Contact the Diary
Got any GTFC news? Constructive feedback? Offers of hard cash to write something else? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our feedback form and elucidate.
Read another Diary
May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
May | April |
March | February | January
November | October | September |
August | July | June | May | April | March | February |
November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
April | March | February | January
November | October | September |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March
Saturday 29 November
The only thing consistent about Town this season is their inconsistency. That's the Diary's conclusion this afternoon after Tranmere's first away win of the season - and only their second ever at Blundell Park - keeps the Mariners marooned in mid-table, and with an attendance of 4,406 the club has little realistic right to expect anything better. A line-up unchanged from last Saturday's excellent 3-1 win at Brentford, with Des Hamilton and Stuart Campbell again keeping Marcel Cas on the bench, proves inadequate as a close-range strike from Rovers' Gary Jones on 71 minutes is enough to hand Town their fourth home defeat of the season. And just days after posting Blundell Babes [sic.] pictures on the same page that announced discounts for women fans at today's match, Town's official site again defeats the whole object by heralding today's result with the belief-defying headline Ladies Day Ends "Bosoms" Up!
Looking on the bright side, a quick glance down the Diary's voodoo list discovers defeats for Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and the Franchise FC, so it's not all bad. And who should help Lennie the Loser's lot to a 3-2 home defeat by Ipswich but former Mariners hero Georges Santos - whose arrival at Portman Road was initially seen by fans as signifying Joe Royle's sell-out to 'direct' football. A little lower down the pyramid, Daryl Clare - the Bungle who, along with his non-striking partner Michael Jeffrey, was subbed off at half time last time Tranmere visited BP - finds the net for Chester in a 3-0 home win over Margate. City remain a point clear atop the Conference.
Finally, thank you to yesterday's guest diarist, who appears to have been Rich again - another grand job, sir - and also to all those of you who have emailed to offer your services in the role. Your CVs have been forwarded to the Cod Almighty editorial team, who will contact you again should you be shortlisted for interview. In the light of Rich's opening paragraphs and Sue's two weeks earlier, I ought to point out that it is not compulsory for guest diarists to discuss their attitudes towards the use of illicit drugs, although it clearly seems to help.
That'll do us then. Thanks to you all for reading for another week - have a nice rest of your weekend, and see you Monday.
Friday 28 November
Good day to you all, and what a fine sunny day it is in Cleethorpes! Blue skies, clear air and a distinct smell of victory on the horizon methinks. Not that I'm naturally assuming Town will win against a side that hasn't won
away from home this season, oh no. But they should.
And it's Grimsby Town. Grimsby Town FC are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. That's all well and good (and true) if you take E. Then again, if you take E, Arbroath Football Club of the Scottish second
division are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. I, however, take nothing stronger than Lemsip, which is why I remain attached to the real world to bring you the latest developments.
Now, last Friday I had trouble spotting anything that remotely looked like news regarding GTFC. Today appears to be a bit more eventful. Despite Marcel Cas' extraordinary performance as a late substitute at Brentford, where he
set up both of Michael Boulding’s late goals, the OS presumes Groves will stick to the same team that started at Griffin Park, in the article entitled: "Groves in confident mood". What? There's no place for our
Dutch pink rabbit and his Duracell battery pack?
The Tranmere Rovers Rivals website is also in "confident mood". Something will have to give, apparently, but they have plumped for a low-scoring draw, while we appear to believe that it's three points already
in the bag. Des Hamilton's reputation has already hit the shores of Birkenhead: "Not injury prone 'Disco' Des Hamilton?" their website asks. "Yep, and he's struggling with injury in a shocking turn of events, very out
A new initiative has been brought to the world of parenting, in the OS's revelation of Child Locate. It's a useful device that informs parents of where their children are by
tracking their mobile phone. Imagine a football field, if you will, and each player is electronically tagged with this device. Now each and every fan will be able to determine exactly where a particular player is
when Town concede a goal. Or similarly, the club can detect where all those fans are that used to turn up a few seasons ago.
Of course, Tranmere will be particularly interested in Iain Anderson, as the Scot spent time at Prenton Park on loan last season. Their Hull reject of a manager, Brian Little, looks to have assembled some form of
a team to play Town. Crikey, that man's got more talent in his little finger than in the rest of his entire body.
But for now, I bid you farewell. And don't forget to lock up your cars this weekend. [Is this a dig at Scousers? I refer you to the rough guide to Tranmere, oh unenlightened one. - Ed]
Thursday 27 November
Good afternoon and welcome to the Diary, and for those of you watching in black and white, well done! Town's goalkeeping cupboard is almost bare after Andy Pettinger broke a finger in Tuesday's Lincolnshire Cup win at Lincoln, as the club's number two number one will be out of action for at least two weeks, announces the club's official site. Sixteen-year-old central defender Miles Chamberlain replaced Petts in goal for the second half at Sincil Bank, as no goalkeeper had been named among the substitutes; and Paul Groves, likewise, will probably continue to sit five outfield players on the bench rather than turn to rookie keepers Paul Fraser or Bradley Hughes.
Since the Diary is feeling uncharacteristically generous and sunny today, I think we'll give a plug to the personalised GTFC Christmas cards that are now available from the club shop. For five of your English pounds the club will send one to the recipient of your choice, anywhere in the whole wide world, signed by your favourite player! Which is quite a jolly idea! You have to tell them who your favourite player is though, because they might not already know. The deal is "subject to availability", adds the site wisely because you never know when the printers will let you down or Alan Pouton suffer devastating ligament damage in his pen-holding fingers.
While we are in a festive frame of mind, furthermore, Miles Moss has emailed the Diary recalling the Ghost of Christmas Past. "Remember when Ivano Bonetti took over Dundee, and brought in loads of exciting foreign players?" he writes, and I do too. "And remember the messageboards going spacko at that time with all the 'Town are so shortsighted - this is what we should have done'; 'why didn't the board get Bonetti to manage us?'; 'look at what Town could have done' etc...? Well little over a year since Bonetti left, Dundee have gone into administration and have had to sack twenty of their players and
backroom staff. Now who's shortsighted?" David Blunkett? Oh, I see what you mean.
