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Diary - September 2004
Thursday 30 September
If he wants a new contract then Colin Crambo will have to deliver a few more high-explosive goals to blow away the communist defenders and rescue Grimsby's imprisoned GIs from fourth division Vietnam. That's what Russell Slade would be saying had he a worrying penchant for basing analogies on bad 80s films starring Sylvester Stallone, as the GTFC boss has "denied reports" that he is already discussing a longer-term deal with the former Hamilton Academicals, Southampton, Falkirk, Hearts, Doncaster, Bristol City, Walsall, Crewe, Notts County, Bury, Fortuna Sittard and Shrewsbury Town striker. The Diary doesn't recall seeing any such reports, so I'm not entirely convinced that Noddy really needed to deny them, being the 100 per cent average Town fan Joe that I am; but perhaps this is further evidence for the emergence of a new, v2.0, no-more-Mr-Nice-Groves form of Mr Russell, and if he starts sounding off about Cramb having a little mind or a tiny anything else then we shall know for certain.
One manager who is hoping to extend the terms of a recently-arrived striker is Halifax's Chris Wilder, who is dead chuffed with the way our Flash has been performing on loan at the Shay. Darren 'Not Half As Bad As Some People Make Out, Actually' Mansaram has scored two and made a few in his three and a bit weeks in West Yorkshire, and it is Wilder's fond wish that Mr Russell can be persuaded to allow the strapping young frontman to stick around a while longer. "I think I started off well and the games have certainly helped me get fitter and stronger," Dazman tells the Halifax Courier. "I cannot remember the last time I started three games in a row." Well, Daz, it was against Darlington, Boston and Bury last month; so if the FA announces tomorrow that a Halifax Town player has tested positive for cannabis then we'll just nod to ourselves.
Grrr! I'm working-class! That means I have to find somebody else working-class and have a fight! If I don't then I must be GAY! Or FRENCH! But if I'm not careful I'll get meself arrested, because Humberside Police have done a big dawn crackdown raid swoop operation and nicked a load of people for slapping each other in Scunthorpe, and some of them are from Grimsby. It was the lead item on the website of the Grimsby Telegraphic Corporation about half an hour ago, honest. I'm not interested enough to find it now though, so you'll just have to take my word. I'm getting a bit peckish as well. A nice big cheese and coleslaw bap should do the trick.
On which anticlimactic nutritional note I shall bid you farewell for the week and leave you with this link to an entertaining alternative version of the Diary. Cheerio!
Wednesday 29 September
I don't know, because I wasn't there, and I don't know anyone who was, but the Diary's ears are hearing between the lines and it sounds like Hockless was rubbish. "One or two [players] have knocked on my door and wondered why they've not been in the first team," says an angry Russell Slade if you can imagine such a thing about last night's easily anticipated Football League Trophy defeat at Carlisle. "Well, they've answered their own questions tonight. So anything going round in their little minds, perhaps they have answered for themselves." Ooooh, get her! But of course, with no Town fans actually having seen the game, gorgeous Graham (22) will continue to have them all turning weak at the knees every time he does those stretching exercises on the touchline.
Towering five-foot-ten target man Colin Cramb is chuffed to have scored on his Mariners debut, though, and reckons he wants to stay at Blundell Park despite interest from other clubs. The gigantic striker put Town level last night before the Cumbrians' second-half winner, finishing well from a Clint Marcelle pass, and has opened his heart to the Grimsby Telegraph, speaking passionately of his burning desire to commit his footballing career to GTFC and plunder the goals that fire the club right back up the League. "I want to stay here," says Cramb.
Tuesday 28 September
"It's not that I like him better than you, the Diary I'm just giving him a chance to prove himself." It was certainly an original way to dump me; I had to credit her with that and 18 years down the line Russell Slade has taken a leaf out of Michelle's book and brought in a load of reserves for tonight's Auto Windvans LCD Screen Vase Challenge game at Carlisle. Reserves who are probably right thickies and think it's cool to smoke and won't treat him as nice as I would have. As the first team would have, I mean. Hence a first start of the season for Graham Hockless, whose two or three cracking goals last season have installed him as the successor to Terry Cooke and Phil Jevons as glorious saviour to the muddle-headed, and returns to the side for Ronnie Bull and entirely pointless loan acquisition Paul Robinson. Colin Cramb is also set to make his debut after completing a short-term move from Shrewsbury after all, and Rob Jones makes his first-team comeback after recovering from, I dunno, whatever it was, knee stuff.
Does this mean the Mariners' opportunity to regain the trophy they won one mild April afternoon in 1998 is to be passed up without so much as a whimper? Carlisle, after all, are in formidable form in the Conference right now, having just lamped Aldershot Darren Barnard and all by five goals to none. Not necessarily, as Thomas Pinault returns this evening, and would you believe the cheek of it the Cumbrians' manager Paul Simpson is himself intending to rest a few players. If the Diary were a betting man, I'd still fancy a punt on the non-League outfit to topple Town's applecart this evening, but gambling is the vilest of sins, the Devil's own pastime, a sure path to ruin, destitution and eternal damnation, and I've forgotten my password for Bet365.com.
Apologies, anyway, for my absence from this page since last Thursday, but the Diary's trusty spade of research never ceases its loving toil of delving through the fertile soil of football, and I have discovered that, in his reincarnation at Dundee, Iain Anderson one of the biggest disappointments of Town's 200304 season, which is sure to be remembered forever by supporters as the Season of Many Big Disappointments is slowly starting to give a toss about anything again ("Last season Grimsby lived up to its name," announces the Sunday Herald's Natasha Woods, cryptically). Meanwhile Olafur Gottskalksson, the not-retired-after-all Icelandic keeper Town were trialing a few months ago, is signing for third-flight Torquay, and Russell Slade's other current entirely pointless loan signing, Chris Williams, is likely to go back to Stockport early, as in this week, presumably after Slade realised that his current signing on loan was entirely pointless.
Today's last word goes to Paul Thundercliffe, who has emailed the Diary with a singularly pithy observation. "Just a thought," writes Paul, "but how does Bernard Morley get to the home games?" Yeth, very pithy. Thankth.
Monday 27 September
The Diary hasn't shown up for work. We've emailed him, thought about him, asked each other where he is. Heck, we've even been on the verge of ringing him. And he's picked the right day for a no-show - there's bugger all Town news. We told you about Colin Cramb on Saturday (see entry below). The latest is Russ fancies a chat with him.
