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Saturday 31 January
We at CodAlmighty have just heard that today's match against Bristol City is postponed. I thought we'd got all that snow off the pitch yesterday. Obviously not. It can't be a bad thing that new loan signing Lee Thorpe will have longer to train with the squad before his first match can it?
Friday 30 January
Blimey, is it that time of the week already? Being the non-working guest diarist that I am, the days just fly by. It's already time to try to get revved up over the prospect of a Grimsby game. And, for once, we can while away the pre-match hours wondering who will be playing for Town.
Despite losing Macca (who is, this very day, coming under uncomfortably close scrutiny by a hernia specialist) after their very own mid-winter break, the Town squad available has grown by about 20 per cent with Crane back after suspension, and Campbell and Barnard's mums allowing them out to play again – although Barney's insists he keeps wrapped up and warm. Let's hope he does that by running up and down the left wing, rather than wrapping himself up on the bench, because I still haven't quite recovered from our left sided defensive debacle at the last home match. Any road, our friends at Radio Humberside reckon all three will play, according to my Pontoon neighbour Mr. Tony Butcher.
Did I ever tell you that I live about half a mile outside the Radio Humberside broadcast area? I'm sure locals at the other end of our village think I'm casing their joints as I sit outside their houses hunched over the wheel listening to away games.
And to top it all we've signed another striker. A few days after the dust has settled on the Boulding non-transfer story, Paul Groves has enlisted the support of ex-Lincoln striker Lee Thorpe on a month's loan from Leyton Orient. Mr. Thorpe has a disciplinary record reminiscent of our own Mr. Crane this season – seven yellows and a red. Oh, and he's managed to hit the net four times between the suspensions. So what do you make of that? None of our existing first team strike force is injured, so we have a choice between Boulding, Mansaram, Onuora, Jevons, Rowan, and now Thorpe. Well Boulding scores, and never gets booked, so that's one positional choice solved you would think. Jevons has been converted to a non-scoring midfielder, and the others never really look like scoring do they? In fact what is Iffy providing that Livvo couldn't have done? But that's another story. So, on that basis Town need a decent partner for Boulding.
Whether Thorpe will be it, is a matter for debate. His protagonists will cite his 'one in three' goal-scoring record for Lincoln, but he only plays half the time, and his manager at Orient recently summed up the situation thus: "He's been picked in the side on a regular basis but it's not happened for him, and that's been a disappointment for all of us. Lee has also made regular appearances in the referee's notebook and that takes the edge off his game as well." Yeah, we know the feeling Mr. Ling - only too well, actually.
Before we finish with strikers and get on to the serious stuff, I must confess to a sniggering attack yesterday when I read on the Electronic Fishcake the following pronouncement from its proprietor: "This decision (i.e. to stay) could cost Boulding a great deal of money so it is good to see him holding on at Town." Cod Almighty reader Keith Collins sees the situation very differently: "Maybe I'm a cynic but I believe the following will happen. Boulding has rejected offers from Peterborough and Barnsley, as there is an offer waiting at the end of the season for a free transfer. This will save the buying club a fee, which will then allow them to pay Boulding an enhanced signing-on fee equivalent to the 45K (or more) transfer fee. Sounds good business to me (but shit to the Mariners)." Couldn't have put it better myself, Keith me old mate.
But the big news of the day has to be the impending split of Atomic Kitten. Natasha Hamilton has blamed the stress of trying to combine motherhood with a career in pop for the break-up, but this Diarist suspects that the daft Cod Almighty rumour of them playing before a Blundell Park crowd must have had something to do with it ("like, if we're playing at a football ground in Grimsby, I'm leaving!" Or summat). If you fancy joining them for a final tear-stained farewell, then their last gig will apparently be in Hull on March 11th.
With all this talk of mid-season breaks, it has occurred to me that the ones who probably need it most are the fans – especially us Town fans. I've noticed my own performance at matches recently declining – I'm hunching more, the vocal levels are way down, and even my capability to laugh at the absurd seems to be on the wane. So, next week, I'm heading off to Whitby with my squad for a four-day break. If you know any decent boozers there, let me know. See yer.
Thursday 29 January
Town officials are still making optimistic noises about this Saturday's encounter with Bristol City, but with the possibility of the team taking a point from the game being a distant one the club is contenting itself simply with the match going ahead. "At the moment we're quite confident," groundsman Mike Phillips tells today's Grimsby Telegraph. "We'll take the snow off tomorrow and the forecast for Saturday is for rain. That will help it thaw." With all outdoor pitches in the area also blanketed in snow, the squad is today using condoms, broken glass and dog poo instead of cones by training on Cleethorpes beach.
Premiership clubs may have voted themselves a mid-winter break as of next season so that they can sod off to play lucrative friendlies in the Far East, but you wouldn't catch Paul Groves buying any of that nonsense. The Mariners player-boss (for the time being) has been telling BBC Humber Sport of the benefits to mental and spiritual well-being bestowed by his side's recent lay-off - "It allows people to take a bit of a break from it and hopefully recharge the batteries and go again" - and apparently even Stuart Campbell and Darren Barnard may be fit to face the Bristolians this weekend. Hey, maybe Town should get knocked out of the FA Cup at an embarrassingly early stage every year! Oh...
There's not a lot else to report, bar a couple of 'former Mariner' stories. Wayne Burnett's professional comeback has been KO'd after Peterborough's shirt sponsor Van Asten Logistics slid into receivership. What do 'logistics' firms actually do, anyway? Steve Livingstone has decided to retire, and wishes he'd gone to play for Alan Buckley at Rochdale instead of chasing the glory and riches at Carlisle. I would write a lengthy tribute to him, but I'm trying to get today's Diary done as quickly as possible because of severe back pain - which I'm sure is something Livvo would understand.
No less mighty a figure than Tony Butcher has emailed the Diary overnight with an explanation for the Grimsby Telegraph's oxymoronic assertion that Alan Pouton "enjoyed a miserable Gillingham debut" last weekend. "Pouton has been in Grimsby so long the local psychology (or psychopathy) has been infused into his very core," explains CA's match reporter supreme. "To be miserable is to be happy. Having just got round to picking up the Sports Telegraph and reading 'The Town Debate' I give one more example. A Mr B D Jenkin (a regular attender at Blundell Park since 1965) returned for the Oldham and Plymouth games after a couple years off due to 'over commercialisation'." At Blundell Park? Are you sure? "He 'witnessed effort, skill, drama amd players who are a credit to their profession in a brilliant atmosphere' and intended to watch every other home game, work permitting. 'Not now I'm not!' Talk about fickle - I nominate him as the personification of Town support. Unless you know better?" Hey, didn't they used to say that on That's Life at the end of 'consumer' features about dodgy plumbers who'd set up pyramid selling schemes?
But yeah - readers! Send the Diary the worst examples of miserable fickle sods you can find on the Telegraph letters page, and we'll parade them here for the scorn and mockery of real fans! The new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To conclude today's proceedings we have an email from "scott", with the subject line "A excite game" and a little poem in the body text:
Hello,This is a excite game
Well, I assume it's a poem, as there's no sign of a game anywhere. At the same time, it's sort of reassuring that even mail viruses sometimes forget to add the attachment.
This game is my first work.
You're the first player.
I expect you would enjoy it.
Wednesday 28 January
When arrogant sods get their come-uppance it creates one of the more pleasant sensations this poor crazy world has to offer, and Barnsley have got theirs. A statement issued last night by GTFC confirms that Michael Boulding is staying at Blundell Park for the time being – and delivers a gratifyingly acidic rebuff from Peter Furneaux to his Oakwell counterparts, who for the past week have been telling anyone who will listen that their move for the player was a done deal. "Their manager and directors should not try to interpret the contract between Michael Boulding and Grimsby Town," announces the Mariners chairman, with all the authority and gravitas of Lord Hutton. Tykes boss Gudjon Thordarson, it appears, had neglected to entertain the possibility that Boulding might actually prefer to play for Grimsby, and had been spouting off about a deal "going through by the end of the week" without ever having spoken to Quick Michael himself. Barnsley have now loaned Manchester United's Daniel Nardiello instead, who scored two and made the third in their 3-0 win over Blackpool last night, but let's not spoil the moment. Boulding will now probably leave for nothing when his contract expires this summer.
