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Diary - November 2005
Wednesday 30 November
"The Mariners will give a run out to Dereham Town forward Danny Wright in today's reserves game against Doncaster Rovers," declares Town's official website, next to a photograph of former Wolves and Manchester City striker Rob Taylor (Taylor having had a brief spell with GTFC before retiring as a player and managing the aforementioned Dereham Town in the Eastern Counties Premier Division). But when the page first went live shortly before 11 o'clock this morning it said the player coming up from Taylor's club was Craig White, who is only in Dereham's reserves not only confusing the BBC but raising suspicions that Taylor was exacting some sort of unnecessarily complicated revenge on the club where his playing career unravelled through injury and, God bless it, the OS has only changed "White" to "Wright" in the first paragraph, and subsequent mentions of Town's new trialist still give him the wrong name. Wright is a 21-year-old forward who has scored 15 times this season. Andy Johnson is also set to feature for the Mariners this afternoon after recovering from his recent hernia operation. Andy Jones. Sorry. Rob. Sorry. Rob Jones.
Robert Taylor is one of those names like Paul Robinson not in that a stereotyped yuppie character called Robert Taylor has just returned to a popular Australian soap opera after several years' absence but in that there has recently been more than one English professional footballer of that appellation. There was the Dereham Town guy, who scored lots of goals for Brentford and Gillingham and bugger all for Wolves, Man City and of course Grimsby; there was the Bob Taylor who scored lots of goals for Bristol City, West Brom and Bolton (and, latterly, Tamworth); and according to Soccerbase, there's also the Robert Taylor who made nearly 300 appearances for Shrewsbury in the 1990s but who, for what were presumably very good reasons, went under the name of Mark Taylor. Then there's the Rob Taylor who was the best boss the Diary has ever had and used to buy me four pints every time we went to the pub at lunchtime. Not that he was a footballer, and not that any of this is going anywhere, by the way; it's just filling up space on a slow news day. See ya!
Tuesday 29 November
Once upon a time, before the Cod Wars had finished, not in a galaxy far, far away but at a muddy football ground in the Black Country, a 16-year-old substitute called Tony Ford became the youngest player in the history of Grimsby Town Football Club, just weeks after leaving school and signing for the Mariners. By the time he signed for Stoke City in 1986 Ford had racked up more than 400 appearances for his hometown club, scoring 60 goals, and returned to feature in Alan Buckley's famous teams of the early 1990s, where he played in another 70-odd games. Spells at West Brom, Mansfield, Scunthorpe and Rochdale took our Tone's career total to 931 appearances the all-time English record for an outfield player and the player received an MBE for his efforts in 2000. In his current capacity as assistant manager at Rochdale, Ford will be returning to Blundell Park with his team next Tuesday and will be signing copies of his biography, The Tony Ford Story by Keith Haynes and Phil Sumbler, in the club shop before the game. Smart!
Some might say the Diary can be a little cruel to Town's official website, but today if I wore a hat then I would take it off to the club's online organ in delighted admiration. GTFC are auctioning off the shirt worn by recent failed trialist Steve Slade for his one appearance for the club in the Light Commercial Vehicles Trophy match against Morecambe, attended by barely more than 1,000 spectators: not, by any reckoning, a must-have piece of memorabilia for even the diehardest of Town fans. Rather than try and pretend that lot 2,493 is as desirable an item as, say, the underpants worn by Wayne Burnett when he scored at Wembley in '98, the OS has made a virtue of the shirt's unique selling point and marketed the auction by admitting that "Steve Slade is a name that Town fans will struggle to remember in years to come" and that his shirt was worn "for just 55 minutes". You just have to admire the sheer chutzpah of this one, and the Diary looks forward keenly to next week's auction for the left sock worn by John Thorrington in his second-half cameo at Loftus Road.
Russell Slade has denied, with a laugh, a rumour made up last week on a disreputable football gossip website that he would be loaning Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi, which nobody believed in the first place and the only surprising aspect of which was that anyone was bored enough to ask Slade about it at all. It's a bit like Town's last season in the second flight, when the side was being thrashed roundly on an almost weekly basis and the Diary fired off a lame-ass gag about Danny Coyne having a repetitive strain injury after he had to pick the ball out of the net so many times, and the BBC picked it up and reported in the team news for the next match that Coyne was doubtful with a back strain.
And finally today, David Weir has not threatened to "do" Alan Shearer.
Monday 28 November
He may or may not have taken a bit of the ball when he took Andy Parkinson's legs, but the two-footed challenge that emphasised the first syllable of Chris Hackett's surname has left Town's scamperer supreme feeling a bit sore this morning. After scoring the Mariners' opener at Oxford on Saturday Parky was felled by a dodgy lunge which earned Hackett a red card and has woken up this morning with a swollen ankle. The player reckons he will have recovered in time for the Mariners' next game, at home to Rochdale a week tomorrow, despite missing training today or, as the club's official website puts it, being "sidlined", which gives the disturbing impression that while his teammates run around cones the Parkmeister is sitting in the dug-out learning the script of Carry on Camping.
The OS also hosts an explosion of misplaced initial capital letters this afternoon as it offers supporters the chance to bid on another 'spend match day with John Fenty' auction. Before the aforementioned Rochdale game the winning bidder will, explains the blurb, be taken on a tour of the ground "including seeing... the Pontoon Stand"! Tempted though the Diary is by this unprecedented opportunity, I intend to wait for that lottery win and then see exactly how much financial persuasion they would need to scrap the dress code.
It's always heart-warming to see a manager give strong public support to a forward who isn't scoring many goals until it reaches the extremes attained by Rafael Benitez re: Peter Crouch, when it becomes more rib-tickling than heart-warming and the Diary's cockles are truly heated today by Russell Slade's hymn of praise to Michael Reddy. "Hopefully he can keep his form going because he's been a revelation," says the Mariners boss of his five-goals-in-23-games, out-of-contract-next-summer frontman who definitely won't be sold during January's transfer window if somebody offers ten bob and a bag of spanners.
Saturday 26 November
After their tremendous undefeated away run ended at Wycombe a week ago, Town display great bouncebackability to return to winning form on the road with a 3-2 victory at Oxford. Early in the second half the Mariners looked like the lost generation after Scott Fitzgerald equalised Andy Parkinson's early strike, but the game turned on the 58th-minute sending-off of Chris Hackett for a two-footed challenge on Parky. Shortly afterwards Paul Bolland put Town back in front with a peach from the edge of the box, and after Gary Cohen made it three from close range at the end of normal time, Steve Basham's late, late penalty was all in vain.
