In the pink

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

14 August 2022

Rochdale 0 Grimsby Town 1

You know, it's hard being a footballer in Rochdale, for the studs don't fit right on their clogs.

A hot, searing sun, a day of white heat that's gonna make you go insane. We're boiling, we're broiling, we're sweating, we're fretting as plumes of molten rock be rising. And that's just the hot chocolate.

Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Morris, Clifton, Green, Holohan, Wearne and Taylor. The substitutes were Battersby, Cropper, Amos, Pearson, Keirnan, Pepple and Maguire-Drew. Mo-rris was the street cleaner and Taylor, slower than a boy with a mullet, the lonely lone ranger.

Think of Rochdale and what do see in your mind's eye? The Co-op, Gracie Fields, Lisa Stansfield, Tractor? And a thousand years of anonymous lower-league piddling about. Open your eyes and what do you see in Stocky Ribdale's Rochdale Cowboys? Some bog-standard, square-shouldered giants and Abe Odoh's predatory hair.

Town fairly pretty in pink and the dream is just beginning. Just do it!

First half: Roll of the dice

Rochdale kicked off towards their seated support, awayish from 1,249 Pinkies in various stage of undress. What a sight, what a sound as Townites took over the ground.

Tipping, tapping and much overlapping. Ball picked a pocket or two, Tulloch threaded a rich pass through the eye of a needle. Ringo routed, Seriki sneaked to the bye-line and swept back to Ball, standing by the penalty spot. The bubblegum back four plopped and Ball carefully steered the shot back to the near post. Crocombe watched the wheels go by as Rodney stood by the post and turned his back, magnificently clearing off the line. Lovely jubbly. Now that's the kind of striker we like. Rodney, you plonker.

Some folks are screaming, way out of control. It was so entertaining for the locals when the boogie started to explode. Odoh turned, Wearne burned, baby, burned. Again and again. And again.

And again.

Infiltrations and desiccations on the far left. Diagourou surged through the blancmange, Rodney chipped to the far post, where a bluesman sat on a stool twanging his banjo. Henderson chested down and bumpled back a cross-volley hurricane. It's all right now, in fact it's a gas. Big Luke has shins and Desperate Dan's chins. Any more cow pie?

One day Mr H will demonstrate ten somersets on solid ground. Maye not today, it's very warm.

Burning, burning, burning, Odoh is always turning and Wearne has a raw hide. Oh no it's Odoh! A crossfield boom, a tremendous trap, a pull back and Henderson carefully steered wide in the total eclipse of Big Luke's big heart. You want it in straightforward English? Waterfall stood in front of him so he didn't have an angle. Satisfied with that?

A corner shortened sweetly and a swarm of pink plunged to smother another rockin' blues number. First to the left, back to the right, twist and turn until you got it right. Yup, Odoh's up to his tricks again, twirling his sword in the market place as Ringo and Wearne looked on with shock and awe. Pistols at the ready Pinkies!

Them blues be infiltrating here, there and everywhere. Tick-tick-tick, tock-tock-tock, blocks by socks, nicks were knocked, a header glanced, a boil lanced. Evisceration and enervation all around, the Town world in whirl. Seriki passed across the face of goal, Odoh slip-slided away from goal and Rodney plonked free, free as a bird. Where did he lose the touch? Who cares. As if by magic Efete appeared. Please step this way.

Town? They had moments. Well the word moment may be working overtime, the difference between sour lemons and lime. Green overbiked spectacularly and spectacularly wide. We could speculate on how spectacularly wide but you'd need special spectacles to see. Holohan chipped, Taylor nodded, everyone nodded off.

Town overrun and need of an overhaul. You can't run fast with your pants half-way down your leg. You want that in straightforward English? Town were utterly pants.

Let's take a break, let's throw some brick brats.

Things can only get better.

Half way through the half the ref was reminded of the need to preserve human life. Ah yes, a water break. Huddles and cuddles, pointing and chuntering. Town moved to 4-2-3-1 formation, with Holohan and Morris the hedges in the fashionable double privet.

OK dolly Dalers do your dealing now.

And soothing balm was applied to Town's slips, Rochdale a pale shadow of their antediluvian pomp. These wild flowers began to be pressed as Town slowly, slowly turned the tourniquet. Taylor chipped, Dickie O'Donnell fished the ball out of the stand. Corners, free kicks, balls, pumping and double Holohanning. A drivel through humanity, a dripping wally-volley causing many children to duck.

Three minutes were added, five were played.

A corner cleared and noddled sideways by Gav O'Groves. Morris, in the void between things seen and unseen, big-dipped a wibbling wobbler over Dick O'D's flailing fingers and against the face of the crossbar. Phwoar, what a scorcher!

