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Diary - July 2005
Friday 29 July
Hello. Bottom Of The Barrel Diary here again from the plague
village of Tetney, trying to maintain the standards of
wit and spohistication for which this diary is famous.
There was once a famous exchange on a Radio 1 call-in
show that proceeded as follows:
Tony Blackburn: Hi caller, what's your name?
Caller: David Morris
Tony Blackburn: I went to school with a David Morris.
Are you his brother?
I mention this because my first reaction on hearing
that Town were trying to sign Northern Ireland
international James Quinn was "Hmm, I wonder if he's
Jimmy Quinn's brother?" Which, if nothing else, shows
that I've got the intellectual capacity to be a Radio
Anyway, the whole thing's immaterial since he doesn't
want to live in chavvy-crimey-druggy-fishy Grimsby.
According to John Fenty, however, he won't be signing
because we haven't got a "shiny new ground" with which
to impress him, making Positive John sound for all the
world like one of those Australian Bowerbirds that
decorates his nest with shiny milk bottle tops in a
desperate attempt to find a mate.
There is no news to report. Doubtless as soon as I
finish this diary tornadoes will hit Blundell Park,
Russell Slade will be revealed as the Covenham Wallaby
and we will have signed a creative midfielder. Yet for
now, all is peace. All is calm. And there have been
two days of rain, meaning that all the "preparations"
I made for this year's harvest have not been in vain.
All hail Geb.
Thursday 28 July
Today's Diary is given over to a match report sent by Mark Stilton via text message from last night's reserve/trialist/youth team game at Doncaster.
Team: lukic, colley, possibly chamberlain, person with hard to pronounce name at back. Downey and barwick at wing back. Port vale player and navarro in middle. Pino, ipoa and palmer up front. Donny play first team we make Downey captain. Town start well and score early on with nice goal from vale player edge of area. Well struck. Donny score after 30 mins. Deflection. Donny have more chances but few on target. Near end of half unpronounceable gets booked and then almost sent off. Ipoa has a barney at colley. Stand out players: vale player is hard working good passing and awareness. Pino shows some promise but fades. Everyone else a bit disappointing. Colley is a beast. Navarro can't get going. Ipoa and palmer fairly quiet. Barwick isn't really good enough for the reserves. Donny fans taking this match far too seriously
That little lot took poor old Stilts about five messages to send in its entirety. His report on the second half took six. I don't know about his network, but that would cost the Diary £1.32. Good on yer Mark. And sorry, but the second half seems to have got lost somewhere. I think it ended 4-1 to Donny though. Anyway, that's it. See you Monday!
Wednesday 27 July
A surprise appearance at right wing-back by Gary Cohen, a decent early goal from Michael Reddy, an equaliser from Frazer Richardson on 24 minutes, and another Town penalty miss from a spot-kick that shouldn't have been awarded anyway. They are the salient features of last night's 1-1 draw with Leeds, which was watched by 3,559 people, of whom Town's official website says 839 supported the visitors but of whom Leeds' official website says "nearly half" supported the visitors. The result, hilariously, has the purple-faced messageboarders screaming murderously that the Mariners are without a win since their 4-1 stroll at Kidderminster in, er, the penultimate game of last season. Sometimes eugenics doesn't seem such a bad idea after all.
New on the trial trail are tough-tackling former Port Vale midfielder Levi Reid and another striker, Samuel Ipoua, who came on as a sub last night and may also appear this evening at Doncaster. The Mariners' official site confusingly declares that Ipoua is Congolese but managed to play two games for Cameroon 19 years ago at the 1986 World Cup. One can only assume that the old warhorse is looking for a part-time contract to top up the miserly retirement pension on offer from both the Congo and Cameroon social security systems.
Town have also given a trial, test, audition, assessment, examination to a new defender, shielder, guardian, minder, protector and it is anticipated, expected, imagined, supposed, presumed that he will take some part in tonight's game, match, contest, competition against Doncaster Rovers, Ramblers, Strollers, Wanderers, Meanderers, Amblers, Roamers. He plays for Oxford and his name is Roget. Did you see what I did there?
Children are to be allowed in free to watch the forthcoming friendly against 'physical' top-flight outfit Blackburn Rovers, reports Town's official Grimsby Telegraph website. The news comes as a blow to local child protection officers, who, after viewing footage of Rovers' 2004–05 Premiership campaign, were rumoured to have been pressing for the match to be given an 18 certificate and tickets to be printed with the warning "contains scenes of extreme graphic violence".
Tuesday 26 July
A week and a bit before the Mariners' glorious 2005–06 promotion season begins, the club is already enduring its first midfield injury crisis, with Ciaran Toner and tough-tackling Paul Bolland looking iffy for tonight's apparently glamorous friendly at home to second division Leeds. Heel and ankle respectively, as if it makes a big difference to your psychological well-being and prosperity. John McDermott has still got a hamstring and Justin Whittle's head still hurts from Rotherham. I went there once and I know how he feels. The dark midfield emptiness Town are experiencing ought to guarantee starting places to tough-tackling Scunthorpe discardee Terry Barwick and tough-tackling Congo existentialist Jean-Paul Camus-Dimba.
Another midfielder who may fill the void of Grimsby's heart is 24-year-old Alan Navarro, though not until tomorrow night's attractively priced £10 reserves training session at Doncaster. The player began his career with Liverpool, you know, and dwindled along to a succession of lower-division Cheshire and Lancashire clubs culminating in his release this summer by Tranmere. With tough-tackling Barwick, tough-tackling Bolland and tough-tackling JPK already signed up, you might think there'd be room in the squad for a man who can play in a passing, attacking midfield role – Lee Fowler, say, or perhaps even Cameron Pino – but sure enough, Navarro is a central player described by Town's official website as ...[pause for suspense]... "tough-tackling".