You probably know this already, but it's snowing, and footballers tend not to play in snow. The Blundell Park pitch, estimates Town's official site, "is covered in about three inches of the white stuff": a state of affairs that, should it persist for three more days, could throw the club's plans for a kickabout against Bristol City this Saturday into a swirling vortex of random terror and chaos. For the time being the snow will be left on the pitch "to insulate it against frost", reveals the site, which sounds awfully clever to the Diary, who only got Bs for physics and chemistry. Somebody ought to tell them Premiership clubs that if they pile enough snow on their pitches, they wouldn't need that expensive undersoil heating.
Mariners captain John McDermott – who, it is being scandalously whispered by certain elements of the club's support, is starting to look his age – faces an operation to fix up his knotted hernia or something, reports BBC Humber today. The record-breaking right-back had hoped to grit his teeth, and play through the pain barrier, and lots of other such manly clichés, but will have to undergo surgery or never walk again, explains Paul Groves.
Grimsby Telegraph football writer Stuart Rowson is apparently set to complete the cross-Humber transfer Macca never quite managed last summer, with a switch to the Hull Daily Mail (and with no new stories on the GT's website at nearly two o'clock he might have scarpered already). The Diary would like to join with Town's official website in congratulating Stu on his appointment, though given the very public disharmony between the two parties over recent years one suspects that the club's magnanimity may be borne out of sheer relief. Rozzer's new post will doubtless afford him much cosier accommodation in the KC Stadium press box, and an even better perk, from his perspective, will be that his work is no longer mercilessly picked apart by the Diary and its readers – one of whom, John Arrand, has a further observation on the Telegraph's reporting of Alan Pouton taking a bow for his new club. "Apparently, according to the GET, 'Alan Pouton enjoyed a miserable Gillingham debut'," writes John. "How does that work, eh?"
Last in today's Diary, and by all means least, is an email from email@example.com, with the subject line "Scrolling" and no body text. Yes, but is it art?
Tuesday 27 January
"The war of words over the future of Grimsby Town's leading scorer has been turned up a notch by Barnsley manager Gudjon Thordasson," reports BBC Humber Sport today, which is a shame, because they managed to spell his name properly last week. So what's he said? "The Tykes boss claims Boulding wants to move to Oakwell." And? Er, that's it. Cheers, the Beeb. Oh, there's some other stuff we already knew. "Furneaux says Boulding has not talked to them about moving, nor exercising the clause in his contract, that says he can leave Blundell Park if a bid of over £45,000 comes in from another club." Ah right... so the clause works like lbw in cricket, and Mick has to go to the chairman every day and appeal for it to be activated if anyone's come up with the moolah.
Let's see if Barnsley's official website can tell us anything more. "27.01.2004 BREAKING NEWS NO PROBLEMS AT OAKWELL," reads a headline. "Barnsley Football Club can confirm that there are no problems whatsoever with tonight’s game at Oakwell." Well, the Diary didn't say there were any problems, but I'm downright suspicious now... One thing of which we can be reasonably certain is that no new clubs appear to have 'joined the race' to sign Boulding, and indeed our nouveau-riche neighbours Hull City are going to some lengths to deny any involvement. "He was a player we did show some interest in," says "a source close to the club" in today's Hull Daily Mail, "but we will not be making an offer and there are no plans to sign him." So that just leaves Barnsley, Derby, Peterborough, Gillingham and Walsall – but today's Grimsby Telegraph reckons he's stopping with Town. What are you looking so worried for?
Town's promising young reserve keeper Andy Pettinger has returned to training, announces the official GTFC website, having fully recovered from a broken finger. Pettinger, not the website. Stuart Campbell and Darren Barnard, two of Town's better players this season, remain on those sidelines with injured knees and calves, knees and calves, heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
Barnard, meanwhile, could still be about to experience a good trip because of drugs. The Mariners' Welsh international left-back, along with all his German, er, Welsh compatriots, thought his chance of starring in this summer's European Championships had gone up in smoke after the principality lost a two-legged play-off against Russia in November. With the news that Russian midfielder Igor Titov failed a drugs test after the first leg, though, the Wales FA has asked UEFA to overturn the result and award them a 3-0 victory, which would mean Dar-Bar and his mates bezzing off to Portugal in June. This would be fully in keeping with existing rules and protocol on controlled substances, apparently, so it'll never work.
Diary reader Mark Wilson has emailed in confusion over Alan Pouton's alleged contribution to Gillingham's consolation goal in their 3-1 cup defeat to Burnley last Saturday, which, as Mark Stilton pointed out here yesterday, was scored nine minutes after the former Town midfielder left the pitch. "I don't doubt Mark's report," he writes, "but I saw the goal on Sky's Sunday morning round-up thing and I thought I saw Alan in a hopelessly ineffectual position looking bewildered as the Gills were torn apart for said goal. Was he there or wasn't he? Did one man score or was there another striker on
the grassy knoll?" You've lost me now, Mark... although the Diary is interested to note that the fourth official is listed as a Mr L H Oswald of Dallas.
Finally, a trawl through some of the curious unsolicited email that has ended up in the Diary's inbox recently. Richard Croll has emailed about, well, absolutely nothing, really: it's a blank message. The subject line "GMT 2004" is similarly unhelpful, so a visit to www.fanzineclick.com might be in order. What do they do there then? "FanzineClick helps a network of independent football fanzine sites to generate meaningful advertising revenue." Sorry, not interested. People come to this website because they respect its non-commercial ethos and know they can access quality content that is neither plagued by an array of annoying pop-ups nor editorially distorted by the profit motive. By the way, if you haven't already bought your Cod Almighty T-shirt, then you could do it now. Priced at a pocket-friendly £5.50, they succinctly express your regional pride, and look pretty cool too. Order now!
Monday 26 January
A brief flutter of nerves was felt in some quarters this morning as the official website of Barnsley FC announced that a new signing would be unveiled at Oakwell this morning, and then subsided again when the blushing bride was not Michael Boulding but Marlon Beresford. Town's leading scorer continues to unsettle the constitution, however, as the Grimsby Telegraph reports fresh interest from Derby and Hull while BBC Humber insists that, as if Barnsley's Gudjon Thordarson were not enough, Peterborough's Barry Fry remains in the hunt for the 13-goal frontman dude. "It seems he's one of a number of clubs following Boulding," reports BBC Humber, proving once again that you should never let programmers write copy.
While we are making fun of people who can't write – and when aren't we?!! – the Diary is just about hungover and crotchety enough today to unfairly single out "C Parker, season ticket holder and shareholder, Grimsby", whose letter in today's Grimsby Telegraph reckons "Blame has been levied at everyone". Ha ha ha. To be fair, C goes on to implore readers to "Get down to Blundell Park on Saturday in numbers and get behind everyone in a black and white shirt": sentiments the Diary is happy to endorse.
Town are letting two kids in free with each grown-up for this Saturday's encounter with high-flying Bristol City. "The deal is, 2 free junior tickets in any stand, as long as they are accompanied by at least one responsible adult," explains the club's official site, neglecting to give details of the responsibility test supporters will face when visiting the ticket office.
The Diary in no way approves of messing with the stuff of people's souls, but can't get through the day without sharing the news that Stacy Coldicott's four-year-old labrador Ronnie has been plunged into a tug-of-love battle between the Mariners permacrock and his estranged wife Steph, whose appearance on TV's Big Brother mercifully kept the Diary stocked with copy throughout the football-free months of last summer. Stace made a crafty dash down to his home town of Redditch last week to snatch said pooch from under the very nose of his missus, who has moved back in with her parents in the abysmal midlands shithole. Cue a return journey to Grimmo by the chubby-cheeked spouse, who scarpered back down the M1 with Ronnie after a tense stand-off with her ex. The Blundell Park physiotherapy department, meanwhile, is as surprised as Steph and the dog to see Stacy exhibit something approaching match fitness.
A quantity of interesting spam has arrived in the Diary's inbox, and we will work through it over the course of the week, but not before the following contribution from Michael Shelton, who last week joshingly suggested that a former England manager might replace Paul Groves one day soon only for him to be immediately booked in at BP as an after-dinner speaker. The former England manager, that is, not Michael. "I was amazed at the coincidence of the article on the official site saying Graham Taylor is coming to speak in Grimsby. As I'm sure you're aware, my email was in no way related to this, it was just the latest in my long line of ridiculous suggestions. However, on the plus side, news that Graham Taylor is in fact coming to speak at the club can only help to spread my nasty rumour that he'll replace Mr G (blood-curdling cackle). PS the dairy's brilliant, keep up the good work." Thanks fella. I do enjoy milking the applause.
