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Diary - August 2004
Tuesday 31 August
Not much to tell you about today, other than the launch of a fantastic new Cod Almighty T-shirt, so it's time to catch up with a few of your emails from the last few days.
The Press Association's Richard Blee apologises for his organisation putting Town into something called League One last week, with the result that the rest of the known universe followed syndicated suit. Hey, it's fine by us, Rich; if GTFC sneak off to play Port Vale instead of Rochdale this weekend maybe nobody will notice. "I'm afraid that the company that allows me to buy my daily bread, yet strangely makes me want to do evil rather than deliver me from it, is responsible for the temporary promotion of Grimsby Town," writes Rich. "I must apologise on behalf of the now shamed national news agency for its Pouton-like inaccuracy on the divisional status of GTFC. Perhaps all this name changing has confused the sports desk as well as almost everyone else in the UK."
It's certainly confused the BBC, it would seem or perhaps, as Miles Moss suggests, there's more to it than that. "It was pleasing," he writes, "to hear Alan Green's disparaging comments regarding the renaming of the leagues on Five Live today ("What is HAPPENING to our gay-um?"); more so to discover that the webmasters of the excellent BBC site despite pandering to Coca-Cola's dumb marketing ideas on the outside are actually being dead subversive: all the URLs are still using Divisions One to Three: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_3/default.stm. See? People power, that's what it is. Before long, everyone will be calling them Divisions One to Three again, and Coca-Cola can shove their stupid ideas up their ringpulls."
In his email to the Diary, Gordon23W rather disrespectfully refers to me in the third person, as if he's talking about me to somebody else. Maybe there were people in the BCC field. Anyway, perhaps Gordy Boy was quite justified in so doing by some rather glaring omissions from my recent suggestions as to possible guests at the forthcoming Town/Charlton League Cup tie. "Diarist seems to have ovelooked the possible/likely invitation of former players Charlie Wright, Rod Green and, unforgiveably, Matt Tees," writes Gorgeous Gordon. "Tut!"
"Grimsby Town are real trendsetters," writes our old chum Lee Cobby. "A couple of months after we gave glam rockers Slade the job of running our team, I see Chester have followed suit, appointing as manager prog rock three-piece Rush. And apparently, John Ledzepplin and Dennis Creedanceclearwaterrevival are up for the Kidderminster job." Next!
Next is Miles Moss again, who brings today's perfunctory proceedings to a halt with an observation on yesterday's grim defeat at Wycombe. "I see that Wycombe's goalkeeper had a horse in goal with him, " writes Miles, referring to the excerpt below from Town's official website. "Surely this is cheating."
If you're a regular Diary reader but have never emailed us, give us a shout with your two penn'orth on this column, why Town can't score away from home, the price of fish, the future of the housing market or anything you like. email@example.com is the address. Get those fingers tapping.
Monday 30 August
Their team has gained just one point in their last 14 away games, failing to win on the road since November 2003, and Town fans still on a high from two excellent victories in the last six days are given a reality check as this appalling run continues with a 2-0 defeat at Wycombe, probably the worst of the three teams to have faced the Mariners since last Tuesday. Good pressure from the black and whites in the first half again avails nothing and for the second time this season Russell Slade's side go behind while a player is off the field receiving treatment this time Ashley Sestanovich as the home side steal the lead in the 43rd minute. Early after the restart Wanderers' Adam Birchall grabs his and his side's second, and Town's second-half performance is a poor one. Just to make a bad afternoon worse, when inviting messageboard observations on today's game, GTFC's official website adds: "Away fans welcome too." That's today's game at Adams Park, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, some distance away from the south bank of the Humber.
Darren Barnard grabs a last-minute winner for Aldershot after former GTFC target Tim Sills had hauled the Shots level at Woking (or should I say "Glenn Cockerill's Woking"); Iain Ward has signed for Brigg Town; and the Diary is off back to bed.
Saturday 28 August
The Mariners clamber back to ninth place in the league table after a hard-earned win over Mansfield, watched by 5,693: the largest attendance in the fourth division this afternoon. I know mad, innit! Thomas Pinault's third goal of the season comes only a few minutes into the game, from a well-worked corner routine, and Town's dominance continues for the first half-hour or so. Aided by some lenient refereeing, though, the Stags bludgeon their way back in to the game and, despite being by some way the best side GTFC have encountered in the league so far this season, are lucky to escape with only four yellow cards. The home team resists some strong pressure in the second half, sending Jason Crowe (who otherwise had a stinker) free on a counterattack to seal the win in the last few minutes. Town's official website celebrates by rechristening the team's tricky former Tranmere and Sheffield United forward "Sandy Parkinson".
Brunton Park, Carlisle the last resting place of Steve Livingstone and Paul Raven is Town's destination in the first round of whatever the Auto Windscreens Shield is called these days. Disencumbered of their ageing former GTFC duo, incidentally, the Cumbrians run out 7-0 winners against Farnborough in the Conference this afternoon. Gulp. Elsewhere in the same division, the new society for semi-retired Mariners, York, plunge to a third defeat of the season at Gravesend, by four goals to nil, while Peter Handyside is sent off in Northwich's similarly sized thrashing at Barnet and is thought to be preparing to sue Barnsley for making him rubbish. Finally, cultured ball-playing centre-half Simon Ford is already tired of Ian Atkins' gormless route-one football at Bristol Rovers and is on trial with Kilmarnock. I've been the Diary and you've been the reader. Thank you very much.
Friday 27 August
Right, let's get this straight from the off. Your Special Guest Diary is tired, it is hot, I had a lot to drink last night, I can't be arsed. Now that your expectations are suitably lowered, on with today's diary.
Russ is still on the look out for that elusive target man, and has brought in on loan Paul Robinson. No, not that one. Or that one. This one is from Newcastle but a lot younger and scored quite a few goals for Tranmere reserves it would seem. It's difficult to understand why Sladey would want to sign someone from the Tranmere reserve team on loan - unless there's some kind of view to a permanent signing. Strange. Also at BP at the moment is Bermudan international John Nusum. Congrats to the OS for getting his name right. Anyway, Nusum has scored seven goals in four world cup qualifiers so far. Not bad, not bad - although five of those goals did come in the 13-0 and 7-0 thrashings dished out to Montserrat. I think he's big and probably fast too. And that's all I know.
Further news comes from the gob of Slade who reckons that Keith Curle (Mansfield, 40) is a big scaredity-scaredy cat. Or words to that effect. Or maybe not words to that effect at all and I've just taken one sentence and twisted it for my own effect. However, more scary for us is the fact that half the team seem to be injured and I'm not sure we've even got any players to replace them. Dave Moore is rocking around the clock trying to get the players fit for tomorrow. Working. Sorry.
The GET adds to this news with lots of other half-finished stories on their website. Although, they'll probably go and finish them off by the time I publish this and I'll look dead stupid and that. I'll get the bastards. In fact, all of their stories at the moment only go on for two paragraphs. I really, really don't understand. This isn't helping my alcohol-soaked brain at all.
There were some letters or other sent to the Diary I think, but really, if the GET can't be arsed then neither CONTINUED ON PAGE 43
Thursday 26 August
You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Old Obi-Wan may have been talking in one sense about the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport which, let's face it, looks like a Victorian tea room compared with most of the public houses of Cleethorpes but in a very real way he was also referring to the FA Premiership. There always has to be one good apple, though, and in this case it's Charlton Athletic, the Diary's favourite top-flight club; and what a nice thing, therefore, that Town's reward for the brilliant League Cup performance that saw off Wigan reserves the other night is a home tie with the Addicks in the second round on 21 or 22 September. Speculation has already arisen, given the players who have appeared for both clubs, as to which current and former pros may be invited to the match as guests, with the names mentioned so far being Andy Todd, Clive Mendonca and Dave Challinor.
