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Diary - March 2005
Thursday 31 March
Michael Ende wrote The Never Ending Story. Franz Peter Schubert wrote an Unfinished Symphony. Massive Attack wrote 'Unfinished Sympathy'. The Wonder Stuff did a B-side called 'A Song Without an End'. And the Diary is clearly running into trouble with this introduction, so we will move swiftly on to the unfinished story of Jermaine Palmer's trial with Grimsby Town Football Club. Palmer, you may recall from a fortnight ago, is an 18-year-old striker with Stoke City who arrived at BP, er, a fortnight ago amid talk of big bustling frontmen and goals aplenty on loan in Scandinavia, and played for the reserves against Manchester United, and then... well... er... oh - it looks like he scored both goals in Stoke reserves' 2-1 win against Hartlepool yesterday. Given that GTFC chose not to bring us the final chapter of big Jermaine's Cleethorpes story, we will have to assume that they either thought he was rubbish a verdict with which Hartlepool reserves might well take issue or that by undertaking a trial with a club uninvolved in promotion or relegation issues, and hence shedding players to save a few quid, he was wasting his time all along.
Another group who specialise in unfinished stories are the web monkeys at the Grimsby Telegraph, and they've come up trumps again with an unfinished story about the players who will get their chance at Blundell Park in the absence of Palmer and Matt Harrold. Explaining that his reserve forwards will be given a run-out as the season dwindles into sleepy meaninglessness, Town boss Mr Russell Slade tells the Telegraph: "Players like Nick Heggarty and Danny North have done well for the reserves, now it is time to see how they fare in Continued on page 37
During his four years as a Grimsby player, the fondest wish of Welsh goalkeeper Danny Coyne was to add to his one international cap. His fondest wish looked unlikely to be granted when he fluffed spectacularly in a televised match against a Blackburn side that included the then Wales manager Mark Hughes. But Dan gradually found his way back into the international game assisted greatly by transfers to Leicester and then Burnley and earned his sixth cap against Austria last night as "Wales, Wales' number one". Shame he chose a World Cup qualifier to fluff spectacularly again, then, eh?
Diary reader John Pakey is unsure whether it is morally acceptable to laugh at Coyne's misfortune. "He's a former Mariner who has served us well-ish at times," writes John. "Yet, he left us in the cold. Unwilling to fight the good fight in the then-named Nationwide League Division Two. I'm really struggling with this one. What should I do? Diary, I look for you for help and guidance, like you were a black and white striped man of the cloth, if you will." Well, my child, we must weigh our brother's sins against his virtues. Let us remember that the avaricious Mr Furneaux was as eager to get Dan off the wage bill as the custard custodian was to take Leicester's twenty pieces of silver. On the other hand, even our innermost thoughts and feelings are known to the Lord God, and while Coyne remained more arsed than, say, Phil Jevons for most of last season, he did seem to sort of give up a bit halfway through that 2003 relegation campaign, didn't he? So when on the final day we are called to account before Heaven, we can laugh at Danny a bit, but not as much as we did at Jevons losing that last-minute penalty appeal the other week. Go in peace: your faith in schadenfreude has saved you.
It's Question Time in Grimsby tonight, and joining David Dimbleby will be: Daily Telegraph journalist Alice Thomson; children's minister Margaret Hodge; brilliantly named Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik; anti-war hero George Galloway, sacked by Blair for having principles; and David Cameron, co-ordinator of Tory policy on letting car drivers kill children and saying foreign people are all tuberculosis-ridden rapists. And just this once, the Diary is greatly relieved rather than hugely frustrated that the people of Grimsby tend not to support Grimsby Town Football Club. Just imagine
I would like to ask Mr Cameron why current Conservative policies do not address the use of Graham Hockless in the starting line-up.
that's hardly a matter for Conser... I'm sorry? Graham who...?
Booooo! Sort it, Camerons! You're rubbish!
Next question please... the fat gentleman in the striped top...?
HODGES Y RNT U DONT TOWN BEET RUSDEN DIMONDS 8-0!!!! U SHUD BE IN THE PREMERSHIPS UR RUBBISH NO AMBISHUN SAK THE GOVEMENT!!!!!
You've been a lovely audience. Thank you very much Miles Moss for the above, Jonathan Kershaw for more information about York, and Michael Shelton, aka Durham Diary, for writing this column tomorrow. Good night, God bless, and have a safe journey home.
Wednesday 30 March
"Matt Harrold has been recalled by Brentford and will return to Griffin Park after the Mariners' clash at Mansfield on Saturday," reports Town's official website, initially making it sound like Martin Allen has done the dirty and taken Prince Harry back to Griffin Park before the end of his loan spell. And maybe also that GTFC are taking a ride cymbal and gong to Field Mill with them. Having thus got 239 Grimbarian internet users all het up and discombobulated, the site then points out that the gangly ginger frontman's loan "was set to end on April 4th" anyway. Regardless of unjustifiable recall rage, Harrold's departure will leave the Mariners to face the last five games of the season with only two recognised strikers, one arguably recognised goalkeeper, and no recognised left-backs. The Diary is now trying to remember how to do fractions, because with all these savings on player wages the club must be able to sort me out a refund for five 23rds of 280-odd quid.
Remarkable news from Town's reserve team in advance of their away game with Halifax this afternoon. For what seems like the first time since Harold Wilson devalued the pound, an XI has been named for a second-string fixture without the inclusion of an obscure midfielder on trial from Spalding Athletic or the French third division. I guess nothing came of that Gambian defender then. Who'd have thought that, eh. Graham 'Two Jobs' Rodger has told the Grimsby Telegraph he won't risk fielding first-teamers who are recovering from injury (specifically, Simon Ramsden and Michael Reddy) because the pitch is shit.
If Guest Diary can spare a moment from knocking down walls, or building them back again, to read this then it was very nice to hear from you last week, and yay, good news about T there. I tried to email you back but your ISP is still bouncing them back. Also, profuse thanks to Peter Walpole and Alex Bogustawski for their rough guides to living in York. Very good of you. I shall pass them on to Baby Brother Diary and demand you receive a cut of his first golden hello when he becomes a dead famous architect.
Tuesday 29 March
Moonlighting was a horrible American 1980s TV series based around a detective agency staffed by conflicting but mutually attracted partners played by Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis before he made much more money out of roles that chiefly involved running away from large explosions in grubby vests. Moonlighting, on the other hand, is what the lexically challenged staff of the BBC Humber website appear to be doing on the official website of Grimsby Town FC, if today's OS interview with Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger is anything to go by. "I'm quite please that it wasn't so cold today or we might have had Tony Williams going off to hospital for frost bight," is the way the post-match utterances of Town's assistant manager are transcribed, proving once more that a spellchecker is to literacy problems as a tablet of paracetamol is to decapitation.
The gist of Grezbo's rap, anyhow, is that he was reasonably pleased with his side's performance in yesterday's dreary goalless draw at Blundell Park against an understandably defence-obsessed Rushden & Diamonds team, notwithstanding the Mariners' disappointing finishing. Reports elsewhere that speak of Scott Shearer's magnificent goalkeeping performance for the visitors should not be taken seriously, since on the two attempts Town's attacking play persuaded him that bodily motion might be necessary, he looked bloody awful, and would surely have shipped one or two had the black and whites tested him a little more rigorously. Given the improvement we have witnessed since last Easter, however, when a team purporting to represent GTFC rolled over and died twice for the convenience of Queens Park Rangers' promotion campaign and Blackpool's consolidation in the third flight, it was once again bloody moronic to boo Town off yesterday, and now we've got another opposition manager telling us our fans are shit. That was a public information film.
Ooh, and the reason Rodge was in charge yesterday, unless I fell asleep on the way home and only dreamt that it was on Radio Humberside, was that Mr Russell Slade's missus was in labour. Since Russ is sure to risk missing the birth with a desperate dash out of the maternity unit to catch this afternoon's Diary, let's give him and his loved ones some hearty congratulations or happy wishes or whatever it is you say when somebody has a baby. Hooray!
