The phoney war

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 April 2013

Grimsby Town 3 Newport County 0

Close your eyes. What do you hear? You hear the water, you hear the birds. You don't hear any Welshmen singing.

A bright 'n' breezy windy, windy day of great blowyness in the home of the happy Hearnistas. It's time for the daring, dazzling, death-defyingly dull, devastatingly dangerous, delectable, delicatestible, divinely decadent Sandwich Quiz. How many rare Welsh fillers in the Osmond corner bar? The number is 73.

Town lined up in a cosmopolitan, continental cream shape-shifting 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Fleming, Hatton, Miller, Naylor, Thomas, Thanoj, Taylor, Disley, Artus, Devitt and Hearn. The substitutes were Wood, Niven, Marshall, Southwell and Hannah. What shall we call this? The Zanussi system, the Ludovico treatment, or is it an attempted Heimlich manoeuvre on Justin Edinburgh's psyche?

The facts are as straight as Peter Bore, as straight as a Mark Smith dribble, as straight as an arrow. Thanoj tilled the land in front of the back four, while Disley and Artus roamed the earth, like Cain, going from tackle to tackle in search of their family roots. To the hard of hearing and faint of heart this was a little bit frightening. With Hearn the hunter upstairs, Town were at least as fast as lightning.

The Newportian reservists wandered out in yellow to a surfeit of lampooning. Anthony, James and Julian? Is this a football team or south Wales' leading chain of hair salons?

Oooh, that wind, rocking and rolling into the open corner 'twixt Pontoon and the dentists' chairs. It'll play havoc with the carefully coiffed Exilers; their substitutes were texting for an appointment at Hair by Julian even before the bus had stopped. 

Let us start the aperitif.

First half: Could it be magic?
Newport kicked off towards the empty redness of their non-support. The wind did batter, blow and skew the ball kerrrrrrrrrrrrazily. A throw-in under the boardwalk, under the sea of Findus stand waverers was triangulated and crossed, snickering off Disley's shins and bedraggling scruffily. Fleming plunged and pawed, Miller flumped away.

Newport passed out of play and passed the buck as drop-kicks swung and hung into the stands. The dentists were taking a battering. Town, a little ambling and shambling, Newport hustley and bustley and not a little fussy. Ahhhhh, relax. Julian, their oversized flat-pack keeper, slowly rumbled across his area with a weird tic in his kick, like the old village green off-spinner with his characterful comedy run-up, ducking below the washing line, skipping past the flower beds and hopping over the sweet peas before twirling into the distance.

Flicks and nicks knocked and nudged in nowheresville. Devitt caught the mood and crackled a welly from well out. Julian scrumbled and waved as the ball wibbled a yard wide. Hearn muscled and mulled, Devitt looked perky and Town started to arrange their deckchairs in preparation for the brass band concert of old times favourites. 

Wakey, wakey. Miller and Thomas tossed salads and a yellow man dinked delightfully twixt our lettuce and tomato. Wilmott sprouted between and Fleming was never doubted as he raced out and block-saved aside, safely dropping upon the returned loopy-swervy volley. Should have conceded. Didn't. Carry on carping if you want – no-one is listening. 

At a moment that was when it was, and sometime between the 15th and 20th English minute a Townite plunged, way out near the touchline, 25 or so yards from the crimper's chair. Artus and Devitt exchanged meaningful glances. What to do, what to do. Flung high, flung far too high, a curler into the centre of the penalty area, the ball sailed, coiled, hung on sloopy and drifted above the flabby flapper into the top left corner. Dee dee da da la da da da da da, ya da da, da da, da da. Ah, Devitt may have well caught the wind.

And Town awoke. Hearn began to pursue his quarry towards the dark side of the Pontoon, forcing Hair by Anthony to trim his fringe. Newport. A tapering or flat back four? Hard to say which from the amber amblers. Breathe, breathe in that air – a nearly moment when Taylor dummied and Hearn's spindle shot was cut off in its prime. Uh-huh-huh. Uh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh. Taylor's dummy. Those ribs are tickling in Punsville, Arizona. Spare ribs. Mmmmmmmmm, hungry – it is teatime after all.

So where do you stand on the exploitation of women as consumers through fashion? Oh, not that Spare Rib. Minds drifting like a crisp packet in the wind. Never liked that song, too much sentimental codswallop for my liking.

Them, that is them-the-others in this fabulous fable of fun and fig rolls, broke behind the occasionally dillying, sometimes dallying Thomas and skiffled swiftly across to an unmarked set of legs where Hatton wasn't. The yellows shot crossily and Fleming sighed low to palm-pass aside for Naylor to elegantly sweep a pass to the unmarked Disley, via an unseen and unfortunate yellow ankle.

Oh, do purr.

This is how it used to be. Disley deliciously curved a pass down the left with the outside of his right boot, the ball arcing artfully into the path of the marauding huntsman. Hearn shuffled and executed a minor Pouton, hitting the bye-line and crackling into the near post. Disley arrived and perturbed and disturbed by an accident of yellowness. The ball rolled on towards the penalty spot. Taylor stuttered and left Artus to carefully side-foot an inch wide as the goal a-gaped with Julian gawping somewhere near the slotties down by the Pier. That had to be one of the greatest goals not scored by Town this week.

