Contact the Diary
Got any GTFC news? Constructive feedback? Offers of hard cash to write something else? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our feedback form and elucidate.
Read another Diary
June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
May | April |
March | February | January
November | October | September |
August | July | June | May | April | March | February |
November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
April | March | February | January
November | October | September |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March
Diary - August 2005
Wednesday 31 August
Having recently hit on an extraordinary tactical innovation that could change the face of football as we know it, and fielded a team comprising four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards, Russell Slade has been conducting a last-minute search for players to fit his bold new system. The result is that Town have signed from Norwegian side Viking Stavanger a 20-year-old left-sided midfielder with the very un-Norwegian name of Tommy Taylor, who will appear for the Mariners' reserves this afternoon in a game against Sheffield United at Saltergate. Bizarre! Taylor's arrival will come as a disappointment to those who saw Slade's switch to 4-4-2 as a chance for Nick Hegarty to replace the underperforming Tom Newey on the left of midfield, or indeed for the many supporters who wished to see Calvin Andrew's loan extended after an impressive bank holiday from the Luton forward, but is sure to delight lovers of the unexpected, as the transfer could scarcely have been more surprising had Russ conducted it wearing fluorescent yellow braces and playing 'Urban Spaceman' on an afro-latin tongue drum.
GTFC have put in place a frankly terrifying system to ensure not only that season ticket holders get first dibs on tickets for the forthcoming League Cup tie against Tottenham, but that ticket stub holders and supporters' trust members get second dibs and the bloke at work who hasn't been to BP since 1984 and thought Clive Mendonca was rubbish has a seat with a restricted view and rainwater dripping down the back of his shirt. "Don't panic" is the message coming out of the club, but panic is very much the Diary's initial reaction upon being confronted with an impenetrably epic timetable of ticket availability that could shame the cryptic crossword in the Independent. Or rather it would be if I weren't already guaranteed a ticket simply on account of being so cool.
Former Town keeper Paul Crichton is perhaps remembered for blemishing the otherwise spotless record of Paul Futcher by attempting to kick out, and spectacularly missing, a back-pass from the legendary defender one balmy afternoon at Nottingham Forest in the early 1990s, handing the home side their second goal in a 5-3 defeat for the Mariners. The Yorkshire-born gloveman went on to tot up 150 appearances for the side before a £250,000 follow-Buckley move to West Brom, an unlikely loan to Aston Villa, and spells with Burnley and Norwich before dabbling with non-League football at York, Accrington and Leigh RMI. Why am I telling you this? Because Kryters is back in the big time after signing a two-year deal as a player-coach with third division Gillingham. Well, yeah. I mean it's all relative.
Cod Almighty's very own Mark Stilton has very kindly emailed the Diary to put me right about the last time Town played live on the telly. "I think the last Town match on Sky was probably the 2-2 draw at Forest on my birthday (10 March) in 2003," writes the cheesily monikered CA letters editor. "Groves scored a great goal or rather, the build-up was superb. I think he started the move in our half before suddenly appearing in the box to finish off a lovely bit of passing football. Forest got a jammy equaliser in the 90th minute." Indeed, Mark, and the fact that the Diary of 11 March 2003 describes the goal in question as finishing "a fantastic move of many passes like that cool one Brazil did in the 1970 World Cup" makes it all the less forgivable for me to have overlooked the match yesterday. On the other hand, my thinking the Mariners' last live televised appearance was that Blackburn game really helped to pad out what would have been an otherwise drably functional paragraph so what the fuck, eh.
Today's final word goes to Guest Diary (who I hope will be able to resume his regular Friday slot on this page when he gets his new house in order). "Don't you wake up some mornings thinking what a fantastically shit hot day to wear your Macca T-shirt?" is the entire extent of GD's email. And no further words are needed, except: "yes" and "in fact, I put mine on to go down the pub on Monday night after I got back from the match".
Tuesday 30 August
Macca. Goal. GOAL! Dodgy ref on our side. Passing. Movement. Sunshine. Sixth place with a game in hand. Lovely.
Unlike the revolution, Town's second-round League Cup tie at home to Tottenham will be televised. The game will be played on Tuesday 20 September and is set to be broadcast in Murdochvision, though they haven't decided on which channel yet. By the Diary's reckoning, the last Mariners game to go out live on the box might have been the 4-1 home defeat by Blackburn in April 2001, in which Danny Coyne did his chances of a Wales call-up no good at all with an appalling fluff for Rovers' opener from a half-arsed David Dunn shot while his national manager Mark Hughes looked on as a Blackburn player. It is to be hoped, then, that BP turnstile operators will be under instruction to maximise Rob Jones' chances of a late run to the England squad for next year's World Cup by turning away Sven-Goran Eriksson at the gate.
In a populist but probably futile gesture, GTFC are attempting to have Carl Boyeson banned from refereeing any more of their games. The Hull-based referee recently won 20 quid off his Tigers-supporting mates, who bet him before Town's recent home defeat by Darlington that he wouldn't dare to send off two Grimsby players for the second time in succession, and Russell Slade has told Radio Humberside that it simply will not do. "It's something that I am speaking with the club's chief executive about," said the Mariners boss, "to see whether we can do anything about it, rather than brush it under the carpet." Not that there's much room under Town's carpet after the premature end to the Jarvis sponsorship.
Speaking of shit refs, John Pakey has emailed the Diary about the fool who oversaw Saturday's win at Barnet without seeming to be aware of the FIFA regulation and United Nations resolution that expressly forbid match officials from taking sanctions against players who have made more than 600 appearances for Grimsby Town Football Club over nearly 20 years. "After seeing that someone dare book Sir John of McDermott," he writes, "I decided to investigate further and have a look at Mr S Dorr's record in recent seasons, and it's bloody terrible!" John has found a Soccerbase link giving details of all the red and yellow cards issued by said referee, and he's right: it is bloody terrible. Not to worry, though, John: when the revolution happens and Macca is made president of the whole world, Mr Duh will clearly be first against the wall.
Saturday 27 August
Town's tremendous run of away form continues as a Calvin Andrew goal is enough to claim three points at Barnet, with Russell Slade retaining the 4-4-1-1 formation that earned Wednesday night's cup win at Derby. The Luton loanee headed home a ball from Rob Jones almost immediately after the restart, when he became one of two half-time substitutions following a goalless first 45. On a darker note, Paul Bolland becomes the Mariners' third red card recipient this season with a double booking for dissent as the referee suffers some kind of seizure late in the game and issues four yellows to GTFC players in as many minutes treasonously including one to Sir John McDermott to go with the one Tom Newey added to his extensive collection during the first half. The Town defence holds out through a nervous epoch of injury time, though, and the team moves on to seven points and ninth place with a game in hand.
Earlier today the side's exertions at Pride Park were rewarded with what is generally known as a plum draw in the second round of the League Cup, although other stone-bearing fruits may serve equally well. With the clubs involved in European competition exempt from entering the tournament until they can be arsed, Town's home tie against Tottenham is one of the biggest that could have been hoped for and will evoke memories of the cracker that ensued at Blundell Park in 1991 the last time the two sides met. The matches will be played from 19 to 21 September. And I'm going to stare gormlessly into the camera like Graham Kelly used to at the end of the cup draw for a few seconds until it cuts back to the studio.
