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Thursday 31 July
Hello. The big twister wheel that’s doubling as a guest diarist selector has come to rest with its needle pointing towards London Bridge today. As a result, you’ve got Andy giving you your daily run-down on all GTFC-related news in the continued absence of your regular Diary.
First up is news of last night’s friendly match against Barton. A 3-0 away win to the Mariners keeps the pre-season juggernaut of success rolling on nicely. Jonny Rowan, Chris Hyams and Paolo Castellini were all on the scoresheet as a predominantly young Town side romped home. Groves had a full game, but Crowe, contrary to yesterday's thoughts, did not play. Macca made his bow as manager-for-the-night in the absence of Mr Rodger, who was ill.
Speaking of our experienced full back, as I was, McDermott is set to miss the start of the season with an injury to one of his legs. I’ve heard that those are quite important to professional footballers so it’s probably for the best that he gets it fixed. He will travel to Lilleshall this week to try and get the problem cleared up and as he’s hitching it he may not make it back to Grimsby in time for the flight from Humberside Airport down to Plymouth for the first match.
In further news of the Italians currently training with the squad, the OS drops in a throwaway comment that they probably won’t be staying after all. No reason is given, but Cleethorpes isn’t what it used to be is it?
More squad news with the latest on Clyde Wijnhard, as BBC Humber reports that the manager has spoken to both the player and his agent but still it isn’t clear whether he’ll be turning up for a kick-around tomorrow in the behind-closed-doors match with Middlesbrough. It's like Clive Platt all over again isn't it?
And lastly, the OS appeals for help. More specifically the club is having a re-think about what music they want the players to run out to on match days. It seems that they’ve run out of ideas so are opening the brainstorming exercise to the general public. I’m a bit ambivalent about it all really, but it’s a good job the Diary’s not around or you’d have to put up with one of his tirades on the subject. He’s not a fan of music for that purpose, you see. We’d love to hear your suggestions, serious or otherwise, though. Go on, write in and give the Diary some mail to come back to.
That’s all for now. Bye.
Wednesday 30 July
Tag! Hello! Miles stepping back into the ring again for today's diary.
Right, rather than try to draw out this lame wrestling metaphor any further,
I'll get on with the news.
The Mariners' unbeaten streak - by which I mean they haven't lost a game
yet, not that they're all running around in the nuddy, being chased by
blokes with big sticks who haven't caught up with them yet - continued
yesterday with a 2-1 victory over Halifax. Town's players finding the back
of the onion bag were Darren 'Flash' Mansaram (ooh, perhaps there has been
some streaking) and young iddy biddy Giovanni Carchedi, bless his little
cotton socks. Incidentally, bookie's favourite Mat Hare earns his pedantry
badge by spotting something on the official site's run down of this match.
The match, bizarrely, was played over three 30-minute periods. "How then",
asks Mat, "did Carchedi manage to score in the second half?". Answers,
please, in the corner of a circular postcard.
Personally I find all this winning a little strange and disturbing, you
know. Still, despite my unsettled feelings, Town will be trying to stretch
this run of form further tonight when they take on the might of Barton Town.
Jason Crowe - fresh from impressing in his debut in the above-mentioned
match - looks certain to take part, says the BBC Humber site; Macca might
play for 45 minutes; but nobody knows whether the two new Italian players
will participate. Kick off is an early one, being at 6.30, so any youngsters
Grovesie tries out can be tucked up in bed by nine. Today's Sun, by the way (hee hee - that's two days in a row that rag gets a mention. How naughty) reckons that Jason 'No, Not Russell' Crowe is wanted by Swindon. Let's hope the feeling's not mutual, eh
Steve Chettle's back. No, not the sort of injury information we got used to
last season, but instead news that the lumbarjack is currently on trial with
Burton Albion. Albion, of course, are managed by Nigel Clough, meaning that
should Chett's trail be successful, he will have been managed by Cloughs
senior and junior during his career. That has to be unique, doesn't it? If
you know differently, email the Diary and put us straight.
Back to the will he/won't he subject of Clyde Wijnhard now, and a report if
not quite from the horse's mouth, then at least from the stablehand's. A
work colleague of mine attends a gym in Oldham, and who should be there last
night but Mr Widgy himself. Clyde, it is recounted, was pounding away on the
running machine and talking on his mobile at the same time. Now this
conversation might have revealed which of the Park clubs - both of whom are
claiming that they're engaged to him - the striker is thinking of playing
for next season. Unfortunately, it was unclear to my mate who CW was talking
to, and what about. So this is kind of useless tittle-tattle, isn't it.
Still, it passed a minute or so of your working day, and that has to be a
Well, hope you enjoyed Wednesday. Tune in again tomorrow for somebody else.
It won't be me, that's for sure, as I won't be near a PC all day. Bye!
Tuesday 29 July
Hello, it's Graham Hockless lookalike Mat Hare here and I am your guest diarist for the day. Sorry the diary is late but I work in the defence industry which means every word I write is screened by the Government Ministry of Death, I'm not allowed access to the internet and we have to suffer CSC as our IT providers. I am trying to get out of this industry though so if anyone has any jobs for a C programmer with four years of commercial experience, the last three spent developing on SuSE Linux then let me know.
There's an awful lot of football news for you today. Makes a change from a lot of awful football news, eh? But before we get to that, I hope you have all been reading my series on what Championship Manager 4 predicts will happen this coming season. It's dead good, even if I don't swear much in it. Ooh, I haven't sworn in today's diary yet either. I must be ill.
OK, two shameless plugs and no news in the first two paragraphs, this is just like the real Diary was writing it. I'll behave now. Maybe. Ahem. No-one seems entirely sure what is happening with big Dutch fella Clyde Wijnhard. The Sun (a source your regular diary would never use) reports that we have given up on the lad because he didn't turn up for training. But that is not what the club think. The OS says he will arrive on Thursday and is expected to play some part in the match against Middlesbrough the following day. But Oldham's website reckons he is staying with them apparently. Now they have sorted out their finances a bit perhaps Clyde will be persuaded to stay at Boundary Park. Dunno. Shall we just wait and see what happens?
Wijnhard is just one of a number of players expected at Blundell Park over the next few days. I say a number not to sound like a poncey journalist type but because I haven't actually counted up how many new faces we expect. Jason Crowe is supposed to be showing up again, which is nice. He has also said he would happily move from Hampshire to the Grimsby area, "anything to get playing again," he says. There's some nice houses off Cleethorpes seafront Jase, I know, I used to live in one. And I used to deliver the paper to Chris Hargreaves when he lived round there, Cromwell Road to be exact. Joining Jason and Clyde will be two triallists from Torino, Paolo (striker) and Antonio (defender) according to the OS. I've never met anyone whose surname has to be in brackets before, interesting. Oh no, here we go, the Fishy reckons they are actually called Paolo Castellini and Alessandro Conticchio and has them down as a defender and central midfielder respectively. So make of that what you will. Three or four. That's the number of new faces, depending on whether or not you are counting Crowe as a new face.
There's been a lot of players in and out of Blundell Park this summer so you've probably lost track of where we are in terms of signing 10 new players. Well fear not because the board have issued a statement to let you know. Not exactly a Blue Peter player-o-meter but not far off. Hang on, I've lost the e-mail with it in...here we go. The board start by slagging the GET off for misinforming the fans. Then state their position: "Simply, the board has decided to provide Paul Groves with a budget to build the squad up to 25 players." Fair enough. It goes on to say that after signing some existing players on new deals and bringing in some players from outside we now have a squad of 23. Hmmm, sounds like Jason, Clyde, Paolo, Antonio and of course our other current triallists (Mark Edwards, Laurens Up Heaval (summat like that) and any others I have forgotten) are scrapping it out for the last two places in the Mariners squad for the coming season. I would have thought that now some of the big earners have left the club we might be able to sneak a 26th player in. Now wouldn't that be nice? As long as it's not another Phil Jevons of course.
And the football news continues. This really is a bumper edition today isn't it? I told the rest of the Cod Almighty team that today's diary would be quite short. Mind you, it may well be when they have hacked this to shit and called it 'editing' [Oh I can't be arsed - Temporary Ed]. Johnny Rowan, remember him? Graham Rodger does and what's more he told BBC Humber that Rowan should play a big part next season. For the club. At football. Not in the Division Two pantomime performance of Dick Whittington. Rodger describes the young forward as "full of beans" and "the hungriest looking" which makes it sound more like the team are training for something other than football. He also says Rowan looks keen and sharp and stuff like that but I thought it was amusing to edit Rodger's words to make Johnny sound like a greedy porker. Town's assistant boss also says Mark Edwards has done himself "no harm" during his trial. I assume Mark has not been trying to out-eat young Johnny then.
