Where's the beef?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

27 December 2023

A beautiful sky, a wonderful day. Whip-crack-away, whip-crack-away, whip-crack-away! Big Dave's Deadwood players are headin' over the hills.

Blimey, is that the most holey road in Britain?

Once more unto the Field Mill of dreams my friends, where the floodlights scrape the sky and there's a cold wind ripping down the avenues and alleyways. Wakey-wakey, there's a whole world coming alive. Ah, yes, but remember only the strong and the quick alone survive.

Red Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Cart-Wright, Efete, Maher, Rodgers, Glennon, Green, Conteh, Gnahoua, Clifton, Pyke and Rose. The substitutes were Eastwood, Waterfall, Mullarkey, Holohan, Hunt, Andrews and Eisa. Some were serene at the sight of Mr Green, but the effect of Efete on the nation's psyche will be the subject of a peer-reviewed study in The Lancet. It's the appliance of science. Data, like hips, don't lie! Oh and Pyke. Do you like Pyke or prefer him on his bike?

The Staggermen were just like they were last time we met and the time before and the time before that: big blokes, experienced blokes, eager blokes. Blokes.

Right, let's get on with it, the car parking runs out at 3 o'clock.

1st half – Déja vu
Town kicked off away from the travelling twelve hundred with a tickle and a tipple and ripple of excitement. Pyke perambulated through a gap in the fence and plopped a snipper through yellow legs, straight at the Mighty Pym at the near post. He looks like a man who likes a plate of chips, so all our pigeons are gonna run to him.

How satisfying, the Staggermen are sleepy and hollow.

Pyke on a bike! The lolloping loper bounded free again in exactly the same manner and place. A Pym thwack away hit the approaching Arthur and bundled back as they all sneezed and all fell down.

Wahey. There it goes, there it goes again, chasing down the lane. A mellow yellow sent the electric banana beyond the stands, beyond the sea, beyond the stars, beyond the moon. We'll next see that ball on the dark side of the moon.

Pyke on an electric bike! What's going on? Pyke and Conteh triangulated their hypotheses and set Gnahoua free. Arthur swayed garlickly infield and a smangled smiffler boinked off the near post.

Town passing, movement and shooting, an elevated corner, a foul throw spotted, all our Christmases have come at once. It was a lovely ten minutes. So a bit like every Christmas ever, about ten minutes of adequacy and then…

Here they come, bundling and trundling with white socks stumbling. Akins turned and burned some bridges. A fiddling and piddling on the Town left, or was it right, or was it both, at the same time, yet neither? A slip-sliding Rodger block-spoondled up and over. Johnson barged through some semi-cooked scarlets and blamped straight at Cartwright's nose. Another corner and more mild panicamonium as the big blokes big bloked. Flint grazed wide as Green watched his socks, Flint biffed and Cartwright buffed and Maris piped up to plop over. Town huffed and puffed but blew their own outhouse down. Ground control to Michee: take your protein pills and put your helmet on. You haven't yet made the grade.

And Town are ever at their most vulnerable when nothing is happening, nowhere in particular. Homeboy Harvey walloped upfield, vaguely near a redhead. A Big Bloke bigly headed back upfield and before you could shake a lamb's tail even once Keillor-Dunn was scampering into the Ringoless void, driving home for Christmas, moving down the line. As the penalty area approached K-D wiggled and waggled and crumpled lowly. Rodgers poked out a leg and the ball drivelled and slithered slowly past the wrong-footed, legs akimbo keeper, into the centre left of the goal for yet another self-induced, self-parodic slapstick concession.

Well, that's that then.

A chip and chase, their left-back crumpled and Clifton and Efete swooshed on down the wing. A trio of Townites awaited, Michee passed towards Pyke but also into the path of the flying Welshman from Waltham. Little Harry shinkle-stumbled the ball into the arms of Pym as Pyke and Clifton got in each other's way. Another moment lost in space.

A minute later Pyke sat down and Eisa came on. Remember, a Pyke is just for Christmas. All the best sit-coms last half an hour.

Town foraged afar, seeking truffles under the mistletoe. Green rolled towards Arthur and the ball rolled back. A swing of the hips and a swinging swipe arced over Pym's gropery and smackerooned against the crossbar and back out towards the revellers. Green cutely nodded sideways and Arthur's swingle was kicked past the lurking Rose by the chunky kit-kat of a keeper.

