The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Does anyone know a good plumber?

7 April 2021

BOTB Diary writes: You can't kill me, I'm too sick to die.

A friend of mine who works in nature conservation once told me of a most remarkable incident. A local farmer sold his land to an environmental organisation for a huge amount of money. When the environmentalists moved in they decided to put in some wooden steps to make access easier to a raised farm track. To their surprise, the farmer appeared and started remonstrating with them and telling them that they had no right to do that. When the new owners pointed out the farmer had sold his land, he replied "I don't care if I've sold it, it's still my land."

I relate this tale to illustrate that such entitled tosswittery can and does exist among the well-to-do. Now, I don't know many people with money, power and influence locally, but I do know one. He told me that the reason Tom Shuteseses's takeover bid failed last time was that Fenty insisted that even if he sold the club, it was essentially still his, and he would still be making the decisions. The person who told me this ought to have known; but of course he may have misunderstood or been misinformed. Anyway, it is essentially back-fence prittle-prattle, but from a very well-placed source. I make no great claims as to its veracity.

So why has the Town takeover taken so long, and why has Shutes shot off? Who knows? The rumours on the messageboards often chime with what I was told years ago, but that doesn't mean they're true. Sherlock Holmes once pointed out, when Watson asked him why he wore such a damnably silly hat, that it was a mistake to theorise until one is in full possession of the facts. One day these facts will emerge, but for now one thing seems obvious. For whatever reason, John Fenty has become the human equivalent of something blocking the sink, causing irritation, expense and inconvenience to all. Or, to put it another way, the personification of Cheltenham Town.

I missed the Easter Monday game but the highlights were interesting. The absence of crowd noise and atmosphere in the stadium was compensated for by the continual screaming and gesticulation of the Cheltenham players whenever a challenge was made. However, I didn't see any of the play-acting or time-wasting a previous incarnation of the team was famous for, so perhaps Cheltenham have made the big step up from 'insufferable wankers' to 'whiny man-babies'. Maybe in a few years they will reach the heights of 'decent sportsmen and human beings', though hopefully it won't matter by then because they will have gone bust.

Oh, hang on, I write for a fanzine, I'm supposed to believe in the 'big friendly family of football'. Good luck for the rest of the season, Cheltenham! Love you!

Readers of a certain vintage - most of you, let's be honest - will remember that in the 1990s there was a craze for VHS videos of football oddities. Usually narrated by Danny Baker and having such names as "Football’s maddest own goals!", "Football's hardest hard-men!" or "When footballer's go mental!", many are still available in charity shop bins and low-quality car-boot sale mud-puddles. 30 years too late, I have come up with another: "Barrow's opponent's maddest defending!"*

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I ranted about the run of good fortune Barrow were having in their steady climb up the table. Firstly, at Cheltenham, there was the curious incident of the goalkeeper who forgot he could use his hands. Then at Crawley, in the last minute, Barrow scored directly from a corner which several Crawley defenders stood and watched as though it was a passing moth and had nothing to do with them. Now - it's happened again! - check out their winner against Newport. A Barrow player takes a feeble free kick straight at the wall, at about waist height. The wall helpfully jumps out of the way thus allowing the ball to bumble into the net.

Congratulations to Barrow for their goal at Colchester this weekend, which had an element of attacking skill involved. That one isn't making the video compilation, but don't worry. I've got enough material.

So, I've had a go at pretty much all my usual targets this week. Have I missed anyone out? Of course I have. The man up the road who has just dug up his lovely lawn and replaced it with some kind of industrial strength cat-litter. The Crewe manager. Forest Green. That's the good thing about being a grumpy malcontent: there's always plenty to talk about. If I was a good-natured optimist, this would have been a very short diary. Something along the lines of "Fenty will leave soon, the takeover is happening, it's mathematically possible to stay up, come on Town, you can still do it!" Indeed, we are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run, which greatly impresses supporters who didn't notice that the league changed it to three points for a win in 1981.

Anyway, hang on to your positive thoughts if you so desire. In the meantime, UTM, Fenty Out, etc. You know the drill. Indeed, if you've met the current Town board, you'll know lots of other tools as well. Hey hey hey! That's a good 'un. Write it down.