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Your day-by-day glance at the goings-on at and around Town.
Friday 31 January
It seems that Steve Livingstone may now have to swallow the red card we all wanted to stick up Mr Clattenburg's back passage. What a lovely image. GTFC have decided to give up on an appeal against the sending-off, rather than waste any more of their precious breath arguing the toss with the fatuous tit. The club had spoken to the officially stupid official about his decision, but he sat with his fingers in his ears shouting "La la la la la not listening la la la la", until everyone went away.
Anyone reading this Diary entry on their laptop from their snowbound car on the M11 might be wondering whether tomorrow's match at Fratton Park is going to go ahead. There's no official news as yet, but Cod Almighty does have an on-the-spot reporter in Portsmouth, who can reveal that there is "bright sunshine on the South coast", and that the "game will be on, no probs". He does go on, however, to inform us that it is also "fucking cold", so the Diary's advice is to pop down to Millett's and buy a pair of thermal longjohns. Whether or not the Applebys Marinermobile can make it down to Portsmouth on time is another matter...pack up your shovels in your old kitbags, boys.
Should tomorrow's game go ahead, Paul Groves will have more than one option of how to line the team up: Georges Santos (described earlier this week by a colleague as 'Thantoth the Collothuth') is now recovered from being hamstrung; news is that Galli and Macca are also back; and there is the possibility of Darren Barnard recovering from an ankle injury in the nick of time. Of the opposition, Portsmouth will be missing Gianluca Festa, Arjan De Zeeuw and Steve Stone. Well, let me fetch my violin - the club Shirley Bassey might have been singing about still have around a million fit players, including new boy Tim Sherwood, who we can only hope has a stinker of a debut.
The Portsmouth Rivals website, meanwhile, has surprised the Diary by giving the Mariners some credit: "Grimsby are a proud, if modest, club," it states, "who have defied the odds to maintain first division football at Blundell Park and they are written off lightly at any club's peril". Damn, they're not underestimating us. Still, Grovesie knows a thing or two about psychological warfare, as shown in his interview on the official site. "Portsmouth are ace!", he says, "They should beat us easy - eight nil, at least. We don't have a bloody hope of winning, you know". Ha ha! Eat that, Portsmouth!
Thursday 30 January
When you opened your curtains this morning it might have made you say: "Awww - innit pretty!" It might even have given you a reason not to go to work. But the heavy snow that has enveloped most of the country overnight has also cast a doubt over Town's visit to Portsmouth this Saturday. The south coast has not escaped the blizzard conditions, and the Diary's favourite weather forecaster says more is in store for the weekend. Watch this space - and Cod Almighty will bring you the latest updates as soon as we can crib them from other sites.
A defiant Steve Livingstone is still aiming to give the elbow to the red card he received in last Saturday's defeat against Bradford - despite the stupid son of a bitch who sent him off refusing to review his dumbass decision. So convinced is Town's target man of his moral rectitude that he will lodge an appeal with the FA in a bid to escape a three-match ban, notwithstanding the minimal prospect of success. "There's no sign of me throwing an elbow at [filthy diving cheat Robert Molenaar]," Livvo tells today's Grimsby Telegraph, "but referees very rarely change their minds and I didn't expect him to."
Grist to the mill of those Grimbarian pessimists who insist that Town are going to the dogs comes in the club's latest fund-raising auction. After selling off everything stashed away in the bowels of Blundell Park - from an autographed Leicester City pennant to Jason Gavin's shirt - the cash-strapped club is now offering a Grimsby Town dog coat to the highest bidder. Who said Town couldn't hold a lead?
The team coach carrying Town's reserve team encountered a shimmering, amorphous blue light across the carriageway of the A161, shortly after leaving the M180 en route to a hastily-arranged friendly at Barnsley this afternoon. The mysterious glow on the road turned out to be a time portal, transporting the second string and their transport back to yesterday afternoon and utterly confusing the Diary as to which tense it should write in. Continuing to Oakwell, Paul Wilkinson's team managed goals from trialists Ricky Allaway and the Quiet American Jake Sagare, but lost the match 3-2, clearly disorientated by their freakish temporal experience and an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation.
Wednesday 29 January
Steve Livingstone's quest for a new contract will not be helped by today's news that he faces a three-match ban after 'referee' Mark Clattenberg refused to review the red card he flashed at the player last weekend. Livvo was sent off, as you probably know by now, for waving his arm in the direction of Bradford's Robert Molenaar, who promptly did a Rivaldo; but the bungling or possibly corrupt match official has told the Mariners: "I am happy with my decision." And Martin Pringle's broken leg, Clattenberg? You still happy about that? What a prick.
GTFC reserves - a.k.a. next month's first team - are hit with yet another postponement, as today's match against Hull has been called off after yet more wet weather in the Humber region. The second string will instead travel to Barnsley tomorrow for a friendly. Coincidentally - or perhaps not - the Yorkshire club's Oakwell stadium is sited on an ancient burial ground for victims of the Black Death, whose restless spirits, it is said, haunt the ground to this day, visiting plague and injury on all those who tread upon their unmarked mass grave. It's true - just ask Kev Donovan.