It's not just the Diary who's been plunged into the depths of optimism by the events of Tuesday evening. Cod Almighty's resident poet Al Wilkinson has composed a brief ode precisely on the theme of the P-word:
Listen carefully... can you hear the whisper?
And the Mariners' hypothetical elevation through the divisions does not end there, as the Press Association or somebody like that seems to have referred to "League One side Grimsby", and everyone else has followed suit, their credibility toppling like syndicated dominoes. If it's not the BBC doing it, it's the Irish Examiner; if it's not Soccernet it's ITV. ITV? Did I say credibility?
The p word heard in the shadows of every
corner. Quietly for now, cautiously growing
for now, ever faster as Sladey shows us how,
shows us what we want to see, what we want
to be, but keep it a silent p. Champions win
games they should lose not lose games they
should win, so for now it's good to sit back,
think and grin; just enjoy, enjoy what we see
and try not to think about p.
Not that the Diary's own glass house is particularly reinforced this week when it comes to throwing stones, as Dave Chambers has become the first person to take the trouble to point out by email what previous pedants have only told me to my careworn face: that Gary Liddell's son Andy is no longer as Tuesday's Diary suggested a Wigan player and "now plays for Colin Wanker's boys," as Dave anagramatically refers to Sheffield United. "You might be aware of this but choosing to ignore the numerous corrections put your way. I hope not and that I am the first to notice this quite blatant error. If that is the case, at the moment I will take whatever small glories come my way." I'm afraid Tony Butcher grabbed my lapels and pinned me to the back of the Pontoon on Tuesday night to much the same effect, DC, but thanks anyway. Think of it as the projectionist putting a slide in upside down just to make sure you're still watching.
Mr Butcher it is again, in fact, who has written to correct Mark Wilson's reminiscences in yesterday's Diary about Chima Okorie. "Signed from a team in India, strapping six-footer, marked his arrival with a screamer away at Palace," wrote Mark, if you can't be arsed to scroll down a few piddly lines, you lazy son of a bitch. "Oooooooooooooooooooh dear. Two days, two errors. Not derived from your brain, but not checked was it," gloats Tony. "Mr O'Curry scored against Tranmere in the game before the Palace defeat. We lost 1-0 to Palace. Chima had 45 sublime minutes, but no goals." In fact, TB, it was the Diary who supplied Pat Bell with some of the Okorie data for his excellent recent piece for Cod Almighty. The policy of this column is to nitpick only at those who write badly or erroneously in a professional capacity, and not at amateur websites or indeed my own readers. Now leave it be; this is a fight you cannot win.
Wednesday 25 August
Der-diddly deerrr-da-DAH, der-diddly DEERR-da-dah, der-diddly deerrr-da-DAH, der-diddly DEERR-da-dah, der-diddly deerrr-da-DAH, der-diddly DEERR-da-dah, BAP-BAARR der dahdle-ah DAH! But it's not Michael Parkinson who's on the Diary's mind today; it's Andy Parkinson, for his was the goal that separated the sides last night as Town saw off second-flight pacesetters Wigan in the best team performance I have seen from a GTFC side this side of the millennium. Ooh by golly we were good. I even offered to get out of bed and make Mrs Diary some scrambled eggs on toast this morning. That's how good.
One would not be altogether surprised, in fact, if Mrs Slade found herself the recipient of a similar gesture concerning start-of-day comestibles, as her other half sounds every bit as pleased as me. " I believe we can get better and I believe we've brought in the right type of player," he has told the Grimsby Telegraph. "Hopefully we can now go from strength to strength," adds Noddy, doing little to assist the Diary's best efforts not to get too carried away and think the P-word. Fans who, being unaccustomed to all this optimism, seek a cynicism fix to alleviate feelings of giddiness are advised to hit Town's official website Howhardcanitbe.com, which gave an incorrect starting line-up for the second game in succession, this time giving the name Jones where Pinault should be.
Tattooed Arsenal fan Michael 'Not As Good As Richard Hughes' Keane scored in Hull's League Cup tie with Wrexham last night, and created another, but to no avail as the Humber region's leading council-subsidised football club exited the tournament on penalties, while more former Mariners found goalnets elsewhere: Lee Thorpe, Jack Lester and Iain Anderson, if you're interested in that sort of thing. It's not like any of them can hold a torch to Parky, is it.
Mark Wilson, from whom it is always nice to hear, has emailed the Diary on the subject of "Ooh, cult heroes", which has been keeping some of us off the streets this week. "Where do I start?" he ponders. "Has to be Chima Okorie. Signed from a team in India, strapping six-footer, marked his arrival with a screamer away at Palace that turned a routine beating into an awakening of hope, seemed to cause Alan Buckley to lose even more hair, got an injury and never played again. Fantastic." You're not the only one who thinks so, Mark. "Then there's Geoff Stephenson, plucked from Bradley and looked like it." Ooh, now I remember the name from squad lists but can't recall ever seeing him play... "Phil Bonnyman, shit midfield waster. Lee Ashcroft, couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo... Don't stop me, I'm on a roll..." Which is more than Ashcroft ever was, sadly. He was never going to be as good as Andy Parkinson, was he.
Lastly but certainly not leastly, Simon Wilson's email to the Diary hints at his encyclopaedic knowledge of old football things. In response to Dan Rand's suggestion yesterday that Town's defensive injury crisis might result in Russ having to field a 2-5-3 formation, the Leeds-based match preview maestro writes: "I think the old school 2-3-5 would be far more fun. That is all." I assume it's his encyclopaedic knowledge of old football things anyway, and not a reference to Ossie Ardiles' little-known spell as manager of the fifth years' team at King Edward VI School.
So, yeah Paula Radcliffe or Andy Parkinson. There are hugs going begging at Chez Diary.
Tuesday 24 August
"0&²ufÏ?¦Ù?ª?bÎl ????????????3&²ufÏ?¦ Ù?ª?bÎlZ???????0?????????," begins an interview with Graham Rodger on Town's official website. The Mariners' assistant manager continues: "Seh????????éÝé çN?ÃYIsz4o ??????°YÛÁÄ?a ???????ÀX@ì????? ÿë????û??????????? y???y???O??µ?¿?.©Ï?ã?À." Then when you press the back button on your browser, right-click the link instead, save the Windows media file down to your hard disc and open it using your audio player software, he talks about his side's defeat at Rushden last Saturday and their chances in tonight's League Cup tie against Wigan. It sounds like his vocals have been put through a phaser pedal, with a touch of compression, but it does make a bit more sense than before. To be fair, though, I guess I could always splash out for Mariners World, and listen to some demented cockney bawling on about Michael "Reedy", and David Burns interrupting the action from the Town game with news of an important injury in the Everton/Crystal Palace match, then sodding off to Hull for the final ten minutes.
Anyroad, as reported yesterday, Simon 'Would Be Nicknamed Ronnie Had We Not Signed Bull' Ramsden is Town's major doubt for tonight's encounter after sustaining neck dick in the Rushden match, but the good news is that Wigan's frighteningly effective forward line of Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts is to be taken apart and stored in a cupboard until the weekend. The striking pair are carrying hurty knee and achey ankle respectively, and although Roberts was a bit rubbish whenever he lined up against the Mariners for West Brom, the two of them have had grown second-flight defences screaming like babies so far this season and their absence can provide a boost to the Mariners' hopes of avoiding a tonking tonight. That'll be a hat-trick for Gary Liddell's lad now then.
Hey, get your hands off! I said it first!
Diary readers have been busily tapping up their nominations for Town's true cult heroes, and the first to do so and email them to me is Cod Almighty match reporter and future prime minister of England Mr Tony Butcher. TB follows a suggestion by Mark Stilton that obscure former loanee Dale Banton is the rightful bearer of the cult hero tag "It's a hair thing," explains the subject line of his email but also concedes: "It was that or Ashley Fickling." Next to reach my inbox was Al Wilkinson, who writes: "It would have to be Vance Warner, the centre-half with the grace of a an old fat dog trying to light a match and the skill of a duck trying to build a bridge. If it wasn't for him I'd have thought just about every defender we've had since was total rubbish, when in all likelihood they've probably been fair to middling. So thank you Vance for saving me from all those negative karmic waves."
