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Diary - January 2006
Tuesday 31 January
Town have given up on Martin Gritton and let him join Lincoln City, which was only a matter of time, since Martin Gritton appeared to have given up on Town about six months ago. The former Torquay striker was the only player in Russell Slade's squad to have commanded a transfer fee, having joined the Mariners for £5,000 just before Christmas 2004, and tootles off down the A46 for a similarly nominal sum after a disappointing return of six goals in 30 starts and 23 appearances as a substitute left many supporters denouncing him as lazy and calling him a tramp for daring to transgress the Grimsby 12-millimetre maximum male hair length regulation. Much as the Diary was prepared to extend a little more patience towards Gritton, I am equally happy to recognise two advantages in his departure: one, the wages freed up for the more effective striker Mr Russell Slade will doubtless bring in later this afternoon; two, no more fucking soul-meltingly tedious messageboard threads about him and that whatshername who presents that footy programme on satellite telly.
Eh? What? The more effective striker Mr Russell Slade will doubtless bring in later this afternoon? That's right. The Town manager is continuing his efforts to sort it by adding at least one further name to the three acquisitions he has made so far this month before Sepp's transfer window slams shut on the world's hopes of future happiness at midnight tonight. So keep checking back here, because there may be Diary updates later if Russ gets lucky - but in the meantime, kids, remember: if it looks like Luton's official website, and it sounds like Luton's official website, and it tastes like Luton's official website, then it probably is bullshit.
Mmmmm... mushroom chop suey. Oh, sorry... well, Town's hopes of hanging on to the man who is almost single-handedly leading their push for promotion have ended. The club may have been absolutely determined to retain his services, but in the end money talks, and Tommy Taylor has left Blundell Park, possibly for a better-paid position working the arcades down Meggies seafront.
Michael Reddy's replacement has been announced as Gary Cohen, whose season-long loan from Gretna has become a 'permanent' contract lasting until the end of next season. Luton haven't confirmed the signing of Reddy yet, but it's bound to happen soon. Uh-huh. Deffo.
Clearly in denial about the Reddy-to-Luton story, the Grimsby Telegraph is reporting that Town are in for "Swansea City wide man Marc Goodfellow". A winger? Woohoo! The player, who has sticky-outy ears much in the style of Andy Parkinson, is said to be heading up to BP for talks about a transfer until the end of the season. Is that the lot, or what...?
Goodfellow has signed for Town until the end of the season. If I were Tony Butcher I would insert a gag here referring to a film about lots of well-dressed gangsters. There may be one more to come, but it's unlikely - signing, I mean; not gag referring to a film about lots of well-dressed gangsters.
Russ has been thwarted in his efforts to bring in one more player, probably to the benefit of the legendary Glen Downey, who rises right up the pecking order of reserve defenders in the absence of Tony Crane, Simon Ramsden and Matt Bloomer. The club has still not confirmed Michael Reddy's transfer to Luton. Must be some problem with the text messaging or the web server or something, eh?
Thank you for staying with the Diary through this transfer deadline day, and don't forget to join us tomorrow, when we will try to ascertain whether Marc Goodfellow could be the new Gary Childs or just another Terry Cooke.
Monday 30 January
Nobody would suggest for a moment that Mr Russell Slade is in anything less than full control of his mental faculties, but today he certainly seems two defenders short of a backline. Saturday's home defeat by Peterborough was the last game of Matt Bloomer's month-long loan and the player will return to Lincoln without passing Go; while at six feet and zero inches Simon Ramsden falls some way short of the new legal minimum height requirement for a GTFC centre-half and is set to join Town's fellow basement side Rochdale rather than enlist with Humberside Police. The Diary would not wish to see transfer decisions influenced by public relations imperatives, of course, but when two ball-playing defenders are allowed to leave in the midst of renewed criticism from supporters over the tendency of Slade's Mariners towards 'direct' football, the timing is just a little unfortunate. Is that Wycombe up there at the top of the table, following Yeovil up and out of the fourth division by playing a fluent passing game? I think it is.
In fairness to Town and Slade, though, Curtis 'Mayfield' Woodhouse knocked some splendid balls along the ground on Saturday and enjoyed an impressive debut despite his team's plunge into awfulness immediately following the first Posh goal; and Junior Mendes seems more than capable of tapping a bag of wind along a section of grass to another chap wearing the same costume. So, Emlyn, what happens next? Justin Whittle returns, Rob Jones remembers who he is, and a revivified Mariners defence forms the bedrock of the side's magnificent form of the next three months as they surge to automatic promotion? Or Fen Butcher is allowed to continue his Stars in Their Eyes rendition of Tony Crane, Slade keeps on a-tinkering with the midfield, and Town eventually limp to a play-off semi-final defeat against fourth-placed Northampton? Email email@example.com, readers, with your prognosis at this crucial juncture.
Speaking of the Crane, the Diary heard on Saturday over chips and curry sauce on the Grimsby Road that Town's former disciplinary liability was about to bounce briefly back into the Football League, moving to Conference-bound Rushden & Diamonds. I can't find anything about it anywhere though, and Big Tony turned out as normal on Saturday for his current club Worksop Town in a 2-1 defeat at Alfreton. Anyone? Know anything, I mean; not care.
Forgotten Mariner Jean-Paul Kamudimba 'the English are using his name the wrong way round' Kalala will be out in Egypt for a few days longer after not helping his national team progress to the knockout stages of the African Cup of Nations. I love that name. The Democratic Republic of Congo will face the host nation in the first quarter-final this Friday after finishing second in their group with four points from three games, in which JPK was an unused substitute. Well, he might as well get used to it for when he comes back to Grimsby.
Finally today, let us spare a thought for those more fortunate than ourselves. Poor old Leicester City recently spent millions of pounds of other people's money to build themselves one of these whizzy new stadiums yet somehow find themselves contemplating relegation to the third flight, possibly because of some crazy reason such as their team being rubbish. And what would demotion for the Foxes mean? According to one franchise website, it could mean having to play against teams such as Carlisle, Hartlepool, Scunthorpe, Wycombe and... you know where this is going, don't you? And how humiliating it would be for the mighty Leicester to have to line up in a league fixture against Grimsby! After all, they have only done so 70 times previously.