Finally, Emma Gillingham now has the full story behind the fans' chant at Griffin Park that catapulted GTFC into the full 400-watt glare of that very bright media spotlight, for those of you who are still fascinated. "A few exiles were at one of the 4 pubs before the match," she writes. "The pub was full of rather happy rugby fans singing the original version. One member of the fishy party quipped back with 'Swim Low, Sweet Halibut', and it kind of stuck! The 'swim' theme also seemed to work quite well, given Micky Boulding's goal celebration (for his first goal). Monday morning, Victoria and Nicky on the 5 Live breakfast show were talking about the fact that football fans 'around the country' were singing 'Swing Low' at the matches. Another of Saturday's fishy party texted them to tell them of the alternative version." Ah! Thanks for that, Emma, even if it means Town fans are still yet to scale the rarefied heights of Radio 4. I ask you - what do we have to do to get a mention on the Today programme?
Well, I don't know about you, readers, but I make it Thursday, which makes it my day off tomorrow. See you at the weekend, and if any of you would like to be a Friday guest diarist sometime then email email@example.com. We're ready for your call!
Wednesday 26 November
Move over, Martin Johnson! Just step aside, Jonny Wilkinson! GTFC stand on the cusp of greatness after a relatively experienced reserve side stumbled to a 2-1 win in last night's Lincolnshire Cup tie at Lincoln (on which Cod Almighty today carries an exclusive Tony Butcher match report). Goals either side of the interval from Phil Jevons handed a flattering win to a poor Town side, pushing them into the final or the second round of the county's premier knockout competition, depending on who you believe. Damaged midfielder Alan Pouton performed his first stepover of the season after replacing Paul Groves an hour into the game; and his failure to make a goalscoring return proves insufficient to deter Teamtalk from running a story headlined Pouton Makes Goalscoring Return. Town's official site, meanwhile, raises the spectre of Wacko Jacko-style plastic surgery in the squad by crediting the second goal to Darren Mansaram.
Speaking of spectres, Kevin Donovan has risen from the grave at Blundell Park, where he is training following his release by Barnsley last week. All the world's media is alive with talk of the former Mariners midfielder rejoining the club he left for the Oakwell dollar in 2001, but the GTFC website states merely that Donovan is "training with Town while his agent tries to get him a new club". The gist of most reporting on the subject appears to be that Paul Groves "has yet to deny" that he wants to sign the player, but by that token he must surely also be preparing a bid for Thierry Henry; and with a right-sided midfielder of Marcel Cas's calibre languishing on the bench, to bring in another would make about as much sense as John Prescott after thirteen pints of snakebite. Teamtalk, incidentally, appears to labour under the misapprehension that Town paid West Brom £30,000 for Donovan after he had also played for Huddersfield. These people, remember, are being paid and the Diary is not.
Birds fly, fish swim, Grimbarians don't watch football and Jarvis attracts controversy. Having been criticised fiercely for groundlessly attributing the Potters Bar rail crash to sabotage and taking lucrative contracts for education consultancy despite having no relevant experience, the heat is back on Town's less than willing sponsor after Steve Norris, the Conservative candidate for London mayor, took over yesterday as company chairman from Labour donor Paris Moayedi. Still with us? The Tory is accused of a conflict of interests because of Jarvis's involvement in the part-privatisation of the London Underground, with Lib Dem mayoral candidate Simon Hughes stating: "This is a direct clash of interest, not just in theory but in practice. He must now decide which job he most wants to do." Norris has pointed out in response that his appointment is as interim chairman only and pledged to resign his position with Jarvis if elected. Like everyone else, then, he is presumably expecting another shoo-in for Ken Livvo.
Returning down the A46 for a moment, Keith Alexander is on the mend after undergoing brain surgery. The Lincoln manager and former Mariners striker was taken to Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital after collapsing from an aneurism two weeks ago (so it's down the M180, M18 and M1 really) but is no longer in intensive care and has recovered consciousness, which is really nice to know. Staff at the hospital report Big Keith - who was rumoured to be a target for second division Peterborough before his illness - to be making good progress.
Veterans of yesterday's Diary will recall our missing words competition run in conjunction with BBC Humber, which headlined a story about Marcel Cas Substitute pulls of a winner! The best entry of all the, er, one entries so far comes from Mat Hare, who conjectures that the missing words are 'the wool over the eyes'. "Marcel Cas has been a sneaky bastard and has fooled one of his team-mates from Saturday," writes the alcoholic gambling addict. "Or perhaps we are just missing an 'f' and the Flying Dutchman has been administering hand jobs in the shared bath at the end of the match," adds the filthy-minded bastard. Interestingly, the name of the story appears in the title bar of web browsers as Name of story, so maybe there's something else missing somewhere.
Mat also has a word or two about the "swing low, sweet halibut" chant that started up at Brentford last Saturday. "The chant was crap! Yes, a very witty first line but it was followed up with what sounded like the traditional words," he complains. "How can a halibut carry you home?" And if that hasn't become a new random tagline on Cod Almighty by the end of the week, then my name is Susan Bookbinder. "It was never going to be as good as the duck impressions performed by the home fans. They saw the ground was more like a lake and started pretending to be ducks. I was convinced. I even threw them the bun from my half-time burger. I was disappointed though when I found out that Smiley Miley and Janice Long weren't going to turn up and do a live broadcast with Deacon Blue and Five Star. Maybe if the match had been in Cleethorpes they would have. Who knows." Who indeed, Matthew. Who indeed.
Tony Butcher and Paul Ketchley were also present at Griffin Park. "The ubiquitous Ms Emma Gillingham was with them and will no doubt know the perpetrators [of the halibut song]," says Paul - so, Emma, if you're reading this, do shed a little light if you can. "More to the point," adds Tony, "how did it end up being mentioned on Radio 4?" That is actually what the Diary meant yesterday when asking "Did anyone actually hear this?", but never mind - the whole thing has at least made like Des Hamilton and filled a bit of space.