Friday 26 August
Is it me or has this summer been one of the worst for quite a few years? Hello, Miss Guest Diary here again. I've been feeling a bit fed up lately with the poor excuse for a summer we've been having and the poor excuse for football we've been getting at Blundell Park. Now I'm feeling even more fed up because I couldn't get to the Derby game where Town apparently played well and in a sensible formation and I'm not going to the Barnet game either. Earlier in the week I was congratulating myself of missing out on several hours of potential misery and boredom, but now it seems away games will be my best hope of seeing some decent performances from Town.
So what am I doing tomorrow instead? I will be travelling south to see a fast-moving, witty and sometimes shocking performance where crooks, impostors and frauds try to dupe the gullible, greedy and hypocritical. No, I'm not swapping Blundell Park for Stamford Bridge; I'm indulging in some culture on a trip organised by Bottom of the Barrel Diary. On Sunday we will be making an excursion to see a rare butterfly, or maybe an orchid I can't remember, as this is not really my sort of thing. But he has promised a fine lunch along the way so, to borrow an annoying expression currently in common parlance: whatever.
And what news of Town? Well, Tony Crane is still suspended but Tom Newey is once again available for selection. I never thought I'd find myself looking back wistfully to the days of players like Mark Lever and Kevin Jobling, but as Joni Mitchell once sang: "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone they sack Thomas Pinault and give us Andy Parkinson." Or something like that.
Anyway, back to the team news: according to the OS, "Rob Jones is the Mariners' biggest problem." I think that's a little unfair, given his recent sterling performances. Oh, I see what they mean the fact that he might not be fit for tomorrow is a problem. Others unlikely to be making the trip to Barnet are Gary Cohen and Ciaran Toner, but little Gary Croft should be back let's hope he is also back where he belongs in the left full-back position. Looking at Barnet's OS, I see they have a host of injuries to players I've never heard of so I'll leave you to decide whether this improves Town's chances of a win tomorrow or not. Whatever.
Thursday 25 August
Well, that'll learn them for having this rather smug and self-assured promotion on their website won't it?
Hello! How the devil are you? Takeover Diary here. Did anyone else walk into work today with the cloud of misery that employment hangs permanently above your head dispersed with a cheery smile, a springful step in your stride, whistling Up the Mariners, and greeted as your walked to your desk by a couple of "Hey! What about Town, eh!" congratulations? And what's that funny, almost dizzying feeling? That'd be the sense of deja vu, as Town followed up last year's defeat of then-Premiership aspirants Wigan in the first round of the League Cup, by beating... Premiership aspirants Derby County. Huzzah!
Just to recap - in case you fell asleep early last night, or destroyed your short term memory cells celebrating - in the 11th minute of last night's match, Gary Jones, with the laconic air of a man with all the time and space in the world - which is effectively what the Derby defence allowed - cushioned a long throw with his chest before turning and slapping a volley past the startled Grant. Just to confirm, that's Gary Jones. GARY JONES. Not Michael Reddy. After that the lively Gary Cohen went close to increasing Town's advantage with a brave header that flew inches wide of the post, and Steve Mildenhall gave a thumbs-up display in goal, notably in the last fifteen minutes of the game as the home team realised they were losing, saving a well-struck Adam Bolder attempt. "They had shape, they had passion, they had skill" is a phrase that recent Town performances never hinted would be how Radio Humberside would sum up 90 minutes in the company of the mighty Mariners. But last night they did. Believe.
Over in the visitors' dressing room Russell Slade was in chirpy form, happy with the performance of his team, rejigged due to injury and stupidity to feature four changes and three full debuts. And no less hampered by the half-time introduction of the elusive Downey Glen as well. Since Russ has been a bit STERN recently, it's pleasing to see his facial muscles relaxed, his mouth curved upwards, and his eyes wide with gay abandon, like a child on Chrimbo morning, such was his joy with the win and his team's performance. "We've worked on it over the past couple of days and we played very well, NUR NUR, you boo boys who thought I couldn't organise a team and haven't got the players for the job," he might as well have said. "The pressure was on the other team, which was a change for us." Whatever is the newly rediscovered Chuckle brother getting at?
After a quick flick through his revised edition of Big Club Football Management For Dummies ("Priority 1: The European Cup. Priority 2: The League"), Smiley Russ - much like the quiet lass at school after a couple of shandies - decided to loosen up and talk about his feelings to the assembled media throng, no doubt taking advantage of the top class facilities at the state-of-the-art Pride Park (these things are relative - the press box at Town was once the Nimbus PC or Acorn Archimedes of its day). "It's about getting that consistency in the league; if I thought that we were going to play like this every week we would not have a problem. It is a different kind of football in the Championship, more like a game of chess - you have more time to pick your pass." Of course! If only the opposition would wait for us to make our move and stop the clock!
"Hopefully this will give us the confidence to do it in our league on Saturday [at Barnet]. This result is a big boost for the club because before I came, we'd had two seasons of relegation and last season we had to play for stability. This season, we are hoping to push on and try to put a smile on the face of the fans and the chairman," added the manager, hopefully meaning not by witnessing a comical farce every week.
But with Russ singing a song as he walks into the sunset, ready to spread happiness across North East Lincolnshire, spare a thought for Phil Brown. The Derby manager, sucking on his first sour gobstopper of defeat at the hands of minnows (which is what we are these days), took the blame after sending out a side featuring eight changes, five enforced through injury. "I emphasised to the players who came in that metaphorically I was looking for them to kick my door down and make themselves available for Saturday but I didn't get too many of those pictures," he explained, not quite grasping the concept of 'analogy'. Despite that, Brown was quick to acknowledge Town's feat: "Grimsby came with a game plan tonight and went away deserved winners."
The draw for the second round is on Saturday morning. Keep smiling.
Wednesday 24 August
Do you want the good news or the bad news? Actually, I'll just tell you both, because if I wait for 3,000 readers to email their preferences, and then count up the votes, it won't really be news any more. And you wouldn't want that, would you? Well, you might. But I wouldn't. I've got my reputation to consider as the GTFC internet community's sharpest and most straightforward daily news summariser. Ah. Right. OK. The bad news is that Fate has deemed five minutes of first-team football for the Mariners as quite sufficient for Ciaran Toner before he gets crocked again, and the Northern Ireland midfielder has bust his finger in a car crash. Altogether less surprising, in the run-up to this evening's League Cup tie at Derby, are doubts over the fragile duo of Simon Ramsden and Gary Croft, who are suffering from crap legs. The good news is that Justin Whittle is in line to replace the suspended (not, alas, from the top of the Dock Tower) Tony Crane and a belated debut is finally expected for Jean-Paul F Kennedy Kalala. The slightly weird news is that Gary Jones seems to have rapidly progressed above Gary Cohen in the line of ascendance up front and will replace Martin Gritton tonight, apparently.
More good news, at the very least if your name is Justin Whittle, is that Crane's suspension will last for two matches, ruling him out of this Saturday's trip darn sarf to bleedin' Barnet, innit. With Town's available defensive personnel not matching the strength in depth up front, if you can call it strength, any injury tonight to Justin Brittle will have the GTFC kit lady nervously ironing DOWNEY onto the back of a shirt quicker than you can say "testing visit to the division's surprise early pace-setters".
