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Wednesday 31 March
Town's injury problems resume with the news that Young Greg, who has eased almost unnoticed into the side since Nicky Law's ascension to the managership, will probably miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The not-actually-that-young-any-more defender dislocated said joint during last Saturday's dramatic 4-4 draw at Chesterfield and is expected to play no further part in the Mariners' bid to avoid relegation to Division Three.
Step forward then, for your chance of redemption, Mr Tony 'Crazy Legs' Crane. Young's fellow Sheffield Wednesday reject has now completed the four-match ban incurred for his second sending-off of the current campaign which took place, remember, when Town were 5-1 up against Barnsley and will in all likelihood return to the line-up this weekend for the visit of hey! Sheffield Wednesday. Crane also recently became the first Mariner in living memory to receive a third red card in a season before seeing out the suspension imposed for the second when he somehow contrived to be dismissed in a reserve game at Wrexham. "I've always said that I've never gone on the pitch to intentionally hurt someone," the poor, misunderstood, towering 6'5" centre-half tells Town's official website.
One man who can probably still do a better job in the back four than both Crane and Young is Paul Groves, and indeed the fallen Mariners idol has played his last two games for Scunthorpe as a centre-half, despite notching two goals and a string of assists for the Iron from midfield. Any road up, Town's little brother club has completed the signing of our Paul until the end of the current season after he was recently paid off by GTFC. Not sure how that works, given that the transfer deadline passed last Thursday, but hey.
"As you seem so keen on picking up on other peoples' errors, thought you'd like to know about your own," writes Loughborough Mariner in an email to the Diary. Unless you mean 'peoples' as in races, tribes or cultures, that apostrophe should be before the 's', by the way. "Sammy McIlroy resigned from the Northern Ireland job at the end of the European Championship qualifiers (I think anyway!) and Lawrie Sanchez is now in charge. Are all Town fans pedants?" I'm sorry, Loughborough; I've absolutely no idea what you're on about...
Tuesday 30 March
Cheer up, you mardy buggers! Town may be facing almost certain relegation to the third division, meaning the loss of leading players and a further drop in support for the already impoverished club, with little chance of returning to Division One for at least the next generation or two, but with Darren Barnard retaining his place in the Wales squad and the likes of John Thorrington and Jamie Lawrence now on the books, Nicky Law is building a prestigious line-up of top international players. Oh yes. Hence a Northern Ireland call-up yesterday for Alan Fettis, Town's quite good loanee keeper. Yay! NI manager
Sammy McIlroy Lawrie Sanchez has drafted our man into the squad that will play in Estonia on Wednesday afternoon after his first-choice custodian, Manchester United's Roy Carroll, was instructed by his club manager to pull a sickie. Fettis' goalkeeping role is likely to be much like that of Danny Coyne for Wales, though, with Birmingham's number one Maik Taylor expected to get the nod in Tallinn. Is it just me, by the way, or does Carroll look more like he should have been on guitar and backing vocals in a Manchester indie-dance crossover outfit circa 1990?
And let us not forget the bright young things who are just rolling off Neil Woods' footballing school of conveyor belt excellence. The Diary is quite sure that their 3-1 defeat in a reserve game at York yesterday in no way signifies that the Mariners' future is anything less than safe; nay, glorious, in their hands. Liam Nimmo, you may be interested to learn, was responsible for the ray of hope provided by the "1", while the splendidly named Spalding United trialist Brett Chittock made a second appearance in goal.
Because there isn't really any other GTFC news, I might as well take this opportunity to say yah boo sucks to all the Fleet Street twats who are growing increasingly bitter and frustrated that the latest of their pointless campaigns to force England managers out of the job has still failed to catch the imagination of the national team's supporters. I don't know how Ledley King can justifiably be excluded from the squad to play Sweden tomorrow, after the way he played against Portugal; but while Sven remains in the post he can do whatever and talk to whoever the buggering heck he likes as far as this England fan is concerned, and all those smartarse hacks can carry on saying: "Oh go on please start hating him!" until they're blue in their fat faces. Thank you and good day.
Monday 29 March
This column often takes longest to write on the days when there is nothing to put in it, but besides having a shedload of work to do and a driving lesson this afternoon, I feel like I need a week in hospital, so let's not muck about today. Not much gets past Nicky Law which is more than can be said for Aidan Davison and Alan Fettis and sure enough, the Bouncer has been quick to identify the problems that beset his new team. The Telegraph headline Law slams shoddy Mariners defending pretty much nails it, though the Diary cannot help but wonder why, of the manager's four hasty pre-deadline signings, only Paul Warhurst can play at the back (and even then, some would say, only nominally). In case you didn't notice, Hull's John Anderson, who looked like the right stuff but not even three weeks ago rejected a loan move to the south bank, signed a permanent deal with Bristol Rovers on transfer deadline day, becoming the second player this month to choose the West Country's third division strugglers ahead of North East Lincolnshire's Theatre of Doom. Hey ho.
Staying with the Mariners' defensive woes, Darren Barnard begins a two-match suspension this weekend, while Young Greg received an injury at Saltergate and Craig Armstrong isn't allowed to play against Sheffield Wednesday - leaving Town a bit short in the left-back berth. For this weekend's visit of the Twit-a-Woos, Law may find himself forced into the bizarre and desperate measure of allowing Town's best defender into the vicinity of the dressing room - although to him Mike Edwards is probably just the singer out of Jesus Jones.
The Diary has just enough energy to mention that this afternoon is your final call to grab tickets for GTFC's Grand National draw thing, in which you can win 2,000 quid if you are lucky. Cod Almighty has so far shifted 27 of the 50 tickets placed in its care by the club, and readers have just a final few hours to snap up the rest and reveal who it is on the Blue Peter-style totaliser. Go on, you know you want to.
Today's final word goes to Paul Thundercliffe, who wishes to share his joy at the first goal for the Mariners' inspirational and highly committed new captain, who has signed a contract keeping him at Blundell Park for all of the next seven games. Paul observes: "It said on the official site that Lawrence became the '111th player to score on their Town debut'. Is that just this season?"