One little cherub Russ is unlikely to be pressing close to his loving bosom any more is Ronnie Bull. Hauled off at half time during the side's awful 3-1 defeat at Bury, the former Millwall left-back now appears to be one of the unfortunate footballers angrily declared by Sort It after the match to be on his way out of Blundell Park in the summer after he was omitted from the 16 on duty against Rushden. Russ, of course, said he'd decided "one or two" players would not be offered new terms, so We Imagine Learning Later If Another Mightn't Stay.
Elsewhere in lovely Lincolnshire, that charming Mr Evans could be in trouble for reckoning he's Mourinho. Just as he insisted that Town managed a 1-1 draw against his world-beating Boston side back in August only by virtue of the Blundell Park crowd comprising a 12th man, Macclesfield apparently escaped a home defeat by the Pilgrims yesterday because "If Brian Horton spends 10 minutes of half-time in the ref's room then no wonder he gets decisions." Cuddly Steve may now be reported to the League Managers' Association by his Macc counterpart. A little further north, meanwhile, that nice Mr Laws made it nine away games without a win by managing his Scunthorpe side to a 2-0 defeat at Sincil Bank last night... and guess who their next but one away game is against? Yeah. Bugger.
We all know York City are the new West Brom, what with their penchant for re-employing GTFC cast-offs. We all know about their comically renamed-for-the-sponsor stadium; indeed, some of us even saw Look North when they announced Bootham Crescent would be known hereafter as the Kit-Kat Stadium, and they found a fan who hadn't heard yet, and told him, and he said simply: "You're having a laugh!" Which, funnily enough, is exactly what we were doing. But can any of you tell me anything about the city of York? Baby Brother Diary, you see, has targeted the minster city for a belated university education, but knows nothing about where's nice to live and where to avoid. Can any Diary readers with a knowledge of the place give us the lowdown? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can. Much obliged.
Friday 25 March
Any lingering hopes of a play-off place having been extinguished by this afternoon's crapola 3-1 defeat at Bury, you might be looking forward to the first chance in years of enjoying the last few games of the season free from worry about which division the Mariners will wake up in come August. Just when you thought it was safe to sleep through the vernal equinox, however, a remarkable post-match outburst by Mr Russell Slade has not only cast a shadow over the seven games remaining this term but also raises questions about the kind of team he will be fielding in the second year of his tenure at Blundell Park. "One or two players have made up my mind as to whether they will be here next season," fumed the manager. "I've made my thoughts very clear in the dressing room after the game."
So for the second game in succession Sort It named an attack-minded starting line-up that included a 'forward five' of Michael Reddy, Andy Parkinson, Martin Gritton, Matt Harrold and Thomas Pinault, but a second defeat in succession has sunk Town's much-heralded recent upturn in form that's four points from the last 15 and the manager's angry words could herald a return next season to what many supporters have denounced as defeatist team selections and mind-melting long-ball tactics. Equally, though, they might not at all, and he might just mean he isn't keeping Rob Jones. Whatever.
Meanwhile, the club's campaign for HRH Sir John McDermott to be knighted or MBE-ed or whatever has received the endorsement of players' union chief and professional contrarian Gordon Taylor, reports the Grimbly Telegraph. "I fully agree with your comments and will be pleased to write to the necessary honours department to recommend [HRH Sir John] most wholeheartedly," says the PFA head and apologist for law-breaking by Premiership footballers. Gordo's backing comes at a particularly useful moment for the campaign, since at the time of writing there is no link to the club's online 'A Gong for John' petition from the front page of its own official website.
Well, that'll do for now. Oh, all right then there's an Anthony Williams interview in his old local paper from Hartlepool as well, but I really don't have the will or the spirit to conjure any breathtakingly insightful commentary thereupon. Until it's time to bring you the team news and stuff for Monday's game against Rushden & Diamonds, then, I'm going to try and forget football was ever invented, and may I suggest, gentle reader, that you do likewise. Ta-ra.
Thursday 24 March
In the Diary's more melancholy frames of mind, I sometimes reflect that life is a series of last-evers. There's the last ever time you see GTFC play second-flight football. The last ever time you see the first house you bought. As your beer belly extends into middle age, there's the last ever time you see your own meat and two veg without a mirror. But it's not all bad, because one day it'll be the last ever time I write the Diary. Today, meanwhile, is the last ever spring transfer deadline, because of that ingenious window system being extended from next season, bringing to the Football League's 72 clubs all its profound and numerous benefits, such as... um... well, I'm sure I'll remember.
Anyway, at the time of writing there is no news of any last-minute wheeling and dealing by Mr Russell Slade, although the rapacious, cash-crazed suits who populate Blundell Park's corporate inner sanctum view today not as a sad end to a traditional and much-loved date on the footballing calendar, to fans as much a herald of springtime as nodding daffodils and the clocks coming forward, but as a commercial opportunity to be ruthlessly exploited to the max by promoting the club's SMS service. It would never have happened in Lawrie Mac's day, you know.
There is news, however, of Mariners past. Michael Boulding has gone to Cardiff on loan, which is slightly surprising given that he had finally been looking like he might be any good for Barnsley. Michael Keane the tattooed Hull midfielder who done good on loan to Town from Preston two years ago has landed at Millmoor after being ejected from the KC's revolving door, probably to make space for another three strikers. And Craig Armstrong one of the many here-today-gone-later-today nomads who did nothing to help the Mariners avoid relegation last season is making an enforced giant leap for utility player-kind out of Valley Parade after doing nothing to help Bradford do anything very much this season. "He hasn't showed me enough and he would probably say the same himself," sniffed Bantams boss Colin Todd. So would we, Col; so would we.
Anyway, I'm bollocksed if I'm going to sit here all afternoon telling you which no-mark midfield journeyman has signed until the end of the season for which frustrated semi-bankrupt provincial lower-division side with a faint mathematical possibility of losing in the play-off semi-finals, so I'll let the BBC do it instead.
Today is also cheese/song title deadline day, and Diary readers have conducted a number of last-minute transactions before the door swings shut forever (thank God). Edited highlights only, because I'm getting bored. Respect is due to John Pakey and his mates at work for curdling the words of Elton John ('I'm Stilton Standing') and Chris de Burgh ('Lady in Red Leicester') and to Rich Mills for 'In-A-Gouda-Da-Vidda' by Iron Butterfly and 'I'll Brie There For You' by The Rembrandts. A smelly, blue-veined thumbs-up, meanwhile, goes to Andrew 'I'll Get Me Coat' Lumbard for The Who's double A-side of 'Cheese Box'/'You Feta You Bet'; ELO's 'Ma Babybel'; The Clash's 'Paneer Opportunities'; and Joy Division's 'She's Gloucester Control'. Now, was that last one just an album track or did they release it as a Kraft single? Sorry.
The Diary has heard a tantalising rumour that CA's cheese-themed erstwhile Refwatch specialist Mark Stilton could be reprising his pre-match check on officialdom in time for the Easter programme. Of football matches, I mean, not Sunday's Corrie. Let's hope so, because the bastards in the green this weekend will be Nigel Miller at Bury tomorrow, famous for his remarkable handling of Town's humiliating defeat at Scunthorpe earlier this season, and Joe Ross at home to Rushden on Monday, who in 2002 was responsible for the worst single refereeing decision the Diary has ever seen: a penalty awarded to Coventry against Town when Lee Mills ran into Paul Groves' back and tossed himself to the turf in such an unconvincing and half-arsed manner that his own team-mates were embarrassed by Ross's spot-kick call. Let 'em have it, Stilts!
That's it. I'm off. No guest diarist this weekend: I'll do you a round-up tomorrow night. Have a great weekend.
Wednesday 23 March
New keeper ahoy! Maybe. Or probably not. Paul Fraser has followed the trail blazed in recent years by Andy Love, Steve Croudson, Andy Pettinger, Morgan Cranley, Ronald Ermes, Bradley Hughes and probably, as the K-Tel adverts used to say, many more in being a young reserve stickman released by the Mariners after not many appearances for the first team. Well, none, to be precise.
