Night Fever

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

2 May 2014

Grimsby 1 Gateshead 1Listen to the ground, there is something goin' down and we can feel it. A chilly evening in old Grimsby Town, with around 300 Heedcases getting that night fever. Oh yes, we know how to show it when the lights are bright.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows McKeown, Hatton, Pearson, Boyce, Thomas, Rodman, Disley, Kerr, Neilson, John-Lewis and Hannah. Your five portions today were Fyfield, Thanoj, McLaughlin, Cook, and Southwell. You don't know who stood where? Don't worry, everyone else does, it's not a problem. Life is too short to worry about trivialities.

Ah, Gateshead, in faded powder blue with an acid flashback of the old Town coursing through their veins. Oster? He's ours. Lester? He's ours too. Give us back our youth.

You can taste the difference – this is a football match, not just a game. There's a ping in the air. Is the revolution here?

First half: Sitting back easy
Town kicked off towards the hugely massively enormous throng of Heedcases gathered together and grooving with their wit. Town sat back and watched the Heeders get out their protractor and compass to plot their way across the wilderness and build a new home on the horizon. Oster, John Oster: playmaker. John Oster oozing Osterness, imperiously sweeping and swaying, the architect with vision seeing what no man can see.

Three minutes gone, Pearson booked. Inevitable. Gateshead plotted and spotted holes in Town's cheeses. Pearson lunged, Maddison plunged and the rest is history. The free-kick dissolved into nothingness as Heeders tried to be clever. Even Ye Olde Shoppe at the end of the wall saw the sneak and followed the bear.

Kerr got nasty, Kerr got in their face. Kerr simply got closer to the Tynesiders, and showed us the way.Oster tapped a tempo and the signs were there for all to see, if only they had a copy of Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio. The Heedcases measured the opposite and hypotenuse as Townites sank and shrank, Walker tippled from their right and Hatton dozed. Larkin darted and dashed to chest across the penalty area and mash a mishit mess across the static McKeown and bumble, bobblingly bashfully into the bottom right corner.

D'yer know, a funny thing happened. The Town crowd took a moment then roared. No, not their eyes out, not in in anger, but in exhortation and support. Weird, eh?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's skip the next five minutes. Town were still diffident, static and tactically timid. We're not interested in that five minutes, spool on baby, spool on.

Now the game started.

One moment is all it takes. One tackle, one player to light the fire. Kerr got nasty, Kerr got in their face. Kerr simply got closer to the Tynesiders, and showed us the way. They didn't like it when someone tackled them. They really didn't like it at all, but we did, oh yes, we did. The ground rumbled and seethed, driving on the monochromers. Rodman rumbled and rammed down the right, John-Lewis firmly bonked a header wide. Rodman rambled and roamed infield, a shot deflected loopily over. Attacking intent and intensity, it's what we've craved all year, lad. This is what we want and what we're getting.

Who's ticking now? Tiki-taki Town tapping left, right and left. Kerr alerted to an approaching menace by five thousand cries. Kerr carefully caressed a curly-swirly drooper, Disley stooped and conquered with a grazing steer low and slow into the bottom left corner as Bartlett had a cow, man.

Town, Town, Town. Intense and intensely moving, intensely compelling and intent on attacking. What a novelty. Passing the ball along the ground, moving their feet and moving forward. Ye Olde Shoppe shrugging aside his markers, burning goalwards and blamphing 16 yards wide. Rodman crossed and the ball bumbled off human flesh straight into Bartlett's midriff. John-Lewis felled in the distance, Hannah coiled and curled tantalisingly, teasingly micro-inches past the nearest post as Bartlett flapped his chicken wings.

There's more, so much more, and all Town. Rodman weaved a rug or two to the bye-line and crimpled lowly. The ball slapped off ankles and shins near the line. Moments of nearlyness, often. John-Lewis buried his marker and blamped a blazing zinger that was going towards the thing other people call the net. Mark this moment – a John-Lewis shot going towards the goal. Up came a blue arm and the ball diverted. On Town swept, on and on, from left, from right, down the middle and up the Mariners. Hatton pickled a pilchard and plastered pleasingly, teasingly from way out right. Rodman arose, bulleting a boomer towards the top left corner. Bartlett twisted, flicked and flipped spectacularly over the bar.

You know, Gateshead had a shot too. It hit the roof of the Pontoon. That was nice.

When Town awoke they were irresistibly charming. Cracking game.

Second half: hold your fire
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Let's do the easy bit: Gateshead got inside Town's penalty are three times. Corners and free kicks, that's all. I'm not counting Boyce's shinny knee clearance, that was just arbitrary accidental ambling.

Gateshead made substitutions. Who cares: they didn't take off Oster, nor put on Lester, so we're aren't interested, are we? Let's keep this local.A cross here, a cross there, and a whole bunch of tangy nearlyness again and again and again, but nothing tangible.

All Town, Town, Town, Town, Town. Imposing, impressive, but the Heedsters impregnable. Kerr tickled, Hannah chased, a big blue bottom swept in and swept up. Thomas raided, Ye Olde Shoppe flicked and Bartlett flapped aside. John-Lewis chased a back pass, Bartlett swept the carpet clean. Corners left, corners right, Pearson headed highly and widely. Sigh.

Roar on, roar on, with hope in your heart. John-Lewis flicked, Rodman approached and hesitated as Oster slid. A moment that nearly was almost something. Kerr poked, Hannah flicked his quiff and Bartlett squirmed atop the squirtler. Jamie Mack chucked, Neilson bedazzled and bewitched, skipping gaily in the shadow of the Frozen Horsemeat Stand and whittling behind the retreating Heedsters, Thomas stretched, Thomas poked wide as blue socks clamped. Rodman bedraggled to the near post. A cross here, a cross there, and a whole bunch of tangy nearlyness again and again and again, but nothing tangible.

And them? Relying on misplaced back passes and McKeownite miscontrols. They created nothing. They were just two banks of blue, hanging on to what they'd got. I'm prepared to ignore Hatton man-hauling some little blueboy, aren't you? It doesn't fit well with the narrative, so let's delete that scene.

With about five minutes left Cook replaced John-Lewis and was extremely Cookian in his Cookesque barging and battering. And that was just in trying to control the ball.

Gateshead had long given up on trying to do anything but survive. Hoofs and punts were all they offered. How pleasing to see that boot on someone else's foot.

And in the end, the very last, after a bit of hubbling and bubbling, the ball arrived at Neilson's feet. With his back to goal, the chubby charmer riverdanced and flipped a slow scoop towards the top corner. Bartlett's eyes flickered and his fingers flicked over.

And that was that. For now. Roll on Sunday.