Saturday 27 March
GTFC dip into the bottom four for the first time this season despite emerging from Saltergate with a first away point since the Paleolithic era after 90 minutes of football for which the word 'eventful' is scarcely adequate. Goals from Iain Anderson and debutant Jamie Lawrence give the away side a half-time advantage following a headed opener from Chesterfield's Glynn Hurst, only for David Reeves to tip the balance back with another header and a 73rd-minute penalty conceded by Jason Crowe. With five minutes remaining the Spireites' Mark Innes is dismissed for a second bookable offence and quickfire goals from Darren Barnard and Isaiah Rankin (it says Darren Mansaram on Town's official site, but they all look the same, don't they) push the Mariners back ahead. The task of conceding fewer than four goals inevitably proves too much for the worst defence in the northern hemisphere, however, and sure enough Crowe gives away a second penalty in injury time for Reeves to complete his hat-trick. And there's still time for Darren Mansaram to receive the Mariners' ninth red card of the season, for foul and abusive language: the daft bastard.
Town's 4-4 draw watched by 4,444 people is one of three slightly peculiar results involving teams in the bottom half of Division Two, with Tranmere hitting four past Notts County without reply and Wycombe grabbing an unlikely 3-2 win at Oldham. Brentford's even more surprising 2-1 victory at Hartlepool takes them above the Mariners on goal difference and if you cursed the side's defending today for the gajillionth time this season, remember: Tony Crane is about to come back.
I don't know how much more of this I can take.
Friday 26 March
Town's run three wins in 19 league games, and one point from the last 15 available looks set to continue tomorrow. Or so the Chesterfield official website tells me: "We must ram home our home advantage and condemn the Law men to return to Cleethorpes with nothing other than their playing kit." Hey up you Spireite lads, don't get all relegation-embattled it will be a lot easier than that. And don't you go nicking our lads' matchday suits from the dressing room either, because there'll be no more where they came from.
Your Guest Diarist resorted to Dylan Thomas this morning to try to rekindle his spirits (which have been debilitatingly low since the arrival of Mr Law to manage our beloved club). Unfortunately the page that fell open was 'Do not go gentle in to that good night'. The one that exhorts you to 'rage, rage against the dying of the light'. And this season is looking like Division Two Grimsby Town will pop its clogs, don't you think? Not with a bang (or even a rage), but with a pathetic, disorganised, relegation whimper. These are bad, bad days, gentle reader, and the worst may be yet to come.
But hey, now that we are past transfer deadline day, some of those players out there tomorrow will actually be ours for eight games or so anyway. I like Rankin, mainly because he plays like a professional striker. Very different to Mansaram, Antoine-Curier and Rowan then. He's unlikely to play tomorrow though, but might make it next week. As for Jamie Lawrence, I hear he said: "Bags I right side midfield" as soon as he got here. Which might mean we catch the odd glimpse of the lesser spotted Campbell around the centre circle. I hope so, because if he can play anywhere, then it's there. But who am I to predict what Mr Law will do? There are so many permutations available with the rash of recent signings and loans. Not quite so many next week though, with Barnard starting another suspension after tomorrow as a consequence of accumulating more yellow cards than he has fingers and thumbs this season. Oh, and the Owls have demonstrated their wisdom by cleverly saying that Armstrong can't play for us against them next week. So another embarrassing left-backless home match to endure, I fear.
Cod Almighty sponsoree 'Disco' Des Hamilton has joined Conference club Barnet in an effort to thwart their push for the playoffs, while erudite, lumbering veteran 'Iffy' Onuora has swapped the Tranmere subs bench for the Huddersfield one. Paul Groves has taken the 'ten bob and a bag of spanners' improved settlement offer from Mr Furneaux, and is now free to start a new life. Scunthorpe are mad keen to keep him, apparently, so Paul probably faces another relegation battle with his new mates. Look North last night showed a sacked and wistful Brian Laws taking one last look at the majesty of Glanford Park, with the peculiar Look North sports reporter beside him, clutching an old and dusty trophy for no apparent reason. You see, it could have been worse: Law could have been Laws. See yer.
PS. Thanks to Andy Lumbard and Rob McIlveen for their emailed memories of Stray gigs in the early seventies at the Winter Gardens. Keep 'em coming folks.
Thursday 25 March
The team Paul Groves assembled last summer, which filled Town fans with so much misplaced optimism, continues to unravel with the departure today of Disco "is dead" Des Hamilton. The likeable but ultimately ineffective midfielder was signed from Cardiff in July 2003, presumably on the Handyside principle that any player leaving Lennie Lawrence on a free transfer couldn't be all that bad, but quickly infuriated Blundell Park with a poor workrate and Butterfieldesque tendency to position himself five or ten yards away from the ball at all times. After 31 appearances, no goals, and no near misses, Hamilton departs Cleethorpes by mutual consent despite having another year of his contract to run, and so presumably has a home to go to - but he leaves the Cod Almighty management vowing to think very carefully in future before deciding to sponsor another player.
Almost as exciting is the news that on-loan striker Isaiah "FIFA World" Rankin is staying with Town until the end of the season. The pacy frontman has scored twice for the Mariners in his loan from Barnsley and celebrated his recent goal against his parent club in a manner that was widely seen as dousing his bridges in several gallons of four-star as a prelude to their spectacular ignition with a molotov cocktail. Rather than having his loan extended, Rankin appears to have agreed to the termination of his contract at Oakwell and could earn a longer permanent contract with the Mariners should he continue to impress between now and the final reckoning; and because this deal means his loan will no longer count towards Town's total for the current campaign, the club remains on course to achieve its apparent target of fielding 40 different players in a single season.
After yesterday correcting its spelling at the Diary's prompting, GTFC's official site today nicks our excellent 'stretch Armstrong' reference from Tuesday in confirming that the player of that moniker will also stay at BP until at least May, though Craig's status remains essentially loan-like in nature. Perhaps mindful of the folly of their South Yorkshire neighbours, however, Armstrong's club Sheffield Wednesday will not allow him to play when they visit Blundell Park a week on Saturday.
The grand old Brian Laws, he had eleven men, he marched them up to Division Two and he marched them down again. And when they were up they were up, and when they were down they were down, and when they couldn't get back up again several years later he got the sack. Yep: it's the moment Town fans and Ivano Bonetti alike have been awaiting ever since Laws became Scunthorpe manager in 1997. Although Russ Wilcox has been appointed caretaker at Glanford Park, there happens to be another man not a million miles away with over two years' experience of management at a higher level, and Town fans who now feel a bit guilty about wanting Paul Groves sacked and find themselves concerned as to his current and future well-being may find their spirits raised by the sacking of Brian Laws as, indeed, may Town fans who couldn't give a toss.