If I was struggling for stuff to write I was going to offer you all tips for the first day of Glorious Goodwood today. As it is I have written a hell of a lot so I won't bother doing the whole card. Persian Lightning looks good in the 2.05 though, I quite like Arakan in the 3.15 and Tahreeb stands a chance in the 5.35. Nothing really stands out in the other meeting today, at Beverley. Having said that Catch The Cat in the 5.50 looks to be in with a decent shout.
I think I ought to end with an apology to CA's regular Diary who is probably reading this somewhere. Sorry mate, they made me do it.
Monday 28 July
Stark bivouac Kashmir slalom watchstrap tracheotomy fumigate reincarnation
mulligatawny phone-in butt hinge citrus rickshaw French polish
No, Coco! Get away from there!
diptheria outspan sextant mouldy barometer...
Stop it! Get off! Bad monkey!
Okay, so the idea to kick off Guest Diarists Week with our resident betting
chimp didn't really work, and I imagine there are going to be some very
confused Googlers touching down on Cod Almighty this week, thanks to Coco's
pin-and-dictionary contribution. Anyway - hello! Miles here once again. Now
that I've booted the monkey off the keyboard, I'll get on with bringing you
some slightly more sensible sentences. Well, maybe.
Blundell Park's resemblance to the Old Bailey grows ever stronger this week
with the news that four more hopefuls are arriving to be put on trial.
Identities are as yet unknown, but I can tell you who one of them isn't -
Clyde Wijnhard. News broke yesterday that Grimsby were potentially the
latest club set to benefit from the nasty financial rumblings at Oldham
Athletic: the one time extremely useful and now out of contract Clyde 'Is
That Pronounced Wineyard?' Wijnhard was due to arrive at Blundell Park as
triallist number umpteen, making me for one, very excited indeed. However,
the Radio Humberside site today reports that he will not be arriving as
planned... though it doesn't really make it clear if he's arriving later or
not at all. Should it be the latter, I can easily convince myself that he
would have been rubbish anyway.
Of course, we still have two Dutchmen, sorry - 'Hollanders' - apparently the
Netherlanders don't like the term 'Dutch' as it has Germanic connotations.
Well, so my mate Neil in Amsterdam tells me. Sorry, where was I...? Oh
yes... men from Holland. If new boy Laurens Llewellyn-Heuvel continues to
impress as he did in his debut on Saturday, we have fellow countryman Marcel
Cas to thank: for it turns out it was he who rang his mate and told him to
get his arse over to Cleethorpes. Hey Marcel - got Ruud van Nistelrooy's
Now then, if you're already in a climactic state of titillation about the
impending start of the season, and you're a subscriber to NTL broadband,
please sit down before you visit the official site, because your head might
explode when you find out you can get Mariners World for free, and, right,
AND still claim your free shirt. Come on, what else do you want - movie
clips of the Town squad motor racing each other...? Well, that's on the OS
too, as it goes. The lads have been burning round in go-karts - and whilst
this is something I can thoroughly recommend - having done this recently on
Andy's pre-nuptial weekender - I'm not sure whether I'd risk this activity
just before the start of the season if I were a professional footballer in a
team cursed with bizarre injuries. Surely these fragile-as-Subbuteo players
should be packed away in cotton wool-lined boxes between training sessions,
lest their legs snap off at the ankles. Or something.
Well, that was Monday, that was me. Tomorrow brings another guest diarist,
but we're not sure who just yet - you'll just have to tune in, log on, and
find out. It won't be Coco though - I've confiscated his pin.
Sunday 27 July
This edition of the Diary is brought to you live and exclusive from the home of Cod Almighty's match reporter extraordinaire Tony "I'm not going to every game this season" Butcher, where Mrs Diary and I have been most hospitably received by Tony and Sue since reaching Lincolnshire yesterday afternoon. I am pleased to recommend Tony's vegetable curry to the world at large, should he acquire a pan large enough to prepare 6 billion portions.
Today, then, Paul Groves and the GTFC board ought to be putting together a package for Laurens Ten Heuvel, and I'm not talking corned beef sandwiches, a bag of crisps, a Ski yoghurt and a Golden Delicious. The on-trial Dutch striker showed in the friendly at Boston yesterday what Barnsley and Sheffield United had seen in him by equalising for the Mariners with a powerful stooping header and impressed Town fans with an all-round display of good movement, the requisite "aerial presence", some handy tricks and flicks, and a Fjortoftian ability to win free kicks by backing into the other team's defender. The Diary's verdict is that Town could do a lot worse (and often have). "Of course I would like to come to Grimsby," says Tenner on Town's official site. "This is a good club - they play good football and I would like to join them." That's £2,150 to you, sir.
Other highlights of the game - from which the Mariners ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late Jonny Rowan winner - included a series of pinpoint crosses from Marcel Cas (playing right-back), further promising signs from Mat Hare lookalike Graham Hockless, and a visible performance from Stuart Campbell in central midfield. Less cool were another meandering display from Michael Boulding, the awful defensive mix-up that gave the Pilgrims an early lead from a Cas own goal, and the York Street tannoy man whose substitution announcements showed his difficulty in distinguishing Simon Ford from Darren Mansaram - confirming the Diary's impression that, though superficially quite pretty, the town of Boston makes Grimsby look like some kind of funky cultural melting pot.
Boulding will not be cheered by the news that another striker is set to arrive at Blundell park on trial tomorrow morning. Town's official site reveals that another frontman will join up with the squad on Monday - but isn't naming names, as ever. All right-minded and upstanding members of society the world over, meanwhile, will be cheered by the news that John McDermott is expected to return to training next week.
"Didn't Gordon Hobson come back from Southampton for a short while?" asks Mark Wilson in an email to the Diary. Far from being a totally random kinda dude, however, Mark is returning to the subject of returning; more specifically, to Town players and managers who rejoined the club after spells in the big blue beyond, the other side of Market Rasen. I could be wrong, Mark - and it wouldn't be the first time - but I think Gorgeous Gordon moved directly from the Dell to Sincil Bank, not passing Go, and not collecting the glittering string of league championship medals he believed he was destined for when he performed his famous disappearing act from Blundell Park. But still. "You have to include John Cockerill," adds Mr Wilson. "He might not have played for
Town twice but he was born, bred and buttered Grimsby and it was a
homecoming for him. And my mother-in-law knows his dad (Ron - ex-player) and his mum and she was their babysitter. That must qualify!" We'll change the rules specially, Mark.
And finally today, readers, I bid you adieu, for I'm off on holiday, sort of. But fear not for the integrity of your lunch hours, as the Diary will be brought to you in my absence by a succession of substitutes from the Cod Almighty team. In the meantime I will leave you two questions to ponder: (1) can you think of a better nickname for Laurens Ten Heuvel; and (2) what exactly did Aston Villa do to Michael Boulding last year? Answers to email@example.com please, and have a nice week. I'll miss you...but it's just something I gotta do. Bye.
Friday 25 July
As Paul Groves starts scraping the barrel for a striker, the mystical forces that connect him and Neil Warnock buzz into life again, and the first of his last resorts has emerged as 27-year-old Laurens Ten Heuvel, who spent last season with Sheffield United, scoring no goals, and on loan to Bradford, scoring no goals. In between spells with Den Bosch and Telstar in his native Holland, the player also turned out for Barnsley from 1996 to 1998, scoring no goals. He is six foot two and of unknown eye colour; and to be fair to the lad he is well spoken of in Sheffield and was apparently among the top scorers in his homeland's second division before Colin W fought off competition from several Dutch clubs to take him to Bramall Lane last summer. "He's big but he's not a target man," Groves tells today's Grimsby Telegraph, "but he will hold the ball up and he's different to what we've got." Ten Heuvel has joined up with the Town squad on trial and is expected to play in tomorrow's friendly at Boston.
Elsewhere in the Steel City, meanwhile, Terry Cooke has found another catwalk upon which to shake his little tush. The tactless winger was given a trial at third division Bury last week but failed to win a contract, despite finding the scoresheet down the back of the fridge, perhaps because of a Manchester Evening News interview in which he alienated most right-thinking fans of his prospective new club by blurting out: "There are a lot of players out of contract at the moment so beggars can't be choosers." But the blue and white underachievers of Owlerton have offered the skilful serial failure another bite of the cherry he has been nibbling and choking on the stone of ever since his career began to nosedive way back at Manchester City. "We're just having a look," says Wednesday boss Chris Turner, "but he wouldn't be here if we weren't interested." Sounds to the Diary like a match made in heaven.
