Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
1 March 2020
Grimsby Town 0 Northampton Town 3
Are we sitting comfortably in mid-table? Good, then we shall begin.
Shall we hail to our chief, the saviour of our nation? Or just dodge the hailstorm as the sun comes out for the 300 Cobblers hiding in plain sight down, down, deeper and down in the Osmond? Brollies up, brollies down, I look around and I can see 4,000 people just like me - it's a two-sock day out there in bedsit land.
I know it's a bonus day but do we really need to experiment with feathers and elephants?
Town lined up in the patented 4-3-3 formation as follows: Russell, Hendrie, Waterfall, Öhman, Glennon, Clifton, Benson, Grandin, Clarke, Hanson, Tilley. The substitutes were McKeown, Garmston, Hewitt, Whitehouse, Vernam, Rose and Green. Is it Halloween already? The silver screen showed a short horror film, with Seb Ring announced in the team. Ah, it's an early April Fool, isn't it? No-one wants mashed Swede for tea.
Words were exchanged throughout the land at the defenestration of Jamie Mack and absenting of Desperate Dan Pollock. At least Pollock is on the bench: oh, it's their Pollock. Where's our beef?
Oh dear, dear, dear, it's a pudding pitch where the ball simply plops as it drops in the peat bogs. Town simply look too wee against Curle's cloggers as Town are designed for tippy-tapping on a perfect pitch, not Rugby 7s in a turnip field.
You never know what'll turn up these days.
First half: his best friend's Curle
Northampton kicked off towards the Pontoon with gusto in the gusts, busting a gut to cut Town down. Down, down, deeper and down into the Town half, Marooners up and at the Mariners. Them, them, this way and that, up and down, longer, stronger, quicker and slicker. Bang a gong, Goode chucked long into the throng.
We're clad in black, don't look back! Russell turned Cruyffly for our flat champagne moment. Olé Olly.
We're slim and we're weak, we've got the teeth of the Hydra scattered amongst us. Clarke cleverly intercepted a clever corner and dumbly dribbled into a tribble. The ball was returned to the corner waster, the cross half cleared, quarter cleared and just as we feared, Goode walloped straight down the middle, the position from which Holly Town concede all goals.
The sun was never sunnier, the mud was never muddier. It went zing down the middle, oh what a silly Billy.
Grandin re-kicked off after nine minutes and four seconds. His first touch. Tilley? Don't be silly. What straws were grasped in the passing wind? A Little Harry slap blocked, an arbitrary cross caught, Grandin overhit a pass to Hanson, Hendrie swiped, Clarke ducked and grazed into Arnold's midriff.
Ducking and diving, wheezing and sneezing, Town's barn door creaked open and last man Öhman was booked for touching the ball whilst tackling as a mass of Marooners rampaged. Cobbling cuteness ran up against the realities of fourth division life as the free kick drimble-wedged into inertia.
Waves of them bundling, bullying, time wasting. Again and again and again. And again. Tilley danced round three mannequins and into the penalty area, falling over a maroon leg digging for worms. Little Harry plunged over a clearing boot and off they raced with three shakes of a lambs leg. Russell plunged lowly to devour Hoskins' cross shot.
What a swizz, we're in a tizz. Town can't touch them, but they can push us over. Big Jim sat down calf clutching, or hamstring holding, one or the other. And on came Green. We're going to lose the ball in a different way now: much mobile miscontrolling in the middle.
Fiddling, faddling and paddling while the home form burns. Arnold, you pain, don't do it again. These are the pros and cons of timewasting. Hey, Arnold, move it footballhead!
Around the half hour their custardian walloped long and high, straight down the middle into the middle of Town's half. Öhman stretched around their slender borrowed Baggieboy and knocked back towards the centre-circle. Tilley trundled as a Marooner bundled past. Öhman shanked and Cobblers surged. Morton slipped wide and sweetly swept across Russell into bottom right corner.
Sighing, we're sighing here. All right, now we've seen what they do, we'll make our move when they get back. Until then we're just gonna sit here and seethe. Town are terribly timid, timidly terrible, horribly un-Hollowayian.
At last, change. Action! Grandin moved from the half-remembered past found in a draw of old photographs, hidden away, to a tin can floating behind Green. Town corners, corners for Town and Waterfall headed a plopper straight at Arnold.