They say satire is dead, but then again they probably haven't been to a Dave Chambers gig. "Have you put Humberside Police in charge of the Diary's archives?" writes Dave. "You seem to be missing some days at the start of this month." Spotter's badge to Mr C. The blame for this appalling turn of events is currently the subject of heated debate and bun-throwing among the Cod Almighty team, with Simon Wilson's finger pointing at the absolutely rubbish new server the site has recently moved to and Mark Stilton insisting (probably because he said the new server would be OK) that the key factor is actually human error or more precisely the gross stupidity of his colleagues. In the meantime, if anyone has a copy of the missing days cached on their hard drive, we'd be awfully grateful... but at least we now know how it feels to be abducted by aliens.
Wednesday 24 March
Law hoping to sign Ranking, reports Town's official website breathlessly, raising hopes that Ranking is a striker and could play alongside Rankin, cos that'd be quite funny, wouldn't it, eh, and Law already said a week ago that he wants to keep Rankin, so it can't just be a typo, can it... oh. Well, there's no harm in driving the point home, is there, unless we're talking dirty hypodermics.
Today's other startling news is that the reserves are at home to Notts County this afternoon, kicking off at two o'clock and giving Nicky Law a chance to wonder why he just signed two wingers when young Mr Hockless is not only straining at the leash but also plays like he gives a shit: a rare characteristic indeed at Blundell Park this season. The Mariners' official site promises to give you the teams in a bit, but the Diary has to pop down the shops for some washing-up liquid, eggs, milk and black pepper so you might have to check that out for yourself. I'm sure you'll cope.
I am happy to report, by the by, that my aloo saag paneer last night appeared entirely free from unnatural colouration, and from Indian food we proceed to another of the Diary's great pleasures in life: the pain and misery of Brian Laws. The man who messed up the Mariners in the mid-nineties finally appears to be under some serious pressure at Scunny after his charges slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat last night at home to the Football League's bottom club Carlisle. Barely 2,000 fans saw the excellent Paul Groves create the Iron's first goal from a first-half free kick but even his presence now appears insufficient to lift Laws' side out of their depressed form. "I'm devastated we haven't anything to show," says the former Town manager, whose tenure at Scunny has this week, incredibly, reached the seven-year mark. Residents close to the Glanford Park area are reporting the sound of compulsive scratching from the boardroom.
Peace appears to have broken out between Guest Diary and Dave Otter of Town's supporters' trust, who has very sportingly signed up to the T-shirt/membership treaty proposed by GD yesterday. "Fine, send me the dosh (minus £6.50), a completed membership form and a fat bastard sized T-shirt and I'll send you a membership certificate," writes Dave. I'm not quite sure whether the despatch team will release the goods before the accounts department receives six fifty for them from Guest, but they might be able to make an exception in this case. Anyway, the Diary had best be off; after I've nipped down the Spar I'm due at a summit in Damascus to broker a settlement for the Middle East.
Tuesday 23 March
Town's bid to snatch the Football League record for the most players used in a single season goes from strength to strength with 34-year-old former Bradford winger Jamie Lawrence enlisting in Nicky Law's hastily assembled black and white army until the summer. After itty-bitty spells with Leicester, Coventry and Sunderland, "Town's latest edition" (© gtfc.co.uk) joined the Bantams in 1997, scoring 14 goals in 172 appearances, and was a regular starter during Law's own tenure at Valley Parade before switching to Walsall at the back end of last season. A London-born Jamaican international, he most recently turned out for his adopted country in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Brazil last October, returning to first division duty for the midlands outfit who have released him to GTFC on a free just two days later. "I have never lost here at Blundell Park," declares Lawrence, who is sure to discover very soon that there's a first time for everything.
As if this were not reason enough to convince wavering Mariners supporters that they will still enjoy second division football next season, Town's bid for third-tier survival is boosted by the news that the not entirely unsuccessful loanee Craig Armstrong has extended his sojourn at Blundell Park for the remainder of the current campaign. The versatile Sheffield Wednesday reject who now-destitute Huddersfield once deemed to be worth three quarters of a million quid has turned out eight times for GTFC so far, in an interesting variety of positions across the back four, and with no prospect of a return to first-team action at Hillsborough has thrown in his lot with the Nicky Law revolution for another six weeks, at any rate.
Which is just as well really, because there's not much chance of Georges Santos coming back to Cleethorpes, even though Ipswich are prepared to let him leave on a free. The immense Frenchman, who endeared himself to all right-thinking Town fans in last year's relegation season by winning lots of headers and kicking people, was given a two-year contract at Portman Road after leaving Blundell Park on a Bosman last summer but is now deemed surplus to Suffolk's footballing requirements and is already in talks with Watford, before you get all excited. Yeah, it's a shame; he could probably do a job up front for a Nicky Law side.
Guest Diary is on the old email with a peace offering to Dave Otter of Grimsby Town Supporters Trust. "I'll join his trust if he'll buy a T-shirt," says GD, who admits: "I seem to keep ruffling Dave's feathers." Over to you, Mr Otter... meanwhile, back in Canada, James Booth has leapt to his keyboard to explain his sombre expression pointed out yesterday by Emma Gillingham in the T-shirt modelling photo that made it into the Yorkshire Post last week. "Although I am not looking too happy," admits yer man, "for once it was not the Mariners who caused my misery but my adopted team the Toronto Maple Leafs (honest, Leafs not Leaves) who were losing on the night of the picture. Normally when holding a beer I would look much happier, sorry I have become the unofficial miserable git poster boy for the T-shirts." James, your grandchildren will be proud.
In curry news today, the food colourings that give dishes such as tikka masala their distinctive hues are often being used in dangerously large quantities, according to trading standards personnel. A survey by Surrey officers has revealed that over half of the samples taken in their county contained illegal levels of colourants such as tartrazine, sunset yellow and ponceau 4R substances that have been linked to hyperactivity, asthma and even cancer, and are banned outright in many countries. "I'm staggered that so many are using these colourings at these levels," says Chad Rahman, National Curry Chef of the Year 2002 and 2003. Diary readers are urged to be vigilant and report any suspicious Rubies to email@example.com.