Town are seeking fans' assistance for next season's award-winning matchday magazine. Contributors will be asked to submit their best ever GTFC XI for a new series in the programme entitled, er, 'My Best Ever GTFC XI', and Diary readers are urged to help out by downloading and completing this form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. And anyone who includes John Oster will be hunted down by the Diary and forced at knifepoint to watch the final of Big Brother this weekend.
Pat Bell's fingers have been a-tappin' again, on the subject of Town returnees, again, and he's been cheating and had a look in the books. "Of the early ones," he reveals, "the laurels go to one Harry Fletcher,
who had three spells at the club, in the 1890s and 1900s. The one most
of us might have reckoned to get was Dave Moore, apparently (though it passed me by, and my source doesn't state the terms on which he came back)." I fancy that the Middle Moore may have been another who returned only as a coach, though. Pat also mentions, and dismisses, the names of Marc North, Harry Wainman and Darren Wrack before giving a thorough account of the almighty and highly entertaining spat that followed remarks in Sing When We're Fishing about Mike Czuczman by almost-famous Town fan Phil Ball after then SWWF editor Steve Plowes annotated Phil's piece with a little editorialising. Funny the things that stick in your memory, isn't it.
Have nice weekends, everybody, and I might see some of you at Boston.
Thursday 24 July
It was one-nil to the Mariners again last night at that KFC Stadium or whatever it's called as Paul Groves' new-look Town team overcame the challenge of their richer but poorer contemporaries from Hull in the well-attended testimonial of Neil Mann, former Tigers midfielder and son of the one-time GTFC assistant boss Arthur. Long sentence, I know, but I'm hurrying today, cos there's an afternoon drinking session to get to. Michael Boulding headed the decisive goal after a deflected free kick from Iain Anderson (if you read the report on Town's website) or Stuart Campbell (according to City's). Incidentally, why are new shiny stadiums always described as "magnificent"? And deflections always "wicked", for that matter?
Paul Groves' interminable quest for a new centre-forward could take a new turn in the next day or two with the arrival of a player on trial. The Town boss has been knocked back by a series of strikers as he seeks a replacement big lumpy bloke following the departure of Steve Livingstone to Carlisle, but BBC Humber reports today that a trialist could be at Blundell Park this weekend, possibly followed by another next week.
Affluent Town fans who missed out in the auction to become a member of the GTFC playing squad next season may be tempted by another great offer from the club - to fly with the team to the opening-day fixture at Plymouth. A hundred and fifty English pounds is the sum that will secure you a place on the Mariners' flight from Humberside Airport - which includes a posh seat at Home Park together with transfers and "full breakfast", which is quite a relief, as the Diary for one finds it particularly annoying when the stewardess brings you a slice of toast that's already been chewed by that scary ADHD kid across the aisle. Book early by emailing email@example.com or phone Tony Richardson on 01472 605050, and get the season off to - heh - a flying start!
Wednesday 23 July
Just one or two bits and bobs again today: we still haven't signed that striker; several players are injured and won't play in the Neil Mann testimonial at Hull tonight, including Alan Pouton, who is completely knackered again; Jason Crowe isn't still training at BP but we still want to sign him if we can; and Steph Coldicott "got leathered and chucked up four times," one correspondent informs me. Oh, and there's some daft ersatz row going on somewhere about the whole Jevons thing, with two or three of those peculiar Furneaux-out obsessives going ballistic on messageboards; but it all seems of very little concern to the sensible Town fan.
But yesterday's appeal to your memories for the names of players and managers who have left Blundell Park and then come back, not including loans, has unleashed a flood of emails, some more useful than others. "How about Tillson returning on loan?" asks Dan Humphrey. Gilbert and Oster don't count for the same reason, and Robert 'Injured' Taylor...I'm not sure to be honest; I kind of lost track of what kinds of contracts he was on. Dan's suggestion of Jim Dobbin is, I think, a valid one, though I'm not sure about his mate who says Steve Sherwood. "When Rhys Wilmot was injured and he couldn't get a loanee in, Buckley dragged him back from somewhere like Frickley for a month or two," is the explanation. Can anyone corroborate this?
Two of you - namely Miles Moss and Pat Bell - have spoken the name of Mike Czuczman, which is no mean feat in itself, and the latter has a word or two to add. The player, writes Pat, "was a rather estimable member of the post-McMenemy mid-1970s side that struggled in the old third division - when he left, we were relegated. I was surprised to once see him listed among the worst Town players, but have always assumed that the person doing the naming saw him when he came back as a squad member towards the end of his career, when we'd found our way into the second (I never saw him play in that second spell, so can't comment)." Now do I or do I not recall a piece by Phil Ball in Sing When We're Fishing discussing an absolute screamer he once scored? "I have a feeling there's a striker I ought to remember," adds Pat. I do as well, y'know...is it Marc North?
Miles also recalls Wilf Gillow, who "signed on the dotted line in 1919-20 and then again in 1923-24, after a short stint being a Lancaster player," and I don't think anyone would argue with that. The splendidly named Clive Wiggington is another valid contribution; but Clarrie Williams, Dick Conner and Dave Booth are all sadly inadmissible as their returns to Town were to coaching and management positions. Same with Mark Dillerstone's suggestion of Paul Wilkinson. Mark also breathes the names of Alec King and Dudley Ramsden, but we don't want to open that whole nest of director worm vipers.
An anonymous contributor, finally, says Tommy Briggs, and adds a quote from Dwight D Eisenhower, with which today's Diary will conclude, because it's even better than that Shankly one about life and death. "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
Tuesday 22 July
The career of Aidan Davison may have seen seven free transfers, but anyone doubting his commitment to the Mariners should look no further than BBC Humber, where the former Northern Ireland international has revealed that he chose his recent move to Grimsby ahead of Bradford or retirement in the sun. "When I left Bradford I had an option to sign for another year but I didn't take it," says the re-acquired stopper. "I had a few offers in the summer. I'm not being disrespectful, I wanted something to stimulate me and make it worth my while. Otherwise I was thinking of retiring and going abroad." Are you listening, Clive Platt?
That crazy idea to auction off a place in the GTFC squad for next season has borne fruit for the club - to the mighty tune of £2,150, to be precise, which will pay Phil Jevons' wages for three days. A bidder of identity as yet unknown will travel to Blundell Park tomorrow to meet his colleagues in the squad before taking part in a photo shoot, being registered as a player with the Football League, and having his bollocks chopped off by his missus.
Members of the Cod Almighty team are today nobly wasting their employers' money by trying to think of as many Town players and managers as possible who returned to the club for a second spell, which is fair enough because their employers collude in an economic system that places the consumption of materials and manipulation of data above the furtherance of human happiness and destroys loves and lives from the City of London to the sweatshops of Indonesia; from the Tokyo trading floor to the parched fields of Africa. The employers of the Cod Almighty team, I mean, not of the Town players and managers. So come on, you lot; thinking caps on and answers to firstname.lastname@example.org please. Loans and caretaker managers don't count; nor do Groves, Buckley, Davison, Boulding, Tees and Ford, because we've got them already.
Monday 21 July
Kind of a quiet one today - there's not a single big story, just lots of itty-bitty news. Paul Groves has voiced fears to BBC Humber that there may not be room on the payroll for Jason Crowe once a new centre-forward is brought in. Discussions continue accordingly with two strikers, says Peter Furneaux, now that Clive Platt has been left for dead, or for Notts County, whichever fate is worse. Ouzo Osei and David Savage, the trialists who didn't do terribly well against Brigg Town last week, have been sent back to that London despite Osei being a mate of Steve Kabba's; but former Hull defender Michael Edwards, who did a bit better against Sunderland on Saturday, is still in contact with the Mariners, having briefly played alongside Graham Rodger as the Town assistant manager saw out his playing days with the Tigers in the late 90s. Small world.
Sonya Wilson of Leeds, meanwhile, wishes it to be known that she was stuck behind Town fans on her way to work this morning, somewhere along the route from Rodley to Farnley. So if that was you, then, er, I dunno - drive a bit faster tomorrow, or something.
