Swing: Notts County (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

13 April 2009

Notts County 0 Grimsby Town 2

The sun was shinin' in the sky, but there were clouds in sight as a thousand mobile phones trilled out the latest Accrington abomination. Eighteen hundred travelling wailsmen crammed into a broom cupboard but, like June, were busting out all over the Jimmy Squirrel Stand. Who wants a surrey with a fringe on top?

One, two, three, what are we shouting for? Don't ask Burnsy, he won't give a damn, next stop is Altrincham! No! Believe, brothers, believe, for Town are the resurrection, there is life. Now pass me that psychedelic crème egg.

Town lined up in an unusual 4-3-3 formation as follows: Henderson, Stickdale, Atkinson, Bennett, Widdowson, Boshell, Sweeney, Heggggarty, Proudlock, Conlon, Ak-Ak. The substitutes were Lund, Heywood, Jarman, Audrey F-f-f-f-f-orbes and Bore. The bold and the brave or a painful suicide? More like a gambler's last throw of the dice: all or nothing.

So many spaces, so few seats for Town fans. Why is an amateur rugby club in the Football League anyway?

This is an open door with rusting hinges. Let it swing.

First half
Hey County. Come at the king, you best not miss.

Town kicked off towards the stand where the massed Mariners should have been. County attacked.

County attacked, County attacked, County attacked and then County attacked. Town did not exist beyond their own penalty area. Forte twisted Stickdale into a novelty straw, roistered into the penalty area and was felled by a Bennett lunge through his legs, the ball being poked back to Henderson.

Forte shot: Henderson flew. Butcher stroked: Henderson scuttled. Hamshaw crossed: Henderson plucked. Henderson was up, down and flying around. Henderson... Henderson... Henderson...Henderson.

Town were a one-man band. Is there anybody out there wanna lend him a hand?

Butcher drifted through the centre on to a tippy-tap. Henderson raced out and superbly flap-jacked the ball away. Forte chased a punt; Henderson raced out of his area and collided with the Forte, artfully affecting injury as Atkinson got out some stain remover and erased all trace of the spillage. There, see, no-one can see it now. Good as new!

After 20 minutes Proudlock moved back to midfield. Nothing changed.

Butcher smirkled lowly through a smorgasbord of limbs; Henderson brilliantly shimmied and shuttled to his left to parry aside. Weston slapped the rebound back; Henderson twirled his invisible moustache, swept his cape around his head and produced a fluffy bunny. Weston crossed and the ball dropped to Forte six yards out. Henderson rushed and presented Forte with a bouquet of flowers.

Now is that five saves or six? In all this excitement we kinda lost count. We could only ask ourselves one question: do we feel lucky?

Proudlock was neither fish nor fowl, just a dandy dancing in cowpat. Ak-Ak was invisible, and Conlon permanently enveloped by mauling monochrome. Lop-sided, lobotomised and lobbing pitiful punts nowhere, Town had distant, hopeful aspirations of being considered shambolic. One day... one day... we might be that good.

Butcher volleyed from a dozen yards. Henderson... did a Henderson. Hamshaw diverted a cross across Henderson. Henderson... unbeatable, beating out every rickle, ruckle, muckle, tuckle and tickle. Flying left, flying right, high and low. Off his line, on his line, punching corners, catching crosses and plucking off toes and heads, he offered the perfect pedicure. He throbbed omniscience.

What do you mean "what about the rest of 'em?" Town had a throw-in.

Back County splurged across the unmanned wasteland. Henderson, Henderson, Henderson, that's all you need to know. Imagine an orange in a tumble dryer. Always remember to clean out the lint.

Town had a breakaway and Hegggarty almost had a shot. Ak-Ak almost passed to Proudlock and Boshell noodled a header very wide from an uninterestingly narrow angle down a blind alley. Ah, Boshell, berated and burned by a thousand groans, he chested an Edwards header off the line. Henderson wasn't beaten - he knew that a red chest was there. He knew. He knew.

Did Ak-Ak pokemon wide? Did he brumble almost near Proudlock? Almost near... Town had occasional moments of almost nearlyness. This season is nearly almost over.