It falls to Pat Bell, then, to move to midfield and nominate the great Jim Dobbin. "I'm sure there are Sunderland fans who to this day will raise a glass to his name, and then there was
an article (I'll have the cutting at home) about a group of Blackburn fans who formed a Jim Dobbin appreciation society." If you can scan it in, Pat, then I'm sure the Diary's Newcastle-supporting housemate would love a look.
And that's not all from you reader types. Dan Rand's email begins "Dear Dairy," but gets me back onside by agreeing with me about something. "Like you, at the beginning of the season I was very suspicious of the 3-4-3 formation," writes the assonant Mr Rand. "Given our current injury status, can you comment on the rumour (I am starting here) of an impending switch to 2-5-3 and what impact it will have on the game?" Well, Dan, I don't think it need come to that. If Lennie Lawrence could play Danny Butterfield in the middle of the park and Alan Buckley could occasionally deploy Stacy Coldicott at right-back then what's to stop Graham Hockless filling in as a strapping centre-half? Oh.
Monday 23 August
Today's Diary is amazed at how horrible people are being about Paula Radcliffe, and would very much like to give her a big hug.
So, just like last season, Town have a squad that looks on paper like one of the best three or four in their division, and just like last season their manager is lamenting their inability to turn their superior skill into points. "I don't blame anybody but we need to put our finishing boots on," Russell Slade says of Saturday's 1-0 defeat to a Rushden side who were outfought and outplayed by the Mariners in just about every way. "We need to do things better in both boxes that's where games are won and lost," adds Noddy. Any day now the Grimsby Telegraph will start running interviews with senior players about how the players all know they can do better and they're still only six points off the play-offs and they'll start winning games very very soon, no, really, they will. Oh, look - they have.
And with three defenders sidelined through injury already in Tony Crane, Rob Jones and Glen Downey, what's the very last thing in the world that you need? That's right, readers a fourth. Thus the Doc Marten of Fate plants itself squarely and firmly into the testicles of Town's promotion hopes, as Simon Ramsden the side's best defender so far this season "pulled his neck" in Northants at the weekend, to use the words of the club's official website. Mr Slade is now down to the bare bones of Justin Whittle, Greg Young and Dean Gordon for tomorrow night's League Cup game against Wigan, and you get the feeling that if Kirk Wheeler were any good then he'd already have made it into the first team. Ulp.
The Diary nearly choked on my Ty-Phoo the other day as footage of three Town players popped up on screen during Football Focus, and not just because the caption for one of them said IVAN BONNETTI. As part of its 'Cult Heroes' feature, the BBC's venerated but increasingly lacklustre Saturday lunchtime footy show is inviting supporters to vote for their favourite, er, cult heroes, and GTFC are featuring early on. Fans are asked to choose from a list of three comprising John McDermott, Clive Mendonca and the aforementioned misspelt Italian, which seems slightly wrong to the Diary, as these players are not so much cult heroes as, well, just heroes, really. Cult hero status surely requires something a little unlikely about the player, such as being incredibly old (Futcher), not staying around for long (Okorie) or being likeable but not actually very good (Livingstone). Email your suggestions for Town's true cult heroes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 21 August
Town's dismal run of form at Nene Park continues as Russell Slade's side sink to a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the home of Rushden & Diamonds. Michael Reddy makes the starting line-up for the first time, taking the place of Darren Mansaram in the forward line, while Terry Fleming has apparently been abducted by aliens and replaced in the Mariners' midfield by a clone of Anthony Williams. And because the Diary was too skint and knackered to go to the game, and there's nowt about it on the internet yet, you will have to read Tony B's match report tomorrow if you want to know any more than that. GTFC drop nine places in the league table but boast the only positive goal difference in the bottom half.
Elsewhere Scunthorpe edge what looks like a thrilling Lincs derby against Lincoln by the odd goal in five, going top of the table in the process. Isn't it nice to see them win a few games, after the horrible time they had last season.
Friday 20 August
It's time to put on makeup. It's time to dress up right. It's time to dribble inanely and write a load of shite. Yup, it's diary time, bought to you by your Special Guest Diary. My brain is absolute turd today though, so don't expect much.
Newsy woozy woo. Well, Reddy may start or may not - Russ is being very sly on this one. Everyone else as you'd expect I suppose. Hockless aint back yet coz he got a kick on his ankle in the reserves game apparently, and he's probably got a nasty graze which is all scabbed over and everything now. Our back-up defender, and back-up back-up defender are both injured for a bit, as I'm sure you know. And that's about it. Rushden will be unchanged, but Mr Wilson will tell you more about them in his previewy thingum once he's only bleedin' well gone and done it. Aint he. Mister.
News reaches me of another fixture change - is there no sanctity in Saturday football anymore? Eh? Eh? Hmm... thought not. I blame ITV, and so should you. For no good reason of course, in the same way that there's no good reason for them to be producing yet another shite-arsed attempt at a football programme. Give it up you losers. Anyway, the Lincoln match, 28th Dec has been moved to the 29th Dec at 7.45 because, well because, er, because the police said so. Move along, nothing to see here. The Lincoln City Supporters Trust have backed the decision, although curiously they don't give a reason for doing so. Nice.
In the now obligatory ex-player paragraph, Rochdale have gone all wobbly-brained and offered Tony Gallimore a contract until the end of the season. Interestingly Gallimore was sent to Iceland for treatment on his gammy knee, but came back a bit too early and his knee went all wrong again. He's better now though. Alcohol prices are extortionate over in Iceland aren't they? And while we're on the subject of footballers and drink I also noticed that Lee Ashcroft has signed with Kendal Town for the new season. If you want to know which league they're in, I'll just tell you that you may catch him in action if you travel to The Hawthorns on April 23rd.
To the Grimey Telegraph then, and they have an interview with Sylvester Stallone who says that the Mariners have no-one to fear this season. Except perhaps Apollo Creed who'll pretend to be your best buddy then hand you over to the Imperials - the bastard. No hang on, I'm all over the place here. It's actually Simon Ramsden who's saying this - I guess the GET have given him a new nickname. What was wrong with Ramo, eh? Let's not break with tradition here - what next - Friday night football? Oh.
And before I head off to the pub - for that is what Fridays are for - I'll leave you with one final link. CA's own Mr Pete Green has written another wonderful column in the GET, however at the time of writing most of it seems to have disappeared. Do you think the GET boys are all golf fans then? Figures.
Thursday 19 August
The Diary considers Irn Bru to be the world's greatest hangover cure, but it doesn't actually stop me falling over when I get drunk. Grimsby Town Football Club, similarly, are discovering that you can have the best goddamn physiotherapy facilities in the state but they don't stop players getting injured before they've even made their debuts for the club. Hence the dreadful plight of the club's new defender Glen Downey, signed from Scarborough only on Tuesday, who went over on his ankle during yesterday afternoon's reserves game against Halifax and was carried off after just 20 minutes. I dunno - first it was Rooney, now they're all at it. Whether he'll be back in action before the player he was brought in to back up - Rob Jones, who'll be out for six weeks with that cartilage - no-one can say, as exploratory looking will have to wait until Downey's ankle has stopped swelling up like a big swelly-uppy thing.
A further unsatisfactory outcome from the match was, well, the result, really, as Graham Hockless' first-half penalty and David Soames second-half not-penalty were exceeded by a trio of goals from the visitors. If anyone's still remotely interested in trialists, Andy Mumford and Dan Bulley both began the game; oh, and the name Darren Watson rings a bell too, but I'm afraid the Diary has lost the will to carry on. Not living; just going back to old news items to remind myself who the flaming blue blazes all these players actually are.
