Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
11 September 2010
Runaround Tamworth 2 Silly Grimsby 1
And so Straight Peter Bore has counted some September chickens.
There's something moving in the cyclewalk's stream - it's Saxon Day where the Tame meets the Anker. Is that a prediction? Into the valley of the corrugated sheds came the Town six hundred on a surprisingly sunny and hot afternoon.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: O'Donnell, Bore, Kempson, Watt, Ridley, 'Coburn', Hudson, Cummins, Wood, Connell, Peacock. The substitutes were Croudson, Garner, Samuels, Corner and Eagle. Who's Coburn? Ah, tannoy turmoil for Mr Gobern. Never change a winning team, eh? Nothing can go wrong now.
As the Lambs gently marinaded in the atmosphere, a couple of large lumps of meat appeared. Perry and Wylde are men who wouldn't wear cardigans, being more Desperate Dan than size ten supermodels. Tamworth warmed up in front to the Town fans and we watched shot after shot curl, arc and shimmer past the tiny reserve keeper. They do shooting.
And as they prepared to huddle, one of their beefy defenders knelt down and tied up the laces of the ickle lad at full-back. Then brushed his hair back, tucked in his shirt and gave him his packed lunch.
They played in red and it's nearly past their bedtime.
First half: Hands all round
Town kicked off towards the assemblage of Grimsbyites underneath the creeping ivy and, well, just and. That's all you need to know. The word is and. And is the word. Not Grease, not love, not Jesus. You need ands.
Tamworth players ran around; Grimsby players strolled. Tamworth players fell over and were given free kicks. Tamworth didn't do anything with those free kicks - some bloke hit one into the wall and another bloke volleyed the rebound into the ring road. Slack, slow and low on gumption, Town were a pale blue shadow of even a shadow.
Hoof and hope, hopelessly hoofy. Just terrible. The Lambs baaed and Town shrank into their shorts. Absolutely nothing of any consequence occurred - it was like watching two people who can't play pinball.
After a quarter of a lifetime, or an hour if you wish to be pedantic, Tamworth got a free kick for whatever. Someone sneezed somewhere, probably - that was usually enough for them to get a free kick. Whatever whatevered and whatever a Town player did a header whatevered away from nowhere. Connell, way out the right, turned and passed directly to one of the Tams. Bore stood off Thomas who crossed high beyond the far post and a biggish chap headed down to that spot you'd expect him to head down to - eight or so yards out. Rodman took a single step back in to that spot you'd expect someone to step into and swept the ball into the bottom right corner as Watt eventually waddled near. He's young, Town were foolish and the home fans were happy. I suppose at least something had happened.
That's what you get for pretending the danger's not real. There was nothing clever about the goal. It was just obvious stuff done adequately.
And Town. What about them? Peacock finally won a header from a drop-kick and Connell almost sneaked behind. But didn't. And he was offside anyway. That's Town's contribution to road safety: a hoof almost went near someone who was offside. That was the acme, the apex, the point, the pinnacle of achievement. That, without exaggeration, hesitation or deviancy, was the entirety of Grimsby Town in the first 25 minutes.
Town punted long and high from right to left. Two little Tammyboys missed; Wood snickled in and headed on. Out came Atkins, down went Atkins and Wood panic-poked a foot wide of the near post. I hear the sound of distant drums. A Town corner and Watts' shirt was befuddled by a secret red hand right in front of the ref. Oh do play on, what did you think would happen? We've already had our funny penalty quota for September.
I hear them knocking but they can't come in. A Town throw-in was cleared and Ridley's rover was returned. A not so secret red hand appeared and the ball was cleared. Do you really think that if this referee had been president, Russia would have invaded Afghanistan?
And all the while Rooster Gobern had been a fricassee in a jar of raspberry sauce, forgotten and festering on the windowsill. This dish had gone way off and the truculent Townites had caught the first whiff. For the umpteenth time Gobern lost possession with a shockingly shoddy pass and fail. He chased back and swiped up a Lamb from behind, indulging in petulant, adolescent argy-bargy pudding and pie. Only booked was he, Obi-Wan. Gobern needs a clip round the ear and a stern lecture from a pillar of the local community. Grow up you silly boy. You play like you're wearing a baseball cap back to front, demanding respec'.
He seems to have a problem with his id, being a fey version of straight Peter Bore (mark I).
And he we go again. Gobern failed, failed again and the Lambsters settled into a groove down their left. Town players stood and watched as the Tams chipped down the line. Town players stood and watched as the ball was rolled back to Thomas. Town players stood and watched as the ball was crossed low. Town players stood and watched as the ball bumbled through one, two three and Big Fat Perry spinkled a first-time shot low into the bottom left from eight yards out.
Now things are really what they seem. No, this is not a bad dream.
What of Town? A question with no answer. Peacock dallied and dallied as a big pumping hoof dropped eight yards out. Gobern splished in from the left and, from the edge of the area, sploshed a biffer a foot over.