A good win at Carlisle puts Wycombe three points clear at the top, with the Mariners second on goal difference from Leyton Orient, who could only draw at Macclesfield. Town remain to the fourth division title race, then, as plain flour, salt, mixed spice, ground cinnamon, butter, dark brown sugar, black treacle, marmalade, vanilla essence, eggs, mixed dried fruits, chopped mixed peel, glacι cherries, almonds and brandy are to a Christmas cake: very much in the mix.
Friday 25 November
Call me Middle-Aged Diary.
Not so middle-aged, however, as to remember George Best in his prime: by the time I was coming to football consciousness he was mainly associated with a jingle that rhymed "superstar" with "Platex bra". The self-satisfaction of old pros telling us that modern footballers are not fit to lace his drinks has been undermined in recent years, so let's allow Graham Taylor, a man who achieved the highest accolade the game can offer (captaining Grimsby Town), to remind us why we carry on hearing about him 30 years after he last played.
Put the words "Savage", "clearance" and "net" at the start of an article and it sounds like a paean to John Beck's Cambridge side. In fact it brings us the news that one-time Town target Bas Savage has joined Bristol City after some vague legal difficulties.
Team news, and the BBC informs us that Oxford have acquired the temporary services of strikers Neville Roach and Scott Fitzgerald. This might have been a problem, but the slender Rob Jones, who has read all the latter's books, is a surprise inclusion in the Town squad. Calvin Andrew is poorly and, in the department of telling you things you already know, Tom Newey is suspended, but Gary Croft is fit to replace him and looking forward to playing his old friend Chris Hargreaves.
If you fancy going to a football ground tomorrow, and can't make it to the hideously named KasStad, you could always wander to the club shop between the hours of ten and three, and making a start on the Christmas shopping for those Man Utd-supporting relatives you really don't get on with.
Whatever you decide to do, hope you have a good weekend. Good luck.
Thursday 24 November
The Bermuda Triangle. Jack the Ripper. The Loch Ness Monster. Why REM didn't call it a day after Automatic for the People. These are universally recognised as the world's greatest unsolved mysteries, and this week they are joined by what the flaming hell is going on with Calvin Andrew. Yesterday's Grimsby Telegraph quoted Russell Slade as saying that the on-loan forward "has gone back" to his parent club Luton, only for the Mariners' official website to report later that the player remains at Blundell Park and will be available for Saturday's trip to Oxford. Are there gremlins on the starboard bow, or could it simply be that the Town manager didn't know, when he spoke to the Telegraph, when one of his own players would be available to play? Stay tuned for tomorrow's Diary, when we explore a fascinating new theory linking the Mariners' record of penalty misses last season to the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Lingering for a moment on the same page of the OS, isn't it nice to know that the inability to distinguish one's hindquarters from one's arm joint is not restricted to the club's web department and team manager? With the Lincoln game on 28 December now turning out to be an evening kick-off, that's me and Mrs Diary having to re-plan our entire Christmas itinery... itinerara.... initer... schedule.
Anyway, Terry Barwick seems to have completed his loan move to York City, where he will apparently fill in for the injured but fantastically named Emmanuel Panther. Russell Slade, meanwhile, has hit a brick wall, presumably meaning that Graham Rodger will take charge of the first team while he recovers in hospital. Oh, right. Damn my short attention span again. Russell Slade has hit a brick wall in his attempts to bring in more loan players before today's mini-deadline. "Clubs are reluctant to let players go out because of the busy Christmas schedule coming up," says the Town boss, referring to loan transfers rather than the UK's newly liberalised licensing laws.
The Diary has been passed an email from Rachel Branson of Grimsby Town Supporters Trust confirming that the trust's ace buy.at fundraising thingy is still working and has a load of new stuff and that. "There's currently an article about it on the trust's website," writes Rach. "You can't miss it. It's the one surrounded by the flashing Christmas lights." Actually, that's precisely the reason the Diary did miss it, too easily mesmerised as I am by all manner of twinkly things. It's probably just me, but here's a link just in case.
Diary readers now having settled the issue of where to go for a pre-match bevvy this Saturday, all that remains is the matter of where to get off the M40. It's good, this, isn't it? We should do it for every away game. Grimsby Tim has emailed to say: "Fans travelling to the game against Oxford United on Saturday could always exit the M40 at the next junction, 8a, and head through Wheatley thus avoiding the roadworks [referred to by Andy Lumbard in yesterday's Diary] altogether. Plus you could drop off for a pint in the Railway." Thanks, Tim though dropping off seems to be the thing to do at Town matches these days rather than beforehand.
Don't know which guest you'll have Diarising for you tomorrow, but thanks for reading this week and I'll see you all soon. Good night and God bless.
Wednesday 23 November
Now that another transfer deadline has been invented, lots more transfer tittle-tattle has belatedly sprung up around it, and changes could be afoot at Blundell Park before Thursday. Though not half as bad as everyone thought he would be, Town's former Scunthorpe midfielder Terry Barwick still stands as much chance of being played regularly as the current Sigur Ros album and is, accordingly, discussing a loan move to the York City Home for Discarded Mariners. Town's official website speculates wildly that new players could be arriving to fill the sizeable gap that will be left if hefty centre-half Tony Crane follows Barwick out of BP pending the completion of work to widen the exit doors.
This evening Town's youth players take a break from happy slapping Christmas shoppers at Freshney Place to travel to Lincoln in the second round of the Midland Youth Cup. The Mariners' teenage kickers take on their Impish counterparts after seeing off Tamworth in the tournament's previous round, and I'm not quite sure how a football club with a ground next to the sea can qualify to enter any competition with the word 'Midland' in its title, but that's not the point.
If you haven't already bought it, read it and ate it for your tea then you really ought to be aware that Grimsby Town Supporters Trust has published a book of cartoons by Jim 'Tales from the Park' Connor, with whose splendid work you may be familiar from the pages of Sing When We're Fishing and Town's matchday programme. Ten quid, ideal Christmas gift, etc. This is probably also a good time to remind you of the excellent buy.at portal thingy, by which GTFC fans can raise cash for the trust while buying books and DVDs and things, and which in the Diary's opinion really doesn't get enough publicity, assuming that the cash-raising deal is still in place. Check it out; send the link on to your non-Diary-reading and even non-Town-supporting mates; and do something good while you relieve your dirty consumerist urges.