Sunday 20 July
If Town's official website were my parents, I'd have become a pregnant teenage crack addict and hurled myself to my doom from Fuller Street footbridge. Because that is the sort of thing that happens when the trust of an impressionable young person is betrayed by authority figures and official websites; and after Mariners Net spent nearly two months energetically trailing yesterday's friendly against Sunderland with the teaser Oster to return to Blundell Park, the Black Cats duly took to the field with the former Town winger and babe magnet nowhere to be seen. Given King John's Premiership saintliness, the Diary suspects that the player was busy brokering a peace deal in the Middle East or inventing and distributing a cure for Aids free of charge throughout Africa; but this may come as scant consolation for those 3,168 fans who shelled out seven quid in the hope of setting eyes on the Great One and basking in His glorious radiance.
As for the match itself, Mick McCarthy's side clearly suffered from the absence of their Welsh wing talisman and saviour of humanity, struggling to a 1-1 draw in the face of an encouraging performance from the Mariners. After a first half spent very much under the black and white cosh, the visitors took the lead from a Michael Proctor penalty on 55 minutes following a foul by Andy Pettinger on Tore Andre Flo. Town levelled with a quarter of an hour to go as man of the match Iain Anderson headed his second pre-season goal to finish a superb counterattack involving Graham Hockless and Jonny Rowan. Portsmouth wing-back Jason Crowe, who had been training with the Mariners this week, was missing presumed hanging out with Oster, as was Disco Des Hamilton; while notable presentees were Paul Groves, playing 87 minutes in midfield, Marcel Cas at centre-back, Aidan Davison returning between the sticks for the first half and former Hull defender Michael Edwards, who must be on trial or summat.
Simon Ford could make the trip to Plymouth on 9 August after all. The somnambulent centre-back had, like Alan Pouton, become an early injury worry ahead of the new season, but is hoping to return to training next week.
Mixed news this weekend for former Town players hoping to find new clubs in the next couple of weeks. Talented young keeper Steve Croudson, recently on trial with York, has been passed over as the Minstermen seek a more experienced custodian; while Oxford United could prove themselves easily impressed by handing a contract to Tommy Widdrington, who failed to point the way to first division survival for the Mariners in 1997 and was recently released by Hartlepool. The downwardly mobile midfielder featured in a friendly for the Us earlier this week and is said to be in with a shout of rescuing his career among the dreaming spires. Where is the justice?
Friday 18 July
With five new players already having joined and most of the best among the out-of-contract brigade agreeing new deals, the miserablism that normally ploughs through the heart of Town supporters like some sort of purpose-built urban expressway has largely been bypassed this summer. And with the news that Jason Crowe is training at Blundell Park, some Grimsby fans may now even secretly dare to smile. The Portsmouth wing-back has featured strongly in his side's ascent to the Premiership, and Harry Redknapp's apparent willingness to release the player has left some among the Pompey faithful questioning his sanity. Twenty-four-year-old Crowe - who began his career with Arsenal and was capped by England at under-18 level - is generally considered way too good for Division Two; and should he join the Mariners, his acquisition would probably represent Paul Groves' greatest transfer coup to date. The player would fit in at left-back or left midfield to Groves' 4-4-2 system.
Still no sign of a centre-forward, though; and Phil Jevons' rejection of the new terms renegotiated between GTFC and his agent leaves the Mariners marginally lighter still in striking personnel. The languid Scouser, you will remember, faced a future of reserve football at BP because of the ITV Digital-era payments due to Everton with each first-team appearance the player makes. BBC Humber today reports that Town offered Jevons an extra year on his contract in exchange for the reduced terms that would offset his appearance money; and the agent accepted the new deal only for the player to say no. "We understand that Phil has been to see his parents and he's rejected that deal," explains Peter Furneaux, adding that another loan to a third division side would see young Pip whipped soundly and sent to bed early with no supper.
Georges Santos may be history as far as Town are concerned; but the elephantine behemoth of a defender hasn't found it quite so easy to get away as he may have hoped. As his new team Ipswich jetted off on their pre-season tour of Scandinavia the notably sizeable Frenchman was left jumping up and down on the runway like a crazy person following a mix-up over tickets. Manager Joe Royle stayed behind with Santos to head off any last-minute dash back up the A1, and the two eventually joined up with the rest of the squad eight hours late. Peter Furneaux, meanwhile, has revealed that the player gave no indication that he was bound for Portman Road despite having joined the Mariners for pre-season training, which is just downright rude. "He is of that mind that he will go wherever he wants to go," says the Town chairman, pointing towards his head and drawing circles with his index finger.
Thursday 17 July
Georges Santos has today signed a new contract with Town, but the bad news for the Grimsby fans who last season made him their latest short-term cult hero is that the Town in question is Ipswich. The hulking, titanic defensive legend of French origin will be performing his X-rated challenges and Gallic shrugs in East Anglia next season after Blues boss Joe Royle moved to snap him up on a three-month deal, and Santos will travel with the Ipswich squad on their pre-season tour of Scandinavia (been there, done that). "With John McGreal recovering from his knee injury and Thomas Gaardsoe picking up an ankle problem, I wanted to bring in someone else to help us at the back," says Royle in a passionate and glowing testimony to his long-standing admiration of Santos' awesome skills; while Ipswich's official website displays early confusion over spelling, dithering between George, Georges and Geoge within the space of a few dozen pixels. Given that GTFC signed him almost by accident and were still relegated with him in the side, the Diary is trying to be kinda philosophical about the player's departure. The king is dead, long live Tony Crane.
One of Paul Groves' less well-kept secrets has been officially blown with the news that Aidan Davison is training at Blundell Park and will sign a two-year contract on 1 August. "He was always the number one choice," admits the Town boss to the Grimsby Telegraph. "It's good to finally get him on board." Paul's pleasure at the keeper's return is evident in a quite cute and pretty good photograph on the front page of Town's swankily redesigned official site. The long delays incurred in Davison's return to Blundell Park are understood to stem from the player's need for reassurance that Wayne Burnett is no longer residing in the North East Lincolnshire area.
A date has been fixed for the FA hearing that will give Graham Rodger a ruddy good telling off for conduct unbecoming a gentleman. Town's assistant boss, you will recall, went bananas when Stoke full-back Wayne Thomas launched a massive air strike against Chris Thompson as the two sides met at Blundell Park in February; and in the typical FA way of things, the body that couldn't govern its way out of a moist tissue has decided to hold a disciplinary tribunal almost seven months later, on 27 August. Rodger is alleged to have tried to headbutt Stoke boss Tony Pulis, despite both a nearby police officer and Pulis himself saying otherwise. "I do really feel hard done by," mopes Grezza to BBC Humber, but if punishment from the FA is the only way for Grimsby coaches to be taught that teams with big shiny home stadiums are perfectly within their rights to commit life-threatening assaults against Town players, then so be it.
A youth/reserve team featuring two trialists went down 3-1 at Brigg Town last night, Nick Hegarty/Heggarty/Hegartey finding the net for the Mariners' second/third string. The newcomers were Charlton youngster Dave Savage and a mysterious figure by the name of Uza Opara, origin and correct spelling unknown. Meanwhile the GTFC trialist who sadly never was, Wayne Gill, is being handed a chance to salvage his tattered soccer dream - by a Mr A Buckley of Rochdale, Lancs. God bless you, sir!
Finally, Steve Croudson's move to York could still be on after Marlon Beresford failed a medical - and after appearing in a friendly for the Minstermen against Sunderland last night the former Town keeper can consider himself deeply honoured to have conceded a goal scored by undoubtedly the finest footballer ever to have graced the Bootham Crescent turf, and quite possibly any turf anywhere in the civilised world - the player who threatens my heterosexuality, the one, the only, the sensational, the far too good for Division Two, the hung like a 60-foot donkey, Mr John Oster. What a guy.
Wednesday 16 July
Originating in the north-east, hero-worshipped by Town fans, a bit inconsistent, and now injured more often than he's fit...with the news that he may miss the beginning of the new season, Alan Pouton is today confirmed as the new Clive Mendonca. The big bad Town midfielder hobbled out of yesterday's friendly against Lincoln after just 10 minutes with what looks like a recurrence of the knee trouble that forced him out of last season's run-in, explains today's Grimsby Telegraph. And with Simon Ford, John McDermott, Stacy Coldicott, Stuart Campbell, Phil Jevons, Mick Boulding and Darren Mansaram forced to sit out yesterday's game, the haste with which Town have brought in new players this summer is looking ever more expedient. "It's starting to highlight the depth of the squad," agrees Mr Paul Groves. "We need to strengthen it as much as we can." Ford may also miss the Plymouth game on 9 August.