Otherwise, it's a Trevor McDonald-style "and finally..." affair. Swedish fan Peter Wallιn - who some of you might remember flew over last season to clear the Blundell Park pitch so the beating at the hands of Bristol City would be postponed (sort of) - reveals he's over in Blighty this week for Town's game against Cheltenham. "Hopefully it will be no snow this time." One hopes that isn't a pun on the fact Town aren't going to even bother in Friday's game.
By the way, if you're ever in Headingley, don't go to a bar called The Box. It is bloody rubbish.
Saturday 25 September
A dire game at Cambridge was lifted slightly after the break as Town notched up their first away win since the invention of the printing press. The points are sealed thanks to Michael Reddy releasing John McDermott for his first goal since a 25-yard rasper in a similarly mind-numbing affair at Valley Parade at the beginning of 1999 (not during the Jurassic period as some sources have it). Seven minutes earlier work by Jason Crowe allowed Andy Parkinson to break the deadlock, scoring his first league goal for the Mariners. Town now lie twelfth in the table, three points off the play-off places, a position that hopefully slaps the cheeks of those doom-mongers calling for Slade's head a mere two games ago.
Elsewhere, Scunny are deposed from the top of the division as they draw at Mansfield, while Phil Jevons's replacement seals three points for Yeovil who leapfrog Brian Laws's men.
And finally, one little snippet reports Colin Cramb is supposedly arriving in Cleethorpes on Monday. Right, time to see if supping brandy will alleviate me of this cold.
Friday 24 September
Unspecial Guest Diary filling in today: Special Guest Diary wanted a break, Guest Diary is still under the duress of employment, while the Diary is spending his day off establishing which financial institution he will stash a minor fortune with.
I disappear off to the pub for a day to mull over and wash away one of life's sudden and unexpected disappointments, and return to the din of the office striplights expecting all manner of uplifting Town news. Sadly, the only 'news' is there's only a surprising report on the BBC Humber site - surprising in that it is actually reasonably topical - with John Fenty responding to allegations that the Mariners are facing a large tax bill, by stating what Mariners fans have known for the past four years: the club has financial difficulties. Cheeringly though he reassures Mariners everywhere there's nothing to worry about. A misread of the official site had today's diary writer thinking Johnny F had responded to all this malarkey in suitably admirable fashion: "Chairman moves quickly to scotch." I suppose he lavished the board room's drinks cabinet himself, so we won't check if he paid his tab or not. Might have helped in the first place if I'd read the word 'rumours' that was tagged onto the end of that sentence though.
With the sum of half a million nicker allegedly being written on the bottom line of the Inland Revenue bill, Cod Almighty says: That's nothing - you should see how much we owe the milkman. Matters haven't gone as far as GTFC asking fans to bring packed lunches to matches so the club can save on catering costs, so it can't be bad.
It all pales when compared to news in the real world.
Thursday 23 September
Much as the Diary hates to be predictable, there is, sure enough, no mention of Sergio Ommel in the reserves line-up given by Town's official website for yesterday's match against Hartlepool. When the news broke on Monday of the player's arrival on trial, the OS announced that he'd definitely take part; by yesterday, of course, the Dutch frontman was only "likely" to participate; and now it looks for all the world as if the player has joined the long list of trial strikers to turn up at BP and then turn back without playing for the reserves. Well, that must be all there is to it. Conspiracy theorists may cite the fact that the club's account of the match, which Town won 3-2, fails to name all three goalscorers, instead reporting only that "Nick Heggarty and Clint Marcel [sic] were amongst the Mariners' scorers"; surely, though, there's no way on Earth that the club would have failed to secure international clearance for Ommel to appear but just stuck him in the side anyway and put somebody else's name on the teamsheet.
Less intriguing, but more immediately gratifying, is the news that 12-foot-tall central defender Rob Jones, who sustained knee thing in the Mariners' 1-1 draw with Boston back in the first week of the season, came through the full 90 in the seconds' runout and could soon be tapping Greg Young on the shoulder and saying, excuse me, I think that's my peg. That said, it would seem harsh to remove Young after his outstanding performance in Tuesday night's League Cup game against Charlton; either way, notes the Diary, it all distances further the prospect of poor Glen Downey ever getting to play for his new club.
Sean Fieldsend returns, in his email to the Diary today, to the vexed subject of All These Trialists. "Now that John tambouthingyblokey has been deemed not good enough for Grimsby Reserves," he writes, "if he doesn't feel like committing suicide on hearing this devastating news, maybe he could save on his plane ticket and share the Australian cricket team's plane home?" Now, now, Sean; let's be as gracious in victory as the Aussies would have been. Oh, you are being. "Secondly I was just wondering about all these trialists. I think Slade has a plan that at the end of the season he's gonna give all the trialists a game together. Grimsby Town v Grimsby Town trialist XI is definitely gonna draw a big crowd we'll probably lose 2-0, forcing Russell to get some more trialists in to not play in the reserves in the hope of making the team better."
Today also brings the unexpected pleasure of an email from your former regular Guest Diary, whose practice it was to write this column in my stead on Fridays, until recently, when he very sadly got a job, and now no bugger else wants to do it. And GD is positively gushing about Radio Humberside's post-match coverage on Tuesday night. "It had everything an old man chuntering about how rubbish Reddy was; a precocious boy confirming Ivan the Main Stand dentist's opinion that it was deffo a penalty; George Kerr reminiscing about the days when he was important, and telling a rambling, and curiously irrelevant, tale about referees at Wolves; the referee explaining that it wasn't a penalty, but there 'was no simulation' or 'whatever you want to call it' he just went to ground too easily; and Mr Burns sounding like the Town fan he may secretly be. Even the phone-in number was just given as 01472 so this was a Town programme through and through. Hats off to John and David for once." But until that kid and the mardy old sod rang up they'd only had one caller all night, Guest! They were just about to wrap up the programme in despair!
And on that note, I'm going to buy a house. See you when I see you.
Wednesday 22 September
Five thousand, seven hundred and thirty-five my arse! Still, we need the money more than Charlton do, eh.