Tuesday 25 November
Alan Pouton could tonight take the unusual step of playing some football. The injury-prone and indisciplined but influential midfielder hasn't kicked a ball in anger or even mild dissent since knackering his knee in a pre-season friendly against Lincoln but is named among the substitutes for this evening's reserves fixture against, ooh, Lincoln! Simon Ford, meanwhile, is expected to start the game, reputed by
Town's official site to be a first-round Lincolnshire Cup tie, while the Imps' Rivals site insists that the game is a semi-final, with the winners set to slug it out with Scunny in the tournament's prestigious final for a taste of cup glory that will live forever in the memories of players and fans alike.
But as the old expression goes, just as one door opens another two midfielders drop dead, and bang on cue Iain Anderson and Des Hamilton are far from certain to play against Tranmere this Saturday. Mr Anderson you already know about, and Disco has apparently had something called a tight hamstring for about a week. Hope they get better and everything, obviously, but a Cas, Campbell, Crowe, Hockless midfield certainly won't be giving this columnist nightmares.
Substitute pulls of a winner! is the headline chosen by BBC Humber for a story about Tony Crane saying Marcel Cas is dead skill. Now you may already be viewing this as further evidence for the case that the site in question is in fact run by Coco the Chimp, as an experiment to determine whether it really is true that an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters will eventually produce a local public-service news website; but who are we to dismiss the possibility that the Beeb is in fact running a 'guess the missing words' competition? Substitute pulls of a winner! What are the missing words, and what's the story about? Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Séan Carr - you may remember him from such scrumpy-fuelled match reports as Bristol City away - has chimed in with a football joke that's been doing the internet rounds for a week or two now but is good enough to warrant being reproduced here for those yet to hear it. So... Sophie Ellis Bextor has been found dead in a Real Madrid player's hotel room. By all accounts it was murder on Beckham's floor! Um... hang on a minute...
A-ha-hand finally, the Diary is told that some Town fans were on Radio 4 yesterday talking about the brilliant "swing low, sweet halibut" chant at Brentford. Did anyone actually hear this? We want email and we want it now.
Monday 24 November
"The awareness and participation of females in football" is what the Football League is hoping to promote with its Supporters of Tomorrow scheme, and Town's contribution will be 'Ladies Day' - a title as inaccurate as it is excruciating because no fewer than two forthcoming home matches, on different days, will admit women for just a fiver and girls aged under 16 for free, free I tells ya. The games in question are against Tranmere on 29 November and Wrexham on 20 December. With the Mariners continuing to languish among the second division's worst supported clubs, new fans of either gender are sure to be a welcome sight at Blundell Park; but it is not known whether the club is to follow up this initiative with an exercise to encourage "the awareness and participation of Grimbarians in general", nor whether skint male fans are expected to cross-dress.
Iain Anderson is being looked at by GTFC medical staff after sliding into the advertising boards in Saturday's subaquatic victory at Brentford. The free-scoring winger suffered bumps and bruises, sore ribs and a little local breathing difficulty from his rendezvous with the perimeter, says Paul Groves to the Grimsby Telegraph, adding: "There was concern early on that there was something wrong with his head." Which is absolutely gagging for a witty Diary punchline, but there's also something a bit wrong with my head after the weekend I've just had, so I'll just have to let it go begging.
Saturday 22 November
The Mariners shuffle two places upwards in Division Two - "a tight league", apparently - as two late breakaway goals from Michael Boulding snatch a 3-1 win at Brentford. The home side take the lead after nine minutes with a dubious penalty awarded against He That Is McDermott, only for an Iffy Onuora header to level things up just before half time following a cross by Iain Anderson. Boulding's 11th and 12th goals of the season - I'll just say that again, because it feels nice - Boulding's 11th and 12th goals of the season arrive in the last ten minutes of the game, the first resulting from a length-of-the-pitch run by Marcel Cas, who really ought to be in the starting line-up, Mr G. But yes - well done, you chaps!
Also this evening, hearty congratulations to yesterday's guest diarist Rich for contriving to spin out six paragraphs on a day with only one Mariners-related news story anywhere in the inner core systems of the galaxy. Unless you count Seattle Mariners, I suppose, which we tend not to. Well done, sir, and here's hoping your mighty pen graces the pages of this website again soon. Meanwhile, do any Diary readers agree or disagree with Rich that GTFC can tend to be a bit less than forthcoming with information? Email email@example.com with your opinions.
Until next week, this is the Diary bidding you ta-ta and heading out into the cold lonely night for a skinful and a curry to supplement the warm glow of victory. Grimsby roxx!
Friday 21 November
Good day to you all. This is Rich, reporting for Cod Almighty duty. The last time I had an encounter with a diary was about two years ago, when I read the brutally honest opinions of my ex-girlfriend. According to her diary entries, I was a "nosey and interfering person."
Since Town served up that hallucinogenic cocktail of boredom and frustration last weekend, I've been searching for some events that could be categorised as "news". It's been a rather fruitless search. Unless you count the 'DarBar' affair, where Grimsby was only mentioned in derogatory terms.
Just a couple of days after the population of Grimsby had to get to grips with the fact that they may have to wait another 50 years before a player of their club has the chance to play in a major international competition, news breaks that Simon Ford could be playing for Jamaica in the World Cup 2006. According to the OS, who always have their finger on the pulse you understand, Ford's parents were born on the Caribbean island, which qualifies the defender to play for the Reggae Boys. In what sport, we don't yet know. However, the Grimsby Telegraph can always be relied upon to create a wonderfully crafted pun on the name 'Ford' and its association with motor cars. Personally, I think the chances of Simon Ford playing for Jamaica in the World Cup 2006 are about as likely as Iain Duncan Smith acquiring a personality.
Elsewhere, Paul Groves has told the OS that there are no new fresh injury worries ahead of the trip to Gallimore paradise, that is Griffin Park and its four pubs. A source at Radio Humberside has exposed his increased frustration to me that the Town manager will not reveal any interesting information. But I'm afraid Paul Groves wouldn't recognise the word "reveal" if it took its clothes off, covered itself in Marmite and danced upon the John Smiths Stand shouting out the words:
"I am the word Reveal."
So any thoughts that Groves might say something unearthly revealing in the near future should be cast in concrete and dropped deep into the middle of the North Sea, making sure to stay clear from that wind farm just off the coast of Skegness.