Monday 22 March
Today is a day for quietly picking over the bones of Town's awful 2-0 defeat by Hartlepool on Saturday, nursing mugs of hot tea, and perhaps brushing up on the route to Kidderminster (join the M5 southbound from the M6, leave at junction 3 and follow signs for the A456), but just four games into his career as GTFC manager Nicky Law is already resorting to the sort of undignified straw-clutching that has made the likes of Trevor Francis a national laughing stock. "Calling the game off was a decision the referee could have made," Old Nick tells the Mariners' official website, with a peculiar sort of syntax that suggests the ballboys in fact attempted to postpone it. Now as far as the Diary is aware, you can call off a football match if the pitch is waterlogged or frozen or the stadium is fogbound, but high wind justifies postponement only if the safety of spectators is compromised. Mind you, the way Law's team performed, nobody would have been too surprised to see Town fans queueing up to hurl themselves off the top of the John Smiths.
In the wake of Saturday's outrage Miles Moss has been quick to email the Diary with a less than promising prognosis on Town's new striker Darenne le Mansaramme, aka Mickael Antoine-Curier. "Unable to make many games these days," writes MM, "I tend to follow the live text commentary service on the BBC site. According to this, Antoine-Curier came on for Town at half time, but his only mention from then on was this: '81:04 Foul by Steven Istead (Hartlepool) on Mickael Antoine-Curier (Grimsby)'. That's it? His entire 45-minute contribution involved being fouled once? Oh dear. My miserable bastard test score has just gone up."
Clearly aware of Cod Almighty's status as "perhaps the foremost Grimsby Town internet fanzine" (according to Saturday's Guardian), GTFC has sent this site 50 tickets for its Grand National draw to try and flog on its behalf. Always eager to lend a hand, the CA team has agreed and Diary readers are urged to support the club in this important fundraising initiative. Tickets are only a quid a throw and punters could win up to £2,000, depending on which man in funny clothes hits his horse the hardest to make it run fast, so if you can spare a little cash then why not have a little flutter?
"Wait just one moment, Mr Diary," I hear you say. "What was that about the Guardian?" It was more coverage for Cod Almighty's increasingly popular GTFC T-shirts on the subject of which, Guest Diary has landed this column in trouble with Dave Otter of the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust. "Yes, I know I'm a fat bastard and that I waddle," writes Dave in response to GD's frankly cheeky account last Friday of his appearance on Look North in a 'Grimsby is not in Yorkshire' T-shirt (which the Diary still hasn't seen a tape of). "By the way, I didn't borrow the T-shirt - it was presented to me by the presenter when I turned up at the club for (what I thought was going to be) a two-minute interview. It was quickly given back to Pete's mum. What I would really like to point out is that I went into this in good faith in a genuine attempt to promote YOUR website and YOUR T-shirts (despite the fact that Cod Almighty has nothing to do with the Trust)!" Fair enough.
Emma Gillingham, also of GTST, has espied coverage of CA's fashion garments in the belly of the beast itself. "Nice to see the 'Grimsby is not in Yorkshire' T-shirts featured in the Yorkshire Post today," she writes. "I particularly liked the use of an authentic Grimsby fan to model them (the look of abject misery was the giveaway). Keep up the good work." Cheers Em, though I'm not sure James Booth will be too flattered...
Saturday 20 March
The replacement of Graham Rodger as Town manager with Nicky Law looks increasingly like proving to be the mistake that takes the club into the bottom division for the first time in almost a decade and a half. Two-nil is the margin of today's routine defeat at a windswept Blundell Park as Hartlepool take an easy three points from the Mariners for the second time this season, thanks to two Adam Boyd goals and a GTFC performance devoid of just about any merit whatsoever. A limp surrender by Sheffield Wednesday at Stockport leaves Town just one point above the relegation zone with the second division's worst goal difference, but with a manager who spoke earlier this week of the big games coming up against Hartlepool and, er, Notts County, is anyone that surprised?
I will refrain from apprising you of my intentions for this evening out of consideration for readers who undergo periodic bouts of concern about the condition of the Diary's liver. Actually, that's kind of given the game away, hasn't it.
Friday 19 March
I'm sure this windy Friday will find all the defenders in the Town squad sheltering in the dressing room, polishing their boots in anticipation of a game. New manager Mr Law (who leers out scarily from a very large photo on the official site this morning) is bound to pick at least seven of 'em, don't you reckon? Your guest diarist (that's me) groaned, gentle reader(s), when he clicked on the link to discover that said Law is threatening to add another player to the massed ranks of the Town squad. Probably because he wants to play five centre halves strung across the back, with full backs as wing backs, and Barnard and Crowe in the centre of midfield, or summat. On a brighter note, provided that our Isiaiahah can hop from the penalty spot to the halfway line without stopping by Monday, Law is promising to sign him up on loan for the rest of the season. At least I can recognise Rankin. Well, I could the last time I saw him.
Having said that, a hot-off-the-press release now tells me that we have got the pleasure of the company of Mickael Antoine-Curier until the end of the season. I saw this French geezer play against Town at Notts County the other week. He scored, and is, in a few words, a gangly streak of piss. County have joined a lengthening list of clubs who have dispensed with 'Marie's' services. Seven clubs by the age of 21 says quite a lot about him. Young Mickael, however, has quite a lot of excuses and histrionics to explain his turbulent career. Read them and weep. Curier will be player number 36 for Town this season as he will, no doubt, 'go straight in to the reckoning for tomorrow's game'. Groan. At this rate they will be using till rolls as voting slips for the player of the season awards.
Also reported by the mouthpiece of the club is the news that Jason Crowe has recovered from that groin strain. Stacy is still trying to shake his off, apparently, which is not, my Mum says, how to get a groin strain better. Trying rubbing it with a dock leaf, Stace, she says. Jonny Rowan and Iain 'Aqualung' Anderson are both limping better and should figure in Law's 'plan'. Macca is nearly fit, but both he and Crowe need match practice, it is said. After about a million games you'd think Macca would just purse his lips and blow, wouldn't you?
The Grimsby Telegraph is to be applauded for co-operating with the club to offer discount vouchers for the Hartlepool game tomorrow. Buy the paper today, get the pinking shears out and snaffle the vouchers, which entitle grown-up people to get in to any stand tomorrow for a tenner. Kids and OAPs need just four quid, and everyone can get money off programmes, beef teas, pies, etc as well, via four other vouchers. A cracking week for pensioners all round, what with that electioneering, budget giveaway, council tax thingy they got.
The official site also reports a fascinating list of seasonal statistics. Town have had 15 scorers, over 50 bookings and loads sent off. On a more curious note, I have calculated that Hockless has had 3.4 messageboard pleas for his inclusion for each minute he has played this season, and that Hamilton has made a mistake every 5.9 minutes (or 79.8 per cent of the times he has been within playing distance of the ball). If you want to see my workings, sadly the dog just ate them.