I regret very much to have to inform you of another fixture change for the worse. See, if I were visiting Northampton then I'd want to put it off for as long as is humanly possible; but Town, perversely, have done the opposite and brought theirs forward by twenty hours or so. Yep: this season's trip to Sixfields, which was originally scheduled for Saturday 9 October - on a Saturday, you see, which is when football matches are supposed to happen - has been switched to Friday 8 October, for reasons that probably reflect on contemporary society in much too depressing a manner for me to wish to pursue.
"That keeper: got that injury, didn't retire, went home, he had surgery which sorted his injury out, spent a year 'back home', and is over here. Simple." Olafur Gottskalksson, the Icelandic goalkeeper who is trialling with the Mariners - but not, apparently, to the extent of appearing in reserve matches - has enjoyed a miraculous resurrection of the kind normally only witnessed in sons of God and disgraced Greek sprinters, and this is how one Diary reader explains it. Without sources, though, can we really season our explanatory chips? Eh? Tell me that!
Lastly todayly, just as Darren Mansaram had only 24 hours to save the Earth, you have only a few more ticks of the clock to vote in Cod Almighty's new man of the match doobrie for your top dudes from Town's opening three games of the season. Voting for these initial matches closes at 5pm today, so if you haven't already been and gone and cast your ballots of approval, then feel free to do so now.
I'm off then, cos I've got a headache and a load of stuff to do. Don't think I'll make it to Irthlingborough, but I should manage to type summats up about it over the weekend. See yers.
Wednesday 18 August
The Diary couldn't decide for the life of me whether to go to the pub last night. Any other night, it'd have been a no-brainer, and Mrs Diary and I would have sat there quite happily all night quaffing pints of Deuchars IPA and bottles of Archers Aqua (raspberry is my favourite). But earlier on I'd spent an hour walking around trying to find a post office, so I was knackered. So there I was: standing up, sitting back down, couldn't decide what to do, eventually won over by the lure of resting my legs and watching Kirstie Allsop. Russell Slade has been similarly indecisive over French/Malian striker Amadou Konte: originally bringing him in on trial for some of those pre-season friendlies, sending him away again, and finally bringing him back for this afternoon's reserve game against Halifax. Other players who still seem to be on trial are another French striker, Gregory Thil; that Icelandic keeper (although they aren't playing today); that Mumford lad from Swansea; and former Yeovil and Plymouth striker Dan Bulley, whose special prize seems to be a place in the starting line-up.
Don't read this if you're eating your lunch. Rob Jones is expected to be out of action for six weeks, reports BBC Sport, and Slade is adamant that "we might have to trim the cartilage". Yeah, thanks for that, Russ, but do you think you could just be a little bit more revoltingly graphic next time?
Ooh, more thunder and lightning. Paul Groves won't find it very very frightening, though, as the legendary former Town midfielder and somewhat less successful former Town manager last night registered his fourth goal in his fifteen games since leaving Blundell Park back in February, and his first for new club York City. Assistantly managed by Lee Nogan and goalkept by Paul Crichton, the Minstermen took an early lead against Tamworth with Groves' 20-yard strike, and if all of those ex-Marinerian connections were not enough for you, you greedy swine, the ball was laid off to him by a third significant Paul, this time Robinson, who later sealed the points for York with a second goal. Yes, that Paul Robinson: the one Newcastle paid Wimbledon £1m for, and who Ruud Gullit got himself sacked by once selecting ahead of Alan Shearer. Yes, that Paul Robinson: the one who couldn't hit a horse's rump with a ukulele during three months on loan with GTFC and then got a hat-trick in Town's 8-1 defeat by Hartlepool last season. Yes, that 8-1 defeat by Hartlepool last season: the one when Pools' opening goal was scored by... Paul Groves. Cuh, eh?
If, like the Diary, you are disappointed but not surprised by the League fixture computer's reluctance to schedule Town's derby matches for bank holidays this season, then you will be utterly mortified, but not in the least astonished, to discover that the only one it did thus schedule has now been moved. The Mariners' Christmas visit to Lincoln, which was originally penned in for Tuesday 28 December ("Holiday in lieu of 26th", according to the Diary's diary, what with Boxing Day being on a Sunday and everything), has been moved back to the very much non-bank holiday date of Wednesday 29 December. This at the request of Lincolnshire police, whose regular activity presumably extends to nothing very much more challenging than apprehending the occasional potato thief. The Imps' official website warns that the match will be "strictly all-ticket for visiting supporters" as opposed, one would imagine, to those not very strictly all-ticket games we used to have in the higher divisions, where they said you wouldn't be able to pay on the gate but always ended up letting you. Anyway bah, humbug!
One possible explanation for Olafur Gottskalksson's absence from this afternoon's reserves game (Paul Fraser is in goal, and there is no keeper on the bench) comes from Tom Allen, who has emailed the Diary to point out that "the goalie taken on trial was forced to retire from the game whilst with Brentford, due to shoulder injury". My God, Tom you're right! "I wonder if he claimed compensation... if so, he surely would not be allowed to play league football again." Sounds like he's not allowed to play Pontins League football again either. Can anyone explain?
Tuesday 17 August
Lanky centre-half Rob Jones may have "damaged his cartlidge", according to Town's official website, and if that's anywhere near his cartilage then he could be out of action for some time. This would at least explain Russell Slade's panic signing this morning of Glen Downey, from his former club Scarborough. Downey is a left-sided defender who should at least have plenty of energy left in him, having played just 15 times for the Chips since joining them in February 2003. Hell, he even scored a goal against Hereford in February 2004, and there aren't many of the current squad you can say that about. Town's official site, which brings you all the news first and accurately, straight from the heart of the club, says the player has been awarded a one-year deal, so when Slade told the Grimsby Telegraph that Downey "will probably be on a short-term contract", the OS must have been having a wee or something.
Perhaps troubled by Anthony Williams' kicking, or perhaps given fresh financial confidence by the bumper crowd at last Tuesday's Lincolnshire not-quite-derby against Boston, GTFC are considering the extravagant measure of employing a second goalkeeper with, like, any experience at all of first-team football. This, you see, is the outrageously profligate course of action suggested by the fact that Icelandic custodian Olafur Gottskalksson has arrived at Blundell Park for a trial and will presumably feature in the reserves' season opener at home to Halifax tomorrow afternoon. The player made 89 starts for Brentford between 2000 and 2002 after joining the Bees on a free from Hibernian, who in 1997 paid £200,000 for his services to Ollie's hometown club IB Keflavik. Diary readers are urged to report any sightings of John Fenty lighting cigars with 50-pound notes.
As Town's youthful second string prefer to take on the Shaymen, whose 1989 album In Gorbachev We Trust remains a minor classic of the indie/dance crossover movement of the time, the club's even more youthful youth team receive news of their participation in this season's Midland Youth Cup. And they probably think: "Grimsby's not in the Midlands, is it?" As for their opponents, young Master Twinkletoes Lightowler will be showing off to his mates against the flower of Lincoln City's young manhood at Sincil Bank on Monday 6 September. This paragraph is all over the place, isn't it. Sorry. If you want to go to the match, it'll cost you three quid and it starts at 7pm. Is that better?
If the Diary were a bit more awake today then I would doubtless conjure up some razor-sharp automobile-related pun to introduce the news that Simon Ford has signed for Bristol Rovers... er, I mean Bristol Rovers. Yeah, that's it. But I'm not, so I won't. But he has, anyway. On non-contract terms. Whatever that means. The former Mariners somnambulist has become Ian Atkins' 89th signing of the summer after playing several games for the Gasheads on a trial basis including one in which he apparently scored from 20 yards and changed his name to Richard. Which is more than I've ever done, so who am I to mock, eh.