Oxford-area Mariner Andy Lumbard has emailed the Diary on the subject of the travel guide currently showing on Town's official website. "You have brought the pedant out in me," he writes. "The pub by the ground really is The Priory and ? Although as for a pre-match pint I was under the impression it was for homers only." Surely the OS wouldn't direct travelling GTFC fans to a pub they weren't allowed into? That would be terrible! "Might I suggest the couple of pubs in Sandford-on-Thames, about as far from the ground as the Rutland is." Well, Andy, you must be in considerably better shape than the Diary, is all I can say, since the Rutland is about 200 miles from the Kassam Sta... oh... right, I see. "Expect some pretty hefty roadworks on the A34 after leaving the M40. It is down to single carriageway contraflow on weekends. It would've been OK if it were a Friday night!" Shhhhh!
Tuesday 22 November
Viewers of the BBC's recent adaptation of Bleak House may be aware that the novels of Charles Dickens were often first published in instalments in the popular periodicals of the Victorian era. It was this chapter-by-chapter format that encouraged authors to end each section of their tale with what we now call a right old cliff-hanger; and it is surely with this gripping narrative style in mind that the governing bodies of football have very gradually made public the workings of the recently introduced transfer window system. Chapter 1: The Premiership has transfer windows. Chapter 2: The Football League has transfer windows. Chapter 3: Transfer windows don't apply to loan signings. Chapter 4: Transfer windows do apply to loan signings but not at the same time as permanent signings, and Russell Slade has until Thursday to bring in another full-back or striker to play wide midfield now that Calvin Andrew has gone back to Luton again and Simon Francis is at Tranmere. Chapter 5? Fog everwhere, fog up the River Humber; the lawsuit of Laws and Bonetti still drags its dreary length; and young orphans Gary Cohen and Nick Hegarty are made wards of court.
Anyone fancy a pint? Yes? You won't be driving, then? Better give this weekend's trip to Oxford a miss, since the location of the ground seems to make it inaccessible via public transport or so Town's guide for travelling fans seems to suggest. It's just as well you're in the car and on the wagon, as the guide has also forgotten to go back and finish the name of the punctuation pub that sits next to the Kaslingradstad, leaving it as "the Priory and ?". In any case, the Diary finds that you tend to get a better pint at the Swan and Semicolon.
If you're a grown female, a minor, or a kinship unit who can these days brave the bearpit of Blundell Park without being showered by rubble, sporting equipment or wee-wee, then a curious item on Town's official website tells you who to thank. The piece appears in the OS's 'What the Papers Say' section (which neglects to tell us which paper said it) and seems to be a bit of promo copy for yet another cack-handed 'hoolie' book. Now that the police have an extensive intelligence-gathering network, it says, and the courts can impose banning orders, "women, children and families can now go along to a game and watch the spectacle safe in the knowledge that they will not be pelted by bricks, snooker cues or bottles of urine," which we can only assume must have been a weekly occurrence at BP before the rozzers bucked their ideas up. The things you miss when you're watching the football, eh? Three cheers for our brave boys in blue!
And finally today: things you never thought you'd hear, part 43: Gary Croft, who averaged about 14 league starts per season in the nine years he spent away from Grimsby, described as "a naturally fit lad". But would you chuck him out of bed for departing?
Monday 21 November
Good day! Let me begin by saying how glad I am to be back with you after a week in the wilderness, and let me continue by apologising firstly to anyone who emailed while I was away and didn't see their words make it on to this page, and secondly for the absence of any kind of Diary over the weekend just gone. This was for the simple but compelling reason that, although the official Diary laptop actually decided to start working again midway through last Tuesday afternoon, I just couldn't be arsed. Sorry. You know what happened anyway: Town's record-breaking unbeaten away run was finally ended by a team that prefers passes to percentages, and the Mariners were unlucky not to lose 3-2 instead of 3-1, or something.
Was it the green seats or was it Tom Newey? Hard-nosed Humber-area sceptics have noted that Town's recent loss of form has coincided not only with the temporary accomodation installed at Blundell Park but also almost exactly with the presence in the first team of a certain former Cambridge left-back. The good news is that fans' favourite Gary Croft, who played the last ten minutes at Wycombe on Saturday, has returned to fitness just in time to reclaim his position from 'Five Yellows' Newey, who will be suspended for the trip to Oxford this weekend.
In the absence of any salacious gossip or credible post-match managerial quotes, Town's official website today reports that the former Liverpool, Real something-or-other and Republic of Ireland striker John Aldridge is to appear at a "sportsman's dinner" at McMenemy's in February. With its characteristically idiosyncratic approach to initial capital letters, the OS promises that the guest speaker will regale the club restaurant with "tales of his 2 World Cup adventures, playing in FA and League Cup Finals, winning first division Championships and Charity Shields, and as a manager taking Tranmere Rovers to their first ever Major Cup Final". No mention, then, of whether diners at the £30-a-ticket event will also hear Aldridge discuss all the penalties he won illegally against Town by pretending to be fouled, nor whether with a touch more luck on the day his Tranmere side might have gone on and won that season's Major Cup.
Friday 18 November
Good day to you fellow fans of football, let me introduce myself. My name is Absolutely No One Else Available Diary (I knew it'd come in handy one of these days) and this is my diary debut, please be gentle. Regular Diary has an urgent appointment with the lavatory after eating too many prunes and all Stand-In Diaries were involved in a horrific tenpin bowling accident.
The whole footballing community is holding it's breath in anticipation of tomorrow's clash of the nicknames, the Mariners versus the Chairboys. Ruzzell Slade (as Noddy Holder might type his name) has a selection dilemma; does he plump for Ciaran Toner (spellchecker suggests that Toner is "CIA ran", you've been warned) or Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala to partner Paul Bolland in the centre of midfield. That reminds me, does anyone know if JPKK started the recent DR Congo match because the OS isn't sure. Slade hints that Toner will start, as his name is far easier to spell.
Gary Jones "the Lump" is overjoyed with Russell Slade's decision to let his talented squad knock the ball to each other's feet rather than hoofing the ball towards Belgium. "The gaffer has drummed into us to play a lot more and not just boot it forward to me or Michael Reddy to have a battle for it." said Lumpy, although why he and Reddy have been battling each other for the ball is unclear. Another interviewee, Ciaran Toner, had this to say about his impressive (and far less Stuart Campbell-like) performance against Macclesfield. "I haven't played a lot but my fitness felt fine - I think the extra work I had done on my own after training paid off." Perhaps if a certain large-arsed defender matched this dedication he wouldn't be looking at a career twelve divisions below the football league.