Ryan Collins is the sort of name you expect to see on the front cover of a best-selling paperback by a former commander in the SAS, so I'd best be careful how I respond to his email. "Maybe you would like to tell us where this apparent fighting took place on Tuesday night?" he writes, in response to Friday's Diary. Hmmm... was it the Libyan embassy? You do seem a bit defensive about the whole thing, Ryan, if you don't mind my saying so; were you in any way involved in this apparent fighting that didn't happen? No – don't shoot!
And finally, a wee word from Mark Stilton, who reminds us once more never to believe a word you read in the papers. "The Telegraph claim an Alan Pouton backheel set up Henderson's consolation goal for Gillingham on Saturday," he writes. "Soccerbase say this goal was scored in the 71st minute. No big deal maybe, but it also says Pouton was substituted on 62 minutes. A move that lasted 9 minutes and involved a substitution - not bad."
Friday 23 January
Perhaps he's inspired by yesterday's "get lost, Abramovich" outburst from Charlton chairman Martin Simons. Perhaps he's just losing patience with the 'we want a new playhouse' faction among the Grimsby populace. Either way, Town chairman Peter Furneaux is exploiting the gap left by the departure of alpha male Alan Pouton to cultivate a new hard man image. "We will not be exploited by Barnsley or any football club who think they can make offers such as the one they made for Michael," says Mr F in response to the South Yorkshire side's take-the-piss bid for Mr Boulding yesterday. "Peter Ridsdale is an experienced man but what he and Barnsley offered was nowhere near what the market value is for a player of Michael Boulding's ability." Even if he's out of contract in four or five months' time... like, say, Alan Pouton was? Boulding intends to stay put this time, though, if we are to believe what he tells Mariners World viewers today: that "he is happy at Blundell Park" and "his agent isn't trying to get him a move away from the club". In the Grimsby Telegraph, Mick further dismisses talk of a move, saying: "There is always going to be Continued on page 41 speculation, it is part and parcel of football."
Busy Mr Furneaux has also been rewriting Paul Groves' job description, reports BBC Humber, this time choosing to call the manager into a meeting yesterday afternoon to press him to give up playing, rather than leaving him to read about it on Ceefax. Now if you ask the Diary, which in a way you have, by visiting this page, then this is a right crimson kipper. Since a certain unmentionable event in Hartlepool several months ago, Paul has played 186 minutes of first-team football – the equivalent of just over two games – and whatever the problem is at Blundell Park, it's been going on for a sight longer than that. Indeed, 11 of those minutes were at Brentford, during which Town scored twice to secure their only win in their last 12 league games, so to me the chairman appears to be making like a dizzy old dog on this issue and barking up the wrong sycamore entirely. Little appears to have been resolved, in any case, with the illiterates at the Humber website today quoting PF: "I think we both except where the other is coming from but we didn't exactly resolve it." Accept. Accept. For crying out loud.
When the Wayne Burnett biopic is filmed, the 'Wilderness Years' section will feature scenes of the Wembley hero kicking his heels at Woking and eating a lot of pies, but the ex-GTFC playmaker, whose career in league football has been on hold since leaving Blundell Park in 2002, has been handed a non-contract deal at Peterborough and could go straight into the squad that visits Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow. At the age of 32 Burnett could still have plenty to offer, and the Diary for one hopes the move is not part of a concerted bid by Barry Fry to unseat Neil Warnock as world champion sniffer round the GTFC wheelie bin.
Michael Shelton speaks of the devil and he turns up at Blundell Park in the shape of Graham Taylor. This is no attempt to confound Googlewhackers; the former England manager and Town full-back is making an appearance at his old stomping ground to do one of those after-dinner speaking things and get lots of money for regaling listeners with Elton John anecdotes and saying "very much so" a lot. Tickets are 30 quid each, and are available from the club only in multiples of 10, which seems a little over-optimistic to the Diary, but the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust is selling them individually. "Taylor's contribution to the game is something that few managers are ever likely to emulate," says the blurb on the GTFC official site, and I don't think anyone would argue with that.
Lastly today – and maybe this week; I probably won't bother with a weekend Diary seeing as Town aren't playing – proof that the Diary is read by all the most prominent Grimbarians of our time arrives in the form of an email from Jam O'Neil, who "was one of these apparently 'yobbish' types ejected from the ground" on Tuesday night. He is a bit miffed with Emma Wilkinson, who in this column yesterday applauded the fans who applauded the police for chucking him out. "The reason for our ejection was because the majority in the Pontoon didn't like us singing 'Groves Out'," writes yer man, "and that's fair enough, it's their opinion, but ejecting us for voicing OUR opinion and furthermore being branded a 'yob' because of it is disgusting." It wasn't anything to do with that fight, then, Jam?
Thursday 22 January
Ooh, I've been dying to tell you this for ages! The Diary can today exclusively reveal that the rumours are true: Jarvis's sponsorship of Town is about as secure as one of the railway tracks the company used to maintain, and seafood firm Young's is in negotiations to take over. Doubts have existed over the validity of the deal from day one, since the Jarvis employee who arranged it, Mariners fan Stephen Venney, disappeared in May of last year on his way to the press conference scheduled to announce the sponsorship. Town chairman Peter Furneaux insisted, even after it emerged that Venney had served time for fraud in the 1990s, that the deal was watertight, but the Diary learned some months ago (and has only now been cleared by my source to break the news) that talks are in progress for the controversial engineering firm to be released from its three-year term after just one year. Word is that Venney lacked the necessary status to authorise the deal, but that Jarvis was prepared to stay in temporarily for fear of embarrassment, and club officials are in ongoing discussions with Young's about a handover. Now, what was that proverb about dealing with the devil?
Just days after 'larger than life' Peterborough manager Barry Fry revealed that his bid to sign Michael Boulding had been knocked back by GTFC, Town's official site reveals that another offer has been refused only this morning. The floppy-haired frontman insisted, when he rejoined the Mariners from Aston Villa last year, that a release clause be included in his contract allowing him to leave if an offer of £45,000 is received from a club in a higher division; so if Walsall are after him, as some recent rumours suggest, then they are clearly interpreting 'nominal fee' as 'ten bob and a bag of pork scratchings'. The Grimsby Telegraph suggests, in between a big bunch of nesbit reader contributions, that the evildoers responsible may in fact be our old friends Barnsley. Funny how they don't run half a dozen letters a day from fans when everything's going well, isn't it.
Maybe it would take a scare like Oldham's for Town fans to realise how lucky they are to still have a club to support. So relieved are the Latics, in fact, at surviving their recent brush with liquidation that they have taken the extravagant celebratory measure of making their forthcoming match with the Mariners free for all to enter! Tickets will be available for the 7 February date at Boundary Park on some kind of season ticket holders first basis, starting next Monday.
Thanks are due from the free world to Marcia Allen, who has emailed the Diary with details of Radio Humberside's Peter Furneaux interview about Marcel Cas the other day. "He said that Cas was wanting to train still with Town and get full wages," writes Marcia. "Furneaux said the board were meeting Wednesday to resolve the situation as this was unacceptable. He said that Cas has made his feelings known in the press before talking to the club about them." The upshot of said board meeting appears to be that the player will now be doing his sulking back in Holland, as GTFC now confirms that Cas's contract is fully cancelled, allowing him to join his old club Roosendaal in time for the end of their big poof winter break. "It's been a short time here but I have enjoyed it," says erstwhile Telegraph columnist Marcel, in stark contradiction of his dummy-throwing outburst last Wednesday.
Alan Pouton, meanwhile, has most certainly not failed his medical with Gillingham, thank you very much, say Gillingham officials. "A press conference was scheduled for Monday," explains a spokesman, "but the medical hadn't been done in time, and everyone can't believe the press have twisted it like this. It's all going to be OK." Oops. Sorry.
