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Friday 30 July
Guest Diary will be unavailable for at least a few Fridays, having come down with a particularly nasty case of work. Today's Diary, then, is brought to you by a slightly inebriated Simon Wilson in Cod Almighty's Leeds office. Stay tuned for further updates.
Ooooo, without wanting to sound too camp, I say, it's a bit warm innit? Which is partly the reason for today's late diary. No air con are work; fresh air, beer and being able to watch the test cricket at the pub. I'm sure you all empathise. So, let's have a quick look at all matters Town so we can all get back there.
Let's recap then. Town won 1-0 at Gainsborough last night, thanks to a Macca goal that rekindled his overlapping days of younger. You want more details? Matlock Town's Dan Holland trialed up front with an apparently infuriating David Soames, with Holland looking "impressive" for the Mariners. That's a fact not the fiction, apparently. Check out Tony Butcher's report for the full run down, including confirmation of the tasty scran on offer.
Also last night, Wigan dispatched Halifax 3-0 last night, the Shaymen's first pre-season defeat. (Mind you, they've only been playing the likes of Farsley Celtic until then.) What has this do with Town? It just so happens that the most glamorous of Halifax's pre-season fixtures is on Monday night against Town. That's if the ten quid entry fee doesn't deter you.
Talking of tickets, means of entering Town's first game of the season have been released. "Tickets purchased prior to matchday: Adults £15" states the official site before continuing: "Adult tickets purchased in advance are £13." Cheers for clarifying that.
Those of you who help support Rupert Murdoch's slow takeover of the world might have seen new Town supremo John Fenty spelling out his priority on Sky Sports News. "My priority is the new stadium." And in a nice piece of delegating he lays down what he expect of the players as well: Discipline, professionalism and a new work ethic. Not that anyone will be able to view this new work ethic thanks to ITV's decision to concentrate on the "Championship" or whatever euphemistic crap they've renamed Division One. And to think Mr Fenty thought that the new rebranding would be a good thing for Town.
Mixed reports abound about a new player coming in. He's possibly a forward, but his nationality - if it actually mattered towards anything - is questioned all over the shop. A case of "you say Nigerian, I say Italian". Still, at least it's not resigning Livvo is it. Is it?
Thursday 29 July
There'll be no more Motorhead albums played in the GTFC boardroom as Peter Furneaux's ten years of chairmanship end today, and, as widely anticipated by the Diary, the ageing Mariners supremo has been replaced in the big seat by youthful local fish magnate John Fenty, who looks more of a Limp Bizkit kinda guy. After first taking the role in 1987, Furneaux oversaw the reconstruction of the club after the disastrous managerial appointments of Mick Lyons and Bobby Roberts, hiring the legendary Alan Buckley to take the Mariners back to England's second division, before stepping down due to ill health in 1994. Three heart attacks later, he returned for a second spell at the helm in 2001 as a unity candidate after the brief but ruinous tenure of Bryan Huxford's puppet chairman Doug Everitt, and despite presiding over back-to-back relegations in 2003 and 2004 deserves tremendous credit for keeping the club out of administration through a period when many of its better supported competitors have come perilously close to extinction.
Even as Furneaux returned as chairman, it was Fenty who bought the shares held by outgoing directors Colin Graves and Huxford's ally Dudley Ramsden to become the major shareholder in the club, and his accession to the top position in the boardroom has long been seen by many fans as a logical next step. Fenty became something of a de facto chairman during Furneaux's absence 'on holiday' in May, giving statements to the press and conducting Q&A sessions on the club's website, and was the key negotiator in bringing Russell Slade to Blundell Park around the same time. His emergence as chairman is unlikely to dispel rumours of new progress towards Town's long-delayed new stadium at Great Coates particularly given the sale of his company in April, which raised something in the region of £15m to £20m.
But you know the Diary I want to stay at Blundell Park, and let us not forget that recent Grimsby Telegraph interview in which Fenty called for the introduction to football of rugby league-style 'sin bins' and expressed the belief that renaming the fourth division 'League Two' could result in "serious benefits to this club". Is this a five star fishbone I'm choking on?
There was another official announcement today, but this game of musical chairmen has somewhat pushed Town's new away kit into the shadows. Having now examined the apparel in question, however, the Diary is quite satisfied that that's the best place for it.
There's another trialist. Andy Mumford. Defender. From Swansea. Says in the Telegraph. The Diary is now in the advanced stages of trialist fatigue, however, and is medically unable to tell you any more, other than that he will appear in Town's mysterious friendly at Gainsborough this evening, which is now reported as fact by no less estimable a source than the Lincolnshire Echo, although the Mariners' official website is still yet to breathe a byte on the matter. I fervently hopes it says summat soon, because I am considering hopping on a train to see the match: a journey I would be forced to consider wasted were a Scotland-Estonia-type scenario to unfold.
Another pointless item of outgoings from the Diary's bank account is the couple of quid each way I put on Bristol Rovers last week to win the fourth division title next season. My rationale was not, you understand, that Ian Atkins can manage his way out of a paper bag but simply, with that charmless Brummie hoof merchant signing up every player in the the fourth quadrant of the western spiral arm of the galaxy, that no other club in the division would be able to put a side out and his team would win every match by default. But now, given the possibility of Simon Ford lining up alongside Stuart Campbell for the Gasheads, I am beginning to wish I hadn't bothered.
That estimable veteran of the Diary's inbox, Mark Wilson, has taken me at my word and supplied a definition for 'strengthwork', the mysterious new training technique referred to yesterday by Mr Russell Slade. In doing so, I regret to say, he has revealed a hitherto unseen streak of cruelty. "Your request for definitions of strengthwork took me to the pages of the Collins Dictionary of Questionable Gags at the Expense of Grimsby Players," writes Mark. "It says: strengthwork (adj.), that which has been sadly lacking in Darren Mansaram's training schedule, see also heading, passing, holding the ball up, finishing." I take issue with this, Mr Wilson: Flash's goal against Preston on 16 November 2002 was a beauty.
Ooh, here we go! News about the Gainsborough match tucked away on the OS! "Directions: The Northolme is situated opposite the Texaco and Fina petrol stations on the A159 Gainsborough to Scunthorpe road." Er... so is that near the railway station, or what?
Wednesday 28 July
Tony Crane is one of the few players signed by Paul Groves who now remain at Blundell Park, and if he wants to stay there much longer then he will need to get his amply dimensioned arse in gear next season, because his Towering Centre-Half position is now officially under threat from Rob Jones. Jones has joined the Mariners on a one-year contract from Stockport County after impressing Russell Slade in Town's recent Lincolnshire Cup tie against Scunthorpe well, one assumes Slade was impressed; perhaps he just couldn't be arsed to look at any more trialists. It is upon the GTFC official website that the Diary is depending for accounts of the player's prodigious bulk, since I didn't get to the Scunny match; and Jones's Soccerbase profile gives both his height and weight as "0.00", which would suggest only that we have the new Stuart Campbell on our hands.
