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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Midnight Cowboys: Morecambe Report
By: Tony Butcher
YOU know, Grimsby looks great in the dark. A still evening with a suggestion of a chill, the Dock Tower winking through the haze, ships gliding by, oblivious to the gathering of the groovers. Forty five Shrimps, eleven hundred blimps: a fantastic crowd for a reserve game
Town lined up in a 4:4:2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, Ramsden, Crane, Whittle, Heggggarty, Francis, Barwick, Toner, Cohen, Gritton and Slade. The substitutes were Palmer, Chamberlain, Higgins, North and Ashton. So thatâ€™s just 3Â½ first teamers and a rickety-rackety hotch-potch of pot-pourri making up the numbers. Hang on there, matey - Hegggggarty at left back? Gritton partnered Slade the Twig in a forward line long on hair, short on lifetime achievement. The Twig was wearing Cohenâ€™s hair, as was Cohen, which confused many of the millions gathered together in the strange land that is the Findus/Stones/Smiths stand. Why do they have yellow lines painted on the floor of the toilets? Do they have stewards stationed there at half time to warn people not to stand on the lines "for safety reasons"? Or is that just their excuse, officer?
Morecambe trundled around in nice red shirts with some curiously shaped bodies. Bentley, the big number five, was big in the old-fashioned sense, matching Crane inch for inch, girthly speaking. He looked like "security": I half expected him to walk out with an ear-piece and walk off with a piece of Grittonâ€™s ear. And he was wearing a family-sized touring tent with dividers for privacy and running water. Ooh look, they have a minipop Alan Biley amongst their subs.
Is Peter Stringfellow playing?
Oh, do we have to start? I was counting the lights on the ferry. My spoon bent when I stirred my hot chocolate, just like a Kingsley Black free kick.
Morecambe kicked off towards their supporters...thatâ€™s it, Iâ€˜ve finished reading the programme. Whatâ€™s going on out there? Why is Serpico in the Upper Stones/Smith/Findus? Why do kids think 1974 was a fashion statement? Hey boys and girls: not enough brown.
Yes you did miss something whilst you were thinking about Jack Lewisâ€™s sideburns. Twiggy flicked, Gritton picked his way around the lumbering old Bentley parked in the Morecambe driveway, spivvled and wivvled past another and lampooned a curling shot wide from 20 yards. Francis was easing down the right, perfecting his Transit Stan impression: waddling like the pencil-moustachioed Master of Hubris. Morecambe carved like a juicy chicken; Gritton the two-pronged fork, Cohen the slivering knife, slicing thinly. Breast or leg? Ah, somebody forgot the stuffing.
Twiggy pursued a chipple down the right and wiggled past Howard as he tried to shepherd the ball out. Slade twisted along the bye-line and tapped the ball against the goalkeeper, the ball ballooning away for a corner. When Town players moved the sun shone and the Morecambe petals opened. Did anyone want to pluck some pollen?
Have they had the ball yet? They have now: Townâ€™s defence a flying V guitar strapped around Mildenhallâ€™s neck. Power chords are for stadium rock, but this is an acoustic set for a small crowd of waiters in a cocktail bar. Crane was way out of position, playing offside in a game three weeks ago, allowing the great white shark that was their centre forward to shuffle goalwards. Heggggggarty dashed across and managed to disturb Oâ€™Connor, who stumbled and poked a shot at Mildenhall from near the penalty spot. The Big M threw himself forward and managed to parry the ball upwards. Oâ€™Connor, the goal a-gaping, nodded and placed the ball a few inches wide of the left hand post.
Iâ€™ve just realised, no Gliding Glen. We all know that the mature man needs a mature whiskey: Glen Downey, available at your local off licence this Christmas whilst stocks last.
Twiggy had had a fine ten minutes, linking well with Gritton, trying to play football. It looked nice anyway. Town still had the upperest of hands, stringing together passes and ripping them apart when players remembered it was a competitive match and moved their legs. Cohen burst through an imaginary gap on the left and teasled a lovely cross into the centre of the penalty area. Gritton, unmarked, leapt up, waved his underwear at Hull and tried a spectacular sideways scissor kick. He shinned the ball across goal where a defender walloped it against Slade, it rebounding off wide of the left-hand post.