Two more emails this way come, the first of which is from Mark "I'm from Scartho, you know" Wilson. "I do pronounce it properly," he writes, "because if I didn't my Mum would give me a whack." And send him to bed without any truffles, presumably... Emma Wilkinson, meanwhile, has a rare ray of sunshine to share from Tuesday night's routine drubbing by Wrexham. "I saw a first," she writes. "A couple of yobbish types were escorted out by the police, and on their return they received a round of applause. Not important as far as the game was concerned, I just wanted to say that it was nice to see, or hear." We can only hope Em means the Ponny clapped the police, not the "types"...
And finally today, subscribers to Town's OFFICIAL SMS SERVICE need not be alarmed by yesterday's Diary, as a club official has confirmed to Cod Almighty that they will be refunded the cost of the text message they were sent on Tuesday night, after the Wrexham game, about the Wrexham game taking place on Tuesday night. Hey, we all press the wrong buttons now and then, don't we.
Wednesday 21 January
As if the current disarray on the pitch were not depressing enough, Paul Groves appears to have become the innocent victim of an embarrassing communications breakdown at Blundell Park. It was widely alleged yesterday that the Mariners' player-boss had been ordered by the board to concentrate on managing: "Paul has a crucial decision to make – whether to continue as a player or to concentrate his efforts on management," said a statement from the directors reported by Sky Sports, among others. "We think that at this time, the club requires a full-time manager. The present arrangement is not working." So if this is the board's considered opinion, then why, for one thing, did they appoint a player-manager in the first place? Their analysis, for another, is pretty rubbish given that Groves has played only twice in Town's current run of one win in 12 league games. And for a third, the manager is quoted in today's Grimsby Telegraph saying: "If the board want to speak to me about my position then I'm sure they will do. But the first I heard about that was through the teletext." The Diary remains fully supportive of the Furneaux regime, but the last thing the club needs right now is this kind of cack-handedness.
The Diary is also interested to discover that two readers received text messages from the club informing them that the game against Wrexham that was originally scheduled for 20 December and then postponed due to a waterlogged pitch had been rearranged for 20 January. All of which is factually unimpeachable; the issue here is that the messages were received at around 11 o'clock last night, by which time Denis Smith's side had been up to North East Lincs, bringing 72 fans with them, strolled off with the three points and were probably fast asleep on their team coach in the knowledge of a job well done, halfway back to north Wales. At least when Grovesie was reading about his future on Ceefax he wasn't paying 10 bob a go for the privilege.
So is anything happening today? Apparently Marcel Cas is still a Grimsby Town player and wants his wages paying up until the end of the current season at least. The sulky Dutchman was thought last week to have agreed the cancellation of his contract with the Mariners but a Peter Furneaux interview on Radio Humberside last night now suggests otherwise. Any radar-lugged Diary readers who caught it are urged to share the goss, as there is nowt about the story on the BBC Humber website or indeed anywhere else. Similarly, the Diary heard somewhere that Alan Pouton has failed his medical with Gillingham and will be hot-footing it back up the A1 pronto to carry on trousering four grand a week from GTFC for limping around and playing the odd game of football here and there. We should have seen it coming. Again, though, there seems to be nothing about this anywhere on the electronic interweb, so I might just have dreamt it.
Mark Wilson is a former player from the Grimsby Town FC School of Excellence who was poached by Manchester United, then signed for Middlesbrough and is now about to join Sheffield Wednesday on a month's loan. Mark Wilson is also an employee of the pharmaceutical industry in leafy Hertfordshire, a highly articulate Paul Groves loyalist and regular correspondent to the Diary, and he appears to have received a copy of Lynne Truss's Eats Shoots and Leaves for Christmas. "The current malaise at BP has forced me onto the official site's messageboard to help me to try and keep abreast of rumour and counter rumour," he writes. "As if the parlous state of the club wasn't bad enough my spirits have been plunged into the depths by the stupefyingly poor standard of English that is used by participants. Spelling is poor to atrocious, punctuation is generally missing and few seem to be able to string a coherent sentence together." Maybe the last part is a tribute to the manager, Mark. "To cap it all, some poor souls have to use 'text' language to hide their illiteracy. If I had written a piece for public scrutiny that was so bad my former English teacher would have had me walking the streets of Scartho with a sandwich board exclaiming my idiocy.
"Can Cod Almighty set up a chat room that is monitored for spelling, syntax and grammar," continues our prescriptive grammarian, "where people wanting to hold a virtual conversation can do so without having to resort to calling for a twelve year old to translate it? Can people who use 'm8' and 'gr8' be banned from the forum? Could we have half time entertainment at BP where anyone who has ever written 'coz' is forced to join Mighty Mariner in a spelling test?" Scartho, eh, Mark? Oh, aren't we all la-di-dah! I bet he pronounces it properly and everything...
Finally today, the Diary is delighted, as always, to hear from Michael Shelton, aka Genius, the young man who is living proof that impeccable manners and sitting in the Pontoon need not be mutually exclusive. Michael has been stirred to compose email by the question of Paul Groves' successor, should Town's current run of relegation form ultimately cost the mumbling one his job. "As former Town players who've managed England go," he writes (Genius, not Paul), "Graham Taylor's quite high up there. Potential replacement for Groves?? Nah, you're right..." Very much so, Michael.
Tuesday 20 January
There once was a child whose parents worked hard all day and night to provide for him but were treated harshly and paid only two beans a day. They tried to reason with their master, saying, "We work hard for you! We have never made trouble for you! Pray treat us fairly and pay what we deserve." But their master said, "Get back to work! Because you have wasted time begging, you only get only one bean today!"
The child had all he needed but one day the boy next door was given a new playhouse by his parents, and all the boys for miles around came to play there. "Please," begged the child of his parents, "please give me a new playhouse, like the boy next door, so that I will have new playmates too." But his parents said, "We have only one bean. We give you all we can, but we cannot buy you a new playhouse."
Well, the child cried and cried and all his friends stayed home. The boy next door taunted him, saying, "See my playhouse and all my new friends! Who are you, now that your friends are gone?" Again the child begged his parents for a new playhouse, but again they told him, "We have only one bean. We care for you all we can, but we cannot buy you a new playhouse."
At this the child flew into a rage and ran away to the boy next door. "My parents don't care for me at all!" he said. "Please can I see your playhouse?" Well, the boy next door was delighted. He didn't care for the child at all, but took him into his playhouse and, with all the boys for miles around, taunted him all day long, saying, "Nobody cares for you! Nobody cares for you!"
The child wanted to run away again, but he couldn't go back home, so he tried to laugh along with the other boys. All day long they taunted him and all day long he bit his lip to stop himself crying. At last he could stand it no more and ran back home to his parents, ready to say sorry, and wanting them to hug him tight. And when he got home what did he find but a new playhouse! His heart jumped for joy and he ran inside to give thanks to his parents.
But when he reached the parlour his heart stopped still and his blood ran cold. Their bellies shrunk and their limbs withered and blue, there lay his parents, dead!
On the table the breadboard lay empty. In the pantry was no food. In the grate was no fire. The little child's parents loved him so dearly that they had bought him a playhouse with the last bean they had, even when they were hungry and cold, even when they would die without food and warm. The child wept bitterly, for now he would be taken to the poorhouse as an orphan, and his beautiful new playhouse would be left to rot.
Monday 19 January
Details have begun to emerge about the transfer of Alan Pouton to Gillingham. Town's popular but frankly overrated midfielder signed for the Gills before Saturday's visit to Port Vale on a three-and-a-half-year contract for a fee reported by the Grimsby Telegraph to be in the region of £50,000 but declared by the Kent club itself to be £30,000. The messageboards are probably going blue in the virtual face, but there was clearly no way Pouts was going to sign a new contract on what Town can afford to pay him, so the Diary advises readers to do their cardiovascular muscles a favour and just accept it. "Special credit must go to club secretary Gwen Poynter for her work in the deal," says Gills chairman Paul Scally, mysteriously.
Mr Paul Groves refuses to blame his side's latest thrashing on the departure of Pouton – which appears to have been revealed to him at the eleventh hour, 59th minute and 59.999th second – and instead pays tribute to the quality of Vale's goals, which appear to have given Saturday's scoreline a flattering gloss as far as the home side were concerned. If optimism has deserted the supporters then it remains, for the moment, with the manager, who tells today's Grimsby Telegraph: "We can take heart from the performance against Plymouth, a bit more from what happened in the second half and a bit of luck on the way and hopefully we can try and turn things around." The Diary will be writing to GTFC today to request a quantity of the same medication being administered to Paul; in fact, if they sold it in the club shop they could make enough money to keep hold of Michael Boulding.