Monday 16 August
Sorry there was no weekend Diary, readers; I spent the weekend at Old Mother Diary's, and her old computer is knackered so I couldn't get online. As you will doubtless be aware after all this time, Town were shite in the first half and dead good in the second just as in the other two games they have played this season, except with the result this time that they scored five times and conceded only once. Dean Gordon looked pretty good to me; better than Jogging Justin W, anyway; and although only a fool or Dave Challinor would question the aceness of the Mariners' attacking play, it seems to the Diary that the side will have to tighten up an awful lot at the back, as they will probably face more diligent forwards than Bury's this season. If they don't, on the other hand, then it doesn't really matter.
An interesting few days for one-time Town types. Slacker almighty Mr Phil Jevons registered a second goal for Yeovil in their 2-0 win over Boston. Six months after being bundled out of Blundell Park in the boot of an unmarked car, Michael Boulding has finally found the scoresheet at Oakwell, having scored twice in The New Leeds' 4-3 home defeat by Luton at the weekend. It was behind the fridge. Another player who has suffered from Barnsley's evil schemes to kidnap former Town players and render them really rubbish using their deadly Galli-O-Ray is Peter Handyside, once widely believed in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area to be a Scottish international in waiting. The former Town centre-half has had to drop to the Conference and join fellow ex-Mariner Mark Quayle and Chris Thompson at Northwich, for whom he played in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Gravesend. Thompson may be about to be loaned out to AFC Telford, but hey.
Following Handyside down to non-League, finally, is Darren Barnard, who has signed for Aldershot and lined up against Pauls Groves and Crichton in a 2-0 win over York. And yes, before you ask, that is the same Darren Barnard who said less than a month ago: "Grimsby have dropped into Division Two of the Football League so that would be a problem."
Listeners to the handy online version of Radio Humberside's morning sports bulletin have spent the morning mystified after the usual heady brew of rugby league and Nick Barmby was replaced by a recorded message of somebody local trying really hard to talk all BBC and posh, saying: "This service is currently unavailable due to internet broadcasting restrictions regarding the 2004 Olympic Games. We will return to normal service after the games have finished on Monday 30 August." If there is any logical justification for a group of lycra-clad steroid addicts denying the good people of the Humber area the chance to hear Peter Taylor and Brian Laws bleating about refereeing decisions, then I have to say it eludes the Diary; but then I'm afraid the world is run according to capitalism rather than logic, isn't it.
Is it just me, or are loads of new people emailing the Diary and the Postbag recently? Perhaps the people who run Cod Almighty could take a look at the stats and find out whether we have a hatful of new readers. Fresh out of today's hat is Tom Allen, who has emailed the Diary simply to say: "I wanted to pass on my appreciation of the meanderings of Cod Almighty. Most amusing and well written. A good leap ahead of the usual moronic diatribe one comes across on soccer websites." Thanks very much, Tom; if you're going to be as nice as that then we'll not even demand your arrest for use of the word 'soccer' during the hours of daylight in a built-up area. I can't think which websites you mean, mind...
Friday 13 August
Hello. SGD again. We're familiar now, so I can use abbreviations. Not that familiar though... cheeky.
Newsage: nothing too much to report. Crane's injury appears to actually be quite bad, it seems. It's likely he'll be out for at least six months, and most probably the whole season. The surgeon has to drill a hole in his knee or something - is that to let the evil spirits out? I suggest a course of leeches, and while we're at it, bring back public floggings for sending-off offences.
So, then, as cover, then, Dean "Not Flash" Gordon has been drafted in on one of those short-term deals. They never say how short-term or give any reference point do they? How long is short, how short is long, how soon is now? Whatever the longage or shortage of the contract, one thing is almost certain: Gordon will be in the squad on Saturday. Whether he starts or not depends on whether Ol' Sladey decides to continue with young Young. Mr Bull is also back in contention having got over his poorlyness.
Further squad additions could come in the form of internationally cleared (pending) strikers Konte and Thil - if Russ gets his way. The GET also claims that Slade is still looking at Steve Astwood as another candidate for "big bloke who stands up front and uses head to hit ball a lot." Given their track record of being RIGHT and the record of the OS for being a bit MENTAL, I'm siding with the GET here. Although that doesn't mean I want to go hunting for paedophilic immigrants who are coming over here, taking our women, looking at our pints and shagging our jobs. Right?
Regular Diary - in a spare few moments he had between making a cup of tea and watching Trisha (the workshy fop - don't listen to his 'busy' claims. Liarist more like, eh?) - has been kind enough to pass on one of your letters. So Rich Mills, you're our lucky winner. Young Richard, whose e-mail is headed "we're doomed" tells us that the Guardian have tipped Town as 'League Two' champions. It's nice of them to acknowledge the existence of football outside of the top flight for a change isn't it? Millsy goes on: "There's a also a picture of Danny Butterfield in the Palace section. Remember him? Here's a reminder from premierleague.com - 'Fiery defender with good attacking instincts and an eye for goal from long range.'" Fiery? In the same way that Lennie Lawrence is 'any good', I presume? Richy Millsy ends his email with a more positive: "consecutive relegations are just an opportunity for consecutive promotions." That's more like it Rich, me ol' mucker.
Up the bleedin' Mariners. Tata.
Thursday 12 August
Injury crisis ahoy! Russell Slade could be dragged kicking and screaming into the living hell that is the loan market with the news that amply posteriored centre-half Tony Crane could be sidelined for as long as a year and that Rob Jones will miss this Saturday's visit of Bury with the knee injury he sustained in Tuesday night's draw with Boston. Dean Gordon has begun his three-day coach and horse journey up from the south and could boost the squad while Ronnie Bull recovers from back knack (although if you ask the Diary, old Macca had a good game on Tuesday), but Young Greg's promotion to first-team duty in Jones's absence exhausts Slade's stock of centre-halves, and it could now be only a matter of time before the manager loans one from Sheffield United reserves.
Crane's injury is deemed serious enough to warrant initial capital letters by Town's official website, which describes the gyp as "a Articular Cartilage problem", and if that's a new one on you then Dr Diary is happy to explain that damage to the knee can result in lesions to the articular lining cartilage in the joint and sometimes also injury to the bone. I suspect an arthroscopy will reveal that the latter has occurred in Mr Crane's case, and that he is experiencing pain and swelling when bending the knee. He may need cartilage to be transplanted from an undamaged area of the knee: a notoriously expensive and unreliable treatment which requires a lengthy period of recuperation before the joint can again withstand the rigours of professional football. So it's bad news for the Mariners' bank balance but a great day for Anthony Williams.
Elsewhere on the interhighwaywebnet, BBC Humber Sport has had a facelift, but still doesn't really feel like covering Grimsby Town Football Club, whose official website is inviting you to email John Fenty, Noddy, the players and, hell, just about anyone at the club you feel like, as it were. Which is nice. I think I'll see if any of the team fancy meeting us in Gulliver's this Friday.
Emails to the Diary continue to pour in on all manner of subjects, and today we have an email from Sean Fieldsend, who writes: "Hello CA. First and foremost I must comment on how brilliant your website is, if awards were given for this sort of thing then your website should definitely deserve one." Thank you very much, Sean; as a matter of fact, awards are given for this sort of thing, but the people who give them expect you to ruin your site by putting their banner ad on it. "Now to my point," continues SF. "I have read this website diss the OS for being shit on more than one occasion and I have finally started to agree with you, either this or I am going mad. Admittedly maths has never been my strong point, but Grimsby's new trial striker Gregory Thil (yes, another one) appears to be able to bypass the laws given to humankind, as the OS states he was born March 1980, yet miraculously only manages to be 23!!!!!!!!! Maybe he's some sort of God? Or maybe he's slightly worse than Darren Mansaram? I guess time will tell."
Well, if you ask me, everyone should get the hell off of Darren Mansaram's aching back (myself included). On Tuesday night Sestanovich was getting nothing but applause for the sort of thing run... run... run... shoot and miss without looking up that Flash would have got murdered for by the Pontoon. As far as the OS goes... well, they should just let me do it, obviously.