As for the match itself, Town weathered strong first-half pressure from Lincoln to claim a third successive 1-0 friendly win with a goal on 52 minutes as Marcel Cas crossed for Matt O'Halloran, the Derby midfielder/forward in whom Groves denied an interest back in May. Maybe he was just down Meggies while the weather was nice and happened to overhear Paul and Graham discussing the injury situation.
Also among the trialists currently kicking their heels in the BP car park is Dave Savage, another young 'un not getting the chance at Charlton that he may get at Brigg this evening, where a further friendly will be contested by Town reserves, or given the number of reserves involved against Lincoln, by some sort of reserve/youth amalgam. McDermott and Campbell, though, are expected to play for half an hour, adds Town's official site, stretching a virtual hand towards the nearest wooden surface.
Tuesday 15 July
Paul Groves has given the clearest indication yet that he is looking to manage from the bench next season rather than the pitch - in the announcement of new squad numbers. The player-boss - who played the odd stinker in defence last season but found a new lease of life in midfield - has elected to take number 22, handing his old 4 shirt to young defender Simon Ford. Tony Crane and Marcel Cas are the newbies who nab first-team numbers, with 5 and 6 respectively, while Disco Des Hamilton will wear 20 and Iain Anderson 21. Tony Gallimore's exit from the club is all but confirmed by Darren Barnard's accession to the 3 shirt; and the vacancy for a first-choice keeper means number 1 remains unallocated for now. Michael Boulding and Darren Mansaram are handed striking duties with the 9 and 10 shirts, while north bank returnee Phil Jevons will wear number 12.
One unexpected name with a number next to it is that of Bradley Hughes, the teenage goalkeeper quietly reported last week by Town's official site as having left the club. The site lets slip today that the player "has returned to Blundell Park and is expected to sign on for another year", so that's everything explained there then. Hughes has been given the number 30 shirt, anyway, so the Diary presumes that he will now be remaining at Blundell Park - unless the club asks him to wear it for four minutes, takes it back, sacks him, and then auctions it off as a fantastic collectable unique piece of GTFC memorabilia.
Town's website also trails the possibility of two trialists turning out in this afternoon's top-secret friendly against Lincoln at BP, which is kicking off any minute now. Team news and latest scores can be accessed via the site, which saves me having to do it.
And speaking of fund-raising exercises, the Mariners are borrowing the excellent idea hatched by cash-strapped Bury last season and auctioning off a place in the playing squad. One lucky Town fan with more money than sensibility will be handed a squad number, get officially registered as a player with the Football League and appear in the team photo and all that stuff. I note that Diary reader Marnix Kolder currently leads the bidding with an offer of £600 - but the lad remains 400 notes shy of the reserve, so if you're a member of the middle classes benefiting from the UK's absurdly low rates of taxation, then why not make a bid yourself.
On the subject of Bury, that's where Terry Cooke is. The former Mariners winger is training at Gigg Lane, reveals today's Grimsby Telegraph, but has yet to receive a contract offer from any club anywhere in the world all summer - which may surprise some of those who believed that his greater involvement with Town's first team last season would undoubtedly have kept the side in Division One.
And whaddayaknow - the Diary has been well and truly emailed by the Telegraph's Stuart Rowson, who wishes to dissociate himself publicly from all things Hillsborough. "Keep up the good work and call me anything you like," he writes, "but NOT a Sheff Wed fan!!" Nice to hear from you, Stu, and thanks for being a good sport. Readers wishing to take up his kind offer are referred to the email address on the left.
It's been the best day ever for cheesy daytime TV-style links between Diary items, and remaining with Sheffield for our final story today, your friend and mine Neil Warnock continues his bid to sign every player ever mentioned in the same breath as Grimsby by snapping up Mark Rankine, the antiquated Preston midfielder linked with the Mariners last month, on a free transfer. Development work at Bramall Lane continues apace, meanwhile, with the construction of a 300-foot Italian-style tower over the Hallam FM Kop.
Monday 14 July
Now that Clive Platt has become the latest in a long line of strikers to turn down a move to the Mariners, Paul Groves may be forced to turn his sights to Cleethorpes beach for a new frontman, because it's only the donkeys who are left. That's the impression given, at any rate, by today's Grimsby Telegraph, which insists that Platt is set to reject the bigger bucks on offer from Blundell Park in favour of a move to Notts County - despite the Magpies' transfer embargo looking likely to remain in place until next month. The local rag further suggests that a succession of strikers have said no to Grimsby and that the Town boss will be forced to resort to an ageing lumberer. "It's just about dead now," admits Groves, meaning the Platt deal, not the experimental clone of Livvo strapped to a table in a secret lab under his office. "There's still no sign of him changing his decision and it's time for us to move on." Damn those cycle lanes.
The picture looks slightly better as regards a new keeper, in terms of both the possibility of signing one and the quality of the image that accompanies this story on Town's official site. Maybe this one's from Empics. Paul declares that a deal with his number one number one remains a possibility. "We're still talking to our main target," he says on Mariners Net, which repeats that Aidan Davison is rumoured to be the man in question, yeah, like they don't already know.
One man unlikely to become Town's new centre forward is one of Town's old centre forwards, namely Robert Taylor, whose obvious quality cruelly raised the hopes of supporters during his assorted loans and short-term contracts with the Mariners a year or so back. Having seen out last season in the Glanford Park treatment room, the talented but chronically injury-prone striker has landed a trial with third division Cheltenham - as has the former West Brom and Bolton forward Robert 'Bob' Taylor. Could be interesting.
Sunday 13 July
As one who considers the early symptoms of skin cancer - commonly referred to as a 'suntan' - singularly unattractive, the Diary has mostly been staying indoors this weekend drinking coffee and listening to My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything; The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds; Barcelona's Simon BASIC; a load of stuff by Shampoo, who were the very definition of pop, God bless them; and the first Spiritualized album, whatever the hell it's called, before they went all prog rock. And reading the paper. I recommend this to you all.
The wild winds of change that have lately whipped through Blundell Park have slackened off a little this weekend, and the key item of news from Town's official website is indeed that nothing is happening; but specifically that nothing is happening with Georges Santos. The Frenchman of substance is training with the youth team - as a truly appalling photograph purports to illustrate - pending his agreement to a new contract with the Mariners or in fact elsewhere, as the player claims for the first time that several other clubs are poised to make him very attractive nibbles. "Georges and ourselves are some way apart when it comes to figures," confirms Paul Groves, and he isn't talking waistlines.
Another truly appalling photograph on the official site is of Neil Woods with his eyes shut and looking a dead ringer for my uncle Derek. The snap illustrated a short item earlier this week about Town's youth side playing Horncastle Town in something called the Vickers Cup, and a conveniently placed Diary reader who attended the match on Friday evening has emailed with the observation that Joe Lightowler displays "distinctly Ashcroftian tendencies". The hotly tipped young forward opened the scoring in the kids' 3-0 win after showing some glorious touches and went off with cramp after 40 minutes, as he's been doing all season, according to his dad. Our man on the spot also found kind words for goalkeeper Paul Fraser, striker Liam Nimmo and the Town centre-back pairing (names unknown). "There were quite a few OK players out there. For their age," concludes our reporter - high praise indeed by his standards. "Perhaps one or two may be worth trying in reserve team football at the moment." You heard it here first. Possibly.
The Diary also receives word from Hertfordshire's prophet of gloom Mark Wilson, but this time the lad wants to exhume some of the seeds of misery he has planted recently. "Having done a hatchet job on at least one of our new signings this season I hope to put matters right by coming to praise Des Hamilton," he writes. "A Bradford supporter of my acquaintance congratulated me on our signing of Des Hamilton. Apparently Des was a demi-god at Bradford, scoring goals,
tackling hard and running forever. Bradford supporters are baffled with his subsequent disappearance from the football radar. He thinks he will do a great job for us in the second division." Thanking you kindly, Mark. Much would seem to depend upon whether Disco Des (I do love that nickname) plays in central midfield or out wide, as it seems to have been in the middle that he thrived at Valley Parade and on the right that he struggled at Newcastle. See also: Pouton, Alan.
Over in Lancashire expectations are being inflated by the outcome of the first pre-season workout for Alan Buckley's Rochdale. In a friendly at Radcliffe Borough this weekend the side belied the shot-shy nature of their manager's former Grimsby charges and ran out victorious by the eyebrow-raising margin of nine goals to nil. "The result, though it's nice to win, has no bearing in my mind," comments the ever-excitable manager.