An email has arrived safely in the Diary's inbox stating simply: "Probably already heard it bandied about, I'll reveal all, Nigel Clough." This is not, lest you suspect, the promise of a striptease from the manager of Burton Albion but speculation by Diary reader Martin Deans as to a potential replacement for Grovesie, notwithstanding the stellar brilliance of four of those pesky Valiant goals. I have to say I don't believe you for 0.0001 of a second, Martin, but thanks for sharing, fella. Readers are invited to send any further thoughts about Paul's management, or messageboard postings about his possible replacement, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 17 January
With Peter Furneaux having voted some confidence to Paul Groves after Town's recent humiliation at Wycombe, the Diary wonders whether the latter's resignation as both manager and player may not be long in coming after a 5-1 thumping at Port Vale this afternoon. The Mariners' central midfield boasts a combined age of 70, with Groves lining up alongside Nick Daws, returning for a second spell on loan to replace Alan Pouton, whose transfer to first division Gillingham was announced this morning. Jason Crowe returns at left-back while Iffy Onuora replaces the injured Michael Boulding up front. In its now characteristic surrender mode, the Town defence ships three goals in the first 33 minutes before a Phil Jevons effort gives cause for brief and foolish hope. One-time GTFC trialist Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, inevitably, doubles his goals tally for the season by nabbing two of the home side's handful. Slipping to 18th place in the table, and in a worse run of form, arguably, than all of the sides below them, the Mariners are now staring a second successive relegation in the face.
On a cheerier note, Cod Almighty has found itself catapulted with a great big catapult into the national media spotlight limelight floodlight thing, thanks to its world exclusive about top pop combo Atomic Kitten, er, performing at Blundell Park before the Wrexham game next week. So a big Diary hello – and, of course, a shameless but friendly invitation to purchase a CA T-shirt – to anyone visiting us after reading about the site in this morning's Guardian! Does this mean the story about the Kittens isn't real, then?
Friday 16 January
Paul Groves and Barry Fry may differ on matters of accent, presentation and dietary preference, but when it comes to a front-line partnership of Michael Boulding and Clive Platt they are of a single mind. Platt, of course, turned down a move to Blundell Park in the summer to join Notts County, only to throw in his lot with Fry's Peterborough earlier this month, and the southern club's notorious pie enthusiast has now revealed a bid to snaffle the Mariners' leading scorer. Today's Grimsby Telegraph has Fry waxing as lyrical as he ever gets over Boulding's ability and revealing that Town knocked back a bid for the player the other week. "It was 50 grand up front and I would have given them a percentage of a sell-on," sniffs the 'colourful' United boss. "Tell ya what, darlin', throw in that Pahton geezah an' we'll make it a nice rahnd 40. Can't say fairer than that, can I, eh? Cam orn!"
Boulding, for his part, has emerged as a new 'injury doubt' for tomorrow's visit to Port Vale, wherever that is – a match described by Mr Groves, with syntax like a Neil Woods dribble, as "a game from one we had against them earlier in the season where we'll be looking for a bit of revenge". Alan Pouton and Darren Mansaram are back in training, reports BBC Humber, but Darren Barnard (a former Oldham full-back, according to the Staffordshire Sentinel) looks certain to miss out with that calf thing and Swift Michael is now "a bit touch-and-go", says the Two-Legged Grove Machine, which may be imprecise but makes no less sense to the Diary than all that stuff about hamstrings and kidnapper muscles and what have you. Iffy Onuora could replace Boulding while Jason Crowe is also set to return after serving out his stamping ban. Sorry – abductor.
Phew! Meanwhile, the would-be controversy over Marcel Cas's departure from Blundell Park stubbornly refuses to rage on, with Paul Groves declining to issue a riposte to the player's stinging criticism of his management style. "I don't want to get involved in tittle-tattle in the press with an individual player," PG tells BBC Humber today. "I don't believe that I've had a go at an individual player in all the time that I've been doing the job and I don't want to start now." Aw, go on, Paul! The mardy Dutch bugger, likewise, appears disinclined to escalate the war of words, with his final Grimsby Telegraph column concerning itself mostly with missing his family in Holland – which seemed, curiously, to be less of an issue when he played for Notts County.
Out in the big wide world, Sepp Blatter – the FIFA president who owes his position to blatantly corrupt electoral campaigning and has exploited it to cream millions of dollars out of the game and into his personal bank accounts – has shown the degree to which he cares for football by proposing that women's playing kits should accentuate their tits and arses more. "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball," Blatter has said, interesting misappropriating the phraseology used by God when He created the heavens and the Earth. "They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men, such as playing with a lighter ball." If you want to watch football, Mr Septic, then watch football, but if you want to see if you can still get wood then just be honest and download some porn. Oh, sorry – that's a dirty word, isn't it. I promise never to say "honest" again.
Thursday 15 January
In a now familiar sequence of events, GTFC has issued an 'official statement' on its website in response to a Grimsby Telegraph article, in this case yesterday's bombshell story that Marcel Cas's contract is to be cancelled, in which the player gave almost lurid detail of a bust-up between him and Paul Groves. Pinstripe Furneaux's response, by comparison, is a disappointing masterpiece of restraint, stating simply that Cas asked to be released in order to return to his family back in Holland – which was always quite a strange set-up, really, wasn't it – and that "in view of Marcel’s statement to the press yesterday the matter needs to be brought to a speedy conclusion". One foresees a near-repeat of last summer's dash to Humberside Airport by club officials anxious for Chris Bolder to sign a new contract before his holiday, except this time the footballer could be in the car with them, possibly bound and gagged with gaffer tape and bundled into the boot.
Groves, meanwhile, is as yet unable to answer the question on every Town fan's lips, namely: "Does this mean we can sign Nick Daws?" Asked by the Grimsby Telegraph whether the cash freed up from Cas's wages will allow him to bring in a replacement, an alarmingly casual Town boss responds: "At this moment we'll have to wait and see. It hasn't been discussed yet." Well bloomin' well go and discuss it, then, Grovesie! Cuh! Groves also reveals that Stuart Campbell's knee injury could run and run. "We're sending him for an MRI scan to see the extent of the damage," says PG. "Would you believe the machine was broken earlier in the week?" Paul, I've been a Grimsby fan for 25 years. I would believe it.
The Mariners' FA Cup dreams may be perished to eternal dust for another year, but fellow east coast strugglers Scarborough have progressed to a glamorous, cash-vomiting tie with boring Chelsea – thanks to a former Town player. Mark Quayle – whose key contribution to civilisation in North East Lincolnshire was a game for the reserves that resulted in the memorable Grimsby Telegraph headline Quayle hits bar – fired Boro into the fourth round for the first time in their 125-year history with a late goal against Southend in last night's replay. Prize money and TV fees for Quayle's side will total over £300,000 – enough to pay Scarborough's wage bill for two years, apparently. Or, to put it another way, Phil Jevons for a month.
Still poorly, by the way. All these cough and cold medicines are just a big con, if you ask me. I'm off to get pissed.
Wednesday 14 January
Dutch man Marcel Cas is flying back to Holland after a bust-up with Paul Groves and will have the remaining 18 months of his contract cancelled. Two or three goals and a string of excellent performances on the right wing early this season were not enough to see the player restored to the starting line-up after a nasty knee injury sidelined him for a month in the autumn, and Cas's feeble appearance as a substitute against Plymouth will be his last in a Mariners shirt. Clearly in need of a new focal point for supporter disenchantment now that Phil Jevons is back in the team, the Grimsby Telegraph reports the departure of its star columnist by promoting him to the status of "fans' hero". "I played 10 games awesome and I didn't get any credit for that," argues the thoroughly disillusioned Netherlander. "The manager didn't like me and I don't like him." No quote appears to have been taken from Groves, though to be fair to the Telegraph he isn't as articulate as Cas. Bloody shame all round really, but Town could be in the market for a new player with the wages freed up.