One player who won't figure for the Mariners on Saturday, or ever, is Bas "Bass" Savage. His "massive pay demands" not really on a par for a striker with zero league goals to his credit. Rumours that Martin Gritton will blow dry his hair at another club soon will take a backseat until non-scoring striker A. Trialist reports for duty in the near future.
Here's a fact for all you Michael Owen fans out there. Eight years ago today, the boy Owen scored his first professional hat-trick against non-other than the plucky Mariners. "This is still the highlight of my illustrious career. As a child I always dreamt of playing against Grimsby Town and to score thrice was incredible." The midget striker has never said this but looked like he might do on occasions.
Have you been to Blundell Park lately? If you have, good on you, recent seasons have been hard to digest (not unlike those Lincolnshire crisps sold in the kiosks). If you've spent Saturday afternoons (or Friday nights *spit*) painting the children, shopping in the pub or having an affair with the local cheese, then let us know in this clever arrangement. Personally, I'd walk through several piles of dog shit to watch the Mariners. Which is lucky, as that's what I have to do every home match. Cheers.
Thursday 17 November
Good day to you all, Reliable Stand-In Diary here, bringing you the latest news from Blundell Park. I'm not just reliable; I'm the undefeated Guess
Who? champion of my student house. My greatness means I never have to answer the front door again until the New Year. Now that's what I call a prize! But being a Guess Who? master means I already know who's at the door anyway.
Wes Parker, Chris Bolder Graham Hockless, David Soames, Liam Nimmo and Iain Ward are awe inspiring names, I'm sure you'll agree. They gave to football what Ian Duncan Smith gave to the Conservative party. So it's only natural that the Grimsby area has been targeted as a "hot spot for potential
talented football superstars of tomorrow", according to the local rag. Football scouts will be attending Hereford Technical School on December 10 in the hope of unearthing that rough diamond who will transform the Premiership and lead England to World Cup 2014 glory. "After detailed
research, we believe that the Grimsby area holds a lot of potential hidden talent and we want to put this talent in front of the top scouts who will be turning up," said Danny Fisher, director of Sports Opportunity. This 'detailed research' sounds curiously vague, but nevertheless, men
wearing tracksuits carrying clipboards will descend on the town in a few weeks hoping to sign up the next big thing (and we're not talking about their hair-dos here).
Blundell Park wasn't voted as the fans' favourite ground in a survey conducted by Life Style Extra (UK). That's a bit cheeky, if you ask me. Apparently, the comfort, view, toilet facilities, food and club shop products at Blundell Park are not even good enough to make the top ten. I don't know how anybody could vote against those charming urinals behind
the Main Stand. Philistines. I can't help but sense that the OS is quite bitter about this. It believes there has been an injustice, and they are currently engaged in writing a badly-worded, ill-spelt letter of complaint to Life
Style Extra (UK) their main point being that only 3,000 fans (that's just under 33 fans for every league team) were surveyed, which makes the whole thing invalid anyway.
Town's weekend opponents Wycombe Wanderers have already announced their prices and other related offers to fans regarding half season tickets. Now that's what I call forward planning. Anyone interested in buying a half
season ticket at not-good-enough-to-be-in-the-top-ten-favourite-grounds-survey Blundell Park? You'll just have to wait to see what last-minute, organisational mess the suits at BP have in mind.
Mariners World offers news regarding Toner's hopes of keeping his place in the side now that Kalala has returned from that abandoned international match. Gary Croft played the first half of yet another defeat for Graham
Rodger's reserve side, which also featured a young Andy Taylor. Remember that name folks, because that lad is good. Good enough to be promoted to the reserve side, good enough to make the subs bench one day, and certainly good
enough to leave Blundell Park in four years' time after developing into an actual decent prospect and sign for Bridlington because the manager couldn't bother his arse to play him.
Wednesday 16 November
Day-off Diary here, ready to make good use of my morning by bringing you up to speed with what's happening at Blundell Park, rather than just trudging around in my slippers and dressing gown while drinking tea.
Good news everybody, as Gary Croft will take his first tender steps onto a football pitch today in the Mariners reserves match against Hartlepool at Blundell Park. The left-back had been out of action with a knee problem since September, but those magical scans have come back with a big thumbs up and hopefully it will not be long until he is at full steam. It certainly seems Graham Rodger has been cracking the whip on the former Blackburn Rovers/Ipswich Town/Cardiff City man. Rodger said: "Gary has been absolutely motoring in training." And it doesn't look like the torture will stop either, with Grazza adding: "It's a massive boost of us ahead of a busy schedule", which can only translate as "stop pissing well moaning and get on the pitch." Kick-off is 2pm for the Pontins Holiday Combination League clash against the Monkey Hangers with free entry through Harrington Street.
Talking off free tickets segue master class there if ever there was one the Grimsby Evening Telegraph reports that Wycombe Wanderers have designated Saturday's top-of-the-table clash against the Grimsby as a 'Kids for Free' fixture. Six youngsters can get in with one full paying adult when they get their ticket in advance at Blundell Park.
Now, as the Mariners prepare themselves for the freaky feeling of actually playing on a Saturday, it is good see that a Grimsby fan has been doing his bit to make the most of the Friday night shenanigans.
If these Saturdays without football have seen you being forced to do some DIY, then why not try and combine Grimsby Town with the tedious chores by taking up on their offer of sending a player or two round? Got to paint the ceiling and can't get hold of a decent extension? No worries, Rob Jones can use his towering presence. Or, as the deal is a Christmas time one, why not have a bit of a knees-up and get Sergeant Whittle to work the door at your place?
Of course if you want to get a longer-lasting Christmas present that is going to do it's bit for the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust then stick a bid in for their signed photo of England's greatest-ever goalkeeper Gordon Banks pulling off his greatest-ever save.
In other news, the Savage-signing rumour mill continues its slow annoying grind and I'm reminded of the question posed by yesterday's Diary about the nonsense of statistics and where they come from? Well the answer is Yorkshire. Well Howden, near Goole to be precise. The boys at the Press Association are the ones that collect all the alleged 'data'. The news gathering behemoth has a man in every League game across the country and he is there relaying down a phone to some bloke at a computer exactly what the team is doing. Whether or not all those men in the field at the games get the greatest view in the world is another matter. Post in view anyone?
