The Big Idea

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

11 February 2024

It's all very sad these days.

A foggy day in Grimsby town had us low, had us down. We viewed the day with much alarm, has Blundell Park lost its charm? And then through the fog the sun was shining everywhere. Darn it, we'll have to play the game after all.

Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows: Cart-Wright, Smith, Maher, Rodgers, Hume, Thompson, Holohan, Gnahoua, Clifton, Eisa and Rose. The substitutes were Eastwood, Mullarkey, Green, Andrews, Vernam, Pyke and Obikwu. What worked at the Whammy Bar playing fields behind the bike sheds couldn't fail to work at home, here at the sad old lady of the lowlands, could it? We're hangin' tough these days, with leaders leading and leading characters with personality. No-one's gonna push us around no more. Hell no!

Oh, hello Stockport. Everybody's always talkin' 'bout who's on top. We'd rather not have to cross their path right now, we don't wanna get stomped. We need time.

But it's time…

1st half – Grips, grunts and groans
Town kicked off towards the Osmond with a waddle and a quack in a flurry of eiderdown. Denver booted, Holohan almost looted. Arthur danced and from Hume's corner there was a bit if a do, a little hoo-haa. What a lovely three minutes. Such moments need to be treasured.

Denver Boot swished through blue stockings and Rose arose but so did the linesman's flag. What a lovely time.

How long, we wondered, could this thing last. Has the age of miracles passed? Harvey, don't pass to Thompson! Too late. Cartwright looked up, saw Maher alone to his left and saw Thompson all alone in the middle of the centre. Except that chunk of blue standing behind the static caravan, obviously. Well, obvious to all but Harvey who was oblivious. Sarcevic, a different drum playing a different kind of beat, brushed aside a cobweb and the rest is history. As is the game.

Hang on, remember we're hanging tough these days. We ain't gonna give anybody any slack, if you try to keep us down we're gonna come right back. Yeah.

Ooh, that's a foul throw.

Atoms collided far away and Sarcevic plunged under a Clifton stare, deep, deep inside the Stockport half. Arthur and Harry stood by as Bristow, espying out of the corner of his eye Lemonheigh-Evans sprinting down their right, immediately slapped a sweep through the eye of several needles, straight down the centre, with a little fade to dog leg betwixt and between several bunkers. Hume turned but it was too late, the winger had gone and the ball plopped perfectly into the path of the Trans-Pennine Express. Cartwright rushed out, and Oloafe waited at the far post to tap in. He tapped in.

Town? It's all about creating memories. At the moment, I'd rather forget.

At this point it became clear that although several Town players had been announced as playing, there was no actual evidence they existed. Seeing is believing and I believe I did not see Gavan Holohan or Harry Clifton. I did see some others I wish I hadn't.

Hang on, here they go again. Sarcevic threaded, Olaofe powered away and powdered a delicate lob over the waving hands of Harvey. The ball gently arced into the net to the sight of a linesman waving and the distant sound of Stockport drowned in derision. Yeah, how embarrassing for you, a goal disallowed.

And back Town flew, a go being briefly given. Eisa charged, Hume surged and Holohan flicked. Up went the crowd, up went the linesman flag. Ah, the distant sound of Stockporters drowning us in derision. Yes, you can have your ball back, just have some patience.

Oh Harvey, what is happening in your head? Which Harvey? Both Harveys. Ooh I wish I knew, I wish I knew. No machine can give the kind of stimulation needed to remove their inner blocks. As the pattern of piffle remained unchanged there was mutiny in the ranks, Mr Christian. The crowd rebelling against the new ways, demanding a restoration of the old orders: if in doubt, get it out, just launch it! And while we're at it God save Tudor homes, antique tables and billiards. What more can we do?

Cartwright was heckled as the Pepballing continued along his goal line. Cartwright was cheered for whacking away to no-one, then told off by Maher. Rodgers mentally disintegrated, hoofing inaccurately to a crescendo of disapproval behind him. We're sad, bad and dangerously low on quality.

A corner. Pandaloonium! A blue chip and Cass's far-post head-looper sailed over Cartwright and rolled long the crossbar. Eisa volleyed straight back to Sarcevic, who crossed back and Rose sliced vertically towards the corner flag. Sarcevic strolled on, rolled on and hooked back towards the penalty spot. Cass rose alone to steer across the fluttering gloves and into the bottom right corner, just as the pigeon of doom flew into the Pontoon rafters.