Town fans buying tickets for the home game with Stoke on 8 February could be kept on their toes by another crafty quiz thing devised to prevent away supporters getting into the Ponny. The Staffordshire club has apparently introduced some daft membership scheme, and only fans who have signed up can purchase tickets for away games. Thousands of Stokies, quite understandably, cannot remotely be arsed and now prefer instead to sit with home fans. The Diary suggests that ticket buyers simply be asked which county Grimsby is in, since it is a scientifically verified fact that everyone in the world who isn't from Grimsby or Cleethorpes believes the answer to be Yorkshire.
West Ham's Grant McCann, who spent some time on trial with the Mariners last close season, has signed for Cheltenham on a two-and-a-half year contract. Paul Groves tried to take the Northern Ireland midfielder on loan following his trial, only to be told that Hammers boss Glenn Roeder didn't want to let him go - only for the player to then go on loan to the Gloucestershire club a week or two later. Still, what more can you expect from a man who let Paulo di Canio limp hopelessly around a pitch for over an hour because he was too scared to sub him off.
Tuesday 28 January
Seismic midfield presence Georges Santos is set to return to the Town team for this Saturday's pasting at Portsmouth after recovering from the hamstring injury that has kept him out of action for the last month. That's the lead story in today's Grimsby Telegraph, which adds that suddenly competent left-back Darren Barnard will be a doubt for the trip south; although first-choice full-backs Tony Gallimore and John McDermott are also expected to return.
Town fan James Smith, who won the chance to have a match report published in the Telegraph in our Fans' Day prize draw, has a match report published in the Telegraph today. You can read it by clicking here. Congratulations, James; and thanks once again to everyone who helped Cod Almighty raise over £2,000 for the club through Fans' Day. You totally rock.
Sports minister Richard Caborn - the one who doesn't actually know anything about sport - has reasserted the Government's extremist neo-liberal economic policy by reminding Nationwide League clubs plunged into destitution by the scurrilous villainy of Carlton and Granada that they can expect no charity from him. "We are not in the business of going in to rescue any business, be it pits or steelworks," quotes the minister from his copy of 101 Great Quotations of Margaret Thatcher, "and football is no different." Er, and railways...?
Monday 27 January
A furious Steve Livingstone is to appeal against the red card he received in the weekend's defeat against Bradford, reports BBC Humber Sport. "There was no way I should have been sent off," argues the lumbering striker, dismissed on Saturday for swinging an arm at Robert Molenaar, who responded by impersonating a large bag of starchy root vegetables. The player goes further in today's Grimsby Telegraph, declaring himself "cheated" and "disgusted" with the Bradford defender.
Livvo claimed in a Radio Humberside interview before the match that he won't be able to concentrate fully on his game until the club offers him a new deal. In fact it was probably only the uncertainty and frustration stemming from the impending expiry of his contract that made him whack Molenaar. Hey, if you're reading, Steve, you can quote that to the FA.
For his part, Paul Groves is paying tribute to Arsene again rather than give immediate backing to Livvo over the red-card incident. The taciturn Town top man tells today's Telegraph: "There was somebody in the way. I'll have to view the video...well, actually I think the video's broken, so I can't...erm...ooh, look - a Porsche!"
Ricky Allaway may sound like the next winner of Pop Idol, but he is actually a six-foot-two defender and twin brother of Town's on-loan keeper Shaun Allaway, and is also on trial at Blundell Park this week, being no longer in the employ of Reading FC. Sharing the spotlight with Ricky tonight, ladies and gentlemen, would you please give a warm welcome to Arnaud le Francois, a foreign gentleman! A 20-year-old centre-half, le Francois has appeared for Caen, Rennes and Sedan in the French league. Oh, and there's another Aussie player there as well. Oooh, and three promising 16-year-olds from Halifax Town. Which is very nice of Halifax Town, isn't it.
The recently formed Grimsby Town Supporters Trust has announced an agreement to do stuff with the club, following discussions with Town directors and chairman Peter Furneaux. "We look forward to the official formation of the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust," says Mr F, "and will certainly be interested to hold further discussions in the future." The trust is to be launched officially on 9 March.
John Oster's mercurial run of form while on loan with Town in November and December has earned him a recall to Mark Hughes' latest Wales squad. Rah! The little fella is joined in the party for the principality's home friendly against Bosnia on 12 February by his loan teammates Danny Coyne and the nouveau-good Darren Barnard.
And finally, the Diary would like to say thank you to its girlfriend for the yummy vegetable lasagne eaten during the writing of today's Diary. It's true - Italians do do it better.
Saturday 25 January
Town lose 2-1 at home to a rubbish Bradford team, thanks entirely to three match officials who are to football what woodworm are to wood. Michael Boulding puts the Mariners ahead after 15 minutes or so from a wonderfully angled first-time ball by Terry Cooke, but then concede twice after Steve Livingstone is sent off just before half time because of Robert Molenaar diving like a twat. Chris Bolder makes his first start for GTFC but it is Paul Groves, alongside him in midfield, who steals the show with a towering I've-still-got-it-in-me performance. The Diary will leave Mr Tony Butcher to number the referee's infinite flaws; suffice it for the moment to point out that he is the same useless article who failed even to book Dave Challinor for breaking Martin Pringle's leg last season, and he was even worse today.