There's an ancient proverb in the Diary's neck of the woods, which says: "You don't travel all the way to Amsterdam and not get stoned out of your mind on powerful Morrocan hemp". This does not signify, of course, that our neighbourhood is not a place of the utmost sobriety and respect for the laws of the land; it simply means there's no point making a long journey and then not doing whatever it is you are meant to do when you reach your destination. Recent overseas trialists at Grimsby Town Football Club do not seem to share this philosophy, however, as many of them have travelled from distant continents to Blundell Park and then not got to play in reserve games. Yesterday it seemed that Dutch striker Sergio Ommel was set to defy this dismal trend, as the club's official site boldly announced that he "will play for Grimsby Town Reserves against Hartlepool tomorrow", but now that the day of the match is here the OS has downgraded the prospect of his participation, mumbling only that Ommel "is likely to play". Tune in at the same time tomorrow for episode 3, 'Sergio Who?'
It really was not "a shockingly cold night by the North Sea", now, was it?
As if moving it to a Friday night for no bastard reason whatsoever wasn't annoying enough, Town's next home game has been designated another 'two kids get in free' match, probably because absolutely no bugger is going to be prepared to make the journey up from Cheltenham on an evening, and most people have better things to do on a Friday night, even in Grimsby, and they want to artificially boost the attendance figure in order to compensate. And while I'm in the mood, let's all laugh at how the Grimsby Telegraph website presents the news. The two free kids offer lifted the gate at last weekend's game against Leyton Orient above the 5,000 mark an impressive turn-out given the big cup game just four days later and the away support being estimated at around twelve and club officials will be hoping that a similar response on Friday week will cover up their exasperating, straw-brained ineptitude.
Most clergy families seem to be rife with one form of personality disorder or another, and when he's not shouting abuse at the Diary in the Pontoon, there's nothing Michael Shelton seems to like more than sending me pleasant emails. Pleasant, that is, if we omit the Terrell Forbes joke; so let's stick with the Australian trialist joke. "All these years of being a Town supporter are having a more profound
psychological effect on me than I had realised," writes Michael. "Reading about the impending signing of Shane Centrebackwhonever getsinjuredorcuptied my initial reaction was: 'Oh well, the bastard will just get suspended.'"
Tuesday 21 September
Today's Diary is dedicated to Brian Clough. Apart from all that stuff he won, there's not many football people you think you'd actually like or find interesting, but he was one. Football is more boring without him.
Town are gonna get whupped tonight, right? Not if you ask Charlton. The Addicks' poor away form so far this season, coupled with the club's lamentable League Cup record down the years (unlike GTFC, they've never been past the fourth round), makes the vibes coming out of the Valley more shaky than an anxious Parkinson's sufferer off-roading on a unicycle. Mr Alan Curbishley, therefore, is promising: "I won't change the side [from Saturday's 1-1 draw with Birmingham] unless I have to. We must go there and put a performance in." Such is the respect the ever-delightful Athletic are lavishing towards Blundell Park, in fact, that yer man Curbs has sent spies to the Mariners' last four games. "I've got four reports on my desk," tonight's visiting manager cried out, only his waving hands visible from behind his heaving in-tray, "so I know who we're playing against but I don't know how they're going to play because they've played three different shapes in their past three games, with different players as well." And there the Diary was thinking Mr Russell Slade didn't know what he was doing!
Remember Glen Downey? If the nickname 'The Cat' hadn't already been taken then he'd be down the patent office registering it as a trademark, as he's certainly landed on his feet this week. The defender who couldn't get a game at non-League Scarborough could be celebrating yesterday's 26th birthday by facing Premiership opposition in his first senior full-time match tonight just a few miles south down the coast. No, not for Hull a few miles further. Downey has recovered from the ankle crank that has delayed his Mariners debut thus far and, with Terrell Forbes cup-tied, could be battling it out with Greg Young this evening for the privilege of kicking Francis Jeffers. In other team news from Town's official site, there, er, isn't any about Justin Whittle, who was believed to have picked up some sort of hurty thing in last Saturday's win over Leyton Orient, so we can only assume he'll be OK. Tom le Pin's groin still hurts, though, and if he doesn't make it then Town can forget any chance of giving Kiely something he can't get out of his head.
With John Tambourine presumably transported back to the antipodes, Noddy cackling scornfully about Radio Humberside's "Town to sign David Reeves" exclusive yesterday, and Tommy Target having retired when the Grimsby Target ceased publication some years ago, Grimsby's search for a target man goes on. The latest to audition is Netherlands-born striker Sergio Ommel, giving the club's official website the irresistible opportunity to dust off those Flying Dutchman headlines one more time. Mindful of the Mariners' recent tendency to ship trialists in from all corners of the globe and then not bother fielding them for the second string, the OS insists: "Ommel will play for Grimsby Town Reserves against Hartlepool tomorrow." Like, whatever! Ommel scored 10 times for Bristol Rovers during a five-month spell in the 2001-02 season and, well, that's about the sum of the world's knowledge, but the Diary hopes his arrival will lay to rest the peculiar idea that an Australian would have had anything to offer English sport. What's that you say? 200 runs on the board with ten overs to go? Ah.
Tony Butcher is clearly a man who cares passionately about the context in which his writing appears. This is why he has emailed the Diary to demand the removal of "I mean I do like doing the washing up, but it's never given me wood" from the selection of random taglines that appear atop the pages of Cod Almighty. "This tagline is shit," writes Tony, with a bluntness seldom even hinted at in his match reports. "Get rid of it." I agree, Mr Butcher, and get rid of it I will, but only at the end of the week, when Diary readers have had a chance to suggest a replacement. email@example.com is the email address, so let's see those fingers tapping.
Monday 20 September
Dean Gordon, who earned Tony Butcher's man-of-the-match award for his stout performance in Town's 2-0 win over Leyton Orient on Saturday, has denied reports that the club has offered him a longer contract. The former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender has been consistently bloody excellent since joining the Mariners on a short-term deal one week into the season, but has told Radio Humberside that no extended terms have been placed anywhere near his table: "I came here on a week-to-week contract. Since I've been here I've quite enjoyed the time," enthuses the player. "I read in the press two or three weeks ago that they were gonna offer me a longer deal but nothing's happened so far." Gordon goes on to explain that he has a son in Middlesbrough, but the interview fails to clarify whether this means he's happier to be playing for Town than he was for Coventry, or whether he's angling for Darlo to come in and steal him back to the north-east proper. Either way, the Diary urges Mr Fenty to run out a new contract for Deano on the fastest laser printer he can lay his five-star mitts on.