We only have official incompetence to report from now on. No need for all the details: just the headlines can paint the picture. Marshall, with no Townite within ten yards, headed straight to Gobern. Suddenly Town had three against one. The linesman saw an impossible offside. Impossible. Absolutely impossible. A pass pinged its way towards Peacock on the wing and the Wylde oak creaked out an arm. Play continued. And finally, in added time, Gobern coiled a corner high. It was cleared high, was shankled vertically by a red boot and bounced back to Peacock, who chipped into the centre. Kempson rose near the penalty spot and noodled firmly goalwards.
And here some visiting guests were flabbered.
Young Mr Wylde, don't you ever stop being dandy and showing us you're handsome! He rose and became Tamworth's Prince Charming as his whole arm jerked and moved towards the ball, forearming the ball away towards the halfway line.
The Town six hundred thundered: someone had blundered.
This referee is clearly not scared of ridicule. Not to give a penalty was unthinkable, Burnsy. Unthinkable. The ref thought the unthinkable and off everyone went.
An awful half which rose occasionally towards the heights of banality. Town, from top to bottom, from team to crowd, were rotten. Tamworth hadn't done anything of note, except take the two chances they were offered. They've been here long enough to know you should never look a cliché in the mouth.
Second half: The Charge of the Light Brigade
No changes were made by either side at half time.
Nothing changed. Nothing happened. Tamworth blocked and stopped, stopped and blocked, playing out time. Maybe Town'd fall asleep again? Who knows? Does anyone care?
After some minutes Connell turned and had a shot. By heck! The ball soared and dipped and swerved, Atkins sank to his knees and prayed and the ball hit the underside of the bar, bounded down against the keeper's back and ballooned up to a diving Tammy. Flash Grimsby are alive.
Connell had another shot. It went over.
Gobern had a shot. It went over.
On the hour Corner and Eagle replaced Wood and Gobern. Town changed, for the better. Corner immediately won a header and started to fight for his right to party. Town were galvanised and suddenly became almost alright at times. There were less coruscation under the corrugated roof - all it took was someone running about a bit more.
What is this I see before me? Is it passing? Is it movement? Is it Tom Corner volleying a foot over the bar? It is! All these things and slightly more will follow after this short break
Town got stuck in. Yes, Town players started to tackle a little more, and a little more firmly. The Lambs were not being slaughtered but they were being shorn of their downy fleece. Corner shook a few tambourines and hooked the ball down the right touchline to the suddenly freed Hudson. One touch, one pass and Connell was tip-toeing through the tulips. But where's Wally? Atkins tip-toed by the window, that's where he'll be as Connell was knee-deep in flowers. The ball rolled slowly into a goal that was not so much open as having been abandoned by an ancient people. How did they live, why did they die? Have you found an old pot or are they about to go to pot?
You know, despite everything, anything was possible now.
No it wasn't. Two minutes later O'Donnell walloped downfield, a big man headed back and Watt glancingly lopped behind Kempson, vaguely towards goal. Large Perry managed to outwaddle New Daz as they converged near the left corner of the penalty area. They arrived at about the same time and Perry stopped. They fell together. The linesman flagged enthusiastically and out came a yellow followed by the red. The previously booked Kempson was off, off and away.
Nothing came of their free kick.
A minute later Watt did a scrumptious, manly tackle, just outside the Town area. The referee gave a free kick and booked Watt for detailing his errors and omissions without the use of flip-charts or Powerpoint presentation.
Nothing came of their free kick.
Suddenly Town began to knit their own cardigans. There was urgency, there was this thing you call passing. Cummins flicked, Corner tricked, Connell flipped and Peacock scruffled a shot into the ground and straight at Atkins. Connell wriggled, Connell woggled and red shins and red boots blocked. Garner replaced Peacock and Bore went up front somewhere. There was no formation as such, just players heaving and hoving. Was the impossible possible?
Somewhere in the three added minutes Hudson and Connell triangulated to strangulate Cummins free on the right. On the corner of the area the Mickster mickled a grivveling shot straight at Atkins, who flapped the ball down into the six-yard box. Corner lunged at the rolling ball and arrived just after the keeper's hands; it ran loose and all hell broke loose as pushing became shoving and Tamworthians feigned faux indignation at the shape of table legs.
It's the same old ending - time to go. These Lambs lay down in Town's way.
Town were mutton dressed as lamb, while Tamworth were mules in sheep's clothing. Neither side deserved to win, and barely to draw. The homesters rarely got near O'Donnell, who no-one can recall making any saves. There were a couple of times when the thing we call the ball went towards goal, but saves? No sir, they were contractual obligations to avoid unnecessary paperwork. Town only really perked up when Corner came on. When we say Town we mean Connell, don't we. Peacock is a busted flush, Wood was embarrassed by the ball, while Gobern was just embarrassing. Town simply had no-one to match Smith in the middle. He ran the game.
The difference between the two teams? Tamworth shot more accurately and ran around the pitch from the start of the game. It's very simple, and Town players are being very simple against the non-sexy teams in this league.