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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
The Luck of the Draw: Burnley Report
By: Tony Butcher
A COLD, cloudy afternoon with about 1,000 Burnleyites gathered in shivering groups to keep warm. And sing, which is a lot more than the Towns fans did. Silence in the court of King Georges? Absolutely.
Grimsby Town 2 Burnley 2
04 Jan 2003, FA Cup 3rd Round
About three fans bothered to cheer when the Town players were announced and it took 57 minutes for the Town supporters to raise anything other than the old favourite, the Grimsby Grumble (six teenagers singing "6-5" twice doesnâ€™t count). No atmosphere, no magic in this cup. Vast swathes of the ground were bereft of humanity, it had the aura of a particularly dull pre-season friendly. It was as if those Town fans that were present resented being there.
The pitch was a complex pattern of green and dark brown, especially under the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus, where a tractor was on standby to pull out any unwarily parked motor cars. The players warmed up gingerly, with two Town players espied wearing gloves, messrs Ford and Mansaram. The rest just looked cold, with many a shirt sleeve pulled down over purpling wrists. All in all, it looked like Sunday morning down at the Bradley pitches.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, as shown. No trick line ups or formations today, everyone was in the recognised, bone fide and proper positions, But only if you think Groves should be in midfield, Santos at centre back and Campbell on the left.
The only comic relief was provided by the linesman with the yellow flag, who was surely Dave Boleynâ€™s less attractive, shorter and dumpier brother. Burnley had a starting XI in which no player had a shirt number under 12.
Burnley kicked off towards the Pontoon, retaining possession and absolutely refusing to kick it out of play. They started as they had done in "that" game in October, brightly, with a lot of fluid movement off the ball when attacking. Unfortunately, even after 30 seconds, it was clear that Town were intent on defending exactly like they had done in "that" game, particularly down the left, where Santos and Gallimore took it in turns to watch Blake run away.
Ironically, the first worthwhile effort on goal was from Town. The ball was played up the left to Soamesâ€™ feet. Little Digger Boy quickly turned infield, drifted across the defence and played the ball into space on the left edge of the Burnley penalty area. Cooke, unmarked and perhaps licking his lips, hit a first time right footed half volley which started inaccurately then swung higher and wider, just passing under the far end of the Scoreboard. Ah, the Scoreboard, back working today, with no messages in code, so it was a waste of time bringing that enigma deciphering machine in, wasnâ€™t it.
Burnley attacked, Town panicked. Thatâ€™s the story of the next 20 minutes. Burnley confused Town by passing, then moving, which was not what certain Town defenders wanted to see. So they stopped looking. Within a couple of minutes, Moore had easily turned past Santos on the left edge of the Town penalty area. Santos was barely present, and even he would not attempt to claim his movements constituted a challenge, let alone a tackle. Moore continued on, to be met by Grendel in the shape of Gallimore. Grendel? Well, it is an ancient myth, much like our left back today. Galli was as close and as aggressive as Santos had been two seconds earlier. The programme sellers were more challenging opponents. Moore cut the ball back to a dark haired, moderately built team mate somewhere just beyond the penalty spot. The first time shot was kicked off the line by McDermott, but not completely cleared as the ball kept being passed to Burnley players inside the Town penalty area. Flapping, scrapping, hacking and cackling laughter from the Burnley supporters.
A couple of minutes later a replica movement, the cross stopped only by Grovesâ€™ thigh at the near post. The crowd had long since started to groan, with arbitrary rages at arbitrary targets. In Grimsby we call this support? Oh, a Town attack, Cooke down the right, past his full back, a cross whipping and dipping into the middle of the 6 yard box. Beresford plunged, scooped and dropped the ball, but only at the feet of his own defender. A momentary glimpse of fallibility within the Burnley defence. Town simply did not create, with Coyne, Gallimore and Santos pumping woefully inaccurate long punts upfield. Now you may find this hard to believe, but Big Dave Soames didnâ€™t win every header against his 6 foot 2 inch opponent. Whenever Soames and Mansaram received a pass to their feet interesting things happened, for they tricked and turned at will past the big defenders, particularly Soames, who fizzed around like an effective Daryl Clare. Indeed Soames almost created an opportunity for Campbell by dribbling past three defenders down the left touchline, surging into the area and laying off a short pass to Campbell, 20 yards out. Campbellâ€™s shot slapped against a defender and looped gently to Beresford. If Beresford had nipped off to the Imp for a quick pint it still wouldnâ€™t have gone in, nor even if heâ€™d gone to the Binns sales. But for Town that was a first half highlight.