Shoot me down in flames if I should tell a lie, I cross my heart and promise that it's true. We've been enraged so many times before, but never has the mass migration begun so soon. A man without a tan decided to get up and go right home, a trail of teenagers following in his wake. He just gotta get out, just gotta get right out outta here. Twenty seven minutes and 28 seconds for the first cuckoos today. Is that a new world record?

It really is a disgrace you know, doesn't anyone throw in correctly these days? Perhaps we need a specialist throw-in coach as well. Smith and Thompson booked for old stager stoppings. Eisa's greedy, needy swisher nearly hit the corner flag, Cartwright swept off his line to sweep away from blue boots. There was panic at the near post. There was panic at the far post. There was panic every time the ball swayed between our pillars of wisdom.

And sometime at some point after some leftly surging Eisa's dancing feet took him past some less twinkling toes and he walloped overly.

Five minutes were added after Stockport's centre-back crumbled and was replaced by someone else they employ to do the same job. They're sneaky that way they are. And in those five minutes there was nothing going on but us headless chickens gifting a comical corner as Maher hooked off Rodgers' nose, or was it the other way round. How can you tell?

If you leave the windows open and the door ajar when you go off to the shops then of course you'll get burgled. Stockport didn't have to try and score, they just waited for Town to do what Town do. We're like a lizard trying to get across a snake-infested beach. They can pick up easy meat with their eyes closed.

If only the ref had given all those foul throws it would have been a whole different ball game.

2nd half – A-plumbing we will go
Town changed their act at half time as the three stooges, Larry, Moe and Curly were replaced by footballers in human form. Off went Holohan, Thompson and Gnahoua, on came Andrews, Green and Vernam.

Oloafe. Ran off, kicked wide. This may have been the moment when Maher gave him the ball on the half way line. Or was it? Does it matter, nothing really matters as anyone can see, we've been caught in a landslide, there's no escape from this reality. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see. Oh, another pigeon. We're just a poor side, we need some sympathetic reffing and the Boo Challinor Boo's boys to take pity on fellow professionals.

The Humber Dredger honked, The Wolds Panther roamed the back gardens in search of a chicken. Green pinging passes, Vernam on the loose! Rodgers dropped his shoulder, wiggled through two Hattermen on the half way line and needled a thread to Slim Charles. Vernam ignored the overlapping Smith and slippered a slithering shot across the bows. Hinchliffe, possibly startled by the need to touch the ball, patted nicely into the path of Eisa.

Listen lads we can still…keep the score down? There was movement under the lights, the cameras caught some action and Vernam swept a shortened corner massively over. One from the training ground there. The one where they have to send one of the youthers up a ladder to get the ball back from the leylandii.

Vernam wiggled and Eisa, ignoring the overlapping Hume, stepped infield, into the big blue cheese wedge, skittering a shot off toes that looped, up, over and across. We have a corner. There are no consequences. We're smaller than them, we always are, whoever they are.

Stockport stood and watched as Town's monotonous revolving door possession rolled around and around, always finally ending with Vernam who did the Vernam thing. Legs were stuck out. The end. It is possible that there was another Town shot, not just one that statistically exists. A Town corner, messed up shortly by Eisa. Hume maintained some dignity as Olaofe hared off.

Probing possession led to corners. Town corners lead to opposition attacks. That's just how it is.

They made subs, people got booked, Green kept dredging. Green got booked, Green did a startling spin turn past a defender and Hinchliffe swept off his feet. These are the events that get listed for posterity. Time ticked on. This and that, isolated moments of nearness near various goals. A block, a shuffle, a scuttle and more changes by them. A cross through the box, no blueness near. Paddy Madden was on by now. Just thought you'd like to know. It isn't as though anything interesting was happening. Apart from the boats, lots of big boats a-sailing by.

I suppose you want to know some Town facts. Obikwu replaced Eisa. He once almost had a shot. He took a touch and his moment was gone. That's as close as you'll get to anything resembling a thing.

Four minutes were added.

Four minutes later the referee blew his whistle. Even the booing lacked passion.

Blundell Park is certainly the place for entertainment these days. For day trippers only.

Stockport are the most complete team we've faced this season, strong individually and collectively, a team that can do things automatically, without the need to look and think. Town are the opposite, they are trying to be a machine, but there's a lot of new parts and the old ones are just the wrong size. We're easy pickings for ravenous wolves, or even peckish squirrels.

At least the Denver Boot fits.