Look North, which featured Cod Almighty's very own Pete Green the other night, made a bit of a dog's dinner about the 'Grimsby is not in Yorkshire' slogan on our T-shirts. The Benny Hill-style vignette starring Dave Otter waddling over the hallowed turf of Blundell Park gave the impression that the piece was all about how much we hate Yorkies. As Pete patiently explained to Peter and Helen, it is all to do with geographical accuracy, and Yorkshire is quite a nice place really. By the way Dave, you might want to buy one of our T-shirts in the right size, coz the one you borrowed the other day looked a bit tight on your 'muscular' frame...
Thursday 18 March
"You could have seen that coming a mile off," said thousands of Grimsby fans last night as Swindon stuck two past the Mariners without reply; the Diary, in fact, did see it coming a mile off, and successfully stuck a few quid on a Swindon/West Ham/Oxford treble. To say it was a stroll for the Wiltshire side might be a bit harsh on Town, as chances were at least created for Rowan and Jevons to squander, but Nicky Law will be far from alone in wondering where his side's next away point is going to come from. With the Yard Dog's groin still being felt, the one and only surprise on the night was a return to first-team duty for youthful midfielder Chris Bolder, restored to the starting line-up in preference to Des Hamilton for his first appearance since the last time Town played Swindon, back in September.
Mark Stilton has been the first to email the Diary with his take on the result he's been the only, in fact opining: "Nicky Law said he had a few positives to take out of the game last night and I have to agree with him. I was expecting us to get thrashed 7-0, but instead it was only 2-0. Which is like a 5-0 win in a way. But without the three points. And the five goals. And the actually winning bit."
Happier news for admirers of quick strikers. It sounds like a pangram, but it isn't. Law wants to extend the loan of quick but injured striker Isaiah Rankin until the end of the season, telling the Mariners' official website: "His loan is up on the 20th, so if he is anywhere near fit, we need to be extending his loan until the end of the season. Even if he is a week, two weeks away, he will be a vital player for us." It's funny, you know: when sports writers first started quoting from the internet and used phrases like "...he told the club's official website", I used to think it sounded really weird, as if some manager or player was talking to a computer screen, but I don't now. The Bouncer has also been threatening to expel Premiership managers from the club unless they loan him some of their promising youngsters: "I've made a couple of calls on the way down and maybe there could be something tomorrow but I'm now getting too excited," which either is a w/t typo or means Law could use a few temazepams.
One of our esteemed manager's former charges at Bradford, Luke Cornwall, has done something notable by leaving Valley Parade for Woking. The reason this is considered Diary-worthy is of course that the young London-born striker spent a productive loan spell at Blundell Park in 2001, scoring four of the goals that helped Town stay up that year, in those dim and distant first division days. Cornwall made only two full appearances for Bradford, though, since joining last summer, and has been snapped up by Glenn Cockerill following his release by the, erm, ooh, I can't remember Bradford's nickname. Ne' mind.
So to the Ballad of Long-Ball Nicky, which readers with extraordinarily long memories will recall began yesterday as the Mariners' brave new leader sought to defend his unsubtle tactics but admitted: "Sometimes it isn't pretty, sometimes it isn't nice". Cod Almighty match reporter and part-time bass guitarist Tony Butcher has been quick off the mark to complete Nicky's first verse. "Sometimes it isn't pretty, sometimes it isn't nice/If I tell a joke you've probably heard it before," writes our Tone. "Sorry, that's something else entirely. How about: I like my right-backs gritty, and my aardvarks twice? It makes as much sense as anything else coming out of the bouncer's head." The Syd Barrett influence is clearly coming through. Mark Wilson, meanwhile, is working more in the style of his namesake Brian by writing: "Sometimes it isn't pretty, sometimes it isn't nice/It doesn't matter much, I'll be on my way in a trice." If this seems tinged with cynicism then Mark's second verse is rooted in a more optimistic pragmatism: "Sometimes the ball has to come back to earth covered in ice/But if it keeps us up, it's a very, very small price." I think you might be opening a can of worms there, fella...
Wednesday 17 March
Well, it could have been worse not the place where we were born and the football team we had to support, but last night's results in Division Two. While Town were sitting on their hands and sweating on Stacy's groin, the rest of the third tier were kicking bags of wind around fields, the result being defeats for Notts County, Peterborough, and Chesterfield and only moderately annoying draws for Brentford, Oldham and Stockport. We don't have to worry about Wycombe, do we? Although down to 19th place in the league and facing almost certain death at Swindon tonight, those plucky old Mariners remain four points above the bottom four until this weekend, at least.
Team news? You want team news? Contrary to reports emanating from certain sources yesterday, Stacy Coldicott and Iain Anderson are in with a chance of some action tonight playing football in Wiltshire, I mean, not having casual sex according to Mr Nicholas Law, who also has right-back news to share: John McDermott "is fit now but needs to get the games in" while Jason Crowe could be in contention for the visit of Hartlepool this weekend. Swindon's Sammy Igoe now looks OK to start the match, but midfield duo Steve Robinson and Stefani Miglioranzi are crocked. Yeah, like it matters. Incidentally, Law's latest efforts to put a positive spin on 'direct' football are taking on something of a lyrical quality: "Sometimes it isn't pretty, sometimes it isn't nice," he tells Town's official site today, strumming a battered old acoustic guitar... so, hey readers, email to firstname.lastname@example.org your suggested next two lines for The Ballad of Long-Ball Nicky.
The media are having one of those feeding frenzy things about Cod Almighty's rather fabulous T-shirts this week, tearing great strips of flesh from poor flailing Pete Green, who thought his work was done after he designed the things last year. No sooner was his interrogation by Radio Humberside broadcast live this morning they began with a vox-pop survey of random Lancastrians most of whom believed that Grimsby was very much in Yorkshire, and then kookily demanded to know whether a shipment of GINIY baseball caps was on its way than the Yorkshire Post rang up to bend his ear, with the result that a piece will appear in tomorrow's paper. And if all of that were not enough, PG is being whisked off to a television studio later today to record an interview for tonight's Look North programme. Diary readers are invited to tune in at 6:30 this evening and wonder just how it is that Pete gets his hair so damn straight.
And while you're at it, folks, get thinking of some questions for John Tondeur. Radio Humberside's greatest living commentator is to occupy the hotseat in the first of a new series of exclusive interviews conducted for Cod Almighty by seasoned Town-watcher Paul Thundercliffe, who is inviting CA readers to submit questions before he sits down with the great man next Wednesday. Have a ponder, then, and send your questions for the eminent Mr Tondeur to Paul at email@example.com.