And with that note of cynicism I bid you farewell until tomorrow's guest diarist takes up the helm. Cheers.
Tuesday 15 November
Just when your Guest Diarist was about to announce that there was no Grimsby Town news at all today, and that the best plan, perhaps was to go away, gentle reader, and return go these shores on the morrow, then something turned up. Not a lot mind, so I'll spit it straight out at you. Young Mr Gate(s) turned out for Newcastle reserves last night. And that well known purple person, Mr Souness was there to watch him as a strong reserve team stuffed their Villa counterparts 5-1. Loads of scouts were there too, mainly (to drop in to ceefax vernacular) eyeing Michael Chopra. Not that we need a right back this season anyway, being blessed with the almost ever-present and indisputably perfect John McDermott. Indeed I will already go so far as to narrow it down that the surname of Town's player of this season will begin with an M.
The Grimsby Telegraph has popped up with another story, telling us that Rob Jones is "on track for an earlier than expected return from a hernia operation." The rag then spends most of the rest of the article telling us that nearly everybody comes back quickly from this type of hernia operation and that Mr Jones had this to say: "Last year I rushed back too quickly but I won't make the same mistake this time. I hope to be doing a bit Continued page 44. more each day that goes by and it will be a case of keeping an eye on it." For those of you who collect Town nicknames Mr Jones refers to one 'Rammers' towards the end of this fine article...
The official site has published some more statistics about Town's season. The boys have reportedly had no less than 206 attempts on goal. Frankly, my dear, I have to ask what does constitute an attempt on goal? As for the claimed 215 crosses, does this include the 135 corners reported separately? And who sits and tries to count all this stuff? And where do they sit? If anyone has a very nerdy neighbour at Blundell Park, please let me know. See yer.
Monday 14 November
"Pfghhggrtafdtttt - Replacing Regular Diary is number 13, Deviant Diary"
With Mr Diary defeated by technology and life for the whole week, welcome to Cod Almighty's substitutes bench. Now we'll see just how strong the squad is. Which one of us is the Terry Barwick figure?
What's that I hear on the Blundell Park tin-can-tannoy? "Friday night and the crowd is low...". Without the inducement of free kids, or even kids for free, Friday night was not football night for the fervent masses of North East Lincolnshire, with the lowest home league gate so far this season seeing Town's dancing queens romp to a carefree victory with knobs on. A Mr Regular Diary case proven beyond reasonable doubt: we like our football on a Saturday. Ah well, at least Russell Slade is feeling vindicated in playing the victimised, and Parky was great! No, not that Parky; this Parky. Life would be less like a Graham Rix farce if footballers had any imagination. Macclesfield were really impressed by Martin Gritton. Life would be less like a Brian Rix farce if anyone knew anything about anybody. Vicar, I can explain!
Pencils with mottos, it's the way forward, and who wouldn't buy a HB2 with that on? With official news thinner than Rob Jones's right leg we are left to contemplate Christmas with a selection of gifts from the club shop. The ever-popular calendar with its runic messages about players' contracts, or how about that Grimsby Town FC black hoodie - one for the ASBO kids there and sure to be a big seller. But you can't have a fridge magnet - I bought the last one on Friday and, as they are handcrafted by village elders in Tahiti, don't expect any more this side of Jermaine Palmer's next loan move to an obscure non-League club, which may even have a dressing room with a roof.
Apparently you can take six children for free to Wycombe, but only if you have the social conscience of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are depths below which no man should go. I hate that car park.
Hot on the heels of Town's return to winning ways (© Grimsby Telegraph), the Diary inbox is pummelled by its less constipated readers. Andy Lumbard waves a disdainful left hand towards the allegations of former feather-cuteness while helpfully informing the world that Mark E Smith, friend of the fish, is due to read out the scores on Final Score on 19 November. Have you got those scales of justice handy? To go to Wycombe or stay at home and watch Ray Stubbs implode - there's no need for the jury to retire.
Wee Scott Brummett hasn't wasted his Monday morning either. Whatever was he dreaming about last night? Inflatable fish obviously figured highly in the oneirocrypt of Cod Almighty's brain. As a sophisticated Townite you should have already known that Harry Haddock played for Scotland, but did you know this? Mucho-macho-moustachiosity. Should he be the subject of the next Thundercliffe interview?
Late news: Bas Savage, Man of Bronze, still tickles Russ's fancy. Town are in "dialog" with his agent. Mr Regular Diary is spinning in his semantic, pedantic grave as you read this.
"You're a teaser, you turn 'em on, leave them burning and then you're gone". Well that's what it says on my pencil. Goodbye Reggie.
Friday 11 November
"After about ten pints, I think" said lovable scouser Paul Jewell when asked at which point he stopped thinking about relegation and started thinking about Europe. Alas, it would take a similar amount of alcohol these muggy November days before your Guest Diarist began to even think about our beloved Town gaining promotion this season. The absence of creative attacking football inspired by a playmaker in midfield, and the endless home defeats caused by goals from strikers that the home fans just know are bound to score against us, is like a non-stop thumping hangover lately.
So will tonight be any different? Another tricky fixture against opposition who have suddenly woken up to the fact that they are 'only eight points from the play-offs.' Apparently there's no failure in being second bottom in November these days it's just delayed success. They haven't lost in four; their best players are coming back from injury; their wily old manager has successfully inserted a starting handle in to the backside of Clyde Wijnhard; and they are away to a side that lose at home, especially on Fridays. Ah, the ever-popular Friday night Grimsby Town home fixture beckons.
I just stopped off briefly to observe the two minute Remembrance Day silence. And was impressed to note that even the remorseless machinery of Sky Sports news stopped for a minute. Yeah, just a minute, and then the presenter told us, without a trace of irony, that the rest of the silence would be covered on Sky News, and that David Beckham thought it would be a real honour to captain his country tomorrow for the fiftieth time...
