Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
The Good Oomens: Willem II Report
By: Tony Butcher
THE aroma of manure pervaded Cleethorpes on a summer night. Tell you more? Tell you more? There must have been a council feeding frenzy on the begonias on Sussex Rec.
The evening was still and warm, bright and lovely: just the sort of day to attract those Tillburg trippers over to play crazy golf on some matt-painted concrete.
Around 1,700 Town fans sauntered into Blundell Park and plonked themselves into Pontoon and Main Stand. There were four people in the Osmond Stand. No, we couldnâ€™t hear the Dutchmen sing.
Town lined up in the 3-4-3 formation as follows : Williams, Whittle, Ramsden, Young, Crowe, Pinault, Fleming, Bull, Parkinson, Tangara and Mansaram. The substitutes were Fraser, McDermott, Hildred, Hockless, Marcelle, Sestanovich, Soames and Wheeler. Who played where? Whittle on the right of the back three, Young on the left, Bull at left wingish back, Crowe at right wingish back, Parkinson on the right up front, Mansaram on the left. Tangara is a big man, but is he in shape?
Willem II played in a curious red and white striped kit with the occasional blue stripe, looking like a sixties pinafore. They seemed to line up in that classic Dutch fluid formation, 4-3-3, and have quite a few players with classic Dutch hair -all Rijkaardian twizzles and twirls. There were a lot names with too many vowels in their team sheet. The scoreboard (new added feature includes a red border) listed their centre forward as Johnny Oomens, did I dream it? They seemed to be sponsored by Interpol.
As the game was about to start, a man with an extravagant comb-over scuttled along the front of the Pontoon.
Willem II kicked off towards the Pontoon. Please donâ€™t wake me, no, donâ€™t shake me, leave me where I am, Iâ€™m only sleeping. They passed it left, right, back, right, left, back, across, across, across, across, across... I will count to three and you will wake up believing you are a housetrained goat in Crumpsall. Continental possession football, tipping, tapping at walking pace. Then whoosh, a long fizzing pass from the hairbanded Koeman-wannabee in the middle of their defence. The pattern was repeated ad infinitum. Town did the same, but without the tippy tappy bits. The back three launched it long, launched it early.
Whittle accidentally whisked the ball off their number 9 as he twirled through the Town penalty area and that was about it for the first few minutes. Pinault started well, being a passer and a tackler, showing some impressive ball skills and vision; dinking and dropping diagonal passes over the full backs, right onto Mansaram and Parkinsonâ€™s toes. Ah, at last a shot. After about 10 minutes Young curled the ball high down the touchline, it dropping at Bullâ€™s feet as he scampered along. Mansaram hurtled infield, collecting the ball in his stride as it bombled off Bullâ€™s shins. Onwards, inwards, shimmying, shammying, Mansaram hit a low shot from about 20 yards. The goalkeeper was way out of his goal and made an extravagant one-handed save, tipping the ball away for a corner. Thatâ€™s tipping the ball away from the invisible goal 6 feet to the right of the real one.
The game perked up a little, with Town players starting to pass regularly in the direction of each other. Tangara nearly won a header, which made the teenagers rise in adulation for the new hero. It is a rather perverse idolatry: why do Grimbarians love a lump of lard? Willem had a free kick, about 20 yards out to the right of goal, which was curled around and over the wall. Williams scampered and plopped on the ball as it flopped towards his right-hand post. And then Williams came off his line a couple of times to collect through balls. And then a catch. Heâ€™s improving.
After about 17 or 18 minutes Town won a corner on the right. Pinault clipped it into the area, with Young stretching and volleying the ball back out to the corner flag. Obviously a routine worked out on the training ground. Pinault coolly caressed the ball, swivelled and glided a perfect low cross into the middle of the penalty area, where PARKINSON headed firmly over and across the â€˜keeper into the right hand side of the net. Ooh, that was nice.
Not much happened in the rest of the half. Town sometimes threatened, but attacks fizzled out when it got to any one of many. Pinault good, Parkinson good, lets draw a veil over many others. Mansaram didnâ€™t do anything we havenâ€™t seen from him before. All arms and legs, a flurry of cheap fizzy water, the bubbles dissipating into the night air. Tangara was Iffy O with slightly more mobility, but less chance of scoring. Ah, poor Terry Fleming. Letâ€™s hope Brigg wasnâ€™t the acme of his Town achievements, the level at which he excels. He gave a cameo of Des-ness. He was there, but not there. On the pitch, but not on the ball, like a Hamilton boiled in water for three days: a shrivelled Des. Young kept miss-kicking and generally panicking at inopportune moments. Whittle didnâ€™t seem to do much, to be barely a presence. I canâ€™t decide whether that was through competence or creaky limbs. Town werenâ€™t unduly threatened by the laid-back Dutchies, who continued to stroke the ball around to very little effect. Had they appointed Alan Van der Buuckleye as manager?
Jason Crowe had a running battle with the left winger, who fell over at the slightest kick up the backside. After some continental slappings and preening the left winger was taken off injured. I think his ego pulled a hamstring, or maybe he had suffered an emotional disturbance the night before. Bull was similarly uncomplicated in his approach to technical excellence, legging up the other winger whenever those saucy Hollanders passed.
Iâ€™m not mentioning shots, there werenâ€™t many. I canâ€™t remember Town having any more. Mansaram was released down the left and crossed into the goalieâ€™s arms, there were a couple of headers, or sort of nearly headers, and a few crosses. Nothing tangible from Tangara. A Dutch bloke tried a snap shot from 20 yards which skipped past Williamsâ€™ right hand post. There were another couple of long shots which didnâ€™t even disturb the resting seagulls. And thatâ€™s it from them, apart from the disallowed goal. Right on half time the referee gave them a free kick because they cried, 15 yards out on the Town right, just outside the penalty area. The ball was curled in, the big twizzly haired number 7 was unmarked 8 yards out in the centre. He headed down firmly and Williams zoomed across to his left and parried the ball off the line. The Big Number 9 ambled across and tapped the ball in from a couple of yards out. Offside, disallowed, cue lots of extravagant gestures and running of hands through extravagant hair.
It was boring. We had to content ourselves with minor moments of magic from Pinault, a silky, steely craftsman. We particularly loved his pass to the right whilst ostentatiously looking and pointing to his left.
The report continues in the Second Half.
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