Fraser's departure will doubtless prompt speculation, as the newspapers would put it, that Sort It is about to do just that with the first-team number 1 shirt and bring in some serious competition for Anthony Williams, since the only other keeper anywhere near the books is, um, somebody Murray from the youth team, I think, and Williams was hilariously placed on eBay last week by somebody who doesn't think he's any good. I wonder why nobody had already thought of doing that with a footballer. The Diary's sides are still aching from the helpless mirth it reduced me to.
But on the other hand, there's nothing left to play for this season, and Town aren't going to bring in a player at this time of year if they're going to have to pay his wages over the summer, are they.
The youth of today, I dunno. When they're not beating up mobile phones or stealing old people, they're losing 2-0 in the semi-final of the Midlands Youth Floodlit Cup despite giving a good account of themselves in a goalless first half, with Danny North spurning his side's best chance in the first minute, before succumbing to strikes in the 53rd and 83rd minutes from their resilient Port Vale counterparts, who now go on to face Shrewsbury in the final. Tut. I don't know what the world's coming to.
And that's about all for today, apart from another set of appalling song title/cheese puns. James Booth suggests the Beach Boys' 'Gouda Vibrations' before taking on a couple of artists with "70s easy listening maestro Camembert Bacharach" and the prefacing of art-punk icons Wire with the word 'cheese'. Mike Worden opts for 'Summer Bries' by the Isley Brothers and the Jacksons' 'Gouda be There'. And Phil Watson reluctantly drags himself into the fray: "If you absolutely must play this silly cheese game, how about 'So Long, It's Been Gouda Know Ya' by Woody Guthrie," he offers, adding: "This is an indication of my bang-up-to-the-minute taste in pop music." Thank you all again. And if you're feeling old, Phil, at least you've probably seen a thing or two. Whereas when the Diary is your age, all I'll be able to say I've done with my useless life is spend it typing up rubbish like this.
Tuesday 22 March
Whitney Houston is world-famous and fabulously wealthy by virtue of her tremendous vocal cords. The Diary is read by 18 Grimsby fans on their lunch hours, has to buy those 8p tins of baked beans that taste like bullets, and has been served with an ASBO banning me from every karaoke night in the Yorkshire and Humber region. But when La Houston sings the lines "I believe the children are the future/Teach them well and let them lead the way/Show them all the beauty they possess inside", well, she and I could almost be the same person. This is why the Diary is terrifically excited that the Mariners' youth team is taking on Port Vale's at 7pm tonight at Blundell Park, and that the prize on offer for the winners is a place in the final of the Midlands Youth Floodlit Cup against Shrewsbury, and, who knows, maybe that's what old Whitters thinks about too when she belts out 'The Greatest Love of All'. According to Town's official website, the finalists can choose between a two-legged final, one match at a neutral venue, or tossing a coin a decision that hopefully rests with the coaches rather than the kids themselves, who would probably opt to decide the trophy with an all-night Xbox play-off.
The Mariners will resemble an underfunded navy for their visit to Bury this Good Friday, as Stacy Coldicott's calf injury and Terry Maurice Fleming's suspension look like leaving them short of a couple of destroyers. The Grimsby Telegraph's injury update reveals, however, that team manager Mr Russell Slade is hopeful that Messrs Crowe and Parkinson will be available for the Gigg gig. If you're phoning up the Bury ticket office, by the way, don't make any jokes about Phillip and Gary Neville being really ugly or anything, because that's their mum on the other end of the line.
Phil Watson dutifully followed the link in yesterday's Diary to the worst internet match report ever, like, in the whole history of crap internet match reports, ever, and has been particularly tickled by its assertion that "Grimsby's Terry Fleming was sent off by the referee for deceit". So much so, in fact, that he has emailed the Diary to say: "Presumably it was his coming on as a Darlington substitute that the referee didn't like. If that deceitful behaviour isn't a red card offence I don't know what is. Ten Darlington players on the pitch against 12 of Town (admittedly two of them were Terry Fleming) and we still couldn't score..."
Your suggestions for cheese/song title puns continue to dribble through like the mozzarella off a sloppy, over-topped pizza. "Roquefort Around the Clock?" offers
Paul Wright. "Or you must have had 'Be my Babybel' The Ronettes." Very good. Andy Lumbard, meanwhile, asks: "How could you miss Elton's 'Philadelphia Freedom' or Chuck Berry's 'Rock n Roule Music'?" Again, not bad although none have quite plumbed the depths of Depeche Mode's 'Personal Cheeses'.
Finally, two men from Grimsby are among 31 arrested yesterday in the run-up to some England match or other this weekend by some coppers who reckon there might be a knock. The Yorkshire Post reports that the men were nicked when police "put Operation Lucas into action yesterday", which rather begs the question of whether the arresting officers said: "You are under arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public order offences. You have the right to remain silent. And don't try any of your Jedi mind tricks on me, sunshine."
Monday 21 March
If you're still spitting blood about what happened on Saturday, first of all spit some of it on Rate The Ref, then take a leaf out of the Diary's Guide to Post-Match Injustice Therapy and spend some quality time laughing at those less literate than yourself. For Darlington may have emerged from the weekend's riot that never quite kicked off with the one goal, three points and twelve players, but if this effort is anything to go by then they're languishing 89 points adrift at the foot of the online fanzine match reporting league table. Want a taster? "Grimsby's Terry Fleming was sent off by the referee for deceit after being fouled by Jason St'Juste, this mint that the referee was a very unpopular person in the Cleethorpes Stadium." The message here is that if you can't write, and then you use a spellchecker, you still can't write. Get off the internet.
Speaking of the taking out of leaves from books, the Mariners' official website has been given a very good idea indeed by certain Cod Almighty contributors' habit of referring to their team's iconic, record-breaking right-back as "Sir" John McDermott. The idea is simply that he ought to be called Sir John McDermott for real, and right-minded individuals of all stripes can now record their assent to this proposition using an online petition set up by the club. And if 28,174 concerned citizens can find time to protest the possible cancellation of Spongebob Squarepants then I'm sure as sure can be that we Grimbarians can put our names to the campaign for Macca's knighthood. Email all your mates as well, and their mates. And people at work. And everyone.
Think of Grantham and you think of Margaret Thatcher. Think of Margaret Thatcher and you start planning the big party you'll be having on that glorious day when Satan snatches away her filthy soul to Hades and commences to perform upon it a sequence of unimaginably excruciating torments that will continue for all eternity. Let's just hold that thought for a moment. Mmmmm. Anyway, Grantham is also where Chris Hyam, who I think is one of several players on the blurred boundary between Town's youth team and reserve team, will be playing his football on the next few Saturdays well, on the ones when Southern League Premier Division side Grantham Town are at home anyway, as the young, er, youngster has been loaned from one black and white striped GTFC to another in order, says the OS, "to improve the physical side of his game", for which read "to build up a bit of resistance to getting kicked six foot in the air".
In researching the Southern League, incidentally, the Diary has just discovered that Richard Pacquette the forward who showed up for a kickabout at Blundell Park the other week considerably less quickly than he was shown the door again after Town actually saw him play has just transferred from Fisher Athletic to Hemel Hempstead Town. And to think we still get excited about trialists.
What else, then? Town are doing the two kids in free thing again for next Monday's bank holiday derby against, er, Rushden & Diamonds (nice picture, by the way, chaps); despite the team's best performance for months, a few moaning Grimsby sods are still managing to convince themselves that Town were rubbish on Saturday; and the Mariners' former player-manager Paul Groves, now a key figure in central defence for non-League York City, may or may not retire from playing this summer at the age of 39. Not much of a story, that one, really.