Unfortunately, Paul Groves has yet to understand that the media, and in turn, the fans, have a duty to be handed some original but informative comments from the manager. Today's failure to be given such things has only ultimately left me to waffle. So thank you for reading, and here's to what could be a dull, boring but ultimately satisfying result at Brentford.
Thursday 20 November
A fitness scare over Michael Boulding was this week concealed from the media as GTFC officials feared outbreaks of public disorder and rioting on the streets of North East Lincolnshire. The news Town fans had been dreading all season finally broke this morning as Paul Groves revealed to BBC Humber that the groovy-haired ten-goal sensation had missed two days of training ahead of Saturday's visit to Brentford, but the Grimsby Telegraph has since reported that Boulding has shaken off the mystery unspecified "illness" that had raised the alarm. The participation at Griffin Park of Disco Derrick Hamilton remains in doubt, however, after the likeable but patience-testing midfielder withdrew from training on Tuesday with "a slight hamstring strain".
Grimsby could be waiting another 50 years for a player to take part in a major international tournament after Wales slipped quietly out of contention for Euro 2004 last night. Had the principality won the second leg of its play-off with Russia, Darren Barnard could have become the first Mariner to be thus honoured since Johnny Scott appeared for Northern Ireland in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, but a 22nd-minute goal from Vadim Evseev proved enough to take his side into next year's tournament in Portugal. Town fans listening on Radio 5, furthermore, were forced to endure commentary that emphasised the second syllable in Barnard's surname rather than the first, making him sound like that Frenchman who plays for Newcastle.
Wednesday 19 November
Today's Darren Barnard news concerns the events leading up to Russian goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov's booking in the first leg of Wales' Euro 2004 play-off last Saturday. TV viewers saw the player run over to confront the Mariners' heroic left-back at half time, and DarBar sheds some light in today's Grimsby Telegraph. "The ball was at my feet and the half-time whistle had gone and I just flicked it up and into his goal," explains our boy. "For some reason he flung himself across trying to make a save. He made a sign which I gave back to him, then he was sprinting toward me." Should Barnard's nation benefit from the inexperience of the Russian keeper in tonight's nail-biting second leg, the Town defender should be the toast of Cardiff, since Ovchinnikov's yellow card triggered the suspension that rules him out this evening. Hooray! C'mon you leekies!
Anyone still keeping track of the many strikers who don't want to play for Grimsby should note the name of Sunderland's Michael Reddy. Paul Groves has revealed in the, er, revealing Q+A session that is ongoing on Town's official website that the Graignamanagh-born forward, as Graignamanagh-born forwards are wont to do, declined a move to Blundell Park last month in favour of a return to, inevitably, Sheffield Wednesday, where he has now scored five goals in two long loan spells this year. "He was a player that we knew about, as well as some others," says PG, arching his eyebrows coquettishly.
And those who still hanker to bear offspring to Danny Coyne may be interested to note that the former Town keeper - who has won two caps for Wales, eighteen less than Darren Barnard - could make a full Premiership debut for Leicester this weekend as first-choice flying Fox Ian Walker suffered a shoulder injury while training with England before last Sunday's friendly against Denmark. City boss Micky Adams is optimistic that Walker will recover in time to face Charlton on Saturday, but this could well be wishful thinking given that the player is held in such high esteem by his club that they named their stadium after him.
Another ex-Town type, Stephen Livingstone no less, has suffered the outrageous fortune of being transfer-listed by the league's bottom club just four short months after joining them. Carlisle manager Paul Simpson has responded to his side's annual slump to the foot of Division Three by making nine players available for transfer, among them the former Grimsby folk hero and great big heffalump Mr Livvo. In nine appearances for the Cumbrians the man who just a year ago was pitched successfully against the might of Stoke and Burnley has failed to register on the scoresheet, picking up three yellow and two red cards in the non-process. I think I might cry.
Tuesday 18 November
As excitement builds across the whole of the UK at Wales' chances of qualifying for a first major international tournament since somebody invented the internet, attention is turning to the team's recent unexpected success story - unexpected outside North East Lincolnshire, anyway - Robert Earnshaw. Sorry, I mean Darren Barnard. Some ignorant scumsuckers in the media have displayed astonishment that the Welsh could be in such a position with a Grimsby defender in the team, but an interview with the player in today's Guardian - to which my attention has just been drawn by a swift email from Mrs Diary - briefly manages to avoid casually libelling the Mariners. Much of the piece is given over to the differences between second division football at Blundell Park and the high glamour of the Euro 2004 play-offs, and Barney interestingly reveals that he took a 75 per cent pay cut in joining Town from Barnsley in 2002.
When Kevin Donovan made the reverse journey a year earlier it was largely because of a pay rise far in advance of 75 per cent - not to mention the oft-cited factor of Barnsley's "Premiership ambitions" - and so we can safely assume that the player is by now certainly not wanting for a bob or two. He is, however, in need of a football club for which to play, after 59 appearances and one goal at Oakwell that have prompted the highly aspirational South Yorkshire side to negotiate an end to his contract. Bookmakers are already refusing to take bets on Donovan's path continuing west to Spotland.
Eagle-eared Diary readers will have noticed this column stepping up Cod Almighty's campaign for red stockings (CAMRED) with a contribution to GTFC's current 'question Paul Groves' thingy. In an email to the club the Diary cited Bill Shankly's introduction of scarlet legwear and its use by subsequent Town managers of some repute, pointing out to the current incumbent that it also "looks cool" and asking whether he will "seek to influence the club to restore red stockings to the home playing kit as soon as possible." Mr Groves responds cryptically: "I think we're governed a little bit on the kit choice by our home colours to a degree. Red is part of the trim. It's maybe something to take up with the commercial side." Thanks Paul - we will...
Monday 17 November
Iffy Onuora may not be the last player - or even the last striker - to join the Mariners this season, if Saturday's Sports Telegraph is to be believed. Paul Groves had stated repeatedly that the acquisition of Onuora exhausted the funding provided to him for new playing staff, but a report has claimed that Town were in the running to sign Barnsley forward Rory Fallon until the player moved to Swindon last week. "Sources at Oakwell have revealed that Swindon's ability to pay a fee swung the transfer on their favour," claims the paper, and isn't that just always the way. Even the more dedicated Grimsby whingers would accept that the club is in no position to be paying transfer fees, and if you ask the Diary the spectacular apathy of the town's populace would make it a bloody miracle if even one more player could be brought in on a free.
