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A Tale of Two Dannys: York Report
By: Tony Butcher
A CLEAR NIGHT with a little bit of a nip in the air. Around 1,000 Town fans mooched around the open terrace (on the left as seen on tv); so many Town fans that we observed the never ending pie queue of olde Yorke.
York City 1 Grimsby Town 0
15 Jan 2002, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
Surely an opportunity for another tourist attraction. The Town players warmed up in a most relaxed manner, barely bothering to even kick the ball. Perhaps theyâ€™d have preferred to have stayed in their dado-railed mansions, or to have gone to the Bingo? Around the turnstiles hung middle aged people in woolly hats who politely mugged the fans "To Save City". As the Town fans retorted "Weâ€™re saving our coins for Town". The general consensus was that our bucket shakers would hit the streets in May.
The pitch looked a deep, chocolate brown, with a minty green hue and many furrows (though not as many furrows as on the forehead of the average Town supporter). Unfortunately York hadnâ€™t signed anyone with comedy hair in the 10 days since the last "contest", but they did supply a match ball sponsor rich in vitamins and comic potential - "Fruitâ€™nâ€™Things" Were they talking about Town? It gradually dawned on the congregation of complainers that Willems was absent from the warm up. Thatâ€™s in the physical, rather than psychological sense. Mmmm interesting. But there was A Neilson. Mmmm worrying. And that was just the start of it.
Town lined up in the 5-3-2 formation that should now be christened "usual". O my gawd, itâ€™s a Lennie line-up! Even down to Butterfield being in the centre of central midfield.. That must mean Neilson is the right wing back, or more accurately, the right flapper. Burnett, at least initially, stood on the left of the midfield, although it later transpired that Butterfield was the "holding" player, protecting the defence and making those plays. Campbell and Burnett seemed to have been told to run forward in straight lines.
For those reading in colour, Town played in the horrible all yellow kit, with Coyne again in a vivid blue top. It was nice to see the referee and linesmen in all black, though not nice to see the same job lot that were at Blundell Park.
The pre-match mantra on the terrace was "at least we canâ€™t be as bad again". Of course not. In the hierarchy of description "bad" is only two steps down from average. The torpedoes havenâ€™t even reached the ship yet. The players ran out to "Also Sprach Zarathustra", segued to "Rockinâ€™ All Over the World", possibly the ugliest musical bolt ever. Ah, the dawn of life followed by the death of music. So would Town be Strauss or Status Quo?
Town kicked off towards the Town support, and we had ten minutes of dÃ©jÃ vu. Town punting towards feeble forwards, York perky but predictable. The result was that the ball was down the other end with Ford/Groves/Gallimore passing it amongst themselves before giving it back to them. It didnâ€™t help that there was absolutely no movement whatsoever from anyone in yellow. Even the stewards were making better off the ball runs.
York had a couple of crosses and minor incursions into the Town penalty area - their supporters got excited when Proctor ran at Coyne as Walesâ€™ sometime number 3 (if others are injured) fly kicked away. All part of the magic of the cup, I suppose, transporting mundane moments into the stratosphere of sensational soccer. A few minutes later Richardson, their longest haired player, hit a shot from outside the penalty area which went high, or maybe wide, or perhaps high and wide. So what, it wasnâ€™t close. Town did get near the York goal at one point - I have a distinct memory of a couple of yellow shirts within their penalty area, but nothing came of these moments, except groans of disapproval for some terrible play. Campbell, at some point, miss-hit a shot from 25 yards that didnâ€™t even get to the penalty area before it was intercepted. Dull, certainly, then after around a dozen minutes, something to allow the Town fans to kid themselves into "Ooooooing". Jevons was released into some space in front of the York defence. He swished and swayed, awaited support, ignored it, and tried to curl a right foot shot into the â€˜keeperâ€™s top left hand corner, from about 20 yards out, centrally placed. He succeeded in caressing a gentle pass safely, and directly, into the arms of the waiting Fettis, who barely moved a millimetre. Those 7 year old mascots kick the ball harder, almost.
Another five minutes of energetic prodding by York saw a few more crosses into the Town penalty area, all dealt with, but with decreasing competence and increasing panic. Players started to miss-kick and pass directly to them. And yes I do mean Butterfield, who tried to do some fancy dan flicks and tricks near the penalty spot, dribbling straight into Nogan. I think one of their defenders almost managed to head a cross from their left. But he didnâ€™t, or at least not much of his head made contact with much of the ball. However, there was nothing tangible for all these crosses and increasing York pressure.
Then a Town break! Chapman (itâ€™s always Chapman) intercepted a crossfield pass and surged forward, slipping a pass towards Thompson, 10 yards inside the York half on the left. Thompson allowed the ball to run past him, then he took the ball on towards the heart of the York defence. They retreated and the left side of their defence ran over to cover. This left Jevons and Campbell unmarked a matter of 2 or 3 yards to Thompsonâ€™s right. Thompson decided to turn away from the unmarked twosome and trick his way through three hulking defenders with a rolling Ronaldo turn. Daft, and dangerous too as he rolled the ball beautifully into the path of the second defender, who played the ball calmly up towards the half way line. Chapman was way out of position, as he had continued his surge upfield in support. Oh dear. Nogan (I think) knocked a first time ball down towards where a full back often is, releasing Cooper, who gambolled up the touchline unimpeded. He looked up and crossed low between the penalty spot and 6 yard line. Nogan had sprinted on and slid in front of Groves. It seemed as though Nogan got a very, very small toe on the ball, slightly diverting the ballâ€™s progress. With three Town defenders (and seemingly no York players) near, NEILSON swept the ball across Coyne and high into the top right hand corner. The Town fans were more than a little unchuffed by this course of events.