Jones is already ahead of Crane in the epic struggle between the two that lies ahead, as the former Owlertonian may need a scan on the knee injury he picked up against the Scun, which kept him out of Monday's friendly against Willem II, and is already suspended for most of next season anyway.
In other physiotherapy news, Russ and Michael Reddy are in disagreement over whether the former Sunderland striker will be fit in time for Town's opening Division Four fixture at Darlington on 7 August. Well, it's not really disagreement; more of a difference of emphasis. The manager tells today's Grimsby Telegraph: "We want Reddy back for the start of the season. We are working on his rehabilitation, particularly his strengthwork at the moment." The player himself, though, has given a Radio Humberside interview in which he all but rules out his chances of making it to the Safecracker Arena, explaining: "I think it's gonna take me a few weeks just to get a bit of confidence back in the leg again." Email the usual address with your definitions of 'strengthwork' and suggestions as to how to boost the self-assurance of limbs.
Matlock is not only one of those cute little towns you pass through if you're dawdling through the Derbyshire Dales; it is also the home of a lean, mean Unibond League goalscoring machine by the name of Danny Holland, and just when Russell had taken down the 16-berth tent pitched in his back garden, the trialists have started coming back. Town's official site reports that Holland is a 22-year-old striker with, as I say, Matlock Town, who has scored a tasty 65 goals in the past two seasons. Moreover, furthermore, and that's not all, as a fortnight ago Dan the Man picked up where he left off, in a style sure to endear himself to those of a Marineresque bent, by nabbing a hat-trick against Sheffield United. In fact it's probably Russ's mates at Bramall Lane who've tipped him off.
Finally, I can still find no mention on Town's official website of tomorrow night's alleged friendly at Gainsborough Trinity, but today's Grimbo Telebo repeats its shock assertion that such a game will go ahead a claim now corroborated by the official website of the other GTFC, which goes so far as to venture a kick-off time of 7:30pm.
Tuesday 27 July
"Which import will make the biggest impact this season?" asks a poll on Town's official website, requiring the user to choose from Patrick Kluivert, Djibril Cisse, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Mateja Kezman, Liam Miller and Robin van Persie. The Diary's standard response to such an enquiry would normally be that I couldn't give an orang-utan's sperm sac, but as reports filter through from last night's friendly against Willem II I am wondering whether the survey ought to have added an option to vote for Thomas Pinault. The former Colchester midfielder (yeah, OK, it was about five years ago that he was imported) appears to have been the pretty passing, playmaking, sweetly dinking, deeply thinking star of the show at BP, with the Grimsby Telegraph bigging up his silky Gallic skills and the normally cool and collected Tony Butcher already whispering excitedly about the glory days of Dave Gilbert.
If it's results you're interested in, the Mariners held their Dutch visitors to a 1-1 draw. Pob Parkinson's 19th-minute header from Pinault's cross gave them a lead they held until a quarter of an hour from the end, when a defensive mix-up left some fella with an unpronounceable-looking name with space on the edge of the box, whence he lashed home past an otherwise improved Anthony Williams in the Town goal.
At this point the Diary is going to nick a letter from the Postbag, because it concerns last night's match and may therefore have lost a little topicality by the time Letters Ed gets back from his holiday in Dorset and spends another six months thinking about putting a new letters page together. "Any idea why, after getting int'l clearance, Abdul didn't play (according to the official website)?" writes Chris Howes. In fact, Chris, he played the first hour, proving once again that if you want the facts and you want them first, you shouldn't go anywhere near the OS.
Unless, of course, you're looking for next season's squad numbers, where they now appear in all their decimal glory. Assuming that the official site may be relied upon to provide this information correctly, the number 9 shirt will be donned by Quick Mick O'Reddy. The 7, which after last night you might think could have gone to Tom Le Pin, has been assigned to 'Our' Ashley Sestanovich, while Macca keeps number 2, Young Greg is promoted to 3, and... oh, I could be here all day. Go and have a look for yourself and earn 0.0003p for the club.
There again, though, there is as yet no mention on the OS of another friendly, on Thursday night, at Gainsborough, and yet the Grimsby Telegraph states quite plainly that this is the case. Maybe the Diary should start an unofficial text message service.
With most observers at last night's game deeming Abdou Tangara to have been a complete and utter plank, Mr Slade has left a squad number free for that elusive big target man he's been after who, if Rob Jones signs from Stockport first, will probably be the final piece added to Russ's jigsaw before the season begins, and the Diary claims a jackpot prize as the one millionth user of the jigsaw analogy this summer. "I'm under an incredible timescale to be ready for the first game," Noddy says on Town's official website, adding: "It's like the egg-timer, it's difficult." Well, Russ, you turn it upside down when you start boiling your egg, and then when all the sand has run through, that's when you know it's ready. Oh, and you don't sign Clint Marcelle.
Monday 26 July
Hello, and a big welcome back to er me! Yeah baby your regular Diary has just uncovered a bulky cardboard box from beneath three duvets and a dozen bin liners stuffed with clothes and managed to clear just enough space on the floor of my new house to unpack a computer from it and get the hell online to return to duty and bring you your daily fix of GTFC-flavoured news regurgitation, laced with considerably less actual sarcasm than I am often credited with. In fact, as I rummage through endless piles of rubbish that really should be discarded, in the hope of finding something useful and in working order, I know exactly how Russell Slade is feeling.
Before we proceed to Monday's goings-on over Blundell Park way, though, a word well, a paragraph of thanks to last week's troupe of guest diarists, who discharged their responsibilities admirably in trying circumstances. Soberer diarists than I would struggle to keep tabs on the legions of trialists who have recently nipped into BP for five minutes round the cones, and given that even the club's official website apparently didn't know what was going on half the time, my stand-ins are due praise aplenty for their diligent work in my absence.
Without any further ado, then assuming the Mariners don't currently have a Portuguese winger called Ado on trial let us see what's a-happening. People rolling round on carpets? No, but Willem II are in town this evening, presumably arguing among themselves as the scent of cannabis looms mustily in the air, and good news for Town fans with a secret liking for large half-African men is that the six-foot-something French-Malian striker Abdou Tangara has received international clearance to play. Pumpin' Stace C and Bigass Tony Crane miss out through poorliness. Today's Grimsby Telegraph offers a rather comprehensive run-down of the starting XI, in fact, with Slade doing his Laboratoires Garnier bit with talk of gel and chemistry.
Not to be outdone, the Mariners' official site gives its own despatch from the frontline, with the rather worrying appearance of Clint Marcelle among the substitutes for tonight's game, despite the trial of the former Harrogate Town ace having been reported as coming to an end last week. Erk.
The Telegraph's preview of tonight's game is one of a satisfying trio of GTFC stories in today's paper, with an Ashley Sestanovich interview revealing that Slade "basically wants me to cause havoc" and a similar natter with Quick Mick Reddy throwing light on the manager's affability ("he's a great fella") and ambition ("his plans are very impressive"). Not that the Diary is haunted by all the same things being said about Paul Groves this time last year, you understand. BBC Humber Sport, meanwhile, is doing its best to catch up, and has got round to recording Town's acquisition of Thomas Pinault, but is more concerned today with asking us about Bury's cult heroes. Am I missing something?
