The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

I threw your stupid postcard in the trash

16 April 2019

From time to time your original/regular Diary sees a thing which makes me think¸well, that's it now, the football is over. Some, but by no means all, of these things are given in the following list.

• the introduction of the Premier League
• the relegation of Wimbledon from the Premier League
• the inclusion of Premier League B teams in the Football League Trophy
• Manchester City 'rebranding' their reserve team as "the Elite Squad"
• Manchester City's supporters club joining a legal challenge to financial fair play regulations
• Manchester City announcing a sponsorship deal for a company to become their Official Car Battery Partner for Thailand
• the introduction of VAR
• pundits on Match of the Day criticising players for not cheating
• Richard Scudamore's £5million parting gift from Premier League clubs
• Richard Scudamore
• the Elite Player Performance Plan allowing Premier League clubs to nick everyone else's decent young players in exchange for 'compensation' packages amounting to roughly 17p and a bag of dry roasted peanuts
• the award of a penalty kick being deemed an appropriate official response to this:

I could, you will not be surprised to hear, go on. And every right-minded fan will have examples of their own – moments when you think the game has died. But look around you and we're all still here. Cherry blossom adorns branches, spring is just about sprung, there's nothing left to play for, and we're turning out for the game regardless.

Sometimes I wonder whether the "well, that's it then" response is not, in fact, exactly the what the Scudamores of this world would like us to feel. Just as in politics, the Conservative Party benefits the most from a general sense that everything is terrible forever and nothing can change (why else would they be the party that never encourages you to register to vote?), so in football the people responsible for beggaring the grassroots are the ones who want you to give up any belief that things might be different and better.

But the worst is not inevitable. Game 39 did not become a thing. Sepp Blatter was overthrown. English professional football has not admitted a second franchise club. Hell, even the England men's team now seems full of likeable young faces doing the best they can, and who'd have thought that possible when the Golden Generation were plumbing the depths? Sure, things are worse than they were, but nothing is irretrievable. It's not the everything or nothing of our binary think-habit: it's always moving around somewhere in between, and the direction is not fixed forever.

On that message of implausible hope, let's turn to the prospects for future improvement at Blundell Park, or as they're sometimes called, the youth team. A Town under-18 side took on their counterparts from Huddersfield the other day and walloped them 5-1. I know! Huddersfield! A club that's still in the Premier League for about another fortnight.

As academy coach Adam Smith points out on his team's website (and I feel fairly certain Adam is writing and publishing those reports himself), the squad even included four under-16s, three of whom started the game. Yes, I suppose if Brandon McPherson follows through on his promise then there's every chance that he'll get scooped up by Watford for 17p and a bag of dry roasted peanuts, but for now just enjoy this.

Some of the same players get another crack this afternoon when Town reserves take on Notts County at Cheapside. Don't give up, and maybe they won't either.