A pat on the back is due to Town's reserves, who completed a league double over Newcastle's at Blundell Park yesterday, courtesy of a late winner from Forgotten Striker Jonny Rowan shortly after the visitors had equalised an impressive first-half strike by David Soames. If you are in hip-hip-hoorah mode then you may make play of the fact that the away side fielded overpriced crock Carl Cort and alleged future England captain Michael Chopra up front, but the Diary has a horrible stinky cold and is scarcely able to get tremendously enthusiastic about anything today. On a more mournful note befitted to my state of incapacity, the Magpies line-up also included Steven Taylor, who turned out for Wycombe 11 days ago in the Mariners' all-but-forgotten 4-1 humiliation at Adams Park, or the Causeway Stadium, or whatever the damn place is called.
Young Master Rowan could become remembered again sooner than any of us thought, as a phalanx of injury victims huddle in the BP treatment room in the run-up to this Saturday's visit to Port Vale. BBC Humber today quotes Slugger Groves' rundown thereof, to the effect that Darren Mansaram and Alan Pouton have got poorly backs, Aidan Davison and Stu Campbell hurty knees and Darren Barnard a lame calf. The Mariners supremo further reveals that Davison has been carrying said affliction for two or three weeks, during which time he has failed to train, prompting the Diary to wonder whether he would have been withdrawn and treated had Town's number two keeper Andy Pettinger – who has been out of action with a broken hand, I think it was – been available to replace him. Ah well.
Right – it's another Jack Daniels and Lemsip for me. See you tomorrow.
Tuesday 13 January
Of course you remember Jonny Rowan! Town's injury-hit local hero made an unheralded return to first-team proximity in last Saturday's draw against Plymouth, as an unused substitute, and continues his quest for fitness and hey, maybe even a new contract, in this afternoon's reserves fixture against a club called Bobby Robson's Newcastle. The second string kick off against their fellow black and whites at Blundell Park at 2 o'clock, and a quick glance down the teamsheet reveals a return for Jonny's fellow fragile frontman David 'Digger' Soames, a run-out for the recently suspended Jason 'More stamps than the Royal Mail' Crowe, and somebody called Howard. The Magpies' stiffs may be looking to avenge the 3-0 defeat inflicted by the Mariners up in the north-east back in September. Or on the other hand they might just not give a toss.
Town fans can sleep a little easier in their beds with the news that Gillingham have signed Patrick Agyemang, and unless you've been somewhere really out of touch recently, like Mars, or Ulceby, you'll know that's because the Kent side had been strongly linked with a move for the Mariners' leading scorer. Boulding is out of contract this summer, of course, and having sold Marlon King and Paul Shaw, the Gills were in the market for a striker but have elected, happily, to deprive the appalling sham of a football club formerly known as Wimbledon of one of theirs. Where this leaves Gillingham's alleged interest in Alan Pouton – another of Town's better earners whose playing deal expires in a few months' time – is uncertain, but let's all just take it easy, here, shall we?
Staying for the moment in the garden of England, Diary readers are urged to support the petition set up by Michael Cole, who has done what all sensible people do when they need a massive nationwide publicity boost and contacted Cod Almighty. Michael is quite frankly appalled by the state of the council football pitches in Adisham (six miles from Canterbury), and having looked at the photographs on his website, the Diary can see why. If you have a moment to spare then why not pop along to the site and sign the petition to help put pressure on the local authority to provide proper grass? After all, the alternative could be a Gillingham team playing the long ball.
I have been asked, furthermore, to point out that Cod Almighty is currently switching to a new server. There was something about codalmighty.net and codalmighty.com, but I don't think the actual address that you have to type into your web browser has to change, any more than currency devaluation affects the pound in your pocket. Look, the bottom line is that I don't understand a bloody word of it, right, but if you're on this site and something weird happens then that'll be why, and can you please let somebody know, using the CA feedback form, if that's all right. Cheers. And when I say 'something weird happens' I mean like the left-hand navbar thing comes up on a page but you don't get any body text, not like you think about swimming lessons in PE and then a load of schoolkids walk past your window on the way to the pool. Although you could tell us about that as well if you want.
Finally today, the Diary is amused to note the departure of stroppy egomaniac George Reynolds from the Darlington boardroom. The Quakers chairman built the 27,000-seater Reynolds Arena for the club now lying 91st in the Football League, publicly denounced a teenage fanzine editor by likening him to a Nazi, and bought up billboard space alongside the ground to display posters suggesting that a local journalist was gay (he wasn't; this was Reynolds' idea of an insult). Just as anyone who actually wants to wear a uniform should be banned from ever doing so, anyone who wants to name a football ground after themselves should be run right out of town and kicked hard in their most sensitive spot.
Monday 12 January
Hello, and a big welcome back to, er, me, your regular Diary. It's probably a good job all that work I had to do came along when it did, because I would doubtless have been provoked to words that would make your mother blush in a week when a number of Town supporters chose to prove their support for Town by writing letters to the Grimsby Telegraph stating that they weren't going to watch them play any more.
If only it worked both ways, as Saturday's rousing performance against Plymouth ought to have members of the Grimsby public who have never heard of Blundell Park queueing up for half-season tickets. Paul Groves' theme for Monday is that his side must now sustain the standards set at the weekend, with utterances to that effect both in the Telegraph and on the club's official site. Darren Mansaram comes in for particular praise, with the promising young striker's nickname offering Riby Square's finest the chance to headline a piece GROVES: PROVE IT'S NO FLASH IN THE PAN. Journalists, I mean, not prostitutes.
Mark Wilson brings the Diary's attention to an interview with Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock. "It's a difficult place to come, they've got some very good players," he says, though I suspect Mark's interest lies less with the splice comma placed after the word 'come' than with the Argyle manager's belief that Town "are in a false position in the league." Presumably Sturrock agrees with the Diary that 17th place belies our top-six-standard squad rather than intending to suggest that the Football League have got their sums wrong.
That's about it for today, then, other than some minor injury worries over Mansaram, Darren Barnard, Aidan Davison and, surprise surprise, Alan Pouton, but the Jellygraph reckons they'll all be fine for Port Vale this weekend. Monday's last word goes to Larry Kovacs, who has emailed the Diary to say: "After we had discovered the website of your company, we inspected your offer, which
caught our attention, with great interest. We also provided this information to our business partners from regions where
we perform our business activities. We were kindly surprised by a great interest and an enquiry for more particular information and sale propagation materiels. Therefore we would kindly ask for all possible info about your offer. In order to improve the quality of the sale and distribution of your offer, could you please send us all the possible material in printed version. We decided for this option, because Internet is not rather expanded in Eastern Europe." Yes, that's fine Larry, as long as you send us a photo of yourself wearing your Cod Almighty T-shirt in the middle of Bratislava.
Saturday 10 January
A week after being roundly thrashed by the second division's bottom side, Town end the seven-match winning run of free-scoring league leaders Plymouth with a surprising goalless draw at Blundell Park. Player-boss Paul Groves attempts to lead by example in a surprise return to the first team – surpassing Keith Jobling's total of 450 to become second only to John McDermott in terms of league appearances for GTFC – while Iain Anderson and Darren Mansaram also make the starting line-up as beneficiaries of the post-Wycombe fall-out, and Simon Ford and Darren Barnard complete the book of changes. The Mariners have the best of the chances, with Groves and Michael Boulding threatening the Argyle goal and Aidan Davison unemployed for most of the day. The point gained keeps Town in 17th place.
And big thanks are due to Cod Almighty's team of substitute diarists for filling in this week. I particularly enjoyed the Alan Latchley stuff, and during the last few days could have done with reading the book that taught the great man everything he knew: How To Manage. "It wasn't about football – it was about life!"
Friday 9 January
Good afternoon! Today your Diary comes from Nottingham, and, as I write this, my new valet, Dearden, is busy making me a boiled egg with soldiers. Three minutes and no more, Dearden! Else I'll set Clive Platt on you!
More of him later, but every self-respecting Town fan will, of course, be fearing the worst for tomorrow. Plymouth Argyle may have made sure that GTFC no longer reside alone in the 'worst defeats' stats, but they gave up didn't they? Five-nil up after 20 minutes and they take their foot off the gas? You wouldn't catch Hartlepool doing that, oh no...
All of which leaves Mr Groves teaming up with New Labour to spin some good news using only the most selective of statistics. On Town's official site he mutters: "In terms of clean sheets which we've kept, and if you take away the first eight games of the season, I think we've conceded one every other game." While coughing at the same time. John Prescott would be proud. Jeremy Paxman would be flummoxed. Town would beat Plymouth one and a half-nil. It's all very simple when you think about it.
