100 minutes of solitude

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 September 2022

Grimsby Town 1 Swindon Town 2

"The problem is that when people say 'magical realism', they only hear magic. They don't hear realism."

For years this town had been solitary and unconnected to the outside world, with the exception of the annual visit of a band of travellers, of course, who park next to the golf course. I like my football on a Saturday but it seems like years since we were here. Here comes the sun and the smile's returning to our faces, but oh my poor rheumatic back. There's a nip in the breeze. 

Ah Autumn, we always loved this time of year. Hey, this is my seat and I’m never gonna leave it. The ground packed to the rafters, the covered corner rammed and the low hum of expectation in the air.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon, Keirnan, Hunt, Holohan, Clifton, Taylor and Richardson. The substitutes were Maher, Green, Maguire-Drew, Khan, Orsi, Pepple and Simmonds. What worked in Colchester can't fail to work in Cleethorpes with a keeperless bench full of what is officially known round here as "exciting attacking talent"©. It's the inevitable and inescapable repetition of history.

So what's in the Robins' nest today? An insipid minty green bunch of blokes and crikey! Look at the size of him! Big Ben Gladwin chimes in the centre of the centre of the middle.

Right, pull your frilly nylon panties right up tight, stop mumbling in your coffee and let out that Pontoon roar: there's gonna be a fight for the right to party.

First half: State of the union

Swindon punted off towards the Pontoon. Listen very carefully, there's a kind of hush all over the ground and all you can hear is the sound of mothers wiping chocolate off their kids chops.

Stripey slips and stripey sloppiness here, there and everywhere from everyone. Formless, shapeless, hopeless and hapless. Three minutes have simply flown by. Well, the ball has flown by Townites.

Little Harry shinned, Robins bob-bob-bobbed along and eventually, finally, in the end, Efete's thighs diverted disaster. Or is that delayed? I must confess this is a mess as Swindon pressed. Wordless woe wafted down upon the pitch. The green door slammed, the hospitality's thin there.

A fudge, a nudge, a niddle and nurdle, as at last a green man was hurdled. Keirnan ploppy-crossed to make many cross at this, the acme of dross. So far. The green waves gently rolled over the beached whale to the sound of shingle swish-swish-swishing. We're wish-wish-wishing we weren't here. Call the council, the carcass is rotting.

Chops. Chips. Slips. Slops. Plop. Plop. Plop. Ah yes, bringing the away form home. When did we trade our heroes for ghosts? Glennon shredded by Shade, a smooth operator. Smith being boiled alive. Listen to the voice of Deputy Doig, stop this Swindon sericulture.

Green, green, it's all purest green, so serene with continuous attacking amid continued Town slacking. A corner clipped to the penalty spottage and Blake-Tracy's volley was spectacularly patted aside by Crocombe. Smith hooked halfly away but hark I see dilatory dawdling as Mr Darcy, observing the gap in the social status, eschewed the trite, announcing his intentions by dancing through their right and riffled lowly. The purple plunger flipped finely beyond the farthest post and Jephcott, sauntering behind the watching Efete, tapped in and did a jukebox jive in front of the Pontoon.

What have we got? Not a lot, just a series of slapstick moments. After you, Claude. A corner, a cross, whatever it was it was something. Smith swipe-sliced from under the bar, Efete cushion-headed back to 'Ullite across the six-yard box, an outcome so unlikely in professional football that a penalty area full of green was startled into standing and staring blankly in shock and awe at such appalling defending.

A shot here, a block there. Sliding stripes, groping greenery. A corner flicked by Jephcott at the near post and Wakeling walloped wide. Wakey-wakey!

A chip, a chase, who has the pace? Glennon grappling, Wakeling waltzing. They both fell to earth with stripe slamming green to the turf as they entered the penalty area. What about the orange? People jump and jive, but the clown has stuck around. He saw no ships, slips or trips. How bizarre, how bizarre.

There's a kind of hush all over the ground again and the only sound that you can hear is Deputy Doig's flea in the ears of the back four.

And finally, after 23 minutes of shuffling and scuffling there was a striped shot. Kiernan kicked the ball, it moved in the direction of Brynn, but Brynn was merely required to wish it luck as he waved it goodbye.

Holohan drove, Clifton's swipe deflumbled off a series of socks hanging off legs and hanging around in the 'D'. Fill your glass high the time has come. The ball rumbled into the void, their custardian sugar-rushed forward and Taylor tickled over the yellow diver into the bottom left corner. With our hands on our tummies there we were chuckling all day, laughing away.

And now to rest.