Good news for Jonathan Rowan, who is playing for his professional future this season when he isn't injured. Exploratory surgery has revealed that the intermittently promising young striker should be back in action about four weeks from now, reports Town's official site, dispelling fears that he would face a career-threatening three-month lay-off with the fissile knee panjandrum he sustained in September just as he was starting to be any good. All proud Grimbarians will surely join with the Diary in hoping local boy Jonny bounces back stronger than ever and scores his way to a new contract come season's end.
After performing in front of the second division's smallest crowd of the day on Saturday, GTFC players have pressed their fingers to the temple of the town in desperate search of a pulse with a visit this morning to Grimsby's fish market. An absorbing series of photographs on Town's official site depicts PG and a number of playing staff checking out what remains of the industry - accompanied, to his great credit, by Chairman Furneaux, who seemingly gets to don a natty Humphrey Bogart-style titfer while the playing staff have to make do with Jarvis baseball caps. When Lawrie McMenemy pulled the same stunt, 20,000 fans turned up for a Division Four match, so you really can't blame the club for trying.
Pernicious hate-sheet The Sun proves that the broadsheet press has no monopoly on ill-informed slurs against Grimsby Town Football Club by refusing to credit Darren Barnard for his own excellent display in Wales' super 0-0 draw in Moscow on Saturday. "It says much for Mark Hughes' management skills that someone who plays for Grimsby can slot straight into the national team," is the way the shit-peddling red-top chooses to express its admiration for the Town defender's performance.
If you're anything like me, you'll need something to make you feel better after that last item, and Mark Wilson is just the fella to provide it. "Don't know if you caught it or not," he writes in an email to the Diary, "but Sky Sports News are reporting morning that Terry Cooke (ex of this parish) has broken a bone in his foot playing in the clatty LDV victory over Barnsley." Excellent news, Mark, but are you sure it was the LDV? I would have expected Wednesday to have withdrawn from the competition now on the grounds that Manchester United and Arsenal aren't playing in it.
And finally today, Keith Collins - yours and the Diary's link to the outside world, otherwise known as Radio Humberside - writes to defend himself. "I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not a 'devoted listener' to Radio Hull. I have my reputation to withhold! I set the alarm in a morning to xx:25am to catch the sports news before I
get up and then only use the TP facility on the car radio for local
problems. I listen to the match reports if I'm not at the game. Other than that I have CDs playing." I suppose asking which CDs would run the risk of another musical controversy, wouldn't it. "PS," concludes KC, "why on a Saturday after the match is almost always the first caller a 'Tergers' fan?" Answers on an electronic postcard, please, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 15 November
Still no sign of that tremendous series of table-ascending victories Paul and the players keep taking it in turns to promise us, as a miserable 1-1 draw with Stockport keeps the Mariners in lower mid-table. A 72nd-minute header from substitute Darren Mansaram balances out Robert Clare's effort that had put the Hatters ahead five minutes earlier in front of the second division's smallest attendance of the day.
Over in Moscow, meanwhile, Darren '20 Caps' Barnard does the Mariners proud in Wales' excellent goalless draw with Russia for the first leg of their Euro 2004 play-off, minimising the eastern Europeans' chances on the Welsh left and contriving to provoke the Russian goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov into a yellow card-worthy rage. The GTFC left-back again plays the full 90 minutes for his country (no, not Germany) while John Oster, incidentally, fails to get off the bench.
And thanks, Sue. I'm told dried banana skins can be surprisingly potent, by the way.
Friday 14 November
Hello readers - this is Sue, your first female diarist, signing in. I'm feeling a little nervous about this as the last time I kept a diary was when I was 18 and it all ended in tears. My sister read it and shopped me to my mum and dad for smoking something naughty. So if you detect any illegal substances in this diary, keep it to yourselves.
On to football. I could go all girlie here and complain that I don't understand the offside rule. However, having watched a few hundred Town games, I understand it only too well. If a Town striker with a bit of pace is free on goal then he must be offside. Oh, and Jevons too. But if anyone can explain to me why the lunatic I sit next to in the Pontoon keeps shouting "foul throw", I would be grateful.
I suppose you'll be wanting some team news for tomorrow's game. Cribbing shamelessly from the official site, I can tell you that Grovesie has suffered a fit of amnesia and has lost Barnard. Maybe he should try a tannoy announcement at Blundell Park – that's what they do when you lose someone in a shopping centre. He is apparently not intending to play Crowe at left-back and I say thank goodness for that as in both the games in which Crowe has stood in for Barnard we conceded three goals. Instead Grovesie might give a go to one of the youngsters, "Greg, Wardy or Wes." Sounds like a firm of architects. Maybe in between tackles they can draw up some plans for a new stadium which doesn't look like a glorified multi-storey car park.
Of Stockport County I know nothing except that last week they lost to Stevenage Borough in the FA Cup and that they are near the bottom of the division. Which probably means Town will put in one of their lackadaisical "we've got the beating of this shower" performances and lose embarrassingly. Oh well - at least now I work from home I don't have to hear all those patronising commiserations on a Monday morning.
I would try and find out who the ref is tomorrow so that I could let you know his current score on the Butcher scale, but today is my day off and I have more important things to do - like get out into the big wide world (otherwise known as Lincoln) and spend some money. Only 40 shopping days to Christmas!
Thursday 13 November
Hello to all our new readers! Apparently the traffic stats on this site have been going crackers this week, so if you're a recent arrival in the town of Codalmightyborough then pray allow the Diary to bid you a warm and intimate welcome on behalf of all the CA team. Enjoy your stay, and don't talk to any strange monkeys.
