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Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 March 2023

How often we've thought of that Sunday afternoon when we had our last rendezvous. Somehow we foolishly wondered if, by chance, you think of it too? No?

Ah but yes, I remember that sinking feeling well.

Do you remember the last time we were here? Withdean and I, that black and white comedy keeper Kuipers jinking the unjinkable and Pouton's mysteriously disallowed free kick. There's a true crime podcast on BBC Sounds coming out next week about that very incident.

Ah yes, olde worlde Englande. Have you got a table for four? Sorry, no cods, no black and whites, no Irishmen. It ain't easy on a Sunday morning searching for a sausage sandwich in Lewes.

Ah yes, our close encounter with the new world order of football in Falmer. Where Southampton was surly and sparse look around, in every sight and every sound there's something in the air. I feel it in my fingers and feel it in my toes, love is all around. Ah yes, memories of all our yesterdays. Open up, let's enter into Moonbase Alpha, shall we find the meaning of what happiness is?

Town lined up in pink in a 5-4-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Smith, Waterfall, Maher, Glennon, Clifton, Green, Holohan, Khan and Orsi. The substitutes were Battersby, Amos, Pearson, Emmanuel, Hunt, Morris, Khouri, McAtee and Taylor. The sight of Otis Khan lifted our eyebrows higher. No McAtee, no Big Josh and his Big Match Thighs? Does this count as a pre-Parslow point, made cunningly 70 minutes before rather than after the kick off?

Brighton. Full strength. Oh dear. We'd prefer them to give us the full, traditional "no disrespect to the likes of" treatment.

Breathe, breathe in the salty sea air, don't be afraid to care about what's about to be. Look around, would you choose this as your home ground? Whatever will be, will be. It's better to travel well than arrive. We've travelled each and every highway to get here and now the end is near. It's been a pleasant journey.

Ooh padded seats. Nice.

Right, get your tin hats on. Here it comes.

1st half – In the kingdom of the fish
Brighton kicked off towards a sea of bob-bob-bobbing inflatables of all ages, for all ages. Come back in half an hour, we may have touched the ball.

Bobbing, robbing, better stop sobbing, where's Jim Dobbin? Threatened by shadows and light and definitely exposed on the right. Wizzing and whirling, swinging and swirling, Massive Ferguson carefully curling into the arms of Maxie.

Tip and tap, snip and snap, flip that flap. Don't panic, don't panic! Caicedo clomped, Crocombe plunged, Undav swept under the carpet.

What's all this noise then? Town stood back, folded their arms, furrowed their brows and peered through the window. What's inside? I dunno, but it looks real fancy. March madness! Ringo rolled and trolled, Undav flicked, Crocombe scooped. Our party is not yet totally pooped.

Town's passing precision was far too random and we could hear the far away laughter. Orsi offside, Michee roamed and Dunk passed out, probably through boredom. When was this? Did it happen? Are we dreaming of electric sheep? They couldn't come back in waves. They never went away.

Teasing and tickling, just waiting to strike when the moment is right when some stray Mariner had stopped thinking. Dodecahedrons and 3-D chess. Gross infiltrated beyond Ringoland and rolled twixt flipping feet and groping gloves and the lonesome Mitoma magnificently missed at the furthest post. Again, something here, there and everywhere, in kaleidoscopic blueness. Mitoma wide, Caicedo wide. Possibly. Probably. No, certainly.

Mitoma's messin' with Michee! He's got him turning up and turning down and turning in and turning 'round again. The jinking Japanese jived to the bye-line and pulled a pass back to the penalty spot. Ewwww Gross! Pascal blazed over.

Ah, there you are, I told you to come back in half an hour if you wanted to join our story at the point that the character known as "Grimsby Town" next enters the stage and has a line of dialogue.

"Who are you?"

And Brighton had an existential crisis. They forgot their purpose in life. The Gullibles only made their passes longer because they no longer had the time to make them shorter. Orsi-Orsi's tail went swish and he made a wish. Please, please fairy codmother can we have a comedy own goal? Way down by the touchline, way out towards the halfway line Dunk swung his pants and volleyed over Sanchez. The ball bounced and, with his finger on his eyebrow and left hand on his hip, the Spaniard strolled back to casually dribble away as the half ebbed away, slowly, slowly, sweetly towards a satisfying stasis.