There's nothing here, just the ebb and flow of the end of the pier show. Fouls, persistent fouls by Glennon. It's the only way to stop 'em. Twitching Town bewitched by the formal, Hunt coiled a free kick way over. This was a thing that happened. Whether you needed to know it is another matter entirely. Does it matter? What is matter? Oh dear what can the matter be, have they finally got water in the ladies lavatory?

Matter. A physical substance which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially, as distinct from energy. Indeed, Town to a T today.

As tea time approached the greens triangulated up the left, spinning yarns in the shadow of the Police Box. Smith doodled and dawdled as a coil was clipped and Gladwin roamed around his rear. We're feeling queasy as Big Ben ambled free and easy along the bye-line. As Crocombe approached Gladwin perused as he perambulated, espied the dashing Mr Darcy, whose feelings were not supressed as he passed the ball into the empty net.

Three minutes were added.

Three added minutes ended.

What just happened? Town scored by accident and the defence was an accident that can't stop happening. What a shambles. Sortage required.

Second half: Guess who's coming to dinner

Keirnan was replaced by Khan at half time with Richardson moving to the right wing and Clifton in the McAtee hole.

Ah, at last some vim and verve and the occasional swerve. Swindon held their nerve as our little bit of special K came out to play. A bit of ooh, a bit of ahh, Otis gave us a little lift, but not quite a paradigm shift.

Knock-knock. Who's there? No-one. But at least we got as far as the door.

Clifton charge down a Brynn fly-kick, the ball ballooned up and Taylor volleyed straight down the middle, straight into the retreating keeper's midriff. And finally, finally, Glennon was finally booked for a kick too far.

Scraps and slaps, there's a lot of rocking going on down on our right, it's a rat trap and their Khan's been caught, being booked for playing a little light music on Michee's shorts. Free kicks a-go-go. Hunt swept a sneaky free kick well, well over. Richardson crossed deeply and Waterfall, way beyond the farthest post. Actually why am I telling you this. There is nothing to see here, please move along.

And Robins did fall from the sky, wherever you looked greens were writhing on the grass as on the hour Hepburn replaced Shade. You fear he may be too tall for Town? Fear not, we'll cut him down to size. Hey, they've got Hepburn and Tracy on the pitch.

In a rare visit to the Osmond a Swindon cross sailed highly and bounced off the top of the crossbar. A corner given, to the chagrin of Crocombe. Nothing happened.

Under the former Frozen Horsebeer Stand a throw-in was thrown and the ball underhit back to the chucker. Glennon slid, Khan stepped forward and the referee marched towards this crumpled humanity waiving a yellow then red card. To who?

Wahey to Khan!

There's half an hour left.

Swindon stood and watched as Town moved from side to side, occasionally lumping and dumping into the stands. There were moments of almostness. Harry nearly burst through, Khan almost danced past. Khan coiled, Holohan ducked and missed and the ball bombled into Brynn's arms just in front of Taylor.

Let us never, ever think again of Holohan's cross into the stand.

Hepburn fell over once, fell over twice, fell over inside the Town box, and fell over again. And off he went after 15 minutes of tame lameness, replaced by Aguiar.

Jogging Maguire-Drew arrived as Richardson left the station. Here comes Dani and his dancing teeth along with Pepple; off went Taylor and Holohan as Town moved to a 4-2-4 formation. There was huffing and there was puffing and much, much fluffing but what emerged from all this kerfuffling? A Jogster's cross drooped deliciously and Brynn plunged and punched away from lurking bootage. An up was undered, Brynn flapped, bibbles were bobbled and Efete shinned wayly over.

Not much is it.

Seven minutes were added.

The crowd awoke, for this is our time, this is when we really start to play at the end of the day. Maguire-Drew jinking, Maguire-Drew jiving, Orsi tickled and blocked by Brynn. The ball wormed back to JMD who cutely coiled farly. Pepple arose above the tallest greenster just a yard or two out. Brynn hared across his line and star-flapped straight to Smith by the penalty spot, who snapped back immediately, straight down the middle, through and past socks of many colours. As if by magic Hutton appeared to swipe off the line.

And still they came. In and out, out and in. Up and down. Get it forward lad. One more heave. Don't give up you're not beaten yet. Into the mixer 'twas stuck, heads up, heads down, the ball dropped two yards out. Smith swiped, Brynn was nutmegged but the ball cracked against the inside of his shinpad and squirtled away from goal.

There we are, those be the things that happened.

And here we are with the inevitable and inescapable repetition of history where the protagonists, whatever their stripes, are controlled by their pasts and the complexity of time. We have to be realistic, there's been no magic at home this year.