Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
1 October 2011
Grimsby Town 5 Alfreton Town 2
Well colour your belly yellow, it's Lincolnshire Day! Remember any football team can look good in this county.
Welcome aboard the rudderless ship in a state of stasis, setting sail to a place on the map from which no-one has ever returned. On a broiling, toilingly hot afternoon nearly 200 Alfies chugged up route A46 to get their kicks. What's that all about, Alfies? We're used to three men in a boat, two men, one man and his pet theory about the aggregation of collateral debt hidden in seemingly solvent financial institutions.
This Town, just like any other Town, this Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Wood, Kempson, Pearson, Ridley, Coulson, Disley, Church, Makofo, Duffy, Hearn. The substitutes were Garner, Artus, Eagle, Silk and Elding. Green was still missing, presumed active after signing a very short contract, and this time it was Mr Fluffy's turn to disappoint from the start, rather than goal-machine action man Mr Fluffer, despite his Aggborough activities. It is wise to confirm that Coulson was on the right and Makofo the left. One can never assume or presume these days. Tactics and formation are as fluid as unmentionable things in a family-friendly newspaper. We're talking ***************. Aren't we always?
Alfreton trotted round in blue with Greg Young, just another forgotten son, hamster head Jarman, an unforgiven son, and Drewe Broughton a figure of fun. Broughton has experience, which is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. Town have a lot of experience too, of course.
Their goalkeeper was very small. D'ye ken Jake Moult in midfield? And I've just remembered that 99 per cent of gargoyles look like Nicky Law. If it's too hot for burgers, it's too hot for football. Keep in the shade and put on some warp factor 10 suncream. Set phasers to stun. Oh, they've started already.
First half: Emerging from gorse
Town kicked towards the Osmond with the ennui of 13 Eurogoths floating in the Dead Sea. Experts have predicted the collapse of the Eurogoth for years, but it still exists.
'Hit and hopeless' is the family-friendly term. The Alfies flung throws longily and Townites kept kicking the ball out for throw-ins. Pearson and Ridley kept heading punts to the blue man groups. A blue man squiggled squishily wide. Alfreton pressure, Town were a malfunctioning dishwasher. Soak the pans in hot water before the cheese coagulates. You'll pay the price later if you don't act now; it's the voice of experience.
Jamie Mack plucked and chucked, Disley dribbled and drove, Makofo did the Makofo, that crazy new dance craze sweeping the Yellowbelly nation. Serge swooped and swayed in the scintillatingly sizzling shining sun to slice through several before shanking into the side-netting. That sentence was brought to you by the letter 's'.
And what of our fine friends from a fretting town? Free kick dropped and McKeown scooped near boots. Their keeper whacked highly. Pearson waited and Clayton sailed in from the Findus side of life to loopy-lobby a header a yard or so wide from way out. Clayton was a pesky mover and groover. Bradley Wood took note and took off in search of his chopper to chop down this tree.
It was awful, awful stuff, with only blue men moving. Well, apart from Hearn and Disley, with some ignorable Makofonomics. And then it happened.
A goal kick was noodled into the middle and The Jarmster shimmy-shaked a cute reverse swinging yorker between, through and under the bookcases. Clayton snuck past Pearson and carefully, calmly waited for McKeown to lean left before lamping straight down the middle. Simple and effective, unlike Town's defence, which was simply ineffective.
Duffy. A shot. Weak.
Town. Do not go near this abandoned mine. Subsidence despite subsidy; there is no substance.
Mmm yeah, avarice and greed will drive you to insolvency, they will leave you drifting in the shallows, drowning in the oceans of history-y-y-y. I must turn off that mental jukebox and watch this odd selection box of nylon ninnies and polycotton posers.
Coulson nicked and Hearn rocked his socks, swizzling, shifting through the gears and flagellating Lowson's fingertips as a shot za-zoomed towards the top corner. Finally we have something from the way Hearn moves. Ooh and again, low to Lowson, troubling the earthworms. Two passes! Coulson hoovered past his full-back, curling delightfully de-lovely-ly-ly to Duffy's forehead six yards out at the back post. Comrades, the motion speaks for itself. Goal kick.
Arbitrary moments in a sea of slow dross. When Town approached it was all blue toes and foreheads as striped ones gathered in groups like worried zebras on the savannah. But dear zebras, these aren't big cats: they're cute little moggies. Anthony Church? It was a question for which you do not have an answer.
And here we go again. Makofo Makofoed yabba yabba jabba the hutt over and wide. Shall we call him Dizzy from now on, for all the spinning around? And another thing: why is the ground full of Tony Gubba lookalikes? Is it the unseasonal sunshine?
And an era-defining moment, if the era be defined as one Saturday afternoon in Cleethorpes, a Last Year in Marienbad for this septic decade. Their right-back cut into the area and coiled a cheeky-sneaky shot towards the top right corner. Jamie Mack sailed the seven seas and magnificently claw-parried away, the ball slapping against Broughton' s ample thighs a couple of yards out and rolling off the pitch. The end was nighing, and was nighing no more.
Can anybody really be bothered to remember Duffy side-stepping and sideshowing over easily, or easily over, whichever way you want your eggs?
There was apparent action, with moments in isolation that could appear to mean something. This story was without a narrative purpose as far as Town were concerned. The singing-ringing tree corner was constant, acting as counter-melody for the Alfies' speckled heckling of Hearn, holding him personally responsible for the collapse of late capitalism, railing against his odd speculative punt. And that is all we had as hope. Apart from the obvious observation that if we simply put our lips together and blew we'd whistle past them.