Meanwhile, the evil doctor Furneaux is busy denying, in totality, the fact that Messrs Pouton and Boulding are on their way to Gillingham, waving his hanky about, saying: "There's no point in talking about rumours." Has this man never stood in the queue at the Post Office? Obviously not. Also, you'd think Boulding would want to settle down a bit: if he carries on like this, he'll be up for the part in the film version of The Littlest Hobo. And... oh yeah, Town'd be buggered.
Talking of strikers with itchy feet, Barry Fry has made the ultimate sacrifice and signed the pretty rubbish Town near-miss Clive Platt from Notts County – stop crying, Dearden! – and that'll learn the portly gobshite for putting Town out of the Cup. Fry, I mean. Not Platt.
In dull, administrative news today, we find that the Luton game has been rearranged and is now all set for Tuesday 24 February. So that'll be nice and cold then.
Any road, I've got egg on my chin, and Dearden is spitting into a tissue. I think it's best to wish you all farewell...
Thursday 8 January
The week has crawled through to Thursday then. Mr Diary is still lashed to some treadmill or other, Saturday is looming, and the Argyle hordes are rumoured to be massing in the Plym Forest in preparation for their journey
to Blundell Park. So, gentle readers, now is not the time to get lily livered. Stop that hand-wringing, and prepare yourselves for that long awaited shock Grimsby win. Yes, your regular stand-in (and occasional guest) diarist has stopped praying for incessant, match-postponing rain, and
is perversely confident about Saturday's result.
I mean, you only have to look at their names to see they are a flash in the pan sort of side who won't like it 'up em' - Friiio, Capaldi, Blair Sturrock, Kangulungu. Pah! The way to beat them, I beg to suggest, is to deploy the almost forgotten motivational system developed by the late,
great, Alan Latchley.
Alan Latchley was a Scunny man through and through, but we won't hold that against him now. Listen to what he told Clive Anderson on the telly back in 1993 at the end of his managerial career.
Clive: But what do you have to do to get a team going?
Alan: Motivation, Motivation, Motivation. The three M's. That's what football is all about. It's all about motivation. You've got to get those boys on the pitch motivated. It's no good saying 'go out and buy some
ice cream, go to the pictures.' You've got to tell them what they're doing. You've got to motivate them onto the pitch. Push them out with forks if you need to, but get them out onto the pitch. And when the game's over, get
them in again!
Clive: You went to Hartlepool where you had this system of getting them angry.
Alan: Well, rage is very much an adrenalin inducing factor in all sports. I mean, Linford Christie wasn't in a good mood when he won the hundred metres, was he?
Clive: Well, he was afterwards.
Alan: Yes, but you've got to be in a rage to bring out the best in yourself. What I'd do to my players - one of the tactics I used, an early tactic - was to kidnap their wives or girlfriends. Girlfriends or wives, I'd send them
all on a bus up to Grimsby, with no ticket back, and the lads went mad! One game, against Rotherham, my whole team were sent off almost as soon as they got on.
If Paul Groves has any sense, he'll think on, and consider walking in to the Town treatment room brandishing a fork. Don't you reckon? See yer.
Wednesday 7 January
Greetings from a time/space continuum where absolutely nothing makes sense. It's just like living in Wigan, really. Anyway, to be honest, it's my intention, as your guest diarist, to refrain from using football clichés.
Because, you know, obviously, at the end of the day, they just make you sound stupid. Innit?
Right, well, I'd better crack on with the important stuff. It appears that Grimsby Town have rearranged the Wrexham game for Tuesday 20 January, 19:45 kick-off, or so says the OS. Then again, the OS said that the game would definitely be going ahead at 1pm on the original day, so best check
nearer the time, folks.
It seems a bit harsh on Wrexham. Their long trek to Blundell Park on the Tuesday will be followed by an away game at Brentford on the Saturday, and the following weekend sees them travel all the way to Bournemouth. Poor
Well, what d'ya know? Groves is feeling the heat. He now wants his players to fight and scrap for every ball. Didn't he want them to do that in the first place? We should "dig deep" and "do it for the fans." So that's a 2-0
win for Plymouth on Saturday then.
Elsewhere, the ever-infuriating Tony Crane has achieved something Frank Bruno longed to accomplish in his career. Yes, according to Wycombe boss Tony Adams, Tyson is K.O.'d and it’s all down to the undisciplined one. It
was a bit below the belt; in fact it was Tyson's knee that saw him return to Reading. Of course, I am talking about Nathan Tyson, Wycombe's loan striker from the Royals (nothing posh about being next-door neighbours to
Slough). I wonder if Bruno would go 15 rounds with Nathan Tyson? I reckon eight fights should do it.
Keeping with the Crane theme, it could be that the young defender will miss more first team action as I make it ten bookings so far this season. The greedy little so-and-so. Why can’t he be more like that Dutch fellow, Laurens Ten-Pin Rent-A-Car or whatever his name is? At least he had the
common decency to evenly distribute his cautions to the unsuspecting Jason Crowe.
If it’s orange and can’t get through a revolving door, then it’s Judith Chalmers with a spear through her bonce. Where was I? Oh yes - he changes his tone as it’s time to look back on the Electronic Fishcake’s recent ‘keep Groves / go Groves’ argument. Perfectly put I think. Or perhaps it
should read ‘say nice things about Groves / abuse Groves’. Whichever way, it has made entertaining reading. I don’t wish to sweepingly categorise the fans of this football club, but I have come to the conclusion that there are
many fools out there backing Groves. Yet we all know he should be sacked, Alan Buckley reinstated with his thieving son as a sort of dual management team, and play out our remaining years in the Football League with dignity
and "good passing and movement." It's there for all of us to see. I can see it.
I must say, it's nice to see Richard Hughes back in the Portsmouth team. There he was, scuttling around at Chelsea on Saturday, and he was also witnessed at Villa Park last night. It's noticeable that he has his old floppy hair back. Wise choice, Mr Hughes. We all know how ridiculous
you looked in your final game for Town, when you chose the right time to score a goal and draw Sky TV's attention to your hair cut.
Finally, in a letter to the Diary, Andy asks: "Can you please ask your readers if any of them know why the Oldham match has been moved to the Sunday?" I think it's for the same reason that Hartlepool moved theirs to the Friday. Unless I'm mistaken, it's Oldham's attempt to lure more
fans to a game on a day when nobody does anything. So if they can prise 30-or-so Premiership armchair fans away from their living room for an afternoon of fun and games down at Boundary Park, then they'll have done well. As long as
the result isn't similar to Hartlepool's, then I don't have an argument.
Tuesday 6 January
Morning all. Mr Diary is still desk-ridden with his virulent workitis, so it's your irregular stand-in diarist Miles here. By which I mean I only get to do the diary every now and then, not that I have capricious bowels. On that front, you'll be pleased to hear that I have a poo at seven o'clock sharp every morning. Unfortunately I don't get out of bed until eight.
I have to start by mentioning - since yesterday's stand-in chose not to or forgot - the hilarious sending off of Danny Butterfield during Palace's FA Cup defeat at the weekend. Palace's Jamie Smith hacked Bobby Zamora to the ground, and the ref decided that the tackle was so bad that Butterfield deserved a red card. "A major mistake but a case of mistaken identity, which can be appealed against," says Iaiaiaiaiaian Dowie. Note that he says "can" and not "will" - he may be new at Palace, but he’s not daft. Young Danny's number one detractor Andy Holt has mailed the diary with his views on this subject. "Hehe!" he says. And who can argue with that.
Another letter, this one from 'merseymariner', is right up my, the Diary's, and everyone else's street who received the excellent book Eats, Shoots And Leaves for Christmas. "Some internet users have started a 'Hockless in Campaign'," he informs us. "Which should surely be a 'Hockless In' campaign? Unless Hockless has gone to war or something? Or is there a place called Campaign? Please can the Cod Almighty pedantic diarists discuss this?" We most certainly can. Well, I can anyway. Well spotted mersey, you're absolutely right. I just don't know what they're teaching in schools these days. Tut tut. Apparently there is a place called Campaign, by the way, and it's in Tennessee. A Google search reveals that it's not a very exciting place, so I'm not sure why Hockless would want to move there from Grimsby.