Cheese and music. Sibbo suggests 'A Brie C' by the Jackson Five ("I know that effort's as bad as the ref's on Saturday"); Paul Thundercliffe offers "Edam (Wham! George Michael), Brie is Family (Dana Dawson), Air on a Cheese String (Bach)"; and BlackandWhiteBarmy continues the Diary's Queen riff with 'I Want to Make Brie', 'Leerdammer to fall', and the remarkable 'Seven Seas of Rye Bread Crackers with Stilton'. "That's the cheese, not an idea for a new column," adds BaWB about the latter. Thank you all. At least the CA team had the excuse of being drunk
Sunday 20 March
The Diary is weak with exhaustion from both vigorous abuse of yesterday's main match official and last night's Cod Almighty team-building exercise, which involved drinking beer until four o'clock in the morning while making mostly piss-weak puns about song titles and cheese. My best was the Queen/David Bowie classic 'Under Cheshire', but I'm sure you lot can do better. You know the email address.
Any old how, I just thought I'd let you know, if you haven't already seen it, that Tony Butcher's account of the match is now online. And that's it. I'm off back to bed for an hour before the Milky Wimpshake gig. See yers tomorrow.
Friday 18 March
When you hear about a young sprout in the Pontoon who grows up and makes his debut for Town, dear reader, you think it's a nice story. I trust you'll be equally heart-warmed today as a regular reader writes his first Diary. When said player is awful, everyone hates him, but hopefully you'll be a little more forgiving as Durham Diary screws up his own debut Jason Crowe-style.
Talking of the bird man, the Grimsby Telegraph announces that he may be fit in time to play against Darlington tomorrow. Sir Sort It is reported as saying: "Crowey is in with a chance but it's touch and go. He hasn't done a great deal of training but is a lot better," although better than what he doesn't specify. Better than a French playmaker may be what he's getting at, I fear.
Switching now to the OS, which adds that Simon Ramsden is definitely out. In addition to this, Stacy Coldicott and Justin Whittle are both rated as doubtful, although Whittle "should be okay for the visit of David Hodgson's promotion hopefuls", making him not really that doubtful if you think about it. The OS also points out that Monsieur Slade finally has options to choose from up front. While Reddy and Gritton were beginning to look the part before Reddy's latest injury, it would be difficult to drop Matt Harrold, who has scored in both of his first two matches.
With regard to Darlington, striker Clyde Wijnhard will miss the next three games following his sending-off against Yeovil last week, although the official Darlington website reports that Big Boss Hodgson was unable to see why. This is all cleared up with a quote from the thoroughly eloquent (and possibly blind) man himself: "I can't see anything, but the players have told me and Clyde hasn't denied it but Clyde actually hit him once or twice before he actually got sent off but only because the boy was retaliating." Ex-Celtic and Feyenoord winger Bobby Petta is also out after suffering a hamstring strain in the same game. Defender Chris Mason hasn't played for the first team all season, but he spectacularly swallowed his own tongue in a reserve game, which I think deserves a mention regardless.
Despite being top goalscorer for my college first team, Durham Diary was once asked to play in goal, because the keeper hadn't turned up. What we should have done is place a bid on eBay for a professional goalie. That's what a grand aggregate of zero people did yesterday when some jokester put Town shot-'stopper' Anthony Williams up for auction. Positive John McFenty leaps to his player's defence: "Anthony is absolutely not for sale. He is a smashing fellow and the fans aren't giving him a chance. I feel for the guy. If we look across the divisions, even in the Premiership, goalkeepers are making mistakes. I think it is a lot to do with the balls being 10 per cent lighter which means they have a tendency to swerve more." Stop talking balls, John. In fairness to Tony, the lack of bids probably wasn't because he's crap, but because the reserve price was set at a ridiculously inflated £1. A quick search for other Grimsby items available returns a "Bust of the Grimsby Fisherman", although I thought selling body parts on eBay was illegal.
Continuing the auction theme, the OS is trying to flog a framed photo of Michael Reddy, described as "Town's shooting star with the gentle Irish brogue, the flowing locks, the chiselled good looks and the sparkling eyes". The first line of the article reads: "You know the OS - never ones to fall for the obvious headline, so before we start, we're resisting the temptation to use the phrase are you Reddy for this!" The first line, that is, apart from the headline, er, Are You Reddy For This. Call me a raving heterosexual but I think I'll stick to my Britney poster.
Anyway, it's been a pleasure, but I've got a student room to empty. I'll see you all tomorrow. Bums on seats, readers, bums on seats.
Thursday 17 March
Supporters of Grimsby Town FC may not be the first group of candidates you would think of if a hippie recruiting officer asked you to enlist the children of the revolution, but you certainly won't fool them. It is because of this local scepticism sometimes healthy, as in the case of Scott McGarvey; sometimes unhealthy, as in the case of, well, nearly everything and everyone else that most Mariners fans who hear today's news that their club has taken Gambian defender Hassan Nyang on trial will have reacted by grumbling darkly that he won't feature in the next reserve game, and that the club won't even bother announcing when his trial comes to its inevitable fruitless conclusion just like all the others. The rest, by contrast, will probably remark that Nyang won't receive international clearance to play for the reserves, because the club probably doesn't know how to apply for it, and that even in the unlikely event that he turns out to be worth signing, he probably wouldn't qualify for a work permit anyway.
The Diary, of course, holds no truck with such fatalistic pessimism. Call me giddy with the joys of spring, but things can change if enough people want them to. Look what a mess Donny Rovers and Brighton were in not that long ago, and look where they are now: not only do they still exist, which at certain times looked far from assured; they are thriving comfortably higher up the divisions than GTFC. But there's always somebody worse off than you, and right now that means Cambridge, bottom of the league and skint, and some suit has sold their ground from under their feet. It is earnestly to be hoped that the poor buggers pull through, and for this reason I am letting you know, if you don't already, that the Us' home game against Wycombe this Saturday will be a Fans United event, with supporters of clubs from all over the place turning out to show solidarity and bring attention to Cambridge's plight. More informational-type material can be had at the Clubs in Crisis website and Cambridge Fans United.
My American-designed word processor hasn't put a red underline below the word 'informational'. This must mean the Americans think it's a real word. That's funny.
Diary readers are queueing up to offer advice on how to spend my evenings this week, and my American-designed word processor has put a red underline below the word 'queueing', which goes away if you change it to 'queuing'. This is just plain wrong. "Why even ask this stupid question when everyone knows you've got Football Manager 2005 installed on your PC?" asks Miles Moss. "Even if we suggest other things, the draw will be too strong. The attraction of the computer game, I mean I've no idea about the strength of your current stash." I'm trying to think of a pun about scoring now, but my attention span is shot to death probably from smoking too much of... er... ooh, Pulp are on the radio.
Two Michaels have also stepped forward with suggestions. One is Michael Shelton, who says I should go for a walk with a plastic bag and some gardening gloves and pick up litter, because it will make me feel all karmic and glowy. I have to say at this point that Miles is winning. The other is Michael Patten, a Bristol City fan who has started visiting Cod Almighty after those ace write-ups we got in When Saturday Comes, and offers a link to one of those Scandinavian 'wallop the penguin as far as you can' games that were popular the other year and on which the scoring system and levels of gore and blood both seemed to increase exponentially on each subsequent version. It's more of a waste time at work thing than a play all night at home thing, I reckon, but ta anyway, like.
"From ad hoc visits to your noble site," adds Michael P, "I have deduced that (a) your match report correspondents are manic depressives; (b) cider always helps." Thanks mate. As a strong believer in the pleasantly numbing effects of pre-match drinking, I often wonder whether a bottle of the Rutland Arms' finest White Lightning might inject a welcome note of levity to Tony's reports. On the other hand, his abstinence is probably essential to his astonishing powers of recollection, and so a drop or two of cider might introduce a surprising note of brevity as well.
Finally, proof that utter stupidity in letters to the Grimsby Telegraph isn't confined to the subject of football. And this being Thursday, I bid you ta-ta for the week, tarrying only to inform you that the aforementioned Michael Shelton, aka Genius, lately of the University of Durham maths department, will, I understand, be making his debut as a guest diarist here tomorrow. So good luck to him, and I'm going off now to wonder why we are all supposed to celebrate the day of the patron saint of a completely random foreign country.
