Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
3 September 2011
Forest Green Rovers 0 Grimsby Town 1
If only I could I'd be running up that hill.
The Town 200 marched to the top of the hill, but only because when we were only halfway up we went and parked our cars. There's hills, hillocks and then there's the Nympsfield Road. It's another Mariners metaphor: there are many rivers to cross and mountains to climb to get to Forest Green Rovers, perched above New Age Nailsworth like a footballing Glastonbury Tor.
Town lined up in a bold, innovative, exciting and new 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, Kempson, Pearson, Green, Coulson, Disley, Artus, Makofo, Spencer, Hearn. The substitutes were I'Anson, Church, Eagle, Duffy and Elding. Spencer makes Elding look like a sleek greyhound. Green makes Bradley Wood look like the Green Cross Code man. Be careful, because Bradley Wood won't always be there when you cross the road.
So who will be the numpties of Nymspfield Road today?
First half: Climb every mountain
Town kicked off away from the Town 200 with a punt down the left and a punt down the right. Their keeper shouldered a back-pass out for a corner. Smoke rose from a garden.
McKeown caught a cross. McKeown shouted. McKeown punted long, punted long, punted long. This is going to be a long afternoon. Get out your Kindle, put on your iPod. The cannier Town fans sat with the crossbar barring the view of all but Pearson's quiffette and Kempson's socks. We don't need to see to know that nothing is happening.
Falling, calling, mauling, trawling for things to see, things to say. I hate rugby.
The Greensters' figure-hugging wingers mugged away without impediment. Our little Green was little and lost, Coulson was easily man-handled by Norwood. Junior Psycho took over. Norwood was neutralised and terminated with extreme deftness. Forest Green fluttered like butterflies, Town had brought along a big glass jar.
Spencer. You need not know more, for you are in a delicate emotional state. We could always rent a room in a local church hall and talk you through this. We have trained counsellors available.
And all the while their number 11, Forbes, prodded and poked and probed, and all because the lady loves Milk Tray. Sorry, I'm drifting, drifting away to another land where the breeze and the trees and the flowers are blue. Sometimes you just wish some Townite would risk it for a Swisskit. Defunct chocolate bars have more taste and texture than this Town.
Then I awoke. Was this some kind of joke? Much to my surprise, when I opened my eyes we heard the ref's whistle blow. A free kick was punted long, long and long beyond all, like everything before. The Sergeanator, the Makofotron, chased and laced daisies into the defender's hair, twisting, turning, burning rubber and incense to roam back into the penalty area and drive a low thing goalwards. Hearn stooped and steered a glancy glance across the face of goal.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was the only thing that had happened at all, ever at all at all at all. Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye. That's what my mama told me when I was about knee-high. Lav Nacinood is Val Doonican backwards, not Wigan Athletic's new right-back. You've heard that before? Sometimes repeats are better than new programmes, nostalgia is all that it used to be, and nostalgia is all we can cling on to for the future.
Coulson crossed. Spencer is old.
Coulson crimped a free kick straight to Bittner who was having a bit part in this play for today. It wasn't until the second half that we realised Bittner is losing his hair. I don't think that's classed as a plot spoiler. It's Earth, she's a man, he's dead. Now those are plot spoilers.
The locals carried on tipping and tapping on their typewriter. Get with it man, it's the digital age. Wood punted longly from right to left, vaguely in the direction of the hefferlumpus maximus. A defender headed backwards, rather than forwards and Spencer rumbled goalwards. In glorious rumblerama vision Spencer wafted his left leg, even making contact with the inflatable thing he'd been chasing. The ball avoided the goal by a hundred years and meandered meekly down the hill. Even the locals gazed at their shoes, avoiding eye contact, too embarrassed for him for any audible choi-oiking of the choking striker. They are nice in Nailsworth. If you have ever watched Spencer do the pre-match shooting routine against Kenny and his Fingers, you know exactly how he mis-hit the shot. He's a professional: he's practised that.
Hey! Forest Green had an actual, factual, really real shot from a million yards out. McKeown arose from his deckchair and loosed his neckerchief. It was their first, their last, their everything in the first half. Forest Green really were the answer to all Shouty n' Shorty's dreams.
The Town 200 were bored; they started to think of vegetables. They wanted to smell dead animals, rather than watch them.