Gordon's interview is one of two GTFC exclusives aired by Radio Humberside this morning (neither of which, alas, have thus far made it on to the BBC Humber Sport website), the other being that Russell Slade's long-awaited target man could turn out to be the 93-year-old former Chesterfield, Oldham, Preston, Carlisle, Notts County, Bolton, Burnley, Scunthorpe, Heswell and Sheffield Wednesday player David Reeves. Hull FM reports that Noddy originally made a move for the player in the summer only to see him join Northern Ireland club Ards, but they're paying him more than a club can afford in a place where all but three of the population support Celtic and Rangers, and the 112-year-old striker could now be headed for BP. For what it's worth, the story has made it to the have-their-cake-and-eat-it 'rumours' section of Town's official website. "If he doesn't score we can always take him to Antiques Roadshow!" Slade might say, if anyone asks him.
A little look back at the weekend reveals a second goal for Darren Mansaram in the third game of his loan to Halifax; the only one of the match, in fact, as the Shaymen took all three points from their odyssey south to Canvey Island. Phil Jevons, who Town fans voted player of the year last season for the half-dozen or so games in which he summoned up the effort to exceed walking pace, became the fourth division's leading scorer thanks to his hat-trick in Yeovil's 6-1 trouncing of Oxford. Let's see how arsed he can be if the Glovers start losing... and the Diary takes its electronic hat off to Bristol Rovers boss Ian Atkins for having the astonishing cheek to accuse Lincoln of being a long-ball side: very much a case, you will agree, of the dour, ugly Brummie bastard kettle calling the pot black.
After last week's discussion of crazy Australian names (and don't we all just know there's absolutely no way on Earth that John Tambourine will ever be awarded a contract at BP, so why don't they just give up now), Mark Wilson has emailed the Diary to suggest that the club look for another Danny Invincible. "Is there any chance that Town will take an Australian triallist on who's called Bruce Fortygoalsaseason?" he asks. "Yeah, I thought not." Although with Tony Crane, Rob Jones, Simon Ramsden, Glen Downey, Terrell Forbes and possibly Justin Whittle unavailable for tomorrow night's big League Cup game against Charlton, the Mariners' antipodean scouting network might be better advised to check out Shane Centrebackwhonevergetsinjuredorcuptied.
Finally today, there may be a few GTFC messageboards out there, but not all of them let you swear, discuss the Ramones or lavish extensive praise upon the Diary, and so it is with some excitement that I recommend to you A Grim Outlook, an enjoyable new board set up to allow Town fans to talk about all things Town-related and all things not. It doesn't even ask for your inside leg measurement when you register, and you can't really wish for much more than that.
Friday 17 September
Who said we were looking at a repeat of last season, eh? Pah. I've never heard such rubbish. Anyway, what's in the Grimsby Telegraph today? Reddy: We have to start performing. Hmm... sounds kind of familiar, that. What else? Three wins and we'll be flying says Crowe. Ah... right...
Thursday 16 September
Centuries from now, when the Diary is nothing more than cosmic dust, our children's children's children will arrive at the Rutland Arms on matchdays via their matter transporters and speak in hushed and reverential tones of the great Nick Heggarty and Clint Marcelle, who have written themselves into Mariners folklore by scoring in the reserves' unforgettable 2-1 triumph over Huddersfield yesterday afternoon. Graham Hockless played but didn't score, just this once, and there was somebody called Rock on the bench. This is where I refrain from contriving a lame-ass pun about the defence needing some solidity or something.
This, on the other hand, is where I can't resist a slick daytime TV-style link to the next item in today's Diary, which is that Terrell Forbes will be hoping to provide some of that solidity in Town's defence this Saturday. O yes. For the Mariners' new signing is expected to be plunged straight into a scalding bath of acid when Leyton Orient visit Blundell Park at the weekend. Hang on, that can't be right. Plunged straight into first-team action. That's better. Although with 36 of Town's first-choice central defenders injured and loaned-out-to-Conference-North-Barrow Kirk Wheeler obviously not being considered good enough, we were all kind of expecting it anyway.
Ask any professional opinion pollster about web polls and they will tell you that they are notoriously unrepresentative of public opinion. Not that this has deterred the website of the clearly pro-hunting Grimsby Telegraph from leading for most of this morning with an utterly worthless story about its own web poll finding "only a slim majority in favour of the proposed ban". And what's the top story now? "Members of the Brocklesby hunt today showed the ultimate act of defiance by riding out with the hounds for a chase." And this from the newspaper that is usually so horrified about crime. Still, I'm sure the Brocklesby hunt is the top subject of debate on Weelsby Street this morning.
Whoops, sorry getting off the topic of football there. Better return to the beautiful game pronto, or you'll never visit Cod Almighty again! Peter Hopgood has emailed the Diary on the subject of Town's Australian trialist John Tambourine. "Is this a wind-up?" he writes. "Who's next? Tommy Trumpet?" Well, Peter, it sort of is a wind-up, really, albeit not a particularly witty or sophisticated one, since the guy is actually called Tambouras; although from the nation that produced Danny Invincible nothing would be altogether surprising.
Finally today, our old friend Dick of Legbourne has forwarded an email from a Charlton-supporting mate in London which bemoans the fact that the Addicks "have only been allocated 2,200 seats" (my italics again!) for next week's League Cup visit to... er... ooh, Grimsby! "Looks like the red and white army might be bringing a few," explains Dick. "I have also ordered TWO Super Clive T-shirts and will be forwarding one of them to the Valley via my friend who has been commanded to model it with pride; he may even wear it when they come to BP so don't be surprised if you see the odd fleck of yellow in the Osmond stand that night. You may even get a few orders from darn sarf too?!" They're pouring in, apparently, mate, and the Diary has even heard a whisper that Sir Clive Himself may be wrapping his legendary torso in one. Smoky Beckham would charge a fortune for product endorsement like that...
Wednesday 15 September
Terrell Forbes has signed for the Mariners on a weekly contract, and the Diary is determined to resist any temptation to call him "controversial" until such time as the former Queen's Park Rangers defender publishes an article in the Observer implicating Tony Blair's children in the death of Diana Princess of Wales. In announcing the news today, Town's official website is too mealy-mouthed to refer directly to the player's forthcoming trial for allegations of rape yet still contrives to deliver a patronising 'innocent until proven guilty' sermon: "We look forward to him receiving the support the club needs to progress," it announces menacingly. Spelling his name correctly would be a good start, guys.