But don't be so flippin' negative, if Town win tonight they can go top. And all those around us in the table have got tricky away games this weekend. We are definitely due a win at home, so let's get down there, Friday or no Friday, cross our fingers and hope that Mr Slade plays a blinder. For it is he who has been out of form, methinks. You know all of this already but JPK won't be there because he's been called up by his country again. Jones the stick had his hernia operation just yesterday and is feeling a bit woozy and sore. Croft wishes he could be in the team but can't due to chronic unfitness. And Parky is still, well, Parky. Although the Telegraph tells us that he has had a cortisone injection, the pain of which has made Parky promise never to use shin splints as an excuse to skip training again. So it's Calvin or Parky on the left - with Newey making it very plain where his vote is cast - and Reddy and Jones-the-Lump up front.
Mr Slade has also scotched the daft rumour he started about playing the trialists after the adrenalin surge caused by the exciting mid-week reserves match subsided a bit. Toner and Ramsden will fill in for JPK and Rob Jones. Writing these diaries about Town is bit like turning lead in to gold eventually you just have to shut your eyes, wish fervently and believe. See yer.
Thursday 10 November
What a difference three weeks make. In mid-October the Mariners were top of their division, with three times as many fans as seats, still in three cup competitions and with optimism oozing from the very reinforced high-carbon steel sheeting of the John Smiths stand. Today the side finds itself knocked out of three cup competitions and deposed from the summit of the table on the back of the worst run of home results in GTFC history, with the player of the season so far expected to be out of action for up to a month. The mighty Rob Jones was subbed off in the first half of last weekend's FA Cup defeat by Bristol Rovers and will undergo a hernia operation today which is likely to sideline him for three to four weeks, reports Town's official website. The OS adds that Andy Parkinson, who clearly shouldn't be anywhere near a football pitch until he's recovered, is still suffering from shin splints, with Michael Reddy and Martin Gritton also having missed training with, um, other stuff. At least it's not raining, though, eh?
So cheer up, everyone. Last night's reserve game at Scunthorpe has thrown up a convenient potential replacement for either Mr Redds or Mr Gritts albeit one whose past record suggests he is unlikely to become that much sought-after 20-goals-a-season man any time soon. The performances of trial striker Bas Savage and his fellow testy-outy dude Kris Gate have had our Russ purring with delight, to the extent that the OS is today implying that Savage may be given some sort of contract in time for him to feature as a substitute in tomorrow night's game against Macclesfield. Cor. What? Oh yeah. The reserve game finished nil-nil.
Unfortunately for fans of traditional left wingers, Dennis Skinner and Tony Benn played no part in proceedings at Scunthorpe yesterday; nor did Sheffield Wednesday's Richard Evans which is a big shame if John Pakey's email to the Diary is to be believed. "Good player," enthuses JP. "Was really impressed by him during his pre-season spell for Colchester United. He looked very handy indeed. As far as I could tell he got mucked about a bit by Sheffield Wednesday during the summer. Being told he could try elsewhere only to be hauled back because of some injury or something to another player in the squad at Hillsborough. He is a handy out-and-out winger and I think, from what I saw back in those crazy days in July and August, he would easily be capable of getting a place in a Division Four line-up. I liked him a lot, and he had a sensible haircut to boot." John's view of Evans differs markedly from that of the Diary's mate's work colleague who holds a season ticket as Hillsborough and describes the player as "terrible, but he's got a good sun tan". Oooh, and we were just talking about Scott McGarvey.
If, like Superstitious Granny Diary, you harbour a fondness for thrashing visitors to your house with a barbed wire walking stick if they put their shoes on your table or leave their umbrella up in your scullery, then you doubtless have noted that Town's current record-breakingly awful run of home results has coincided exactly with the presence at Blundell Park of sections of temporary seating. The temp seats were, of course, green: a hue that we simple-minded seafaring folk consider particularly ominous as it is traditionally the colour worn by nasty sharks, or something. Anyway, they have now been removed, so if it's their fault that Town have lost their last five home matches and nothing to do with Russ's conservative, one-dimensional long-ball counterattacking tactics then the manager will be unable to claim any credit whatsoever should his team claim three points against Macc tomorrow night.
Lastly today, an email from veteran Diary emailer Mark Wilson. "Hitherto I had merely amused myself with the fact that Pete Green of Cod Almighty shared the same name as the legendary Fleetwood Mac and British blues scene guitarist," writes Mark, admitting: "I am, it has to be said, easily amused. But I discover today that CA's Pete Green is indeed a pop artiste who has his gigs advertised on t'internet. Is he the same one? If he is can I send my collection of early Fleetwood Mac and Splinter Group CDs to the Diary to be signed? Is he a man of the world? Does he have thin legs? Oh well." Well, Mark, they could well be one and the same. The last time the Diary met him, Pete Green was muttering about his Cod Almighty commitments and then said something about an albatross around his neck.
That's all from me for another week, then, but stay chooned tomorrow when this page will, I believe, be brought to you by the original (and some say the best) Guest Diary. TTFN.
Wednesday 9 November
Worksop Town and Wrexham are the clubs who have sniffed the Mariners' nosegay of players and find themselves incurably seduced by the sweet perfume of Tony Crane. The big-boned central defender was told last week that he could leave Blundell Park after failing to command a place in the first team this season, and York City declared an early interest only to withdraw it immediately after watching Crane play against their reserves. But all was not lost for the player's hopes of, well, playing, and Tone could now face an agonising choice between, on the one hand, dropping two divisions to the Conference North to join Worksop and, on the other, remaining in the Football League but having to live in north Wales.
Town's reserve team travels to Scunthorpe this evening hoping to avoid defeat for the first time all season, and if the management has its way the side that steps out at the Glanford Despairdome (assuming Scunny haven't got ideas above their station these days and moved their reserve games to a mud track on the approach to Normanby Park) will feature not one trialist, not two trialists, but three trialists. As we learned yesterday, the Mariners are taking a look at Newcastle right-back Kris Gate and non-striking striker Bas Savage, and today the excitement becomes almost too much to bear with the announcement that Sheffield Wednesday's Richard Evans may also take part tonight. A 22-year-old left winger with eight league starts to his name, Evans failed a trial with Colchester in the summer. Nick Hegarty is receiving attention from GTFC medical staff as he recovers from another kick in the teeth.
Oooh, look Hull have signed a striker. Must be at least a week since they last did that. Great manager, that Taylor.
Grimsby-area pop fans can look forward to two consecutive nights of live pop this week, as the flyers above demonstrate. On Thursday, indie singer-songwriter type Chris T-T headlines the Matrix Club on Bethlehem Street, with support from Robochrist and Cod Almighty's very own Pete Green; while on Friday you can do what Fridays are for by eschewing the delights of Town v Macclesfield in favour of a gig at the Spider's Web on Carr Lane featuring Girlfrends, The Huskies and Pollen. Actually, if you head down after full time then you should still catch Girlfrends, and it's free in, so you have nothing to lose but your bitter memories of another sub-standard home performance by the Mariners. Hooray for pop!