Darren Barnard who used to play for Grimsby every now and then is not going to sign for Kilmarnock of the comedy Scottish Premier League. The former Wales defender recently took time out from his demanding schedule of annual interviews with the national press about how nobody loves him to undertake a trial with the club, assuring the Scottish press that, even though crappy little Grimsby didn't want him, "I am still in the Wales squad and the last two games I played were against Russia in the Euro 2004 play-offs." Which is true: although Barnard appeared in several GTFC games subsequent to his international adventures, he could hardly be said to have actually played in them. Killie manager Jim Jefferies has decided, however, that his priority is a central defender. I'm not quite sure why he needed Dar-Bar to travel all that way before he decided it, but the hills are nice.
"Hello Mr Diary," writes James Booth. Hello, James! Readers with longer attention spans than is normal these days may recall that, before the Diary's house-moving gubbins kicked in big time, I had asked Mr Booth whether, as a resident of Toronto, he might be able to get me a copy of the new Hidden Cameras album on vinyl (they are a band from Toronto). "At the moment I am living in Budapest, Hungary until November. So depends how serious you are? I certainly know a place I can get it if you can and want to wait until December (after I have been back to Toronto and when I will be in the UK next)." Botheration! Thanks, James, but they're too ace a band for me to wait that long. Reminds me I'll have to buy the Concretes album as well. Anyway... "If you want me to get you any Hungarian records now would be a good time to ask," concludes our globetrotting Mariner. Can I get back to you on that?
Friday 23 July
Hello you lot. Mr Diary has emailed the world and his wife today to inform us that he is now holed up in a safe house, so you will hear his dulcet tones again on Monday. I may as well tell you up-front that this diary will be short. Short, because we are short on news, and Im sick and tired of telling you about trialists a-coming and a-bleeding-going. And short because I'm knackered - having got up at 4-30 this morning, for no apparent reason. Mind you the spin-off from that, was that I picked a carrier bag full of mushrooms, and made a loaf of bread before breakfast. No, not those mushrooms unfortunately, but the parasol variety. Call in if you want some.
The Town fans I've spoken to this week are all hoping to see something like a first team starting tonight against the Iron. It's natural to want that, and also to want to win the match. But it's too much to hope for yet, I reckon, with new players and an unfamiliar system. I still struggle to understand how 3-4-3 will really work to be honest. Given that I'm also still smarting, after predicting the starting squad last season would produce a 'team to be reckoned with', then I think I'd better keep quiet this time. The official site is predicting a "healthy crowd" tonight so lay off the greasy burgers folks.
Anyway, in the time it took me to write that drivel, the official site has confirmed that the Town side tonight will 'hopefully' contain a defender even larger than our beloved Mr Crane, in the shape of Rob Jones. A regular goal-scorer with Gateshead for a few seasons, Rob has latterly worn the Stockport hat. Veritably, a big bugger. The article coyly mentions another permanent signing might occur today, but does not elaborate further. That's it from your Guest Diarist I'm off back to bed. See yer.
Thursday 22 July
Hello you! All our regular and semi-regular Diarists appear to have disappeared today, so it's left to me, Mark Stilton, to come in and do a half-arsed rush job.
News, then. Well, the OS reports that Ben Chapman and Steve Croudson are back at the club. On trial I guess. Whether they'll be offered contracts or not remains to be seen - but Slade is looking to boost his squad with two or three more signings according to a report on BBC Humberside (the spoken word version). Also, the club is trying to help keep the new players fit and ready for action by making sure they don't contract the lurgy from fans, if the report on the OS is anything to go by. Unless they meant something else when they spoke of "expecting a healthy crowd" for the match with Scunny on Friday. 7.30 KO, £4 on the gate, Pontoon and Main Stand only - in case you're interested. We take it the previous match between Grimsby United and Scunthorpe Town has been postponed to make way for this one then, yeah?
Meanwhile, reports are filtering through the various messageboards that a Grimsby XI won 4-1 against Barton Town last night. The match was billed as a reserves match but included a few more trialists (of which no-one has heard of) and a couple of expected first teamers (Sestanovic, Macca). Goals came from Wheeler(2), Lightowler and a trialist who has yet to be indentified.
Over in GET land we're told that Stanno has successfully made it through the match at Barton whilst recovering from a back injury. Good news that, and it means he may be able to play against Scunny with fellow team mates Flemo, Parko, Bullo, Crowo, Ramso, Whito, Willo and Trialisto. Probably.
And thato is allo for todayo.
Wednesday 21 July
I used to be friends with Tony, whose dad ran the fish and chip shop on Carr Lane. One time, me and Peter Moore were waiting at Tony's back door for him to come out and play football when a load of seagulls swooped down and shat all over us. Swap the fish shop's back door for the McCain Stadium, and you begin to see where my metaphor is going. To extend it a little further, I'm sure Sladey like Tony's Mum will be able to find a damp cloth to wipe the team down with, and everything will be alright. Hey, at least it was less obscure than Eric Cantona's seabird-based babble. Just.
So, a 2-0 defeat at the hands (surely that's cheating) of Russ's old team but what of the details? Well, the Mariners team was a bit cobbled-together, as you'd expect from an experimental pre-season kick-about; but featured some points of interest: firstly the appearance of spring-booted dwarf Ben Chapman; secondly of mystery man 'Abdul' of whose career so far I have been able to find nothing. The Man With One Name did alright, I hear, and was subject to the sort of mystifying popstar reception from the two hundred or so Mariners fans usually laid on for Big Brother evictees. Meanwhile, Williams looked a bit dodgy; the Flemdicott midfield looked solid; and the exotic Carlos Garrocho had a quiet game. Perhaps he had a sore throat.
Incidentally, the first of Scarborough's goals was scored by the same Tony Hackworth who your regualar Diary was slagging off on Thursday 15 July he's obviously a reader of this column, and had a point to prove. No doubt the whole Seagulls team were similarly motivated, what with Russ swanning in there with his new bird and everything. Yeah, make him realise what he's missing. Two-nil defeat. Ha! That'll show him. And all that. Hmmm. "The result was disappointing, but it was the manner in which the goals were conceded that frustrated me - we have to learn to get rid of it at the back a lot quicker" a said the Town Gafferboss afterwards. This all sounds a bit familiar to me
but anyway, it was only a friendly, and nothing to worry about. In two and a half weeks' time is when it matters, and if you can stand the pace we may well have another five or six new players by then, and the ones we've got will have learnt each others names and everything.
Finally, Andy Holt has written in from his Manhattan skyscraper with news of how York City's team is taking shape specifically how it's taking the shape of an old Grimsby team. The team which played football in an amicable manner against Doncaster the other night featured: Kevin Donovan; Jonny Rowan; Pauls Groves, Robinson, and Crichton; and Lee T Nogan. For these names alone, I shall be taking an interest in York's progress next season; Andy will be taking even more interest if he puts twenty quid on them to win the title at the 16-1 odds he's spotted.
