The Neverending Story

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

29 May 2022

Wrexham 4 Grimsby Town 5 (After Extra Time)

Dream a dream and what you see will be.

A bright and breezy day way out west with the homesters in a rictus smile of forced jollity. Pipe bands, beach balls and Hollywood calls: beware the pride before the fall. Us? It's wonderful to be here, it's certainly a thrill, and our boys know we'll be a wonderful audience.

Blue Town lined up in the usual 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Cropper, Smith, Waterfall, Amos, Sousa, Holohan, Fox, Clifton, McAtee and Taylor. The substitutes were Pearson, Raikhy, Maguire-Drew, Abrahams and Dieseruvwe. Calmness, consistency and clarity.

And way, way up in the gods the overlords held court, looking down upon the little people. This is the American Way, not our way. This is another way.

We can beat them, the shame will be on the other side. Yes, they can be heroes, just for one more day.

First half: Fast and furious

Town kicked off away from the abandoned Kop towards the noisy corner. Football! Passing! Movement! A trick corner shortened with swishings and swayings. Taylor tickled and Big John coiled into the top left corner. Up went a flag for the only correct decision of the day from the cowardly hairless wafter below the bellowing Townites.

It's fast, it's furious, it's football, but not as they play it round here, Jim.

Mo' passing, mo' movement, Mariner momentum. Taylor arose thwonking microcinchlets over the bar. The more moneyed clubs we come across the more problems we see in their defence.

Ah, rugby. A Welsh wallop and chase, but Big Luke's on the case as Mullin fumbled a tumble. Moans were groaned and groans were moaned in digital radios all along Santa Monica Boulevard. The ref looked at the linesman, the linesman was impressively impassive but all the ref wanted to do was have some fun. I get the feeling he wasn't the only one. The goal kick was magically turned into a penalty through the power of a Welsh wailing choir. Town teeth gnashed and Mullin bashed straight down the middle and in off the underside of the bar as Crocombe bob-bob-bobbed along the line.

Hey, we're Town, we ain't spelunkers. Blocks by Fox, Little Harry hassled and was wrestled turfwards dead centre of the middle of their half. The ball rolled on and on to the left amid hootering and hollering for a free kick. Which way? Both ways, but neither way. McAtee swivelled his hips, cut back infield and crinkled a cracker into the top right corner past surprised dayglow fingers, wriggling like sea anemones as the great black and white shark slips by.

Hey, officer Dibble, it's not like going down the pond chasing blue gills or tommy cats. This shark will swallow you whole!

It's furious, it's fast, it's football as they play it round here, Jim. Incoming! Boom! Hosannah stepped inside Amos, scrimpled and watched aghast as Big Max flew low and left to parry aside. Incoming! Boom! Heads were headed, titans will clash and French sought assistance to touch up his peroxide rinse. His roots were showing, can't have that when you're on telly can you.


Long, long chucking and flicking as Town's ceiling was cracking. Mortar fire rained down, and into the net the ball flew. I did not see ze incident but it was definitely a foul on someone, somewhere. Of that we have no doubt.

Fire in the hole! Incoming tossing! A blue head grazed, Inspector Gadget extended his right arm and flickered from under the bar to over the bar and all bar none arose in acclaim. Do they have an All Bar None in Wrexham? No? Shurely shome mishtake for a city state on the up.

Bazookas and bazingers right and left. Big blue heads and big blue boots amidst the wrestlemania. Mullin overmiskicked, the ball bumbled onwards. Hosanna chested, Crocombe star flapped and both fell to earth as the ball bounced unmolested, inviting and teasing red boots in the middle of the six-yard box. Smith clobbered away and the ref waived away a red mist of moaning. You know, that is exactly the decision 1,214 of us would have made.

Ooh, that peroxide rinse couldn't have been very good, he needs touching up again. You get what you paid for Frenchy.

And after the air raid was over there was calm as the little people went about their business, repairing the damage, making plans for the battles to come. An expeditionary force tested home defences in the north, commando raids nibbled at their toes. McAtee wallabied overly, McAtee spun and kangarooed a surprise slightly wide as Dibble slept.