Friday 11 July
The 1998 Auto Windscreens Shield and the 1982 Full Members Cup are joined on Town's illustrious list of club honours by the 2003 Copa Ibiza, thanks to the Iain Anderson goal that won the game against Sant Raphael last night. The former Preston winger netted direct from a free kick to hand the Mariners their second 1-0 victory in the friendly triangular workout, for which Alan Pouton was named player of the tournament. "The players were magnificent throughout," enthuses Graham Rodger, "and they have stuck to their task very well." Jonny Rowan and, inevitably, Michael Boulding have joined Phil Jevons, Stuart Campbell, Kirk Wheeler and Darren Mansaram on the pre-season injured list after the match; and some daft Grimsby sod ran on the pitch in the nuddy.
Last season's talisman of failure Jason Gavin has joined Bradford City, the bankrupt club whose continued first division status owes (pun intended) more than even Coventry's to the fallibility of match officials. Gavin's ill-fated loan spell with the Mariners last term was followed by a similarly inglorious stint with Huddersfield leading up to the Terriers' drop to Division Three; and the former Middlesbrough centre-half will doubtless be looking to make it a hat-trick of relegations with his new side after the Bantams beat off a late £30m bid from Chelsea to secure the player's services next season.
The European Cup used to be great and now it's the unspeakably boring Champions League. Fans of the teams playing a World Cup game in a stadium that holds 50,000 will be given just 5,000 tickets. And this week a shady Australian with spectacularly bad hair has been given two million quid of fans' money for making a few phone calls. Free-market capitalism has ruined football in oh so many ways, and the newest and one of the least expected is the outlawing of those Panini stickers that we used to swap at school. The addictively collectable little picture cards have been declared a breach of copyright by the Court of Appeal and schoolchildren up and down the land will now have to spend playtime shooting crack instead - another glorious victory for the visionaries of the FA and Premier League, who brought the case.
Clive Platt still doesn't know whether he's coming or going, and it's driving Stuart Rowson round the bend. The Grimsby Telegraph sports writer has been moved to pass comment on Town's week-long tug-of-transfer, and either Platt's indecision or the hot weather has pushed him over the edge. Recent signings, writes Stu, have left Town fans riding "a wave of optimism the likes of which always seem to pass Grimsby by like some sort of purpose-built dual carriageway". Notts County - GTFC's rivals for Platt's affections - are "deep in the depths", meanwhile; and clearly a man who has issues with his surroundings, the Sheffield Wednesday-supporting journo wonders: "Platt didn't want to live anywhere near Grimsby and it is unclear whether it was the abundance of pointless cycle lanes that put him off". Isn't it always the way, eh.
These frankly alarming symptoms all serve to remind the Diary what a privileged position I am in when it comes to silly season. Rather than allow myself to be driven mad a la Rowson, I can allow myself to wonder whether Town would be better served up front by Martin Platt than Clive, and eventually to fill the space in this column by compiling a novelty Coronation Street XI:
Brennan (Norwich), Baldwin (Colchester), Fairclough (Ilkeston), Lynch (Man Utd)
Webster (Cowdenbeath), Roberts (Wycombe), Elliot (Bournemouth), Gilroy (Scarborough)
Battersby (Stevenage), Barlow (Tranmere)
Thursday 10 July
Hot, isn't it?
Wednesday 9 July
After the signings of Iain Anderson, Marcel Cas and Des Hamilton to (hopefully) strengthen the Town midfield, Graham Hockless has reminded Town's management not to overlook the club's youth products. After reaching the fringes of the first team late last season, the rookie midfielder fired the winner - an excellent long-range dip - in last night's pre-season curtain-raiser against SD Portmany. "With Stuart Campbell injured he got a chance last night and he's done himself no harm at all," Paul Groves tells today's Grimmo Telegraph. Around 300 Town fans saw their side run out 1-0 winners, with Cas playing right-back while Wes Parker began on the bench. Anderson, who many hope will fill the Mariners' left midfield berth next season, played in Cas's anticipated right-wing position, while Tony Crane and Hamilton also debuted for GTFC.
Bradley Hughes has become the third goalkeeper to leave Blundell Park this summer following the departures of Steve Croudson and Danny Coyne, whispers Town's official site under its breath. The club's management couldn't speak highly enough of the 19-year-old stopper on his arrival in Cleethorpes from Watford last summer, but Hughes' subsequent performances in reserve and friendly games did little to justify the faith shown in him; and while praising Andy Pettinger for his showing against Portmany last night, Mariners Net mentions in an aside that Hughes has been quietly ushered away.
Next season's goalkeeping main course to Pettinger's starter remains uncertain, though the Grimbly Tello reckons Aidan Davison is very much back on the menu. It was thought last week that talks had broken down over a deal to bring the peripatetic custodian back to Blundell Park, but Groves insists: "We are still pursuing our number one target. We are hopeful that we can strike a deal."
Remaining with matters of netminding, Tony Butcher lives up to his name by taking a ginormous meat cleaver to the Diary's clearly ill-considered remarks yesterday about Marlon Beresford. "Nobody asked you," snaps the match reporter extraordinaire, "which is just as well, as he's rubbish. On £10,000 per week at Middlesborough you know. A disastrous kicker and woeful flapper, like a mix between the bad bits of Crichton and Wilmot. Burnley fans are happier now he's gone. And I'm happy now there's no chance he's Blundell bound." Well, I wasn't suggesting Town give him ten K a week; and just because someone's earning that much, doesn't mean they're a bad player. Unless Lennie Lawrence signs them.
And speaking of former Town managers, but this time of half decent ones, Alan Buckley has shown again that his old habits die harder than anyone's by making Northampton defender Daryl Burgess his first new signing at Rochdale. The calamitous acquisition of his old charge Paul Raven may have been the straw that led to Buckley's sacking by the Mariners in 2000; but that hasn't stopped the man staying with what he knows best, as Burgess, inevitably, played under Buckley during his entire spell at West Brom in the mid-90s. In a bewildering world of change, the Diary salutes Al for sticking firmly to his very sticky guns.
Tuesday 8 July
In what could be a precursor of teams to come, given recent additions to the GTFC midfield, Stuart Campbell will sit out tonight's match against SD Portmany. The player - who was last season's top scorer if you don't count the loan signings - sustained "a slight strain" in training yesterday, according to Mariners Net, and will not be chanced in the opening match of Town's pre-season programme this evening. Hopeful young defender Kirk Wheeler will also miss out with a thigh strain. "There is no point in risking either of the two lads tonight," says easily riled assistant manager Graham Rodger.
Steve Croudson's chances of a move to York look doomed after the Minstermen - assistantly managed, of course, by Town's former lethal hitman Lee Nogan - have moved to snap up Lincoln-born Marlon Beresford, the experienced former Burnley and Middlesbrough keeper, who Town could have done worse than have a look at, if you ask the Diary.
And that, my friends, is just about it for today, I'm afraid. Mrs Diary is poorly and off work, so it's just as well.
Monday 7 July
Tony Gallimore, who has infuriated Grimsby fans and boosted the profits of the area's licensed premises since the last days of John Major's government, could be on his way to sunny Oakwell, reports today's Grimsby Telegraph. The out-of-contract left-back has not been risked near the Ibiza nightclubs in Town's current pre-season tour, and is thought to be interesting that Icelandic fella who Stoke sacked for getting them promoted the other year and who has just taken over at Barnsley. Marcel Cas is already understood to be rubbing his hands in anticipation.
In another Telegraph report Paul Groves as good as confirms that the target man he was in talks with last week is, as widely rumoured, Rochdale's Clive Platt - despite the club's official site remaining on 'unnamed' status - except he isn't Rochdale's any more, and isn't anyone's until he makes his bloody mind up what he's doing. It's between Town and Notts County to sign the lumbering frontman, says the paper, with the Mariners, remarkably, offering more cash but the Magpies allowing the player to live in the midlands. Takes all sorts. Aidan Davison's return to Blundell Park is now off, adds the paper, and Groves' search for a keeper continues.
GTFC have extended the deadline for season ticket discounts, and before you go jumping to the cynical conclusion that they were planning it all along, just you stop and listen to what Peter Furneaux has to say about the matter. Which is this. "Last Saturday the club was not open, but due to a technical fault on our phone system, the recording still announced that we were open. Some fans made their way down to the ticket office because of this and they were obviously disappointed to find the office closed. We would like to apologise to them for the inconvenience." So there you go - it's because of a technical fault. It's also because of all the ace new signings Town have made in the past week or so, apparently, which may have helped to attract one or two floating voters to splash out for the long haul. You now have a further two weeks to claim a discount - which could tot up to a not insubstantial 60-odd quid - with the ticket office opening for three hours on the next two Saturday mornings to cope with the demand.