Tuesday 20 July
As wild rumours of the imminent return to Blundell Park of Rapidly Decelerating Michael Boulding circle the message boards, big Russell Slade simply shrugs and gets on with signing Michael Reddy on a two year deal. Hurrah!
This frankly ace piece of news has left your second guest diary of the week in an even better mood than I was when I woke up. Not even a bit of a dodgy haircut and the fact that Reddy has a slight injury and won't be able to play at Scarborough in tonight's friendly can temper this lovely, sunny day.
Reddy has been around the block more times than Elsie Tanner, of course. Having prostituted himself to the likes of Swindon Town, 'ull City, Barnsley, York City and two spells at Sheffield Wednesday, he's probably played against Town more times than the current squad have played FOR town. But I don't want to come over all appearancist. That wouldn't do.
Reddy is obviously a bit cheesed off at not being able to play in tonight's crucial friendly six-pointer at the Crinkle Cut Chip Stadium this evening if his gob on Town's official site is anything to go by. He need not worry, for his new manager has a pretty much full strength side to pick from. Add to the 'who the frig is that' file, a player by the name of 'Abdul' who will, apparently, get to chase the ball around a bit tonight.
Business news now. And over to that annoying twat on Breakfast News who wears loud ties and looks a bit like a fat hamster. S*M*A*S*H* were a particuarly poor Clash rip-off band who the NME were kissing for six months back in 1993. SMASH! That's the sound of a mark being... errmm... smashed. The mark in question is £300,000 worth of season ticket sales, which the club are urging you to get your hands on before you have to pay full whack for them. You know it makes sense.
Right, Im off for a perm.
Monday 19 July
Well I told you on Friday that Town needed a 'keeper, and by mid-afternoon we had one. It seems that Russell Slade took a deep breath, imagined his new signing performing every match the way Neville Southall eulogised about him, rather than 'flapping like Clara Bow' as Tony Butcher saw him at Brigg last week, and did it. Of course, there is just the faintest of chances that it wasn't Williams between the sticks in that match, but the other trialist, but don't bank on it, gentle reader. I'll be relieved when I've seen Williams come out decisively and catch a few crosses, to be honest; but apparently he's the best we can afford, he is Welsh, and we've got him. Speaking on Humberside Slade said (and I paraphrase): "Slade was attracted by his experience of promotion and two play-offs with Hartlepool. Slade sought also the opinions of respected goalkeeping coaches Alan Kelly and Mark Prudoe, who spoke favourably of Williams." So another position on the team-sheet filled, for better, for worse, until end of season do us part.
A kickabout of trialists were reportedly released back in to the community over the weekend. Still held in custody, the Official Site tells us, are at least Garrocho, Gaughan, Marcelle and Watson. Still no news on the striker signing situation though, as the mystery man continues to list mulling options as his favourite hobby in the footballing who's who. Meantime the club ponders whether they need to order some XXL sized shirts, and how they could possibly fit both Crane and any of the man-mountains who graced the pitch at the Hawthorns in to the same post-match bath.
Ronnie Bull, is the subject of a friendly email to the diary from Brentford fan, Mike Rice: "Just thought I'd point out that Ronnie Bull played left-back for Brentford against you at the end of last season in your 1-0 win. Haven't seen that nugget of information on the Grimsby sites. He was on loan from Millwall, but manager Martin Allen decided not to offer him a contract. He looked effective for us at this level at full-back under MA; not sure about wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation though. Bottom-line, however, is that Rankin for Bull seems like a better bargain for Brentford. Good luck for the season." Ah, if only Isaiaiaih had had relatives in the area, like Ronnie apparently has. That may have just swung it for us. I'd give my best conker up to have Rankin back for the upcoming season. It's a hundred and oner at least. See yer.
Friday 16 July
Town fans of both persuasions flocked to the Hawthorns last night. A homely little ground everything works. The parking was easy; the club bar lights twinkled in the autumnal murk; the local snack bar purveyed local sausage rolls; the seating was cosy, and the home side warmed up in familiar monochrome stripes. A season ticket, at 84 quid, is a real snip. Brigg are a tidy side, just lacking a cutting edge in the final third. The pundits tell us that this is what differentiates the professional from the amateur. Maybe, but we were all far too busy trying, and failing, to work out who was representing our beloved Town on the field of play. Yes, Jeremy, last night we were forced to be footballing ornithologists, trying to tell one player from another by nuances of plumage, nickname, flight pattern, colour, gait and call. "He just called him Carlos I said he looked Angolan!" exulted a happy Cod Almighty staffer three quarters of the way through the game.
Me, I refused to become a walking, talking, human Soccerbase, and tried vainly to ally the characteristics of each trialist or signing to old-school Mariners. So Fleming naturally became Pouton. But that analogy lasted about 20 minutes only, as the new Pouts clinically despatched his first shot for his new club into the corner of the net. Pouton with a shot blimey. The inimitable Tony Butcher has scribed a mini match report, but if you literally don't have time to read and digest 2,000 words of faultless Town prose, then make do with the bluffers' summary I wrote while waiting up for the by-election results last night.
Grimsby won by three well-worked goals to two set-piece disasters. We need a goalie, and some strikers not these lumbering basketball types. New signings Parkinson and Fleming impressed. Whittle and Ramsden looked OK too, but will benefit from the outing. Stacy and Crowe impressed in the paddock, but had little impact in the match. Hockless strutted and performed a Joe Cole cameo (including the obligatory weak and flashy finishing). Town tried to play 3-4-3 this strategy is very much a work in progress. The Angolan Walsall-ite was pathetic for the whole of the second half, but then conjured up an excellent winning goal when we least expected it. The mystery first-half left winger (Kamanam?) was pacy, tricky, and generally a good egg. Bull did not impress. Macca returned for the second half. Slade stood, arms folded, and made his presence felt. Rodger stood, three paces to the right, arms folded, a bit bewildered. Town only looked about two divisions better than Brigg, but early days.
Despite rumours around the ground last night that Slade was to be heard berating Mr Bull for his lack of pace, the official site tells us that he is now a contracted Town player and talks him up as an exciting prospect, but your Guest Diarist hopes that he gets in some crossing practice. Soon. He's a left-sided defensive midfield type, by the way, if you can't remember your Ronnie Bulls from your Carlos Garranchas.
The Grimsby Telegraph tells us that "Slade had his first win, the fans had their first glimpse of the new boys and the first shoots of Town's rehabilitation began to poke through the soil much to the delight of the new man at the helm. Slade said: 'I was pleased with the lads tonight - the new signings did well. Terry (Fleming) showed what he can do and Andy (Parkinson) proved he will be a good asset, while Whittle and Ramsden settled well at the back.'" The Telegraph also hails the win against Brigg as the "start of a new era". What does David Pye mean the type of era where Town play Unibond sides? We'll have to see.
Having been sidetracked by all those 'little jobs' your mum gets you to do when you stay over after a match, I'm running late. So more on Monday, including secret insights into the life and times of Mr Diary in what should be a fun-packed week without him as he rolls up his posters and does a moonlight flit. See yer.