Except that moment. You know what I'm talking about. It happened, suddenly it just happened and our dreams fell apart. Dirty Sanchez plucked the ball from outside of the penalty area. Danny Orsi and his dancing teeth saw it. The world beyond Brighton saw it. Mr VAR saw nothing. Mr VAR failed us in our hour of need (this week).

What do we glean from this? Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed. And then it was half time.

Lovely-jubbly. Not a shot, not a pass, not a chance, but hey listen lads, we can still do this!

2nd half – The bus stop at the end of rainbow
Well we hadn't seen their faces around Town awhile, so we greeted them with a glowing smile. Hunt and McAtee replaced Green and Orsi at half time. Young guns, go for it!

Repeat and rinse the cycle of despair, Town washed up and washed out to sea. It's just not cricket, playing Premier League players at Premier League pace, just getting in Town's face. Zipping and zapping, a cross boombled off pink socks, loopy-de-looped and boinged off the farthest post. Undav leant back and volleyed overly. Caicedo sliced, Mitoma diced Marching feet. Don't forget to tweet about Fabulous Fergie's foxtrot and tango. Town mesmerised by the dance of the seven veils as McAllister twinkled a tinkle into the blind spot twixt Waterfall and Maher, who saw the big silhouette of a man to be. Ferguson mulled, pulled the ball down with his big toe, did the fandango, and passed into the bottom left corner. Magnifico-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o.

Well, there we are, there we were. That's that then, let's have a party.

We had a party. So did the Brightonites. One of us was in the kitchen at this party, the other swinging from the chandelier wearing just a feather boa.

Oh, the football. Mitoma, Mitschmoma. Bedragging, bedraggling, be still lad! Coiling inchlets wide, caressing feetlet high. How to recognise three different attacking midfield players from quite a long way away. Number 1. The March. The March. The March. What fires and stirs the woodcock in his springe or wakes the drowsy apricot betides? What goddess doth the storm toss'd Mariner offer her most tempestuous prayers to? Freedom! Freedom! Freedom from persecution by Solly March.

Blimey, what's going on here then? By chance, a chance, perchance to dream of a chance. A lump and dump, Glennon nodded into the mixer as blue toes tapped. McAtee suddenly sniggled beyond bluesmen, toe-lobbed and Sanchez patter-flapped away. Another minute another ramraid, McAtee stretchy swiping against local socks. A corner! Elevation Mr Glennon. Not to the thirteenth floor. Next time, play your cards right. Lower, lower!

Ah, that woke them up, we really shouldn't have prodded the sleeping dogs. Smashing, dashing, what we'll get is a darn good thrashing. This, that, and definitely the other as Town were smothered by a big blue pillow. A corner deeply noodled, Maher got shirty with Webster, who was sinned against as he shinned against the bar. And everyone had scrambled eggs for tea.

Are you sure it wasn't scrambled minds on toast? Strangulation and triangulation as stripes played chase the lady with our laddies. Ring-a-ding-ding and I can hear those caged birds sing. Ping-pong down the middle, two Townites in a muddle, Ferguson strode away to pass the parcel calmly, clinically.

This is no longer a football match, it's an exercise in civic pride. The whole world is a stage, these men and boys mere players, they have their exits and entrances. Taylor and Morris replaced Khan and Clifton; Welbeck and Sarmiento came on for them.

Smith! Great block.

Welbeck! Well done Max!

Webster dinked, March dunked. Is it raining goals? We hadn't noticed. Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Nah. Fish!

Crossfield traffic, pinged perfectly to Glennon. A shuffle and shake, a shoulder dip and little clip, Taylor caressed, McAtee steered and rotten spoilsport Sanchez sprung leftly to superbly tipple aside.

More blocks by more pink socks.

As the end neared Waterfall decide to showcase his all-round total football skills. A nippy lad nicked off his toes and we had an acid flashback of Old Luke from pre-historic times, when dinosaurs ruled our earth. Mitoma slapped, Waterfall clicked his heels like Herr Flick and the ball spoondled in a slow, crazy arc past ailing legs and flailing fingers and rested inside the near post. Poor old Luke, crying for the moon and the game just couldn't end too soon. Did it even start?

Two minutes were added, the ref helpfully taking thirty seconds off for each substitution. The man has a heart. Or a train to catch.

Oh Mitoma again. Wiggling, wriggling, back-heeling some scatterball pinball. Be still lad, leave us alone, let us go in peace.

And this is it, that's the end of the joke. Time for bed said Zerbidee, the fish shall be sleeping now.