Finally today, Pat Bell has responded to the Diary's appeal for literary references to Grimsby. "One of the Resnick crime thrillers by John Harvey has a scene in which Resnick is bored watching telly on boxing day. He reflects that what he really wants is to watch a Nationwide league game on ITV between two lower league sides, say Southend and the other has to be Grimsby, all effort and running around, a punt upfield by a central defender being the highest point of tactical sophistication. One can only conclude that John Harvey is not very knowledgeable about lower league football (although the Resnick character supports Notts County) or had the misfortune to watch us during the Lyons era, and never got over it."
Sunday 6 July
I am not planning on writing an awful lot here today, as Mrs Diary and I have come down with something; hence we probably shouldn't have gone to that party last night but it was a smashing do and we are jolly glad we did. And I don't have long because we're off to an antifolk gig tonight headlined by Kimya Dawson out of The Moldy Peaches. Sorry - I'm turning this into one of those tedious blog sites here, aren't I.
So. Word is getting round that the "sought-after lower-division target man" from whom Paul Groves is awaiting an answer following transfer talks earlier this week is tall man Clive Platt, lately of Rochdale. He is well suited to the role of replacement for Steve Livingstone by dint of a pretty dismal goalscoring record; though the player was a firm favourite at Spotland until last season, when he embarked on a Coynesque "I am so out of here" strop and stopped trying, provoking great anger and furious malice from the Dale faithful. Platt apparently agreed terms with Bristol Rovers before agreeing terms with Notts County before nearly agreeing terms with Town; but as yet there is still no official word from Blundell Park that he is the fella we're after.
Meanwhile 25 Mariners are 35,000 feet above our heads as I type these words, but defeated contract rebels John McDermott and Stacy Coldicott are not among the squad en route to Ibiza for the first two workouts of this pre-season. Stace is still getting over his busted leg while Macca has got one of those calf injuries that he always gets. Still, better now than in a month's time. Little David Soames also misses out with a bruised foot. And it's going to be hot out there.
The Mariners may have nicked Marcel Cas from under the very noses of Sheffield United, but news that Jellylegs Jack Lester is Bramall-bound brings proof that ya cannae change the laws of physics nor indeed the eventual attraction of all things GTFC towards the irresistible force that is Mr Neil Warnock. Elsewhere in the Bosman market, but also in South Yorkshire, Peter 'Handysides' Handyside - who many Town fans have dreamed fondly of seeing return home to Cleethorpes - is thought to be training with Barnsley.
The ninth, final and perhaps biggest Reason I Hate Wimbledon (actually, there are one or two more, but I'll hold those over until next year's tournament) is the way the tabloids take on the mentality of 14-year-old boys, I mean even more so than usual. The way if you put a blonde wig and a tennis skirt on an ironing board they would still be trying to get photos where you could see its pants. The way Anna Kournikova is supposed to be like this total babe, when in actual fact if you shaved her head she would be indistinguishable from George Daws out of Shooting Stars. Thank you for reading Reasons I Hate Wimbledon. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
After the fun of our little Diary book group the other week, I now invite you to submit to the email address on the left - well, it's sort of above-left by now - any Grimsby references that have cropped up in your reading where you least expected it. The Diary has just finished The Woman in White, a splendidly plotted novel by Victorian dope fiend and philanderer Wilkie Collins, and was interested to find the present-day English football scene uncannily presaged in a section describing the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace. "Foreigners in unusually large numbers had arrived already," writes Collins, "and were still arriving in England. Men were among us by hundreds...by means of appointed agents, to our shores." Elsewhere this estimable tome provides evidence that little else has changed in the past 150 years: "She had determined on removing to one of the most out-of-the-way places in England - to the town of Grimsby in Lincolnshire."
Oh, and Disco Des Hamilton has signed a two-year contract with the Mariners. Whether he will be the new Shaun Cunnington or the new Terry Cooke only time will tell.
For all my intentions of brevity, this Diary has ended up being longer than a Neil Woods dribble. I really need a snooze now.
Friday 4 July
Just when you thought it was safe to trust the messageboards, Aidan Davison's much-muttered-of return to Blundell Park is anything but a done deal, it would appear, as Paul Groves continues to keep his options open for a man to fill Danny Coyne's winged boots. Despite talks with Davison, says BBC Humber, Town's search for a keeper goes on; and one other possibility could be Ipswich's James Pullen - the young stopper who suffered a torrid time during the Mariners' trip to Portman Road last season, conceding a soft goal to Mr Groves himself. "If [Grimsby] were interested then I would be delighted to hear from them," the player has told the East Anglian Daily Times, though it is not known whether he has reason to suspect such an interest or is just Pullen names out of the air. Sorry.
Meanwhile Town's target target man has gone away to think about what he's done, which was to discuss a switch to Blundell Park with Paul Groves yesterday. Nobody knows who he is, still, except presumably Groves and the player himself. And their mums. But it might be Lee Trundle from Wrexham. The GTFC boss will be hoping a deal can be wrapped up in the next 36 hours, ahead of the squad's departure for Ibiza on Sunday, which has so far proved an enormous success in attracting Tony Crane, Marcel Cas, Des Hamilton and Iain Anderson to sign for the Mariners.
Not that such resorts are to the Diary's taste; as a cold-blooded reptile, or so Mrs Diary insists, I much prefer something a bit more chilled - Norway, say. Which, funnily enough, is exactly where Grimsby-area youngsters and Grimsby Town youngsters could be making some character-building visits in a proposed link-up between GTFC and Norwegian side Lillehammer. Talks have begun between the two clubs, reveals Scandinavia's number one Mariners website Jailhouse Rock, over a scheme whereby young players will switch between them for extra training and stuff, and schoolchildren at Town's study support centre get an ace holiday. "The value of this is big in relation to exchange of players, training camps, matches," says Lillehammer dude Stig Bjørnes. The Mariners may also tour Norway next pre-season.
I leave you today with the eighth Reason I Hate Wimbledon, a linguistic phenomenon that for want of a proper name might be termed the Wimbledon possessive. For no good reason at all, commentators on Wimbledon decided some time ago to replace perfectly adequate possessive noun phrases such as "Williams' serve" or "Roddick's volley" with a more pretentious construction, so that they now speak of "the Williams serve" or "the Roddick volley". Last week I even heard mention of "the Henman racquet", for crying out loud. One mitigating factor for this Reason I Hate Wimbledon, though, is that it at least prevents the occurrence of number five in the series, the use of first names, because even Wimbledon commentators would feel stupid talking about "the Greg sweatbands".
Thursday 3 July
Steve Livingstone is a Mariner no more. After ten years at Blundell Park, during which he scored just 51 goals, the iconic striker has clinched a deal with third division Carlisle despite talks with former boss Alan Buckley at Rochdale. As Paul Groves closes in on a replacement target man, a new GTFC contract for Livvo has looked increasingly unlikely; and the 34-year-old frontman has accordingly agreed a one-year deal with the Cumbrians. "It was us against the world and that was the Grimsby attitude that I loved," reads the player's memorable farewell in today's Grimsby Telegraph. "Every game was like a cup final and if we dropped a bit we'd get beaten." Groves is quick to pay tribute, speaking of Livingstone's "fantastic service". I suppose this is how it will feel when Ken Barlow leaves Corrie.
The Telegraph adds that Groves is set to finalise a deal with the new Livvo today, describing the player as "a much sought-after striker from the lower leagues" and the Town boss telling Radio Humberside that his target is "somebody who's slightly different to somebody we've actually got at the football club." Which could mean anything, if you think about it.
Elsewhere it looks like the rumours might be true for once, as Danny Coyne's replacement could well be Aidan Davison, whose return to Blundell Park has been whispered of by fans for weeks if not months. The former Northern Ireland international - who, at the age of 35, has made only 215 league starts for his 13 clubs - is thought to be in talks with Paul Groves following Coyne's free transfer switch to Premiership Leicester. Arguably the finest hour of the keeper's career came in Town's 1998 play-off final win over Northampton, when Davison suffered a concussive clout on the head as the Mariners faced six minutes of injury time to defend their 1-0 lead but continued to keep the Cobblers at bay with a stunning display of agility and courage. Like I say, though, he is 35 now.