Thursday 15 July
There was Tottenham under Ossie Ardiles. There was Newcastle under Kevin Keegan. And now there's Grimsby under Russell Slade. Well, that's the way it looks after Town's 5-5 draw in a practice match at Doncaster yesterday although because the match was played behind closed doors, the Diary is unable as yet to ascribe the result to a new era of glorious, free-flowing, attacking football under Slade's innovative new 3-4-3 system; and keen though I am to believe that the side's verve and panache will propel Town to automatic promotion next season via a record number of gripping 7-4 victories, yesterday might have just been down to crap defending.
So who are the Klinsmann and Sheringham, the Dumitrescu, Barmby and Anderton, who will comprise Town's Famous Five? Town's official website announces that "Darren Mansaram, Darren Watson, Jean Gabbin and Yannick Kamanan were amongst the Town scorers", teasingly declining to name the fifth. Whether Gabbin is a new, 15th trialist or is actually the same player as the Jean-Gabin Moubeke reported by the OS to have arrived on trial on 1 July remains uncertain.
I don't know whether it's having to pack up all my things for moving house next Monday, or just the removal job being finished off on the promising team Paul Groves assembled last summer, but the Diary is swathed in melancholy today. Having only just recovered from the trauma of Ivano Bonetti running their team, Dundee supporters can look forward to two or three excellent long-range goals early next season and then six months of performances being sent in by text message after Iain Anderson was released from his contract with the Mariners to sign a two-year deal back at Dens Park. Do I want him to do well or badly? I don't care. I just want players who'll be around longer than five minutes, because I'm tired of not caring, and I'm tired of them not caring. Russell Slade, may your shoulders be broad and strong.
Here's some good news then. Town fans everywhere but particularly in Nottingham had the fright of their lives a few weeks ago when it emerged that one of the players on Russ's Big List of possible transfer targets was the controversial former Notts County and Leeds striker Tony Hackworth, by which I mean controversial and also crap. But the player has now been snapped up (into many pieces, County fans will hope) by Slade's old club Scarborough, where he eked out three goals on loan last season. Mariners supporters in the know will now be hoping the Seadogs can do likewise with the equally useful current GTFC trialists Marvin Robinson and Clint Marcelle. Or Bristol Rovers; we're not fussy.
In the apparent absence of information on the club's official website, it falls to the Grimsby Telegraph to reveal that Town's 15th trialist (or 16th, if we accept that Jean Gabbin possesses an identity distinct from Jean-Gabin Moubeke) is a French centre-half called Ludovic Dje. In a flurry of diligence, the paper also reveals the name of the Mariners' secret fifth scorer at Belle Vue as Amadou Konte (twin brother, remember, to Colchester trialist Amadou Conte), and insists the new boy Dje will figure in the squad for tonight's friendly at Brigg Town. Not so, says the Mariners' OS, where his name is suddenly conspicuous by its absence from a squad of 16 for the trip to the Hawthorns (no, not that one). And what's this? The BBC says there's another Ludovic Dje, on trial at... Colchester.
All of which sequence of lies, half-truths and contradictions is bringing back the Diary's headaches, and so I think it's time to lie down in a darkened room with a glass of warm milk and Radio 4 on. Because of me and Mrs Diary moving house next week, I will leave you for a few days in the loving hands of Guest Diary, who I believe is making the trip to Brigg this evening, guaranteeing some kind of equine oral validity for Cod Almighty's account of the match. You can continue to email GD at email@example.com, by the way. Bye for now, then, and take care of yourselves better than Ashley Sestanovich, who is ruled out of tonight's encounter with a back strain.
Wednesday 14 July
In the short time Russell Slade has been manager of Grimsby Town Football Club he has already made up his mind about a few things. First, his team will play in a 3-4-3 formation. Second, Justin Whittle will play a pivotal role in it. Third, Iain Anderson won't. And this is why the Scottish midfielder is currently crossing the border more times than a pre-school child with poorly developed fine motor skills attempting to colour in a monochrome outline print of a picture by Gustav Klimt. His Mariners career began brightly last August (Anderson's, not Klimt's) only to be dragged down by the poor form of the team as a whole, and with Slade having made it clear that Anderson plays no part in his plans the player is looking for a move back home. After a fruitless trial with Dunfermline last week, Town's unwanted wideman is now training with his first club, Dundee, where he scored in yesterday's 2-1 defeat by Airdrie. So a year ago he was going to be playing below his level and now he's not right to help us out of Division Three. Such is the poignant career wreckage wrought by successive relegations, eh.
Another player with a 100 per cent relegation record during his time with the Mariners is of course the former Welsh international left-back Darren Barnard and, like Anderson, he too began last season well and faded badly. Where he might fit in to Noddy's Christmas pudding formation is a mystery that ranks up there with Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and why Red Dwarf wasn't cancelled after the third series; but the GTFC boss has had a little chat with Dar-Bar and sent him away to think about what he's done. For now it remains anyone's guess whether the player will pen a new deal with Town, convert to a centre-forward, and end up as the bottom flight's top goalscorer, or just give in to peer pressure and sign for Bristol Rovers.
Hang on a minute! That's not Darren Barnard in the picture! Why, then, perhaps it is Millwall's Ronnie Bull - who, in becoming the 14th player currently on trial at Blundell Park, is in the running to replace him. A 23-year-old left-back, he spent most of last season on loan with Yeovil and Brentford,
but in clattering Ruel Fox at the Hawthorns in 2001 so impressed Gary Megson that the West Brom manager was moved to remark: "Now that's how you make a fucking tackle." Bull is one of just three trialists named in the official website's "Likely Squad" to travel to Thursday's friendly at Brigg Town (the other two being Anthony Williams and Yannickanamanamanaman). I hear they do a good cake, or something.
Toronto Mariner James Booth has been checking out how the bookies rate Town's chances next season. "Apparently we're more stable now," writes Mr Booth in an email to the Diary, "so he does not fancy us for the Championship but does think we're good for the play-offs. Not sure how you define 'stable' based on this assessment." Well, after last season's farce of a debacle of a mockery, the Diary is never betting on GTFC again. Any chance you could pick up the new Hidden Cameras album for me on vinyl, though, James?
Finally, just when you'd forgotten it existed, let's hear it for BBC Humber's sport page, which, only five days after they were announced to the world, is now acknowledging the signings of Terry Fleming and Andy Parkinson. OK, so the story itself isn't actually on a BBC Humber page, which means it's taken them the best part of a week just to add a link to a page on the main BBC Sport site; but after a period of inactivity for the Humber site that makes Stuart Campbell look like a Tasmanian devil with ADHD the Diary feels that credit should be given where it's due.
Was you one of the lucky 1,000? I weren't.