Tough-tackling assistant manager Graham Rodger has been given a new car! Flipping heck! Let's see what kind it is, and I'll go out and buy one, because it must be good! Maybe tough-tackling assistant commercial manager Dave Smith can help. "To have such a top marque as Audi supporting the Mariners is great news for Grimsby Town Football Club," says Dave. I don't know what a marque is, but I'm sure that quote wasn't written for him by Grimsby Audi's marketing people or anything. Hooray for tough-tackling Audi!
"Dear Diary," begins an email to the Diary, unsurprisingly, from the boss of Cod Almighty, "I would just like to point out that your wage isn't just one bottle of Badger. You forget the bonuses, which was – if that bottle of beer didn't wipe from your memory – a packet of worcester sauce Seabrooks this year. Live it up." You told me they were roasted garlic flavour! Gah!
And finally, Andy Holt, the tough-tackling supremo of Cod Almighty's apparel division, has emailed the Diary: "Please reassure John Pakey that the Macca T-shirt he ordered less than two weeks ago will be with him, all being well, before the end of the week." OK, Andy. John, the Macca T-shirt you ordered less than two weeks ago will be with you, all being well, before the end of the week. I'm not saying which week though. "Of course, all profits from the T-shirts go towards hosting this lovely website and buying shares through the KTMA scheme, and to answer his other question, if he's bothered, the sales of the Macca shirt are going well, but interestingly more Super Clive and Ivano T-shirts had been sold by this stage following their respective releases. Interesting. We were sure the Macca shirt would prove the most popular yet. What's wrong with you all, eh?" Well, CA has clearly missed the spirit of the times with this one, Andy. Sales will never improve until you offer today's forward-thinking Town fans a tough-tackling Terry Barwick T-shirt.
Monday 25 July
Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom. I'm sorry – I know it's been there for ages but it still makes me laugh. And badgers play in black and white.
So, my Grimbarian friends, what did the weekend bring? It brought a 1-1 draw against Rotherham (a place name that rhymes with 'problems' if you're in a horribly overrated band called the Arctic Monkeys), in which the Mariners were comprehensively outplayed while they used the long ball for the first half, and then equalised after they sneakily tried passing the ball instead while Russell Slade was looking the other way. To be precise, a bordering-on-spectacular shot by the player now known as Kalala (Jean-Paul) clobbered the carpentry and fell kindly for Martin Gritton on the rebound. As in he scored when the ball bounced back to him off the goalpost, not as in he's just hurriedly entered into an inadvisable new relationship or indulged in a desperate one-night stand after being renounced by a previous lover.
Other points of note about Friday night's proceedings include the belated appearance in goal of the previously injured Steve Mildenhall, who is probably injured again now after colliding with a Rotherham forward in the first minute and then collapsing several times when kicking the ball, before eventually being substituted with shrinking violet John Lukic. Trialists on show included Ian Hillier, a twentysomething right-back formerly of Tottenham, Luton and Wales under-21s, and Australian forward Cameron Pino, whose name prompted a subversive chant of Pinault reminiscence when he was brought on against Sheffield Wednesday earlier last week. Pino has a reasonable playing record in his homeland and seems to have been on the verge of an international call-up at some point, though he failed trials with Portsmouth and Carlisle in 2004, the latter when he just got bored and buggered off without telling them.
Speaking of Jean 'JP' Paul Kamudimba Pal Kamu Kalala, the Grimsby Telegraph has managed to resist a Daily Mail/BNP-style outburst against economic migrants taking jobs off white people for long enough to run an interview with Town's new Congolese midfielder. For most of it, sadly, the player displays a distinctly English grasp of the usual "it's great to be here at [insert name of club]" formula, although it is very interesting to note that JP "went to Luton on trial and that was great... but they couldn't afford me". Quite how the supposedly cash-strapped Mariners can outbid a club two divisions higher up the league is as big a mystery to the Diary as it will be to you. I just hope that sympathetic QPR fan who took out a life membership to GTST isn't reading.
His managerial record with the Mariners may have ended in huge disappointment, but only the most perverse of purple-headed Pontoon pessimists would wish Paul Groves anything other than success and happiness in his future existence. After leaving York at the end of last season, the distinguished midfielder – who will turn 40 next February – has now signed as a player/assistant manager with Stafford Rangers of the Conference North and made an immediate impression in his new side's recent friendly against Port Vale. Shame it's a bit late to organise a friendly against them now.
This is a staff announcement. Could Sean Fieldsend email the Diary at the usual address, please. Sean Fieldsend to email the Diary. Thankyou.
"How much of a rush has there been on the John McDermott shirts," asks the importunate John Pakey in an email to the Diary, "and how long am I going to wait? I put the order in as soon as the things appeared and I'm still sitting here without a way to show my love for the great man via a 100% cotton medium. I'm not complaining, just getting anxious." I understand that a load are being sent out this week, Mr P, so the record-breaking right-back should be adorning your pectoral area any day now. Perhaps a member of the Cod Almighty fashionwear marketing team can provide figures. "Also, has the Diary considered giving one of the shirts to the legend himself?" adds John. "I'm sure with all the profits you must be making out of his godlike image you could afford one shirt, or did the Diary really want that new ivory back scratcher this month?" Hey, I wish. One bottle of Badger a year is all that's fit for the likes of me, you know.
Friday 22 July
Apologies the diary's so late. Ashes are on. Been drinking some beer. So little news. You know how it is. You don't? Then the Town related news can be surmised as thus:
JPK to play tonight. Rambo and Mildenhall late fitness tests (although a clb txt sez he iz alrite, m8). Macca out. Bolland out. Very few numbers to shake it about. Still, it's only a friendly.