The second-choice "mystery loan target" Groves was chasing this week after his fruitless pursuit of convicted burglar Curtis Woodhouse turns out to be Junior Lewis, whose spectacular failure at Leicester has resulted in an equally spectacular career nosedive for the man who signed him, Peter Taylor. The Foxes couldn't wait to get rid of the player, but he has turned down the move in favour of continuing to sit on his arse in the midlands for £15,000 a week. Sod you, then, Lewis. You're crap anyway.
Friday 24 January
Eyebrow-raising if not exactly defence-worrying news from BBC Humber Sport, which reckons Town's big lump of raw firepower Steve Livingstone "says" he's about to be offered an extension to his soon-to-expire contract. What the story glaringly lacks is a quote from Livvo in which he "says" it, but hey. Any new deal for the increasingly statuesque frontman, incidentally, would entitle him to a testimonial, as the player's career-defining move to Blundell Park was way back in 1993.
Town's loan move for Birmingham midfielder Curtis Woodhouse - who is now set to join Rotherham instead - foundered on the rocks of personal reasons, says Mr Groves. We don't have a quote from him in which he says it, because it's in an audio interview on the official site, and the Diary's sound card has been disconnected by a West Brom supporter who works for Carlton TV; so I'm just rewording it from an email sent by a helpful Diary reader. Anyway. Town have agreed a loan for another midfielder with his club and if the player's up for it then he'll get a game tomorrow, but at the time of writing (12:37pm) nobody outside the club seems to know who it is. Coo.
If the new loan doesn't go through, then the prophesy of our mates at the BBC may come to pass - namely that young midfielder Chris Bolder will get his first start for the Mariners in tomorrow's big game with Bradford, as Terry Cooke is still a bit of a doubt after all with that knackered head. The Diary reckons Iain Ward might be worth a go in midfield, though, after his exploits against Derby on Boxing Day. Tony Gallimore is also dubious, but you knew that already.
The word from Valley Parade is that the comeback from injury of Danny Cadamarteri - the former Everton team-mate of Town's number 9 - could be delayed. The fitness of keeper Gary Walsh is also touch-and-go, which could mean a return to BP for old Aidan Davison.
The Diary is delighted to receive an email in response to our abusing the column yesterday in the furtherance of pacifist propaganda. Apparently, says our correspondent, the cost of staging the forthcoming away fixture with Iraq is estimated to be around £35 billion. Which sounds like a bob or two, but is probably small change compared with the cost of building the new Wembley.
And finally, the Diary is giving a trial to former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne.
Thursday 23 January
Terry Cooke will be fit to play Bradford this weekend; Bobby Gould is now manager of Cheltenham; and Cod Almighty does not condone the use of illicit psychotropic compounds of any description. The only substance the Diary will be offering you today is a pinch of salt, with which to take yesterday's Diary.
Now, as right-wing comedian Jimmy Tarbuck was once fond of saying, we have a difference of opinion, Geoffrey. Following reports yesterday that Paul Groves' loan target Curtis Woodhouse was wavering towards Rotherham instead, because it's closer to his people in Driffield, Town's official site is of the opinion that the Birmingham midfielder has indeed signed for the Millers. Rotherham's official site, rather excitingly, explicitly takes Town's to task, insisting that the deal probably won't go through until next week. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Either way, it doesn't look much like young Curt is Blundell-bound. Although one Diary reader has calculated that Driffield is 70 kilometres from Rotherham and only 54 kilometres from Cleethorpes, another has pointed out that geographical and emotional promixity are two very different qualities so far as Yorkshire is concerned. With Groves now turning his attentions elsewhere, both Town's official site and BBC Humber Sport suggest that not one but two exciting new loanees could line up against Bradford on Saturday. Wonder which site said it first. Groves himself it plays down, however, telling the Grimsby Telegraph: "I'd say it's unlikely that we'll get anybody in before [the weekend]."
Undeterred by the failure of innumerable previous attempts to release the club's unissued share capital, Town chairman Peter Furneaux is to attempt to release the club's unissued share capital. The Diary's understanding of the situation is that there are lots of shares in GTFC that haven't been sold, and lots of people want to buy them, which would be good because GTFC would get lots of money, but some of the people who already have shares don't want the new ones to be sold. These people aren't the people who are on the board, but a lot of fans think they are and start singing "Sack the board" when we let a goal in. I know - it's confusing, isn't it.
Major bloodsuckers - sorry, broadcasters - Carlton and Granada, who you may remember ripped Town off for several zillion pounds some months ago, have had a rummage down the back of the sofa and miraculously come up with £3million to pay the liquidator of ITV Digital, so that they can avoid the further embarrassment of having to ask former customers for their set-top box things back. Mind you, it's all relative, isn't it. I dread to think how much it'll cost the taxpayer for the British army to go and fight the Americans' oil war for them. Either way, it could have bought Steve Kabba and John Oster and still had change for a round in the Rutland.
Wednesday 22 January
Paul Groves has a selection headache. He caught it from Terry Cooke, who has an actual headache. That's right - no sooner has the Cookie Monster finally broke into the team, laid on a few assists, and allayed a few conspiracy theories than he's bust his bonce in training and is now laid up with concussion. "And with Stacy Coldicott, George Santos and Alan Pouton already in the
physio's room," points out the Grimsby Telegraph, we really are knackered in midfield and Bradford will lightly flambée us in a butter and garlic reduction with a little flat-leaf parsley before HAVING US FOR BREAKFAST. Yeah, I'm paraphrasing. But only a bit.
