Time of the season

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 July 2022

Leyton Orient 2 Grimsby Town 0

On the first part of the journey I was looking at all the life in London. There were plants and birds and rocks and things, there was sand and hills and, in the distance, some sad Olympic rings.

As I stepped off the Tube the first thing I met was a fly with a buzz, and the sky with no clouds. The heat was hot and the ground was dry, but the air was full of sound. Football is back!

Hang on, it's July, shouldn't we be having a lazy Saturday afternoon where we can close our eyes and drift away as Town stroll to a win in a kick-a-bout in Gainsborough?

It's the time of the season when hope runs high.

Town lined up blue in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon, Morris, Green, Keirnan, Holohan, Clifton, McAtee. The substitutes were Battersby, Cropper, Amos, Pearson, Wearne, Maguire-Drew and Taylor. Ah, no strikers then, just a bunch of forwards. Holahan was in the McAtee hole, McAtee in the Taylor role, Taylor in the shoal of subs.

Oh man the Os' men look big and bulky with gigantic Harry Smith and Beckles the basketballer topping off their mountain. Hey look, they've got Feetov Clay and a fish on the bench, but who is that man hurrying to collect the balls? He must return to his comic book store immediately, somewhere he dispenses the insults rather than absorbs them.

We've all come out to groove about so be nice, let's have some fun in the sun. Fire up the treadmill!

First half: the android's dungeon

Orient kicked off away from the corner crammed full of Townites. Five seconds is all it took for our world to be all shook up as McAtee ran out of the ground to the nearest hospital for some shoulder popping.

Up, up, up, up, up. And down, down, down, down, down. And in the end it's only round 'n round 'n round 'n round 'n round as Orient walloped high and whacked it long. As part of their 57 varieties of hoofball they chipped and chased with haste. Town were being pasted.

Bluesmen swamped, redsters roving. A Town tip and slip, Leyton lamping, Moncur swept centrally and Crocombe stood tall to parry punch down towards Bethnall Green. Bob and weave, duck and dive, oof that's below the belt! Town caught cold as Sotiriou dragged wide when Efete slept. Bullyball bashings and thrashings from the laddies in red; Town's flanks a blank, the centre squeezed like a lemon. Time is a premium-priced luxury subject to a surcharge, Town barely hanging on in quiet desperation.

Someone shot and someone cried as we all watched the ball sail towards the light. Shall we say Sotiriou coiled over and beyond the top left corner from somewhere on their right? We shall, we shall say that. And it is probably true. Of that I am certain.

It had seemed such an impossible case with the game played at such pace, where no pass would ever reach McAtee. Ah-ha football, it's the name of the game. Sumptuous sweeping, locals almost weeping. Passing, movement, disorientated Leytonites in a tizz. McAtee disrobed a redster, Holahan tickled, Morris tippled, Glennon overlapped Clifton and fizzed lowly. No wonder we get excited. Efete ghosted through the red mist into the very centre, just six of your English yards out with the openest of goals a-gaping gapingly as the keeper stood and sighed next to the near post. The raiding right-back open his body and carefully side-footed straight against Vigouroux's surprised gloves, the ball ballooning back and out off Efete's thighs. Less of a miss, more carefully curated performance art that can viewed at the Tate Modern on a permanent loop, preferably to the sound of Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass.

Ball in the air, ball on the ground, ball in the air, ball on the ground. Airborne alarms for blues, ground-based panic for reds. Beckles buckled in the heat of battle and Town had a corner. Obviously this was simply a springboard for an Orient counter-attack as a feeble flip was belted upfield for little Smyth to scurry and scamper after. He twisted, he turned, he scrimpled around Morris and Crocombe toe-ended up and away twixt lurking homesters for a throw-in. It was indeed a big toe, for he's a big lad and he kept his shape.

Ball in the air, ball on the ground, ball in the air, ball on the ground. Sotiriou coiled high and wide. Smyth sneaked behind Big Luke and scrunched a screwball inchlets wide of the farthest, some say furthest post.

Ball not in the air, ball definitely on the ground as Town turned the locals round and around with a Keirnan turn and burn to the bye-line. He look up and carefully scraped back. Holohan flipped a soft dipper nicely into the waiting hands of the Vigouroux.

Ball in the air, ball on the ground, ball in the air and Green nutted Holohan as both arose near the dug outs. Sit you down, father, rest you. Green shook his head, Holohan stayed down, rising minutes later fully bonce-bandaged. He is the eggman, goo-goo-g’joob.

The only way to stop their incessant stalking is to stick it up your jumper. Triangles! Morris crossed. Alas Efete's had a haircut and the ball crawled over his head.

And off they flew through wellies and wallies on a day you don't need your brolly. Flipperty floppiness, slipperty sloppiness and the ball hit the sliding Smith's hand inside the D. Wattles were daubed and Moncur coiled around the guttering and down the side alley into next door's greenhouse, knocking over a tomato plant on the way.