Saturday 28 January
Town were quite good for about ten minutes, and scored, and then they were pretty bad and let two goals in, and then Peterborough had to use an outfield player in goal, and Town were worse than they have been at any other point this season. So, yeah, it's a ninth home defeat of the season despite decent home debuts from Junior Mendes and Curtis Woodhouse, and last season's doubts about Mr Russ's ability to handle pressure resurface as the manager reverts to his tetchy, thin-skinned 2004-05 form in the post-match Radio Humberside interview. Deep breaths, people. I don't know where we are in the league table because I feel too sick to look.
Friday 27 January
About ten years ago, when your Guest Diarist hit forty, I realised that my life consisted of a constant slog on a hedonic treadmill. Hedonic adaptation means that whatever you get, you rapidly become accustomed to it and want more. Another pay rise; bigger house; faster car; louder stereo; more successful football team. Gentle reader, believe me, if you start wearing rose-tinted spectacles then you will be forced to keep going back to the opticians to ask him to prescribe them in a deeper and deeper hue. When they demolished the Barrett stand and erected what Mr Butcher now lovingly refers to as the Stones/Smiths/Findus stand it was a thing of wonder to us Grimbarians. Now Mr Fenty can't wait to knock it down and build his Fentydome at Great Coates.
We are told that the Fentydome will have a big car park (that will almost certainly take about an hour to get out of after the match). It will, no doubt, have clean toilets. There will be no view-obscuring posts. It will be, ahem, family-friendly. No doubt the Fentydome will make visiting club chairmen think that Grimsby is as big a club as, oh, Darlington. I'm sure that the vista of empty seats at an average league home game will be quite something to behold. But, for Christ's sake, the stadium will be a financial millstone around the neck of the club for the forseeable future. To take at face value Mr Fenty's assertion that clubs moving to a new stadium achieve a 43 per cent increase in attendances requires a leap of faith of some magnitude. That leap is made even more difficult when you compare some of the contradictory statements Mr Fenty has made recently:
To put those directly conflicting remarks in to context is easy. On the first occasion Mr Fenty was trying to convince his fellow shareholders that the only way forward for the club was to allow him absolute power; on the second he is attempting to brazen his way out of the fact that the club is commencing a hugely expensive new project at a time when it is technically insolvent. I would never accuse Mr Fenty of being a liar, but this stuff is just as disingenuous as when he said that "the Club is a community asset belonging to the public" (supporters' trust Q&A, January 2005). The club is a plc belonging to its shareholders. That nonsense is only what he asserts when he is begging creditors not to pull the rug. If Town owed you money, would you rather they paid you or that they spent the cash on the Fentydome pipe dream?
- "The Keep the Mariners Afloat campaign, to be quite frank, has run out of steam." (interview on Mariners World, December 2005)
- "The club can afford to embark on the new stadium project while the tax debt is still outstanding. The initiatives of the Keep the Mariners Afloat campaign are on target to discharge the debt." (statement on the hastily thrown together new stadium website this week)
Let's be straight about the money. When the Keep the Mariners Afloat (KTMA) campaign was launched, I bet the other guys who write this column that the money raised would not even pay the interest on the club's debts. I didn't write it here because I would have been guilty of shitting on the Trust's strawberry. Poor old Dave Burns at Radio Humberside got pilloried by the club for having the temerity to suggest that KTMA was never going to raise all the cash. Six months or more on I gather that KTMA has raised in the order of twenty-five grand. Town's last published accounts showed interest payments of about forty grand. Whether this includes the penalty interest that the Inland Revenue will apply to the tax debt is unclear.
Credit where it's due that twenty-five grand has taken blood, sweat and tears to accumulate from a small and dedicated bunch of people. But that's my point (and Mr Fenty's in his December remark, I suspect): if you are only raising fifty quid here and a hundred quid there then you are never going to get anywhere near a million quid target. Yes, that £700k will be more like a million with a couple of years' interest. And then there are all the other directors' loans, sponsorship pre-payments and overdrafts being called in left, right and centre. Pissing into a dried-up river bed will never get a bloody canoe afloat, so why announce that you will be launching an ocean liner into it in a year or two?
But while I've been getting all that off my chest Town have been busy adding to their overheads by signing the geographically confused midfielder Curtis Woodhouse from our rich neighbours in Hull. Yes, the same player who turned down Town in January 2003 to go to Rotherham because it 'was nearer to where he lives'. This despite the distance from his home in Driffield being ten miles less to Blundell Park than to Millmoor. The best way to describe our new player without stooping to mention plum bread is 'Disco Des with a drink problem'. Not that he needs treatment for either affliction, you understand; he's just an ex-starlet who somehow lost his way and likes to socialise. Cheers, Curtis here's to happy times at Town, starting perhaps on the bench at home to Peterborough tomorrow.
The Telegraph has published the news about Woodhouse and, in the same article, goes on to speculate as to whether Jones the Lump will recover from his swollen toe sufficiently to take Cohen's place in the side tomorrow. Bloomer will apparently slot in to central defence alongside Rob Jones to replace the suspended Futcher.
Well, folks I suspect you can tell that your Guest Diarist has had a week of bruxist proportions. The best thing to do is to get back to my Meccano scale model of a revamped Blundell Park. By Sunday it will have new toilets in the open corners, away fans in the Main stand and a really good fish and chip van next to the press room. Whether I'll bother painting a Subbuteo figure to look like young Mr Woodhouse remains to be seen. See yer.
Thursday 26 January
First he was Jean-Paul Kamudimba. Then he was Jean-Paul Kalala. Then he was Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala, mainstay of the Mariners' midfield and scourge of Spurs. Now he's buggered off to Egypt cos he can't get in the team, but that's by the by. When Town were trying to sign him from Nice and couldn't make up their minds what he was called, the Diary's suspicious mind went into overdrive, briefly wondering whether Kamudimba and Kalala were two players and GTFC were signing the wrong one, before settling on the more credible if somewhat pedestrian theory that most of the staff at Blundell Park don't know what day it is. This notion has now been supported by JPKK's national team manager Claude Le Roy, who says the player's erstwhile absence from the DR Congo squad was due to mistaken identity. "I learned that a player called Kamudimba Kalala had scored the winning goal in a cup game against Tottenham Hotspur," Le Roy has told Reuters. "I thought that sounds like a Congolese name so I phoned the club and they confirmed it. Of course, I knew Jean-Paul Kamudimba when he played at Nice but the English are using his name the wrong way round, so I had no idea." I love Diary items that don't need pay-off lines.