Cheltenham Town could become the next great lower-division exponents of passing and movement, as one of the five names shortlisted for their managerial vacancy is leading television pundit Alan Buckley. The Diary wishes Mr Approachable all the best with his job application, with the proviso that if he gets the job he doesn't try and sign Grovesie.
In a bold and dramatic new bid to be any good, Hull City have swooped for Northampton's former Town striker Jamie Forrester, who joins up with some bloke called Jevons to become the Tigers' 34th new forward in the past six weeks, or something. The Diary always thought Forrester was pretty good and never had a fair crack during his spell with the Mariners - not that it gave us any pleasure to see him subsequently score loads and loads of goals for Scunny. You see? I should be made president of the whole world.
Town reserves' home game with Mansfield - called off earlier this week in mysterious circumstances - has been rescheduled for Wednesday 5 March. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this is also the day that devotees of the shadowy Amm-Offome cult (branches from North Dakota to North Thoresby) insist will bring the end of the world, with true believers saved by a fleet of UFOs with pretty twinkly lights piloted by aliens with bodies the size of David Soames and heads the size of Georges Santos. That's all of Georges Santos, not just his head.
And finally, the Diary is considering a takeover bid for the Safeway chain of supermarkets.
Tuesday 21 January
Paul Groves is looking for a new loan signing; he's a bit short of midfielders; and Birmingham City midfielder Curtis Woodhouse has a few first division clubs after a lend of him. This is enough for the Grimbly Telegraph to conclude that the former England under-21 man is the object of Paul's attentions, and who are we to argue? Woodhouse joined the violent midlands club from Sheffield United two years ago for £1m plus Peter Ndlovu (so, £1m then) and is believed to be a target for Brighton and Rotherham too, but the Telegraph rather touchingly speculates that Birmingham would prefer him to come to Blundell Park. So maybe they're looking to sell him back where he came from.
Glucose-rich snack food for thought for those - including the Diary - who have concluded recently that Daryl Clare's wild scoring spree for Chester means the former Town forward has found his level in the Conference, as last night he appeared in the Premiership. Or should I say The Premiership, a football programme on pirate television station ITV, which featured young Bungle celebrating his goal against Barnet at the weekend by wolfing down a Mars bar. His act of spontaneous consumption is apparently a riposte to Chester manager Mark Wright, who has recently had a word or two about Daryl's burgeoning waistline. The Diary is relieved, at least, that Wright didn't borrow the parlance of one-time Aston Villa boss John Gregory, who once described his overweight French winger and fashion model David Ginola as "carrying a bit of timber".
The entirely tedious business of whether Stuart Campbell will be credited with the second of Town's goals against 'Wimbledon' the other week appears to have been settled, after the Football League got bored of the whole thing. The goal took a deflection off defender Trond Andersen and was originally recorded as an own goal before a campaign by Town's official site changed their minds. "Yes, all right, for God's sake, he can have it," said a league spokesperson. "Can I go now?"
Monday 20 January
Paul Groves has dished out an almighty slating to his team's shocking non-performance in the 2-0 home defeat to Millwall on Saturday. "I didn't think we played particularly well," fumed the furious player-manager as his assistant Graham Rodger urged him to calm down. Groves' eyes flared scarlet as he continued. "That was not an acceptable performance," he bellowed, smoke pluming from his ears.
Town's youth team prodigy Joe Lightowler has turned a few more heads after scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 romp against Darlington's youngsters at the weekend. The teenage striker is said to be one of the hottest prospects coming through the ranks at Blundell Park. Expect a first-team call-up this weekend.
A splendid and rather cheeky idea from BP: Town are helping to raise money for St Andrew's Hospice, announces the official site, by urging the people of North East Lincolnshire to participate in a sponsored 'Wear Your Town Shirt At Work' day on Friday 28 March. The club is offering a discount on shirts bought for the day, and good old Austin Mitch is doing his bit and everything. Smart.
The reserves, meanwhile, suffer more frustration as this afternoon's fixture against Mansfield is called off. Town's official site gives no reason for the postponement, so maybe the club only just remembered about it this morning and hadn't washed the players' socks in time.
Clare scored again.
Saturday 18 January
Well, whaddaya know? Town let another two goals in at home, that's what. A double strike from Steve Claridge at Blundell Park ends the Mariners' four-match unbeaten run in the league, with the home strikeforce firing blanks. But Stoke and Bradford lose this afternoon, as did Sheffield Wednesday last night; and though Brighton manage a creditable draw with Portsmouth, the Town are still clinging to that sacred 21st place like an alkie to a can of Special Brew.
John Oster, meanwhile, is dropped from Sunderland's line-up as the Teessiders crash 2-1 at Everton. The wonder winger, who was recently recalled by Howard Wilkinson from a fantastically successful loan spell with the Mariners to add firepower to the goalshy Black Cats line-up, doesn't even make the subs' bench today. Thanks again, Wilko.