Tobelerones! Moving, passing and Vigouroux crumbled underneath a Morris bumble, flapping away from the lurking Clifton. Little Harry turned around and scruffled straight into the keeper's glovage. McAtee, our dandy highwayman looking flash, grabbing the attention, held up a local stagecoach and galloped off into Epping Forest. Swinging, swaying, ignoring the unmarked Clifton, Big John coiled limply and lowly into Big Larry's oven gloves.

McAtee. McAtee, always, always McAtee. Low, then high, wide then wider. A whack from the Chilean stopper was intercepted by Morris. With Vigouroux momentarily betwixt and between, McAtee turned and cheekily chipped. Ahhh, if only there was a Swedish goalkeeper flapping around the East End it would have gone in.

Five minutes were added for a whole bunch of injuries to various Townites, for the homesters had been particularly enthusiastic in challenging the status quo. We'd challenge them not to play any more Status Quo on the Tannoy. Anymore! Ooh la–la! Sighs and swoons swirled aroond the groond for McAtee's balletic soft-shoe shuffling and tricky-dicky teasing.

Red clatterings, red batterings and two bookings to boot for booting boys in blue. And as we reached the final curtain Efete roamed and McAtee swingled lazily high and wide from afar.

Ah the beautiful chaos of the rough and tumble of the beautiful game. Town struggled against vigorous bigball, Orient struggled against football. It's a clash of cultures, a clash of styles, but they have a much bigger mixer to stick it if push comes to shove.

Second half: Much ado about muffins

Neither team made any changes at half time.

We nicked, we knocked as we'd clocked their defence was a cake that someone left out in the rain. Efete and Kiernan hassled a quaking redster in their left corner as the ball refused to run out of play. A simple 12-bar blues progression in a minor key and the Eggman carefully steered wide from the centre of the centre.

Ball in the air, ball on the ground, ball in the air, there's something in the air. Boom-boom shake the room. A quick corner and tips and taps and Sitoriou swivel-scrunched across the face of goal.

Intensity in the city as Town were pinned back by waves of red. Archbold harried on their left, stepped over, stepped infield and coiled from the corner of the penalty area. Waterfall ducked down like a glam rock roadie and the ball boinged off some part of our big stick of northern rock. The referee stared with legs akimbo and satisfied his pie providers by pointing towards the penalty spot, much to the obvious chagrin of the suave and sophisticated Waterfall, a man known for his erudition, very much the Oscar Wilde of fourth division defenders.

Moncur crackled low and left between Crocombe's fingers and the inside of the post. Waterfall and Green continued their philosophical discussion with the referee using words you wouldn't find in the bible.

We always give a team a head start, it's the Grimsby way.


Orient upped the ante, whacking higher, long and faster. A stray blue foot diverted danger for a corner barely cleared after three wishes. Glennon wafted away straight to James who pulverised from Pluto straight into the top right corner with an underkiss of the cross bar. He hit it and it went in.

So what are new Town made of? Space dust.

The game just fizzled out, already won, already lost. Feetov Clay came on, did we even notice. Every change weakened Town further. Kiernan and Green were replaced by Jogging Maguire-Drew and ageing Taylor. And? And indeed.

Meanwhile Moncur managed to mangle a strangle wide.

Maybe this isn't the dawning of the age of Aquarius after all. Clifton miskicked a coiling free kick over the bar for a corner. Sotiriou coiled wide. These are things that happened, details irrelevant, the rest of this game irrelevant.

It took Orient 75 minutes to correct their spelling mistake as Smith replaced Smyth, who went off hugging and chortling with the ref. Taylor stopped their keeper kicking out quickly and was booked. McAtee missed, apparently. Glennon and Clifton were replaced by Wearne and Cropper. Can you feel shoulders shrugging?

Between those moments of nothingness nothing ultimately happened around Crocombe. Smith almost dispossessed Mad Max. But didn't. Crosses were crossed, dribbles were dribbled, shots weren't shot. There were a series of still images giving the illusion of movement.

Five minutes were added. Efete roamed and rolled and Beckles was booked for barrelling Michee into the hedgerows. A free kick led to a Cropperchuck, flicked on by Taylor and Waterfall's shot hit flesh and bumbled into the abyss. And that, dear reader, counts as a highlight, an event worthy of mentioning for the annals of history.

And from the abyss came comedy as McAtee was booked for recreating Banks v Best 1971.

What's left? Archbold scribbled through and coiled lowly across the face of goal. Everyone wandered back for the goal kick and looked miffed that they had to wander back upfield as the whistling wally gave a corner nobody wanted and nobody asked for. Read the room mate!

This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures. This wasn't one of them.

Could have been worse, might have been better. It was like an enthusiastic and talented under-12s team playing in the under-14s league. Yes, yes, pretty football, but big boys do bully you.

The more alarming matter was that there was no pluck once Town ran out of luck. We're sort of where we were at this point last season – a pretty solid base but need some striking solutions pretty pronto. There's still time to find solutions, but we won't get away with months of muddling through this year. We are literally playing with bigger boys now.