If a convoy moves at the pace of the slowest ship this game is the Lusitania. Is time slower in the Beer and Fish Fingers Stand? I should have stayed at home and spun some plates.
Ah, Crazy Legs, crazy mind. Crane, a distant memory for Whittle, and a little Shrimp scuttled free down the centre right. The ball bounced, Mildenhall, summoning his cosmic powers and glowing slightly from his toes, rushed out and caught the alleged lob. They were alright given time and space. Let there be less light for them, eh.
Ah, better: Francis bouncing three red cheeses off his platter and plotting a cunning plan through the centre of their defence. Gritton got off his double decker and burbled past the centre backs, from left to right, inside the box, pinging across the keeper and wide. Repeat action five minutes later but on the other side. No I donâ€™t mean he had a sÃ©ance, searching for his long lost, dear departed scoring form, but on the right hand side of the pitch. Knock twice if you can hear me, Parky.
Half an hour gone, Slade off, head clobbered, dazed and confused. Settle down at the back and write a thousand word essay on the spatial awareness of cows and their relationship to Tony Craneâ€™s banjo.
Some more minutes passed and three more ships sailed by, plus one train, five cars, four gulls and a paper bag. Or is that a description of Town?
Hegggggarty, at last, made an error, under-hitting a back header. Mildew strode out of his area and bazoomed the ball towards the Dock Tower. Gritton lurked as the ball dropped inside the Morecambe penalty area. He missed it, the goalie caught it: thatâ€™s all. It seemed interesting at the time, compared to the huggery and skulduggery that was passing for passing. The Morecambers were gradually starting to pull at the seams with Townâ€™s midfield a higgledy-piggledy mess: too flat, too sharp; everywhere and nowhere; within you and without you. Urgh.
There were shots from Town; there was pressure when somebody decided to bother enough for a bit. Was this an injury-avoidance scheme weâ€™d wandered into? A Town corner was half cleared to Toner, who wellied the ball back towards the centre right of the goal. Cohen, fifteen yards out, flicked his tousled head and diverted the ball towards the bottom left-hand post. Robinson changed direction and superbly saved one-handed low down, the ball tantalisingly spinning on the goal-line. The windmills of Townâ€™s mind spun, but not their legs; the goalie retrieved and was given a little hair ruffle by his mates. Thatâ€™s a ruffle of his hair, not a ruffle in his hair, letâ€™s be clear about this. We canâ€™t have everything, can we.
Drifting by, a little cloud of doubt accompanied the steam from McMenemyâ€™s kitchen: more shots from Town, but hardly a save to make for the keeper. That sucker is about to punch. There were two minutes of added time and in the fifteenth of those minutes Morecambe penned Town back with some old possession football. From right to left and back again, probing, waiting for someone to fall asleep. Hah, so many options. The ponytailed right back advanced, received the ball and was left with just Hegggarty in front of him. Heggy took a stride forward, Blackburn knocked the ball to his right and ran around the oddly-selected left back on the other side, using his biceps and biplanes to rid himself of this pesky oik. Whittle came across, Blackburn crossed and LLOYD, about eight yards out, scoopled the ball across the face of goal and in. After two touches, that was half time.
You wanna know how Town played? I am making the noise of an exasperated horse, and so should you. At times they cantered forward with gay abandon, seemingly about to start the riot; at others they barely seemed bothered, the closer to the first team the less the inclination to allow the possibility of contact with the human race. Slade looked like a good footballer, a bit weak, and very capable of not scoring. Oh, I forgot - he volleyed the ball over when unmarked, being on the end of a long flowing move involving just about everyone in the ground, including the snack bar lady with the geyser supplying the water. Hegggggggarty had a decent half, apart from the goal, of course, and when he brought down the Great White Shark inside the Town penalty area whilst whistling a happy tune. His crosses were very well flighted and always caused problems. I shall be kind about the rest of the outfield players. More tea vicar?
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Work makes chips."
The report continues in the Second Half.
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