Like I said: very little. Right. Athers and Michael Palin have just made way for an ad break meaning tea's about to end. Back to the supping Theakston's. Laters!
Thursday 21 July
Back in January a report published by the Football League on payments to players' agents revealed that the parasites sucked the not insignificant sum of £24,020 from the body of Grimsby Town between July and December 2004 – a rate of expenditure, as the Diary put it at the time, roughly equivalent to one season ticket every two days. Today the FL has published figures for the 2004–05 season as a whole, and Town's subsidy to the cigar industry remains at £24,020, suggesting rather strongly that the club made no further payments to agents during the second half of last season (the club's official website seemingly having misread the figures). Interestingly, Scunthorpe attained promotion not only with a lettuce for a manager but also as one of 13 of the 72 Football League clubs that spent not a penny on agents' fees all season. The other 59 forked out £7.8m between them, the vast majority by second-flight clubs and 'only' £325,000 by sides in the fourth division. FL chairman, Arsenal fan, and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Sir Brian Mawhinney is getting a bit worked up about it, but the Mr 10%s are unlikely to lose much sleep given his track record in trying to sort out the Ulster thing and stop FIFA extending its transfer window to clubs below the Premiership.
Lee Fowler is now back at Huddersfield, with his manager Peter Jackson declaring that "it doesn't look like anything will happen" regarding a transfer to the Mariners. The erstwhile midfield trialist's hopes of winning a playing contract with Grimsby Town Football Club are rumoured to have been ended by his completely unprofessional insistence on passing the ball attractively along the floor.
So Mr Russell Slade may have done little so far to fulfil hopes that he might emulate the great Alan Buckley in terms of playing style and results, but one area in which he does seem to follow the example of Town's most successful manager ever is that of signing and trialing players he has already worked with elsewhere. Perhaps the latest of these – or perhaps not; we don't know everything – is David Pounder, a midfielder recently released on a free transfer by Slade's previous club Scarborough. According to the Scarborough Evening News, the player tried his luck at Blundell Park earlier this summer before going on to trials with Conference sides Tamworth and York; and before you start sneering, remember that mulleted Mariners midfield maestro John Cockerill only came to play for his hometown club via Stafford Rangers.
The footballer variously known as Pal Kamudimba, Jean-Paul Kamudimba, Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala and just plain old Jean-Paul has now moved his stuff from France to Cleethorpes, poor bugger, but has apparently still not received that pesky international clearance. Town are insisting that he will be internationally cleared today, though, allowing him to take part in the friendly against Rotherham tomorrow night.
Last of all this week, then, before your regular Diary makes way for a Friday guest writer, comes a juicy email from a juicy guy. "I've heard tell that John Lukic's father, errrr, John, has become Town's keeper coach," writes Michael Shelton. "Don't know if he's being paid or is just helping his son out for free. Since Lukic senior obviously wasn't signed with the intention of being played, please may I be the first cynic to suggest that after seeing what not having a goalkeeper coach did to his team last season, Slade signed Little Lukic as a cover for getting his dad's services?" With a mind that works like that, Mr Shelton, you could almost write the Diary.
Wednesday 20 July
Two and a bit weeks before the season begins, Town's murky goalkeeping situation shows no signs of clarification, as today's Grimsby Telegraph leads with the news that Steve Mildenhall may, or may not, be fit for the opening game against Oxford on 6 August and that his chances of being so may, or may not, depend upon him sitting out the rest of the club's pre-season friendlies, which he may, or may not, do. In a rare instance of the Telegraph giving a more optimistic angle than the club's, Trevor Green's piece begins by asserting that Mildenhall "should be fit" in time, only to quote a rather more cautious Mr Russell Slade declaring himself "hopeful" that the player's knee/ankle combo knack will have cleared up in time for the not-so-big kick-off a fortnight on Saturday. John Lukic is believed to be hiding in a box somewhere.
Big Steve's fellow injury victim Simon Ramsden, meanwhile, is making a concerted bid for Alan Pouton permacrock status with a strained arse in July. The same Telegraph piece informs us that the ball-playing centre-half is receiving treatment from Town's physio Dave Moore, which must be quite embarrassing for them both, and Miles Moss has emailed the Diary in response to a contribution yesterday about, er, Rambo's unlikely bum trouble. "John Pakey almost hit the nail on the head in linking Ramsden and Bonetti's injuries," he writes. "The difference is, of course, that Bonetti was injured by an arse."
Like a gullible young university lecturer asked for another extension by a malingering but highly attractive student, Town have moved back the deadline for discounted season tickets again, and fans now have until the end of July to sign away nine months of their lives to despair at a cheaper price. The reason given for this is the interest created by the club's recent signing of a Congo international, who now seems to be called Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala. Clearly the BP bean-counters have calculated that the club's financial worries will soon be over if they go on acquiring new season ticket holders at the same rate their players are acquiring new names.
Tuesday 19 July
The current round of pre-season friendlies may have given little indication so far that Mr Russell Slade may move on from his easily exploited 3-4-3 formation, but to give credit to innovation where it's due, Town's official website has found another way to spell the name of Nick Hegarty (I make that four now). The bright young forward – and I'm not just talking about his glowing ginger noggin – netted a late consolation goal last night following good work from Gary Cohen after two second-half strikes by the visiting side Big Sheffield Wednesday.
Overall last night's performance is being welcomed as an improvement on the hoofing competition that passed for a football match last week – not least in terms of Town's goalkeeper, who had supporters asking: "Who are you and what have you done with Wayne Brown?" Unfortunately for Raging Russ, the on-trial/on-loan/on-holiday-in-Cleethorpes Chester custodian has been offered a contract by a Danish club, and the pastry in North East Lincolnshire just can't compete. The indefatigable John Pakey, meanwhile, has emailed to bemoan an injury sustained last night by Simon Ramsden and ask: "Is it only Grimsby who could have a player who manages to injure his arse? Then thinking back to the Ivano incident with a plate of chicken it just all seems to fit." Me, I thought Gluteus Maximus was a gladiator.
