Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
24 September 2011
Grimsby Town 1 Wrexham 3
The rich men do sit and squabble in the rubble all moanday, tearsday. wailsday, thumpsday, frightday and shatterday. What will the history of this trickling stream of unconsciousness be called: Fentycon's Wake? We're here for the football, not the boardroom walks and squawks.
Slightly more than the usual away support fretted in the Osmond on a surprisingly warm day by the seaside as Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Wood, Kempson, Pearson, Ridley, Eagle, Disley, Church, Makofo, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were I'Anson, Artus, Coulson, Thanoj and Duffy. Green was missing, and there was some general underground hissing at the thought of the Eagle of the North being an Eagle on the right.
Nothing remarkable occurred before the clock didn't tick past 8:50, the upper steps of the Pontoon were pepper-sprayed by Duffy in the shooting practice and glances cast towards the Osmond revealed opposition athletes who were short and long, big and small, and generally looking pert and perky.
So which team's mental fragility was about to be exposed?
First half: Push pineapple, shake the tree
Town kicked off towards the Osmond and within 90 seconds the next 90 minutes were clear to us as Cieslewicz had a clear meander from right to left. Let's call him Mr Cheese; it'd make life easier for us all. Mr Cheese was still fermenting his way along to twist and stick a cross up in front of the Pontoon. McKeown stretched and flapped the ball off Pogba's head to a place and space into which no human trod.
Ashton cushion-volleyed a Town hoik back to keeper Maxwell, who picked it up. Play continued amid incredulity and resignation. It's one those days, one of those refs.
Makofo, Makofo, Makofo, Makofo, Makofo. Wrexham watched as the puppy dog ran around in circles and more circles and trod on the ball, ran away from the ball and tackled himself, winning the ball back from himself before running around in the same circles within circles. I think at one point they pretended to throw the ball towards the Main Stand and then threw it towards the Findus. Good old Serge pricked up his ears and still came back for more.
The ref blocked off a red defender at a corner. A half-blocked, half-shot half came near a half awake Townite and Wrexham broke. Junior Psycho slashed their shower curtains as boot awaited ball in Town's area. Wrexham had an annoying habit of passing the ball to each other, using Church as the hey diddle-diddle, cat and the fiddle, piggy in the middle. I don't think Church ever did pin the tail on the donkey today.
Anthony Elding: he was on the pitch.
After about 15 minutes Wrexham decided to fluff up their pillows and turn the mattress over. A corner, a corner, a goal. Swung in from their right, hanging like a basket of late blooming fuchsias, bouncing off Pogba's back and loopy-droopy-dropping over the clawing hands of Dr McKeown in to the very centre of the goal.
You could hear the shoulders shrugging around Europe.
Sure, sure kid. Town bounded back like happy campers determined to win the knobbly-knees competition, having failed in the beauty contest. Town urged and surged, through the incredible Serge. It really was an incredible performance from the Makofotron. He couldn't stand up for falling down, but he never gave up trying.
Makofo was woeful but Eagle was hopeful, with Little Bob beginning to thread needles with Hearn. If Town did anything it involved Eagle's subtle passing, mostly to Hearn. Wood crossed, Elding cushioned a pass and Hearn took a moment to assess his own taxes. A defender blocked. Eagle sent free kick after free kick floating gently towards Maxwell's nose. A-ha, we see the Town tactics - stick it under the keeper's eyebrows and have a mid-air collision. Maxwell's silver gloves kept coming down upon the ball to flip and flap. Chances? None. These were moments when something could have happened but didn't, reliance placed upon happenstance, fortune and the accident of motion.
Pearson headed a corner over and across the face of goal as Maxwell flippity-flapped. Pearson missed when offside, Wrexham kept prodding but not pushing themselves to have a shot and Eagle kept tickling Hearn free in the inside right position. Hurrah! Eagle licked, Hearn cricked a cross and Elding side-footed in to an empty net... but offside. Hooray, Disley nicked and flicked Hearn free on the inside right. Bazoom-shazoom, Hearn coily-curled low and true into the bottom left corner. A popular goal from a popular player. You see, he's always trying. Some of his colleagues are trying in different ways.
Disley floated, Kempson grazed and Maxwell flicked the ball over. We don't score from corners, remember, but you can ooh for free. And finally Cyril, Wood expertly volley-stabbed Eagle free inside the Town half. Little Bob looked up, espied a small gapette and swayed a weighted pass to Hearn. He swivelled and, in the same position from which he had scored, crumpled lowly across Maxwell, but a hand flicked and happiness was averted by a foam and rubber combination.