And in the last paragraph to be etched out in Word 2000 by your regular Diary before the weekend, Daniel Braithwaite has emailed again, this time on the subject of Cod Almighty's recent interview with Russell Slade. "I thought that this piece was excellent and really enjoyed reading it," says DB. "However, it is now a little old and would like to see a more recent interview with the supreme one, so as we used to say to Paul Groves, and Nicky Law and the other dozen managers in the past two years, get it sorted!" As long as you don't start booing CA for substituting me when my liver packs up, Dan.
Wednesday 11 August
Why is it that we get so emotionally involved in football? That is the question my wife asked me last night, after witnessing the latest leg of the emotional rollercoaster the club has put us through over the past five days. Between pre-season optimism and excitement at the cut of the Mariner's attacking jib, there was the harsh reality of a defeat. And again last night, listening to the commentary: a trough of an early goal conceded; the peak of Reddy's first goal for the club; and the plateau of a draw. Where are we going next - up or down? Supporting Grimsby Town is like being on the Black Hole at Alton Towers, isn't it?
Your regular Diary is 'without access' internet-wise today, so you'll have to make do with me I'm afraid - eighth in line to the throne of Guest Diary - to bring you the news and views that are the result of last night's match. In case you don't know already, despite the efforts of the Boston forwards to break all our centre-backs' noses, Town fought back from a goal down to earn a draw in what has been widely reported as the
first ever Lincolnshire derby. I'm not quite sure what that's all about, but what ever it is it's catching.
Michael Reddy scored his first Mariners goal shortly after coming on and earned Mr Slade his first point as head honcho at BP. Speaking about the match, our Russ was all cooey about the work ethic and expressed his disappointment about not opening his home account with a win. Had it not been for a another fine display by the opposition keeper (see: Darlington), Town would surely have secured their first win of the season. There are definitely positives to be taken from the past week, you know. One point from six doesn't sound all that, but the style of the performances once the players remember each others' names seems to be a real cause for optimism. And Reddy looks like he's definitely going to get things done for us up front... once he's fit.
The second half performance and the number of shirts worn by Whittle weren't the only impressive things at Fortress Blundell last night. The attendance - over 6,700 - was remarkable too. I know it was the opening home game of the season and a local derby, but for a mid-week match that's still impressive when you consider last season's average attendance was just over 5k. The atmosphere and crowd last night even made Boston supremo Steve Evans jealous and whitter on about a twelfth man or something. One thing though, right, let's not boo our own players. How's that going to help? Why don't we be radical and try to encourage them when they're not doing so well or are lacking confidence. Just remember: boos are bad. Boobs on the other hand...
In a nod to ex-Town players, Rankin, Jevons and Forrester all scored their first goals for their new clubs last night. Forrester missed a penalty too which meant that Bristol Rovers only drew. So it's not all bad news. Seeya.
Tuesday 10 August
The former Premiership left-back wanted by Russell Slade as cover for the damaged Ronnie Bull is, if I can keep myself dry for long enough to type it without short-circuiting my keyboard, Dean Gordon, once of Crystal Palace. Town's official site says the player won't be arriving at Blundell Park until Thursday, though, probably because people in London think it takes about three days to get as far north as somewhere like Grimsby. In the meantime, the smart money or the Grimsby Telegraph's money, at any rate is on the exciting new signing young John McDermott to play against Boston tonight, lining up on the right of the midfield four, whence flies the underachieving Jason Crowe to the left to replace Bull.
In tonight's other team news, Darren Mansaram is "a major doubt", having sustained back chaff in Saturday's defeat at Darlington. Graham Hockey Sticks is still carrying whatever it was he was carrying at the weekend, and Michael Reddy Brek still isn't fit enough to start, and so Clint Marcelle Marceau is the leading candidate to replace Dazman up front. GTFC groundsman Mike Phillips is bravely cocking a snook at the elements, promising on his cat's life that "The surface should be ideal for the game." Whether he means the Blundell Park pitch for football or the tables at McMenemy's for shove ha'penny, the Diary is not yet certain.
Radio Humberside this morning reckoned there'd be 5,000 there tonight, while the Lincolnshire Echo has seen their five big ones and raised them the Queen Vic by proposing a figure closer to 6,000. Do I hear seven? Boston, meanwhile, are still entertaining the patently ludicrous notion that Paul Gascoigne will play football for them at some point, and are offering by way of explanation for his absence from tonight's game a hopelessly flimsy narrative to the effect that the 53-year-old former England midfielder is recovering from a dodgy kebab or something. Yeah, like, whatever. That said, if you ask the Diary then anyone who is (a) gormless enough to have bought a ticket for tonight's game just to see 'Gazza'; and (b) sponge-brained enough to believe that he was actually going to play deserves to be mugged for 15p, never mind 15 quid.
Amadou Conte/Konte, the French striker who recently contrived to undertake trials for both the Mariners and Colchester United at the same time, is back at BP, Russell Slade presumably having decided that the trialists he had in July, the ones who scored goals, were better than the ones he brought over in August, who didn't. New hopefuls on the trial trail include, hey, another French striker, this time called Gregory Thil, and, wow, an English striker called Dan Bull who came through the ranks at Plymouth if you believe the official site, or an English striker called Dan Bulley who came through the ranks at Yeovil if you're throwing in your lot with the increasingly authoritative Grimsby Telegraph.
Apparently there were 875 Town fans in the 4,807 crowd at Darlington on Saturday, and Cod Almighty's auction for an autographed Mariners shirt raised £82 for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Administer to yourselves with the hand an approving physical contact in the vertebral region.
Just enough time for a dip into the Diary's resurgent inbox, where Leeds Mariner has thrust an inconsequential though diverting little email. "I noticed at the weekend that Chris Bolder had signed for Ossett Town," he or she writes, "or
was maybe only on trial there, to which I have three questions: 1. Was this already known? 2. Is this interesting? 3. Do ye have any spare change?" Well, Leeds, it wasn't known by the Diary, so thank you; it's maybe less interesting in itself than as a possible indication of the decline in quality of the players to have emerged from the Mariners' youth system in recent years; and no, I don't get a job, you bleedin' waster.
"Hello Diary," writes Dick of Legbourne, as he limbers up to lay in to the Exeter City striker who said "Where the hell is Grimsby?" Hello, Dick. It's always a pleasure. Get stuck in then. "Steve Flack we've had a lucky escape methinks! This fella is clearly a sandwich short of a picnic. After slagging Town off, the daft git starts by being all gooey talking about his family being 'more important than anything else in the world', then continues that his 'non-league' contract won't be renewed at the end of this season because of the wage structure! Mr Flack, it's alright being loyal to the grecian boys and loving your family, but will they love you when you're only playing Sunday league football having to sell hair dye for a living!? You daft lanky get. Perhaps nine years at Exeter has taken its toll and you've lost the ability of forethought. 'A pension??? What's one of them?'. You can't help some people." Cheers for that, DL; couldn't have put it better myself. And, in fact, I didn't.
Monday 9 August
"You were all optimistic a couple of hours ago," said Mrs Diary at around 4:35 on Saturday afternoon, as I greeted the news of what proved to be Darlington's winning goal against Town with a habitual nod of resigned misery. "I wasn't," I said. "I was excited. Not optimistic. Big difference." But if I did want to be optimistic then Noddy and the match reports (and there's a band name waiting to happen) are fairly unanimous that the multitude of GTFC chances denied by Darlo keeper Sam Russell would give me just cause. Andy Parkinson, who enjoyed a sparky debut for the Mariners, agrees, telling today's Grimsby Telegraph: "There were a lot of lads making their debuts today and it was encouraging that we made so many chances and in general played Continued on page 43." Who said online content shouldn't try and imitate the form of print media, eh?
