The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

hi hope u doin ok

8 February 2019

The week began with talk of getting Steve Livingstone the testimonial he deserved but was never given. One Town fan shared a decade-old article on social media and, after a flurry of responses, the Grimsby Telegraph raised the profile of this injustice of loyalty further by running its own story on the matter.

Six years ago, your West Yorkshire Diary began a new job in Leeds where I worked with a Bradford fan who’d lived and studied in Grimsby during the mid-90s. At the end of the 1996-97 season he was out celebrating the Bantams’ survival – at the Mariners’ expense, of course. His celebrations began at the Wheatsheaf, where he saw several Town players drowning their sorrows – including Steve Livingstone.

Feeling spirited (and very likely inebriated), my City friend went over to offer his sincere condolences to the Town players. As he approached the table, he explained how Livvo turned round and got up. And kept on getting up, and up, and up. And up.

"The guy was massive!" he said. "I immediately lost my nerve and changed direction, sitting down at the nearest available table and made out that was my plan all along. I never shook his hand."

Well, neither did many of us – and that’s why, after all he gave to the club, a testimonial would be just lovely.

Someone who was given a testimonial but who is spoken of very rarely as a legend – presumably because of the quiet nature with which he went about his business – is Kevin Jobling. His ten-year celebratory match was against Leicester City – the side that gave him his break in football, and the side he scored against in that famous League Cup game of 1997-98. Livvo also played his part in that mega comeback against the cup holders by scoring two goals and (indirectly) hospitalising two players.

It made me wonder what Jobling was up to these days. I never found out because I became distracted by a handful of tweets he’d posted just over nine years ago. They’re short and sweet, but they provide a little insight into the world of a retired footballer.

For years they’ve hung eerily on the internet, largely ignored and forgotten about - possibly never seen. Until now.

Only five tweets exist. They were made across a 24-hour period, between 19 and 20 October 2009, and his first alludes to fragile health:

Footballers of his era were generally considered tough, although I think all us men know that man flu can knock seven bells out of you. A little later on the same day, presumably feeling weak and in need of a hot lemony beverage to sooth his aching joints and blocked sinuses, his attention switches quite dramatically:

Hmm. What’s he up to? He’s not feeling well – we know that – so maybe he’s hoping Leona Lewis can help? Is he trying to get in touch with her, or does he just like tweeting her name? His third tweet fails to sheds more light on the matter:

Now, who’s he talking to here? It could be the Twittersphere, but it’s more likely Leona. Except, she won’t see this. Jobling is grappling with a new social media platform – 2009 makes him a relatively early adopter, it must be said – but, as we know from his playing days, he’s a grafter; a trier; and he’s persistent if nothing else.

Ah, he’s worked it out! We knew he’d get there in the end. It’s grammatically poor in all the areas you’d expect, but his message has finally landed. Judging by the lack of interaction, though, it appears Leona failed to reply. Given that he didn’t tweet again that day, we’re left to assume that he went to bed that night feeling snotty, disappointed and slightly unfulfilled with a Leona Lewis-shaped hole in his heart.

The next day, still tired and unwell, he musters the strength to write one last tweet:

And that’s it. Kevin Jobling’s Twitter account falls silent and we’re left to wonder if he ever did get over his man flu, or whether he managed to check if Leona Lewis was doing ok. Perhaps we’ll never know.

To end the week, fans have been discussing, once again, the merits of a new stadium just off Freemo. A few months back this diary tried to paint a picture of what that might look like, but Hodson Architects have actually brought it to life with a series of images to show how a new ground would totally transform the desolate wasteland the area has sadly become.

They're artist's impressions and, yes, we've seen plenty before that haven't come close to fruition. But we're allowed to dream. This one, more than any other vision, is the one that doesn't just look right; it feels right.

The football club belongs to the community. This new stadium plan puts the club quite physically in the community. It's bold, it's grand, it's exciting and it's bloody sexy. Anyone who can't find a place in their heart to get on board with this vision and do their bit to make it happen clearly lacks an emotion that I thought was driven deep into all who ever said they cared about the town and the football club.

Tomorrow we travel down to Huish Park, Yeovil – a place where Town have yet to taste victory. Indeed, we have only ever scored one goal in three visits there, courtesy of Ashley Sestanovich in December 2004, and none of us need reminding what an absolute clusterfuck of a performance we put in last time we made the trip to Somerset.

Team news: everyone but Elliott Whitehouse is available for selection.

The aggressively-named Craig Breakspear will be the man in the middle tomorrow, and he could be atrocious – just putting it out there. He averages one red card every three games and, since the Mariners are averaging one every four, the ingredients are there for a match that could be decided on an official’s say-so rather than the respective abilities of the two teams competing. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

As always, if you’re making the monumental effort to attend the match, I hope you’re rewarded. UTM!