Yeah, that Alan Buckley, what a loser, eh? And that John Fenty, cuh, Town would be better off without him. Sometimes I feel like giving up, I really do.
Before we turn to today's Diary emails, I will quickly draw your attention to a bit on the OS where Chairman John is talking about Town's dealings with agents. Fents seems to have that slightly defensive tone about him again, whereby he seems to be assuming that you're forever on the brink of a bitter tirade about his appalling stewardship of the club, calamitous record in the food industry and rubbish shoes (although with nesbits like the above still troubling the Telegraph letters page you can sort of see why), but it's quite interesting and worth a read for the priceless anecdote about a Mr 10% who turned up at BP two hours late for a meeting and had forgotten the name of the player he was representing. It's Trevor's World of Sport gone mad, I tell ya.
It falls to the inimitable Dan Humphrey to begin today's emails. "I swear, they used to play for England, now they play against Town," he writes. "Part I: Michael Ricketts for Leeds pre-season. Part II: Dominic Matteo for Blackburn, nearly played for England, chose Scotland eventually. Part III: Seth Johnson for Derby tonight in the Other Cup. Er. That's it. Ricketts was appalling. Let's hope Johnson is too." Quite possibly, Dan. I can't speak for anyone else, but receiving nearly a quarter of a million quid per game from Leeds would certainly dull my edge a bit.
Last, and quite possibly least, comes a comment on yesterday's news about Grimsby Town Supporters Trust's forthcoming 'Pride in the Park' event from Mat Hare, a man who is never slow to exploit small linguistic ambiguities for limited comic results. "Giant name card, eh?" writes Mat. "Does that mean instead of names like Steve, Jane and Andy it'll be Jean-Paul Kamudimba or Marc Bridge-Wilkinson?" Told you.
Tuesday 23 August
Three weeks after Radio Humberside revealed the impending retirement of GTFC legend John McDermott (and the Diary nicked the story to become the first one to publish it on the internet), the club's official website is still yet to utter even a byte on the subject. A similar silence emanates from the walls of Blundell Park this week on the absence of Jean-Paul Kamudimba/Kalala from the squad that walked out to face Darlington last weekend. As late as Thursday the OS was insisting unequivocally that the Congolese midfielder would be available for the visit of the Quakers, but when an unchanged line-up was named on Saturday the player's name was absent even from the list of substitutes. The subsequent dearth of any official explanation has set fans' imaginations ablaze, with the JPK conspiracy theories lining up behind a grassy knoll ranging from a Sestanovich substitute strop to abduction by alien visitors from the Beta Hydri system. Personally, the Diary still isn't convinced that he ever existed in the first place, and wouldn't be at all surprised if JPK turns out to have been invented by Tony Richardson as some kind of ingenious tax avoidance scheme.
Those of you who, like the Diary, have been wondering whether the suspensions of Messrs Crane and Newey would be in force for this week's game at Derby need wonder no longer. But who knows where we'd be without the Derby Telegraph, which has obligingly explained this morning that yes, Town's pair of daft ha'p'orths will indeed be forced to sit out League Cup proceedings tomorrow night. This ought to mean Gary Croft replacing Newey in the left wing-back position and Justin Whittle coming in for Crane in defence, which, funnily enough, is exactly how it should have been in the first place. He's great, that Carl Boyeson. I love him.
People's Park is not just the only Grimsby landmark the Diary knows to have been mentioned by name on The Archers ("Sounds like something from communist China!"); it is also the venue for this Sunday's Pride in the Park bash. Organised by the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust, the event sounds like it'll be a lot of fun for the little 'uns, with a lucky dip, treasure hunt and 'guess the number of chocolate footballs in the jar' competition (I used to love stuff like that), together with quizzes, a giant name card and a prize draw for trust members featuring sexy items of Mariners memorabilia. Trust members will have the chance to buy trust stuff at big discounts, and a large cheque signed "J Fenty" awaits the winner of the 'find the missing Congolese midfielder' competition.
Monday 22 August
If you're looking for reassurance in the wake of Saturday's deeply disappointing home defeat by Darlington, then look towards Russell Slade. The Town boss may not always be quick to acknowledge the shortcomings of his side's performances, but this time he's not trying to fool anyone least of all his own players, who, according to the Grimsby Telegraph, were locked into the dressing room to watch their 90-minute warm-up exercise in its entirety. The United Nations has expressed concern that the manager's actions are in breach of article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "No-one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" but club officials are believed to have pointed out that 11 more victims hardly made a difference given what the other 4,000 had just been through.
Our old mate Paolo di Moranio has emailed the Diary with a request for help. "I'm intending to take two non-Town-supporting mates to the Derby match next week and would like to ensure they have sufficient Grimsby knowledge to feel part of the away support. Is there anywhere on the site I can find some key facts to enhance the lads' knowledge of the town, the club and what it means to be from GY?" Well, Paul sorry, Paolo our history section should give a thorough grounding in the 127 years of misery GTFC have inflicted on their supporters; then there are CA's directory of famous Grimsby peeps, our world-famous Concise Grimmo Dictionary, and the invaluable guide to the essentials of local life that is Things You Only Know If You're From Grimsby. By the time they've got through that lot, they should be sitting at Pride Park grumbling and booing to the extent that any innocent passer-by would believe they'd lived their whole lives on Weelsby Street.
And lastly in today's Diary, Dave the Engineer has emailed on the subject of Saturday's man of the match Thomas Pinault. "Have I missed an article or not?" enquires Dave. "Does anyone know the whereabouts of the shiny-legged one? Dizzy Nic, the lovestruck daughter of Sibbo, was enquiring where to find the mercurial Frenchman." Well, I'm afraid I must confess that I have not clapped eyes upon Professor Pinault since 4:44pm on 7 May 2005. Any readers who have followed the great man's movements more closely than I are urged to email details of their Pinault sightings to email@example.com. Everton released Alessandro Pistone and then brought him back when they realised they wouldn't be able to sign anyone better, so you never know.
Saturday 20 August
Eight out of ten Town fans who expressed a dispreference said Carl Boyeson was down the pub with his mates on Friday night, and one of them said: "I bet you 20 quid you daren't send off two Grimsby players again." But although he ignored at least three incidents that could well have justified penalties for the Mariners, no-one can realistically question the awarding of two spot-kicks to Darlington this afternoon nor the sendings-off of Tony Crane and Tom Newey.
As at Scunthorpe last season, the imperfections of the ref's performance are bound to distract GTFC supporters from the far greater imperfections of their team's performance. For large chunks of the second half Town allowed Darlington (who were nothing special, but as we now know, you don't need to be in this division) to pass the ball around them with ease and by way of response, despite another tremendous display from Paul Bolland, could mostly offer only hopeless and fruitless long balls towards Michael Reddy.
If you want to take a positive then at least it is Town's two least effective players yesterday who will receive suspensions. If you want to feel better then do what the Diary is about to do: get yourself down the pub and forget all about it.
Friday 19 August
I met an Imp in Ikea last Saturday. He wasn't happy.