Without its readers, in fact, the Diary would be nothing, and one man is living proof. Keith Collins is such a devoted listener to Radio Humberside that Hull named their stadium after him, and his eagle ears picked up the story about Town getting 300 grand that the BBC's local website made such a pig's arse of reporting yesterday. "The interview was with Furneaux and the money is due from the FA and isn't a loan," writes KC. "It's to do with the TV payments and something about compensation for the ON fiasco. He said that the money was to be used to repay the directors who have subsidised the running of the club with loans rather than the club increase its overdraft." Grateful as we all must be for this superb clarification, am I the only one who thinks fans ought to be able to turn to the club's official website for such important financial news instead of relying on Keith having his wireless on? "Does this make sense, as I was listening whilst still in bed?" asks our man. About as much sense as anything does in football these days, is the answer.
If you want somebody to blame for losing an hour's drinking time ahead of the Mariners' forthcoming FA Cup game at Peterborough, blame the hardcore carnivores among the away support. The 6 December second-round tie has been brought forward to 2pm "to avoid a clash with" an animal rights demonstration planned for that afternoon, Cambridgeshire police having presumably received intelligence about a small number of militant meat activists intending to make the journey south.
"I was just wondering when you'll be free for a jar before Chrimbo," writes Simon Wilson in an email to the Diary that he really ought to have sent to my personal address, given that he knows who I am and everything. Well, Si, there are those two gigs I have in December, which are bound to be a good time to drink. "And, I suppose, maybe I could extend this sign of 'socialism' to see if there are any Town fans who live or work in and around Headingley who might fancy meeting up for a couple of jars. Anyone?" Mr Wilson's definition of socialism appears no less questionable than Tony Blair's, unless he proposes that rounds be purchased by those most able to pay and consumed by those in the greatest need; but if any Diary readers fancy a pint - with Si in Leeds, or anywhere really - email email@example.com.
On which alcoholic note I must bid you adieu, reader, until Saturday, since the holy rulers of Cod Almighty have decreed that I shall have some time off and that this column shall be written by guest diarists on Fridays as of tomorrow. Toodles!
Wednesday 12 November
Town "are owed over £300,000 pounds [sic] through the Football League" and "may finally get the loan in the next ten days", declares BBC Humber Sport with ambiguity so reckless that its report is already set to feature in a new Channel 5 series entitled World's Wildest Examples of Slapdash Internet Football Journalism. Leaving aside for a moment the unanswered question of why the money is owed, there remains the more significant issue of to whom, as the report contrives to suggest both that the money will be a loan and that Town are owed it; hence the Diary's temptation to give that one a try with the Nationwide building society and see if they'll just give me the 60 grand I owe them on my mortgage.
So impressed was Paul Groves with Jason Crowe's performance in central midfield last Saturday that the GTFC manager may bring in a young 'un to replace international jet-setter Darren Barnard at left-back this weekend rather than deprive the team's engine room of his services. The former Arsenal and Portsmouth wing-back has played in six different positions this season but excelled in the middle against QPR at the weekend, prompting Grovesie - give us a wave, Grovesie Grovesie, give us a wave... ooh, sorry, got carried away there - to tell the Grimsby Telegraph: "If Crowey can go there and play like that then I'm loath to leave him out." Town's next available part-time left-back is probably Wes Parker, assuming - and very much hoping - that the excellent recent form of Mike Edwards in central defence rules him out of a sideways switch.
Giovanni Carchedi's worst fears have been confirmed with the news that the promising young AM/F has 'done' not only his cruciate but also his patella tendon, medial ligament and medial and lateral cartilages. That's what the Grimsby Telegraph says. The player was carried off early in Town reserves' 6-0 win over Darlington last week and will "be out of action for a minimum of a year," according to Paul Groves. The Diary's best wishes are with you, Gio, lad, for what it's worth, like.
Jonny Rowan will be hoping for better news when he undergoes exploratory surgery tomorrow. The Diary was prevented by several pints of Willy's Original from remembering the details of Rowan's injury reported in last weekend's Sports Telegraph, so it's a good job Town's official site is here to tell us that the player will be examined on Thursday and could face up to three months on those boring old sidelines with the triennial knee lambeth he sustained in September's home defeat to Swindon.
To complete a hat-trick of miserable tales of ill health, former Mariners striker Keith Alexander - these days, of course, playing a relatively successful long-ball system as manager of neighbouring Lincoln - faces an operation after being hurried into hospital last night. The Imps boss collapsed at home and underwent brain scans in Lincoln before being transferred to Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, and quite naturally we all hope the likeable big fella is gonna be OK.
All a bit grim today, isn't it? On the bright side, though, the man who brought Alexander to Blundell Park, Mr Alan Buckley, now with Rochdale, has just managed his 1,000th league game in England and joins an elite group of legendary football bosses that includes Sir Alex Ferguson and, er, Lennie Lawrence. Buckley has been given a bit of glass for his pains, or "an engraved Waterford Crystal memento", as the Grimsby Telegraph has it, and would you believe he's still only 52? And congratulations are also due to... me, actually, for passing the driving theory test this morning. Hey, fans, don't crowd me.
Tuesday 11 November
It will be foremost in the minds of Diary readers who recall Wednesday 3 September with particular lucidity that Grimsby Town Supporters Trust is sponsoring the Boxing Day match at home to Oldham and running a Fans' Day type thing a bit like the Cod Almighty one last season. The trust has now announced details of the raffle that will raise the cash: tickets are priced at a quid a go and prizes include executive seats, including a pre-match meal and a tour of the ground, a signed Georges Santos shirt, and seats in the press box with Radio Humberside and the Grimsby Telegraph, with the chance to write a match report to appear in the paper. More details - and the opportunity to purchase tickets online - can be had from the trust's website, and the CA team will doubtless join with the Diary in wishing GTST all the very best for the day - especially from a meteorological perspective.
"I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago!" That piece of nonsense has not been heard since the revision several years ago of the protocol for Prime Minister's Question Time in obscure legislative chamber the House of Commons, and it probably won't be heard in Grimsby Manager's Question Time either, principally because the exercise is conducted online, with fans emailing questions and Paul Groves replying on a web page. Further information - but not much of it - can be found on GTFC's official site.