A big blue drive up their left halted by Morris as the penalty area approached. A booking, a free kick that hit the wall and a corner caught by Crocombe.

Time for a wet towel.

We're all hot and we're all bothered by the ref. Has he got heatstroke? They should be five up. They aren't. Nice.

Second half: Average man's hero

Neither team made any changes at half time.

We're up, we're at 'em, we're instantly calmer. Rochdale wilting as the duvet was wrapped. Wearne crossed, Taylor arose and who knows what happened next? A mere amuse bouche, the feast will follow.

Slinky shifting and drifting down the left. Clifton clattered, a bluesmen booked. Ringo stood aside as Morris coiled and curled achingly across the face of the nearest post.

Repeat action: Blues clamped, bubblegum popping. Repeat action: Townites flowing, Dalers fouling. One-way traffic on a two-way street. Glennon dumped a free kick farly, the blue wall parted and Waterfall freely headed back into the mixed up mixer. All the way is far enough. A glance away, Clifton sidle-volleyed through the thicketry and Dickie O'D jazz handed away.

Repeat, repeat, repeat rinse cycle. Free kick. Glennon. Waterfall. Unmarked. A header onto the roof of the net. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Drinks anyone? Fancy a dry martini? Or maybe some beautiful sparking spa waters from Bath-in-Avon? I forgot to tell you Rochdale made substitutions. Well, there you are, proof that I remembered. They made substitutions. What difference does it make? It makes none.

Town literally got a grip on life.

Ooh! Bibbling and bubbling, hesitancy behind the lines as the ball bounced crazily on the left. Cool cat Crocombe crept out and pounced on a little church mouse. Ahh! Bubbling and bibbling, hesitancy behind the lines as Efete flounced crazily on the right. Marvellous Max shuffled sideways and snuffled the truffle aside.

They had corners. Hah, we eat their corners with strawberry jam for tea.

With about quarter of an hour left Keirnan and Amos replaced Green and the weary Wearne. Ringo advanced, Little Harry moved infield and Big Bren wandered vaguely right. Immediately the Amos-Glennon combination riddled and raddled and Efete arose to glance wimpily, wastefully down-down-down, the ball ballooning up-up-up for Dickie O'D who threw out to a sea of blue in the distance. Henderson cut in from their right and slung a shot straight, straight as an arrow above and beyond the far angle.

Town, Town, Town. Them breaking. Efete shoved aside, Rodney passed to Crocombe.

Town Town, Town, Town breaking. Amos and Glennon, Glennon and Amos, a dink, a wink, and Little Harry glanced safely across the face of the far post.

With five minutes left Pepple came on for Clifton, sowing seeds of confusion everywhere. Blue breaks with a fall that was fake. A free kick, deliciously placed just off centre, just outside the penalty area. Well, they've seen proper adult footballers on the telly, like, kick the ball like that, like. Oh well, it's only rock and roll but I like it, I like it, yes I do.

Six minutes of added time were added, as time that is added would be. The ball went this way, the ball went that way. Pink socks plunged over blue boots, the ref unmoved. A wallop and chase, Pepple bumble-bundled and bodies collided. A penalty? A goal kick? No, the scientifically proven least likely option was taken - a Town corner, taken by Glennon. Ringo swung, Waterfall sauntered around the back of their alley, ducked and steered the ball down, it bouncing highly up, over and past the desultory dive and woeful wave of Dickie O'D.

Satisfaction came in a chain reaction as Big Luke set off for the disco: the heat was on, and the force is strong, we're burning down the house of Stockdale's Rochdale.

Wahey, one for the sentimental nostalgists, or maybe a trolling nod to Plucky Scunny's Maidenhead implosion. Here comes the New Parslow Point: Pearson replaced Taylor.

Keep us shape! But what is that shape? 4-5-1, Chattanooga choo-choo.

Dalers lumping and dumping, all arms and legs and powdered eggs. Scrimbles, scrumbles and a shot deflected wide. Dickie O'D trotted truly into the corridor of uncertainty. Into the mixer! Into the valley! Pink and Blue in mortal aerial combat, the ball grazed off a suspicious arm and fell to the lurking Sinclair who successfully avoided disappointing us day trippers superbly, sumptuously slashing towards Stubbins Ramsbottom.

And then they were bottom.

Town were an utter mess for 20 minutes, then the drinks break allowed some words of wisdom to be poured into willing ears and our fear of failure ebbed away as Rochdale wilted. Sure, they should have scored four or five, but they didn't. Once adults started to question their logic they crumbled.

Rochdale lacked character, Town don't. There's more to football, and life, than individual technical ability. We got what we got the hard way. You gotta have soul.