Tuesday 13 July
"We are looking to bring in another five players," is Noddy's exciting announcement for Tuesday, and one of them could be 22-year-old former Port Vale midfielder Mark Boyd. A former Newcastle trainee, the player spent two seasons in the Potteries before leaving for hometown club Carlisle on a short-term deal late last season amid talk of "personal problems" (presumably not the kind Pele could help with). Vale fans' opinions on Boyd generally appear to be polarised between "technically gifted, bags of potential, could do well, never quite worked out for him here" and "crap". Boyd told the Cumberland News on Monday: "I'm talking to Grimsby today and I'll probably train with them with the possibility of a move" a story repeated in the 'What the papers say' section of Town's official site, in its characteristic shoulder-shrugging, 'why do you expect us to know what's going on at the club?' way. Well, they could always find out from the Grimsby Telegraph, where Russ has been saying: "I haven't heard from [Boyd] and haven't got in touch myself there's no truth in the link." And I wish I'd read that before I started writing this paragraph.
Meanwhile Carlos Garrocho and Michael Warwick are the players Slade has randomly selected from the Chammy Manager database today to invite for a try-out at Blundell Park, bringing to a frankly terrifying 13 the total number of trialists currently crashing on the floor of Russ's spare room. Garrocho, a midfielder from Angola, apparently made a handful of appearances for Walsall in the 200102 season, but it's kind of a baby's hand really; while Warwick who doesn't even have an entry on Soccerbase, damn it seems to be some kind of left-sided midfielder/defender who came through the ranks at Bolton and Stoke and once made it into the Israel under-17 squad. This would never have happened under Lawrie Mac.
Monday 12 July
Well, another day, another trialist, as they say in North East Lincolnshire. Monday's new arrivals, if you haven't yet given up trying to keep track, are a couple more forwards: a Frenchman, Amadou Konte, and a Pole, Tomasz Moskal. With three goals in nineteen appearances for Gσrnik Polkowice last season, Moskal boasts a strike rate superior to just about every other Town forward in the last two decades; while the Grimsby Telegraph has done a bit of homework on 23-year-old Konte (can't wait to hear that in a broad Grimsby accent), who arrives from Italian Serie C1 side Paterno Calcio, and reports that he scored three in ten games for current European champions Porto in the 200102 season but is looking for a fresh start after an injury-blighted campaign last year. At six foot four he is likely to be under consideration as either the central striker in Russell Slade's threatened front three or, as budget cutbacks at Blundell Park mean a shortage of stepladders, as official club lightbulb changer.
Entirely by coincidence, third-tier Colchester are giving a trial to a 23-year-old French striker who also appeared for Porto and Paterno Calcio and is also six foot four. His name is Amadou Conte, though, so he is clearly a completely different player.
Town's new midfielder Terry Fleming, who sounds to the Diary like a sort of hybrid of Des Hamilton, Alan Pouton and Tony Gallimore, or in other words like what we in Grimsby are wont to call "a right one", has been talking a good game to the Grimsby Telegraph. "This club has a lot of potential," announces Tel. "It still could be a first division club. We have to get the results next year to achieve that." Now that's what I call ambitious...
It is on the subject of Mr Fleming's colourful past that Dick of Legbourne has despatched another of his very welcome emails to the Diary. "So the GTFC OS claims that Terry Fleming is to join the ever swelling ranks and become a Mariner!" begins Dick. "Sorry, been on the cat-nip again. Anyway, Fleming might be coming from Cambridge, and he might have a long throw too, but he's also an ex-Imp and one that can't lie very well either. If I remember rightly this Fleming chap whilst playing for Lincoln got himself booked in one game and later on in the same game found himself going into the ref's book once more. 'Aha!' thought the then impish winger, 'I know what I'll do I'll give a fellow teammate's name to the ref, and try and avoid being sent off.' He did and... he did. Not until later when the ref sat down with his mates did he realise that he'd been done. He didn't get away with it for long though think he got a lengthy ban for dishonesty. Welcome Terry. Can you pass your tips onto Craney he might want to try that one."
Friday 9 July
Two new signings for Town, and your Guest Diarist has discovered that one featured in the FA Cup fourth round team of the week in January 2001. Yes "Andy Parkinson terrorised Everton with his speed and skill down the flanks, as Tranmere had an afternoon to remember at Goodison Park." January appears to be Andy's month for getting noticed, as on New Year's Day 2003 he scored a "35-yard cracker against Sheffield United". Neil Warnock was sufficiently impressed to sign Parkinson on a two-year contract in July last year, saying: "He is a good addition to the squad, very quick and he can play all along the front line." But all new Town players have had to pay their dues with a spell at Notts County, and that's where Andy ended the season, scoring thrice in a 13-appearance double loan spell. For all you readers out there, I can report that Andy is a lithe, ten-and-half-stone, five-eight, Liverpudlian left-footer. I hope that's the only resemblance he bears to his screamingly frustrating non-trier of a predecessor.
Buggeration. I just researched and wrote all that, only to find Town's official site has been using the same version of Google as I have.
And then, there's more, as the Town SMS service gabbles another message about Town being due to sign utility player Terry Fleming from Cambridge. As Cod Almighty's own utility player Pete Green puts it: "Amazingly, he has never played for Notts County, Sheffield United or Scarborough." Very spooky. I'm glad you told me Pete, as now I don't have to bother looking him up.
Oh, go on then, just a quick look immediately revealing that Terry is a real-life legend. He has been arrested for assault (Lincoln); suspended for a breach of club discipline (Cambridge); and once turned down the chance to play for St Lucia. Football-wise, John Beck said about him: "Terry Fleming was brought to the club because he's a fantastic utility player. He can do a great job at left-back, right-back, central midfield, left midfield, right midfield and we even threw him up front in his first game for us and he scored a goal!" On a good day he's apparently 'gutsy and tireless'. And he's got a long throw although whether we'll have anyone in the box to throw it towards is another question.
As these two arrive though, comparative Town stalwart Iain Anderson looks like he's going back to Scotland as he's been sighted kicking a footie at Dunfermline. Will we miss him? We'll miss his potential more than his actual, I suspect. Following on from Mr Diary's report yesterday about another taxi-load of trialists, our Nottingham correspondent, Craig Oman, has been busy finding out what he can about the County players, passing on the view of one 'Pies fan that "a lot of County fans were disappointed to see Riley released at the end of last season." He's a "decent left-back who can also do a job on the wing. He is also tough and tenacious. Scored a spectacular goal against Colchester last season." As for Nicholson, there are shades of Gallimore: " Probably best to play him in midfield rather than left-back where he backs off and gets skinned far too regularly."
The supporters trust's oddly named 'Future of Youth' campaign is continuing with a raffle. A load of tickets to sell dropped through my letterbox earlier in the week. So if you've got a quid to spare then buy a ticket (I take Paypal) by emailing the Diary. The prizes include a brand new Ford Ka, a Caribbean holiday and a brand new PC, and will be drawn on Saturday 28 August.