Another player who made a big impact for Town while on loan, Andy Todd, has sparked a big row after a barney with Christophe Dugarry. The controversial defender, now with Blackburn, clashed with Birmingham's French forward as the two sides met at Ewood Park, and then tried to kick him up in the air. "It's an outrage for someone to kick out like that and I have never seen anything like that," says Blues boss Steve Bruce, who has seen a thing or two in his time, young fella-me-lad. Earlier in his career Todd left Bolton under a cloud after clashing with a teammate in training; but it is interesting to remember that during his spell with the Mariners last season, when his solidity and class at the back went a long way to keeping the club in Division One, he appeared a model of good conduct. More testimony to Paul Groves' qualities as a coach, perhaps.
Friday 17 January
John Elsom - the former chairman of Leicester who recently joined the board at GTFC - has stood down from his position as director on the board of the Football League. The decision apparently stems from a move by Division One chairmen to appoint their own chief executive to market the Football League's top division as the flagship of blah blah blah whatever, and is not thought to be a protest against the league's ban on Michael Boulding wearing the number 9 shirt.
BBC Humber Sport reports that custard custodian Danny Coyne will be fit to face Millwall at Blundell Park tomorrow, having recovered from a back strain sustained in Tuesday's thrashing at Turf Moor. Which is quite funny, because the Diary made up that injury as a joke the other day. We wouldn't like to put two and two together and come up with 59 goals against, but it does make you wonder...
One-time Town defender and purveyor of hot GTFC gossip to the clubgoers of Cleethorpes Mark Lever is chewing over an offer from his current club Mansfield Town to have his contract paid up. The Stags, interestingly, are the only club in England to have conceded more goals than Town this season. Get the feeling they're trying to tell you something, Plug?
Thursday 16 January
Reserve team coach Paul Wilkinson bids to become the new Trevor Francis, blaming his side's 3-1 defeat at Boston last night on the state of the pitch - which, curiously, was the same pitch Boston were playing on. Graham Hockless was the scorer for a Town side that gets younger with every game, although senior citizen Paul Raven was on the subs' bench. Alongside him sat long-term American trialist Jake Sagare, to whom the club must have decided by now not to offer terms, but nobody wants to tell him, so they're just waiting until he gets bored and goes home.
Live in the Grimsby area? User of public transport? Planning on a trip to Nottingham to see the Mariners take on Paul Hart's exciting young Forest side on Saturday 8 March? Too bad. Sky TV's decision to televise the match and move it to Monday 10 March means that, having taken the 2220 Central Trains service from Nottingham, arriving Lincoln Central 2325, you face a six-and-a-half-hour wait before the 0559 Central Trains service goes steaming in to take you home, arriving Grimsby Town 0655. Oh well. Town get 10 grand out of it being televised, so you could ask them to pay for a taxi.
Fans who complain that Town will never achieve anything without a proper centre-forward will nod sagely at news that the Football League has barred Michael Boulding from wearing the number 9 shirt. As the only man on the south bank who knows what a goal looks like, the full-tilt forward was assigned the squad number on his return from Aston Villa last weekend; but the league has ordered that he relinquish it immediately as the 9 was originally assigned this season to a Mr P Jevons of east Yorkshire and cannot be reallocated, apparently. Boulding will instead don the somewhat less glamorous number 21.
Belated congratulations to the cultured left foot of Tony Gallimore, which, in between visits to the Tate Modern and the Royal Opera House, made its 300th appearance for Grimsby Town Club of Football in the tonking at Burnley the other night. The wayward but loveable defender - an anagram of whose name is 'lager my lotion' - joined the Mariners from Carlisle in 1996 as a replacement for Gary 'Mr Wonderful' Croft and has since made Town's left-back position his own, in his own very special way.
Wednesday 15 January
No complaints - rather than Town cup dream is over - is the headline on Town's official site as it reports Paul Groves' reaction to last night's FA Cup replay against Burnley. The manager's prime objective of getting through the match without losing any players to injury may have been achieved, pending the results of a scan on Danny Coyne's back after the Town keeper picked the ball out of the net for the 59th time this season as the Clarets completed a straightforward 4-0 rout. "We came here to give it a go but we weren't good enough, Burnley were the better side and deserved their win, ya-di-ya-di-ya, bye!" said Groves.
Town's convenient cup exit means that the Fans' Day match at home to Bradford - postponed on new year's day after several days of crummy weather - can now take place on Saturday 25 January, the day of the fourth round. It just gets better and better, doesn't it.
The numbskull who passed for a referee in last Saturday's visit to Selhurst Park insists that the goal Stuart Campbell is claiming as his own should go down in the record books as an own goal by Franchise FC defender Trond Andersen. Something to do with the deflection and the ball's clear line to the goal. The Diary couldn't give a bugger, though, to be brutally honest.
Tuesday 14 January
Michael Boulding will miss out on tonight's FA Cup third round replay at Burnley. Having been signed after the original match on 4 January, the expeditious forward is ineligible for a second bite of any subsequent cherry. Reports that Boulding's incredible pace has enabled him to warp the space-time continuum and travel back in time to sign before the deadline are ludicrously wide of the mark, as the player's lack of match fitness is preventing him getting up a full head of steam.
Burnley's excitingly monickered new signing Drissa Diallo is similarly barred from this evening's proceedings, but Ian Cox and Dean West will return from suspension. Clarets keeper Marlon Beresford is officially doubtful, while classy winger Paul Weller is still injured.