And finally, the Diary was compensating for the absence of Mrs Diary on Sunday night with the presence of a bottle of Scotch, several cans of non-widget beer, a large vindaloo (with coriander naan) and the GTFC 1997-98 season highlights video when I noticed that the Town players were resplendent in red stockings on several occasions during that glorious year. With the obvious significance of this sartorial jamboree and the presumed posthumous endorsement of Bill Shankly, how long can the club continue to ignore fans' impassioned pleas for a return to scarlet legwear?
Monday 10 November
The local media are pointing out that Saturday's win over QPR was Paul Groves' first cup victory as a manager, so I thought we ought to begin with that. With events at Anfield two years ago perhaps looming larger in his thoughts than next month's second round tie at Peterborough, the Town boss is now burbling dreamily of a big draw in the New Year, telling the Grimsby Telegraph: "We have to get through so that we've got the possibility of drawing one of the big guns."
Contingency plans are in place, however, to send Graham Rodger to Baghdad with a sketch pad, as it would appear that neither Town nor Peterborough will progress to the cup's third round proper. Oh yes. As if it were not bad enough having Owl-like livery annex the Diary's monitor when I try and fill in that registration form thing on Town's official website, BBC Humber is now reporting: "Grimsby Town's reward for their win over QPR is an away trip to fellow Divsion [sic] Two side Peterborough. Scunthorpe will face the winner Sheffield Wednesday in the second round of the FA Cup."
Jonny Rowan, who has acquired the additional forenames Forgotten Striker by deed poll, is likely to be sidelined until Christmas with the sedimentary knee hopscotch he picked up in the Mariners' home defeat against Swindon in September. The luckless forward had just been granted a run in the first team, nabbing his first goal for, ooh, absolutely pigging ages as Town's very small consolation at Hartlepool, when the injury struck; and the Diary is giving you these unnecessary background details because I left my copy of the Sports Telegraph in Swigs on Saturday night and can't remember anything else worthwhile about the story.
It's not that often Town win a cup game, so let's go back there for our next item, where Miles Moss has been reading the manager's post-match comments on the official site a little too closely. "We were somewhat unfortunate not to go in front at half-time," reflects Wavy Paul. "Surely that would have been cheating!" retorts the eagle-eyed Mr Moss.
Finally, a big Diary shout goes out to the housemate of Dave who had a date on Saturday night with Laura who is the cousin of Sonya who is married to Cod Almighty author Simon Wilson. We don't know your name but thanks for reading. Small world, eh!
Sunday 9 November
Town are handed another boring cup draw with opponents from the same division as the FA's official plastic balls come up with an away journey to Peterborough in the second round. The struggling East Anglian side have yet to win at home in the league this season but had the better of a 1-1 draw at Blundell Park in September. That concludes the Diary's coverage of the draw for the second round of the FA Cup. The tie will be played on the weekend of 6-7 December.
Saturday 8 November
A cockle-warming team performance at Blundell Park sees the Mariners through to the second round of the FA Cup at QPR's expense, with a tenth goal of the season for Michael Boulding after 80 minutes of almost total Town dominance proving sufficient to separate the sides. In the first half at least one good GTFC penalty call is waved away by a weak and card-happy referee, who weirdly transmogrifies into a homer after the interval. After dishing out some criticism to Tony Crane earlier this season the Diary feels compelled to record that the bloody great big centre-half has an excellent game today; while Iffy Onuora - who created Boulding's goal - and Stuart Campbell also stand out in a game watched by 20 per cent fewer spectators than official estimates had anticipated. Other points of interest include a pre-match Radio Humberside interview with Cod Almighty's Tony Butcher and the first appearance at a Town match by Stacy Coldicott since he busted his leg all those moons ago.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow as cup fever hits the Diary and a special Sunday edition brings you the hot news of Town's second round opponents, at some indeterminate point in the afternoon after I've woken up and my mum has made sausage sarnies and my head has cleared enough to type. Yeah!
Friday 7 November
Wotherham have weleased Woderwick, also known as Nick Daws. The 30-something midfielder has been told he can leave Millmoor on a free transfer after failing to break into the first team following his return from a dazzlingly brilliant month on loan with the Mariners. Talks over extending the player's spell at Blundell Park were reported to have broken down over the sharing of his wages between the two clubs, but then the South Yorkshire side were also reported to have wanted him back because they had a few injuries, so none of us are any the wiser really. The less than infallible Teamtalk and Footymad sites were quick yesterday to rule out on financial grounds a return to BP for Daws but Town's official site is saying nowt. For what it's worth, the Diary reckons we could at least try and get him on a three-month contract or summats until messrs Pouton and Coldicott are back in shape, because the Hamilton/Campbell midfield looks a bit meringue-like to me.
Fans expecting Phil Jevons to fire the Mariners all the way to Cardiff in this year's FA Cup, just like Terry Cooke kept us in the first division, are set to be disappointed. Yeah, I know, who'd have thought it. The contractually unbalanced striker is a big doubt for tomorrow's first round tie with QPR, having acquired a disparate calf pelican since, or possibly in the process of, netting a penalty in the reserves' 6-0 win over Darlington some time earlier this week. At least I think it's tomorrow.
But if you think that's bad, you should try being QPR. The hoopy froods from west London are suffering what their manager Ian Holloway rather clumsily describes as "a chronic injury list"; and the club's official site, with similar linguistic cackhandedness, reports that "up to 10 first team players have been receiving treatment", which could mean anything from one to 10, and you'd think if anyone knew, they would. But soft! Marien Ifura, Warren Barton, Richard Edghill, Gino Padula, Dan Shittu, Matthew Rose, Paul Furlong, Marc Bircham, Marcus Bean and Kevin Gallen are all crocked, so it is ten players. Why didn't they just say that? To emphasise the point and try and make everyone feel sorry for them, Rangers include two 16-year-old centre-halves, John Fletcher and Ryan Johnson, in their squad. It almost makes you wish Livvo was still with us.
The League giveth, and the League taketh away; hence, Town could find themselves three points worse off as an early Christmas present if Notts County fail to meet a 9 December deadline to come out of administration. The Oldest Club In The League has been in said financial doo-doo for a record 17 months and failed to meet a string a previous ultimatums but former Tory minister Sir Brian Mawhinney, now chairman of the Football League don't you know, said yesterday: "This is County's last chance, absolutely finally deffo-lutely matey." Should the Mariners' fellow black and whites fail to be extricated from the excrement in time, they will be chucked out of the league, meaning the handsome 2-0 win over them at Blundell Park last month would be struck from the record, and Clive Platt probably still wouldn't want to play for us.