Cod Almighty correspondent Keith Collins has been on Humberside watch again, and writes in to report that "Radio Humberside on Thursday morn said that Rowan would not play for Town again as a new contract could not be agreed but Mansaram talks were ongoing and a deal was in the offing." Thanks Keith. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
So the pieces of the Town squad jigsaw are being dropped one by one on to the kitchen table, and the formation still looks to me as though it will be something-something-three. Which makes the acquisition of a decent central striker screamingly important, as Manasaram is about as suitable for that solo role as Michael Howard is for a bit part in Coronation Street. I'll leave you now with a headline reported to have appeared in the Scunthorpe Telegraph: "Dog fouling continues to anger Isle of Axholme town and parish councillors and they aim to stamp down hard on it." Well you would, wouldn't you? See yer.
Thursday 8 July
If there was one thing you could rely on GTFC for when the Diary was a young boy, as yet untutored in the arts of long, unwieldy sentence construction, it was a good cup run, but in recent seasons the Mariners' form in knockout tournaments has been pretty much as miserable as in the bread, butter and Marmite fare of league competition. After some rich bloke from a brewery took some balls out of a plastic tub this morning, Russell Slade's first chance to put this to rights will probably arise on Tuesday 24 August, when nouveau-riche second-tier Wigan are expected to provide the glamour at Blundell Park in the first round of the 200405 League Cup (thanks to some corrupt UEFA-type seeding system that means bigger clubs like Derby and Sunderland don't have to play each other so they can all get further in the tournament and get even bigger). It definitely will be Wigan, I mean; they're just not sure yet whether it'll be on the Tuesday or the Wednesday. Come to think of it, Town are probably waiting to see if Cheltenham ring up and ask for it to be moved to 4:18 on a Sunday morning.
Clearly shaken to its electronic foundations by the vitriol spouted here yesterday on the subject of Town waiting to see if Cheltenham ring up and ask for matches to be moved to 4:18 on a Sunday morning, the club's official website is attempting to cast the Diary as a lone eccentric, gibbering unintelligibly to itself like that old bloke in the red beret who used to hang around Top Town library, by running a poll that asks visitors: "Should the Mariners play their games on a Friday night?" At the time of writing, however, this stunt has misfired spectacularly, with 73.6 per cent responding in the negative and just 26.4 per cent in favour. I rule.
Former GTFC transfer target Tim Sills has confounded Bristol Rovers' imperial ambitions by signing a new two-year contract to stay with Aldershot, which is nice, and four new trialists are bringing their paces to Blundell Park to be put through, reports Town's OS. Paul Riley is a 21-year-old Notts County defender who scored three times in about 25 appearances last season; Kevin Nicholson a young Notts County midfielder who went on loan to Scarborough last season (there seems to be some kind of pattern emerging here); Marvin Robinson a Chesterfield reject and 24-year-old forward whose League goals total an unimpressive nine, although they are impressively spread across four different clubs; and big, hot, six-foot-something striking prospect Darren Watson, superficially at least, the only real cause for excitement as the scorer of some impressive goals for Margate in last season's Conference. Ooh, and Denis D'Amico might come back from France to trial some more, so rather than being rubbish he might have just popped home to discuss philosophy over vin rouge and croissants.
Slade's old stomping ground of McCainborough is similarly bubbling with happenings this week, like a great big deep fat fryer filled with news chips. Club captain Scott Kerr, who a few weeks ago found himself at the centre of an exciting tapping-up controversy involving the Mariners, has signed a new contract, while former Town and Boston left-back little Ben Champman... Champ Manager... Championship Manager... sorry Chapman has arrived for a trial. The Seadogs/Seasiders/Salty Old Seamen have also been hit by the FA with a massive £600 fine for "failing to control their players" during a big scrap in a game against Morecambe in about 1991, probably about which town has the nicer beach. Which, the Diary is saddened but compelled to observe, can only bode ill for the prospects of Tony Crane learning to tackle the other team's players instead of lamping them.
Finally, Simon Wilson has emailed the Diary to say: "Don't blame me for England losing against the Windies. Blame the lacklustre English bowling attack." Tell you what, Si I'll compromise with you and blame Thatcher.
Wednesday 7 July
Don't blame me for England getting knocked out of the Fascist Pig Bank Triangular Challenge! Yesterday's Diary was very kindly brought to you by Mr Simon Wilson, and a sterling job he made of it, but it should be made clear that he is the guilty party for the hex put on the nation's cricketers by the poultry-enumerating words that appeared on this page. I don't quite know where he was going with that Nikos Dabizas thing either, while we're about it, but there you go; Si was nice enough to let me crash at his last Thursday, so I won't publicly harangue him any more than is strictly necessary. Apologies, also, for my being absent again. Mrs Diary and I are moving house this month, and there is much stuff to do, so Diary responsibilities will continue to be shared around a bit while I'm otherwise occupied. I guess it's better to do it in the close season, anyway like mending the M6 now while everyone's on holiday.
I think it was Guest Diary, in fact, who produced the splendid phrase 'colossally stupid' to describe the League's recent 'rebranding' exercise whereby the people of Grimsby are expected to suddenly begin supporting their local football club despite its relegation to the fourth flight of professional football simply because that division has been renamed 'League Two' and prefixed with the name of a popular soft drink. In fact Town could seldom get more than 6,000 through the gates in the early 1980s to see matches in the real Division Two, and so the population is hardly likely to be stampeding to BP now for a clumsily faked version of the same tier.
The reason I mention this again is that the Diary's burning excitement at receiving my season ticket for the Pontoon in this morning's post is somewhat quenched by the news that I won't be able to use it at Town's home game with Cheltenham, which like three away matches next season has been brought forward to a Friday night. What was that phrase again? Ah, yes - colossally stupid. "We were approached by Cheltenham who wanted to play the game at Whaddon Road on the Friday night so we agreed a reciprocal agreement to have the Blundell Park fixture brought forward as well," Mariners chief executive Ian Fleming tells the Grimsby Telegraph. "There's no particular reason for it; we just thought we'd rip off and alienate season ticket holders who can't get to Friday night matches! Oooh, and it makes a pretty pattern on the fixture list," he doesn't add.
Oh Denis, be-doo, Russell's not in love with you. French trialists Denis D'Amico and Gilles Noto have returned across the Channel with their single currency between their legs after failing to impress Mr Slade. Only Jean-Gabin Moubeke remains of the continent contingent that rolled up at BP last week, though as Si reported yesterday he is now accompanied by former Tottenham trainee Yannick Kamanan. As of today, furthermore, they in turn are now joined by knackered old striker Clint Marcelle, once with Barnsley in the Premiership; most recently with Russ's Scarborough side in the Conference. It kind of eludes the Diary as to why a manager should need to give a trial to a player he was working with only a couple of months ago, but there you go. In his eight years in English football, the Trinidad-born frontman has clocked up no more than fifteen goals, failing to trouble the scorers during his spells at Stevenage Borough and Harrogate Town. Ladies and gentlemen: the new Steve Livingstone.
Tuesday 6 July
The halls of Blundell Park currently resemble a student exchange as Russell Slade's French revolution continues with the arrival of a fourth Gallic trialist, Yannick Kamanan. The 22-year-old forward did three years at Tottingham netting a number of smartly-taken goals for their reserves during 2001-02. A product, apparently, of the Paris St Germain youth system, Kamanan was released by Spurs and failed to win a contract at Gillingham in 2002 leading him to return home where he has spent the past two years at Strasbourg. If Kamanan turns out to be anything like half of what the diary has read, then maybe Town should turn the stripes on their shirts into hoops. And start accessorising with berets and garlands of garlic round their necks. In the meantime play spot the difference between the minimalist reports carried on the club's site and This Is Grimsby.