Finally, to cheer you up before Town bring you back down tonight, we return to last night's football for some gratifying tidings of Blundell Park's most recent departees. Alan "I'm a first division player, get me out of here" Pouton, who has seriously struggled to establish himself in the Gillingham side since leaving the sinking ship for Priestfield in January, proved the catalyst for his new side's undoing against Norwich on Tuesday by breaking the deadlock at Carrow Road with a 63rd-minute own goal, which was followed by two further strikes within four minutes to seal a 3-0 thumping for the relegation-threatened Gills. Did you enjoy that? Well, there's more, because Michael "I'm not going to Barnsley... yes I am" Boulding will be denied the chance to register his first goal for the struggling Tykes for at least another six weeks after, er, not realising he was injured in his side's 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday and knackering himself up even more by playing on. It's not funny at all, so I don't know why I'm laughing.
Tuesday 16 March
The chances of Town taking anything from tomorrow night's trip to Swindon look roughly on a par with the probability of Nicky Law turning up with a mohican after Stacy Coldicott apparently "felt his groin" during last Saturday's fortunate draw with Bournemouth. And to think there were two free children watching with every responsible adult. Take a deep breath, Mariners kids, because Des Hamilton will probably take the place of Pacy Stace at the County Ground, and do whatever it is he's supposed to do in central midfield. Town's official site says injury victims Iain Anderson, Jason Crowe and John McDermott are all on the mend, but Wednesday just isn't the time. The home side's main concern is over influential midfielder Sammy Igoe, who somebody twatted last weekend during the Robins' 2-1 defeat at Plymouth, I hasten to add, not in a nightclub or something disreputable like that.
Which reminds me: what is all this stuff about 'binge drinking' in the media this week? Four pints constitute a 'binge', according to that simpering wuss Natasha Kaplinsky on the BBC's breakfast news thing. Pah. If the Government are so worried about how pissed we're all getting, then perhaps they ought to stop sucking up to the Man and do something about the ever-lengthening UK working week instead of banning happy hours. And you know what's happening? Respectable drinkers such as myself, who know how to drink and can hold their ale aye, drinking not for 'escape' but whose lives are even broadened and truly enhanced by the complex and manifold joys of the glass are going to get lumped in with all these lagered-up shirty rapists who roam the nights redeyed and antisocial in self-loathing swarms. Speak up now, proud swillers of your pints, lest we get like sad puritan America where a gulp instead of a sip of what passes for beer is deemed 'inappropriate' by murmuring worried-eyed peers!
If you know how to drink, then drinking can help you have great ideas, and not all of these involve karate-kicking the jukebox or weeing in the middle of a dual carriageway. One such top notion, conceived while under the influence, is that of the Cod Almighty T-shirts whose sales have secured the continued existence of this very website. After a column inch or two in the Sports Telegraph last weekend, these ace fashion items are to be the subject of a feature on Radio Humberside's breakfast show tomorrow morning, and so readers in the local area can tune to 95.9 megahertz at around ten past eight if they wish to hear the CA contributor who designed the things regale listeners with witty anecdotes or, more likely, indulge in a great deal of shameless self-promotion. Cod Almighty's push for global domination, then, continues apace.
So, yeah, not much else going on, unless you count the latest exciting instalment of the GTFC plates auction, which I don't. What better time, then, for an email to the Diary from Miles Moss, who writes: "You can tell Pauul Warhurst is a time-served footballer. Just look at the international quality of his use of the special footballers' not-quite-present tense: 'I have just stretched, trying to turn it round the post and unfortunately it has gone in the net.' Town's young tense-manglers can learn a lot from this man for future interviews." Indeed, Miles; he's signed for the Mariners, he's played his first game, he's come up to the microphone post-match, he's selected the verb form, and it's just sounded right.
Monday 15 March
The Black and Whites have ensured a Hull presence in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals after a hat-trick of tries from Colin Best undid the Castleford back li... oops. Ahem... I mean, er, Nick Daws failed to break into the Rotherham first team on his return to Millmoor late last week. The central midfielder, who celebrates his 34th birthday today, was recalled from loan a few days early, after a total of 18 not-too-bad appearances for the Mariners, ahead of his club's visit to Derby on Saturday but remained on the bench throughout. Given the way Town lined up on Saturday, it's just as well Daws did go back, otherwise he'd probably have found himself playing left-back.
Likewise Kevin Donovan, the latest chapter of whose lower-division odyssey takes him to York City to link up with former GTFC team-mate Lee Nogan, who is a player-coach or something at Bootham Crez. The 21-goal hero of Town's 199798 Division Two promotion season did not quite see his Premiership ambitions come to fruition when he left Blundell Park for Barnsley in 2001, and since being released by the Tykes earlier this season has spent much of the intervening period bugging kids down the park to let him join in their game of three-and-you're-in. But Tireless fate has smiled kindly on Kev, who has now landed on his feet with the Minstermen, although his bum, like that of Mr Daws, spent quality time at the weekend with the subs' bench. I don't know what sort of contract York have given him because their official website has done a runner without leaving a forwarding address, and probably owes a month's rent.
"Ive just come back from a month at Grimsby which finished on Saturday, and I have to say that my time there went well and it worked out for me. I got a run of games, I played in a higher division, which was a good experience, and now I've got something sorted out at Bristol Rovers, so I can get on with my career again." If you haven't already worked it out, this is Lee Thorpe, who signed a two-year deal with the Pirates last Friday, presumably seeing a brighter future at the Memorial Ground than at BP despite their third division status. With no fans, no soulless plastic new stadium, and a wicked cold wind blowing in off the North Sea, the Mariners have at least been able to attract new players in recent years by virtue of the club's reputation for good passing football, but with a notorious long ball merchant now installed as GTFC manager even this will no longer be the case. ("We knew that we would never be able to go out there and match them for their passing game," said Law after the Bournemouth game, his subtext being "So let's not ever bother trying to pass".)