Which brings us neatly to the early team news for the Mariners' game against Peterborough this Saturday. How so? Thus: that the club's official website has run a piece about injuries and suspensions in which, before they corrected it, the surname of its clumsy new six-foot-seven defender was given not as "Futcher" but as "Future". To be fair, though, this is how George Kerr pronounces it on Radio Humberside. Matt Bloomer or nearly-recovered-from-injury Simon Ramsden may replace Future in central defence, while Gary Jones and Martin Gritton are both struggling to make it up front. Which sounds vaguely rude, but you'll have to make up your own smutty pay-off line because I've got a headache.
Still on the subject of Town's possible new ground, John Pakey has emailed the Diary. He, too, was a little unnerved by GTFC ripping off the Star Wars music for the virtual tour of the stadium ("when it faded to black at the end I expected a Star Destroyer to start looming large over the screen") and shares Michael Shelton's fears of thousands of empty seats. "Good to see that the club is pushing for a new stadium," writes John. "But I am concerned sometimes with the capacities these people keep going on about. I hate these half-deserted ones with no atmosphere, like Darlington. I remember Town in the Englsliegh League first division with 9,000 coming through the gate (I'm sure I did was a while ago now, mind), so realistically a 12,000 ground would have been OK. But coming up with figures of 20,000??? Hmmm. Let's not have another Reynolds Arena, where the average attendance is only just over an eighth of its capacity." The Diary understands that several more readers have emailed Cod Almighty's dormant Postbag with similar sentiments, so let's hope Letters Ed gets his finger out before they finish building the Fentydome.
That's all from your regular Diary for another working week, so here's handing over to another redoubtable guest diarist for Friday, and here's thanking you for reading. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday 25 January
Ever keen to avoid becoming predictable, Town have cunningly ditched their increasingly conventional strategy of beating rubbish teams and losing to good ones by rolling over for the worst team in the league. Yeah, I know I said yesterday that Stockport weren't that bad. Shut up. Last night's 2-1 defeat at Edgeley Park leaves the Mariners' chances of automatic promotion looking slenderer than at any time since they entered the top three in September, with one win in five games since the turn of the year, and five points from a possible fifteen. Oh, and just the four bookings this time: one fewer than at Torquay, but with Fen Butcher hurriedly squeezing another one in before his suspension. With Town's defence, recently the tightest in the basement by far, suddenly looking shakier than a Shakin' Stevens gig with four encores, the club's hopes of avoiding another season in this shite-awful division now appear to rest heavily upon Justin Whittle's poorly knee. Have we tried faith healing, or is there not enough faith left around North East Lincs to make it worthwhile?
Sladey's chance to sort it comes this Saturday, of course, at home to Peterborough, and if it's too early for the opponents' team news there is at least something noteworthy to report from the London Road manager's office. Posh boss Mark Wright, who was sacked by Oxford in 2001 following allegations that he racially abused referee Joe Ross, has been suspended after a bust-up last weekend involving defender Sean St Ledger. Some sources are alleging another racial element to the incident, but if this is true then it must be too ethnically complicated for the Diary's simple Grimbarian mind, since St Ledger appears to be no less caucasian than Wright himself. Either way, it probably means they'll be really up for it this weekend and will beat Town three-nil.
Town's let's be kind struggling reserve team were meant to be playing today, but now they aren't. It remains unclear whether this is because of freezing weather conditions or because Scarborough were so obviously going to win that GTFC just cancelled the game and let them have the three points.
Over to the Diary's very own Dictionary Corner now, where Keith Collins and Andy Lumbard lie in wait for usages and abusages of the language. KC was not too distressed by last night's result to spot another misspelling of our glorious homeland last night, as he has emailed to point out that Ceefax alleged Stockport to have beaten a team called "Grismby", while Andy has dropped us a line after Keith encountered an even more interestingly rendered version of the name in a mailing from the publishers of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (yesterday's Diary). "Grimsbury is a redoubtable area of Banbury, Oxfordshire," he explains, "with a not bad chippy. One wonders whether the Encyclopaedia Britannica's address checker may have been taken aback by the demand of its own publication in Grimsby vis-à-vis Grimsbury, and inserted the latter automatically. P.S. Jermaine Palmer was man of the match in Kettering's recent victory against Lancaster City, according to the local radio." So that's where he is now. Thanks, Andy. But did the local radio spell his name properly?
Have you taken your virtual tour of the Fentydome yet? Did those uninterrupted sight lines make you moist? Good, because the official club Fentybar is unlikely to quench your thirst for a civilised pint. The first observation by one colleague of the Diary's was that 24 cars could be seen in the car park, which would probably turn out to be a fair reflection of the attendances, but one cannot pass comment on the tour without passing comment on its remarkable soundtrack. This is a presumably unlicensed cut from the theme to Star Wars, the idea of which must be to make your Grimbarian chest puff out with pride as you build mental links between the plucky Mariners and the Rebel Alliance, casting King$ton Communication$ FC as the Empire managed by Darth Taylor, but which has just moved Mrs Diary to say: "Is that a piss-take? No? It's the official thing? Hahahahahahaha!"
Tuesday 24 January
Grimsby Town Football Club have today made the most significant announcement about their proposed relocation to a new stadium since at least their last announcement about their proposed relocation to a new stadium. This one is to tell us that the club has submitted a new planning application to the council, and although an accompanying Radio Humberside interview with John 'Fentydome' Fenty suggests that the Fentydome will be able to hold 12,000 to 14,000 spectators, the announcement takes it back up to 20,000 just seven days after the Mariners played out a goalless draw in front of fewer than four thousand fans at Darlington's 27,500-capacity equivalent. Nevertheless, the club has set up a new website at www.gtfcnewstadium.co.uk so that your average Grimbarian can find out about the ground, and possibly go there after it is built, without having to dirty their hands in the squalid present-day surroundings of Blundell Park and the existing official website. In a link-up with Whitgift school the club colludes in Tony Blair's ongoing project to destroy comprehensive education in the UK, while retail units, a fitness centre, and conference facilities that's shops, gyms and Powerpoint presentations to you will combine with a sponsor's name for the stadium to make the whole thing look and feel as corporately bland and depressing as just about every other new building development in 21st-century Britain.
