Banana fritters: Bath (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 November 2009

Jammal Shahin 0 Eleven Bath Towels 2

Surely there's no lower to go? Nothing can go wrong now. Why, there's almost a crowd.

This week's Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Captain Colgan, Wood, Atkinson, Linwood, Widdowson, Bore, Boshell, Leary, Shahin, Ak-Ak, BFC(onlon). The substitutes were a teenage wasteland of Overton, Fuller, North, Clarke, Gray, Deane and Jones. Wasn't he in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo?

Bath had a Badman in midfield. Hey! We're professionals - we outrank you! We've a midfield of bad men. See, that's how much better we are. What is it about non-League clubs that they fill their squads with wacky names and wacky hair? Jombarti and Rollo sound like a Brazilian jazz fusion combo. Ay-ya-yay, arooooooba-ba-ba-ba! Hit that bongo baby.

Even these Town players can't be frit of the Bath bananas.

First half: A hole in our shoe
Bath kicked off towards the Pontoon with a hoik into the lower Findus, then two of them clobbered Ak-Ak from behind. No free kick and nothing to report by Ak-Ak from then on. He was hurt, and that never motivates him to reach for the sky.

Colgan rolled the ball to Widdowson, who lazily flapped it vaguely towards BFC's prosthetic forehead. Repeat ad nauseum; we are nauseous.

Widdowson. Why? How?

And in the eighth minute he shall bring two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, and there was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner. Or somefink, innit. Shahin shimmied and shakered and slithered a supreme cross right onto Conlon's forehead. Unmarked, ten yards out, BFC carefully noodled way over the bar. Wagabazzer's Noodle Bar: positive eating plus positive living; it won't catch on. Town are snacking on turkey twizzlers. Digression is the insincerest form of battery.

Ships sailed by, trains tooted past, and seagulls squawked like the dentists in the Main Stand. Hmmm, maybe it was the dentists in the Main Stand squawking like seagulls, for there were some people in there. The Bath towels fell, and Town were naked before us as the incredible shrinking ref metronomically allowed them to punt into Town's area.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... are you drowsy yet?

From the twelvtieth foul throw under the Police Box, the ball boozed and Town were bamboozled by a red eye moving. Edwards slunk into the area and Colgan raced out to block, Linwood eventually lamping clear.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Quinn the Eskimo gave in to his Townophobia and the Bath boys jumped for joy. Leary stretched and poked the ball away as Mohamed fell over his knee. Hogg washed, Conlon drifted aimlessly like a leaf in a gale and the ball grazed off Holland's temple and slipped into the top right corner.

Nobody seemed surprised. It just felt normal.

Shahin volleyed and Bath's keeper was forced to use his hands. Shahin slinked a delightful, de-lovely free kick right onto the unmarked Linwood's forehead, a dozen yards out. Linga-Longa-Linwood's fish and chip shop just sells scraps. Add in a single Bore run and then take it away again for a single Bore cross to nowhere and we have a full disclosure of all Town's assets and dire abilities.

...and Colgan rolled the ball out to Widdowson... and Colgan rolled the ball out to Widdowson... and Colgan rolled the ball out to Widdowson. Pass the Imodium from the left-hand side.

Town: static, shocking, shaming.

Second half: letting in water
The injured-for-the-first-half Ak-Ak was finally replaced by Danny North at half time. Yeah, Danny'll do it. Like all the other times when he promised. As the local councillor would tell you, it's all about delivery, and you aren't even a postman.

Shahin shahined, North volleyed over. Oh yes, let Shahin do the Shahin. A little bossa nova always lightens the mood, don't you think. Don't blame this Town on the bossa nova, or the boogie.

And then Bath moved gently towards the Osmond stand and scored again.

A bit of nicky-nacky-noo around the edge of the Town penalty area had Boshell dancing on a Saturday night and missing his vocation. Edwards spun and slaked a shot that looped off a Townite and squirmed strangely in a flat arc over Colgan into the top left corner.

Well, look at it this way: at least Neil Woods won't be given the opportunity to be sacked next October.

And we had 40 minutes to prepare for our fleeting 15 minutes of infamy. Town are nothing if not a club with tradition. We had the traditional Linwood leg-up and the traditional collapse and panic. Colgan had to make a save as Town defended like Hill's Angels. The mountain did not move for Mohamed as he spluttered at Colgan's chin. BFC's bonce diverted a header. Colgan saved from a free kick and shoulders shrugged as BFC's head failed to flick.

Leary thrashed around like a combine harvester on the tundra, while Boshell stood alone on the field, the scarecrow scaring no crows. Together they were beautiful for Bath but pitiful for us, so poor that to draw attention their deficiencies seems cruel.

At some point in this twilight zone Fuller replaced the woeful Widdowson. Bore went to right-back, Wood to left-back. And that's changed anything?

If you haven't got it yet your brain has died. Town had one player: Shahin. He jinked and dinked, no-one bothered to move. He dinked and jinked, bombling the ball perfectly across the face of goal with the keeper lulled into queuing for a burger. North didn't bother running into the box and the moment was gone. There was a lot of North not bothering, simply reacting after the event with an almost visible curled lip. North's nadir arrived when he walked behind Shahin towards the corner flag as three Town players converged on the overwrought right-back. North didn't even run away to hide - he walked.

Leary had a shot and their keeper had to touch the ball. The mockery washing down from the stands was a humiliating jeer for the whole organisation, from top to bottom. Organisation? Surely the wrong word to use in relation to Grimsby Town. Shahin crossed wonderfully and Conlon stretched and missed. The referee booked BFC for a merest of handballs.

Jones replaced Bore. Bore sulked off. Why should he ever return?

The rest was even more of a waste of effort. Town nearly, almost, had a moment when the ball looked like going near the goal. Three dithers and a donkey were enough to rout feeble thoughts of a shot.

A magical cup shock? The shame of it is that it isn't. It's only natural, the way Town's river flows gently on downstream. They find new ways to get worse; you can almost admire the handicraft. Maybe we've misunderstood John Fenty's Project: Town are a Dadaist collective, an auto-destructive performance art group. They sure aren't a football team, or a football club.

Bath were a team, Town were a shower.

Six years of unremitting failure, Councillor Fenty. Six years, six managers, 2001 hired hands. A decade ago the board were harangued daily for the failure to 'only' stay in the second division of professional football. Now, the chairman is conspicuous by his absence from the vile bile as we sigh towards nowhere. This is a crisis of leadership. He's pumped air into the balloon but not fixed any of the holes. Six years. How long before he gets something right?