Wednesday 16 March
Only 11th in the league? Lost one of the last six games? How can they even think about reappointing the manager? If you've been ranting on madly like this recently then perhaps you need to book a place on Cod Almighty's new training seminar Advanced Expectation Management: How To Support Grimsby And Be Happy. As a satisfied delegate, the Diary can attest to the course's efficacy: just the other week, for instance, I'd have settled for a home defeat by Yeovil without Jevons scoring, so imagine my euphoria when Town not only shut out the Scouse sluggard but ran out 2-1 victors.
Expectation management, again, is what those with an interest in the Mariners' reserve team are practising today when they see that the defeat experienced by the stiffs last night at the hands of their Manchester United counterparts was by the far from humiliating margin of two goals to nil. This clearly includes Town's official website, which headlines its account of the match No Shame For Town Youngsters. Scum Seconds scored after 21 and 50 minutes, while the GTFC hopefuls had their hopes briefly raised by a couple of openings for on-trial striker Jermaine Palmer one bringing a good save from the PLC's keeper Tom Heaton, the other fizzing wide and another for that Town fan who lives on Hainton Avenue, which he whacked over the bar. Oh well.
Dunno about you lot, like, but the Diary's expectations of the sport section of the BBC Humber website tend to languish at the low end of the lowness scale, so that every so often, when the site does something that isn't rubbish, it's as pleasant a surprise as Town winning the European UEFA Championship Cup League. And today... guess what? That's right it's still rubbish. The very skies of towering editorial incompetence are scraped once again by the presentation of a big story. A West Indies international is joining Cleethorpes Cricket Club, and so the teaser line reads: "Sherwin Campbell says he is excited to be joining the Chichester Road club"; all well and good apart from the fact that the headline above it says Chichester's new player. Give me strength.
Perhaps some expectations of Jason Crowe have been inflated by the fact that he used to play for Arsenal, and if his arrival at Blundell Park had followed a spell with, say, Harrogate Railway Athletic or Willenhall Pickwick then expectations would be accordingly managed downwards and we'd all think he was ace. Either way, eagle-eyed Diary reader Steven Young has just read the latest instalment of the Football Guardian website's excellent trivia series The Knowledge and discovered a "little nugget of info surrounding our very own Jason 'Full-Back Slash Midfielder' Crowe. It seems the full-back does indeed like to slash midfielders," explains Mr Young, "as he has the record for the fastest ever sending-off on a debut: an impressive 33 seconds [as a substitute for Arsenal in a 1997 League Cup game against Birmingham]. What an honour!" Thanks for that, Steve; and if the Diary recalls clearly then 'Big' Georges Santos wasn't far away from running Jase a close second in his debut for the Mariners...
The Diary tends to expect very little from internet messageboards, and so I am always happy when, as is sometimes the case, a halfway decent one pops up. Jason Ives is of a similar mind, and has emailed the Diary to hold forth at some length upon the inadequacies of both a certain messageboard and many of its inhabitants. This is not, I suspect, a debate most readers would be happy to see this column dragged into, and so we will cut to the Jase chase. "Main point of the waffling email," admits Mr Ives, "is to say I enjoy reading the Diary if only other websites could display a sense of humour as well as discuss football and Town in general. Keep it going, and anytime they get stuck for that tipping thing again I'll have another stab being as I did crap last time." Aw, cheers fella.
Mrs Diary has just left the house: she's got to go to Birmingham, of all places, until Saturday, for work. How am I going to pass the evenings? This is partly a rhetorical question, but if you do have any suggestions that aren't too naughty then email them to email@example.com, will ya? Ta.
Tuesday 15 March
You can talk all you want about gleaming new out-of-town stadiums and marketing strategies in the Far East, but we all know that the foremost requirement of a fashionable club that's going places these days is a player called Jermaine. This modern necessity has clearly not escaped the notice of the GTFC management team, who are striving to take the club into the 22nd century by giving a trial to 18-year-old Stoke striker Jermaine Palmer. The player will allegedly turn out for Town's reserves tonight in their big cup game away to Manchester United. He has made four substitute appearances for the Potters' first team, scored five times last summer while on loan to Icelandic side Vikingur, is supposed to be a big, strong lad, and is a character in 'The Hypnotic', a track on Philadelphia hip-hop veterans The Roots' 1996 album Illadelph Halflife. It goes: "I knew this girl named Alana with mad persona/She delt with reality never fed it to the drama/I met her through my nigga named Jermaine Palmer". Which leaves the Diary desperately short of a pay-off line for this paragraph, so I'll have to just stop here without one.
Staying for the moment with tonight's ritual slaughter in the north-west, Town's official website has enlisted the Grimsby Telegraph to do its reporting well, it's better than nicking stuff from Cod Almighty contributors and tell you a bit about the talented youngsters who will be representing the Manchester team, whose names will be familiar to thousands of readers who have tried to take them on loan in Championship Manager. Oh, and while I remember: Manchester United, Malcolm Glazer, "not for sale"? Er, hello? Isn't the whole point of floating on the Stock Exchange that people can buy shares? Cake and eat it, or what?
It looks like this is shaping up to be one of those slow news weeks, so let's take a brief look outside the crazy world of football. The Grimsby Telegraph website has just been updated, and there's still nothing to rival its famous scoop about Norman Lamont resigning, or being sacked, or whatever it was. Interestingly, though, the site spent most of the preceding 24 hours summarising its lead story with the sentence "A Security guard who befriended an 86-year-old woman before ransacking her home was today starting a jail sentence" a story that was headlined Who did this? Well, the Diary is no Inspector Morse, but my money's on the Security guard.
Back inside the crazy world of football, if you're one of the tens of millions of Town supporters who spend most of their week wondering what would have happened if the Mariners' 1998 vintage could somehow have lined up against the 2004 team, and you've got one of them funny satellite dish things stuck to the side of your house, then you probably spent last night glued to Halifax v York. Unfortunately for fans of Yorkshire-born strikers with limited composure in front of goal, the Shaymen's former Mariner Darren Mansaram was missing presumed injured, but his fellow recent departee Greg Young helped the home side to a 2-0 win over a York team that included Kevin Donovan and GTFC playing legend Paul Groves, who, um, also played his part in Halifax's victory by putting past his own keeper for the first goal.
And, well, that's about it for today. Bye.
Monday 14 March
The Diary learned a very important lesson at the age of seven, when I was distracted by another kid riding a particularly ace bike in Sydney Park, turned my head to admire the rather sporty drinks bottle attached to its crossbar while continuing to walk in the same direction, and deservedly plunged headlong into the park's notoriously filth-strewn pond. The lesson was that it never hurts to look forward, and who knows, perhaps the same thing happened to a young John Fenty at some point, as Grimsby Town FC have today formally confirmed that Russell Slade will remain team manager next season.
So an official announcement to that effect, all dead proper and that, like, explains that the contract Sort It was awarded last summer included a clause whereby a top-half finish in 2004-05 would guarantee him at least another year in the job, but in the light of the Mariners' decent form of late "the club felt it was right to act now and confirm Russell's position", confounding the manager's detractors, bringing relief to GTFC SMS subscribers who got a text this morning about an official announcement and wondered whether the rumours were true about Town going into administration when they reached 50 points, and leaving the Cod Almighty team wondering what they'll do in four months' time by way of a side graphic on the 2005-06 season index page. When you think about the state the club was in when Mr Russ arrived, after a succession of hasty management changes, you can't really argue; although this being Grimsby, I'm sure plenty will try to anyway.
"I have just been to the OS," writes Sean Fieldsend in an email to the Diary. Sorry to hear that, Sean; please accept the Diary's best wishes for a speedy recovery. Oh, you've not finished, have you? Sorry. Let's take it from the top. "I have just been to the OS and have noticed something very interesting which may explain our inconsistency this season. The theory revolves around Ronnie Bull and Stacy Coldicott. It appears Coldicott has now joined Ronnie Bull on having a day off on paternity leave. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, and indeed it is a legal requirement to allow them to have this, but my concerns are much deeper than this. The birth is less of an issue to me than the conception. If last June all the Grimsby players were busy servicing their wives and girlfriends instead of doing much needed pre-season training, it's no wonder we have no consistency." Insert your own 'lack of penetration' gags here, readers. "Also, it raises the question if the wives of GTFC players feel much like Anthony Williams has for much of this season
From Stacy Coldicott's face in the throes of sexual ecstasy to another email, this time the handiwork of Janet Dixon, who writes simply: "You're bloody funny, y'know." Well, thanks Janet assuming, perhaps unwisely, that your laughter is with me rather than at me but if brevity is the soul of wit then the Diary can clearly be only the prince of comedy to your queen.