Changes may be afoot elsewhere in the Town team as Paul Groves declares his priorities to lie firmly with the Division One relegation battle and prepares to rest senior players at Turf Moor. "We'll try and put out a side that's as strong as we possibly can," he
tells the Grim Telegraph, "but we daren't risk anybody getting an injury that would have major implications for the rest of our season." The paper speculates that Darren Mansaram, David Soames, Iain Ward, Wes Parker and Chris Bolder could make up a kindergarten Mariners XI this evening - and that Livvo, bizarrely, could return to the back four. Be afraid...be very afraid.
Monday 13 January
Michael Boulding has now completed a 'permanent' switch to Town, with the Mariners, who haven't even got one bean to rub together, forced to pay Aston Villa £50,000 for the player. That's the same Aston Villa who spent £5.8m on Bosko Balaban a year and a half ago and haven't yet given him a Premiership start. And the same Aston Villa who signed Boulding on a free last summer. So remember this next time they start talking about a generous rescue package from the FA and Premiership to bail out cash-strapped Nationwide clubs. Rant over. Fast Michael, as we have decided to call him today, has signed an 18-month contract, according to today's Grimmo Telegraph, and says: "There were a couple of teams in the top four who wanted to sign me, but I told Aston Villa that I didn't want to speak to them if it was possible to come back here." Stitch that, Warnock, you big bottom burp!
News reaches the Diary that Steve Croudson is well on the way to recovery. The Kitten has been told by a specialist that the operation on his shoulder was a great success. Stevie is now seeking some "quality physiotherapy" and should be back to full fitness in four to six weeks. Everyone at Cod Almighty Towers wishes him a full and speedy recovery.
Mariners midfielder Stuart Campbell is claiming Town's second goal at Selhurst Park on Saturday as his own. The daintily-nicknamed 'Camby' saw his shot beat Franchise FC keeper Kelvin Davis following a deflection from Trond Andersen, to whom most sources are consequently attributing an own goal. Not so, insists the outraged player. "I can't believe it was in the papers as an own goal," he says in a paper today - namely the Grimsby Telegraph, which dutifully takes Stu's side against its Fleet Street counterparts. Well, if Groves won't point out that the ref was a dipstick, we have to get our controversy from somewhere.
Saturday 11 January
Undoing all the good work of their colleagues at the other end, Town's defence ship their 50th, 51st and 52nd league goals of the season, allowing the club that once represented Wimbledon to snatch a 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park. After a first-half strike from returning hero Michael Boulding and a Trond Andersen own goal, Town lead 2-0 with 20-odd minutes to go. Two goals for the 'home' side are then followed by another from Stuart Campbell, but with the leakiest back four in the division it's still not enough for the Mariners to claim all three points. The Franchise Football Club is optimistically claiming an attendance of 1336.
The Diary wishes eternal damnation, meanwhile, upon Leicester, Coventry and especially Reading: the midlands clubs allow Stoke and Brighton respectively to walk away with a point each in goalless draws; while the Madejski-funded lot do a Town with knobs on after leading 2-0 at Hillsborough, allowing the bloody Wendys to run out 3-2 winners. As expected, Town remain fourth from bottom.
It seems Terry Cooke's return to the starting line-up last week impressed more than just the Blundell Park faithful. He was voted in to the Football League Team of the Week for Division One for his performance against Burnley. Former Mariner Steve Kabba received a similar accolade, while Tommy 'Stand and Point' Widdrington and Ben Chapman featured in the third division team.
Chapman's GTFC contemporary Matt Bloomer - subject of raging controversy in the Diary last week - has almost completed his set of local clubs by signing for Lincoln. The mysteriously underachieving centre-half was released by Hull last week and spent some quality time training with his old mates at Blundell Park before joining the Imps on a non-contract basis.
And finally, the Diary's nemesis, Sheffield United manager and child slave trader Colin Wanker, is observed on Football Focus compounding his numerous crimes against humanity by blatantly driving his car along a bus lane.
Friday 10 January
Supersonic striker Michael Boulding has signed for Town on loan, despite earlier reports that only a permanent deal would do. Town's official site explains the anomaly by pointing out this was the only way to ensure the player's eligibility for tomorrow's visit to 'Wimbledon'. At the same time, Paul Groves has pointed out to BBC Sport that Boulding hasn't played football for 10 weeks and probably won't do much at Selhurst anyway. Oh well - it's nice to have him back. He used to play tennis, you know.
Other team news for tomorrow's fixture can be found in our full and rather spiffy match preview. Even if I say so myself.
Meanwhile, the Selhurst Park playing surface has been passed fit for the game following a pitch inspection at noon today. The Diary only hopes that this doesn't mean fit in the sense that the pitch at Bescot was 'fit' on 7 December. Or in the sense that Steve Livingstone is 'fit', ever.
Town's never-say-die chairman Peter Furneaux is talking about another effort to get a share issue going. The club has several hundred thousand pounds' worth of unissued share capital, but the last squillion attempts to release it have all foundered at the hands of a small group of shareholders unwilling to see their stake diluted. The Diary will bring you further news as it arrives, on the precondition that we can understand any of it.