Just a word for the Main Standers - it is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression.
Second half: Paintball's coming home
Neither side made any changes at half time. Nothing changed. Nothing can be recalled in this hum and drum and base metal bashings. There comes a time in a man's life when the only acceptable rap is bubblewrap.
Hearn flim-flammed and Duffy steered a side-footed placement into Lowson's midriff. Well, it was a shot. Apart from Bradley Wood's mission to destroy Clayton, including a jump-stamp that brought a free kick but not even a booking, and Ridley being booked for fouling like an old man, the brain was draining. Home thoughts were sweeping through the mind, apologies were being made to sons and lovers for inflicting this visual void upon them. Ooh a big ship! And a train! And look, a big yellow helicopter too! There's so much to do by the seaside, but not right here, right now.
And then, near the hour, this very small world changed for the better. It had all been a façade, after all. Suddenly Coulson woke up, swinging his pants past his full-back to dimple a lovely cross onto the waiting head of the unmarked Duffy five yards out. The ball hit the bar, Hearn headed the rebound goalwards and Lowson superbly sprung back up a like a sunflower on speed to claw away. The ball bounced and Hearn stepped forward, hooking it into an open goal from a yard out.
Fi-fie-fo-fum, Town smelled the blood of an Alfreton.
Scrambled this and scrambled that, Hearn flew, keeper-legs screwed and Makofo was blocked, of course. A punt, a flick, a pass, a lob and Hearn was released on the right side of their penalty area. The ball arced and dropped, the keeper froze and fell as Hearn eyed his prize and carefully side-footed a gentle lob inside the near post. Simple football from simple men: a Duffy lifter, a Hearn lofter, and a keeper wafter.
Freedom! The shackles lifted and limbs moved, passes were passed and the amorphous gloop began to take some shape as the electricity began to course through it. This way, that way, Hearn shielded, Serge surged, lifting the ball over one tackle, swaying past another and only the most superb of saves stopped a most superb of goals. A save rather than a miss. There were moments, so many to mention, where things nearly happened. Let's stick to the headlines for once.
Ah, but first Town had to ensure victory. Clayton was clattered and clobbered for a third and final time. Alfreton were defenestrated as off he limped with their final hopes of satisfaction being guaranteed in their magical mystery tour of the east. And The Jarmster had a long shot. And that was that for them. This was their end.
Hearn received a throw-in deep down in the empty corner twixt Pontoon and Findus. He noodled around a bit, turning infield and running across the face of the penalty area. No-one approached, so Hearn let fly and befoodled a shot towards the bottom left corner. The tiny keeper shrunk and dived under the ball as it skipped off the 112-year ridge of relaid turf and clipped his fingers on the way in. At this point even the Tony Gubba-a-likes let their hair down a little.
Things go better with butter, but they can also get better. A moment of nothingness, a keeping punt downfield and players challenged. Wood bent down, the whistle blew and out came a red card for the substitute. No one seemed to argue as the referee nudge-nudged to indicate an elbow. Then it must be so. Naughty boy, and very, very dangerous thing to do. Bradley doesn't forget these things. Young Mr Ellison will need to twitch his curtains until we meet again some sunny day.
And we had a bunch of substitutions. Eagle for Makofo, Elding for Duffy. This had the effect you'd expect, some things added here, something taken away there. Pearson headed straight at the keeper: good save. Someone else slapped straight at the keeper: another good save. Town overindulged in this free buffet, overloading their paper plates with too many chicken wings and not enough sausage rolls.
To save Alfreton ankles and avoid a booking, Wood was replaced. Silk on, teeth out, Broughton off for some anger management classes in a replay of the previous silliness. Same place, same everything. Now that's experience for you, Nicky.
Elding missed badly, but was offside. Church stuttered and slapped with loads of this and that going on all over the place. The barrel was in place, we had shotguns in hand. The Alfreton sprats had given up.
A punt, a punt again and the ball sailed high towards the right corner of the Alfies' penalty area. Hearn pursued, shielded by Young and the danger dissipated. The keeper wandered out, stuttering, dithering and, faced by an existential crisis, hid behind the snack shelter. Hearn rolled the ball into the empty net.
There were four minutes of added time. As this was announced, Church failed once, failed twice to deal with a snapping cha-cha-cha on the Town left, right on the bye-line. I think we do ken Jake Moult now as he rolled over Eagle's tackle and the referee's soft sentimental side emerged - a penalty. Even the Pontoon could see that the tackle was clean. But even Townites can be magnanimous in victory sometimes. Jarman calmly swept right as Jamie Mack flew left.
And there's more. Eagle swept a sweet diagonal pass over the top of the left-back into Coulson's path. The ball was knocked into the area, the keeper ran out and, as they collided, Coulson lifted a pokey prod into the vast expanse of nothingness hoping, perhaps even expecting, a Town player to be near. Is this what really happened? Or do I just dream it? Was it the madness of crowds, was it the delirium of victory, was it the draining effects of dehydration? The ball hit Elding on the forehead and lobbed into the emptiest of nets.
What did we just see? Town were awful for a very long time and when they stopped being awful and were just alright, they delivered a ritual slaughter of some dead sheep. Still, you can only beat the eggs that appear to be in front of you.