Twenty-six-year-old striker Paul Harries has done what you thought no man would ever do by becoming the second Australian on trial at Blundell Park. Lately of Carlisle, Macclesfield and the very sensibly named antipodean side Football Kingz, the player joins his fellow barbie enthusiast John Tambourine in Cleethorpes, and both players follow what is now standard GTFC practice for foreign trialists by coming all this way and then not playing when there's a reserve game. For Town's second string face Huddersfield's at BP this afternoon, and neither of the club's Fosters-quaffing trialists make the 16 names on the teamsheet; although Andy Mumford, the former Swansea defender who joined the Mariners on trial way back in July, does, probably just because Russell and Graham have forgotten who he is and are too embarrassed to ask after all this time.
As you have probably calculated already, Town have plunged 68 places down the league since that peculiar day just a shade over three years ago when they ascended to the top of what was then Division One. Between then and now, just about the only young reserve player who has not been flung into the first team by some desperate manager or other is Kirk Wheeler, who has now joined Conference North side Barrow on loan. The barrel-chested central defender signed yesterday, 15 minutes before the deadline for him to play in last night's 1-1 draw against Ashton United, though the Diary's fleet of highly trained surveillance cormorants are unable to report on Wheeler's performance after encountering severe congestion on the M6.
OK finally, anyone at all who has emailed CA about wanting to pay for a T-shirt by cheque or wanting one shipped abroad, and who hasn't received a reply, could you please send another email to the Diary at the address on the left there (scroll back up). The Cod Almighty fashionwear department has had some recent trouble with incoming email, apparently. Probably encountered severe congestion on the M6 or something.
Tuesday 14 September
QPR defender Terrell Forbes, who looks like he might be any good but faces a rape trial in November, is on his way to Blundell Park after his bail conditions were altered, allowing him to lodge at a Cleethorpes guesthouse. The player was released by the bluely hooped ones at the weekend after three years at Loftus Road and 130 appearances, and is reported to be headed for a deal with the Mariners following the decision of Old Bailey judge Brian Barker to change the terms of his bail, and just as the Diary is about to go to press the text messages coming out of the club are confirming it. Along with six other men, Forbes is charged with the rape in May of a 15-year-old girl.
Planet-straddling titan of Mariners history St Clive Mendonca is, as anticipated, set to attend Town's forthcoming League Cup tie with Charlton as a guest of the club. Whether the enigmatic Brazilian Cockney-Geordie will be available to be the best man at your wedding or heal your child's chickenpox with the touch of his strong yet gentle hand is unknown, but the Diary won't hear a word against GTFC's infallible official website now that they've plugged our Super Clive T-shirts.
Which reminds me: if Dave Coleman is reading, could you please email firstname.lastname@example.org, as the email address you gave (in your feedback form entry about wanting to pay for a T-shirt by cheque) doesn't work. The Diary will then pass on your proper, real, working email address to the Cod Almighty fashionwear department, who will get back to you about paying by cheque. Thank you. That was a public information film.
Monday 13 September
Following the events of the weekend, we are one step closer to the still distant yet strangely appealing possibility of Darren Mansaram making the journey from official scapegoat (see also: Coldicott, S) to official stick with which to beat board/manager because he's not in the team (see also: Cooke, T; Jevons, P; Hockless, G). What your Diary means, of course, is that Russell Slade's decision to bring in two loan forwards with even less experience than Mansaram while shipping the much-improved Flash out on loan to Halifax looks, at least in the short term, even more bizarre after Saturday, when Chris Williams and Paul Robinson seemingly did little towards averting Town's sad defeat at Macclesfield while Dazman had a blinder in the Shaymen's 4-0 win over Forest Green, scoring the first and setting up the fourth.
GTFC director Michael Rouse has resigned from the board. The only information the Diary has ever received about Rouse from my flock of specially trained surveillance cormorants is that he has a penchant for unpleasant cream-coloured suits, and so we need concern ourselves with him no longer. Town reserves were supposed to be playing Huddersfield's reserves today, but they're not now. It's going to be on Wednesday instead. I think I'll go back to bed.
Colin Cramb, who never quite lived up to his amazing stats in Chammy Manager, is staying with Shrewsbury for the time being. That's in real life, I mean. The stereotypically temperamental forward performed so outstandingly last week on trial for the Mariners' reserves that Russell Slade managed to be impressed in spite of his not actually watching the match, and in the absence of information to the contrary from Town's official website, fans had presumed that Cramb's trial was continuing. OK, the Diary had. It has fallen instead to the Shrews' local paper the Shropshire Star to reveal that the transfer has collapsed. "The Grimsby thing fell through because they couldn't agree the move with Shrewsbury," explains Cramb, adding: "It was to do with wages." Which sounds a little contradictory to this jaded daily news summariser, unless the player's current club were insisting on one of those clauses whereby Town would have to pay the nephew of Shrewsbury's chairman £12 an hour to spend all day on eBay or something.
Gillingham Football Club very kindly or foolishly stuffed 50 big ones into Town's trouser pockets last season for the privilege of inheriting Alan Pouton's injury record foolishly, one would imagine and are repenting at leisure by loaning the player back to his native north-east: Hartlepool, to be precise. "Alan has a good range of passing," Pools boss Neale Cooper enthused in his minimalistically titled local paper The Journal last Friday one day before the player lined up in his new team's 3-2 defeat at Oldham and caused £12,000 worth of damage to the Boundary Park scoreboard with a misplaced through ball to Richie Humphreys.
Finally today, staying on the subject of ex-Mariners, the Diary is indebted to Mark Stilton for bringing to my attention another non-League fixture graced by a plethora of the buggers and just for once, it didn't involve York City. If you've wondered recently what happened to Liam Nimmo a regular fixture on the bench of Town's first team as recently as last season then the answer is he's scoring hat-tricks for Spalding United in the Unibond League. After notching all three goals in their 3-1 win over Kendal at the weekend, the Nimster was replaced by Jamie Lawrence towards the end of the match; I dunno if it was the same one, but former GTFC trialist Brett Chittock, keeping goal for the south Lincolnshire side, was headbutted by Kendal's Lee 'The Pieman' Ashcroft after 62 minutes, resulting in an instant red card for the Mariners' record signing. Wahey!