What sort of ground you play in is, of course, much more important these days than whether your team is any good which is why the chairmen of Wolves, Coventry and King$ton Communication$ FC think they deserve to be in the Premiership so now that we have covered Town's new ground, let us turn to the trivial matter of tonight's crucial game at Stockport. The OS reckons Sir John McDermott could start the match with an OK ankle, with Jones the Lump's toe injury allowing Gary 'Displaced From The Wing By Another Loan Signing' Cohen to continue up front, having been displaced from the wing by another loan signing. Such is the closeness of the fourth division's top four that a win could haul the Mariners up above Carlisle and Wycombe to top spot, while a defeat would leave them more vulnerable than ever to being hauled down and out of the automatic promotion spots by Leyton Orient. Like Mansfield and Torquay before them, Stockport have better players than their league position suggests, so the Diary's advice is just to sleep through until the middle of May and wake up to see whether we're in the play-offs.
Kevin Drinkell. Grimsby-born former Mariners and England 'B' striker, adored by the football-supporting minority in his hometown. Now, considerably less adorably, a football agent. Can we forgive him? Well, it wasn't him who made £1.5million out of Wayne Rooney doing one from Everton. Anyhow, Drinks is in the news today calling for the, er, "abolishment" of the transfer window (Sky Sports' word, not his), which he says places clubs in Scotland - where, of course, he lives and works - at a disadvantage against their English counterparts in the chase for new players. I can't be arsed to find out the finer details as to why, but one more reason why the transfer window should be abolishmentitionised is just fine by the Diary.
Lastly today, but not at all leastly, an email from Keith Collins has arrived to share with the world or at least with its 13 inhabitants who read the Diary another embarrassing linguistic mishap relating to the football club we love and cherish as our own. "Just looked at the Mariners World highlights for Torquay," writes KC, "and found Grimsby spelt GRIMBSY." Oh, they've gone back to doing that, have they? Well, only this morning I came across a commercial franchise website for Stockport which had us down as GRISMBY. That'd take a bit of beating, wouldn't it? Keith continues: "Also last week had a communiqué from Encyclopaedia Britannica (of all people) with the address label GRIMSBURY." OK, you win.
Monday 23 January
Russell Slade has reacted to Saturday's disappointing two-all draw at Torquay with... nothing very much at all, if we are to go by the club's official website. "Coming up shortly," it says. Let's drop back again later, then; after all, it's only two days after the match.
The results are in for the first phase of Ben Futcher's experiment to see how many yellow cards he can pick up in a season before getting suspended. After being booked last Tuesday the global media were saturated with reports that Town's latest six-foot-seven defender would miss the weekend trip to Torquay, but the card Futcher collected against Darlington was only his fourth yellow of the season, not his fifth (the confusion possibly arising from his sending-off while playing for Boston at Cheltenham in August: reds, yellows, live together in perfect harmony). Free to resume clattering all and sundry at Plainmoor, the player duly received a belated fifth booking but his suspension will kick in only for this weekend's game against Peterborough, rather than tomorrow's at Stockport, because of a rule dreamed up by some faceless suit at the FA whose only experience of a ball in his entire worthless bureaucratic life was the graduation dance when he got a 2:1 in accountancy from the University of Buckingham and had to leave early because somebody gave him snakebite instead of lemonade and he was sick on his shoes. Damn yeah.
Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala didn't play for the Democratic Republic of Congo in their 2-0 African World Cup win over Togo at the weekend; nor did he appear, at the weekend or at any other time, for Congo, Gamibia, Iceland, Sligo Rovers, Chicago Fire, Harlequins, London Broncos or Grimsby Buffaloes. Don't know why I mentioned it really. Another former Mariner who very much did play at the weekend, though, is Anthony Williams, the acrobatic goalkeeping superstar of Town's 200405 vintage, who was disgracefully allowed to leave the club on a free transfer last summer and sign for Carlisle, who inexplicably dropped him just weeks into the season and unfathomably shot up the league table just afterwards. Williams is now on loan, of course, at Bury, whose 3-1 defeat at Boston on Saturday included at least one uncharacteristic clanger from the normally consistent stopper, who has, surprisingly, conceded five goals in two games for the Shakers so far. Who'd have thought it?
And while we're at it with Town stars of the distant past, it's nice to see John Oster discovering that not everybody has so great an opinion of him as he has of himself, and equally pleasant to find Thomas Pinault keeping in touch. Given the alarming shades of crimson assumed by Mr Russell Slade's head in response to some of Pinault's performances last season, we can only hope the Mariners boss is too busy managing the team to come into contact with the club's official website. Ah yes he is.
With that the Diary must bid you goodbye until tomorrow, as I am off to celebrate having drawn 11 in the Cod Almighty staff sweepstake on how many days would pass between Town signing Ben Futcher and the Grimsby Telegraph calling him and Rob Jones "twin towers". See ya!
Saturday 21 January
Two-all. Parky and Futcher. Still third. Ulp.
Friday 20 January
Hello. If you think Tetney is bleak and miserable in the summer months, it's probably best if you don't go there during the dark, dank, dreary, dismal, dispiriting month of December. (Yes, I know it's January, but I've got to get my alliteration in somewhere.) The sheer grey horridness of the place may well make you want to claw out your own eyes or sniff glue. All of which means that this Bottom-of-the-Barrel Diary may be a tad subdued, lacking the energy and vim usually associated with this lively young person's website.