Two minutes later and it should have been 2-0. Groves, 30 yards out and to the right of goal, lazily played around with the ball, looking towards the Statues of Easter Island, which had Town shirts on. He then attempted to play a short pass to Butterfield, just in front of him, totally forgetting that Proctor was only a couple of yards away. The ball rebounded off Proctorâ€™s boot past Groves and towards goal, so Proctor ran after it, controlled it and swerved into the penalty area. He awaited the imminent arrival of the 7th Cavalry, and Coyne duly arrived, half blocking the intended shot. Coyne managed to slightly divert the path, and take some of the energy from the shot. The ball rolled towards the bottom left hand corner, but Butterfield ran (by his standards it was a run) back and calmly played the ball away. Wait, thereâ€™s more. Leaving aside the minor moments of culpable footicide perpetrated by the yellow perils, the incidents piled up. All in the Town area. A deep cross from the York left, towards the near post, sailed over and between Groves and Gallimore. Proctor waltzed into the Plains of Abraham twixt our G-Men, side footing a volley a couple of yards wide, from no more than half a dozen yards out. A simple pass over the top of the Town defence, again into the spot where a left back would normally be, made Coyne sprint off his line and jump at Nogan, as he sneaked around the back and tried to hook the ball in from a narrow angle.
And itâ€™s not over yet. A deep kick from their right (probably a free kick near the touchline) was knocked high into the centre of the Town box. No Town players challenged as a couple of Yorkists threw themselves at the ball, both missing. The ball bounced on and Coyne had to scramble across and claw the ball away from his right hand post, at head height. From this you may get the impression that York dominated and tore Town apart. Well, Townâ€™s defence did have the look of a herd of sheep, tormented by ravenous wolves. Grimsby had achieved what most, if not all, thought was impossible - they had made Lee Nogan look sharp, quick and frighteningly dangerous. Torn, ripped and devoured, with several skewers up several rear ends. And still thereâ€™s more.
Nogan, yes that Nogan, received the ball with his back to goal, on the touchline, 30 yards out. He held off three players, turned and surged infield, breezing through three ineffectual "challenges" (Name and Shame" I hear you cry: Butterfield, Gallimore and Harry Lime, no sorry, I canâ€™t remember the Third Man). When he reached the edge of the penalty area, near the left corner, Nogan unleashed a blistering, cracking whacker of a shot towards Coyneâ€™s top right hand corner. Coyne flapped his wings and glided gracefully across the moonlit sky to punch the ball away for a corner. One word required - fabtastic. A little later Procter plucked the ball off Danny the poncing, preening midfield "enforcer", raced forward and wellied a volley from about 20 yards, in a central right position. Coyne carefully watched the flight of the ball and punched the ball away from his face.
By now the patience of the various Jobs in the Town support had been drained to zilch. The crowd fumed with the first rumblings of a boo and isolated chants of "What a load of rubbish". In general play Town had been so, so woeful it goes beyond description. Despite the vastness of the English language it is far too limiting, you had to be there to understand the levels of ineptitude. A pub team in Sunday League Division 10 would have been ashamed of that performance. Even after a day long happy hour. There were Town attacks, though they foundered on the weak strikers or passes so bizarre they could only have been meant for someone in another dimension. Perhaps the 5th Dimension, a dance troupe from the 1970s, the poor personâ€™s Young Generation. The acme of awfulness came from Jevons. It was either his measured pass to a Town fan 12 yards wide of goal, or when he was sent free behind the York defence, 35 yards out. He controlled the ball and headed into the area, right on the centre. He then decided to slow down, head in a Souâ€™ Souâ€™ Easterly direction, and trundle towards the corner flag. He had plenty of words of advice when he was heading for goal (you canâ€™t fail to hear 1,000 people pleading "shoot, shoot"); he had just as much advice as he walked back towards the centre after "winning" a throw in. His mother would not wish to have been on the terrace at that point. How different from Anfield, eh?
But Town did make Yorkâ€™s â€˜keeper touch the ball. With about five minutes left Burnett had a shot from 20 yards which sailed 3 or 4 yards over the bar. The crowd moaned, then laughed as the referee gave a corner. It was taken from the Town left and swung into the near post, where a small blob of yellow and red players (like a fruit salad) jumped. One of the Town players headed on and the ball seemed to be creeping in at the near post. The goalkeeper reached across and appeared to rabbit punch the ball off the line. It fell near Jevons, whose shot was blocked by the â€˜keeper and the final shot ricocheted off a York playerâ€™s backside.
Half time: York City 1 Grimsby Town 0
Itâ€™s half time now. Flew by, didnâ€™t it. As the teams trudged off, the chant of "What a load of rubbish" was in full, hearty, furious flow. You canâ€™t argue with facts. There had been no attempt at playing football on the few occasions Town actually had the ball. There were no (Chapman apart) meaty attempts to win tackles and challenges. There was less effort and commitment than in the average pre-season friendly with Winterton Rangers. Pitiful, pathetic, with no strength, no desire, no discernible interest from the majority. They barely played as if it was a contractual obligation. You have read that right, barely.
York should have been 3-0 up at least, and quite easily 5-0 up. So Town canâ€™t be any worse? The least the paying public expected was a substitution and tactical change (4-4-2 and Neilson off was the choice favoured by most).
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Whereâ€™s the roof?".
The report continues in the second half.
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