A grammatically correct campaign to have Graham Hockless included in the first team would only have grown yesterday, the stumpy midfielder apparently starring as Town's reserves whupped Barnsley's 4-1. The Mariners' stiffs came from behind, as it were, thanks to two Mansaram goals, one for wee Jonny Rowan, and one for big Paul Groves, honing his playing skills, just in case the movement to have the gaffer removed from a small town in Tennessee gets its way. Some bloke called Peter Handyside featured in the Tykes' defence, incidentally. Well, well.
The Mariners squad will have another weekend of hospital visits soon, advises the official site, as Luton are too busy larging it in the FA Cup to come to Blundell Park on 24 January. We could be looking at one of them there fixture backlogs, but like Jeff Beck, I'm always one to find a silver lining, and it's this: Wrexham and now Luton will have to travel up to Cleethorpes to play a night match instead of a leisurely Saturday fixture, and that has to give the Mariners an advantage. Yup, this early in the season, and I'm already clutching at straws.
Finally, our Stace's return to fitness continues as he returned to full training yesterday. The Grimy Telegram interview type thing has an upbeat Coldicott telling us: "We did some running yesterday. We didn't get any balls out." You can't beat a bit of smutty innuendo, so I'll stop there, I think. Tra!
Monday 5 January
Good day to you all. Today's diary is delivered to you from Headingley as your regular diarist has been taken down with a sudden bout of work. My thoughts are with the Diary at this difficult time at the hands of his pay masters. And my thoughts are also with the many of you rejoining the rat race after what I hope was a joyous holiday period. Bit of a shitter being back at work, eh?...
...which is probably what the Town squad would be thinking at this very moment if they actually gave a toss after their flaccid capitulation at the hands of a feeble Wycombe team on Saturday. "That performance is not acceptable," Paul Groves told a BBC reporter, more-than-likely in that prevalent softly-spoken manner of his. "We need to address it. If it means coming in every day then so be it. We need to make sure that we are up for the game and ready for the fight." Every day? My God, footballers will be working seven hours a day next as well. Anyhow, Dr Groves is hoping his course of graft will show signs of recovery: "We are now going to be looking for a reaction from the players." Let's hope they're not allergic to your medicine, Paul.
In the old media world of the printed press, today's Grimsby Telegraph has Grovesie admitting his job is on the line due to recent results and agrees with the fans' signs of frustration on Saturday. "I would be disgruntled as much as they were. They are the people you feel sorry for. They have watched you, supported you, they come week-in, week-out trying to get behind you and there wasn't anything to get behind." You can just sense the "if I did a day's work like that I'd have been sacked" letters being posted to the Telegraph as you read it.
Elsewhere in the paper, Peter Furneaux believes that Groves' position is safe and the board will look to assist their manager: "We need to establish if there are problems that we can assist with from a board point of view. We're doing all we can to make the players comfortable - but we need to check if there are any underlying factors which we're not aware of that are contributing to the current form." Maybe the players being a little too comfortable, Pete?
If the 4-1 scoreline wasn't enough, the diddy, whispering chairman reveals that Tony Adams envies the squad Town have got at their disposal. Which, if you think about it for a second, is probably what a lot of clubs in the division feel towards us at the moment.
And so we conclude today's post mortem. For all of you out there who despaired at the result, be thankful you didn't spend your Chrimbo and New Year holiday in France with your outlaws who all support Wycombe and you had to endure all manner of jibes as your ferry pulled into Blighty's own port of Dover at 4:50 on Saturday. I did. And it didn't abate during my overnight stay in Buckinghamshire either. Until tomorrow...
Saturday 3 January
Calls for the head of Paul Groves are likely to gain in both intensity and credibility as Town's relegation form continues with a disgraceful 4-1 shafting at Division Two's bottom club Wycombe. It's the head of Iffy Onuora that equalises an early Luke Moore strike but Jermaine McSporran gives the home side a half-time advantage and Moore completes a hat-trick with goals on 52 and 90 minutes. For his 550th league appearance John McDermott is preferred to Greg Young to fill in for the absent Darren Barnard at left-back. Town slip one place down the league table to 17th.
Friday 2 January
Town's major concern ahead of tomorrow's visit to Adams Park (described to the Diary by one local journalist as "a shitehole!") is the fitness of Darren Barnard. Town's globe-trotting Wales left-back has been sent home from training with a virus/bug type thing, according to Keith Collins, who heard Graham Rodger talking about it yesterday morning on Radio Humberside. "One thing he said was that the virus would not have been a problem if Barney had been a woman," adds Keith. "I don't understand." Best not go there, mate... although the Diary remains intrigued as to why footballers seem many times more susceptible to virus/bug type things than the population at large. Email your explanations to the usual address!
Striker Nathan Tyson is expected to feature for Wycombe after joining short-term from Reading, as are fellow loanees Luke Moore and Steven Taylor despite having failed to uproot any significant oaks since signing from Aston Villa and Newcastle respectively. Defenders Chris Vinnicombe and Scott Marshall are missing with ankles and poorliness and things.
News leaks out of John McDermott's hernia... no, hang on... news of John McDermott's hernia leaks out. Yeah. Turns out that Mac has been limping away in agony after every recent match, barely able even to stand up as excruciating bolts of pain lash through his... his... erm, whichever part of you is affected by hernias. I sometimes think the Diary would be better written by somebody older who knows about these things. But the Mariners skipper is clenching is teeth and getting on with it, reports the Grimsby Telegraph, delaying the operation he will need until the end of the current season. "After games even lifting your legs up off the floor can be painful," winces Macca. "But as long as it doesn't affect me during games I'm not bothered. I'll soldier on!" Kinda brings a tear to the eye, don't it?
If, like the Diary, you were bored shitless by the lack of footy yesterday, you might well have been anxiously checking the Conference latest on Ceefax, in which case you would have seen that former GTFC forward Daryl 'Bungle' Clare grabbed a second hat-trick in three games as runaway league leaders Chester romped to a 6-2 win over Leigh, and you wouldn't have needed to read this paragraph, so I'm sorry for wasting your time.
After selling the name of a rusty old gate at Blundell Park and a place on the team bus to an away game, Town's new QXL auction offers the chance to join the players for a training session in front of a tractor. Even though the leading bid is currently just one quid, the Diary will be sitting this one out, since last time I had a kickabout down the park, I was despatched eight feet into the afternoon air by a fat bloke with a shaved head, so Lord only knows what violence Alan Pouton could unleash on my delicate frame.
Perhaps Will Douglas, also known as grimsbytillidie, will be tempted into a bid, though, after his disappointment at missing out in the gate auction. "Sad it may be," he admits, "but I would indeed have bid above £160 for the gate. How, by the way, did you know my full name? I don't mind in the least you revealing my 'true identity', it's just I can't remember signing the email." Well, you need to understand when dealing with me that the Diary has established an elaborate network of contacts among fans, playing staff, management and journalists, not to mention expertise in electronic surveillance, and so the Grimbarian who can conceal their identity from me is a rare beast indeed. That and the fact that it said "From: Will Douglas" at the top of your email.
"Grimsbytillidie isn't that morbid," continues Will, and he's right, really; I just find the mournful minor key of the song a bit glum. "I am proud to say that, when I am working out of the office, senior ranking directors of some of the UK's largest companies have had to send email to email@example.com. Not all of them, I might add, made snide comments as I spelt it out: 'That's two 'L's in till'. My preferred alter-ego is, in fact, Trawler, but I couldn't get that on hotmail, or qxl come to think of it. Some other saddos had it already. Still, Trawler doesn't really spell out the importance of GTFC - anyone who isn't a Mariners fan would think I'm into deep sea-fishing or something..."
"Spotted," writes merseymariner, "in the year of 2003 in the town of Grimsby. Once: Cooke, Ford, Jevons, Furneaux, Pouton. Twice: Coldicott. Repeatedly: Hughes." I take it this is Bradley rather than Richard?
And lastly today, Miles Moss has spotted a noteworthy element in Peter Furneaux's recent account of the situation with out-of-contract players: "Making an offer at the moment would only dis-incentivise them, and give other clubs the idea of how much they need to offer," said the chairman. "Doesn't this sound just like a Bush-ism?" writes the keen-eared Mr Moss. "Meanwhile, on the pitch, managerisationer Groves says the team need to scorificate more goals as well as keep up their excellent defenserisational play." For the Kyoto treaty, read Des Hamilton's contract.