We've found their weakness - they don't like having the ball. Another rinky-dinky set-piece routine was disrupted as a short corner was mobbed and a Midlander robbed. Grandin set off down the left, bounding up and onwards. And onwards. And onwards. Into their penalty with striped hands waving to his right the Galloping Gaul clattered across the face of the crossbar and into the happy travelers beyond.
And again. Benson discoed through some belly-dancers, his cross-clip was slid into the path of Grandin, deadly central, and the shot was passed at Arnold as he feinted left. Alas a miss. Alas a mess, as Town leant on their lamp-posts, with Grandin fiddling about four times and finally blumping against maroon for a wasted corner.
Four minutes were added, just to let Arnold take even longer with his goal kicks and drop kicks. A Hendrie cross was handled for a corner and Grandin glanced across the face of goal after arriving early at the near post.
Brushed aside by bruteball, Town's timid tackling means the dream of tenth is dying before our eyes.
Second half: he knows, you know
Öhman and Grandin were replaced by Garmston and Vernam as Town moved to three at the back and everyone else scurrying about. Carl Ludvig Öhman Silwerfeldt, we wish you luck as you wave us goodbye. Cheerio, there you go, you look like you're on your way.
Wake up Slim Charles. Vernam powder-puffed when receiving a pass and Goode ran away down the right. And kept on going and going and surging past empty shirts. A pass exchanged and the ball flopped into the nether regions of Town's penalty area. Goode swayed around Russell and clipped into the side netting, thankfully avoiding Quest's goal of the season. A semi-secret slapping is tolerable, we don't want everyone to keep being reminded of this Leap Day disaster.
Vernam vernamed in circles on the right and Clarke slipped as he slapped inchlets wide of the left post.
Minds drifted, conversations rambled, the finer points of dinner party etiquette were debated. Port and the dutchie go left, but do these rules apply to tomato ketchup? Yabb-dabba-goo, Northampton occasionally ran away and nearly scored by doing things like running away and shooting. Turnbull hook-volleyed and Russell spectacularly drop-saved for a four through his legs. Corners were cornered, and Russell saved a long slap from a half clearance, which is nice; we don't normally do that.
And on came the wrong Pollock.
All the while that convenient beard for deflected anger was firing up the fury. That's what’s ref's are for, after all; we don't need no VAR in our classroom. A humdrum dink into the corner twixt Pontoon and Frozen Horsebeer Stand and the ball died in the sodden turfage, failing to roll out. Goode, stuck in the mud and pursued by the Wolds Panther, solved his personal crisis by diving full length onto the ball. Yes, we heard a whistle, but which way will the fickle finger point? Wahey, a Town free kick. Goode walked off haughtily, ignoring the pastel poltroon. A long, long, long chat – his third of the day – yielded a single finger wag and local outrage at pusillanimous peeping.
Let's go through the spin cycle: push, shove, whistle, rage, flop, drop and clipperty-clop.
Garmston, bereft of options, floated a floaty cross in the centre. Arnold arose above his sentinels and dropped the ball eight yards out. Clarke swivelled and backspun a volley towards the emptied net and over the bar.
Waterfall had excelled alone, attacking every cross, staunching every wound. Utterly superb, absolutely tip-top, C'est magnifique, oooh-la-la.
A noddy long punted clearance down the Town left touchline bounced bouncily. Waterfall turned one way, then back to Russell, throwing shapes to the nearby Marooner. We knew it couldn't last. Legless Luke piffled back to not Russell. Morton ran away, stepped inside the lunging Little Harry and poked under the plunging purple.
The seat flippers flocked off immediately, clearing the streets of clutter. At least we could get home for tea quicker.
Three minutes were added. Balls were kicked, balls were headed, goal kicks were dithered and Vernam's sexy-slinky low pass into the heart of darkness was backspun into Arnold's unmoving body by Clarke from the edge of the six-yard area.
Did he have to meddle so much?
It was just one of those days you get cut into little pieces, an echo of a near distant time. It was the same game as the one at their ground, except we aren't clutching for positive straws anymore. We've become accustomed to expect better.
The wrong team, playing the wrong way, against the wrong opponents. Three wrongs don't make a Wright. Town were inferior in every respect.
At least we're in a safe space now.