A brief meeting with a lost Burnley supporter had provided vital pre-match intelligence - that their centre forward, Dimitrios Papadopoulos, known from now on as Mr Pap, had an inner ear imbalance and was thus often unable to remain standing. And so it came to pass that Mr Pap was touched by Santos, the Hand of Cod, and tumbled to earth about 20 yards out, to the left of centre. The Town wall merged reality with fantasy, flowing between solid and gas like one of those plasma clouds that used to attack the Starship Enterprise every sixth episode. Rather than take the easy option of blasting it through the shifting sands of the Town wall, Blake curled it low and slow around it. Coyne easily caught the ball at his near post.
Oh well, I might as well get the pain over with now. Their goals. After about quarter of an hour the inevitable happened, in the inevitable way. A high ball up the middle landed on Mr Papâ€™s chest, about 30 yards out. "Handball" was the Pontoonâ€™s Pavlovian response, with little conviction. The ball bounced off Mr Papâ€™s ribs, over his head and into space. Grant burst through the centre and managed to toe poke the ball past the lunging Groves and Ford. He was free, down the middle and on the edge of the penalty area. As McDermott ran over from the right to cover, Santos slid across from the left to make a heroic clearance....straight to the now unmarked A Moore, on the right edge of the box. A MOORE took the ball forward a stride and caressed it under the leaping Coyne from about eight yards out. Seats tipped up, rages and rancour poured down onto the pitch. "Bring back Oster" shouted someone with desperation and little concern for reality.
Three or four minutes later it got worse. Burnley prodded and probed down the Town left and Blake was allowed to wander and turn freely near the touchline. Santos sauntered over, backed off, backed off and watched Blake reach the corner of the penalty area and turn inside. By now Gallimore had been attracted to the honeypot. And hereâ€™s the sting that follows. Blake made what is now fashionably described as a reverse pass to I Moore, who had simply run around behind Blake. I Moore, unmarked and about 10 yards from the bye-line, carefully crossed into the middle of the goal. Coyne dived out and, from the middle of his 6 yard box, parried the cross out towards the edge of the area. Straight to the unmarked WELLER, who carefully placed a volley down the centre of the goal, the ball hitting McDermottâ€™s shins, then through Coyneâ€™s legs and in. There were few positive suggestions flowing from the Pontoon, let alone kind words of encouragement.
The wails of woe continued as Town descended from a particularly low level of achievement. Coyneâ€™s kicking got worse, and the Town midfield were clearly unable to cope with the forward runs of Burnley players. On a heavy bog, neither Groves nor Coldicott had sufficient speed to keep up with fleet footed scamperers. Now thereâ€™s a surprise. The rest of the half was absolutely terrible, for Burnley stopped. Thatâ€™s the only way to describe it. If they wanted to humiliate Town they could have, as there was no co-ordination or, in some cases, will to succeed in their monochrome opponents. Back passes were under-hit, shoulders shrugged, players left unmarked, runs not made. Stagnant, sour and shocking, this was a poor advertisement for non-league football. Santos, in particular, just didnâ€™t look like he wanted to be playing, epitomised by his early back pass to Coyne, dreadfully casual, awfully weak. Santos turned his back and jogged upfield as Coyne sprinted off his line to hack clear. He had a "so what" aura, conforming to a negative view of the Gallic temperament. There were occasional attacks, with Soames turning on the left edge of the Burnley penalty area, passing sideways to Groves, who swiped a low cross shot to Beresford. Well, it was on target, thatâ€™s something, I suppose. There were other efforts from Town. Mansaram had a couple of long shots (one drawing a contemptuous cheer from the Burnley fans, as it was dragged so far wide of the goal), Groves another, and that was it. Burnley attacked sporadically, but I canâ€™t recall any shots. Really, that was it.
Apart from the obligatory daft refereeing. The high point of farce was surely the awarding of a free kick to Burnley near the police box. The referee indicated it was for a push by Santos. Rubbish. Santos had kicked him up the backside, which is the strangest push Iâ€™ve ever seen. Burnley were confused too as the referee insisted they took it five yards closer to goal than even they thought was the proper position. There were two minutes of added time, which were booed by the crowd as we just wanted it over with. We wanted to go home. Now.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Burnley 2
To attempt to deconstruct this half is an exercise in futility. Town didnâ€™t even deserve the 0, perhaps Burnley 2 Grimsby -2 would have been a fairer scoreline. Our opponents didnâ€™t have to try, and they certainly stopped that after the 18th minute, much to the annoyance of their bellowing manager. It was one of those days when the players should have been paying us to watch them.
And there was still 45 minutes of this trash left. Why canâ€™t we have a power failure?
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Campbellâ€™s back to his rest now that Osterâ€™s gone".
The report continues in the second half.
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