It's Friday, it's not five o'clock, it's not Crackerjack. Deviant Diary arriving with a late run into the box, just like Andy Parkinson. The neatness of the link is in direct contrast to the neatness of Town's laundry room. Andy Pandy Parky's exclusive interview on Mariners World elicited fascinating insights into his descent into the Black Hole of despair and Donovan. He loves it! He's really enjoying his free role. Nice to know someone is. Describing his position as "the more advanced of the three central midfielders", he notices that he is more involved in the play now. Lay back in your swivel chair for a few moments... and open your eyes again. The moment is passed, you will not fear rabbits any more. It's the power of the mind: pigs and even DC-10s can fly.
Elsewhere on Planet Town there is news of an injury-free squad: Whittle, Toner, everyone fit-fit on Old McSladey's farm, ee-aye ee-aye-oh. Nope, not even Reddy's scary groin has malfunctioned in the 10 workless days since the day trip to Bristol. So stand by for six changes as the squad must have been hit by a mystery virus - the sort that American TV series can spin into 24 episodes with several layers of meaning, but it's basically a simple good v evil morality tale. Lost, anybody? We're back to Parky.
Speculation is rife - isn't it always in medialand. Is it ever anything else? What is it rife about? I'm so glad you asked, for the make-up of the Town team is causing much chin-stroking wonderment and other diversionary work displacement activities this fine Friday. The official site thinks Toner and the as-yet-to-be properly nicknamed, shortened or named Pope Jean Paul Kamudimba Kalala II will be set for bench starts, whatever they are. Is it a new fitness programme, good for the tummy? I reckon Town'll go for a 1-1-1-1-3-2-1-2-1 formation, the innovative structure confusing Town's favourite referee, Mr Carl Boyeson, enough for him to allow 13 striped warriors to roam. You remember Carlo don't you? The battle of Belle Vue cannot have faded from memory so quickly, can it? It caused much purple prose from the purple-faced Pontoonite pen-pushers.
Darlington are expected to turn up on time tomorrow. They also expect to win. With impeccable logic their manager reasons that "We know we can beat them when they are at their best and we are not" following their dead spawny double over Town last season. Yeah, like football follows Marxist theories of determinism rigidly, comrade Hodgson.
The Imp was wet, and he never met Tom Hanks. The meatballs were nice though.
Thursday 18 August
Now then! Have you got your season ticket yet? Having breached their wage budget not to mention the faith of Keep the Mariners Afloat donors by signing Gary Croft, Town have been giving an extra-big commercial push this summer to the 23-match bundle package. And as if those beautiful free red T-shirts and the chance to watch four pre-season kickabouts for 20 quid were not enough, the club has extended the deadline for 'discount' season tickets as far as two weeks into the season. An item on the official website today explains that the 10 per cent drop in season ticket numbers this year is more than offset by the increase in prices so that's all right, then before going on to insist that even though the Great Croft Himself is back in town, this Saturday is absolutely the last chance to buy one at the reduced rate, no, really, totally, completely your final opportunity, going once, going twice, like not even if you're being eaten by wild dogs will you be able to do it next week. Unless John Oster comes back tomorrow, obviously.
As the old proverb goes, an absence of updates on current events would appear to be a good update on current events and today's Grimsby Telegraph has certainly made good news out of the fact that there is no news coming out of Blundell Park as far as this Saturday's visit of Darlington is concerned. The local organ has impressively created a back-page piece out of thin, recycled air today (I'm not mocking; what do you think the Diary spends most of the time doing?), reminding us that Ciaran Toner and JPK are set to challenge for first-team debuts against Darlo and that Gary Cohen is also pushing for a start, which would presumably be at Martin Gritton's expense. Gary Jones is also moving towards match fitness, which is nice particularly if your name is Russell Slade. "It is a selection headache but one that manager's like to have," are the words of the GTFC boss, the apostrophe kindly added in later by the Telegraph at no extra charge.
"Has anyone else noticed that the last time we won at home was 26 February," writes
Keith Collins in an email to the Diary, "almost six months ago!" Point taken, Keith Russ's Town have drawn far too many home games that they should've won but to be fair to the lads, saying in August that they haven't won for six months isn't as bad as saying it in March. And on the bright side, the Mariners haven't lost to Manchester United for nearly 60 years.
Wednesday 17 August
Town fans who made it back to Lincolnshire in an ark after last Saturday's washout at the Deva, and fancy another attempt at seeing their heroes perform in the fabulously wealthy city of Chester, had best take heed that the match has been rescheduled for Tuesday 6 September. Assuming that the pitch is reasonably dry and that paupers such as you, I and the Mariners first XI are allowed to pass within the boundaries of the city, the game will kick off at 7:45pm, and who knows, maybe Michael Reddy's hamstrings will be OK as well.
Several years after 5,000 Grimbarians repeatedly described him as "Wales' number one", Danny Coyne has a real chance to establish himself as the principality's preeminent goalkeeping power by playing against those bastards from England. Though often called up to his national squad, the one-time custard-clad stopper has mostly been kept on the bench by Mark Crossley and Paul Jones, neither of whom have ever blotted their copybooks by playing for Grimsby but are now dead old and retired and that. Coyne's new rival, 21-year-old Ipswich stickman Lewis Price, has a very Welsh name indeed and has also never played for Grimsby but got hissen crocked last weekend, opening the way for Dan to face Slovenia in a friendly this evening before lining up in his country's World Cup qualifier against England on 3 September, despite having been dropped again by Burnley already this season. "Oh, well, OK, if we really have to," said Wales manager John Toshack, probably.
Users of Town's official website who like wearing ties and can't stomach any of that fancy foreign muck have the chance to win a seriously traditional meal at the denim-averse club restaurant McMenemy's. A very easy, costs-a-pound-to-enter competition on the OS offers three-course meals for two at each of the next three home games to its lucky winners; it's very much fish, chips, roast beef and boiled-to-death vegetables territory, and Grimsby may not be in Yorkshire but it likes its yorkshire puddings. And if your name isn't drawn out of the hat, don't despair: the meal only costs 14 quid more than the price of entering the competition, so everyone's a winner!
Tuesday 16 August
Russell Slade is considering a change to his forward line this weekend after Nick 'Only One G This Week' Hegarty scored both goals in Town reserves' 3-2 home defeat by Darlington yesterday afternoon, reports the club's official website. But after last week's Reddy-injury-feigning mind games suckered Bristol Rovers into fielding the slowest defenders they could find and thus handing GTFC the points on a finely crafted porcelain plate, the crafty Mariners maestro seems to be resisting the obvious urge to tell the world that Ginger Nick will play this Saturday, slyly suggesting instead that Gary Cohen will be the man promoted to a first-team start. "He caused them a lot of problems and he had a hand in Hegarty's goals," said Slade, winking conspicuously.
Other news to emerge from yesterday's run-out for the stiffs includes the non-impression made by trialists Stuart Edwards and Kyle Armstrong and the emergence, unscathed, of Ciaran Toner after 70 minutes of high-intensity second-string action. So excited is Town's Northern Ireland international, you know, by his successful workout in the reserves and the possibility of a first-team place this weekend that Toner has given an interview to the Grimsby Telegraph, which paraphrases fairly accurately as: "I'm excited by my successful workout in the reserves and the possibility of a first-team place this weekend." Which is good news for you, because I've saved you reading it, though possibly less good for the Telegraph's online advertising sales department, who will now lose 12.8 million hits on the page and be out of a job by the weekend and homeless by Christmas. Still, not my problem.