Friday 10 September
Hello. Your regular preview writer today holds the reins of the virile black stallion that is the Diary. Since I'm gagging for a pint and got a few T-shirts to send out, we'll make this brief.
With central defenders Simon Ramsden, Rob Jones, Glen Downey, and - lest you have forgotten - Tony Crane crocked, Russell Slade's Great Player Search seems to have stopped just short of the gaffer lifting up his settee's cushions with indeterminate news: "unnamed Premiership side", "expecting", "hopefully", and "Wednesday". Let's all wait until then, eh.
In the world of certainty, Australian defender John Tambouras has hopped over for a trial, although one hopes his nickname doesn't mean he's a preening ponce of a lead singer in some fey indie-pop band. Meanwhile, Shrewsbury Town are still hanging on tenterhooks as to whether the Mariners are interested in (and I quote) "temperamental forward" Colin Cramb, who set up the reserves' three goals in midweek. In a pique of definitive denial, the official site reckons Leyton Orient's summer signing Michael Simpson or some lad who sounds quite useful called Matt Tees won't be coming out at Blundell Park in the future. Ah, that's a joke isn't it.
This does mean there will be no reinforcements ahead of tomorrow's game at Macclesfield, which, despite these woes, Russ seems to be quite looking forward to. Could it be because they won't sit back and try to stifle Town? Or maybe because Slade had the upper hand on Brian Horton last season, when Scarborough knocked Port Vale out of two cups?
As for tomorrow's opposition, they've had a disappointing week. Their training ground was broken into and they narrowly lost out on groundsman of the year to Ipswich - presumably as the Tractor Boys use the surface to pass the ball on rather than the Silkmen's tendancy to knock it long. Alan Fetish, sorry, Fetis has returned to training as has Tony Barrass.
Stats corner: when it comes to shots off target, Ashley Sestanovic is fifth in the division with nine but is one of the leading creators of chances with his three assists. Andy Parkinson has had 11 shots without scoring putting him fourth in such a list, and is the third-most player to be caught off-side (14 times so far). Coincidentally, Macclesfield forward Jonathan Parkin has committed 36 fouls - the most by any player in the division. More of that kind of thing in the preview.
Recent subs bench warmer
Ronnie Bull reveals that's he has been blighted by injury since the eve of the season. "I played through the match with a pulled muscle. I regret that now... Dave Moore (physio) left it up to me [whether to play] and I probably made the wrong decision." Maybe injuries are so the must-have of the new season. Or maybe Sick Note shouldn't have been so silly.
Which gives me just about enough time to recommend you have a read of Pete's column in the today's Grimmo Telegraph, while I leave for that pint in my local. T'ra.
Thursday 9 September
The Town players have drawn their lots to see whose turn it is to say to a reporter: "Ooh, we're gonna have to start getting some decent results," and this time it's veteran right-back and fledgling right wing-back John McDermott who's got the short straw. "We've done a bit of work this week and hopefully this weekend will be a good test and it's important that we start picking up some points away from home," the player recited drearily to Radio Humberside this morning in an interview for which a desperately shabby transcription now appears on the BBC Humber website. Exhibit A, m'lud: the next sentence to appear on the page, which reads: "I think going to Macclesfield, Brian Houghton who likes to get down and play will suit us." As the Diary prepares an economical lunch of chargrilled potato peelings in a flour and water dressing, I can only wonder what these muppets are being paid... the BBC Humber website people, I hasten to add, not the GTFC squad.
Sorry I really am being even more crotchety than usual this week, aren't I? I'll try and be a bit more semibrevey, starting now. If you're going to the Leyton Orient game a week on Saturday then you can win two free children, or something. No, that can't be right. You can take two children in free with you. Yeah, that'll be it. All the usual stuff about being a "full paying adult" probably applies, which still seems terribly harsh on amputees.
Before football managers become "poised" to "unveil" new players, they have to "swoop". In this context, "swoop" means to approach a player's club to enquire as to his availability for transfer, and then, should such an approach be agreeable to that club, discuss with the player and/or his agent the terms and conditions applicable to his proposed new situation of employment, before finally having legal documentation drawn up to embody said terms and contract the player formally to his new employer. You can sort of see why journalists abbreviate it, but it does rather overdramatise, don't you think? Any old how, Brian Horton, who has turned Macclesfield from Conference dead certs to fourth division promotion potential in just a few short months, is planning just such a "swoop" ahead of his side's meeting with the Mariners this Saturday, says a website called Manchester Online. Which is not that interesting, really, is it. Don't know why I bothered running it.
What I should have led today's Diary with, in fact, is the altogether more absorbing news that Russell 'Sign Loan Players? Not Me! You're Having A Laugh' Slade is aiming to make his third and fourth loan signings within the space of a week in order to shore up Town's defence ahead of this weekend's aforementioned Cheshire football jamboree. "I am looking at two players to try and give us help at the back," the Mariners boss tells today's Grimsby Telegraph. "It isn't easy but with four centre-backs injured at the same time including two for lengthy spells we have to try and sort something out. I have been in discussions with the board and am trying to tie something up. I have two in mind at the moment - one from the Championship and one from the Premiership. It's still early days but hopefully we can sort something out with one of them." Slade's explanation to the official website of his own club is somewhat less expansive. "Hopefully we can get somebody in before Macclesfield," he says. Someone on the OS must have really upset him.
Well, let's hope these potato peelings perk me up a bit. See yer next week.
Wednesday 8 September
"Nobody's interested in what happens to the reserve team, are they?!" spluttered the Diary's brother a few months ago when I was explaining to him one day that actually, yes, there is usually just enough GTFC news every day to fill this column and keep people reading it. The world of the proper football supporter, you see, is one apart from that of my Murdoch-guzzling kid bro, who would doubtless be horrified to learn that I am descending still further into obscurity today to bring you news of Town's youth team, who are through to the next round of the Midland Youth Cup after winning a penalty shoot-out at Lincoln on Monday and now face Swindon at home in the next round. Granted, I don't actually know what the Midland Youth Cup is, nor whether the Mariners' kids enter it instead of or as well as that proper FA Youth Cup thing, the one Man U's lot won that time and you still see photos of them with a fresh-faced and innocent young Robbie Savage lining up alongside Becks 'n' co, like those weird pics of Osama bin Laden on holiday on the beach with his mum and dad. Sorry, getting off the point there.