Elsewhere in the Grimbo Telbo, Mr Slade is said to be pursuing a "veteran former Premiership full back" to replace Ronnie Bull, who seems to have been fielded at Darlo without having fully recovered from an injury no change there, then with exacerbated thigh gam and his absence from tomorrow night's game against Boston the result. Russ's work in the transfer market continues on the sly, with Exeter newspaper the Express & Echo reporting that a player called Steve Flack has rejected an approach to join the Mariners with the response "Where the hell's Grimsby?" To which the only credible riposte is surely "And who the fuck is Steve Flack?"
Three wise men have emailed gifts to the Diary over the weekend, the first of whom is James Booth. "After reading Thursday's Diary and seeing Ladbrokes' prediction of Town to finish highest out of the Lincs clubs," writes the Hungary/Canada Mariner, "I noticed on Soccernet one of the 'pundits' is predicting Town to finish 6th in the division, but still be behind Boston and Lincoln. I am sure this would be more interesting were I able to deduce something from this. However, it's Friday and day 3 of a big music festival here in Budapest so I am much too tired to try to find any significance in this." Me neither, JB; I'm still reeling from the dizzying brilliance of Mississauga Goddam. Everything you've read about the Johnny Boy single is true, as well; it's awesome.
So to Daniel Braithwaite, who has very thoughtfully taken the time and trouble to email the Diary and say what most of you only think. "Congratulations," says Daniel the Man, "for such a superb website with such great humour. Keep it up lads and give us morrrrrreeeeeeeeee. UTM." Thank you very much! We will. We're always looking for new contributors, though, so if any of you reader types fancy helping us fulfil Daniel's fondest wish then please get in touch.
It falls to Dan Humphrey to conclude today's proceedings, and there could be a consolation prize for any of you who saw Mickael Antoine-Curier play and decided you could do a better job as a pro footballer, only to be disappointed last Friday when Darren Mansaram signed a new contract. "Do any Cod Almighty readers wish to play Sunday league football for the amazingly titled 100% Compensation Company FC?!?" asks Dan. "Our first full season is just about to start, and we could do with some new players!!" Be careful with all those exclamation marks, Dan, or Codswallop will be after you asking for them back. Anyone up for that, then? Email email@example.com if you fancy illuminating the Sabbath with your sickly skills, and I will pass Dan your details. There's an article in this.
Saturday 7 August
The bookmakers' favourites to end the 2004-05 season as the highest-placed Lincolnshire side of the four in the bottom division are already three points adrift of all their county rivals as Darlington substitute Ian Clark registers the only goal of the game at the Debbie Reynolds Arena on 83 minutes. An unsurprisingly Gazza-less Boston come out 1-0 to the good at home to Oxford; Lincoln spoil Shrewsbury's return to the League with a similar victory at Gay Meadow; and everyone's relegation favourites Scunthorpe Town come back from behind at Glanford to despatch everyone's relegation second-favourites Rochdale by three goals to one. An inevitable learning experience for the Mariners as Noddy's new squad learn each other's names, or the harbinger of another entirely false dawn? Time, Town and Tony's match report will tell.
Friday 6 August
Afternoon. Special Guest Diary today as regular Guest Diary is still on a sabbatical. And normal Diary is down the pub, probably.
Anyway, on with the newsiness. Russ has knocked out the old "no pain, no gain" line to his squad, insisting that if they're not in agony after the match then they can't have been trying hard enough. If they are in discomfort then they've obviously had a good match - or picked up an injury. He then says that we might not win for a bit, or words to that effect. Maybe. I dunno. Anyway, the gist of it is this: we might not win until the team settles down, but they better bloody well try really hard to win or else.
At the bottom of the article, the OS have sneakily sneaked in a sneakity sneaky line about Clint Marcelle signing a short-term contract. They don't make it clear how short this contract is though, so we'll assume it's one of those weekly efforts like what Daz Mans is on.
In other news, three players who won't be turning out on Saturday are Crane (knee and suspensionarama), Hockless (back thingyum) and Wheeler (groinage). However, Ronnie "The Cow" Bull is expected to recover enough from his slight twinge to feature in the game, and Mr Michael "Ever" Reddy may well start on the bench and come on in the last half hour or so. Although they'll both undergo late fitness tests this arvo and well, basically we'll just have to wait and see won't we?
Over in the GET, Whittle predicts the new season will be fast, furious and physical. Phwoar, eh? Phwoar! I assume that means he'll start running during matches then? He does go on to say that the team must play for 90 minutes, which is what all the fans have been saying after seasons of watching the team stop playing after 80, 70, sometimes 20 minutes. He also narrowly avoids the old footballers cliche by saying that the team must give 100 per cent. Phew! No trying for that impossible extra 10 for this team then. There's also an interview with Reddy where he goes on about being, er, ready for the new season. God the puns are going to get bad this season aren't they?
And finally, can I just remind you that CA's own Pete Green makes a return to his weekly column in the GET which is always a damn fine read. Have a looksy if you haven't already. Seeya.
Thursday 5 August
Russell Slade's search for a new striker is over! The man he has brought in to complete his new-look forward line is described as a bustling young six-footer with a good turn of pace who has goals to his name at Division One level. Twenty-year-old Darren Mansaram, who was previously on the books at Grimsby Town, has penned a week-to-week contract at Blundell Park and could go straight into the reckoning for Saturday's trip to Darlington.
The crowd at Blundell Park for next week's visit by Lincolnshire sort-of-neighbours Boston could be even larger than the obscenely distended abdomen of the Pilgrims' new player-coach Paul Gascoigne, if today's Grimsby Telegraph is to be taken seriously. The club's accounts manager Steve Wraith explains that, with five days still remaining before the game, over 500 "matchday tickets" have been shifted: a level of demand he says was not attained during the whole of last season. The Telegraph suggests that "Gazza-mania" could be a factor in this not recently precedented stampede for tickets, but the fact that next Tuesday marks the first ever competitive game between Town and the men from York Street may sound more appealing to those seeking an explanation that doesn't make the population of North East Lincs sound very sad indeed.
Remaining with matters that pertain to England's second largest county, high street turf accountant Ladbrokes is offering odds on which of the four Lincolnshire clubs in the fourth division will finish highest and guess who are the favourites! GTFC can be backed at 13/8 to top this parochial bragfest, although the 15/8 on offer for Keith Alexander's seasoned Lincoln battlers sounds a little more attractive to Diary ears. Boston the only one of Town's three county rivals not managed by a Blundell Park reject are priced at 9/4, while Scunthorpe's woeful 200304 campaign is doubtless the key factor determining their position as 7/1 outsiders.
As you know, it's not often that the Diary is wrong about anything, and my recent suggestion that Russell Slade's Sheffield United connections were the key to Matlock Town's Danny Holland turning up on trial at Blundell Park is no exception, it appears. A piece in today's Sheffield Star confirms that Slade was tipped off about the player by Bramall Lane boss Neil Warnock after his hat-trick against the Blades in a recent pre-season friendly. "When I saw Danny I thought he could definitely do a job at that level," explains our old mate Neil. "I telephoned Russell and told him he was worth a look." The piece goes on to describe "an unofficial partnership" between the two bosses, but the Diary trusts that most Town fans will be sufficiently broad-minded not to judge their team's new manager by the company he keeps.
Poor old Guest Diary has had to get a job, and so you'll have to make do with somebody else for the next few Fridays but not before he's had his two penn'orth in an email. "Out of what-feels-like several thousand trialists invited to the club by successive generations of Town managers (starting with Lawrence), how many have actually signed contracts and played for the first team?" asks GD. "A rhetorical question, maybe, but the answer must be incredibly low, unless the work has fuddled my ageing brain. I must be going through one of my is-it-all-really-worth-it morning depressions again, but it seems a lot of effort for little reward." Indeed so, Guest; and it doesn't look like our Russ is going to trust the judgement of his pal Colin W on the aforementioned matter of Danny Holland either. Stay in touch and don't work too hard. Readers: can you think of any really successful signings for Town that have resulted from a trial? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can.