And finally... yep, it's Mat Winn again, who seems to be the Diary's only friend in the world this week. In an email entitled "ubiquitous", he writes: "I was concerned about what it meant - but 30 seconds of research put me straight!" Good job I didn't call him iniquitous then, really. "Cheers guys," continues the omnipresent Mr W, "he's here he's there, he's ubiquitous - wonder if we can get the Ponny singing it?? No didn't think so..."
Thursday 6 November
Heartfelt apologies to the thousands of Diary readers who were planning a voyage to Blundell Park this afternoon to watch Town reserves play Darlington: it turns out that the game was yesterday after all. You could probably go and help make the tea or something though. Good news is that the second team knocked in half a dozen goals without reply, the parties responsible being Phil Jevons (pen), Chris Bolder (ruler), Kirk Wheeler (Powerpuff Girls pencil case) and supersub David Soames, who got three. None of which will come as much consolation to Giovanni Carchedi, who was carried off with ligament damage after 11 minutes - making way for Soames - and could be gone for some time, though hopefully not in a Captain Scott kind of way.
On Tuesday 2 December the Diary is off to a Belle and Sebastian gig, and I'd be surprised to see any of the Mariners' reserve side there, not just because they'd probably sooner watch Busted but also since they will most likely be recovering from their exertions in the Maplins Hi-De-Hi Cup thing. The second string have been drawn away to Barnsley in the competition that afternoon and will kick off at two of the clock.
The Grimsby Telegraph has updated its Blue Peter totaliser keeping track of the tickets shifted for this weekend's glamour cup tie with QPR. Over 1,500 have now been snapped up, says the Telegraph's John Noakes, which is apparently quite good these days, now that we're supposed to consider 5,000 a big crowd.
You may say-ay-ay I'm a dreamer, and by the looks of it I am the only one. That's what dead Scouser John Lennon might have written if he had been the Diary, as just the one reader has emailed on the subject of the Mariners intruding into sleep-time imagery generated by the subconscious mind - and even he, the ubiquitous Mat Winn, says he doesn't really dream about GTFC. "But I often get deja vu," he adds, "as I did on Saturday at Rushden!" I'm smiling grimly here, and if you want to try and picture that, it's like when your dog starts cleaning itself in front of your in-laws while you've got a mouthful of hot chips.
Wednesday 5 November
It wasn't Yogic flying, actually - it was transcendental tax return filing. Well, I was certainly in some sort of trance by the end of it.
Darren Barnard is back in the groove and makin' the hip moves towards an appearance for Town reserves against Darlington. It says on the club's official site that the game is "tomorrow", and if you go back to the index page from the story you can discover that the report was posted today, which means that the match will indeed be tomorrow, Thursday 6 November. The Wales left-back missed last weekend's defeat at Rushden with a large green and purple foot, but it's going back to yellow now and getting a bit smaller, so all the cool kids say he'll be OK for this weekend's meeting with QPR in the first round of the FA Cup.
And that's about it, again. Me, I'm still wondering about Groves, Rodger and the chocolate biscuits. Have any Diary readers had dreams about GTFC? Send an electronic mail - or 'e-mail' - to firstname.lastname@example.org and confess it to the world.
Tuesday 4 November
Afternoon Diary readers, it's Miles here again. I've had to step in at short notice because your usual purveyor of Mariners news, wit, political debate and cookery tips is on a course. Something to do with Yogic flying or something. I think that's what he said. So I'll endeavour to provide you with string of sentences loosely based around the subject of Grimsby Town. Right, let's have a look at the Town news then. Hmmm. Eh-heh. Righty. I don't think the Diary is on a course at all, you know. I think the Diary just realised that the Diary had nothing to write about because the Diary realised nothing's going on, so the Diary pretended to be unavailable. Ooh, I came over all Paul Groves then.
Talking of whom: as his mind keeps replaying the chances which stubbornly refused to turn into goals against Rushden, Mr G the gaffer has been whipping his troops into a rabid frenzy, it says in that there Telegraph. He wants the squad to have a killer instinct, and the ability to bury teams. The training ground this week will see lots of extra shooting practice, and a visit by specialist consultant Mandy Jordache.
The main news seems to be about tickets for the Mariners' anticipated revenge 12-0 drubbing of Queens Park Rangers this coming Saturday. The ticket office sold a whopping 500 tickets yesterday, apparently. That doesn't sound like a huge amount to me, but perhaps I've just been spoilt by looking at big numbers as part of my job. Put in perspective, 500 is over 10 per cent of a normal gate these days, I suppose. The other ticket news is that there are no free Main Stand junior tickets for this FA Cup fixture, since the gate receipts are shared between the clubs. The natural conclusion to draw from that is that QPR are a bunch of money-grabbers, intent on emptying out half of the piggy banks in Grimsby. Or something.
And that, readers, is about it at the time of going to press. Well, at the time of going to press all the buttons on Cod Almighty which makes the Diary magically appear. Tony Adams may be the new manager of Wycombe tomorrow, and Notts County may cease to exist on 9 December, but these are merely stocking fillers, and I shall say no more about them. The Diary - the Diary - will be back tomorrow with more Mariners news and the lowdown on how to cross your legs and bounce across a room on your cheeks. Tra!
Monday 3 November
Like I said: Lowe - yikes. Paul Groves is unhappy and feels bad for the 700 Town fans who got down to sleepy little Irthlingborough on Saturday after his side chucked away a lead to lose 3-1 to an efficient but far from outstanding Rushden side, and if the Diary had placed a quid on Town leading at half-time and but losing the match for every game this season then I would be able to afford broadband and get this column written a bit sooner every day instead of sitting here for half the day waiting for web pages to load at 33 kbps. Incidentally, I had a dream last night where I was sitting in a dug-out watching Town play Barnsley and holding a large plate of chocolate biscuits, sharing them with messrs Groves and Rodger, who were seated either side of me. What can it mean, reader?