Four minutes were added. Chucking, hurling, curling and whirling. It's exhausting, it's exhilarating, it's time for a lie down.

Now I'm not trying to be flippant here, or irreverent, or exploitive, or sarcastic, or ironic, or post-modern, and this is not a parody. Get it? Got it? Good. One team's playing rugby, the other playing football. Town aren't going to lose this but the officials already have.

Blimey, that was something.

Second half: The psychedelic world of the 13th floor elevators

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Clang, clang, clang, ding, ding, ding and zing, zing, zing went the passes. Clifton scampered and tinkled on the left, McAtee glided into the recesses of the Wrexham penalty area and prodded. Dibble dabbled a leg lowly. Blues swarmed. Where's Mr Chipolata? Running hither and thither pestering positively. Skittling and whittling and Clifton clattered off red boots. Dibble wibbled a hand to divert past the left post as there's panic in the streets of small provincial towns you jog around. You're a city now, you say? You only beat Goole to it.

McAtee stood and waited in the right corner, raised his hands and made the bat signal – they'll never work out that we'll whack to Waterfall. Elevated farly, Dibble wibbled and Waterfall arose alone to nod down into the bottom right corner.

The sound, the fury, the sound of a frantically full ground. Palmer stretched, Crocombe shepherded. Balls in the box, Palmer nodded off. Fitful, pitiful and barely useful with the homesters feeling blue.

Holohan nicked, Sousa knocked, Clifton cracked and Dibble snapped aside. A corner, this, that, ooh and ah, it's breathless and beautifully blue. Another Town corner flipped and flapped, Sousa blocked and here's another. Dibble dobbled straight out to Little Harry lurking on the penalty spot. Clifton crinkled, Dibble smothered and Fox shanked awfully widely. Amos dribbled into the red wall. Amos blasted past Dibble and into the tarpaulin

Here they come. Incoming tosses. It's all just tossing and turning, there's confusion, was that Big Luke blocking or just an illusion? Big balls and big blue bodies hurling themselves in front of rubber bullets. Bullyball, bargeball, dodgeball and gridiron grinding. Three down and eight! An offside unseen by the coward in this county and a roaming Jones slash was deflected. A corner on their left arced above the thronging throng where the marking was all wrong. Tozer soared above the unleaping Cropper and buffled down into the left corner.

Deflation, elation, it depends where you stand in the seats.

If it puts a smile on your face and a song in your heart and a spring in your step, well... Whatever makes you happy, whatever gives you hope.

Put on your tin hats, here they come again with knobs on. Boom, bang, hoof and oof. Amos was pushed as he cleared and the cowardly linesman saw no ships. Tosser! Argy-bargy in the line out and the ball looped on to the farthest post. Mullidonna leapt beyond Crocombe and bundled into the net with the ball as Little Harry furiously tapped his hands.

Well, that's that then, isn't it?

Oh no it isn't. In Hurst's proud land we grew up strong, taught to fight, taught to win. Fox flashed straight at Dibble. Dibble wallied, or perhaps wellied, Fox headed back and Crocombe drop-kicked a flat-pack pass straight onto Taylor's chest. The Yorkshire wall swung his pants like Les Gray, McAtee schmoozed a teasing wink and Taylor dived at the near post to divert past Dibble. Taylor sublime and Taylor substituted for Manny D. Isn't it strange how things turn.

I've lost track of time, I've lost track of the score; what's the score on the doors, Anthea? Yeah, good game, good game.

Fox sneaked a corner off silly socks that was tricked back for Clifton to swipe. Blocks from socks with harem scarem Tiller-girling from tiring limbs. Another Town corner, from the right again, from McAtee again, dumped long again and Manny D soared and sailed above the absent Cleworth to head down. Town were leading again. We are leading, aren't we?

And back they came, hoofing and hoping. Mullin racing and rocketed a riffle, Inspector Gadget elongated many arms to push aside at the near post. Incoming! Boom. Incoming again! Davies arose above the half-blocked Holohan to head high into the left corner.

