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Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Dead Cat Bounce: Palace Report
By: Tony Butcher
A clear, blue sky, a simmering sun, and an empty ground with an empty feeling deep inside, oh yeah, greeted about 200 Palace fans on their last visit to Cleethorpes. Eventually some Town fans turned up and haphazardly placed themselves in seats, like Town defending a corner.
Grimsby Town 1 Crystal Palace 4
13 Apr 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Santos was soon spotted wearing a very natty frock coat and trendy spectacles receiving a bottle of champagne. So he was out then. The lovely sparkling hair of Richard Hughes was nowhere on view, so the Mediterranean gigolo look was absent from midfield. Had we anyone left? Ah, yes, that old bloke from the black and white pictures, Chettle. Only the older fans remember him. Even Terry "third messiah from the right" Cooke has played since Chettle last did. My, we are down to the scrapings at the bottom of that antique barrel found at the back of the boardroom.
Croudson was again leaping around in the pre-match kick-a-bout, with a cheery, hearty gusto that contrasted with the dutiful meanderings of his fellow Mariners. The mood was not lightened by Dave Boylenâ€™s forlorn failure at whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Someone, somewhere "wayheyed" with him. It was probably his cousin. Or his tailor.
Town lined up in the fansâ€™ favourite, 4-4-2 formation, as shown. No substitute goalkeeper, and loads of forwards on the bench, so just think of all those juicy attacking options. You have, and theyâ€™re dehydrated.
Palace lined up in an all white kit with a blue and red diagonal stripe. Very nice. Jogging Danny B trundled up to fit snugly into a right back position, and was given the traditional mixed reception, a few boos, a few cheers, and a lot of apathy.
Town kicked off towards the Osmond Stand and nobody can remember anything that happened in the first five minutes. End of season hackings, with the occasional fancy flick from those with expiring contracts. But one thing was soon clear, that the tiny Palace right winger, Routledge, was extremely quick and very tricky. Hold that thought, we shall be returning to it later.
Within the first 10 minutes, Palace had a shot, which went near, but not interestingly close in the context of what followed. Adebola and Whelan linked up and were supported by midfielders running past them. The Town defence seemed shocked and stunned by such tactics and, collectively, held the back of their hands to their foreheads and fainted.
Oi, you over there, pay attention. Town attack. Town should score. After 10 minutes, Butterfield set up Boulding with a delightful pass to feet and off went the scamp down the left, beating one defender, then another. When near the bye-line Boulding crossed low into the centre of the goalmouth whereupon Campbell popped up from behind a strategically placed lamppost, slid forward and sliced the ball out for a throw in. Yes, a throw in. Palace continued their occasional visits to the Town penalty area, with another couple of shots wobbling towards the Pontoon. The nearest was when a corner was allowed to travel without a passport to Butterfield, about 10 yards out, who swung a half volley a couple of feet past Coyneâ€™s near post. Routledge was still pestering Gallimore, twisting, turning and crossing without impediment. After about quarter of an hour, Town should have scored. A half clearance fell to Campbell, 30 yards out, right in the centre. He dinked a first time pass over the top to the unmarked Keane, who knocked the ball out to the right, belted into the box and hammered a shot across goal and a foot or so wide of Kolinkoâ€™s left hand post. With the Town fans chuntering to themselves about that miss, Palace attacked down the Town left. Nothing special, barely an attack. Just the start of a move, with the ball being played at chest height towards the corner. Gallimore, about 30 yards out, raced across and chested the ball infield to....no-one. A huge space inhabited by no humans had suddenly appeared right in the middle of the Town half . Gallimore ran, or what counts as running in his mind, towards the ball but Routledge sprinted forward, surged past the non-existent left back and bore down on Coyne, right down the centre. ROUTLEDGE steadied himself and, from just inside the penalty area, fractionally to the left of centre, hooked a shot across Coyne and into the right hand side netting. Now Mr Keane, thatâ€™s the way to do it. As the ball hit the net, Routledge disgraced himself with a celebration that taunted the Pontoon, who had hitherto not seemingly made any noise or gestures towards him. He kept repeating two words, which eventually were repeated back to him, with even the most mild mannered janitor backing the sentiment.
The goal ended the contest right there. For the Town fans slumped into silence and some of the players disintegrated, figuratively, if not literally. At one point Bolder touched the ball, which was unusual, but ineffective. Campbell. Who? Why? McDermott made a couple of forays down the right, but was crowded out before anything came of them. Keane, donâ€™t bother. Huffs, scuffs and points produced nothing. The crowd chanted "Keano, Keano", and he ran around, occasionally clattering opponents, and generally inviting referees to book him. And eventually, after 30 minutes, the yellow card was flicked towards him. He slid through Mullins with a heavy, late challenge. The referee awarded Palace a fee kick, but Mullins got up, shoved Keane in the back and then the squat, less calm Pouton-a-like elbowed the Palace midfielder. There was a melee, a fracas and a rumble as players raced across to "negotiate" and eventually both instigators were booked. At least it made a few kids happy to see a playground scrap.
Palace got better and better, as their confidence grew and Townâ€™s, well, didnâ€™t. Palace shredded Town on the break, with Adebola rolling around defenders at will. Twice breaking into the penalty area down their left and creating pandemonium where previously there was only chaos. After about 35 minutes, Adebola barged his way through several challenges down their right, sucking Town defenders into his wake. The ball was laid off to Routledge, who danced his way past his marker zoomed into the area and crossed beyond the far post. Gray, unmarked, headed back across goal to WHELAN, about four yards out in the middle, who nodded softly past Coyne. A few souls raged, many sighed.
A minute later Palace attacked down their right, Adebola...oh, just read the last paragraph again. Some Town defender or other managed to get a foot in and knock it sideways. Keane, about a dozen yards out and wide of goal made a last ditch hacking clearance straight across the face of the goal to GRAY, who controlled the ball with his orange slippers, and whacked it under Coyne and in. Town players sank to their knees, some Town fans exploded with rage and there was a huge argument in the Pontoon, with a lot of finger pointing, as the dying embers of hope fizzled out. Town managed to get worse after that, fortunately Palace players wanted to show off. There were a couple of longish stoppages in which Town players were seen standing around in a daze, with only McDermott and Groves trying to encourage and lift. Gallimore was alone, very alone, hands on hips, staring at the floor, motionless. A man stripped bare, contemplating his own failings and inabilities. He would have been better off chasing that elusive butterfly of love. It could have been worse you know, for McDermott decided to play basketball inside the Town penalty area, the handball so obvious Ford appealed for the penalty. The referee took pity, which was nice of him.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Crystal Palace 3
It was as bad as you think it was. It was the end of the first division world as we know it. Large elements of the crowd were baying for the introduction of Cooke. Yeah, of course, do you think the Russians would have invaded Afghanistan if Terry Cooke had been on the right wing? And Livvo would have to kill three â€˜keeperâ€™s at this rate. I canâ€™t lie to you about our chances, but we had the refereeâ€™s sympathy
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"I have more wood than you could shake a tree at".
The report continues in the second half.
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