Toner's return to fitness is also good news for Town fans because it delays still further the day on which they must come to a final decision on how to pronounce the surname of Terry Barwick. The deadline extension comes at an opportune moment, given the recent stalling of ceasefire negotiations between the phonetic majority and a militant band of 'Barrick' rebels who had threatened to blockade the entrance to the John Smiths stand and erect an illegal statue of the former Tottenham, QPR and England defender and silent-W spiritual leader Terry Fenwick.
Monday 15 August
The season may have begun a week and a half ago, but the human traffic of trialists into Blundell Park is still driving on. This afternoon, reports Town's official website, the reserve team takes on... er... well, it doesn't actually say who, but the salient point is that Stuart Edwards and Kyle Armstrong will be playing. Edwards, lest ye've forgot, is the former Leeds kid who played right wing-back in the Mariners' pre-season friendly win at Lincoln the other week and came on for part of the subsequent bout against Blackburn. Armstrong, lest ye didn't know in the first place, and I certainly didn't, is a former Preston trainee who started three games in defence for York City late on last season and came on twice as a substitute. Oh, and Ciaran Toner will play, but Jean-Paul Jean-Paul will not. Now that you know that, and your life is complete, we will move on.
Oh, all right then I'll have a look round the rest of the OS and see if I can find out who it is that the reserves are playing against. There we go Darlington. That'll be a bent ref robbing Town of three points then. Incidentally, I wonder who the first team are playing this Saturday? Oh.
Despite the Deva Stadium stewards having earmarked tomorrow night for Town's rearranged visit to Chester, it appears likely that the fixture will now take place next month. After Saturday's seemingly over-hasty postponement, the Grimsby Telegraph today reports that eight out of ten Mr Russell Slades prefer September and given the unfitness of two key midfielders in Ciaran Toner and JPJPJPK and the fatherhood-related unavailability of another in Paul Bolland, you wouldn't really blame him, would you?
The business leaders of New South Wales (I think) have responded magnificently to their local football club's financial miscalculations since last week's appeal for emergency funds to begin the season. With over a million Aussie dollars pledged in just 24 hours, it looks like the Central Coast Mariners have been well and truly kept afloat. Assuming the Australian dollar is worth somewhat more than the old Italian lira, then, the capitalists of North East Lincolnshire are being made to seem tighter than sharks' arses by comparison.
And finally today, if the Diary sees the Germoloids ad one more time then I'm gonna go on a crazy killing rampage.
Saturday 13 August
After the third round of fixtures this season Town's unbeaten run remains intact but this time, rather than the awesome form of Rob Jones, it was due to heavy rain in the north-west, which forced the postponement of today's scheduled away fixture at Chester. Despite the Mariners' first August postponement in living memory, the team remains in the top half of the incipient fourth division table, and the washout may work to Town's benefit given the absence of JPK and Ciaran Toner and the ongoing fragility of Michael Reddy's groin, or whatever it was.
What an ace guest Diary that was yesterday. I really enjoyed that; didn't you?
Friday 12 August
My ears might have been deceiving me, and it may have been out of context, but I'm certain Pauline Fowler was lamenting the price of progress on Eastenders last night. Sure this fast, modern way of living is great, Poline's new sociological insight revealed, but "us women" need to get back to basics. The passionate war cry rose up to appeal to those listening, probably blissfully unaware (or ignorant) that she'd be reversing decades of efforts to banish sexual discrimination: "We need to bake more cakes."
It's a scene that couldn't have been aired at a better time. With Town playing very much like a modern-day team in their impressive 2-1 annihilation of Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night (fast, organised, direct), the only additional need is for Michael Reddy to "get back to the basics". Not those of a woman reacquainting herself with her scales and oven, but those of a forward - like a goal or two. Whether 'Redds' will grab that goal in tomorrow's game at Chester seems to be touch and go as he's nursing a groin strain, but Russ is saying he's gonna stick with the same side that has started both games this season. Squad depth plays that hand as well as form: JPK and Ciaran Toner aren't returning to training until Monday, while Justin Whittle is still nursing an ankle injury. But if Mikey doesn't make it, remember Gary Cohen's invigorating replacement of the ineffectual Andy Parkinson on Tuesday night.
There's been a slack start to the season for our preview team, and apologies for that. But I've been told the fact files and previews will be back for next week's visit from Darlington. In the interim, a quick memo from that department of Cod Almighty notes "Chester are exactly one place above Town in the table - sixth - separated only by alphabetical order. And share the exact same league record as the Mariners: W1 D1 L0 F3 A2. Such early season excitement to stay in the play-offs, eh." In the absence of any CA-based insight, check out the pretty-decent look over the Chester side in the Grimmo Telegraph. Apparently Chester have replaced the bully boy tactics from last season with a more aethestically pleasing approach to the game since Keith Curle took over. Ironic given the allegations aimed at Curle when he was sacked by Mansfield? (irony a theme in this week's Pete Green's column by the way.)
All of which leaves us to head off to the preview department, watch the resumption of the cricket on their TV, and contemplate Reddy scoring in a Town win with a dazzling Gazza C masterclass. That'd be the icing on the cake. See yer.
Thursday 11 August
First up, I meant to say before: sorry to those of you who were unable to access Cod Almighty for a day or so earlier this week. For future reference, when you can't get on to the site using the usual codalmighty.com address, try codalmighty.net instead. Worked for me, anyway.
A lot of talk so far this season has centred around the pace of Michael Reddy, but another key figure at Blundell Park who is not noted for sluggishness is of course John Fenty, who, true to form, has offered an impressively quick explanation of Town's decision to extend the deadline for discounted season tickets again. The chairman has told the club's official website that the recent signing of Gary Croft has "breached the budget", and that the unprecedented extension into the season of the cheaper ticket offer represents a chance for supporters to not only talk the talk of how pleased they are to have Gorgeous Gaz back in town but also walk the walk of turning over 300-odd quid to pay the lad's wages. I dunno first of all Town outbid second-flight Luton for the services of Jean-Paul Kamudimba, and then they break the bank to bring back Crofty. At this rate the Diary won't be able to sleep soundly until I buy a second season ticket for the seat just in front of my current one and stretch out to rest my feet on it.
The Mariners of Grimsby Town are not the only ones who are short of a few bob, as the Central Coast Mariners may never get the chance to line up against Ronnie Bull's New Zealand Knights in Australia's brand new A-League if they don't find some new sponsors sharpish. Having set up a club that would need $5million to start the season, the Mariners' owners are a not insignificant $2.5million short with only two weeks to go, and are apparently running like nutters from one local business to another with an upturned hat, trying to make up the deficit. A Fox Sports report on the whip-round is headlined Big guns spruiking Mariners, and for once the Diary doesn't know whether it's a typo or just a word I don't know. At this stage it remains unclear whether the Central Coast Supporters' Trust is being hauled in to launch a campaign called Keep the Mariners Afloat, or indeed whether Central Coast have a supporters' trust. Or any supporters.