And their crowd went wild. Will they escape to victory?

Roaring and imploring, the home ends rocking. Imploring and roaring, the Town wedge pledged allegiance to the cause. Noughts and crosses, hangman and blind man's bluff. Oily Palmer stretched and Crocombe fetched. Davies pimpled wayly over as blue bodies converged. Abrahams replaced the flagging McAtee, Max plucked a cross lowly, Clifton bedraggled and Manny D stretched at the farthest post as the ball bedrumbled agonisingly twixt post and boot.

Incoming! McFadzean barged through the fading Holohan and Cropper, swingling a whopper straight down the middle. One day we may talk about the Max Factor as Crocombe's long arms rose up to flick. Corners, not money, that’s what they want now, that's all they'll get. Palmer grazed wide, Palmer buffled wide. Big men, big balls, Crocombe clasped a toss or two. Ah, Red misses sweeter with whines.

How long left? How long do they need? Four minutes were added somewhere they say.

And oh, what irony it would have been. Cropper's torpedo was glanced on by Waterfall and the ball drifted, drifted wide with Dibble planted like an aubergine.

Wait, there's more.

What more is there to see and do other than get obscenely drunk in a piano bar and sing show tunes... show tunes!

Extra time: First half

Pearson replaced Amos and Town moved to 5-3-2, with Little Harry at left wing-back. Cleworth was replaced by - hang on, who is that? I'll name that player in three seconds - it's Tom O'Connor.

We're tired, we're weary and Mullin's marauding got the locals maudlin. Tricks and flicks and Davies fell over in the vicinity of Pearson's swishing foot. A booking or penalty? Neither.

Boos were hooed. They'll be crying in the chapels, but the tears we shed were just tears of joy. Minds were on the blink. I wonder, should I get up and fix myself a drink?

Manny D turned and dribbled to Dibble. Raikhy replaced Holohan. Cropper hoovered through the sitting rooms and Abrahams' thighs diverted what for the purposes of history shall be deemed a shot a gazillion miles wide and at a speed approaching that of a sleeping sloth. And finally, Cyril, Palmer was booked for tilling Smith before planting some late-season potatoes.

These are things that happened as legs and minds turned to mush and there was a kind of hush all over Wrexham. It isn't a dream.

Extra time: Second half

Hyde replaced Palmer on the restart, at least giving Waterfall and Smith some new tattoos to read.

Wrexham inert, imprecise and impotent in the face of the blue machine ticking away. A break and overflow of blueness, Sousa and Manny fiddled and faddled and paddled out to the unmarked Abrahams on the left side of their penalty area. A touch, a touch, a swipe and many a gripe at the tripe served up by Lennie III.

Abrahams slapped expertly into the side netting.

How long left? Will it ever end? Where are we? And you may ask yourself how did the ball get to be in the Wrexham half. And you may ask yourself, how long is left? Are we into the blue heaven again?

Cropper ambled up and waited for the artillery to arrive on the western front. Oh the delicious, delight, d’wonderful irony as a huge flat hurl arced deep, deep, deep into the middle of the red zone. Tozer was tossed aside, Waterfall stooped and steered lowly into the bottom left corner past flapping fingers.

Oh Big Luke, you've got the notion, we've got the devotion.

Meadow Lane on Monday, Wrexham at the weekend. We shall overcome, we shall be all right. Don't worry about a thing, everything's gonna be all right in the end. And if it isn't alright it isn't the end.

Three minutes were added to added time. It don't add up to a hill of beans for Hollywood types.

Well, have you ever seen anything like it your life?

I know your head aches. I know you're tired. I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher's window. But think what Hurst is trying to accomplish - just think what he's dealing with. The majesty and grandeur of the English language is insufficient to capture the majesty and grandeur of this match, of this team, of this moment.

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we're going to Stratford-y. We're just happy in our blue heaven.

Great Game. Great Day. Great times. Great Grimsby.