Tuesday 8 November
If you reacted with cynicism to Steve Slade's recent run-out with the Mariners because he is a 30-year-old forward whose career in the four senior divisions of English football has yielded just seven goals, then you will not be best pleased with today's news. In his time spent playing as a striker with Reading, Wycombe Wanderers and Bury, Town's newest trialist Bas Savage has yet to find the net in any kind of first-team context at all. Savage has been on trial with Coventry and Forest Green Rovers this year as well, if you really want to know, and is joined at Blundell Park by Kris Gate, a young player who is currently 36th in line to the throne of Newcastle right-back. In his favour Savage is a mere 23 years of age and has made only 28 non-scoring appearances with his three clubs thus far, having missed the entire 200203 season with a serious injury sustained while waterskiing naked across a reservoir of gin. Sorry, I mean on a pre-season tour of Germany. Getting bored there.
Let's hear it for the kids. Town's youth team beat Bury one-nil at Gigg Lane last night with a goal from a lad by the name of Andy Taylor, reports the Mariners' official website today, and will now face Burton Albion or Port Vale in the next round of... er... it doesn't say. It's a good job they told us yesterday it was the FA Youth Cup and that the Diary's attention span is still reasonably did anyone see Coronation Street last night?
"It was not just the team who failed to show last week but the loyal support," opines Dave the soon to be ex-engineer of last Saturday's waste of time, adding: "Having sat through that torturous affair who could blame them? As the next game is a Friday I have decided to stage a sit-in in my front room rather than attend. I shall have consumed some good old Lincolnshire ale before falling asleep, which, having attended the Rutland before last Saturday's debacle will be the only difference." Tempted though I am to invite myself along to your soirιe, Dave, the Diary will be at Friday's match albeit under protest, half cut, and quite possibly armed with a good book... and a nice, soft, comfy pillow.
Monday 7 November
Sorry there was no weekend Diary. By the time the server came back online it hardly seemed worth it. Insert your own joke here about it being kind of fitting anyway, with Town not bothering to turn up at the weekend either.
You remember Lennie Lawrence, don't you? The cockney barrow boy who briefly but calamitously impersonated a football manager at Grimsby Town Football Club? The Lennie Lawrence who has barely taken a breath from slagging off the Mariners since they sacked him, and said Cardiff were "a real club" because they let him pile up about 30 million quid of debt as opposed to the mere £750,000 he managed at Blundell Park? Fittingly enough, he has been installed as director of football at one of the fourth division clubs with a similarly "real" tendency to live considerably beyond their means: Bristol Rovers. Working below Laughing Len as something called a first-team coach will be Paul Trollope, who once spent an unmemorable loan spell with GTFC and had been caretaker-managing at the Memorial since the sacking earlier this season of Ian Atkins. The Gas had recently been linked with a move for current Town boss Mr Russell Slade and, of course, we use the word "linked" here in the sense of "some London tabloid hack just made it up".
As the old adage goes, you never appreciate a mediocre left-back until you get an even worse one, and Ronnie Bull is heading back to England because his wife's granny is poorly. The player made 29 appearances for the Mariners last season after joining from Millwall in 2004 but was released in the summer and signed a two-year deal with New Zealand Knights, who stand bottom of this season's inaugural antipodean A-League with just one win all season. "Things haven't worked out," confesses the player. "My wife was brought up for much of her life by her grandmother who is now sick and it is very hard when you are half a world away." Despite Town's difficulties with the left-back position, Bull is not expected to return to North East Lincolnshire, which is more than two thirds of a world away from anywhere.
"Why can't we have the proper diary on a Friday?" demands an email from Mat Hare, as if I didn't have enough on my plate already. "At least we can trust him not to make basic errors, something that cannot be said for middle-of-nowhere diary we had to make do with today." The email is dated Friday, in case you hadn't worked that out. "Bristol Rovers did beat us in the FA Cup in 1910 yes. But they have also beaten us three times the league at Blundell Park. We lost to them in 1998, 1992 and 1959. I make that four defeats, not the three today's diarist claimed." Point taken, Mat, though a little perspective may be in order: an occasionally inaccurate Friday Diary is, after all, still considerably more accurate than a website with a woeful grasp of basic African geography, whether it concerns Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or of course Gamibia.
Not that such blemishes ever bedevilled our Fridays in the distant era when the original Guest Diary was my regular weekly stand-in. These days all we have from GD, sadly, is the odd email, but it means we're all the happier to receive them. "Watching the adverts in Corro tonight," he writes, "I noticed that it is now possible to procure a Titanic DVD which features an alternative ending. One hopes this involves the ship not sinking. Which naturally led me to suggest that Cod Almighty should launch a Town v Newcastle DVD with an alternative finish to the match (possibly involving an injury-time equaliser or preferably a post-match uppercut to be delivered by John Tondeur on the sulky Shearer's old and stubbly chin)." Personally I'd have settled for the one where the Mariners still get knocked out of the cup but then still look capable of winning the occasional league game here and there...
Friday 4 November
Hi there. Out-in-the-sticks Diary in charge today. Very little to report this early in the day. I was hoping this exhalted position would provide me with a preview or review copy of today's Grimsby Telegraph but sadly not. Limited team news: Andrew is unavailable; Toner and Parkinson could take part despite back troubles and shin splints respectively; Messers Gritton, Reddy, and G Jones wait anxiously to see of they'll "get the nod". Interesting stat: Town and Bristol Rovers have met in the FA Cup once before, back in 1910, when Town succumbed 2-0 to the visitors, one of only three defeats for Town in the 16 home game history of this fixture.
The Grimmo Telegraph is busy speculating about the opposition's next manager with our Russ sliding down their pecking order. They report Jim Smith might be/might not be appointed by Bristol Rovers. He owns some property in Marbella - the Mablethorpe of Andalusia - as does some top knob at Bristol Rovers, reckons the Riby Square rag just falling short of this meaning anything. Lennie Lawrence is also in the running. That's the punchline by the way.