Reserve keeper Steve 'The Kitten' Croudson has suffered another setback in his battle with a shoulder injury, which has kept him out of action since late last season. The ace young stopper was originally scheduled to return last autumn, but a series of delays have led to the signings of Shaun Allaway and Andy Pettinger to provide cover for Mr Coyne. The Diary wishes you all the best for your recovery, Steve - you end up playing for England on our current game of Chammy Manager, so close your eyes and think of that.
Thursday 9 January
Michael Boulding is back at Blundell Park, the official site reports. So far, the report doesn't say whether he's actually signed for us, is just using our training facilities, or had just nipped in a là Zhang Enhua to return the biro he'd borrowed off Livvo last April. However, one can't help but think that the rapid one is here to score 38 goals, propelling us to mid-table security, and winning the FA Cup along the way. Sorry, getting carried away again.
In other, rather bizarre news, Coventry have reassured fans that academy director and goalkeeping legend Steve Ogrizovic is not being held hostage by the Kazakhstan government. It was claimed that he was arrested for being a spy while on a charity walk around the world, but this has been strenuously denied by Mr O. "I can only assume that with the well-documented breakthroughs in science of late, I have obviously been cloned," he said, rather humorously.
While we're on the subject though, the Diary would just like to make it clear to everyone that both youth team coach Neil Woods and assistant groundsman Dean Wright have not been abducted by aliens. Got that? It didn't happen.
Wednesday 8 January
Another quiet day at Blundell Park. It's positively tumbleweed-esque around there at the moment. One bit of news is that a very young reserve team played their Scunny counterparts and scored three goals. Sadly, two of them were in the wrong net.
Tuesday 7 January
"It could be anything between two and six weeks," says Paul Groves, and he's not talking about Town's next clean sheet. No - it's the time Georges Santos will be out of action with the hamstring injury he picked up last Saturday. So he might be back in two weeks' time. But he might not. Nobody knows yet. Just like nobody knew yesterday. But the Grimsby Scarygraph is still headlining the story in which this news appears SANTOS IS OUT FOR SIX WEEKS. Bit misleading, no?
But the Diary empathises with its professional counterparts at Riby Square, because today appears entirely bereft of news concerning Grimsby Town Football Club. Rather than have to conjure stories from thin air, though, our amateur status allows us to switch allegiance for the day and bring you all the latest from AFC Wimbledon, the new club set up last summer by fans outraged at Wimbledon FC's impending move to Milton Keynes. Quite timely, as well, with Town visiting Charles Koppel's Franchise Football Club this Saturday. We might do this all week if it stays quiet in north-east Lincs.
So...manager Terry Eames has added Ray Merry, Neil Robson and Robbie Burns to the squad to face Barkingside in the third round of the London Senior Cup tomorrow night. The trio did not figure in the 2-2 Combined Counties League draw with Southall last Saturday, but with key league games approaching Eames will rotate the squad as the second-placed Dons attempt to eat into AFC Wallingford's eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Dons fans are invited to attend an open meeting at Kingsmeadow before the home game with Godalming & Guildford on 18 January. The gathering will begin at 12 noon in the back bar (doors open 11:30), and club directors will be present to answer questions from supporters about the club and its future.
Monday 6 January
GTFC management are sweating on the results of a test to see how long Georges Santos will be out of action for. Not literally - that would be revolting. The tempestuous midfielder did his hamstring in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Burnley and 'could be out for several weeks', according to the Grimsby Telegraph.
Town face a trip south to tackle second division Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup should they make it past Burnley in the third round replay next Tuesday night. The London outfit pulled off a minor giant-killing act by dumping Derby out of the competition on Saturday. Today's return to a Monday lunchtime cup draw has been touted as part of the FA's agenda to restore the tournament's traditional values - but it is unclear quite how the decision to stage cup semi-finals at the rebuilt Wembley stadium for 30 years fits into the strategy.
Controversy over the penalty that gave the Mariners a way back into the Burnley match, meanwhile, continues with Clarets manager Stan Ternant describing the decision as "ridiculous" while his opposite number Paul Groves timidly insists: "We would have been disappointed if it wasn't given." The 57th-minute spot-kick was awarded for a foul by Mark McGregor on Stuart Campbell and converted by Terry Cooke for his first goal of the season.
The scorer of Town's superb late equaliser on Saturday, 18-year-old Darren Mansaram, has earned praise from Groves for his contribution to the game. Mansaram himself comments: "What more can you ask for on your FA Cup debut? I'll be watching that goal a few times on Match of the Day."
And finally, the Diary finally receives news from our web pixies of being able to read these very words through a WAP-enabled mobile phone (whatever one of those is). Just direct your phone to http://www.codalmighty.com/wap/index.wml for your daily Diary slice. Whatever was wrong with paper in the first place?
Saturday 4 January
Town make more work for themselves by recovering from a two-goal deficit to book a third round FA Cup replay against Burnley, with second-half strikes from Terry Cooke and Darren Mansaram. As expected, pacy young forward David Soames makes his full debut, but Stacy 'Doubtful' Coldicott recovers in time to deny a place in the starting line-up to Iain Ward or Chris Bolder.