Continuing our round-up of news from last week which Guest Diary might have covered on Friday and Saturday had he not had a "funny turn" (those all-day drinking binges do that to me as well), Town have of course signed Paul Warhurst on non-contract terms until the end of the season, whatever that means. Warhurst began the current season in the Premiership with Bolton but soon began a breakneck descent into the filth and degeneracy that is the Football League, turning out for Chesterfield, Barnsley and even Carlisle (bottom of the league but still attracting larger attendances than Grimsby) before holding his nose and stepping gingerly onto the Transpennine Express. Despite spells with Manchester City, Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday if 'despite' is the right word the player never appeared for England, whatever the normally reliable Grimsby Telegraph might tell you. Nevertheless, the Diary feels confident that Blundell Park is the ideal place for Warhurst to force himself into Sven-Goran Eriksson's thoughts ahead of Euro 2004.
Saturday 13 March
Despite playing strange names and strange formations Town got away with a point this afternoon. They led for an hour after Rowan capitalised on good work from Jevons and Campbell to fire in from 6 yards after 10 minutes, but Warhust diverted past the new Town keeper on 73 minutes to level the score. A card happy Mr Parkes booked half the Town team, and took agin 'young' Rowan pulling him up every time he got near the ball in the first half apparently.
This leaves Town in 18th place, four points ahead of Notts County who are 21st. With Peterborough and Oldham picking up points it is starting to look as if 20th has our name written all over it, if we are lucky.
Town started with all three new signings today, the team being: Fettis, Edwards, Warhurst, Young, Armstrong, Thorrington, Campbell, Coldicott, Barnard, Jevons, Rowan. Subs: Hockless (for an injured Thorrington 81), Mansaram (for Rowan 75), Hamilton (for Coldicott 57), Parker, Bolder.
My spies tell me that Town were completely clueless as to how to win or keep the ball in midfield making their opponents seem bigger, faster, better. Predictably, Law's tactics relied on the long ball. Less predictable was the choice of Barnard in midfield with Armstrong at left back. There is an anodyne report on the official site if you can't wait, but come back after your lunch tomorrow and read Tony Butcher's account of what must have been a strange and depressing match for the Blundell Park faithful who numbered a surprisingly high 5015. Hang on, that included 1253 juniors who got in for free.
Sorry about all that 1970's stuff yesterday, your Guest Diary had a bit of a funny turn. As Uncle Frank once said - 'got up too early - it was a terrible mistake'. I need cheering up so perhaps I should toddle off to the club shop where they now have a DVD of the Jevons quartet entitled 'Thank Jevons four little goals' at £9.99.
Friday 12 March
Regular readers will know that Mr Diary is well and truly incommunicado this weekend, separated from his trusty computer, and, no doubt, spending a LOT of time listening to his missus nattering to her sister. So while he's away your Guest Diarist can get all subversive and controversial if you like. Just for one day, as the song goes. In fact for about ten minutes actually, as I'm off to view a converted chapel in the middle of a fen after that. This house is about as far as possible from any other people that I can find while still remaining in Lincs.
To avoid bloody Arsenal the other night I watched Real Madrid instead. I actually watch quite a few of the Spanish games, which are either really ace, or gently soporific. A crap Premiership game just winds me up to the point of howling invective at the screen, but the Spanish games either quicken my pulse, or send me to the land of nod. Anyway, the Zidane and Beckham show was very, very good indeed, and so was the Real keeper, Casillas. I'm trying to think of a link between them and Town, and the only thing that springs to mind is that both clubs seem contemptuous of the need for decent centre-halves. As for Barnard v Roberto Carlos... no difference really if you squint your eyes up, is there? Well, they both always hit the wall, anyway.
In a week where Town player Paul Groves has shown that he can still make and take goals aplenty (albeit for Scunny), Town have decided to add another bunch of misfits to the squad in their continuing effort to break the record for the most players to feature in any one season. In the 30s already folks, and counting. Flippin' bewildering to us older ones with failing eyesight and who are too mean to buy a programme. Come on in numbers 5 and 10, your time is up. Some squad numbers just get ingrained though, don't they? For all the wrong reasons...
Speaking of flashes in the pan, a Cod Almighty reader wrote to me last week to tell me that he used to work with one of my all-time favourite Town players: Gordon Walker. Mark Fenton tells me that after leaving Town, Gordon returned to Northern Premier League football and scored shedloads of goals for Stocksbridge Park Steels. Mark tells me that he and Gordon worked as posties together for about seven years, during which Gordon gained weight at an impressive rate. Gordon arrived on the Town scene, you may recall, in the '68-69 season, as a non-league signing to replace Town star Doug Collins, who was sold for (deep breath) £27,000. Gordon was a very big lad (think like Tony Crane size and shape) who somehow managed about four goals in his first five games. Then (and I can't be arsed to check my facts here), he 'never scored again', becoming an ironic hero for those of us standing in the open corner 'twixt the Pontoon and Barrett stands. Happy days.
Continuing to wallow in muddy nostalgia, if any 'cats' out there went to the Bardney Festival, let me know. I took my first illegal substances at Bardney in 1972, but more on that story later. It rained solidly for four days and nights, but we still managed to burn our tent down on the third day. The perfect way to revise for O-levels, I found. Also, if there are any Stray fans out there, let me know as I'm trying to write an article about the Winter Gardens gigs. In the days when you could see Genesis or Roxy Music for fifty pence at the Gardens, it actually cost sixty pence to see local heroes, Stray (think 'Suicide' and 'It's all in yer mind'). Grimsby fans have always liked what they know, and known what they liked.
As you may have noticed I'm steering pretty clear of mentioning tomorrow's match. As NickO used to say in his email subject lines: non-footy related. I'm sure you understand my mental trauma. Simon Wilson is penning a preview, so read that if you need a news fix. I'll be back after the game to console you, or to shout from the bloody rooftops if our points tally has grown. Fingers crossed, chaps.
P.S. Fuck it, I do know only Keith Richard and, possibly, David Bowie can get away with calling people 'cats'...
Thursday 11 March
When a player profile begins "John Thorrington is undoubtedly a talented player," most seasoned readers will sense the presence of a mightily significant 'but' somewhere on the horizon, if not within the space of a paragraph or two. The one I've been reading doesn't go on to detail any unshakeable drug habits or interesting sexual predilections on Thorrington's part, nor even that he might put the milk in the cup before the tea, but it doesn't take the Diary much more paddling of the internet to discover that Town's undoubtedly talented new signing brings a history of disappointment and injury problems with him to Blundell Park. But he can run fast, he's 24, and he plays central midfield or wide on the right, and, ooh, what's this? A Johannesburg-born American national, Thorrington emerged from the Manchester United academy to spend a season with Bayer Leverkusen, where he played a key role in the Champions League-winning campaign of... sorry, I mean where he was released and then failed to live up to expectations at third division Huddersfield.
All sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? Terriers manager Peter Jackson had already said he wouldn't be offering Thorrington new terms when his current deal expires this summer, so Nicky Law has given him a two-month permanent contract heh! to keep those last loan slots free. Expect two or three good crosses followed by a one-year deal and then... see: Cooke, Terry. The Diary is happy to greet today's other new signing, Alan Fettis, with less scepticism, probably because we didn't have a lot of choice. The third best goalkeeper in Hull has, as anticipated yesterday, signed for GTFC on a month's loan after turning down a similar move to third division pacesetters Donny Rovers, and isn't it exciting to have another international on the books, eh. Fettis's north bank teammate John Anderson is staying put, though, to fight for his place at that poxy old shoebox of a 25,000-capacity England u21 international-hosting so-called stadium, which is a shame, because he sounded all right. Law is still looking around though, according to Town's official site.
Dyspraxic defender Tony Crane has been at it again, this time taking his unique style of play into the Pontins Holidays League Cup and earning his third red card of the season while playing for the reserves last night just to remind us how much we could have done with signing Anderson. The second string were dumped out of their knockout competition at Wrexham, where the home side progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of an extra-time penalty, but Town's stiffs can take enormous pride in having taken the match as far as they did, given that they only fielded one player. Crane's latest contribution to the cause may see his already hefty first-team suspension extended still further, but as far as the Diary is concerned the first team is a bloody sight better off without him right now.
And there, amid much upheaval, I leave you for the week. Tomorrow you will be in the safe and loving hands of Guest Diary, and seeing as Mrs Diary and I are staying at her sister's this weekend, far far away from Blundell Park and even a computer, he or somebody else might end up doing the post-Bournemouth thing here on Saturday night. T'ra!
Wednesday 10 March
"Nicky Law is hoping to add a goalkeeper to his squad tomorrow, but the chances of signing an unnamed outfield player is a little more complicated," announces Town's official website, with a grasp of English that would make the BBC Humber site blush and speaking of which, Wednesday finds the estuary quite a-buzz with transfer talk...
So, having correctly identified the lack of experience in central defence as Town's achilles heel well, as one of Town's achilles heels Nicky Law is set to make a move for John Anderson of Kingston Communications RUFC. The 31-year-old Scotsman, who joined Hull in 2002 after enjoying promotion campaigns north of the border with Greenock and Livingston, was voted last season's player of the year by the long-vowelled north bank types but stop me if you think you've heard this one before has struggled to make an impact this term as a sequence of injuries have kept him out of the picture. Law has told the Hull Daily Mail: "John Anderson has come into the equation given the situation we are in on short-term deals." Might be nice if you can keep us informed this side as well, Nick, lad.
So is he any good, this Anderson? Our chums at Amber Nectar reckon: "Powerful and imposing, yet possessing pace and no little ability on the ball. Strong in the tackle, awesome in the air and with impeccable positional sense, he has the potential to become the perfect lower league defender." Makes you wonder why they're prepared to let him go, really, although the Diary is sure that nice Mr Taylor knows what he's doing. Sorry did somebody mention Leicester?
Also likely to be stumping up the bridge toll in the not-too-distant is the Tahgers' highly respected and much-travelled Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Alan Fettis, who a little peculiarly, some might say has found himself unceremoniously shunted down to third choice in the goalkeeping scheme of things ovver the Umber and spent much of his recent life on loan at Sheffield United, where he has even played two or three games of football. After GTFC announced late yesterday that the not-too-bad Andy Pettinger has broken a different finger to the one he broke last time, the search for a new stickmeister at BP has returned to the top of Law's 'to do' list, and Fettis could hit Blundell Park today should the Mariners overcome competition from Colchester, Doncaster and Macclesfield. Fettis has also occasionally played as an emergency striker during his time on this Earth, scoring twice for Hull in the 1994-95 season a nugget of trivia that may acquire added significance given that Lee Thorpe is now talking to another club.
Oh, and Town have chosen this opportune moment to release nominally third-choice keeper Bradley Hughes, which is bound to be construed in some quarters as further proof that the board must be tarred, feathered and left to rot in a skip on be able to find you a quote from Brian Laws about him because my computer is acting very weird when I try and open a web browser, and the buttons from Netscape are appearing over the top of the buttons from Word, and the buttons on Soulseek have lost their little icons, and I'm getting a bit scared. So that's it today. Soz. I'd better get all of the above uploaded before the Blue Screen of Death arrives. See ya.
Saturday 6 March
In an ominous but entirely predictable start for Nicky Law's career as GTFC manager, the Mariners plunge to a routine 3-0 humping at Wrexham, with all the goals coming in a three-minute first-half spell and all from Town's left. The beaten side remain in 17th place in Division Two, however, and the margin of safety is still five points despite wins for Peterborough and Stockport. If we want to try and take unexpected positives from the match, I don't think Tony Crane got booked, which is nice, and Law hasn't tried to convert him to a striker yet either, which is even nicer.
Friday 5 March
"He's unlucky, I made certain changes for certain games and Mike missed a game through suspension. And the way the back four had been playing looked quite solid, quite workmanlike." There's something wrong abouthat last sentence (from the newly re-appoininted Town assistant manager), says the entire, several-hundred-strong contingent who witnessed the awful defensive debacle in Nottingham the other night. But at least we know the lad Edwards is alive and well, after an ominously long absence from public view or mention, as Rodger continues: "But Mike's been a bit unfortunate, he's kept himself right, and he's available." Pick him then, for heaven's sake,or tell your new boss to pick him.
Your Guest Diarist has spent the morning shuffling around the kitchen listening to Sweet's greatest hits, and rueing the fact he never went to see 'em live. The other thought that crossed my mind was that the recent freak Town 6-1 victory had resulted in both managers being removed from their positions almost immediately thereafter. Unusual, to say the least, but rationalized, I gather, on Radio Humberside last night when the chairman said that Rodger had helped to find his successor and new boss. We will watch their relationship develop with interest, no doubt. Mr Law (I don't know him well enough to address him more intimately yet) also intimated, on the phone-in, that funds were in place in case he needed to strengthen the squad. Peter Furneaux pointedly added that Town still have two loan slots available. When Furneaux wasn't listening%ped up with a fat sponsorship cheque for Divisions One, Two and Three. The package is said to exceed the league's existing deal with the Nationwide Building Society, which will mean about an extra 32p a year for GTFC; but, y'know, the Coca-Cola League just sounds stupid, doesn't it?