Now then, the last time I diaried, a Very Important Match Reporter Man who shall remain nameless told me off for not mentioning either GTFC or Pink Floyd enough. Who could that have been eh, readers? Well, TB, as I shall call him to protect his anonymity, will be delighted to know that Gavin Caines talks about nothing but Grimsby Town in a recent interview. The Cheltenham defender faces the infant Shearer, who will doubtless be mewling and puking in his nurse's arms, in a forthcoming fourth round FA Cup tie. "I watched the Grimsby v Newcastle game," he tells us, "and there were elbows flying. But I know how to look after myself. Hopefully I can keep Shearer quiet." Leaving aside the flying elbows which were surely seagulls this seems to suggest that the whiny splitty-lipped Geordie will be crying "He's done me!" in that irritating high-pitched baby voice one more time before his inevitable and much-anticipated retirement. Hee hee hee.
Incidentally, many of you will have identified a quote in the above as a line from Jacques' melancholy 'seven ages of Man' soliloquy in As You Like It by William Shakespeare. This is considered to be one of the finest passages of writing in the history of the English language. However, a couple of lines after the "mewling infant" bit, Shakespeare tries to tell us that snails go to school, which most biologists now believe not to be the case. So treat the whole thing with a pinch of salt would be my advice. The speech, that is, not the snail, although that would of course be effective. Whoops, I've gone off the point again. The Butchermeister won't be pleased.
Soooo, the high-flying Mariners play the low-flying Seagulls (or possibly the Elbows) at Plainmoor tomorrow with a long doubtful-to-play list, the most notable potential absentee being Sticky Jones. You can read all this stuff on the GET website, of course, or in the match preview, so I won't bore you with details, whatever Tony thinks I should do. Did you know Junior Mendes was a Montserrat international? You did? Oh. If you can't make it to the game, Radio Humberside will be sending John Tondeur and Stuart Brace to commentate. Tune in to 1485AM or their digital channel, whatever that is.
And finally, Cyril, many people have expressed concern about my neighbour's front wall, which my mother-in-law recently drove into and wrecked. Is she, you asked, going to pay for its repair? Well, the answer is this:
Oooo, babe, ooooo, babe, ooooooo, babe, of course
Mother(-in-law)'s going to help (re-)build the wall.
There. That should keep my anonymous detractor happy, whoever he may be.
Thursday 19 January
Not content with the humiliation recently inflicted upon him in recent transfer enquiries to King$ton Communication$ FC, Russell 'The Servant' Slade has gone back for more. "Grimsby are wasting their time," said Peter 'The Master' Taylor last season when Russ wanted to sign Jonathan Walters or someone like that. "Grimsby can't afford Kevin Ellison," said KCFC chairman Adam 'Lerdsamuneh' Pearson last weekend. And in his depraved quest for pain, the Town manager has now gone back to ask about Scott Wiseman, a defender on the books of the charitable, long-memoried north bank club who has started half a dozen league games in the 20 years of his life thus far. Fulfilling the 'dominator' role in his and Russ's intriguing sado-masochistic power relationship, Taylor is quoted on a franchise website: "I keep hearing... from Grimsby but he won't be going there," and fails to deny the existence of a kinky torture dungeon hidden below the main stand at the KC.
Newly obsessed as the Diary is with our affluent northern rivermates, let us consider Town reserves, who traversed the Humber Bridge yesterday to face their Hully counterparts. You will recall, no doubt, that the stiffs are having an absolute shocker of a season, having drawn either one or two matches in their entire Hi-De-Hi Holidays League fixture programme so far, and been roundly thumped in the rest. Yesterday's game, sadly, must be filed with "the rest", since the Tommy Taylors ended up on the wrong side of a 4-1 scoreline though not before Martin Gritton had given them an early lead, and without some good saves from Rob Murray the KCFC second XI could have doubled their winning margin. Murray was redeeming himself from the reserves' 4-0 drubbing last week by Sheffield United's third XI, in the closing stages of which he contrived to punch the Blades' fourth goal into his own net; and in a neat parallel or perhaps an ironic tribute, Town midfielder Ben Higgins completed yesterday's scoring late in the match by propelling a KC cross past Murray and into his own net.
Leaving Hull was clearly the best decision Norman Cook ever made, so the Diary will now do likewise and turn our cynical squint to Junior Mendes, the Mariners' new loan signing from Huddersfield, who ran about a bit against Darlington the other night. The Mendster, as you probably know, spent a fair while on loan at Northampton earlier this season, and was expected by anyone who was bothered to make his switch to cobbler country permanent before seeing sense and joining the right Town. But was his change of heart down to Slade's sweet smile or a last-minute realisation that Northampton is horrible? It was because the shoe fetishists "told me at the start that it was going to be a long-term deal, and the longer [the loan spell] went on they basically moved the goalposts for me and tried to make it a shorter thing". So says Junior in an interview with Northants' Evening Telegraph, revealing the full, lurid extent of Sixfields treachery. Cads and dastards, to a man.
Before your regular Diary wraps it up for the working week and hands over for tomorrow to a guest diarist poached from the developing world, there's just time to point out that one of the latest winners of the Mariners' gold bond draw thingy goes under the name R Slade, and to hope that the £50 will be reinvested straight back into the transfer kitty. Oh, and Town are third in the league again now, following Carlisle's 5-0 win at Boston last night. Those naughty Pilgrims, eh? They'll do anything for a brown envelope stuffed with used twenties!
Wednesday 18 January
BBC Look North weatherman Paul Hudson still wears eye-wateringly bad suit jackets. The Diary still can't go into a pub that sells Ruddles on draught without launching into a binge-drink of Liberal Democrat proportions. And Town are still placed second in the fourth division after their game in hand at Darlington last night ended without troubling the scorers. Mr Russell Slade, perhaps inevitably, feels that if either team deserved three points, it was his and maybe he has a point given Rob Jones' late header against the bar but the match represented pretty poor entertainment, even if the Mariners have moved to within one point of Wycombe at the top of the league. Brazilian easy listening maestro Junior Mendes came on as a second-half sub for Gary Cohen; Jones has done summat to his ankle and may be doubtful for Saturday's 20-hour flight to Torquay; Steve Mildenhall has done summat to his back but should be OK. And Town's official website seemingly needs to point out that Paul Bolland and Ben Futcher won't be suspended. Which is nice.