Elsewhere in the Cup, third division Shrewsbury shock great big Everton with a last-gasp 2-1 win at the delightfully named Gay Meadow. John Oster celebrates his place in Sunderland's starting line-up by crossing for Kevin Phillips to equalise in their 1-1 draw with Bolton. Oh, and Scunny boss Brian Laws - who boasted on becoming Town manager in 1994 that his teams would play proper passing football like those of his mentor Brian Clough - declares ahead of the Iron's tie with Leeds: "It will be a case of us lumping it into the box at every opportunity...Leeds won't like it one bit but who cares?" The chicken sandwich flinger's outfit go down fighting by two goals to nil.
Friday 3 January
With neither the injury crisis nor the players-recalled-from-loan crisis at Blundell Park showing any signs of remission, boss man Paul Groves is set to unleash more of his young guns in tomorrow's FA Cup clash with Burnley. Oh, and there's a little suspension crisis as well. Livvo is banned, meaning a full debut up front for wee David Soames; while the Grimsby Telegraph reckons Iain Ward and/or Chris Bolder could get a start, with Stace Coldicott being doubtful. Terry Cooke should replace John Oster; the man they call Gallimore is back; and, oh, everything. "We'll go for it and I hope it's an exciting game for the fans, plenty of goals, and a win for us," says Grover.
For Burnley, Lee Briscoe and Graham Branch are nursing injuries of their own, while Glen Little and Gareth Taylor are suspended - the latter pending an appeal, apparently; though the Diary would be interested to learn how to prove that a headbutt was unintentional.
Fans holding tickets for the postponed new year's day game with Bradford can exchange them for the Burnley match - assuming, of course, that the Burnley match goes ahead. "It's squelchy underfoot in parts, especially under the Upper Smiths Stand, but there's no standing water. We're confident the game will be okay," says groundsman Mike Phillips, shuffling nervously. "We're expecting a crowd of more than 6000 people," adds commercial fella Steve Wraith, gnawing compulsively at his fingernails.
Following sterling performances over Christmas, John Oster and Georges Santos have been named in the Nationwide Division 1 Team of the Week. The Diary thought this only existed in Championship Manager, but then Johnny and Georgesy are probably the only Town players ever to be thus acclaimed.
The Diary has been told in no uncertain terms to correct yesterday's assertion that one of the goals in Town's 2-1 defeat at Fulham the other year resulted directly from Matthew Bloomer tying his bootlaces. An irate correspondent points out that this version of events was a falsehood originating from then manager Robin 'Lennie' Lawrence. "Louis Saha scored because one of the other centre-backs backed off," writes said reader. "Bloomer was not involved in any way. Stop repeating the propaganda of the fool. That was a Lennie lie." Gosh! Sorry. But when you've had the sort of Christmas and new year the Diary had, fantasy and reality tend to blur into one.
And finally, fans of idiosyncratic football news website TEAMtalk will be delighted to note that today's story about Livvo's suspension for the Burnley game is headlined Livingstone to miss Tykes test. Admittedly, 'Clarets' would lose the alliteration, but they could have written 'Clarets clash', couldn't they.
Thursday 2 January
So first you're robbed of £2.5m by two vicious muggers masquerading as TV companies; then the chief executive of the biggest club in the world wants you thrown out of professional football. And what happens next? You guessed it - a low-pressure system moving up from the mid-Atlantic to form an occluded front drenches your ground in several inches of rain, forcing a postponement that will cost you 25 grand. "Our gate receipts for the game would have been around £50,000," Town's accounts manager Steve Wraith tells today's Grimsby Telegraph, "but for a 'replay' in 10 days' time or whenever, on a cold Tuesday night, that could be halved."
Loan defender Jason Gavin - whose £1m valuation in yesterday's Guardian might be politely questioned by one or two Town fans - has returned to Middlesbrough. The young Irish international made 10 appearances in his two-month spell with the Mariners, which began competently enough but dwindled alarmingly in latter games - most notably at Preston, for which the Diary is still receiving trauma counselling.
Gavin's former loan team-mate John Oster - recalled by Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson after his barnstorming appearance against Norwich last Saturday - came on in the 84th minute of the peculiarly nicknamed Black Cats' game against Manchester United yesterday, just in time to see a last-minute winner from Paul Scholes nick the match for the Pride of Singapore.
Those with a morbid interest in the affairs of ex-Mariners will also have noted two more goals for Daryl Clare in Chester's 3-2 defeat to Northwich, taking his total to 13 in 11 games since his move to the Deva Stadium in November. If ever a player can be said to have found his level, then that player is surely young Bungle.
And to seal a hat-trick of stories on Town players of the past, Matt Bloomer is training with GTFC while he looks for a new club after being released by Hull City. The ball-playing centre-back - best remembered at Blundell Park for tying his boots while the other team scored - made just three appearances as a substitute for t'Tahgers after his move across the Humber Bridge in 2001 and was last seen on loan at Telford.
Wednesday 1 January
Town's meeting with Bradford City at Blundell Park falls victim to eight hours of torrential rain and is called off following a pitch inspection at noon. After several months spent planning Fans' Day, Cod Almighty personnel tut severely for several minutes. At least it gives Town a chance to sign a new player or something, though. Maybe.
Anyway, the Diary wishes you a very happy new year. Here's to annoying all the pundits by staying in Division 1 yet again!