Sunday 13 March
Not having made it to yesterday's 1-1 draw at Boston, the Diary is beginning Sunday by attempting to extract the match's salient points from the internet media coverage that has emerged thus far. My findings are: (i) inevitable Daryl Clare goal after 20 seconds; (ii) possibly inevitable second-half equaliser by Prince Harrold; (iii) Terry Fleming subbed off before he could get sent off; (iv) very rubbish attendance for a supposed local derby, but a lot of Town fans there; (v) inevitably rubbish quality of playing surface; (vi) unloveable Steve Evans inevitably begrudging the Mariners' worthiness of a point; (vii) Town now in 11th place: their highest league position since the 1-0 win at Northampton in early October briefly propelled them into the top ten.
It seems to be a very bright and sunny morning, and perhaps birthday boy Mark Stilton is right and the season really does begin in March.
Friday 11 March
Hooray! It's here at last! No, not Comic Relief. Nor the "eagerly awaited" game against Boston tomorrow. No, no. 9 Songs - a film about a couple who meet at nine gigs and have some supposedly degraded shagging afer each of these meets - is out today, and your guest diarist in Leeds is excited. There must be a footie twist on this film on the way. It'll 'transpose' so well. Come to think of it, after this weekend's fixture there will only be nine Town games left. Ooo, anyone fancy meeting at half-time of the Darlo game and nipping back to mine for some base rutting afterwards? Enough of this excitement. Let me just recross my legs and we'll crack on with the news.
Turning to tomorrow's match, good news for those who recoiled in horror when purusing the fact file at the Pilgrims having a striker - in Andy Kirk - who has netted 20 times this season (and at a rate of two every three games) who, with immaculate timing, departed for Northampton yesterday. The report says for "six figures" apparently. So a Han Solo, a Storm Trooper, Chewie, Darth Vader with an unbroken lightsaber, Boba Fett, and the clincher - a Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight. The Pilgrims' other noted striker - one Jason Lee - is suspended. Add in Town's superior recent form over Boston's and it's setting itself up for an obvious defeat on the road.
Comic Relief today. I know because some of the ladies in the office have delivered the ultimatum "three quid to have your hair sprayed red, three quid not to have your hair sprayed red." Maybe Chester is in a different time zone, say, one day ahead after Chester City chairman Stephen Vaughan's comments about Andy Parkinson's contract yesterday ("We are aware his contract at Grimsby expires in the summer"), especially as it was publicly known that Parky signed up for two years. Also, I know because of this humour-laden email from part-time university student, full-time Town fan Michael Shelton. "I really don't understand." What troubles is Mikey having with his studies this time? "How can it possibly be beneficial to get an injured player to climb a bloody tree? And even worse, why send the physio up with him? If one of them falls it could be very dangerous. What, you haven't heard? Just ask the OS: Michael Reddy trained on the beech with Dave Moore this morning..." It's true, you know. Talking of injuries, Stace the Coldicott is 'doubtful' on the fitness-o-meter, Michael Reddy (a man who can avoid reddening antics by virtue of already being 'reddy', ho ho) has had treatment and might make the bench. Martin Gritton - the footballer whose sexiness appeals to both women and men - returns to the starting line-up, probably to partner Prince Harry. Jason Crowe and Simon Ramsden are both out.
There's another reason I know it is Comic Relief for today we've asked some movers and shakers in the world to give us some gags for our one-off feature, Gags Corner. Believe us, you'll wish they were gagged after this, especially as Geoff Ford and Russell Slade didn't send us a chuckle. Boo Slade!
A bloke walks into a psychiatrist's wearing cling film shorts and says "am I in the right place"? The psychiatrist says "yes, I can clearly see your nuts!"
That were brief.
David Burns of BBC Radio Humberside
What's John Fenty's favourite record? "Drive" by the Cars! "Whose gonna drive you home tonight?..."
Tony Rogers, sometime contributor to this site
News that might affect Town in the future: The Football League will "extend the test" according to the BBC site. More multiple choice questions as to what do when put clear through on goal? An extra piece of coursework on angles for 'keepers? No, merely, another rule for the Fit and Proper Persons Test (FPPT) that the league introduced last summer. Luckily for Postive John the new rule doesn't disqualify disqualified speed drivers, merely registered Sex Offenders.
And that's your lot for today, and for the next couple weeks this diarist. If you fancy having a go at penning next Friday's guest diary, drop us a line with a sealed bid. Highest bid wins, money to the KTMA fund. Maybe. Ciao!
Thursday 10 March
Three hundred and sixty-five days. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty hours. Five hundred and twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. Long enough for the Earth to revolve once around the Sun and The Fall to knock out a couple of new albums and three or four EPs. A year is also the discrepancy between the amount of time Chester City chairman Stephen Vaughan believes to be left on Andy Parkinson's contract with Grimsby Town and the amount of time everyone else believes to be left on Andy Parkinson's contract with Grimsby Town, as the Deviants are reported by their local paper to be "monitoring the position" of Town's born-again goal machine on the basis that he'll be a free agent in roughly three months' time. "We are aware his contract at Grimsby expires in the summer, so we are monitoring events," Vaughan has told an unquestioning Daily Post reporter, to the surprise, consternation or amusement of the rest of the civilised world, who believed the Mariners' official website when it announced last summer that Parky had penned a two-year deal.
Remaining for now on the fascinating subject of contractual obligations, Mariners World yesterday trailed an interview with Russell Slade by promising revelations of talks with players whose existing terms will expire this year. Said managerial dialogue is now also available on the regular OS, but all Russ tells you about contracts is: "We've had one or two initial chats and talks," and then basically says they're going to leave all the formal stuff until the summer again. The Diary wasting my time so you don't have to waste yours.
Former England u18 defender Jude Stirling and former Barnet goalkeeper and Monkee Mike Naisbitt helped GTFC reserves to a 1-1 draw at Notts County yesterday arvo, although the definitive contribution was the work of supposed-to-be-promising young striker Danny North, who lobbed the home keeper early in the second half. Anthony Williams may not attain a full quota of forty winks for a while yet, however, as Mr Slade has told the Grimsby Telegraph: "We may bring [Naisbitt] back for another game and have another look at him." There was somebody called Chase in the team as well; maybe the OS could spill a bean or two about him next time?
Inspired by the fine example of
Google use investigative journalism in yesterday's Diary, Mark Stilton has made a shocking discovery about Town's on-trial goalkeeper. "What you didn't spot about 'Nezzy'," he writes, in an email to the Diary, "is that, according to the AFC Wimbledon website, 22 of his 23 appearances have been for the ladies' team. Is there something s/he's keeping a secret?" And we thought Williams was having trouble retaining balls...
That's all from me for the week, then, but check back in tomorrow for another semi-drunken mid-afternoon ramble from the Leeds office, and remember: keep the faith, keep your hands to yourself, and keep the Mariners afloat.
Wednesday 9 March
The slow drip-feed of information about Town's latest batch of trialists has begun, with the club's official website offering just enough tantalising snippets about today's reserves squad to, er, tantalise you a bit, really. If you were wondering who that "Sterling" chappie was who, reported the club, turned out for the stiffs at Darlo last week, then your raging curiosity will only be further aroused by the knowledge that he is in fact Jude Stirling, a defender from Dover Athletic. It falls, as ever, to the Diary to satisfy your needs, and my keen detective skills have overcome the obstacles thrown up by the OS spelling his name differently twice within four lines to discover that Jude began his career with Wimbledon, played a dozen or so games for Luton four years ago, and trained with the England under-18 squad at roughly the same time. He contrived to be sent off half an hour into what seems to have been his professional debut, moved on to Stevenage Borough and St Albans City before joining Dover, and is known in Isthmian League circles for his Challinoresque long throw. Still only 22, Stirling believes his boss at Dover, famous FA Cup baldie Clive Walker, is just the man to help him realise his ambition of returning to the professional game.