Fancy a bit of gratuitous gossip? I do, because I've just got back from the pub, which is why today's Diary is a bit late. Terry Barwick was on the brink of signing for Brigg Town before our Town grabbed him. FACT? You've seen him play; what do you think?
Better get this finished quick then. First a couple more emails, though. Mark Wilson writes: "I completely accept 'some bloke called Steve's' point about Adidasgate not being high on Nike's agenda; that's why I wrote to you about it and not them." Fair enough. I think. "Mr Kamudimba didn't play last night because as soon as he signed for us he hot-tailed it back to France to, I assume, pack his shinnies and athletic support and take a last look wistful look at the south of France. He'll be with us on Wednesday (it said all this on the OS somewhere....well, not the bit about shinnies and athletic support). Au revoir."
And finally, a multiple close encounter from Chris Jenkin, who says: "On Monday afternoon, a few friends and myself had been swimming at Cleethorpes Leisure Centre. Afterwards as I was getting changed I overheard some guys talking about going to bars but didn't think much of it. They then walked past me and to my surprise it was Steve Mildenhall and Paul Bolland dressed in Grimsby Town training attire. I was pretty surprised to see them in such a place considering they were both meant to be injured and looked pretty fine (I guess this is proof that Mildenhall was faking an injury to get out of that bootcamp thing)." And they say footballers are thick, eh. "I then noticed there was another player there. Stood hiding in the corner was Glen Downey trying to be invisible. But yeah, I saw a few Grimsby Town players in a changing room and they looked fine even though they are injured. Afterwards I thought I could have verified the 'one ball Mildenhall' rumour but staring at men's genitalia isn't my thing." Damn shame. Anyone whose thing is staring at men's genitalia is urged to email the usual address.
Monday 18 July
One of Town's less fathomable management decisions of the current pre-season concerns the goalkeeping position. As we know, Town's new first-choice keeper Steve Mildenhall is sitting out the friendlies with an ankle injury, prompting Mr Russell Slade to borrow from Chester City a gloveman who makes Anthony Williams look as solid as Stonehenge. And despite a coronary-inducing performance against Scunthorpe last week, Wayne Brown is set to retain the number 1 shirt for this evening's visit of Sheffield Wednesday, the rationale seemingly being that John Lukic may not be able to deal with the pressure or something. Yes, that is the same John Lukic who was recently signed to provide back-up to the first team because Rob Murray may not be able to deal with the pressure or something. And who is now deemed unable to deal with the intense pressure of pre-season friendlies. Or something.
Of course, it could just be that Mildenhall may not be fit in time for the start of the season, and that Sort It is taking a good look at Brown with a view to loaning him for a month or so. That makes you feel so much better, doesn't it.
The only other team news seems to be that Paul Bolland has come some sort of cropper, so I guess that might mean a start for Ciaran Toner. No mention is made of Jean-Paul Kamudimba, despite him now supposedly having completed the medical and international clearance type gubbins on a one-year contract with GTFC, so the Diary won't believe he is playing for the Mariners until I see him actually on the pitch in a Town shirt and getting fed up of chasing long balls.
Those of you not keen on the idea of paying ten quid to watch twenty-two men jog around on some grass trying not to get injured may be looking forward instead to the Mariners World commentary on tonight's match, which, for reasons unknown to the Diary, will be performed by Cod Almighty's very own Simon Wilson and Tony Butcher. Dan Humphrey is one of several Diary readers who have noticed this excursion into showbusiness, and has emailed this column to say: "One wonders if a full unedited commentary transcript will be printed in Tuesday's Diary. One also challenges Mr Wilson to mention every GTFC webzine except the F***y every 5 minutes." One didn't know there were any other GTFC webzines, Dan.
Michael Boulding has been offered, and has accepted, a one-year contract with second-flight Crewe. Turns out Cheltenham were after him as well. He used to play tennis, you know.
Some bloke called Steve has emailed to take up the issue raised by Mark Wilson in last Thursday's Diary of whether GTFC's decision to give away free Adidas shirts with every season ticket, despite their regular kit being supplied by Nike, constitutes some kind of unpardonable faux pas. "Picture the scene in Nike's Oregon boardroom," he writes."Agenda 14.07.05. 1. Should we increase the logo size on Tiger Woods' jaunty baseball cap for this weekend's Open at St Andrews? 2. Lance Armstrong looking to try out new Nike cycling shoes during a stage of next week's Tour de France. 3. Brazil asking to see some variations on the classic yellow for next year's World Cup kit. 4. Grimsby Town nark us off by slipping into some cheapo Adidas gear." Now even the Diary, who knows chuff all about shit like this, suspects Steve may be employing a degree of irony here. "I somehow think this minor indiscretion may perhaps go unnoticed at Nike towers. Then again could be wrong. You never know, it may herald the renewal of our relationship with Adidas and a return to that classic kit circa 1982 spoilt only by the letraset Findus sponsorship logo!" Hey, now you're talking.
Friday 15 July
Bonjour! Apologies for the lateness of this guest penned diary. Like the club's commentary for last night's game, we've had some difficulties. But at least we still deliver, even if it means we have to do a C section.
The difficulties for the club didn't stay off the pitch last night as Town failed to beat Scunthorpe in the Lincolnshire Cup for the second consecutive summer. With an uninspiring and tetchy game ending 0-0, Town carried some consistency through from last season as Lee Fowler and Andy Parkinson both missed in a penalty shoot-out. Scunny, showing the class you'd expect from a team a division higher, scored with all four they were afforded. The big surprise was the inclusion of Chester's Wayne Brown in goal, replacing the injured Steve Mildenhall. Quite where that leaves the 'promising' John Lukic (this season's Graham Hockless, mark Cod Almighty's words) we know not, other than he was snubbed for "a fatter Anthony Williams", as our man on the spot put it.