As one or two sharp-eyed Townites have noticed already, former Mariners striker Darren Mansaram, now with Halifax Town in the Conference, has recently been courted by York City, a club recently renowned as a hostel for Blundell Park refugees. Just when Daz-Maz was looking likely to join the club with the most embarrassingly sponsored stadium name in the history of organised sport, though, Barrow came lumbering along the horizon, and you can erase my hard drive with no backup if they are not another side with recent GTFC-flavoured transfer links, Karl Colley having popped along for a trial from Holker Street only this summer and one or more of the many indifferent Town youth team graduates of the past few years having gone on loan there at some point. I don't really know why I'm telling you all this, because Flash hasn't even gone anywhere yet, other than that it's kind of a quiet day and I'm avoiding work.
Oh, and Russell Slade is set to name the same starting XI for the third game in succession as Town travel to Chester on Saturday. That's it, then! Bye!
Wednesday 10 August
Hang on a minute... is that... no, it can't be... but... yes, it is... it's a seven-game unbeaten run! Two late goals from Rob Jones and Martin Gritton having given Town the three points their exertions deserved last night at Bristol Rovers, the Mariners have now drawn five and won two of their last seven competitive matches. Bugger me. As eventually expected, the starting XI was identical to that fielded against Oxford last Saturday and thus craftily included pretend injury victims Michael Reddy and Tom Newey though Gary Cohen and Luton loanee Calvin Andrew emerged from the bench to make second-half GTFC debuts. Losing to the likes of Grimsby has reduced Ian Atkins to a gibbering wreck and even had sections of the Memorial Ground booing and barracking their own players in a bizarre homage to certain of their Blundell Park counterparts; at this rate the Grimsby Reaper is sure to be re-ascending to the Earth to claim the heads of many a fourth division manager with a grisly swish of his scythe. Sorry, I'm getting a bit prog rock now, aren't I. The result fires Town to sixth place in the embryonic fourth division league table, prompting Russ to grin: "I really believe we have a chance." The Diary trusts that he means something more than avoiding relegation this time.
Tuesday 9 August
Only seven hours remain until Town kick off their second game of the season at Bristol Rovers, and no further team news has issued from Blundell Park's throbbing news hub since this time yesterday, when Town's injured trio of Justin Whittle, JPKK and Ciaran Toner were all ruled out, and Michael Reddy and Tom Newey were not quite ruled out but at least sort of faintly scribbled over with an HB pencil. In the interests of balanced reporting, however OK, in the interests of cynicism the Diary is compelled to record the observations of a number of seasoned OK, cynical Mariners supporters that Reddys and Neweys exited stage left at the end of Saturday's disappointing draw against Oxford looking like nowt was up wivvum, and that their alleged doubtfulness for this evening's proceedings is nothing more than a crafty bit of misinformation. The idea is presumably that gullible old Ian Atkins will respond to the ostensible absence of Newey by sending out a team without a right-back or right winger and to what he believes will be the non-appearance of Reddy by fielding a central defensive partnership of Sidney the Snail and Toby the Tortoise.
Town's official website, meanwhile, has gone to the trouble of telling the world that those lovely people at the Memorial Ground are quite happy for us to pay on the gate this evening. This may only be borne out of desperation to encourage more than eleven Mariners fans to turn up, but it at least makes a nice change from the club's recent years in the second flight, when the run-up to an away game would invariably see the OS issue a succession of blood-curdling imprecations that supporters turning up without advance tickets would be turned away, flogged and pecked to death by geese. Of course, it always turned out to be wrong, and travelling Townites were perfectly able to shell out 20 or 25 quid on the turnstiles of Selhurst Park and Molineux, and then watch their team lose 4-1 and wish they were being pecked to death by geese after all.
Pretend Grimbarian-Italian Paulo di Moranio, nιe Paul Moran, has emailed the Diary to bring our attention to another tiresome gimmick by the fizzy drink vendors who sponsor the league competition Town play in. If the 72 clubs in the Football League score 4,500 goals this season then the sponsor will give them a million quid, apparently. I assume the 4,500 goals and the million quid are between them, although if Michael Reddy makes a quick recovery from this injury then you never know, eh.
A further email reaches the Diary, this time on the subject of Sir John McDermott's impending retirement (which is still, interestingly, yet to be reported or commented upon by the club in any way). "In these times of greedy footballers chasing cash rather than staying loyal to one club, how can we best honour Macca?" asks Rich Mills. "There's talk of a knighthood but is that enough? How about sainthood? Let's get him beatified! I know he's not dead but why let that stand in our way? The RC church will probably be glad we're taking an interest, what with falling visitor numbers, scandals and the like. I'm not entirely sure how to proceed but I'd imagine there's a form on the Vatican website or something." You may think Rich is kidding, but canonisations have begun over much less than 700-odd appearances for one club, you know. "Alternatively you could make some mugs with his face on." Oh. I guess he was kidding then.
Monday 8 August
You've got your set square and protractor. You've got your brand new lunchbox. You've got your Dangermouse pencil case. So it's time to go back to school and write about what you did in the holidays. Or it will be in a month's time, but far be it from the Diary to let that get in the way of a good opening riff. Because what most Grimsby Town supporters did in the holidays was say: "Yeah, if Reddy can stay fit next season he could score twenty and Town could get in the play-offs". Sadly for them, the fragile frontman upon whom their hopes fondly rested has broken down after the rigours of one full match and will need a fitness test ahead of tomorrow night's long-haul flight to Bristol Rovers which is bound to be a good place for Terry Barwick to make his debut, since there will only be about eleven Town fans there to boo him. To add to the absences in Mr Russell Slade's register, Tom Newey has got a note from his mum while Jean-Paul Kalala (nιe Kamudimba), Justin Whittle and Ciaran Toner are still twagging it and spending the afternoons smoking fags and winding up the security staff in Freshney Place.
Cor, Gary Croft, eh? Crofty. Crofter. The Croft. Crozza. El Crofta del Croftimundo. If you still haven't done your homework and bought a season ticket despite numerous deadline extensions from Sir, but the return of the prodigal is making your calf quite fat with excitement, then you will be at least mildly interested to note that GTFC have given you even more time to sign away your Saturdays (and Fridays) for the next nine months at a discounted rate. Yea, the club hath said you've now got until the Darlington game a week on Saturday to claim a seas-tick with four games for free or, as the Grimsby Telegraph shrewdly puts it until "at least" then. The Diary is holding back until Ivano Bonetti and Kevin Drinkell come back as joint player-managers.
The PTA is delighted to announce that the GTFC summer fayre raised £25,000 towards the cost of a new roof for the sports hall or, for those of you watching in black and white, Town's decision to hike up the price of all those pre-season friendlies has been vindicated with the news that all those tenners have added up to 25 big ones towards the Keep the Mariners Afloat appeal. Which I guess means that the Keep the Mariners Afloat appeal must still be going on this season.
Former pupil Michael Boulding has been talking to the local authority careers service and decided to return to the game of tennis. Cod Almighty will soon be launching a sweepstake to raise funds for the Keep the Mariners Afloat appeal, with the winning ticket showing the exact day on which the first newspaper story about Boulding's relaunched tennis career says he used to be a footballer.
Finally, after rejecting a transfer to GTFC because of the lack of vibrant cultural experiences on offer in the North East Lincolnshire region, James Quinn has signed for Peterborough. Sometimes this column just writes itself.