The estimable Mr Paul Thundercliffe has emailed the Diary about Cod Almighty's copyright-busting new mp3 download. "Fantastic to hear the brilliant 'Up the Mariners'," he writes, "a lot more 'skiffley' than I ever remember. Some ace lyrics and a great penny whistle key change. The line 'Just to even up the score, we'll get goals all the more' must have meant that we always conceded a few goals back in those days and used to settle for a draw. Still, must be better than 3-4-3." Or maybe "the score" has a wider reference and Grimsby's victories on the football pitch were one way in which the town could exact revenge for the fishing quotas introduced in the 1970s, when the lyric was composed. Sorry again I'm getting all A-level English now. "This isn't the best song, however," continues Paul. "The one recorded in 1990, which was supposed to be a bit like 'World in Motion' with a rap and stuff was better. Had some cartoon drwings on the front and some commentary by John Moore.
The main bit went: 'We're the Mariners, and we play to win, and we're going and we're going and we're going for goal.' Now if you could find THAT..." Pfff! That doesn't even rhyme!
Didn't Boston do well, eh.
Tuesday 7 September
I just drove my car into a wall at 70mph but it's all right, because I know a really good garage! That isn't true. The Diary doesn't actually own a car. But if it were, then you would call me a fool, wouldn't you? And you'd be quite right. Call Grimsby Town Football Club a fool instead, then, because the best defender on its books, Simon Ramsden, could be out with a knackered neck for four months. Why? Well, the uninformed bystander might observe that he has been made to play a lot of football by a manager who knew he was injured, seemingly in the belief that the whizzy new physiotherapy facilities available to the club at Grimsby College would make him magically invulnerable to harm, sort of like Bruce Willis in that film. No, not Pulp Fiction. The, ahem, good news (it's all relative) is that Glen Downey you remember, the one who couldn't get in the first team at Scarborough is back in training after recovering from the ankle hamper that has meant he couldn't get in the first team at Grimsby either since joining the Mariners three weeks ago. Hmmm... does anyone have Mark Lever's phone number?
Messageboard postings and letters to the Grimsby Telegraph calling for Graham Hockless to play for the Mariners have been notable by their absence this season, but last Saturday's defeat at Rochdale seems to have restarted the phenomenon, albeit politely. Admittedly, the player has been sidelined thus far in the 200405 campaign by a foot problem believed to result from Hockless being too big for his boots; though as Ramsden will testify, being unfit to play is no excuse at GTFC for not playing. Either way, young Graham was 'on the mark' yesterday for the second successive reserve game, in which Town's second string recovered from a two-goal deficit to see off their counterparts from York. The Mariners' other goals came from Clint Marcelle and David Soames, and, I dunno, some trialists played or something; I can't really be arsed with them any more.
Monday 6 September
If Special Guest Diary thinks Fridays are slow news days, he ought to try Mondays. All that ever happens on Mondays is whoever happens to be managing Town at that point saying: "Ooh, no, we're really good, honest; we just were a bit unlucky/got robbed by the ref/didn't get the run of the ball/are having a bad run of injuries/need to start converting our dominance into points" (delete as applicable). That said, I am able to report that Darren Mansaram had a stormer of a debut for Halifax, having come off the bench nine minutes in to make a major contribution to the side's 3-2 win at Hereford, and to road safety. I haven't got anything against Chris Williams personally, and he's quite good on the ball; I just can't see why we've sent out a 20-year-old striker on loan to build up his confidence and brought in a 19-year-old striker on loan who doesn't have any confidence.
Speaking of strikers, Town are rumoured to be interested in fat waster Adam Proudlock, who has turned out to be no more use at Hillsborough than he was at Molineux, and who a few years ago rejected a loan move to Blundell Park because he didn't want to be involved in a relegation battle and then moved to relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday. Owls boss Chris Turner has lost patience with Proudlock's lardiness and tardiness, but a number of other clubs are believed to be keen on the player, and the pies in Oldham ought to prove a bigger attraction than anything the Mariners could offer. Two new trialists will line up for the reserves against York this afternoon, though: Ashley Hudson is the son of former Chelsea and Arsenal legend, it says here, and I'm sure I heard a fan on the radio last week saying Colin Cramb was the worst player ever to appear for whoever it was they supported. Fans, though what do they know, eh.
And yes, we had a letter from a solicitor. I always nurtured a fond hope that the first such missive Cod Almighty would receive would be from the legal representatives of Carlton and Granada TV, ordering us to stop denouncing their clients for welching on the millions of pounds they owed to football clubs, and we'd become involved in a terribly exciting high-profile courtroom wrangle in which the Diary, Letters Ed and Mat Hare would be catapulted into the limelight and universally hailed as fanzine heroes, standing up for the ordinary supporter against the corporate pillagers of the game. Instead, this is the last you will hear on the matter, as we are hardly likely to derive much kudos when the lawyers get shirty about a half-arsed slanging match between a provincial journalist and a sociology student with too much time on their hands.
Saturday 4 September
Eleven days ago it was a glorious free-flowing football festival, which dumped high-flying Wigan out of the League Cup and well nigh reduced the Diary to tears of pure joy. One week before today an equally satisfying performance, as gritty as it was skilful, saw off Mansfield with their curious mix of decent football and hardcore violence. Then it was a limp second-half surrender at Wycombe, and tonight Russell Slade's Mariners will need to look themselves very sternly in the face after a shocker of a showing hands a poor Rochdale side all three points at Blundell Park this afternoon. Most worrying of all is that the attitude of certain players seems more the sort of indifferent defeatism supporters thought they'd seen the last of when Nicky Law was given an anti-social behaviour order banning him from entering North East Lincolnshire.
Tranmere's Paul Robinson, who impressed on trial for Town reserves in midweek, has signed on loan but remained on the bench this afternoon (I am switching to the past tense in a probably doomed attempt to put today's events out of my mind), while 19-year-old Stockport striker Chris Williams has done likewise and replaced The Ineffective Ashley Sestanovich during the second half against Rochdale, but lacked composure in front of goal and would appear to offer the squad considerably less than Graham Hockless - is he fit again or what? - or for that matter Darren Mansaram. Now holed up at home with a fresh supply of Booze, your Diary is unable and unwilling to tell you where this leaves the Mariners in the fourth division league table, and I haven't even looked at the other results. It may soon be necessary for a curry to be delivered to my door; a curry so hot that it will erase my memory of all events between three and five o'clock pm today.