If you went to last night's game and were bewildered as to where the team's creativity was coming from, Russ has moved quick to allay those fears. Previously of FC Nice (mmm, biscuits) and a Congo international (he played in last year's African Cup of Nations), Jean-Paul Kamudimba has signed on the dotted line. He's a midfielder, 23, and wants to play in the Premiership one day - so no doubt he has thumbed the Darren Barnard Guide To Stepping Stones, taking special note of the chapter 'A Stay In Grimsby'. Oh, and due to make his debut against Rotherham next Friday, if he comes back from a quick sortie home. Let's hope he doesn't do some research on this here internet and discover the quainter charms of North-East Lincolnshire.
If you're after a season ticket, enthused after last night's game against Scunny and don't care on which day you're expected to attend home games, tomorrow is the last day to buy yourself one at the discounted prices. Troop on down to the ticket office with a hopeful swagger betweenst nine and twelve and let them know we sent you.
And that's it. Hope you have good weekends. Salut!
Thursday 14 July
Town's attacking midfielder until next May will, as expected, be Ciaran Toner, the former Lincoln and Leyton Orient man who Russell Slade is believed to have initially targeted as early as March this year following his training-ground hoo-hah with Imps teammate Marcus Richardson. The player has signed a five-minute, sorry, one-year contract with the Mariners after what was presumably a successful trial spell, and it would be jolly nice if he could continue the impressive form he displayed at Sincil Bank after becoming a regular in Mr Big Keith Alexander's side last winter, thank you very much. It is to be hoped, however, that some aspects of Toner's form will not re-emerge at Blundell Park, as it was strongly rumoured that his bust-up with Richardson was characterised by an ethnic sensitivity that would make Ron Atkinson look a strong candidate for chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.
Some fans feared that Slade, too, might harbour a streak of xenophobia after the manager's dodgy "the Frenchman" outburst at Thomas Pinault which followed Town's unfortunate 2-2 draw at Notts County in April. Their anxieties will have been allayed by the re-emergence of Gallic flair in last night's run-out at Bridlington, where the only goal was scored by a French trialist so far known only as Antoine. Town fans who attended the match have moved swiftly to reassure their fellow supporters that the missing words are not 'Mickael' and 'Curier'.
The words 'horse', 'door', 'stable', and 'bolted' spring to mind as GTFC belatedly install a poll on their official website in an attempt to gauge fans' opinions about Friday night football – ten days after announcing their decision to play Cheltenham on a Friday and two and a half weeks after bringing forward matches against Wycombe and Stockport. Even as you head over to the front page of the OS to register your view and reaffirm your faith in democracy, you may wish to bear in mind that the Diary's attempt this morning to vote 'no' was met immediately with the message "Error: The page you are trying to reach may have expired, or been moved. If you have followed a link from your bookmarks, please relocate the page and remember to update your bookmarks." I wish I was making this up, but I'm not.
A quick flick through the dog-eared rulebook just fished out from behind the Blundell Park fridge confirms that "FA rules apply" for tonight's Lincolnshire Cup game at home to Scunthorpe, which must mean that trialists aren't allowed to play (but seven of the new signings will). Club officials are now seeking clarification on whether the Geneva Convention will also be in force this evening, as last week's army camp training is said to have inspired some tactical innovations among the Mariners' coaching team, who are thought to be particularly keen on asking Justin Whittle to tie Peter Beagrie to a chair and administer electric shocks to his nipples while desecrating a picture of Brian Laws.
Michael Boulding is having a trial with Crewe, who are two whole divisions above Town.
Before I knock off for the week and leave you for tomorrow in the hands of another entertaining guest diarist, here's an email. "We seem to have declared open season on Town's dreadful PR," writes Mark Wilson, "so can you or your readers answer me a question please. How can we make such a big deal about giving away Adidas shirts (as well as picturing the whole squad wearing them) when we are sponsored by Nike? The two brands are metaphorically at each other's throats in the sportswear market and Nike will not be impressed by one of 'their' clubs openly promoting Adidas clothing – even if it is giving it away. Don't expect Nike to be keen to supply Town again when the deal runs out! Or am I missing something?" Well, Mark, as sure as day follows night or goal follows shot at Anthony Williams, the Diary hasn't got a clue about stuff like that, so perhaps our clued-up readership might be able to email us some thoughts. I will say this, though: I'm glad you said "metaphorically".
Wednesday 13 July
More today on GTFC's backfiring public relations exercise surrounding their decision to switch three of next season's home games to Friday nights. First up, there've been some interesting developments since yesterday's Diary stated that a number of Town fans had recently emailed the club to protest at Friday night football. These supporters used the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, which continues to appear online as part of the club's Customer Charter, where fans are invited to use it to convey any "legitimate concern or constructive comment". It has emerged since yesterday, however, that this address has actually been "defunct" for some time, and therefore that the legitimate concerns and constructive comments of these "customers" are apparently floating somewhere in cyberspace (the mails weren't bounced back), together with whatever other emails may have been sent by fans who have referred in good faith to the Customer Charter in the time since GTFC closed down that address. Just to make that clear, then, it's official: at Grimsby Town Football Club, customerservice is defunct.
Secondly, Tony Rogers has emailed the Diary to take issue with yesterday's claim by the club that staging last season's home game against Oxford on a Friday night "also proved to be a winner with Mariners' fans" as "almost 5,000 turned out". "The actual attendance against Oxford was 4,777," says Tony, "while Town's average home attendance for last season as a whole was 4,943. Think about that. The club is actually expecting us to believe that a below-average attendance was some kind of marketing triumph. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm getting a bit sick of paying people to treat me like an idiot."