Saturday 6 August
If there was one thing that let down the Mariners last season, it was the loss of creativity incurred by the failure to select of Thomas Pinault for much of the campaign's latter half. If there were two things that let down the Mariners last season, they were the aforesaid lack of creativity and the reliance on high balls to Andy Parkinson against opponents who looked scarcely capable of defending the through pass. And if there were three things that let down the Mariners last season, they were the aforesaid lack of creativity and reliance on high balls and too many home draws against decidedly ordinary opposition.
And so for all the new players in Russell Slade's 200506 line-up, for all the excitement about Gary Croft in particular, for all of Paul Bolland's impressive debut in central midfield and the least unhelpfully negative home crowd for some time, Town mustering just two shots on target in their 1-1 draw at home to Oxford today and the manager telling Radio Humberside that it "showed how difficult we are going to be to beat this season" only gave resonance to the old proverb that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Friday 5 August
Town fans everywhere will have climbed the wooden hill to Bedfordshire grinning last night as the news broke that Gary Croft will be returning to Blundell Park on a two year contract. Apparently Town have inserted some kind of injury get-out clause to silence the cynics who question Gary's ability to stay fit, but your Guest Diarist cares not a fig for such contractual minutiae just now. Today is a day, as ace Cod Almighty match reporter Tony Butcher puts it, "to enter full back heaven". A day to welcome the return of another 'Town player', as opposed to an anodyne journeyman signing for his fifth club in six seasons or summat. The prodigal returns, and we welcome him with open arms and a famerlee hug. He's coming home. He's coming home, Crofty's coming home.
Scarborough beat a Sheffield United side 3-2 the other night. Russell Slade went along to watch and was so impressed by the second half performance of 'our' young Mr Palmer that he has promptly signed a similar striker, Calvin Andrew, on a months loan from Luton. Jermaine came on at half time, scored the winner and made Boro boss Nick Henry a very happy man saying things like "he has got bags of pace and is powerful while his touch also seems good." Jigsaws and the final pieces thereof were also mentioned. One can only assume that Mr Slade knows what he is doing signing yet another front man. Rumours that it is a preventative measure to avoid any chance of Mr Crane 'having a go' up front, even in training, are, as yet, unfounded.
The Croft-tastic news overnight has meant the diary is being penned an hour or two early this morning so speculation on tomorrow's lineup will be limited to a perfunctory "dunno mate, well have to see". In fact why dont you all get down to BP tomorrow and find out for yourselves? And "watching the Ashes" is not an acceptable excuse. Speaking of which, some of you may remember me rambling on the other week about cricket players injuries being almost always caused by them playing other sports whilst warming up prior to a match. The point being you don't catch Macca and Crofty playing tip'n'run very often do you? Well, my theorem was well and truly proven yesterday when that demon Aussie bowler did his ankle while pratting about with a rugby ball an hour before the test match started. Plans to entice Mr Warne to try a round of croquet are already being laid.
So we have survived the midsummer doldrums and there's a fresh easterly blowing off the Humber. Mr Fenty is to be congratulated with the summer signings which seem to have given Town half a chance. Let's just hope Mr Slade plays the right names in the right positions. So what of the opposition? Well your Guest Diarist's favouritely named goalie, Mr Billy Turley is now an Oxford player, but faces competition from last season's player of the year Chris Tardif. A pie eating competition to decide who plays will take place on the team bus tomorrow. Newly appointed skipper, and no stranger to the Town bench, Chris Hargreaves will also play. Others to worry about include ex Celtic and Reading winger Stuart Gray and 'whoever they play up front'. At least that will no longer be Mr Mooney. So rub your hands together, slap your thighs and get those tonsils exercised. It's game on tomorrow. See yer.
Thursday 4 August
Congolese midfielder Jean-Paul Kamudimba/Kalala jokingly referred to recently by Russell Slade as "the Frenchman" because of his strong facial resemblance to Thomas Pinault will miss Town's opening game against Oxford this Saturday with the knee injury he inevitably received in Tuesday's, ahem, friendly against violent top-flight millionaires Blackburn Rovers. And won't be back for two weeks. Bugger. Reporting the bad news, the club's official website adds that Ciaran Toner will probably also miss out with ankle knack. Bugger. The absence of him and JPK could mean a weekend debut for Terry Barwick, whose appearances in the Mariners' pre-season games so far have given certain spectators the opportunity to prove once again by, incredibly, booing their own players in friendlies that the Grimbarian gene pool must immediately be enhanced by surgically denying them the right to reproduce.
More than 24 hours after the story broke that Town legend John McDermott will retire from playing at the end of the 200506 season, the Mariners' website is still yet to carry the news, despite running a page of stats about the player's appearance records and stuff. The Diary smells something fishy here (could it be that Macca told Radio Humberside of his intentions before informing the club?), and even if I am experiencing olfactory hallucination it still seems a little astonishing that no official comment has yet issued from Blundell Park regarding Sir John's bowing out. And that doesn't look like any curry I've ever eaten, by the way...
Do you have TONY FORD tattooed on your knuckles? A birthmark the shape of the Dock Tower? London-based snapper Zak Waters is seeking visually distinctive GTFC fans for a photography project he is working on, so if that sounds like you, or you're planning to attend a match in fancy dress or anything like that, and you fancy helping out, then email Zak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know GTFC has a group of "safety chiefs"? The Diary must confess to having been oblivious to this important group of people, but according to today's Grimsby Telegraph, they not only exist but are also "clamping down on unruly behaviour this season with club stewards teaming up with the police to stamp out troublemakers", which sounds such a good idea that you can only wonder why nobody ever thought of it before. New measures include "re-emphasising" the Main Stand's no smoking policy and getting shot of the unreserved seating in the Pontoon. "We want to safeguard our aim of promoting a family atmosphere and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the highest possible standards of behaviour," said Town's safety officer Terry Rudrum, staring pointedly at Tony Crane.
Remember Paul Shields? Course you do. His 29 league goals in 58 starts for Forfar Athletic prompted Town to offer the Scots part-timers five thousand quid for him way back in June 2005. "Ye're having a wee laugh, laddie!" said Forfar. "Yeah, we are actually," said Town. "Grrrr!" said Forfar. And that was that until yesterday, when Gillingham signed him for £25,000. "The offer was substantially more than that offered by other clubs, and has no performance clauses in it," said Forfar's chairman David McGregor, staring pointedly at John Fenty.
Wednesday 3 August
The Office. Gulliver's being any good. The life of John Peel. All good things come to an end, and so it is with the literally awe-inspiring playing career of John McDermott, which will conclude next May after lasting almost 20 years. Sir John made his Mariners debut in 1987 against Bradford, playing in a wide midfield position under Mike Lyons. Converted by Alan Buckley to a right-back, Macca has gone on to make a staggering 690 appearances for the club in all competitions, experiencing five relegations and three promotions at the last count, and being voted supporters' player of the year for 200405 at the age of 36. After appearing in last night's friendly against Blackburn, St John revealed to Radio Humberside that the forthcoming season would be his last as a player, giving GTFC and the fans nine months to come up with some suitable ways to commemorate his magnificence. Well, we've done a T-shirt; what's your idea? Email the Diary and share it.