And that's not all. "Included in the Mariners line up is much travelled keeper Danny Naisbitt," adds the OS. "He has played for several Football League teams, including Walsall, Barnet, Carlisle United, Brentford and Cambridge Utd." A list to which the Diary can add the non-League luminaries of Dagenham & Redbridge, Hendon, Welling and everyone's second club AFC Wimbledon, for whom Nezzy (as they call him at Kingsmeadow) has been first-choice stopper this season. A 26-year-old Geordie, he stands six feet two inches tall; his favourite film is Goodfellas and his favourite drink is Guinness.
Oh, you wanna know where the reserves are actually playing, do you? And who against? Easy. Notts County away. This afternoon. Probably. Oh, and now that I've done all that research, the Grimsby Telegraph has just gone live with most of the same stuff. They didn't know about the Guinness though. Ha!
"Hi there," writes Mike Gresham in an email to the Diary. Hi, Mike! "Just to make all Town fans aware," he continues, "that Friday 22 April has been allocated as this year's day for wearing your Town shirt with pride at work the idea is that you get colleagues, family and friends to sponsor you, with all proceeds going to Grimsby's St Andrew's Hospice. The football club are right behind the event which is now in its third year. All good fun and a chance to show your allegiance to the famous black and white stripes, wherever you are in the world and whoever you work for!" Sounds almost worth having a job for. For more details or to request a sponsorship form contact Mike at St Andrew's Hospice, Peaks Lane, Grimsby DN32 9RP, or phone 01472 350908 or 0781 588 6929.
Today's last word comes from Paul Moran, who yesterday not only read the Diary but read the Diary's mind. Yesterday, you will recall, we featured a link to a sponsor website where you could win some money for both yourself and the Town. The Diary, however, declined to enter the contest for reasons Paul has anticipated. "The following piece of terms and conditions stuff," he points out, "could be quite useful for all of those people wanting to support the club by endeavouring to win a player (doesn't say which player), but not wanting to receive texts about fancy new tooth-rotting drinks:
If you do not wish to receive any further text messages from Coca-Cola, please text the word STOP to 80089, this will stop all text messages other than confirmation replies to entries into Win a Player or texts to notify you if you are a winner." Thanks, Paul. We'll take their cash, but damn their marketing and their splice commas.
Tuesday 8 March
Woe, dude! Injury woe, that is. After generating 1.21 gigawatts of power with the heat off his glowing, frazzled head when he received the news that Michael Reddy and Jason Crowe would be out of action until Aprilish, stressed-out Mr Russell Slade is now able to feed surplus electricity back into the National Grid having discovered that cultured defender Simon Ramsden will miss a couple of weeks of football with the ankle injury that forced him to withdraw at half time from last Saturday's win at Oxford. With Mullet Rambo's fellow defenders Terrell Forbes and Justin Whittle back on form and fit, though, this is not quite the blow it might otherwise have been, and the renewed firing of all Sir John McDermott's elderly cylinders means Sorted It retains the option of a man who can play right-back, in the event of him wishing to field back fours instead of threes.
John Fenty has been banned from driving for six months after totting up more disciplinary points than Tony Crane last season. According to today's Grimsby Telegraph, the Town chairman admitted driving at 93 miles an hour on the M180 last May: an offence for which local magistrates added five points to the nine already accrued on his licence. The court rejected PJ's argument that a ban would be unfair "after hearing one of his problems arose because his girlfriend was not sufficiently confident to tow a horse box, and that he could afford to employ a driver for his business", leaving Fenty to fume: "The imposition to myself and my family will be extremely impractical" an appeal the Diary will be sure to try when I finally get 12 years for libel, perjury and perverting the course of justice. The GTFC supremo may or may not now be considering an appeal on the grounds that a fair trial was impossible in Scunthorpe.
Prolific scribe of GTFC epistles Dave the Engineer has dropped the Diary another line, this time to offer advice to his fellow Town fans who are headed south for this weekend's Lincolnshire sort-of-derby at Boston. "Fans travelling on Saturday should be aware the A16 is closed at Ulceby Cross," warns Dave. "Follow the Skeg road then turn right through Skendleby, then right again back into Spilsby. If you miss the turning for Skendleby you'll have to go to Gunby roundabout and back up the Spilsby road, adding about 10 miles to your journey." Thanks for that, mate, though if I know Grimbarians then they'll already be dreaming up conspiracy theories. "Well, he's probably just saying that to get everybody else off the road so he can have a clear drive. No, it's true. Me niece goes out with Michael Chapman's new stable lad, so I know."
Paul, aka the Derby Mariner, has emailed to draw our attention to this rather gaudy website, "where you can enter the draw every day between today and the Championship play-off final, to win £250k for Town and £10k for yourself. Also daily prizes of tickets. Every entry scores the club a point in a 'league table'. So far Grimsby are ranked 69th of 84, and Leeds are top! This needs to be addressed! Spread the the word Almighty Cod!"
Consider it done, Paul, because it is. But what is this 'Championship' of which you speak?
Monday 7 March
In its dealings with GTFC the Inland Revenue has opted for a course of action that looked its most sensible all along, but which everybody sort of seemed to forget was an option, and exercised some flexibility over the Tax Thing. Town's official site today reports that while, financially speaking, the Mariners remain very much paddleless in Poo Pond, a decision by the IR to offer the club "a favourable repayment schedule" has at the very least postponed the repossession of its canoe. The 'Keep The Mariners Afloat' campaign organised jointly by the club and the supporters' trust will carry on regardless, adds the OS, because, well, it's not like the Revenue is actually letting us off or anything. If the Diary were a cynic then I might be tempted to suspect that the tax people spotted Town's recent improved form and chose to cover their asses in case Positive John decided the 10-point administration penalty could be absorbed without danger of relegation. But of course, I'm not.
If the KTMA cause is to succeed then gratitude will be due to Franz Ferdinand. The sharply dressed Scots pop combo, who are currently attempting to string out as much of a career as possible on the strength of one good song, have a PR officer called Steve Phillips, who hails from the port of Grimsby and has persuaded the boys to sign a few Mariners Afloat T-shirts for raising of funds via auctional floggage, bless 'em all. I'm sure I read this in the Sports Telegraph about two months ago, but the sale is now under way, and it can only be a matter of minutes before the first bid is lodged. Given the almighty job Steve has clearly done in persuading the world that the not-terrible-but-far-from-brilliant Franz represent the Future Of Popular Music, one can only wonder whether his talents might one day be put to the worthier use of getting his fellow Grimbarians to support their local football club.
Shortly before the seemingly reborn Andy Parkinson secured three more points for Town at Oxford the other day with another smashing goal, ginger loanee and Prince Harry lookalike Matt Harrold had the Diary punching the air in delight with a well-placed looping header to get the Mariners level. Mr Russell Slade has since been a-praisin' the contributions of both players, along with that of flu victim Martin Gritton, introduced as a snuffly half-time substitute. Significantly, though, the Town boss has also acknowledged for the first time the pressure that his out-of-sorts goalkeeper Anthony Williams is under, with the Grimbio Telbio quoting his post-match interview: "Willo hasn't had a great game with his hands once or twice today." If it weren't for those hands, eh.
As most of us have now known for some time, the internet is rubbish. The trouble with a 'democratic medium' is that even the most dimwitted illiterate can use a click-and-drag FTP application or basic content management system, with the result that our beloved town and football club have been renamed "Grimbsy" online more times than you can shake a fish at. In the Diary's more tolerant states of mind I could perhaps forgive the UK Noise Association its misspelling or British Cycling its similar display of ignorance, but you'd think the Daily Telegraph and the BBC might know better, wouldn't you? At the very least, you would probably hope GTFC's own subscription web service Mariners World might avoid this very basic error by not ending a highlights clip with the caption "Oxford Utd 1 Grimbsy Town 2".