Perhaps it wasn't wise to poke the pig. Up and under flicks and tricks, Quinn sniggled behind where Efete would have been if he had been there and Cartwright shinned away. Akins did the bump and clumped over. Akins did the mash potato and passed to Maris. Things. Could have been high, low, wide or high, or on target, or saved, or blocked by socks. Take your pick, you won't be wrong. A corner: do panic, do panic. Flint arose and Cartwright parry-punched away from his nose. Half-cleared, half-heartedly, and Maris coiled from afar. The ball gently arced towards the top right corner and Young Harvey flew high to push aside.

How did that happen? Mansfield simply waited for Town shins to kick in.

Three minutes then four minutes were added as Pym was booked for egregious time-wasting at a goal kick. My bingo card is full. When do I pick up the pink elephant?

Free kick dinked, Arthur stole the flick on off Bowery's shorts and Rodgers' near post stumble-hoik was flapped aside. A corner, elevation and almost elation. Bongling beyond and retrieved by eager beavers, Eisa hopscotched through wafting yellows and skiffled a zipper through and across and past everyone and everything.

Is that it? We're past the four minutes. What are we waiting for? In added time to the added time added because of Pym wasting time, a long ball pimpled around and squirtled out to the left. Conteh and Efete retreated in perfect harmony leaving Maris alone to adjust his trousers and fliggle a zoomer straight and true across Cartwright's lowly finger wiggle and into the bottom left corner.

Time's up.

Town were no pushovers despite being pushed over a lot, but they were objectively smaller, lighter, slower and inferior. There's only one question left. How many do they want to score?

There were minutes of moments for the middling medium-sized Mariners, but every moment was a lost cause. It looked good, but where's the beef?

2nd half – Don't let it bring you down
And Santa came to town at halftime, bearing gifts: Andrews replaced Arthur, au revoir Le Papillon Insaisissable, and Mansfield replaced their left-back with a right-back. Or was it a right-back with a left-back. Does it matter? This rubber is dead.

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

You could have a list of things that happened, in order. You know, the facts. But what's the point. It isn't the facts that are important, it's the feeling. The feeling was of impotence. And then rage.

Bowery raided, Cartwright plunged and lunged. Quinn curled, Cartwright's flying leaping finger-flipping flicked aside. Repeat, change name, add height, repeat again, and again, as yellow waves crashed over the dead cat.

There is nothing to pull from the car crash, Town were simply lying in the wreckage waiting for an ambulance. Or a hearse. A flicker of life, a finger of fudge, Rose's overhead bicycle kick looked good on the dancefloor. Eisa crossed and Rose miscurdled at the near post. Rose charged down a Pym fly kick, but decided to fall. And off they went and did things of substance.

Hunt and Holohan replaced Conteh and Green. There's no future in Grimsby's dreaming. Town's potential H bomb went off with a puff of white smoke.

Don't let it bring you down, it's only Michee turning. Michee's in space. Michee's in spa-ace. What'ya doin' out there, man?

There he is, orbiting Maris, drawn in by the groovitational pull. This game is a saddening bore, we've lived it ten times or more already this season.

There is but one red finger in the dyke but many red faces. Harvey Cartwright rose to the occasion. He stood tall, he sank low, he flew left, he flew right. From his toe nails to his split ends not an inch of his body was unused. He's a one man band, is there anybody out there wanna lend him a hand?

Look, stop pestering me for news for Great Grimsby. Minor red incursions lacked pace, lacked ideas, lacked height, lacked weight, lacked nous, lacked everything a boy or girl wants or needs. We're barely wilting training ground bollards. Bollards. Yes, Town were bollards.

Legs and heads, from close, from afar, Staggering misses on auto-shuffle. Harvey flapped against Akins and smothered the swivelling scramble. A point blank chest block, nose block, kick back and flip aside. Clarke hit the bar, Akins swept in but was offside. Efete and Clifton were bamboozled by a single pass and Keillor-Dunn took pity upon his fellow professionals, carefully heading wide when alone on this planet. He didn't wish to see grown men cry.

Five minutes were added. Hunt hurt himself, Mullarkey came on and finally, in the end, Cartwright did cartwheels to hug the ball as big ole Flint flapped around at a final corner.

Where we could kid ourselves that Town competed in the first half, the last 45 minutes were just goalkeeping practice for Harvey and shooting practice for Mansfield. To say it was one-sided would be a category error – there was no second side. On paper Grimsby Town footballers were present, in reality they did not exist.

Bah, humbug. Is that too strong? No. This year's been a busy blur, but Town don't have the energy to compete with the Big Boys. Perhaps we should get some players who need a shirt larger than medium.