Extra-special Diary hugs of commiseration go to Guest Diary the drivel served up by Town against Dale has coincided with his birthday, and before the match he was observed to be considerably more chipper than for some time and to Ant Wood, who at least was spared the trauma of today's match but only by virtue of his car exploding on Humber Street. Gah!
Friday 3 September
Hello. Special Guest Diary here again for my now fairly regular Friday stint. Having gotten a right bollocking off normal Diary last week for my half-arsed attempt last Friday, I might be inclined to make more of an effort this time. Or maybe I'm too stubborn for any of that behaviour. Only time will tell.
In the news: absolutely nothing at all really. This is the problem with a Friday Diary - nothing ever happens. There's one of those stories on the OS about how there might possibly, maybe, you never know, perhaps be a striker signed today. Although it's been up for hours now and there's been nary a word since. Maybe instead of writing the Diary I should just have typed "We could have a Diary later today". They've finally managed to at least confirm that Flash is going on loan and not signing permanently for Halifax though, so hats off to them there. Jesus.
For those wanting to listen to an old man droan on and on about what happened in "his day" then the semi-successful former Town manager Lawrie 'Quarter Pounder' McMenemy will be officially opening the restaurant named after him before the game on Saturday. Although it's all booked up, so you'll have to watch it on some screen or other - or so it says.
So over to GET-land then, where the news is always reliable if not always complete or CONTINUED ON PAGE 42. Sorry, I did that last week didn't I? Still, it never stopped them. There's now the almost obligatory weekly interview with a Town player who concludes that we "must try harder and try to convert our chances". Thanks Deano Gordono. Who do we think it'll be next week then? It's must be Crowo's turn. Meanwhile, Slade continues his hunt for a target man with apparently one of a couple of League One players making a loan move to BP. Perhaps. Which league is League One again?
I'll end with a quick injury round-up: Rambo - necko. Again. Sestano - groino. Cheerio.
Thursday 2 September
As deep ends go, being thrust into a struggling second-flight team as a lone striker at the age of 18 is pretty much the footballing equivalent of having to retrieve a brick from the bottom of Scafferbaffs while wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown and slippers. Such was the fate of Darren Mansaram, though, within weeks of signing his first professional contract with Grimsby Town Football Club not that his myopic detractors bear any of this in mind when myopically detracting when a far more helpful introduction to the rigours of the full-time game might have been a loan to a lower-division side. Now that Town are a lower-division side, they have to loan him to a Conference side, and at last this looks likely to go ahead, Halifax being Flash's likely destination.
Town's official website says nothing about the above-mentioned transfer being a loan, in fact, leaving the reader to infer that Dazman is Shay-bound in a permanent kinda way, but more reliable sources such as Sporting Life and the Grimsby Telegraph attest to the transient nature of the switch. "Hopefully it will make him sharper and work out for him," explains Noddy. "He will benefit from more experience." Aye, and hopefully the spectators who boo Flash for nothing worse than their new best mate Ashley does on a more frequent basis will desist. I bet they're the same sort of rotten buggers who rang up Radio Five Live the other week to have a go at Paula Radcliffe. Why won't you change? Change and be nice.
Our Russ is still after bringing in a loan striker in time for Saturday's visit of Rochdale, though whether this will be Paul Robinson XVII, who turned out in yesterday's reserve match at Scunthorpe, is not yet certain, probably because it sounds like Slade didn't even see the match ("By all accounts, Paul did okay for the reserves," he tells the Telegraph, giving the Diary the chance to fulfil the ambition of an academic lifetime and use the phrase 'my italics'). In as much as its result is important, he missed the second string go down by two Scunthorpian goals to one Graham Hockless free kick. And won't it be funny how nobody moans about Hockless's omission from the first team now that the club has a new chairman.
Wednesday 1 September
If you supported a football team with a player called Paul Robinson, and he was playing really well, you might be tempted to sing: "There's only one Paul Robinson!" You would be best advised to resist said temptation, however, on the grounds that, for one thing, it doesn't scan, and for another that there are in fact loads of Paul Robinsons, several of whom make their livings as professional footballers. One of these is a 20-year-old six-foot striker with Tranmere Rovers; he is on his way to Grimsby for a trial and may take some part in this afternoon's reserve game at Scunny. The club's official website has run its copy through the spellchecker this morning, but it hasn't helped: "Town will not be perusing their interest in Bermudan striker John Nusam," it reports, which makes even the Diary feel too sad to be able to think of a casually spiteful joke. The Grimsby Telegraph manages to squeeze more than the first two sentences of the story onto the relevant webpage, though, which is nice.
In the words of the well-known ancient Chinese proverb, these are interesting times if you're a former Grimsby Town goalkeeper. Paul Crichton, one of the players who helped the Mariners siphon nearly a million quid out of West Brom's bank account by following Alan Buckley between Blundell Park and the Hawthorns in the 1990s, like one of the iron pots and pans in that episode of The Flumps where Pootle had a magnet in his pocket, has been keeping goal for York in the Conference this season after his release by Norwich at the end of last but may not be doing so for very much longer. The ageing custodian has been suspended by his club following the team's recent 4-0 defeat at Gravesend, where it is alleged that he told supporters he didn't care about the results as long as he was being paid as if he were a GTFC player in the 200203 season. Critie has launched a stout defence of himself, telling the press: "I could have signed for Sheffield United or Kilmarnock for four times the money and just sat there picking up my wage." Sounds like you should have, Paul.
Happier news from a second ex-Mariners keeper, Steve Croudson, who has found a home in Stevenage Borough, eight places above York in the Conference table. The 23-year-old Grimsby lad was released by Boston at the end of last season and joins his new club as cover for first-choice stopper Andy Woodman (who kept goal for Northampton in their 1998 Division Two play-off final against Town, fact fans). Maybe if the Kitten gets a game and Paul Ketchley doesn't have a GTFC match nearby, he can nip up the road to Broadhall Way and see how our boy's getting on.