What with all these new players, the Diary hasn't been this excited since that episode of Corrie where Richard Hillman - "Norman Bates with a briefcase," as Gail superbly described him - tried to murder his entire family; and a small minority of the Grimsby public, God bless them, are feeling similarly giddy, with season ticket sales passing the £200,000 mark this week. The club has issued a reminder that the initial discount period ends this week, with the ticket office opening from 9am to 3pm this Saturday to accommodate fans chasing savings of £56 to £64 by purchasing before the deadline.
Another keeper on the move is Steve Croudson, who the Diary still can't believe Town released on a free a few weeks ago, and is having a very convenient trial just down the road at Boston. If he fails that then I'll maybe get over it.
Diary readers are remaining tight-lipped on the issue of pay-as-you-talk mobile phone deals, but Dan Humphrey has a thought to share about one of Town's new acquisitions, which I suppose is a bit closer to my remit, after all. "Despite all warning signs to the contrary - all Newcastle fans begging us NOT to sign him, the nickname Disco Des and the fact that Lennie Lawrence rated him enough to play him earlier in the season - I have decided to become a Des Hamilton fan, on the basis that he has a very similar name to mine. At least in a crossword style: Grimsby Town midfielder (3,8) D-- H-------." It's as good a reason as any, Dan.
And finally, part seven in our series Reasons I Hate Wimbledon is that - through no fault of its own, admittedly - the name reminds me of franchise football. Death to the Milton Keynes scab club and power to the real fans.
Wednesday 2 July
Ooooh, exciting! Town are about to sign a proper left winger - namely Glasgow-born Iain Anderson, who began his career with Dundee, spent a season with Toulouse and then made a key contribution to Preston's success under David Moyes after the then Lilywhites boss paid £500,000 to bring him back to Britain. The player found it difficult to hold down a place under Moyes' unsuccessful successor Craig Brown, though, and is set to pen a two-year deal with the Mariners today following a medical. Though not the world's biggest baddest player - or even the second biggest baddest after Georges Santos - Anderson can take players on, and is understood to be strong and quick and capable at set pieces, with a very respectable goalscoring record. Cor!
Danny Coyne, meanwhile, is set to take his career forward by becoming a Premiership bench-warmer at big bad Leicester. Wales' fourth-choice number one has been nurturing a deadly aversion to Division Two all summer - and has probably been dreaming of a move since halfway through last season when he gave up on Town's chances of staying up - and his fairy godmother is the underrated Micky Adams, master of crisps, who will take Dan to the midlands as back-up for first-choice Foxes stopper and occasional England international Ian Walker. So long, then, Danny, and thanks for everything; it was good while it lasted, which was until a year ago. Paul Groves is already in talks with a replacement, according to reports.
And if all of that were not enough to have whipped you into some kind of rabid frenzy, Stacy Coldicott has put his name to a new two-year contract with the Town. The Destroyer is still recovering from the broken leg sustained during the Mariners' visit to Burnley in March, just as he looked like he was back to his best, and will not travel with the squad for this month's triangular tournament in Ibiza. "I will stay behind and work hard on my recovery," Stace says on Town's official site. His voting intentions regarding Big Brother are not reported.
Clive Mendonca, the only decent striker Town have had since Kevin Drinkell, is to be honoured following his recent forced retirement from the game by his final club Charlton, who have arranged a pre-season friendly "in the name of" him. Addicks fans remember Clive most fondly for firing their side into the Premiership with his amazing hat-trick in the 1998 play-off final against Sunderland, and will be given a chance to say thank you and goodbye at a benefit match at the Valley against Dutch side NEC Nijmegen on 9 August. Hmmm...London's nearer than Plymouth...
"The reason for the 2 home friendlies been played behind closed doors is on the say so of the police," writes Jamie O'Neill in an email to the Diary. In a kinky sort of way, I prefer my own explanation, but thanks for putting us straight on that, Jamie. Can't quite see how a couple of inconsequential pre-season friendlies would mean the biggest ruck in Grimsby since Havelock and Matthew Humberstone made it onto the national BBC news, but I suppose the police know best, don't they.
There are two other subjects the Diary would like to hear from you about; one being the vexed issue of mobile telephony, and specifically which network I should switch to. I want a pay-as-you-talk set-up, cos I only spend about 10 quid a month on calls and stuff, and your recommendations are invited. I would also like to learn how optimistic or otherwise you are feeling about next season, because these new signings are looking a bit tasty if you ask me. Where do you think we'll finish? Email email@example.com with your take on these matters and anything else, for that matters. Matter.
In just a few minutes' time Tim Henman will be doing that unconvincing clenched fist thing and losing service games on double faults, which reminds the Diary that it's time for another Reason I Hate Wimbledon. Number six in our recent daily series is that not only is it sport for people who don't like football; it is sport for people who don't like sport. There are vast swathes of the British public who like to think their carefully nurtured aversion to sport makes them seem somehow pleasantly and likeably quirky; and yet they all come out of the woodwork at this time of year, furtively channel-hopping to see how "Tim" or "Greg" are getting on. In fact, given that most of its spectators invariably neglect to follow the other Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon could even be described as tennis for people who don't like tennis.
Tuesday 1 July
It's good news for the Diary's liver but bad tidings for the Earth's atmosphere as Town bring forward another away game to a Friday night. After next season's trip to Hartlepool was rescheduled last week for 12 September, the Mariners' February voyage down to Colchester has been similarly rearranged and will now be played on the evening of the 20th, keeping us out of the pub for the night but entirely ruling out for most fans the possibility of returning from the game by public transport. Town's official site is usually second with all the news after the club's subscription SMS service - but let it be noted that on this occasion the Diary brought you the news about the Hartlepool game around Sunday lunchtime, more than 24 hours before Mariners Net. I only copied it from the Hartlepool site, mind...er, and you should still go to Town's OS all the time, because the more you do the more money they will get to try and pay Georges Santos' wages next year.
Another way the club could claw together some coppers to keep our colossal Cape Verdean is of course by getting rid of Danny Coyne, and today's Grimsby Telegraph is breaking the news that "Leicester City have joined the growing list of clubs" who like the look of the Mariners' waning stopper. Or would be breaking the news had it not appeared in the Mirror and the Independent two weeks ago. "It's just a question of who I can sign and stay within my budget," says Foxes boss Micky Adams, his eyes presumably cast in a north-easterly bearing. First division Burnley are now thought to have pulled out of the race to snap up Dan after signing West Brom's Brian 'The Beast' Jensen instead (who Mark Lever had some fun winding up at the Hawthorns the other year).
Town's pre-season schedule continues to take shape, with tickets for the home friendly against Sunderland on 19 July going on sale next Monday at a scandalous £7. "Sunderland have confirmed that they will be fielding their first team...and that could mean a return for John Oster," states the Mariners' official site, paradoxically. The OS is also at pains to stress that home fixtures against Lincoln on 15 July and Middlesbrough on 1 August will be played behind closed doors, with no admission for fans even if willing to pay seven quid. Until a reason is given for this curious decision the Diary will be forced to assume that the players will be appearing naked.
Two more names could soon be joining the likes of Crane, Cas and Hamilton if Paul Groves gets his way. The Town boss has confirmed to Radio Humberside today that he is "speaking to one or two in the next few days", and we can assume from the context that he means footballers. Mark Rankine - the superannuated midfielder just released by Preston, who was linked with a loan move to Town last season - is one name being mentioned, but not by Groves, who will surely have enough central midfielders to be going on with if Stacy Coldicott, as expected, signs a new contract and Des Hamilton agrees terms.
In the same report for BBC Humber, Hamilton reveals the factors that have attracted him to Blundell Park. Is it the bright young manager, perhaps, or the side's attractive passing style? Er, no - it's the fact that he might get to kick a ball now and again. "When asked what makes Grimsby Town an attractive proposition," says the Beeb, "he said: 'It is more of a, getting back to first team football really.'" Diary readers are invited to guess the missing word.
Those of you who read this column regularly should be aware by now that there are many Reasons I Hate Wimbledon, and the one we're looking at today - number five in our series - is the use of first names. TV coverage of football, the Diary freely admits, is not entirely free of chumminess, but never does it attain such emetic depths of sickliness as when BBC commentators simper: "Kim will be disappointed with her backhand today." Or: "Andre's serve is back to its best." Like you live round the corner from them and your children will marry theirs in a delightful village church in Hampshire. Just sod off, the lot of you.