There's three hours left for Town's latest auction for a framed team photo of the 1934-35 team, currently about to go under the hammer for £89. Will the club run out of Blundell Park fittings to flog, is it a cunning way of saving on movers fees when they move out to the new ground, or do they have a massive warehouse where they store these things, like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? When are they going to wheel out their Ark? When it's time to shut up those moaning dissenters from Great Coates? Sounds good to me. Cheers.
Thursday 3 November
Town's attempts to avoid FA Cup humiliation this season by beating Bristol Rovers on Saturday have been hit by injuries and cup-tyings... cuptie-age... cuptiedness... Luton's wish to prevent Calvin Andrew becoming cup-tied. The Grimsby Telegraph has reported fitness doubts over Ciaran Toner and Andy Parkinson, while Andrew's parent club has barred him from participating on Saturday so that he would remain free to play for the Hatters in later rounds of the cup. Some fans and pundits have recently claimed that the rules preventing players from appearing in the same cup tournament for two different teams are outmoded and should be scrapped. The Diary believes, on the contrary, that these regulations are such a useful way to prevent conflicts of interest that they should be adapted from football to politics, so that former cabinet ministers would be disallowed from taking up directorships with companies that might bid for government contracts. Oh.
Slade Departs Town is the cheeky and in no way wishfully thinking headline used by the Mariners' official website to announce the exit not of the club's esteemed team manager but of former Barking & East Ham United frontman Steve 'No Relation' Slade, who had been on trial at Blundell Park for two weeks. The OS reflects that the player "has been unlucky during his time at Town", since he suffered a bang on the head during one of his two reserve games and a 4-0 defeat by York in the other. In turn this raises the question of whether, if it was worth taking a look at Steve in the first place, it is right to let him go now on the evidence of a trial so sorely blighted by ill fortune but then I never really understand how these trials work. Maybe the club couldn't afford to keep him in a B&B down Meggies any longer.
Now, as the BBC continuity people say when they introduce Look North, it's time for the news wherever you are. If you're near Hull, that is, because our regional correspondent North Bank Diary has emailed with a collection of stories on former Mariners who have quite literally crossed the water. "Graham Hockless plays his last game for North Ferriby this weekend," writes NBD. "Off to Oz at last! Yippee. How missed will he be? He was the small guy, remember. With a hundred hairstyles." Or 98 more hairstyles than goals, of course. "Chris Bolder scores first goal for North Ferriby. Reported in local newspaper as a 'relief'. No idea how long he has been there by the way. Who cares? He is their captain. They are top of the table. Joe Lightowler sits on North Ferriby bench. Mighty. Fallen. How the have. Chris Hyam plays regularly for Bridlington, who have just signed ex-Town trialist Alastair Benson from Hull City." Thanks for that, North Bank a real message of hope for Tony Crane if ever there was one.
This being Thursday, today's final item will be the last of the working week to be brought to you by your regular Diary before I hand over tomorrow to one of the ever-expanding team of sub Diaries retained by Cod Almighty to step into the breach while I'm down the pub on Fridays and possibly to replace me on a permanent basis on the occasion that I never make it back from the pub one Friday. On that cheerful note let us be happy for young right winger Simon Penney, who was released by the Mariners in the summer and is now doing great things for Holbeach United under 15s in the Peterborough and District Youth League, where he has been tipped for a certain return to the Football League after scoring six times in one match last weekend. If you were wondering why we get Bolder, Hockless and Lightowler these days instead of Croft, Oster and Handyside, and why Town reserves have lost every game this season, then wonder no longer!
Wednesday 2 November
It's the moment the North East Lincolnshire pie industry has been dreading for nearly three years: Tony Crane is set to leave Blundell Park. The sizeable centre-half, who joined Town in 2003 from Sheffield Wednesday (where he managed to convince at least one supporter that he was future England material) has been out of the first-team picture for well over a year since doing himself a mischief in last year's pre-season and more recently being excluded from Russell Slade's innovative new 'back four' system by the ace form of Rob Jones and Justin Whittle. Even during his first season with the Mariners, when he was nominally a first-choice defender, Crane was absent as often as not with the multiple suspensions he totted up for a succession of red cards, and rumours of his imminent departure have circulated since the player had a complete smeller in the recent indifference-fest against Morecambe. "There has been a little bit of interest in Tony," says the player's manager Mr Russell Slade, adding: "York were one of the clubs. I am not sure if they are still interested [after Crane appeared in the reserves' 4-0 defeat by York last night]." If they're not, there's always Armthorpe Welfare, North Ferriby United and Richmond SC.
Did I mention the reserves' 4-0 defeat by York last night? The result described by Town's assistant manager Graham Rodger as "a disgrace" could have been an even bigger disgrace had it not been for a penalty save by John 'Junior' Lukic to deny the Minstermen's Ryan Mallon a hat-trick. 'Disgrace' is, of course, an overused word in football, so to place Grezza's comments in perspective let us bear in mind that the Mariners' second string have, so far as the Diary can ascertain, lost every single game they have played so far this season and lie bottom of the Pontins Holidays League East with zero points from five matches. Or it might be six; I'm not sure. Either way, it's not very good. Disgraceful, even.
When they're not running Lassiter's or enjoying simultaneous intercourse with an attractive pair of twin sisters, there's nothing men called Paul Robinson seem to enjoy more than a spot of association football. One of them, of course, did so with Grimsby Town for a little while in 2002, as a striker who scored one goal in 18 appearances for the Mariners before famously managing three goals against them in a single appearance for Hartlepool. This man has now joined Town's fourth division counterparts Torquay on a short-term contract after having turned out for a variety of other clubs including York, so there's every prospect of Big Tony following him back into League football one day.
Tuesday 1 November
What news today to cast light and joy into the gloomiest corners of our dark and meaningless lives, o reader? Well, Grimsby Town reserves are playing at home against York City in the Pontins Holidays League at seven o'clock tonight, and it costs two pounds to get in (£1 concessions). The "clash", as Town's official website optimistically refers to this evening's proceedings, was originally due to be played last Wednesday but presumably had to be put back to accommodate the Mariners' much-anticipated but hastily forgotten League Cup match against Newcastle. I wonder whether they'll need to open up the sections of temporary seating again tonight.
And, well, that's about it for today, other than the staggering news that the Lincolnshire County Cricket League has rejected a proposal to lower the minimum age at which players are allowed to compete. This being the case, today's truncated Diary will end by hoping for a Steve Slade hat-trick tonight and proving to you once again that Blundell Park is truly a special place. Bye.