Letters Ed is promising a new Cod Almighty letters page any minute now. I've heard that one before, mind, and I'm going to nick Andy Walters' email anyway, because he refers to the description in yesterday's Diary of Tony Crane as "former Sheffield Wednesday heffalump". "In the Winnie The Pooh stories heffalumps were proved to not exist," Andy points out. "Piglet was scared shitless when he thought he saw one, but it was only Pooh with a jar of honey on his head. As you do. Are you suggesting Tony Crane should scare the bejeezus out of people while roaming the land with a jar of honey on his head? (and where would we find a jar big enough?) Or are you suggesting Tony Crane is just a figment of our imaginations? Anyway, even if we do see him or not, it's not the time of year for heffalumps, I hear." Well, that's because he's suspended, Andy.
And finally heh, heh! Town fans could be set for more penalty miss-based schadenfreude next season, as Tony Gallimore has signed for fourth division rivals Rochdale but is already unlikely to line up in the Lancashire side's visit to Scunny on Saturday after picking up an injury in pre-season on account of not being arsed to train for five months.
Wednesday 4 August
The Conoco Stadium? The Coca-Cola Bowl? Or Fenty's Folly? Town's thrusting young new chairman has wasted little time in resurrecting the spectre of the club's long-threatened new stadium at Great Coates, telling today's Grimsby Telegraph, basically, that it would be lovely to have one, wouldn't it, because lots of other clubs do; in fact we don't really know if we can manage without one really; we'll have a natter with some chap at the council and see what happens. So nothing new really, and the Diary breathes a sigh of relief, pausing only to note that the bookmakers have lengthened the odds on Fenty or Russell Slade giving one single interview in the whole of the 200405 season that does not include the words 'work ethic'.
Speaking of our shiny new manager and his shiny new head, Russ has just about given up on the prospects of any of the half-dozen or so enormous strikers he has on trial turning out to be anywhere near Football League standard. Slade has not only told the Telegraph as much but has also taken the unprecedented step of giving similar information to the club's official website all of which is good news both for the great majority of Town fans, who share the great Brian Clough's opinion that if God had meant football to be played in the air then He would have put grass there, and for Michael Reddy, who is expected to be just about fit for this weekend's drape-lifter at Darlington.
Ronnie Bull, whose participation at the Safecracker Stadium had also been in doubt because of thigh gam, is also expected to make the trip up the east coast; but it's not all good news from the treatment room, as a scan has revealed that Crazy Legs' knee knack is not as bad as was initially hoped, and the former Sheffield Wednesday heffalump could be in contention to return to the Mariners' first XI as soon as his 18-match suspension is completed.
Tuesday 3 August
Did you hear the one about the Nigerian, the Bermudan and the French-Malian? The latest score from the Shay is 1-1, according to Town's official website; Ashley Sestanovich put the Mariners ahead 16 hours ago at the time of writing only for Halifax's Craig Midgley to equalise 15 hours and 36 minutes ago. They must be playing 'next one's the winner'. Michael Reddy didn't play in the end (so that's Grimsby Telegraph 2, GTFC OS 0), and an exclusive Cod Almighty interview with Russell Slade after the game to be featured on this website later today, with a bit of luck suggests that he isn't terribly impressed with any of Abdou Tangara, Samual Umerah or Steve Astwood, the Bermudan striker who isn't Shaun Goater, and so his search for a hefty yet fleet-footed fellow to fill the forward line between Ash Sest and Pob Parkinson goes on.
Incidentally, although the Diary is keeping an open mind about the forthcoming season and feels less optimistic about the Mariners' prospects than I did 12 months ago, I would like to point out to any reader who may be in danger of succumbing to the sulks about the unspectacular results of these friendlies that Paul Groves' team recorded some excellent wins in last year's pre-season programme, and just look where it got them. I do hope Anthony Williams turns out to be less rubbish than everyone is saying though.
Lawrie McMenemy is to open the new restaurant at Blundell Park that Town have named after him in an understandable but entirely doomed bid to appease the permanently angry old men among the club's support. The former Mariners boss, who is revered by the ration book generation as a greater manager than Alan Buckley despite sodding off after one poxy promotion, will return to the club on 4 September, reports today's Grimsby Telegraph, for a spot of ribbon-cutting to coincide with the home game against Rochdale.
And that, reader, is it for today. Methinks I shall betake myself to the nearest public hostelry, the better to contemplate the hours that unfold before me like a big unfoldy thing.
Monday 2 August
It was cool when just the Brazilians did it, and Morrissey, but when Louise (Nurding) and the Portuguese jumped on the bandwagon it lost a lot of the magic. These days everyone and his dog Spot is deciding that they are just too damn cool to bear the encumbrance of having both a surname and a forename, and this includes a Nigerian who calls himself Sammi, and who also happens to be on trial with Grimsby Town Football Club. Samual Umerah, as the Mariners' official site more properly names him, appears to be marketing himself not so much as "big, strong, fast striker Russell Slade has been looking for all his life" as "great mate of Jay-Jay Okocha."
That said, although I've read every day for the past week that Slade is "set to decide on the future" of Abdou Tangara (whose casually xenophobic Grimsby-given nickname Abdul just doesn't have the same stylish cosmopolitan ring, somehow), Town's vacancy for a target man job remains unfilled; and the Diary's reports from Bolton, where Umerah recently failed another trial, characterise him as a suitably 'Steve Livingstone on steroids' sort of figure whose key contribution to a recent reserve game was to knock an opposing centre-half unconscious. Note: Dave Challinor plays for Bury now.
Another contender for the job could be "a big Bermudan striker", apparently, and Slade's reluctance to give any more detail than that has not dissuaded Town's official website from running a picture of Shaun Goater with the caption "could it be him?" Er, isn't it your job to tell us that?
Assuming that international clearance can be secured from the UN Security Council this afternoon, Not Shaun Goater will make the trip to Halifax tonight for the Mariners' last friendly before their season begins at Darlington on Saturday. Ahead of the game, the position of Michael Reddy is again causing a difference of opinion on the 10/1 shot, Geoffrey, with the Grimbly Telegraphic Corporation omitting his name from the squad it says will travel west, and the club's official website insisting that Reddy will turn out at the Shay. Ah, you're thinking, but the OS said Tangara wouldn't play against Willem last Monday. True, but it has a quote from Noddy Russell about Reddy, to wit: "He's naturally a fit lad and hopefully he will come through thirty minutes or so tonight." We shall see...
A quick look back to Friday, and a story missed by Si Wilson when he got back from the pub to rattle off a five-minute guest Diary: namely, that Town's playing squad now have a third book to place on their shelves next to Gazza's autobiog and Bravo Two Zero. The volume in question, reported the Telegraph, is a "players' handbook... which details club rules and fines as well as fitness and nutritional advice" and appears to be the brainchild of new chairman Coca-Cola Fenty. Players will be hit with strict financial penalties for not wearing ties, while biting their nails and not doing their homework will presumably be punishable by detention. "Work ethic work ethic work ethic," Fenty said, or something like that. The Diary tends to switch off when people talk in that way.
Darren Barnard, who couldn't possibly play fourth division football with Grimsby, is now having a trial with a view to, er, playing fourth division football with Mansfield. The chameleonic Welsh international wing-back, whose form alters according to his surroundings, was also reported by Radio Humberside this morning to be having a trial with a view to playing Scottish Premier League football with Kilmarnock, who must therefore have changed their minds since Dar-Bar had a trial with them and failed it the week before last.
Oh, and Jonathan Rowan is doing quite well in his trial at York. With Town being in the bottom division these days, the club is no longer able to offload its dead wood to Scunny, Lincoln and Boston, but the Minstermen have filled the breach admirably and Rowan looks set to become the fifth former Mariner at Bootham Crescent. If Steve Croudson isn't holding his breath on YCFC needing back-up for Paul Crichton then Rhys Wilmot surely will be.