A clutch of new trialists are set to take the field in Town's friendly at Bridlington tonight, and while everyone watches the skies to see whether Mr Russell Slade can sign an attacking midfielder half as good as Thomas Pinault, the Town boss could be set to strengthen the backline on the sly as well. Two middlemen who could be strutting their stuff are Boston's Sheffield-born Lee Thompson – he used to play for Sheffield United – and Huddersfield's Lee Fowler, and they could be joined by former Rushden and Tranmere forward Alex Hay. But joining them is Karl Colley, a 21-year-old Sheffield-born defender who notched four league goals for Barrow in the Conference North last season. Colley began his career with Newcastle before leaving in 2002 for spells with Halifax, Kettering, Hucknall Town, Bradford Park Avenue and, ooh, surprise, Sheffield United.
As new players come in let us spare a thought for those who are departed. No, not dead, although Graham Hockless' full-time career looks more than a little moribund now that the troublesome winger has signed for North Ferriby United, presumably having spurned offers from Melbourne Victory and Hull City to stay within commuting distance of his hairdresser. It's good news for the player's legions of adoring groupies in the Pontoon, then, who face only a short trip over the Humber to follow their idol next season, but bad news for Graham's agent, who will be wondering exactly how many cigars can be bought for 10 per cent of a Northern League signing-on fee.
Tuesday 12 July
Rookie keeper John Lukic could get an earlier-than-expected run-out for the Mariners this week, as the self-inflicted injury Steve Mildenhall used to avoid last week's army torture session may rule him out of Thursday's game against Scunthorpe. "With it being the Lincs Cup, it's unlikely we would be able to play a trialist in goal," Russ told today's Grimsby Telegraph, while Graham Rodger scurried frantically in the background for a rulebook.
Proactive and fast-moving as ever, GTFC have attempted an explanation of their decision to switch some of next season's home games to Friday nights, only 15 days after the decision was announced. Town declared on 27 June that the Stockport and Wycombe games would be brought forward to avoid clashes with England matches, adding last Monday that Cheltenham's visit to Blundell Park would also take place on a Friday evening. Today the club says the games have been switched to Fridays – rather than, as many fans may have preferred, Saturday lunchtime or Sunday – because of "commercial reasons", citing the fact that more than 6,000 fans turned up for last season's Friday night visit of Cheltenham and then rather undermining its own argument by adding that 1,800 of these were kids who got in for free.
The OS goes on to explain that the reason Town and Cheltenham are so mad keen on playing on Fridays is that it's cheaper because it avoids "overnight costs". But the distance by road between Blundell Park and Whaddon Road is 194 miles – a figure exceeded by the journeys to Barnet (209 miles), Bristol Rovers (231 miles), Carlisle (225 miles), Leyton Orient (223 miles), Oxford (197 miles), Torquay (321 miles) and Wycombe (225 miles). Maybe hotels are just cheaper in those places, eh. GTFC's masterpiece of self-justification ends by asking fans: "What do you think? Let us know on our online poll." Which is doubly pitiful, firstly because a number of fans emailed the club the week before last to protest against Friday football and none, to the Diary's knowledge, have received any reply; and secondly because at the time of writing the only online poll on the page concerns which is the best recent transfer involving some irrelevant Premiership millionaires, and if there actually is an online poll somewhere on the OS about Friday night football then it hasn't occurred to them to link to it from the words "online poll" on a page about Friday night football.
CA's match reporter Tony Butcher is clearly a man who feels summertime football deprivation more acutely than most, as he has emailed me to nag me about his answer to some question about old music set by Guest Diary about 3,019 years ago. "So is it Rick Wakeman then?" demands Tony brusquely. Er, yeah, if you like. Your prize is to help Guest Diary move house.
Monday 11 July
Transfer news first of all, and Russell Slade has been knocked back in an attempt to follow up the signings of Tom Newey, Gary Cohen and Terry Barwick with a player you've actually heard of. After flashing a bit of leg at several lower-league managers, Wigan midfielder Gareth Whalley last week found himself the happy recipient of a bouquet and box of Dairy Milk from a smitten Mr Slade, only to break Russ's heart by running off with smooth-talking Swindon boss Andy King. Still, as Mrs Diary said after I failed my driving test, there was no harm in trying, and Russ probably didn't even suffer two fractured ribs and a broken cheekbone.
The Mariners look ahead to their first two pre-season friendlies this week – at Bridlington Town on Wednesday and then at home to Scunthorpe on Thursday – following their return to a regular training schedule after a week spent in their army boot camp being woken up before they'd even got to sleep by a screaming sadist in camouflage gear and forced to shower in icy water before avoiding hand grenades tossed liberally by an insanely cackling Graham Rodger while attempting to build nuclear fall-out shelters from string. The Russ-ster has told the Grimsby Telegraph that the exercise has been good for bonding between his team, which may very well be the case, but in situations that call for good bonding the Diary tends to find that an enormous bottle of whisky is just as effective and much more fun.
Town legend Paul Groves, who sadly lacked as a manager what he made up for as a player, apparently did dead well over the weekend in that indoor summer tournament thing played by old people and televised on some non-terrestrial channel for a few thousand football fans at loose ends. In a similar vein, subscribers to Mariners World will be able to enjoy live commentary from Thursday's match, announces Town's official website today, pointing out that a subscription lasting until 10 August can be purchased for just £1.99, but, frankly, if you're getting excited about turning on a computer to listen to a pre-season friendly against Scunthorpe then you really need to get some mates.
Friday 8 July
I'm sure you'd all like to join with me in passing our deepest
to the families and friends of the more than fifty people who lost
lives in the terrorist attacks on London yesterday.
