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Diary - Monday 6 November 2006

6 November 2006

The first thing the Diary learned today was that pau heoheo is a Hawaiian phrase signifying a person who returns from fishing without any fish. A couple of hours later I discovered that Graham Rodger had become a pau heoheo, his spell in charge of the Mariners having ended with 16 points from 17 league games representing something of an empty keep net. Let us look at how Grimsby Town Football Club reports the news.

Graham Rodger has been most loyal and dedicated servant to the Club, which started back in 1992, he has qualities this Club needs, the shame of it is that this man deserved better. Sadly, he has become a victim of circumstances' fallen in his current roll due to the unrelenting pressures and lack of patience that surrounds football.
It is indeed a shame that so loyal and dedicated a servant is given a 'tribute' that reads like it is written by a dyslexic chimpanzee - and the shame deepens when you read between the lines, since the subtext of this drivel seems to be "we don't think sacking him is the right thing to do; we're just doing it because the impatient fans wanted us to". This moral frailty is borne out further as the club's website announces the decision to "relieve the Manager of his current duties": a euphemism as cowardly as it is clich├ęd. Few would argue that Rodger looked like the right man for the job - but if this was John Fenty's conviction, it is sad that the chairman seemingly lacks the courage to go with it. Rodger's temporary replacement Stuart Watkiss becomes Town's fifth manager in two and a half years - a chronic instability of leadership which prompts the Diary to wonder whether the net effect of today's decision may only be to make things worse.

This chop-and-change management policy differs markedly from that in operation at Town's little brother club Scunthorpe United, where Brian Laws has been in charge ever since he was sacked by the Mariners in about 1842, and who are currently sitting third in the third division league table, a record 43 places above GTFC. Laws is unlikely to immediately enter the running to replace Graham Rodger, as he is set to be appointed at Sheffield Wednesday today - but given that managers tend to depart from Hillsborough at the same dizzying regularity with which they are now despatched from Blundell Park, Town may well decide to keep Watkiss on as caretaker for the time being, and then give Laws the job when he gets sacked by Wednesday in two months' time.

Today's events will at least give John Fenty and Dave Otter plenty to talk about when the club chairman is interviewed by his counterpart at Town's supporters' trust next Monday. The head-to-head will be broadcast on Mariners World, reports the OS, with a transcript on the regular site, and the trust is inviting fans to suggest the queries they would like to be put to the chairman. "Questions covering topical subjects such as the new stadium development will be especially welcomed," explains the site, not adding: "Please, just ask about the stadium, and not the culture of administrative complacency and recent sequence of executive decisions that have brought the club to its most desperate circumstances since the introduction of decimal coinage." The club and trust are also planning a joint fans' forum and quiz night at McMenemy's on Tuesday 12 December, so make sure you send your questions to the right email addresses and don't end up asking Fenty what 'Tardis' is an acronym for or which James Bond film starred George Lazenby.

The Cod Almighty mailserver has been groaning under the weight of the two emails sent to the Diary in the hours since Rodger's sacking, with Michael Shelton declaring himself "disappointed but not entirely surprised. I'm sure he had very good intentions, and actually seemed to care, unlike some previous managers. Perhaps after being a player/assistant for so long he found it impossible to command respect from the players, to stop being their mate and start being their boss?" Perhaps so, Mikey - or maybe during his team talks they just couldn't concentrate on what he was saying because they were all mesmerised by the way his eyebrows moved up and down all the time. Mark Dill (or Dillerstone, I suspect), meanwhile, demonstrates that the Diary's ongoing campaign for better communications from the club is grounded in pragmatism rather than pedantry. "The wording of the text from GTFC left me slightly confused," he writes. "Does 'relive the Graham Rodger of his duties' mean he has gone or that we have to suffer it all again?"