Grimsby Town's reserve team suffers its next defeat this afternoon at the hands of King$ton Communication$ FC's seconds, and by way of preparation the club's official website shows itself to be every bit as keen as Mr Slade to bring us up to date on the fitness of Tommy Taylor and Jermaine Palmer. The match will be played at North Ferriby United's ground, probably because Town refused the Tigers' demands for a hefty fee to compensate foot damage to the delicately manicured grass at the KC.
"After seeing the picture of that banner in Tuesday's Diary," writes Mat Hare in a quick missive, "I felt moved enough to jot you a quick missive. Having looked into this a bit more I found the sums involved are truly staggering. How can anyone in their right mind take so much money off football fans and give back so little? I mean, 99p for a little tub of ice cream with a couple of squashed Smarties in that's a right rip-off!"
Tuesday 17 January
Gary Cohen: a striker or a winger? Andy Parkinson: a striker or a winger? Calvin Andrew: a striker or a winger? Gary Jones: a striker, a midfielder, or so brilliant that his continued existence forces spectator and pundit alike to question the very notion of footballers' positions, concluding that they are not a 'natural' way to conceptualise players but a social construct maintained by the oppressive discourse of the ruling class? Until we decide, we can agree that Russell Slade has a penchant for attacking players who are neither lamb nor mutton, and so it is with Junior Mendes, who has joined the Mariners on loan for the rest of the season and will probably be on the bench at Darlington tonight. Notionally a striker, Mendes has started only 150 league games at the age of 29 but been subbed on in a further 50, scoring 41 times in all. The player spent a season and a half with Mansfield before leaving for Huddersfield in 2004, where he has apparently had 'fitness problems' but looked decent on the left of midfield before heading out on loan to Northampton this season, for whom he has also played out wide, scoring twice in 12 league appearances. After signing Ben Futcher last week, Slade declared that he was still looking for a striker and a wide midfielder, but slyly failed to mention that this only meant one player.
Another truth you and I will most likely hold to be self-evident is that Steve Mildenhall is Bloody Great. Perhaps all this season's GTFC goalkeeper needed to get the fans on his side was to not be Anthony Williams, but My Lord has distinguished himself beyond this minimum requirement with some fine exhibitions of shot-stopping and, more importantly, by going crazy ape-shit bonkers in front of the Pontoon when Town score goals and win matches. The news on Mariners World will be welcomed by all, then, that the club's splendid custodian is shortly to begin talks over an extended contract. "Hopefully we'll sit down and try and thrash something out," declares mild-mannered Mildenhall, who is currently on one of these year-with-another-year-option thingies which we're a bit closer to understanding than we used to be. May masterful Mildo remain a major Mariner many more moons, as Tony Gallimore would have struggled to put it.
This may come as a shock to some, but not all football club chairmen are as orange-juice-spilling passionate about their clubs as a certain Mr Fenty clearly is about the Mariners, and some seem more concerned about what they can get out than what they can put in. As a recent article by the excellent David Conn explains, the chief suit at Mansfield, Keith Haslam, not only draws a salary from the club (£66,000 in 2004) but has taken over half a million quid out of the Stags' coffers in "interest-free loans", and another half-mill has gone to a company he owns to pay for an academy that hasn't been built. Stags fans visiting Blundell Park last Saturday wanted to display a banner to protest against all this, but Haslam asked GTFC to stop them doing so, and BP's ever-effective stewards obliged. Here, though, is the banner Mansfield Town and Grimsby Town didn't want you to see.
Not that violence and intimidation are the Diary's style, but when peaceful and well-intentioned protest is unreasonably silenced you can almost understand why people sometimes go too far, can't you? Let's hope it doesn't happen in this case. Anyway to find out more, visit the Stags' supporters' trust.
An email now, to return the Diary to our habitual tone of levity. Remember Bas Savage, November's trialist striker who had never scored a league goal but would only sign for Town if they paid him considerably more than they're paying Michael Reddy? John Pakey does. "Not since my dad had half a Heineken and lime too many at my cousin's wedding have I seen such a strange display of dancing," writes John. "I am referring, of course, to Bas Savage's first goal for Bristol City in their 1-1 draw against Brian 'Watch Out Ivano' Laws' lot down at Glanford Park. I was actually shocked that the man, who decided to not sign for Grimsby and go off and not score (until Saturday) for the Robins, had a celebration. I would have thought his head would have blown up like something out of Scanners, befuddled by the experience of actually scoring a competitive goal. So all credit to Savage, for keeping his head intact and not letting it explode in a gooey mess all over his team-mates." Let's see if something similar happens with Junior Mendes.
Monday 16 January
Remember the miserable bastard who rang up the Football Forum after the Mariners' defeat to Carlisle earlier this month? He hadn't been to the game or anything like that, but he just wanted to tell the Humber-area public that all the players Town would sign in January, to replace all the ones they would be selling, were going to be rubbish. Maybe it was him, or maybe it was just hundreds of people like him, but rumours seem to have been rumouring that Ben Futcher's arrival at BP implies the imminent departure of same-sized centre-back Rob Jones. In response the club has gone to the trouble of posting an item on its official website not only to insist that the Stick is sticking around but also to explain that GTFC have the option to extend his contract and those of Michael Reddy, Paul Bolland and other dead ace players. The miserable bastard who rang up the Football Forum is now thought to be selling his house, cashing in his pension and taking voluntary redundancy, then giving all the money to Scunthorpe United on the condition that they use it to sign Jones, just so he can say he was right.
Kind-hearted Kingston Communications FC chairman Adam Pearson has responded as you would expect to Russell Slade's declaration of interest in Tigers winger Kevin Ellison. The Town manager apparently blurted his intentions to Mariners World late on last week, and Pearson has displayed the same lovably charitable streak he showed last summer when his moneybags club pulled out of a proposed lucrative friendly against the administration-haunted Mariners rather than relinquish their share of the gate receipts. "Adam Pearson says Grimsby can't afford Kevin Ellison," were the words repeated several times on Radio Humberside on Saturday, bringing to mind a similarly sensitive and restrained response by his manager when Town were enquiring after one or two of the 298 strikers in his squad last season ("Grimsby are wasting their time," said Peter 'Paid Five Million For Ade Akinbiyi' Taylor). The north bank outfit has come a long way since almost being closed down five years ago, and it is truly heart-warming to see its chairman extend such empathy and lasting appreciation once again to the neighbouring club that offered the use of its ground when KCFC were locked out of Boothferry Park.