If Town had done anything it came from their own foam and rubber combination: Eagle and Hearn. Town strived mostly manfully, but Wrexham always appeared as though they could do more if needed. Town looked like they were doing quite respectably against an average higher division team.
Now, that magical team talk time. We have two managers and they have none. Are two heads better than none?
Second half: Pineapple fritters and a rusty fork
Neither side made any changes at half time.
They had a long shot and McKeown crept out of his area to cover up Pearson's bloomers with a large cape. Wrexham started the second half like they had started the first: quickly, with passing and dribbling. It was just a little too much, Town's knicker elastic was twanging.
This Grimsby team did what it must do - hoik and huff, await the set piece and see what happens. Makofo scruffled a volleyed bombler straight at the keeper after an Eagle free kick was cleared. They broke and Town's T-shirt was ripped, Disley magnificently blocked the twisty turny Pogba eight yards out.
Around the hour Wrexham tipped and tapped from a throw-in. Town stood and watched, perhaps admiring this thing called football. Harris, way out on their centre-left, shimmied a skimmer through a corridor of uncertain legs and into the bottom left corner with McKeown unaware of the flightpath. As soon as he hit it the Pontoon could see it was going in.
Town didn't give up: they pressed with even more fretful urgency. Balls were balled and free kicks were free kicked. Eagle clipped, Maxwell flapped and Disley, inside the D, stood on the ball and dinked over the advancing and retreating redsters. The ball crawled over fingertips and bar. Hearn and Disley produced a full court press on the dilettante Wrexham defenders. Disley bustled free, the keeper did the Charleston and a defender entered stage left to sweep away the bunting.
Tip-tap, tip-tap, tip-tap, tap-tip, here's a top tip Town - move your feet, move with the times and move yourself to tackle. Their little red roosters in midfield all munched on a Toblerone with some beautifully framed training ground passing, ending with a one-two prod-poke into the bottom left corner by, apparently, Fowler. Surrounded by Town trees as the autumn leaves tumble.
At this, Coulson replaced Eagle. Murmurings of unhappiness arose from the ground, for Town's only displaced creator had been whipped off.
Ah, at last we have some automaticism to go with the masochism of watching Town, the old 4-3-3 formation! Nothing more can go wrong now. Let us completely remove both the composer and the artist from the process of creation, leaving mere chance to make compositional decisions. John Cage achieved that in 4'33" by instructing the pianist to sit down and do nothing. Shouty and Shorty achieve that in 4-3-3, where neither players nor management have any impact on the piece. In both we hear just the sound of the audience and auditorium. Automaticism for the People! R.E.M. are back already: we're all asleep.
And then Mad Frankie Artus came on for The Makofotron. The difference? Artus trod on the ball more slowly. We gave the ball away less quickly. Mmm, taste the difference. They had moments and movements, but do we really care about their incidents and accidents? It's all over. Knight-Percival, their lanky, lolloping centre-back headed down and over when unmarked a few yards out at a corner. I'm sure they had other shots. I don't care. I can't be bothered to remember. They've won; why retain more detritus in the overloaded modern mind.
And Bradley Wood was booked for a strong man challenge. So last century, that - he's a 20th-century schizoid player.
Do you want something to hold on to? Hearn crossed, Coulson headed, Elding missed the ball five yards out. Elding was choi-oiked by an occasional human low in the Pontoon and he finally broke his duck - shooting his mouth off with an unsubtle rejoinder and a dismissive gesture.
And then he was off, replaced by Mr Fluffy to an ironic rousing chorus of 'Hallelujah'. It really is up to him, do better and be seen to be trying to do better.
The tide is leaving some more oily deposits. A Disley free kick was flicked on by Kempson, plopping against the post and bumping back to Hearn a couple of yards out. The hitman scrumbled on the line and Church side-footed the ball into Hearn's midriff, who rolled and flipped the ball into the keeper hands on the line. There was some silly pushy-shoveyness, some more long ball longing and Coulson volleyed uninterestedly way over.
It was over ages ago. Why are you still here?
Wrexham simply showed us what we know already - that an organised and committed team can pass around and through this present Grimsby collection without too much fuss or fear. Town went long, Wrexham went short and won easily in the end.
We won't go down, we won't go up. We shall just be.