And you would hope that even British Cycling would know that "Grimbsy College" is not in Yorkshire. But no. Perhaps some of you might like to email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them.
Finally, Clint Marcelle signed for Tamworth late last week. Which was nice.
Friday 4 March
A quick Friday update from the Leeds Cod Almighty office. I know it is late. I had an overly-long paid-for lunch (ten quid for working an extra 20 hours on non-overtime pay this week? er, ta) and, y'know, the going rate at CA Towers is below minimum wage (apparently payment by Mars bars isn't recognised under EU law) so I thought I might as well pig out.
A quick scoot at the OS is in order then... You might have mistaken the OS for this fanzine recently. First, Simon Wilsons's has a rubbishly written email republished on said site, then Pete Greens's has his GET column reprinted. Cuh. Why not pay us and we'll do it for free? That garlic bread is starting to repeat on me so I need to speed this up...
Right, team news for tomorrow. Predictably Jason Crowes and Michael Reddys are out. Danny Norths has recovered for a virus. David Soameses (who looked like he was wearing a corset in Tuesday's game, such was the size of his upper chest) might get a chance. But - rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuelles! - Ronnie Bulls could be back! Ah shit, hang on. That's not right. Still, he's a dad for "the second time". Weird that as I thought once you're a dad for the first time, you're a dad for life. There's lots of speculating about people swapping positions - Maccas to right wing, Parkinsons up front - but you could do that amongst yourselves, surely.
Is that it? Er, apart from Russell Slades's tips, that seems to be the case. Crikey. Time for an "Up the Mariners!" then. Have a good weekend.
Thursday 3 March
Only two or three years ago Town fans used to get all het up when the likes of Mark McGhee and Trevor Francis said they expected their teams to go to "places like Grimsby" and win. The arrogant swine! And now Town fans get all het up because they expect their own team to go to places like Rochdale and win. It's all about expectation management. If a couple of first-team players are going to be nursing injuries for three weeks, then it's quite bad; but if you originally expected them to be out for six weeks then it is surely time for smiles and raised glasses all round! So, hurrah: for Michael Reddy and Jason Crowe, says the Grimsby Telegraph, may be playing association football again by the end of the month. Hurrah!
In the meantime, as the Diary pondered yesterday, Reddy's position at the cutting edge of the Grimsby Town goal machine may be taken up by 21-year-old David Soames, who at Rochdale on Tuesday made his 21st substitute appearance for the Mariners and his first since last April. And young Digger, as he appears to have been nicknamed for reasons that are in no way clear, did his cause no harm at all by tucking in the consolation goal in a 2-1 defeat for the reserves at Darlington yesterday in a side featuring several unfamiliar names with which we'll surely be getting a whole lot more familiar over the months and years ahead, oh yes.
"Wheel-Ossett" doesn't mean anything at all, so the Diary wishes he could have stayed at Barrow, but if Kirk Wheeler will insist on making career decisions that are based on football rather than wordplay then I suppose that's his prerogative. Accordingly, the former Town reserve has, reports the Non-League Daily, joined Ossett Town of the Northern League Premier Division, where he spent some time on loan earlier this season before being released by the Mariners on account, presumably, of not being good enough. It's a cruel game.
Mat Hare isn't another former Town youngster who has just signed for a non-League side but, as we saw here yesterday, Matthew Oswin is; and Mat, it seems, has got nothing better to do than type Oswin's name into search boxes on websites. "He left Town on 1 June 2000 according to Soccerbase," writes Mat. "He then went
err, home I guess because he doesn't appear on Soccerbase's radar after that point. It appears that he went to Spalding for a while as well as doing some real work. He also got a Year 12 distinction from the Burnside school and has his own memorial trust to support research on Huntingdon's Disease." Gosh, thanks. I'll sleep soundly in my bed tonight; or I would if the heating boiler hadn't just sprung a leak. Anyway, there must be an article in that, I reckon.
That's me done for the week, then. I'm on a Baker day tomorrow, so you'll have a supply Diary. Stay on your best behaviour, children.
Wednesday 2 March
The Diary was pondering hopping onto a westbound train last night for Town's cataclysmic encounter with Rochdale after waiting for it to stop, preferably but on the face of it my decision to stay in the warm appears to have been vindicated by the 2-0 defeat for Mr Russell Slade's improving but still inconsistent side. Russ himself seems to have wished he could have followed the Diary's suit and stayed at home, as the GTFC boss apparently declined after the match to speak to any waiting media representatives and not just those from Radio Humberside, though this is of course assuming that there were any. Those awaiting an at least barely literate match report are advised that Cod Almighty's north-western correspondent Miles Moss will be preparing one today, just as soon as he's had his sandwiches.
Perhaps worse still than the passing up of three points is the news that Jason Crowe and Michael Reddy will be out for six weeks apiece with the hurt they felt at Spotland. Jase the Pace did his ankle halfway through, while the Redster suffered unpleasantness to the groin after just 16 of your Earth minutes. With North East Lincolnshire council having recently declared the region a striker-free zone, Michael's groin problems could prove a big opportunity for Town's largely forgotten young reserve forward David 'Once Scored A Tap-In At Derby' Soames.
Oh, and of course, Grant Holt played, and made Rochdale's second goal. So whether the elusive Mr Slade's disappearing act was due to the result, the injuries to his players, the unreliability of the pre-match team news from Spotland, or just the idiots in the Town end chanting "Slade out" is, and may remain, unknown to all humankind.
I know Wisbech is, or used to be, somewhere on the southern periphery of the Yorkshire TV region. I've been told it comprises little more than a row of sheds. I also know that every bloody time you put Calendar news on, or used to, there was a story about a lost dog from sodding Wisbech. Anyway, former Town midfielder Matthew Oswin, or former Town reserve midfielder, has signed for Wisbech Town, according to a less than life-altering website called Fenland Today. What else he's been doing since leaving GTFC about five years ago lies beyond both my current knowledge and my inclination to Google.
There's just time for us to return to last night's events at Rochdale, but strictly in the interests of ending today's Diary on a note of levity. Our old chum Tony Gallimore unexpected found himself among the, er, action at Spotland after replacing his injured colleague Greg Heald early in the game prompting the Grimsby Telegraph to scoop an interview with the former Town left-back and bon viveur. Referring to his slight disappointment at his own recent form, the player admits: "I am not quite at the standard I was when I was at Barnsley last year." An emergency appeal to fund new signings for Steve Parkin is already rumoured to have launched by supporters of the Oakwell club whose memories of the player remain fresh.
Tuesday 1 March
Tonight's game is "deffo on", according to a Grimsby supporter who has just phoned Rochdale to check, which one assumes is a confirmation positive enough to send Mr Fenty into paroxysms of joy, and so that means a late fitness test on Martin Gritton's sore throat, barring a freak accident in which Spotland is two-thirds destroyed by a dog-shaped hot air balloon horizontally striped in a colour that hasn't been invented yet. The Diary's guessing is that Sorted It will remember he sent his only substitute striker with substantial first-team experience to Halifax in exchange for a bag of mints, and just say sod it and play Grits regardless. Especially given today's Grimsby Telegraph reporting that flowers of striking youth Danny North and David Soames are knackered and Michael Reddy has a sore hercules. Achilles. Damn.
Oh. GTFC say there's a pitch inspection at two o'clock. Well, anyway, Rochdale are apparently likely to be missing Grant Holt and Ernie Cooksey said by some to be the only two players who really troubled the Mariners in the ill-fated original fixture that was abandoned at half time on New Year's Day. I'm going to get a massive and fatal electric shock from a pylon if I don't stop flying kites.
Finally, a heart-warming if slightly confusing tale of one manager's struggle against the other team's supporters and society's inability to accept his sexuality. According, again, to the Grimmo Tel, Yeovil manager Gary Johnson has "come out and blasted the Blundell Park faithful following his side's 2-1 defeat on Saturday". The Diary applauds Johnson's courage in confronting both Blundell Park's boo-boys and football's relentless homophobia, but I can't for the life of me see much connection between the two.