. Just silence.

Deep in the covered corner Woolford spun down on the edge of the penalty area, by the bye-line. By the by, Summerfield, making his entrance again with his usual flair, was sure of his lines. Crisping lowly through the mire, through the confusion of legs and knees, but no-one is there. Don't you love farce?

Clarke was booked for a full frontal body block on a galloping gourmet. Red shorts plunged hither and thither, and a devious smackaroo from under the Police Box bibble-bobbled off parts of Amond and crawled over the bar at the near post. There is stodge and there is Podge, this Town's a right bodge job.

Kean kicks like Caractacus Potts, Kean keeps like a Jelly Tot. Wednesday can keep him, for this borrowed Owl is not what he seems, more a headless fowl than an Owl. A long chuck from the Frozen Horsebeer Stand hurtled into the near post. Kean stuttered out to clutch, but caught Mill's head instead. The ball sauntered along, whistling Dixie, as Davies and Clarke combined to mildly avert crisis with a cha-cha-cha and joint net entanglement. Chaos. A corner. Chaos. Another corner. Chaos as Davies headed off the line and wellied the returned rebound off the line again.

We're literally playing without a keeper. Well, it has been written, so it must be literally true.

Imagine no possession, I wonder if you can? No need for speed, just blunders.

Minor Town pressure and a clearance belted straight down the middle. Amond sneaked away and Kean dithered out from nowhere to nowhere ending up nowhere. The Irish rover lobbed over the poached salmon and waited as the ball arced highly and dropped unerringly towards the emptiest of empty nets. Mills calmly hared back and brilliantly hooked the ball away from, and off, the line.

In the cold light of this day let us remember the gospel according to St John of Fenty. Where there is harmony, may we bring discord. Where there is truth, may we bring error. Where there is faith, may we bring doubt. And where there is hope, may we bring despair.

2nd half – King Midas in reverse

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Five minutes passed by. There's nothing to say or see. Carry on up the Khyber. Don't lift your kilts!

Dembele was assaulted by a gang in front of their dug out. He got back up, eventually, and Labadie the tumbling dicer was booked.

And now for the 24 seconds that changed the world. Town's version of vague pressure, with ups undered and unders very definitely upped. In-out and back via Clarke's bonce, Vernon tip-toed into the void on their left ten yards out to carefully side foot across Day. Out came Inspector Gadget's fingers to brush the ball inchlets past the far right post for a supremely effective and excellent save. Now that's what goalkeepers are for.

Summerfield swung the corner into the vacant near post that remained pretty vacant of Townites. Day caught the ball and hurled it towards the tunnel for a white-shirted chip and chase down the touchline. Nouble cut infield past Mills and, from a narrowish angle way wide, crimbled lowly but unspectacularly towards goal. Do you remember chalk marks melting on the Pontoon toilet walls? Do you remember centre-halves who could stop the ball? Oh Karleigh, it's too late to say you're sorry. Osborne poked a leg out and deftly deflected in at the near post as Kean ached left with an achy-breaky heart.

Not rage. Not anger. Not anything. Just silence.

Summerfield sliced into the crowd. Of course he did, he always does. A disgruntled schoolchild had his disgruntlement and cola bottle disturbed by stray striped strafing, and his shoes were chafing too.

The woeful Woolford weakly surrendered to an Amond twizzle deep in the right corner of the Town area. Our old man didn't dilly-dally on the way, cruising along the bye-line and crafting a curler that Kean piffled upwards and behind, the ball spinning gently towards the far post. Mills, again, saved his rotting bacon with a well-placed, well-timed and welcome glide and slide.

Drift and dreft and other detergents as Town continued to deter. Day handed the referee something found lying on the grass as he idled around, wasting time. What's that? We gotta get away from here? It's a sign of the times and a sign in the crowd: "No commitment, no desire". You can't level that accusation at the orange-jacketed steward, quick to protect the feelings of Fenty by diving into the crowd and ripping it off the disgruntled, paying supporters. Another man bites the dust with displacement anger mismanaged, chucking a pop bottle near the dallying Day, much to Matt's anger.

A Town cross drifted through the penalty area, Day dillied, defenders dallied. Three Townites stood and watched, waiting for something to happen. It did. A defender eventually unknotted his shoe laces and wandered off with the ball. Last week Ellison scored from exactly the same spot and exactly the same swinging doo-dah of a cross.

Oh, yeah, Matt. And DJ Jinky. Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer? Losing their timing this late in their career. Half way through the half Woolford and Vernon were no more. We’ve told you once and we’ve told you twice, Slade, just listen to our advice. Please, for their sake, let that be their last time.

With nothing more to lose Town finally threw human beings, and the ball, into the opposition half. And penalty area. It was an approximation of a plan, a tactic. And we had the final straw, the last resort of the desperate, the thing you do when all else fails, when you have deployed all your tactical genius and cunning plans.

To worry, worry, super scurry, call the troops out in a hurry. This is what we've waited for. This is it boys, this is Lyons' Law.

You send the biggest defender up to play centre-forward. Osborne stood next to Matt and waited for balls to drop.

And don't you know, Newport County don’t like it up 'em. Day started to flap and slap at hoofs and humps. Matt grazed way over. County aimlessly wellied clearances and, by jove, he's got it. Kean caught a big hoof. The crowd stood and cheered.

With ten minutes left Town carried on carrying on with the old in-out, in-out, shaking them all about. Vernam, way, way out, scuttled a buttle that barundled with moderation towards goal. Matt, on the penalty spot, stuck out a leg as Day lay down awaiting the second class post. The unlittle stick of Blackpool rock controlled the ball and carefully passed the ball at the prostrate plunger with the goal most agape. Matt followed up and headed the rebound into the still empty net for a classic tiki-taki goal.

Listen lads, we can still do this? What this is this? Paper over the cracks in the kitchen sink. We've got that kitchen sinking feeling.

Balls. Boxes. Balls in boxes. Dembele dinked flatly and the ball crawled onto the roof of the net. In the last minute Kean drop-kicked and Matt shuffled across to leap, colliding with a defender, who remained ground based, holding his head. The linesman flagged and the red card emerged with Matt having a minor tantrum, pleading innocent intent.

With all the timewasting and injuries, eight minutes were added and Jones replaced Davies. Town had three lines of three with Vernam acting as a deep lying left wing-back play maker. Hail DJ Jinky for a full pitch chase back and retrieval, passing to Kean. Who promptly shankled it into the Lower Frozen Beerhorse Stand.

Eight minutes. Eight minutes.

Yes, eight minutes. You can get a lot done in eight minutes.

Eight minutes.

Of course nothing happened, this is Grimsby Town. Osborne hooked way over the bar, a frantic hoik at one point. What's the point?

Was anybody surprised?

There are five stages of grief and loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We've collectively skated through to the final stage in just three weeks.

This was better than last week, but horizons are shrinking to farcical levels inside Blundell Park We're waiting for the penny to drop. If it doesn't, then Town will drop into the Bananarama and attendances will drop to untenable lows.

Now, what shall we put on those three billboards outside Blundell Park, Lincolnshire?

"This Club Is Dying,"
"And Still No Change?"
"How Come, John Fenty?"