A suitably subdued and serious Durham Diary here, hoping none of you
were affected in any way more serious than getting an enforced day off
due to traffic problems. Clearly the English nation needs to stand
So to those people chanting "Kill the muslims" at the England/Australia
cricket match yesterday, I'm sure the terrorists will be very grateful
your support in dividing our great country.
Rant over. Let's wind up the old broadband and see what's happening in
entirely less terrifying world of Grimsby Town. And yes, it's the day
all been anxiously, nail-bitingly, breathlessly waiting for. Don't
the horrific events of yesterday pushed from your mind the significance
July the 8th? Yes, that's right the Reserves fixture list has been
released. In a weird delayed parallel of last year, the Mariners'
game is away at Darlington. Must be a good omen...
Today's Quick Vote on the OS is whether Mariners fans would rather have
million or Steve Gerrard. Presumably 32 million refers to the not
sum of thirty-two million pounds sterling, although I must confess
having heard of Steve Gerrard. Luckily, Google leaps to my rescue
me he's a DJ on Proton Radio. While the announcements over the PA
Blundell Park are pretty arse, I'm sure £32,000,000 would be far more
beneficial to the club. With that much money we could buy Stevie
just imagine that.
In a round up of other OS stories season ticket sales have topped
and Prince Andrew visited the club on Tuesday, the second royal to do
following queen Elton John's much talked about visit all those years
Ooh, Stevie Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have signed contract extensions
Liverpool. Shall we take the 32 million option then, or go for the DJ?
decide, only at the OS. Snore.
The Grimsby Telegraph website, meanwhile, have an interview with Big
Fenty in which he reveals the Mariners still wish to bring in two more
players before the season begins. "The main thing as far as we are
concerned is that we bring in the right type of player. We don't want
just plug gaps, we want to bring players here who can improve us as a
and that is the key." Like Thomas Pinault, for example? Johnny F then
continues to enthuse about what a success the army boot camp has been
the team. Unfortunately boot was one thing Town could do last year, I
an army pass camp would have been far more effective. Rumours that
Williams is, at this very moment, attending a catch camp have, in fact,
started by me.
Enough, as they say, is enough. And this has been more than enough,
editing some out would be more, making it more than more than enough,
I'll just slip quietly out the back door and leave you all wondering
I've gone. Have a nice weekend everyone.
Thursday 7 July
For Grimsby Town FC the Terry Fleming era is over. The Mariners' combative central midfielder, described by Russell Slade at one point last season as the first name on his teamsheet, has rejected what were presumably significantly reduced new terms in favour of a one-year deal with Kidderminster, just relegated to the Conference. The player brought with him what might euphemistically be described as a colourful past, and his contribution to the GTFC cause during his one season at Blundell Park was neither so minor as his detractors in the stands insisted nor so great as to warrant Slade's lavish plaudit. The Diary awaits comment from the Black Zidane Appreciation Society, but in the meantime fair play and good luck to Fleming, because whether he could pass a ball or not he at least played, in general, like he gave a stuff, and these days that counts for a lot.
Down in Cambridgeshire the remaining players continue to be put through their paces by some maniac in camouflage gear. From the looks of the latest photograph, he is about to scream blue murder at two members of the squad in a desperate, homophobic bid to stop them holding hands. Relaxed Russ, who seems to be greatly enjoying the week's activities in the capacity of a spectator, has taken the opportunity to comment on his ongoing player search: "We are still looking for that two or three players. There is plenty of time; we don't need to rush." A week ago it was three or four players, so maybe Ciaran Toner has done pretty well already, although the Diary gathers that he may need to be kept apart from Jermaine Palmer. Anyway, Russ is right that we don't need to rush. Why write off next season now when you can write it off in a month's time?
Wednesday 6 July
After prolonged rioting by protesters in the run-up to the main occasion, the authorities have baton-charged those responsible and restored military order... and Russell Slade has told the press that if his players kick up any more fuss about their pre-season training regime then next time he'll get the plastic bullets out. HONK! The Diary has just been watching footage from Town's crackpot army camp thing: as with most Mariners World video the speech is all mumbly and you can't really hear a bloody word of it, but the visuals are clear enough, and fans who log on are able to watch the players prepare for the extreme physical demands of fourth division football with a tough session of, er, walking along for a bit and then stopping and standing still. Mind you, some of them seem to be struggling even with that, and a short back and sides is sure to be administered if Michael Reddy doesn't buck his ideas up soon.
Speaking of the Graignamanagh-born frontman, his presumably sweat-soaked 2004–05 match shirt is the object made available in the Mariners' latest QXL auction. These cash-clawing exercises have become so commonplace that the Diary long since ceased to report every single one. I'm only mentioning this one because there's chuff all else to tell you.
Frequent Diary emailer John Pakey has come up with a useful way for us to pad out these empty summer days. "Your suggestion to get more sleep has been taken on board," says John, whose obscenely long working hours have recently loosened his grip on the English football transfer market. "As a result I've decided to give up shaving for a week to get more time in bed, which leads me to wonder; who out of all the Grimsby Town heroes in the past has produced the best facial hair growth? And does football need more facial hair?" Worthy questions indeed, JP, and ones that will doubtless generate much debate; email@example.com is the address to which your responses, readers, should be directed. Many thanks. I'm off to buy a house in east London, quick.
