Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 August 2012
Grimsby Town 0 Nuneaton Town 0
You are travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a disastrous land of unimagination. Next stop, the Townite Zone!
Hot, hot, hot and airless in guileless Grimsby and clueless Cleethorpes with 150 Nuns whimpering in their wimples down in the Osmond End. The team gel will melt in this heat.
Town lined up in a crooked 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Hatton, S Pearson, Pond, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Thanoj, Soares, Cook and Elding. The substitutes were Wood, Artus, Niven, G Pearson and Southwell. Clang clang, all change, all change. And don't panic, for good cop/bad cop are professionals, they know what they are doing. Especially now that the whole squad is handpicked by these artisans using traditional methods. This is their very own fruitbox of footballing fun.
Nuneaton Town/Borough/Town turned up in vaguely Scunthorpian maroon and with no discernible personality, except their number ten, Country Joe, who was fishing alone up front. The headband and frizz look hasn't been this big since Woodstock. The Nunnies came with a maroon blanket to lay upon the turf and feast upon pies and pickles.
Look, it's very warm indeed, do we have to do this football thing? Can't we just swing in a hammock and listen to some Moby Grape?
First half: The Interpretation of Dreams
Remember, the true revolutionary moves through the pleasantries as the fish does through water.
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon with a tap to Thomas and an oafish, barely credible hoik down the touchline, allegedly towards Cook. Repeat for five minutes until the mixture has coagulated, then turn upside down onto a plate and feed to the dogs.
Punting, hoofing, hopeless. Horrible.
Woah, two passes! Oh, one welly doesn't make a summer. Elding smooched the grass when observing a punt from afar. The grass wasn't interested in a summer romance and the ref had even less interest in awarding a penalty.
They tipped, they tapped, they crossed to the far post. The hairy Baker headed back to himself and flipped an Izzetian upside-down cake a foot or so over. It sounds nice, but meant nothing. A superficial frippery and far more substantial than anything the monochrome minstrels had plucked on their lutes.
Thanoj passed! Why bother, no-one else is moving. Thanoj passed! Why bother, no-one else is grooving. Town in a rut, not a groove.
Punt, punt, punt, hoof, punt, hoik, hump: dump this in the municipal tip, it's not even worth putting on Freecycle, let alone e-bay. Ah and now we're passing directly out of play. What an excellent interpretation of the melancholic state of midland man in the post-industrial age in the form of dance and mime. This is post-modern performance art as anti-art. It's the only explanation I can find.
Disley flicked, Colbeck slow twisted and rumbled an inert shot safely at the keeper. A shot, a shot, a kingdom for a shot. Give Colbeck the crown, we've had a shot! Pearson passed, Colbeck crossed lowly, the ball flicked off a defender, flipped off the keeper's nose and was flapped over the bar for a corner. Thanoj ticked, Thomas tocked, Soares mopped a cross behind Elding, who spun widely wide. Thomas rampaged, the keeper flapped away; Thomas tramped, a defender grazed away.
This sounds interesting, this sounds exciting, this is unbelievable to those who were present at the scene of grime. Extremely isolated moments of collective cohesion and individual adequacy added up to zero.
At some point Pond back-headed to McKeown, which counted as an effort on goal. For either side, take your pick.
And then we had the moment, the single moment of professional excellence. Thanoj deftly caressed an exquisite dinkle for the onrushing Disley, who daftly galumphed an elephantine touch back to a retreating defender. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was nothing in the end.
As the half died towards its conclusion the non-existent skill and cohesion that hadn't existed at the start disintegrated into a procession of dozy passes and dribbles straight out of play. The aimless hoofing lost its accuracy and purpose. Cook and Elding were not a partnership, but two star-crossed lovers hiding behind the nearest hedges. Colbeck stood far, far, far too far away from any Townite and even Nuneaton worked out pretty quickly that he's a monotonous one-trick pony: a means to obtain a corner.
Louis Soares. He looks like he should be bod- popping as dancer number three in 80s sparkly funnksters Imagination. We all wish he really was. He has yet to display any mental or physical strength and is effectively a twelfth man for the opposition. The crowd have been extremely patient and polite so far, Mr Soares.
Remember the label says hot, the stain says not. If Cook can't stand the heat he'd better get out of the kitchen.
Second half: Nightmare near Neville Street
No changes were made by either team at half time: they both carried on being utterly devoid of attacking competence.
Fortunately high, high above a formation flight team, calculated and precision rehearsed for maximum effect, were za-zooming around providing a diversion to the atrocity on the pitch. Up down, flying around, looping the loop and defying the ground. Much like Aswad's increasingly erratic throw-ins.
We gasped and whooped and hollered as the formation loops and gravity-defying zoom climbs were sketched above the Osmond Stand. And then after ten minutes, the entertainment ceased, and Town made a triple substitution. Soares, Cook and Elding were replaced by Artus, Southwell and G Pearson.
Town were better, but only in the sense that they were not worse. The replacements moved around a bit more, overtly tried a bit more, and were marginally more effective overall. That is starting from the lowest base line possible, ever, ever, ever.
Town dozed, the Nunnies threw directly to an unmarked toddler who had a completely irrelevant shot. They nearly had a shot a bit later. And Hatton threw straight to them when Thanoj wasn't looking. York ran in a curvy, jinky straight line and poked meekly straight to McKeown. Technically it was a shot on target, for if Jamie Mack had been darning his underpants it may have gone in, but only with a big wind behind it. Meek, I said, meek boy.
They don't exist in Town's half again.
Southwell reverse to Thomas, who crossed to the near post near G Pearson. At a further indeterminate point somewhere before five o'clock the same thing happened, except G Pearson thigh-volleyed wide.
We are now re-entering the twilight zone, where frenzy and fear co-exist in disharmony.
Thanoj punted into the area and a Town head looped the ball generally and vaguely forward. G Pearson leapt with their keeper and they both fell to the floor flapping as Pond high-kicked a volley into the empty net like he was in a chorus line darling. Sit down: disallowed. Why are you looking surprised?
Colbeck scuttled behind his full-back after a Thomas long distance bonk and weakly poked to no-one across the six-yard box. Town scramble in and out, here and there. One of the Pearsons got in the way of one of the Pearsons, someone headed against a Townite, Disley volleyed extremely over after a hoik was half repelled to him on the edge of the penalty area.
And finally, in added time, Thanoj flipped Colbeck free inside the area. The Yorkist kept his eyes on the prize and sliced appallingly high and wide as several awaited service in the centre.
For health reasons I've missed out all the woe, and woe doesn't get any more woeful than this. Throw-ins went straight out of play, short passes went out of play, long passes went out of play. Punts were sliced straight out of play. And that's when Town were at their best. Nuneaton were even worse with the ball. There was no co-ordination, cohesion, collective activity or individual competence that can be squeezed out of this dead toothpaste tube of tosh and tat.
Nobody in that ground looked like they wanted to be there at any point, no-one enjoyed any part of the day. It was a dispiritingly dull, shapeless, formless, witless and uninvolving occasion.
Purgatory in football form.