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Cod Almighty | Diary

When does the cricket season start?

17 March 2017

Retro Diary writes: With Town now nestled in the division's lower mid-reaches and biorhythms at a fairly low ebb, we should perhaps take a few moments to look at events elsewhere. Last weekend, the last remaining lower division clubs exited the FA Cup, taking all the interest with them.

There was a treat on offer at the Emirates, where we witnessed the biggest and loudest public display of "Grimsbyitis" ever seen, which was all rather pleasing. That the Lincoln fans can't see that by doing that, they hoist their insecurity right to the top of the mast, is hilariously naïve. If Town ever play at the Emirates, I like to think that Arsenal will be the team that we're describing in song as "fucking shit". If we're even thinking about Lincoln City at that point, I’ll consider something has gone seriously wrong.

The Lincoln players' interviews after the game showed a little bit too much sycophancy for my liking. Even our hero Nathan Arnold made it sound like it had been a privilege just to be breathing the same air as Arsenal’s players, even though Lincoln held them at bay quite admirably for the first 40-something minutes, and Nathan himself came close to scoring an opener. Pink-clad keeper Paul Farman, despite having just let in five in the biggest game of his life, came off the pitch wearing a grin as wide as the Humber, because he'd managed to get opposite number Petr Cech to give him a signed shirt. If I was a Lincoln fan, I might have taken that as an indication he was a bit too interested in hero worship, and not quite interested enough in winning.

Arsenal's neighbours Tottenham went one better against Millwall, as Lions' keeper Tom King let the ball straight through his body into the net with the final kick of the match, for goal number six. If you thought you recognised the hapless keeper, you are right; he's the guy who flopped tamely out of the way of Podge's nervous, scuffed penalty at Braintree in the play-offs – he was on loan from Millwall at the time. We may never know how much we owe that bloke. So there you go: I give you Tom King – Town legend.

Wimbledon v Bastard Franchise Scum programme

At Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night, AFC Wimbledon played somebody. We know they played somebody, because they won 2-0. The club's twitter feed managed to go the whole evening without mentioning the name of the opposition a single time. Also, while the Football League stipulates that the home club in every league match must produce a programme, there’s apparently no rule which says it has to mention who you are playing.

Wimbledon fans gave us the clue we needed, by singing "Where were you when you were us". But I'm buggered if I'm going to name the opposition either, if I don't have to.

After all the goodwill we poured on Orient last week, they sank further into the relegation mire by getting thrashed 5-0 at Accrington on Tuesday, while we were also being thumped. For Orient fans, extreme worry has now turned to gallows humour, like this, from the last Orientear:

Orient wordsearch

And I can't believe it’s taken this long to mention Cleethorpes Town. As you read yesterday courtesy of Middle-Aged Diary, it's do or die time for the Owls tomorrow, as they take on the oddly-named Bromsgrove Sporting at the Bradley Community Stadium for a place at Wembley. In case you've been living in a cave, the scores are level at 1-1 from the first leg. With Town at home too, it's interesting to ponder which game will rob fans from the other. Quite possibly, and for many reasons, neither may notice.

As a Croft Bakerling myself, it is with a deep sense of guilt that I can't find it in myself to get behind Cleethorpes Town with more enthusiasm. Maybe it's the "Owls" bit that makes them sound too much like Sheffield Wednesday. Or maybe I just don't want to be one of those people who supports two teams - especially ones who could conceivably play each other, however many divisions they currently sit apart. Or maybe the simple truth is that Clee as a club, although their recent achievements have been astonishing, are still below that size threshold where football becomes really rewarding for a fan. Clee Town have fans, of course, and they plainly don't think like that; it is, I am sure, because they're better, more rounded, grounded human beings than me.

Maybe Clee will rise and rise until we have to re-examine our relationship with them, rather like Cambridge had to with Histon. But we're not there yet, and we all naturally send our siblings Platonic "go on!" vibes through the ether from Blundell Park. Maybe when they get to Wembley the love for Cleethorpes will finally hit.

For us it's Crawley. We kind of hope that a straightforward victory against the team from Sussex's brutalist underbelly will set us back on a course of contented indifference.

It doesn't surprise me that Marcus described Town's team as "mentally tired" and the defence as "out on their legs" on Tuesday night. Of course professional footballers can technically play Saturday-Tuesday without being tired. They've always done it. But this same thing happens every year about this time. It's always the game after something has either been given up, or achieved. It can be the game after we finally realise that top spot in the Conference is beyond us. Or it can be the game after the one where we cement our place in the play-offs. This year it was the game after we hit 50 points. In that game, every year, we play with legs of lead, and lose. This year, however, the dodgy formation thing added a weird variable to the mix, which is a bit hard to disentangle from the background pattern.

Hey ho. I'm putting to the back of my mind what happens if we start next season badly. It's all a long way off and summer's coming, so let's not worry about it now. Come on then Crawley [sigh], let’s see what you've got.

For us? Our injury/team news isn't coming out until this afternoon, and has therefore beaten your faithful diary. Although there's only one Gavin Gunning, there’s still two of everyone else, so Gavin's probably still better sitting down.

For them, ever-dangerous, popular ex-Mariner Matt Harrold is back in contention after injury.