Town, being Townish like they used to be in the early days. Disley roaming, Hearn hearning about and earning his rhapsody in black and white. A scrappy scramble in the midfield omelette, Disley whisked the eggs, adding a dash of seasoning to bundle down the left, the left, Town's fearsomely lovely left. Devitt discoed and Hearn hope-soed, the ball sprinkled highly away into the centre, 25 yards out. Thanoj chested aside and thwankled lowly with a dingle-dangle, jingle-jangle past yellow shirts and socks as Julian, in the sandy goalmouth, plunged left, legs akimbo. Julian flicked and the ball skipped up, up and away into the maelstrom above, high above the crowd and clouds and descending with love and bouncing into the top right corner as Hearn shepherded. Goal: Thanoj (via various Cambrian ankles and the wicked wind of the west).

Daddy Devitt danced, Thomas the troubadour tranced, Taylor glanced and Hearn chanced upon an opportunity to send the locals' hearts aflutter. The ball bounced beautifully and the Hunter pulled back his golden bow and zinged the arrow towards the bullseye. Julian just had to hold his hands up to that. He did, spectacularly pushing aside. Lucky for him he didn't have to move. 

Wait, there's more. Dinks and jinks, nicks and flicks down the right had yellowmen retreating and Townites tweeting. Devitt sneaked Artus free and he draggled a slow roller back from the bye-line. Hearn waited, took a step back, took a touch and skimmed lowly through three sets of loose legs into the bottom right corner. The ground erupted in affection, as Hearn surfed the love-wave.

And in the last minute of the half Town fell asleep again, allowing some bloke to run around the penalty area in a vast arc before softly passing straight at Fleming. Yeah, whatever.

Woah baby, that's real cool.

Second half: Good vibrations
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Isn't it a pleasant friendly match, all larks and smiles. Why look, Devitt's playfully pinching Hair by Anthony's bottom as he tries to infiltrate a Town wall. It isn't all it seems. The nasty narky Newport number 17 murmured vague obscenities and pushed Devitt aside before ducking and bottoming the shot in a loopy arc just over the crossbar. Maybe he was concerned for our 'Ull paperweight – that ball can sting, you know.

Well, it's a long way tip a canary. What do you want to do for the next 45 minutes? Maybe you could sit in a sandpit as your personal tribute to Brian Wilson. God only knows it's got as much tension as this game. Wouldn't it be nice if Town got a fourth goal.

Hatton punted longly, the ball dropping at Hearn's toes. Naylor peeled away and cranked a whacker across the face of goal with Disley ducking nearby. That was a moment, and there will be more, between the moments that weren't. Let's ignore the moments that weren't, they usually involved Town players taking it in turns to pass to Hatton inside the six-yard box when surrounded by trees. 

Was it cruel to chuckle at the flabby fan falling through the advertising boards? 

On the hour Hearn and Disley were replaced by Hannah and Southwell, with Town moving to 4-4-2. Marshall replaced Taylor at some point. Does it really matter when? We were polite to Cleveland, and warmer than a microwaved apple pie with loveable Liam. Don't worry, we'd taken it out of the tinfoil.

Devitt danced through the yellow mist from a short corner, wafting carefully straight at the keeper as the yellows mellowed. Hatton caroused a free kick inches over in typically Hattonian style. It looked lovely. Mad Frankie harried Hair by Anthony, and Hannah cheekily bounded away, sweeping wide. Dishy Dayle did the hokey-cokey through feeble weebles and achingly scruffled a dragger several millimetres wide of the left post.

Momentum at that moment; at others not. Then momentum again. Hannah winked and Devitt released a quick free kick on the left. Newportian nincompoopiness, Town ploppiness. Naylor retrieved a wayward cross and Thanoj gave it the old one-two with Southwell. Hitting the bye-line, Thanoj got out his sand wedge to chip over the bunker, right on the green. Hannah, unmarked, bonked firmly down towards the empty net as Julian flapped a hand to scrape aside superbly. 

Higgling and piggling, Devitt was blocked, Southwell diverted the rebound, Julian brilliantly finger-clawed away into the path of Hannah, who was blocked again. Then Devitt blocked again, again, and again. Ooh, that was exciting.

Them? A couple of free kicks that hit the wall. These were their danger moments. 

Ooh hello, it's Danny Crow. On came the lost local lad, and he's much more bulky than before; that boy is stretching the limits of elasticity. Pies or push-ups? Perhaps he misunderstood the management entreaties to become a more rounded footballer. 

In the last minute Town got a corner, Thomas pleaded with Miller and was allowed to go home early. He ducked at the near post and diverted wildly high and wide. It could have been something, but it wasn't. In the last minute of added time, Town dozed on the right, Thomas dozed on the left and Newport swung over to an unmarked little chap. He nearly scored with a carefully drawn parabola around Thomas and an inch or so around the far post. It could have been something, but it wasn't. Just like the rest of the second half, not that we were bothered.

Right, back here next Wednesday then.