Saturday 14 January
The turbulent term of Town continues, with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Mansfield lifting the side back to second place in the fourth division. With a characteristic one-on-one Michael Reddy goal early in the game, the Mariners look set for another comfortable home win against lowly opposition, but the Stags' determined second-half showing belies their position in the table. After a shaky start, Ben Futcher enjoys a decent debut, and it takes a ludicrous 79th-minute penalty decision for the visitors to equalise. Town fans' broad spectrum of emotions on the day is completed by Andy Parkinson's late winner, which follows a great run by Tom Newey. Defeats for Carlisle and Leyton Orient give GTFC a chance to top the table by winning their game in hand at Darlington this Tuesday. Yeah, I know. Credit to Mansfield, anyway, not only for pushing Town so hard but also for being the only fourth division side with a player named after a kind of spreadable cheese.
Friday 13 January
Your Guest Diarist has spent the last few minutes wishing he could be in Southwark Crown Court watching Steve Evans and his Boston cronies facing charges of conspiring to cheat the public revenue. This particular match kicked off at twelve of the clock, and sadly is not available live on Sky. As well as mentioning this, Ken Fox's news diary also reports that it is a condition of the transfer of young Mr Futcher that he will not be picked for the Town versus Boston game later this season. How very Chelsea. Not that we will be short of centre-halves or anything. I hope that Mr Futcher's arrival, plus the return to fitness of some of our other able central defenders, does not presage a return to non-4-4-2 formations: we had quite enough of that nonsense last season.
The Football League has just published another of its agents' fees reports, covering the period from July to December 2005. As you'd expect, it makes dispiriting reading. Luton had to part with over ninety grand, so you can understand why Mike Newell is so upset. Grimsby wasted a total of £13,560 (down from £24,020 in the corresponding period in 2004). Eleven fourth division clubs (including Boston and Lincoln) apparently did not spend a penny on agents. That word 'apparently' crept into the previous sentence purely because the word 'Boston' was in it as well. In total League clubs shelled out £4.4m in the six-month period, down a bit from £5m the preceding year. I'm sure there will be a long and orderly queue of managers waiting to back up the whistleblower Newell aren't you?
Meanwhile the Grimsby Telegraph, in its fascinating interview with Messrs Futcher and Slade, has come up with yet another name for the bottomest division in the Football League where our beloved Town currently languish (although at least we are currently known as "promotion-chasing"). To quote Futcher junior from the article: "The team are in a good position in the Continued on page 46.league". Mr Slade, who is already receiving treatment for a slightly ricked neck, had this to say: "With Futcher and Rob Jones, we now have two massive threats in both boxes. But what Ben really likes to do is defend and make tackles. He enjoys marking people and stopping frontmen from scoring." Among Ben's other hobbies are reading, watching Big Brother (in case there are people as tall as him in it) and collecting prints of dogs named after his dad.
The Telegraph also features interviews with Steve Mildenhall and Paul Bolland trotting out the usual footballer homilies, and a more informative one with Michael Reddy and Mr Slade, in which top Telegraph reporter Trevor Green treats us to: "The in-form pace ace picked up a knock to his shin this week and has sat out training sessions. But the 25-year-old, who is rumoured to have attracted the attention of a number of other clubs this season, is on the mend and should be back in contention for tomorrow's 'Stag-hunt'." Mr Slade is reported to have said: "Redds trained for the first time yesterday and hopefully he will be okay. Crofty also trained and may be available. John McDermott is making progress and may be back for Tuesday's game against Darlington but Mansfield will come too soon for him. Justin Whittle and Simon Ramsden are longer-term casualties while Jermaine Palmer (back), Tommy Taylor (groin) and Nick Hegarty (ankle) are also unavailable."
Well, that's your lot, folks I'm off to practise for a role in an all-male remake of Driving Miss Daisy. See yer.
Thursday 12 January
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A body set in motion will continue in motion unless acted on by an external force. The total amount of mass and energy in the universe remains constant. And the total height of the defenders in a football squad managed by Russell Slade will never fall below 8.5344 metres. Yes, folks just as you were thinking the departure of Tony Crane was threatening to leave the Mariners with a damaging shortage of six-and-a-half-foot centre-backs, Sort It has put in his thumb and pulled out Ben 'Son of Paul' Futcher, the former Lincoln man who is second only to Rob Jones in the Football League's official table of freakishly gigantic defenders. The 24-year-old Goliath spent three years at Sincil Bank, scoring 17 times in 142 appearances, before leaving for Boston last summer, where he has struggled to fit in, possibly because of York Street's low ceilings; and in signing up until 2009 Futch Jnr becomes the first player to be awarded a GTFC contract for longer than two years since Crane himself arrived in 2003. Rumours are yet to be denied that if this season's promotion challenge falls flat, Town will apply for entry to the national basketball league.
In other transfer news, the Mariners' nouveau-riche neighbours Kingston Communications FC have upped their rate of signing strikers from one per week to one per day. In the past four and a half seasons, forwards brought in by the Tigers have included Lawrie Dudfield, Michael Reddy, Paul Tait, Caleb Folan, Neil Roberts, Kyle Lightbourne, Daniel Webb, Jamie Forrester, Ben Burgess, Danny Allsopp, Simon Johnson, Phil Jevons, Michael Branch, Jonathan Walters, Delroy Facey, Aaron Wilbraham, Craig Fagan, Steve McPhee, Chris Brown and Billy Paynter. You wouldn't expect them to get through a transfer window without adding one or two more to the list, then, and so this week's capture of Darryl Duffy from Falkirk has been followed up with a hyena-like scavenge for Jon Parkin of nouveau-poor Macclesfield. Isn't it amazing what white phone boxes can achieve.