That Friday feeling returns next season. No, as snack-tastic as it could be, Town haven't announced a deal with Crunchie. Instead they have let it be known that they are subjected to playing matches during the first hours of the diary's habitual 48 hour end-of-week piss-up. Already shifted forward a dreaded 19 hours and 15 minutes are the away games at Cheltenham and Southend. Slightly more well thought out, the Easter Saturday trip to Bury has also been moved forward, but now kicks off at 3pm on Good Friday, potentially giving any Northern-based ex-pats an extra day "back home".
It's slow news day all round, and even This Is Grimsby concedes this devoting a page to a fact highlighted in a Cod Almighty quiz two weeks ago. Elsewhere? Some rival team's fan thinks he has "this feeling that Grimsby will be there or thereabouts next May". Nikos Dabizas, the cheeky scamp, eh. And, Freddie Flintoff and Andy Strauss are clubbing the West Indies attack all over the place.
To tide you over until tomorrow, muse over this little teaser. Besides me is a Town shirt decorated, just last week, with 21 signatures. According to our up-to-date squad list Town have - including trialists - 20 players on their books. Go figure...
Monday 5 July
Aidan Davison looks set to acquire a stomach-churning accent and a taste for tacky, oversized gold jewellery not to mention a predilection for driving through appallingly dull and angry towns at dangerous speeds after fixing up a move to Essex. Town's veteran goalkeeper, whose return to Blundell Park this time last year had fans dreaming of 1998 all over again, has been excused the final year of his contract after Colchester United offered him a chance of first-team football outside the bottom division. And after the disappointing season he ending up having for the Mariners, few Town fans will begrudge Davo this tremendous career move. So long and thanks for Wembley, Aid.
The Diary has been far from alone in noting that, for all Russell Slade's hard work in the transfer market thus far, his squad still looks a bit light up front. With over a month to go until the moderately sized kick-off, there is of course no cause for panic, but one player who won't be putting Town's striking deficiency to rights is Aldershot's Tim Sills, who as Guest Diary recorded on Friday got pissed off when GTFC gave him a deadline for signing, and is heading instead for... you guessed it: the Chelsea of the basement, Bristol Rovers. Today, it emerges, another frontman off of Russ's Big List, Kilmarnock's one-time Scottish international Gary McSwegan, is off to Ross County. Though you can't really lament the Mariners' reluctance to match County's offer of a three-year contract to a 33-year-old player, you might soon begin to wonder whether Steve Livingstone is about to be talked out of retirement.
Lastly today, since that Euro thing has finished the tournament, not the currency and we have another five weeks without football, you may be interested to learn that, economically speaking, Grimsby now marks the northernmost extremity of London. Funny, that, because the last time the Diary downed a pint of Willy's Original it cost considerably less than three quid.
Friday 2 July
The day dawned, young Hockless leapt out of bed, faced himself in the bathroom mirror, and decided that today, of all days, he had to be the headline news on the official site. To do that he had to promise to sign a one-year playing contract with the club. So that's what he's done. Your increasingly regular (must be the prunes) Guest Diarist just hopes his place will be in a midfield four, not as part of a front three. The international tournament quaintly nicknamed Euro 2004 has amply demonstrated how lonely and crap strikers become when playing in a formation ending in three, don't you think?
The Grimsby Telegraph is positively awash with quotes about the deal. Telling us that his decision was a 'huge weight off my shoulders', Hockless plaintively adds that: "I'll be hoping to figure more in the first team this season". Town Chairman Peter Furneaux, spitting Fentys hankie from his mouth, declared: "We believe that by keeping players who have the club at heart and also having a manager that is prepared to move to Grimsby, we are heading in the right direction." The Telegraph adroitly segues Furneaux's plea for fans to buy season tickets with the information that sales have broken through the £100,000 barrier recently. Sounds a lot, but it's not between 600 and 650 I reckon. For waverers, the deal where you get a one day sentence to be served at Pleasure Island free with your season ticket ends on July 17th.
Meanwhile that marketing executive-in-demand and part-time Aldershot striker, Tim Sills, has been enjoying another media interview, saying: "I have not made a final decision about where I will be playing next season. A couple of weeks ago there was an offer from Grimsby Town. They are a big club and only two seasons ago were in Division One. But they put a deadline on the offer and I don't think I will be going there. There has also been interest from Ian Atkins at Bristol Rovers which would give me league football. But Terry (Brown, Aldershot boss) has made an improved offer to me and at the end of last season it was my intention to stay at Aldershot and try to win promotion. I think it's fair to say it will be a choice between Aldershot Town and Bristol Rovers and I intend to make that decision by the weekend." As Mr Diary pointed out, only a few days ago, that rotter Atkins will say anything to get his way with young footballing men, and has already signed enough players to sink a harem. In fact, the aptly named Paul Trollope who spent about a month on loan with Town in 1996 has gone there this very week. So dont go to the Gasheads Tim. You won't like it one bit. Whether this interview, or even this crazy column, will inspire Russell Slade to have another try for you remains to be seen. But we need strikers from somewhere, and we need them fast. See yer.
Thursday 1 July
White rabbits, folks. July has finally arrived with a seasonably cool, and slightly showery expression on its face. Your Guest Diarist has been moping around as usual trying to think of players that he would like Town to sign. None sprang to mind today, actually. The modern player pool is more like a murky casserole, where players rise to the surface and briefly look appetising before being sucked back to the depths of the bubbling vat. What drags them down? Injury, lassitude, over ambition, under ambition, or just innate rubbishness? Hull contemplating trying to sign Nick Barmby; Steve Kabba turning down Sierra Leone last year because he still harboured plans to play for England; Luke Cornwall languishing on the subs bench at Woking; Anthony Williams, the most capped player ever for the Welsh U-21 side of whom Neville Southall once said: He has a great future in the game. He is confident and brave, a fine shot-stopper, and can go on one day to be Wales' number one."
Williams played a fair few games for Hartlepool before falling out of favour and ending up on loan at Stockport. Released by the Pools at the end of the season, Stockport manager Sammy McIlroy preferred to sign up Neil Cutler from Stoke instead, leaving Mr Williams in limbo without a club. Anyhow, the point is that hes coming for a pre-season kick about at Town according to the Official Site today. Frustratingly inconsistent seems to be the most often applied label to this keeper. As ever, we will just have to wait and see. Not so coincidentally perhaps, Aidan Davison had a chat with Russell Slade this morning, apparently, and told him that he didnt fancy playing in Towns new division, whatever they call it. So Russell stuck to his words about only wanting players who wanted Town, and cancelled Davisons contract. The big shake-out continues apace, then. Fettis, you say? Oh, hes just signed for Macclesfield on a free. See yer.