And as the half ended the Greensters crossed, the ball striking the hand of Artus, which many of you thought was a Hammer horror. Town chased down the pull-back and Green punted way, way, way down the left wing. Makofo ambled after their full-back and scrambled towards their keeper as the back-pass died in the woolly grasslands. Serge and Bittner collided and the ball rolled with the merry Mariner to the bye-line.
Serge, Serge, Serge, the only player in the Conference permanently accompanied by a saxophone solo. He rocked, he rolled and was chased in circles by the keeper before levering towards goal. The shot deflected off green knees to Coulson, on the edge of the area, who calmly sha-zoomed into the top left corner.
A fine finish after a comedy routine and routine comedy of a game. Town were leading after creating nothing from their own play.
Riled by the injustice, the lawnmowermen rolled. Norwood was out-psyched by Wood after the Bradster had sneakily blocked his path towards McKeown and indulged in some innocent mud wrestling. Oh how we laughed when Norwood, not Wood was booked. Oh how we sighed when Spencer took the ball off Pearson's head when a free kick was pumped long and high. Oh how we wondered how Town had managed to score, let alone lead at half time.
We were alive, together and conscious, aware of our own mortality, but thrilled by the fact of the ridiculous existence of a half-time lead.
Second half: Vegetable men
No changes were made by either team at half time.
Nothing changed. Town were intent on recreating key scenes from Zulu, but without any hint of even a verse of 'The Lincolnshire Poacher'. Occasionally Hearn was sent out into the distance to knock a few wooden markers into the turf, but he soon got chased back by the irate locals.
Bored. Bored. Bored. What can a poor boy do, cept to sing for a rock and roll band? Sing for your supper? Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, chips and meat! Sausages! Shouty became confused when he heard the crowd chant his rant over and over and over and over and over and over and over and meat meat meat meat meat meat meat and chips and over and over and over and over.
One of them turned and spurned wide. The Greensters brought on Stanley Kowalski and Curtis Mayfield, taking off an invisible man and lumpy Griffin, the house of cheese. I checked the time, a curious spell, an intangible crime against football. Styche dinked over Pearson and Stanley K grazed the merest follicle upon the drooping ball. McKeown star-jumped and half-volleyed away with his big right toe. A cross from their left and Norwood stooped and pooped a header straight at McKeown. Pearson collided with Styche on the left corner of the penalty area. After much cogitation, animation and decimalisation the free kick ended up in Stroud, where they are loud and proud, not cowed.
They fizzed, they fizzled out with a couple of low grubbers grabbed by Jimmy Mac, who didn't turn his back. Wood let a ball drift near a white boot, Wood missed a header and Styche shimmied into the penalty area. He drew back his foot, the crowd drew its breath and Wood drew inspiration from the one and true Macca, to swipe away danger.
We don't need this pressure on, we don't need this pressure on.
Town? Nope. Just dopes.
Spencer had been replaced by Mr Fluffy Duffy halfway through the half. Somehow that made things worse. I have skipped over Spencer's magnificent back-heel better than he did. There was a certain faded grandeur in its failure, like the dying days of the Hapsburgs.
Reece Styche just annoyed everyone with his feeble falling - paint him silver and stand him on a box near Waterloo Bridge. He's a mime diver.
And still the Townites amused themselves with the rant chant for nothing, no-no-nothing, was happening except the Nailsworth headbangers butting the blue breezeblocks. Town players kept getting booked, Town players kept heading the free kicks away.
With about five minutes left Elding replaced The Makofotron. He may have touched the ball but it would have been by accident, not design. The journey had taken a lot out of him, no doubt. And with a couple of minutes left Eagle replaced tireless Liam Hearn. Eagle played an exquisitely cute pass to where Elding would have been if he was anyone but Elding. Or Spencer. Or Duffy.
In added time Town had their attack. Duffy hooked a slow cross into Bittner's corridor of certainty. That is absolutely totally and utterly the only time Town had a day trip into the Forest Green penalty area. There was not even a suggestion that anyone would even think about having a shot. Nothing at all sir, nothing at all.
More bookings, more fee kicks, more nothings to remember. It ended.
The defence was untroubled, Green got better and Town players fouled a lot. Beyond that there is only deception. It was a dreadful spectacle. This game was not so much low-key as no key, like babies running on a piano. It was painful noise, not music. In all this dissonant chaos Town accidentally stumbled across a single harmonious melody and were the bullies who stole the veggieburgers.
Not worth seeing, not worth going to see.