Town fans who attended last night's game are today relieved that only one injury was inflicted by the notoriously violent visitors, albeit to the imperious Jean-Paul Kamudimba, who was replaced by Terry Barwick after getting kicked half an hour in. Perhaps more significant was the performance of returning prodigal son Gary Croft, who was invited to play in last night's game by assistant manager Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger and created the goal with which Rob Jones put Town ahead on 20 minutes. The player's all-round display had supporters purring with delight at the prospect of a Macca/Croft retro wing-back pairing setting the fourth division alight. Michael Reddy, furthermore, has clearly benefited from a week of army discipline and forced Rovers' Dominic Matteo to defend to the best of his Premiership ability. Oh, and Blackburn scored twice, but never mind that. Sign 'im up, Slades!
Like an unsuitable present bought in panic on your first Christmas shopping expedition on 15 December, and then shoved into a drawer when you found something a bit classier in Binns the following Sunday, Town's early summer signing Jermaine Palmer has been loaned out to Scarborough before kicking a ball. Although, saying that, he's probably kicked a few in training and stuff. You'd hope so anyway. Er, so, yeah. That's it really. Sorry I'm just in a bit of a tizz with this whole Macca/Croft thing. Those golf ball/aftershave gift packs will be reduced to 29p on Friday.
Blow me if yesterday afternoon wasn't a busy old time for ex-Mariners the most recent of whom, Stacy Coldicott, will be Hereford United's yard-dog for the next two years after finally signing a contract with the Conference side. Two players who prove that if you make your name at Blundell Park then you will only lose it elsewhere are Michael Boulding who has changed his mind about joining Crewe and retired from professional football at the age of 29 to do boring but more lucrative business stuff instead and John Oster, who has further delayed his eventual Croftian return to Cleethorpes by agreeing a one-year deal at second division Reading. Finally, Menno Willems the pierced-tongued Dutchman who North East Lincs just wasn't ready for has been released by his most recent club, Sparta Rotterdam, despite having a year still to run on his contract. Seems to be a pattern emerging there.
Before you sleep and dream of Croft and McDermott, there's just time for an email from Dick of Legbourne on the subject of another great name. "Let us not forget other past heroes who continue to grace the field," he writes. "Dave Gilbert is still going strong and doing his stuff and not too far from Blundell Park either. Now player-coach at Lincoln United and aged 43, his boys lined up against Dario's Championship Crewe as Crofty and the crew lined up against Premiership Blackburn. 'Those who want to take their football seriously and make a career out of the game will find out what the benchmark is. I'm sure they will give a good account of themselves and it will be a great experience for them,' he said. So long as they follow your example, mate, I'm sure they will. Good on yer Dave and long live the ickle folk!" A heart-warming note on which to finish today's Diary so thanks for that, Dick. Hmmm
I feel a T-shirt coming on
Tuesday 2 August
He once rescued a baby from a fire next door to his flat in Cleethorpes. He once controlled a ball that arrived at shoulder height by some kind of amazing thigh stretch thing that made the Diary go "woh!". He was the first player Town received a million quid for. And then it all went a bit Donkey Kong for Gary Croft, who has made about as many first-team appearances in the nine years since he left Blundell Park as he did during his all too brief spell as a Mariner. The reason I am telling you all this is that in an irresistibly poetic scenario Gaz is to line up for the Town this evening against Blackburn: the club for which he inadvisably forsook the delights of Cleethorpes back in 1996. As a two-footed player capable of lining up in defence or midfield, Croft, now 31, looks an ideal choice to add depth to Mr Russell Slade's still patchy squad. Though doubts will arise over his fitness record (the player withdrew from a friendly for Cardiff reserves last night because of a problem with insurance), the Diary remembers the day he made me go "woh!", and today I feel like saying it all over again. Woh!
James 'Jimmy' Quinn may have been driven back into the arms of his family by the sight of Pyewipe from the A180 not to mention the smell but, as the signing of 'Terrific' Terry Barwick proved, GTFC have no trouble fighting off bids from the likes of Brigg Town for the services of less sensitive footballers. This includes Town's new striker Gary Jones, who turned down a chance to play in the UEFA Cup in favour of the fourth division's finest fish and chips. By throwing in his lot for two years at Blundell Park, reports the Daily Post, Jones rejected the advances of Rhyl FC, runners-up in last season's Welsh Premier, who face Viking FK of Norway in the tournament's second qualifying round a week on Thursday.
Monday 1 August
Tranmere's Gary Jones has become the fifth and presumably final striker in Mr Russell Slade's squad for the 200506 season, or the sixth if you count Andy Parkinson. A 30-year-old 30-year-old, Jones has spent his entire career with the Wirral side save for a two-year stint at Nottingham Forest from 2000 to 2002. His record of 47 league goals in nearly 300 appearances looks a bit rubbish, but the player has been shunted hither and thither around the team and many of said appearances were not in a forwardmost position. Jones, who has signed a two-year contract with GTFC, can therefore expect to be filling in for the injury-prone likes of Justin Whittle, Simon Ramsden, Tony Crane and Rob Jones at the back and has probably become Town's second-choice goalkeeper ahead of John Lukic.
Your new man's versatility is especially to be welcomed given the news that Rabid Russ will bring in only one more player before the season begins this Saturday. Perhaps prompted by the news of an injury to Tom Newey, the only left-footed player in his squad, the Mariners boss has told his club's official website: "We just need one more. Hopefully we can get a wing-back type player in." Good news for Town's vulnerable wide positions, then, but not so happy for trialists Cameron Pino (attacking midfield/forward), Alan Navarro (midfield), Samuel Ipoua (forward), Levi Reid (midfield) and Karl Colley (central defence), all of whom have presumably been wasting their time.
That wing-back type player could turn out to be Stuart Edwards, a youthful former Leeds wing-back type player who failed a trial with Swansea earlier this summer but impressed in Town's win at Lincoln yesterday. Andy Parkinson notched the only goal from long range after 21 minutes, while Edwards later came on as a substitute at right wing-back and looked pretty good, especially going forward. Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala Kamudimba Jean-Paul Kalala and Paul Bolland controlled the midfield in a much-improved showing from the Mariners, while Nick Heggggggarteeeey also performed well all round after coming on from the bench. Lincoln were mostly rubbish though but Scott Kerr, once the subject of a GTFC tapping-up scandal, recently joined the Imps from Scarborough and was probably their man of the match on Sunday.
Second division Derby County, in case you've forgotten, will be hosting the Mariners later this month in the first round of the League Cup, and have learnt a lesson from Geeky Cousin Diary, who suddenly became the most popular kid in the school when it was announced that attendees at his 16th birthday party would receive copious quantities of free cider purloined from the back room of his dad's off-licence. Fearing that nobody would turn up to their Grimsby soirιe on 24 August without some serious bribery, the Rams have reduced the price of admission to an intoxicating £12 (it doesn't say anything about away fans, but I think they'll have to let us in for that as well
anyone?). All we need now are 2,000 litres of Bulmer's special and plenty of buckets to be sick in.
Former Town hero and jellyfish Kevin Donovan will be lining up against Paul Groves' Stafford Rangers in the Conference North next season after signing for Alfreton Town, widely recognised not so much for Premiership ambitions as for being a lower-than-York elephants' graveyard for ex-Mariners. Or was that Ilkeston? Anyway, yeah. If you really, really care then Clint 'No Starts' Marcelle is at Gainsborough Trinity and Wayne 'No Contract' Graves has gone to Kidderminster, but we are straying deeply here into should-get-out-more territory.