All lessons learned

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Simon Wilson

15 April 2024

Clouds in the sky but sun bathed the away fans in the stand along the side of the pitch. Not many GTFC bobble hats were removed before kick off.

The returning David Artell received warm applause from the Crewe fans. Artell wasn't skulking in front of their away dug out though, instead perched halfway up the main stand on the other side of the pitch from us away fans. Squint, you could make him out — and what looked like three people resembling Larry David. How was this end of series trial going to end?

In which you will experience the hollers of some of the Town fans sat near me.

Crewe kicked off towards the left-hand goal if you were in the Town stand — and kicked on. First to balls, harrying Town, putting the pressure on. When Town had the ball misplaced, directionless passes gave up easy possession. There was an early air of inevitability here. Did the spa water of Harrogate carry a days' long hangover?

Rowe had a long pop, a nick off a Town defender, Eastwood solidly saved.

And then…nobody knew that something good was gonna happen.

The fleet-footed Green found Obikwu, who weaved his way into space and more space and more space as the Crewe defence's cracks widened. Shot on, shot on, shot behind, corner. RRRAAAAHHH!

"In the mixer!"

Rose was clipped, free kick won, Vernam's ball into the well-marshalling heads of the Crewe defence.

Green — I think, it's hard to see those numbers on the back of the shirt this season — was alert to a loose ball but wasn't as sharp with his heavy thunder of a touch which the Crewe keeper got to.

"Into the mixer!"

Crewe responded, winning a corner, comfortably defended, confidently cleared. The ball was flung in and Eastwood said "How are you supposed to be a strong, thrilling, powerful warrior and love with a name like Mickey?"

"Into the channel!"

More midfield moving from Town found Rodgers grooving his way into the box. Another corner! Crewe strolled it out of the box but Town were onto it, getting the ball forwards quickly for another corner. An ineffectual corner but another corner. The control from Town was increasing, the pressure was building. We're not even 20 minutes in yet.

Rose got tackled with the ball at his feet and moved awkwardly after getting up. Moments later he was down again, Wilson was topless on the sideline, Rose limped off with help and Wilson walked on, shirted.

"Into the channel!"

And the back and forth continued. Vernam had a blocked shot, Eastwood saved a 20-yard egder. The Green-Holohan-Thompson midfield took the game back to Crewe. Wilson was trying to dance to their beat too, but the guy behind me didn't dig Wilson's moves, mumbling away for several minutes, his voice getting louder, before shouting his displeasure as Green and Wilson co-played Dance Dance Revolution. Wilson surged into the Crewe box, Stryjek coming out to grab the ball.

"Into the channel! Into the channel!"

Crewe went back upfield, Rodgers pulling off a lovely tackle. Another Crewe attack, another Rowe effort, stoutly defended.

Town got some control again, a Vernam drive along the left touchline clattered to an end by Cooney. Book him, the fans instructed. The instruction was obeyed. Vernam placed the ball, took the free kick, which whipped into the box and stroked the bar. Oooooh.

"Into the mixer!"

The Town fans were roused, some Town fans were aroused. Something softer was about to happen.

A long fling into the box by Tharme was met by the head of…someone…and the ball seemed to slowly squirm-bobble — squobble? — across and past the Crewe keeper into the net. Mullarkey took the thanks of his colleagues. Town fans mainly went mental. Some couldn't believe such a softly-placed header had gone in.


Crewe were not happy, coming back, but the GHT midfield were equal. As half time crept up Town won a couple of quick corners, pumping up the volume. Kirk, Crewe's pest up front, was quiet in this game and ended the half clearing the ball away. This isn't what the script was supposed to be.

Silence from the mixer and channel man.

Half time, Town a goal up. Not much of a chance in that half to ponder the ponderables, like how often does Holohan get his hair cut or if someone can give Tharme a pair of shorts of a size larger (they sure do look tight on his buttocks). But regular viewers would have curbed their enthusiasm. The 2023-24 season of Grimsby Town FC could transform into its alter ego during the break.

In which again you too will experience the hollers of some of the Town fans sat near me.

Obikwu clipped the ball for Rodgers' brave rove forwards to end in a blocked shot for another corner. And soon after another. And another. And then was that a handball from Rowe?

The away fans were purring now. Town were owning this, Crewe weren't getting any breaks and Crewe responded with a double switch.

Another corner — was it the fourth or the fifth of the half for Town? — and Vernam's sharp delivery was cleared to Thompson near the penno spot, who struck a sharp shot in. 2-0! What was happening? Town were playing well, Town were getting what they deserved.


Crewe resumed looking hassled. It wasn't long before the fourth division Steph Curry, Charles Vernam, was clattered, a frustrated booking handed to Williams. Town continued to own the ball and own Crewe. More corners, a couple of half chances — a Tharme header, a flash from Obikwu, another Tharme header, a blast over from Wilson after a nifty Green burst down the right.

Just writing this and thinking back it felt like a lot of corners from Town, at least 10. Town were pinging the ball to each other a lot too, a lot of completed passes, a lot of intent coming off. It wasn't all on the deck, a rare long ball chased by Wilson but smothered by the Crewe keeper.


About ten minutes to go Clifton and Hume came on to break up the GHT midfield, Green and Vernam heading off — and the old Town, the Town we know and dread briefly appeared. Crewe had the ball a bit. When Crewe didn't, Town's pings ponged to Crewe players. Eastwood joined in, a pass back from Rodgers, which the Town goalie clattered against the onrushing Nevitt. The ball boinged into the area and towards the goal, Eastwood galloping back in a two horse race with Nevitt. Eastwood got there just ahead to slide and clear the ball to the right-back. Suddenly the air of assurance of a two-goal lead seemed brittle.


Crewe continued to be the better team, a cross from the left hooked past the far post where Finney had pushed up to side-foot back across goal. Eastwood dived to his right to push the ball into the air for Demetriou (maybe) to head at goal. Eastwood recovered already to clasp the ball. Phew! That catch calmed things for Town.

Eight minutes of injury time were announced, and about five minutes into that a long throw from Tharme about halfway in the Town half was trapped by Wilson, who turned and ricocheted the ball off a Crewe defender to drift into the inside-right channel. Six yards from the line, Wilson calmly peered left and slid the ball between a Crewe defender and keeper across the goal to Hume who lifted the ball back across the goal. It was delicate, it was delicious, and it was over. The fans loved it, the players loved it.

Artell could have set Town up to sit deep and hope they got something from the game. He didn't. It was brave. Early on in his Town tenure Artell said this group of players had something about them. He spoke with genuine belief. Today Town showed what Artell has seen. Town played like the home team chasing promotion; Crewe, a visiting side battling at the bottom end of the table. Fortune favoured the brave. A double over Crewe. Who'd have thought we'd be their bogie team.

A bad date is an experience you have with another person that makes you appreciate being alone. Today was one of those days when you wanted to be around Town.