There was no midfield, just four defenders and a colossus. There is nothing to say, only pray. This was the end of days. There was no hope of salvation, no hint of hope. When would the polder break? Henderson's fingers couldn't plug every leak forever.

Town had brought the theory of 'oh dearism' into football - shocking events about which we can do nothing but feel helpless and sad, and to which the only possible reaction is "oh dear".

Oh dear.

Second half
County resumed their hustling and hassling, huffing and chuffing, but they weren't getting inside the Town penalty area. Town's midfield stood closer to the defence and closer to each other. They were less of a mess, more of a...

A corner to Town! How did that happen? Sweeney swung, Atkinson hung and spring was sprung. The ball grazed off the flowing blond locks, arcing and dipping through a corridor of goalkeeping uncertainty and into the bottom left corner. County had nobody on the post. Not our problem, it's our goal. Wahey! Atkinson the redeemer had parted the Trent to lead his people to the promised land. They did promise this ship would land sometime.

County shot wide, County shot high, Henderson clutched, Henderson plucked. Stockdale magnificently McDermotted a cross away from the far post, Conlon bonked clear and Atkinson... Atkinson... a man!

Weston conga-ed and pulled the ball back to Forte, ten yards out, in the centre. As if by magic the Atkinson appeared to block the drain. A goal that wasn't, because of Silent Bob.

This was different, this was a staunch, solid Town, a walled Town repulsing the feeble cannon shots and cavalry charges. The thieving Magpies could not get inside the Town penalty area. Butcher shot high, Thompson shot wide; Henderson scrumped a dribbler off his toes and scratched a wibbler from his nose.

Delroy still lives with his mum, you know. Nice boy, always obligingly misses.

Town even started to flow; well, more of a dripping tap. Heggggarty squared the less than slim Picken's hypotenuse and things almost happened from a corner. Proudlock squeezed a flick header straight at Pilkington. Shall we "ooh"? Ak-Ak bustled past Johnson on the left corner of their penalty area and was immediately wrestled and plopped to the ground by Johnson, who got up, got a yellow card and got taken off, replaced by a forward. County had three centre-forwards and two wingers.

Ah, without Johnson, Conan was free of his chains.

Shall we change our dinner jackets too? Forbes replaced Ak-Ak, the mercurial hatstand.

With about ten minutes to go Conlon, on the touchline, chested down a Stockdale tipple, spun and weaved a tapestry tableau of derring-do depicting the battle of Meadow Lane. He swished infield past one, past two and, approaching the penalty area, dinked a rinky-dink pass behind the defence. Forbes advanced and stopped; Boshell ran between Edwards and some other stripey stander, and the linesman's flag fluttered. Boshell, a dozen yards out, calmly dimpled the ball past the flailing Pilkington and into the bottom corner.

The linesman kept waving his flag.

The linesman kept waving his flag.

The referee disallowed the goal and was enveloped by a warm red blanket. They talked. They walked. They talked and walked. The referee pointed to the centre circle. Boshell had scored. Hallelujah. Forbes was offside, but was not active. C'mon - when was the last time Audrey was active?

There's one in the eye for the pie-people.

County played attack against defence. Canham wobbled at Henderson, Picken wobbled past the post, Weston bedraggled wide, Butcher thwacked straight at Henderson. County pummelled but Town, tucked up on the ropes, soaked up the punches, waiting for the old slugger to wear itself out. Weston hit the bye-line and pulled the ball back to Forte, six yards out. The Blond Bob reappeared to warn the borrowed Scunnybunny to look left, look right, look left again before he crossed the road. And the chance was gone. Bang! Atkinson's chest. Biff! Atkinson's head. Whoops! I see no ships. Conlon swished and missed, the ball bouncing off his toes and up on to his hands as he tried to clear near the penalty spot.

Four minutes were added and six played. Hold on, hold on, hold on... don't grumble, wait for a whistle, this win'll help things turn out for the best. This was the end of the game, but not the end of Town. We had an Easter rising, a miracle at Meadow Lane.

Ah, a celebration. A blue sky today, the day we've waited for. Always look on the bright side.