Tuesday 5 July
As the Diary lay awake in bed at 4:30 this morning I was faced with a dilemma: get up, go downstairs and see if the telly was showing any Argentinian football or European vampire films, or stay put, reach for the mp3 player and let some Lali Puna guide me back to dreamland. At no point did I consider pegging it out to the garden for a drill parade before a brisk two-mile swim. The Diary's admiration goes out to Town's new goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, then, who has cunningly sustained an ankle injury to avoid being forced to perform precisely the latter kind of bizarre ritual as part of the club's frankly insane army boot camp thing in Cambridgeshire. As if it won't be worrying enough for fans to see the injuries piling up even before the Mariners face Breakbone Rovers in their final pre-season friendly, the club's insistence on this extremist fitness programme can hardly be helping Russ in his attempts to build a half-decent squad. "Well, Mr Joachim, with your previous clubs you may have had to endure pre-season training in a variety of sunny Mediterranean tourist destinations, but here at Grimsby we can offer you a military maniac screaming in your ear an hour before dawn followed by an intense session of... Mr Joachim? Yes, it is that way to the A16... Mr Joachim! Come back!"
In news that was actually announced at the weekend but I couldn't be arsed to report yesterday, GTFC are having some new "continental-style" goals installed which, confusingly, "are used at most Premiership grounds nowadays". I suppose the Premiership is part of a continent, though. It's all about the net being held by posts instead of pegs, apparently, which is just as well to know, because when the Diary was told that Town were going to have some new goals, my first thought was: "What – like being any good?"
"Scouring through the PFA Transfer Directory," writes John Pakey in an email to the Diary, "I notice Darren Wrack has been released by Walsall. Obviously the Saddlers must be trying to tighten their belts after a poor season but it seems a shame for them to get rid of the lad. He really impressed me when I saw him play against Colchester United last term. He was really dominant in midfield. God I'm shattered, I've been at this desk since 6am. What is the Diary's thoughts on the ability of the lad from Cleethorpes?" Well, I could be wrong, but the Diary's thoughts are that Wrack not only signed a new three-year contract with Walsall the other week but flicked the Vs at the Town support at Bescot the other year, so his ability is neither here nor there. Take a leaf out of Steve Mildenhall's book, John, and catch up on some shut-eye.
Monday 4 July
Town's newest trialist is an international, though rather than carrying the alluring mystique of Senegal or Congo he is disappointingly European in origin. Twenty-four-year-old attacking midfielder Ciaran Toner is the holder of two caps for Northern Ireland and will join up with the Mariners at that army thing they're doing this week, wherever that was. Toner began as a trainee with Tottenham but made the bulk of his 90-odd league appearances with Leyton Orient from 2002 to 2004 before joining Lincoln last summer, where he seems to have been closer to breaking teammates' noses than breaking into the first team for very long. Despite his unacceptably UK-based footballing history, the player is sure to have the Grimsby Telegraph lining up the printer/photocopier headlines already for a variety of situations: to wit, returning to a struggling team after an injury (Slade Adds Fresh Toner), being released on a free transfer as another player arrives (Slade Replaces Toner), and doing an Ashley Sestanovich (Toner Runs Out).
So, anyway, I expect you'll be wanting me to give you some kind of succinctly acerbic summary of what's happened with those two African lads, won't you? You know. The two African lads who people keep saying are French. Or "continental". Right. Well, a week ago it was all over the BBC and Sporting Life that Town were just about to either sign Makhtar N'Diaye and Jean-Paul Kamudimba or, at the very least, take them on trial. Town's official website said, aha, that's what you think, no we're not, there are a couple of foreign types coming to that army thing with us but not those two. Then, over the weekend just gone, it turned out that one of them was indeed Makhtar N'Diaye, and the other was Madjid Benhaddou, but that they've both now buggered off back to France (which where they've been playing recently, I think), so none of it really mattered anyway. Which is kind of what we all expected to happen all along. Hey ho.
Town have switched next season's home game against Cheltenham to a Friday night. They haven't said why. They haven't asked us if we minded. They've just done it. This brings to three the number of home games already changed to Friday nights next season. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your thoughts with the club on this matter.
On the day when Steven Gerrard has broken off contract negotiations with Liverpool, signalling his intention to leave the club he has supported all his life just after captaining them to the European Cup, because despite having two years left on his current deal he feels they haven't been quick enough to increase his salary from £80,000 a week to something between £90,000 and £100,000, the Diary would like to finish with a mighty shout to Ian Saberton and Ian Preston. RAAARR! Pretty mighty, I'm sure you'll agree. Ian and Ian are two Stafford Rangers fans who have just visited 158 English football grounds in ten days, during the course of which they displayed the Cod Almighty URL outside Blundell Park and rather more importantly raised over sixteen hundred groats for their supporters' trust, Macmillan cancer relief, mental health charity Mind, and Let's Kick Racism out of Football. The tireless twosome are still collecting after the event, so if you wish to put Gerrard to further shame by adding a quid or two to the hat then this page will tell you how.
Friday 1 July
Listen. Can you hear a scraping noise? Yes you can!
It's Bottom-of-the-Barrel Diary here again,
coming-at-yer live from the Lincolnshire village of
Tetney. Nearly time for this year's Burning of the
Straw King! I'm glad I hid when the village elders
So, Town news, that's what you're after. News of
the Town eh? Well Blackburn tickets are on sale. Coo.
Slightly more excitingly, two foreign triallist
Johnnies will be accompanying the squad to the Boot
Camp next week. Personally I'd rather we were going to
a Pass Camp but there you go. One of them is French,
et il s'appelle Makhtar N'Diaye, and the other is a
mysterious shadowy figure who prefers to remain
anonymous. Or perhaps the OS just doesn't know his
name. Apart from that there is no news.
keeping my ear to the ground and all I've heard is the
peaceful drone of summer insects, and some rabbits
playing cards. So all that remains to me to do is
mention this year's last-ever Tetney Scarecrow
Festival, to be held in two weeks time, in which
slightly sinister, strange-haired figures stand
motionless being gawped at by thousands of people.
Next year it will be replaced by a Jasoncrowe
festival, which will be entirely different. Take care, Townies!