Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
28 April 2019
Notts County 2 Grimsby Town 1
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Notts County and a miracle cure. They're playing Michael Jolley's anonymous anodyne Town. Hello there you simple Piemen, we're your dream team and we're coming to drown. Beep-Beep.
On a wet, cold and windy afternoon we'd like to watch a game that is so much fun, it's not very hard to do. Is it? Misery all around as the home stands sank into slumber and 1,200 Townites tried to avoid our own junior Flare Boys' latest contribution to nitwittery on the concourse, of course. It made many a little hoarse.
Town lined up in red in various formations alleged to be 3:5:2 as follows McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Hendrie, Hall-Johnson, Davis, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Hall-Johnson, Grayson, Hall-Johnson, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Vernam, Woolford, and Rose. The substitutes were Russell, Pollock, Ring, Curran, Cardwell, Wright and Burrell. Town started off with five at the back, with Hall-Johnson merely one of them. Rose was alone up top for Town, while Vernam was….somewhere, possibly over that rainbow.
Mitch Rose? Barely noticed, barely acknowledged. Rather churlish of us, don't you think?
What a difference a year makes: last year we saved them the embarrassment of undeserved promotion, this year we can save them from the ignominy of a deserved relegation. Hello Notts County our old friends, we've come to walk with you again.
We're here to help.
First half: inner city pressure
Are we bovvered?
Town kicked off away from the corner o' Townites. Here comes the rain again. Here comes the bun, for I'm feeling a little p-p-p-p-peckish.
A Pieman advanced, Hall-Johnson swept away into Mitch's face, felling our fallen star, resulting in a full facial massage at the local Spar shop.
Wahey, Scunny are losing.
Hall-Johnson at centre-back. Hall-Johnson at left-back. Hall-Johnson at right-back. Hall-Johnson at left centre-back, right centre-back, back-back-back-back. Hall-Johnson here, there and everywhere along the back five all the time. Hall-Johnson was the back five for the first five minutes.
Town ticking tenderly past timid opponents. Hendrie lashed lowly, Schofield finger-flicked away from his near post. Little Harry grazed the corner down but straight to the keeper. Two passes, two movements, and Ahkeeeeeem Rose poked wide at the near post.
Wahey. They're coming home, they're coming home, Scunny's coming home to the fourth division.
Calamity County collapsing in their church of the poisoned mind: just move your feet an' you'll feel fine.
Nottsmen moved their feet as we saw the latest tweet. Blimey Charlie, Scunny are going down in style.
Town moved to a 4-4-2 formation.
Them, eventually; things stirring in their soft underbelly. After what seemed like years and years County, just like Frankenstein and Peter Frampton, came alive with Mackail-Smith showing them the way simply by running around a lot. A hoof and chase and witless Whitmore's welly was charged down. The cross excited those who know nothing, for Hemmings the lemming was nowhere near anywhere.
A Town corner. McKeown's horror-hack was charged down by Mackail-Smith and Hall-Johnson mopped the floor.
Town corner, McKeown's hack. Is there something missing there? Yes, oh yes, so very much is missing there so very muchly.
General hubbles and bubbles as Town ceased to interact with their environment. Striped corners with schoolyard tumbles and fumbles and oh what bumbling no-grade nonsense I see before me.
Finally, a long shot from these home hackers as Jamie Mack plunged low and right-flipped aside for a corner that was flicked at the near post into the side netting to the sound of desperate oohing. Them again, sometime, a free kick safely over the bar to the sound of desperate mooing.
Have you seen Charles Vernam, the Wolds Panther, our black and white cat, lately? All his fans will smile as he waves to greet them. Maybe.
Two minutes were added, though somehow subtracted from our lives. Is that a karmic balance?
In the battle of the inept and the inert there is only one winner: the nearest pub. Both teams are whimpering out of this season. But then again, so are Scunny.
Second half: business time
Neither team made any changes at half time.
They ran around. That's all. It was like they had something important to do this afternoon, not just mooch around at the back of the sitting room waiting for their packet of iced gems and half a Mars bar before they could go home to their mates.
A throw-in most foul was dropped quickly back to our old Rose as our new Rose slept. Mad Mitch crossed, Grayson slid and sliced and skewered over McKeown perfectly for the arising Machail-Smith to chinny-chest in from a yard out at the far post.
Something stirs and something tries and starts to climb toward the light... Oh it's the County fans. Been there, done that. What a difference a year makes.
As Rose and Little Harry took mighty whacks, Max Wright came on for Hall-Johnson, the permanent fall guy for the failure of others. Wright immediately set off on a mazy, crazy dribble, only halted by a home guard hoedown, then was kicked in the head when clearing a corner.
Is there any point in any of this?
Woolford legged up Mitch half way through the half, half way inside the Town half, way out east. The free kick coiled and drooped into the centre of the centre of the penalty area. All arose, all missed except the final forehead - Little Harry grazed on and perfectly flicked a little scoopler into the far corner.
And when Town awoke they were alone, this bird had flown.
Burrell and Cardwell replaced Rose and someone who wasn't even playing, Vernam. Town may get fined by the FA for that. Or Vernam may get sued under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.
Burrell, slipping and sliding, brushed aside, pushed aside. Obviously Town were undermined by the cynical watering of the pitch by the sky. I see a straw! Slickly and quickly, Burrell jumped over the ball, Woolford swept on and Wright za-zoomed infield to smack a cracker that Schofield spectacularly tipped over.
Wright was felled and Grayson curled the free kick lowly to Schofield's left, who shovelled aside like a volleyballer. Grayson coiled another free kick over the angle of post and bar. Two straws, in one day! The only way is up.
And in between these atypical moments of near adequacy, Town centre-backs were slashed and burned with many misses and messes inside the Town area as the County subs wreaked minor havoc with their triple-locked old age pension and fast feet. Gomis was determined to do the wrong thing, for which kindness we thank him.
Town had no defence, no midfield and no-one but Max Wright observable out there.
Six minutes were added and in the very, very last of these Wright was felled and Grayson drooped the free kick deeply into the sea of red faces and red shirts. Whitmore chested down and slapped into the bottom right corner. At least Town's players had the self-awareness and good grace to sheepishly walk away without celebrating.
364 days ago the boots were on the other feet. There was far more competence and general botherment on display from both teams then. And wasn't it supposed to be a line in the sand?
"We can enjoy this for 24 hours, and then we need to start thinking about next season, because that needs to be better than this season."
It did, but apart from two months, it hasn’t been. This was a dreadful spectacle, reminiscent of much of last season. Town were playing a team worse than we were a year ago, and failed on every level.