Your working week with the regular Diary ends here, as Fridays on this page are customarily given over to CA's team of literate, perceptive and above all punctual guest diarists, but first of all we have another email about a certain McDonalds Cup tie last weekend. "My Newcastle-supporting mate tells me that the similarity between Saturday's win over Mansfield and the one over us was not lost on the Newcastle supporters," writes
Mark Wilson, "but they have generally taken the view that 'at least Mansfield tried to play football against us, unlike that other lot who tried to kick us off the park'. I pointed out the difference in positions in the fourth division league table between Grimsby and Mansfield." Full marks to Mark, not only for making this important point but also for using the term "fourth division", as everyone should, because it makes another important point. MW concludes with an item of cheerful Tyneside blasphemy by asking: "Was 'Wor Jackie' a violent, moaning narcissus as well?" but tactfully stops short of calling Newcastle Brown Ale "a lasses' drink".
Wednesday 11 January
Oooh, it's Wednesday. Hull must have signed a striker. Let's have a look. Yeah, they have.
Chelsea finishing top of the Premiership league table. Havelock finishing bottom of Grimsby's secondary school league table. Misspelt, wrongly punctuated and badly phrased articles on commercially franchised football websites. Some things in life are always certain just like Town reserves getting a severe mauling last night against Sheffield United's reserve B-team; and sure enough, the Mariners' seconds were thumped by the Blades' thirds to the tune of four goals to nil. As Town's official website almost points out in mitigation, we don't really have a proper reserve team any more, and this was just the senior members of the youth team (Danny North, Paul Ashton) supplemented by the weird tax-dodge/identity-theft/favour-to-Slade's-uncle-Dave signings who will never make the first team (Tommy Taylor, Glen Downe... oh). But as the OS admits, Sheff U's was also a young team it consisted entirely of 15- to 18-year-olds, in fact and most of the sides in the Hi-De-Hi Division One East Reserves League are probably of similar callowness. For the final goal last night, Town keeper Rob Murray punched the ball into his own net, John Lukic presumably having been loaned to Nuneaton Borough or released on a free transfer to North Ferriby United without anybody telling us.
What an exciting weekend of action in the third round of the FA Cup, eh. Without Town. Again. Still, this doesn't mean Marinerian types have been entirely without a recent interest in the World's Greatest Knockout Competition Sponsored by Booze, Fizzy Drinks and Fast Food, as Michael Shelton has emailed the Diary to observe on one particular result from the games just played. "3rd round, 1-0, Shearer, 80 mins. Sound familiar? I'm sure all Town fans will join me in sending sympathies to Mansfield, and hoping they get a win at the weekend to cheer them back up a bit. Oh wait, hang on a minute..."
Tuesday 10 January
Welcome to the Diary sponsored by Carlsberg, Pepsi and McDonalds. Enjoy your visit and lead a healthy lifestyle.
As presciently suggested in yesterday's Diary (what?), Tony Crane has completed a permanent transfer to Worksop Town, severing his links with the Mariners after two and a half disappointing years at Blundell Park. Well, it's permanent until the end of the season, anyway. As the transfer window opened with the new year the amply posteriored defender-turned-striker joined the Conference North side on loan while he tried to squeeze as much cash as he could out of GTFC sorry, I mean reach a settlement over the months remaining on his contract with GTFC and has already scored once in two appearances for his new club. Crane squandered his penultimate chance on North East Lincs with a red card in his third appearance this season his third dismissal in just 42 league starts for Town and his fate was sealed a couple of months ago with a shocker against Morecambe in the vans thing. In summary, then, Crane had more cards than Athena and Clinton put together, and if his performances were frequently half-arsed, his arse certainly wasn't.
And as you may have seen in recent days, Town's righteous right-back John 'The Anticrane' McDermott is hoping to return to the team for the visit of Mansfield this Saturday, after a few weeks out with a hurty ankle. As you may then have thought if your mind works anything like the Diary's, "ooh, that means Matty Bloomer can move into the middle alongside Rob Jones, and then our defensive injury crisis isn't quite as bad after all, despite the absences of Justin Whittle, Simon Ramsden and Gary Croft!" That's pretty much the state of play today as the Mariners' official website confirms that Simon and the Shearer Scarer won't be back around for a week or two. As for Croft and Jones, there is no news. No news is good news, as the old saying goes, except on the Mariners' official website, where no news is just no news.
There is news on the OS, however, about Town's bottom-of-the-league reserve team, whose latest defeat will be inflicted tonight by Sheffield United B: not the Blades' second XI, who play a division higher than the Mariners', but their third team. "A very young Mariners side travel for the clash," says the official site, ominously. Aren't there laws to protect children against severe beatings? I'm sure the Daily Express said we were living in a nanny state.
As another old saying goes, old Mariners never die they just sign for Northwich Victoria. Except for Ronnie Bull, that is, who has followed Simon Yeo back home from the Antipodes and turned off at Irthlingborough to sign for Rushden & Diamonds (remember them?). New Zealand must be really horrible. Another ex-GTFC left-back, and this time a half-decent one, has landed a division higher as Blackpool have awarded Dean Gordon a month-to-month contract following his recent exertions in Cyprus and with, er, Crook Town. And if you've got a soft spot for struggling Lancashire clubs and a religious temperament then spend this afternoon praying for Bury. The Shakeys have loaned Anthony Williams from Carlisle, who have zoomed up the league table since removing the bollock-dropping former Town keeper from their first team as early as September. What might have been last season, eh.
Monday 9 January
Clattenburg got suckered for two penalties, then.
A new item on Town's official website today is headlined Where is Redds?, raising initial fears that the club's Irish frontman may be following Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala to the African Cup of Nations after discovering a Senegalese maternal grandparent, or even alerting older readers to the possibility of the player executing a Gordon Hobson-esque flit to Southampton quick while the transfer window is open. But the question is a competition, and entrants must email and tell the OS where a Santa-hatted Michael Reddy is standing, in a photograph with the words PONNY TOILETS scrawled behind him. You could win a pair of tickets to this Saturday's game against Mansfield if you can work out the catch.
The OS is also on hand to let us know that livewire striker Tony Crane opened his account for Worksop Town on Saturday and paid in a 35-yard free kick, but it'll take three days to clear. (At some point in the last week - I forget when - it became apparent from somewhere - I forget where - that Crane's transfer to the Nottinghamshire side is a loan, until such time as GTFC give up trying to negotiate and pay up the rest of his £2,000-a-week contract just to get him off the books on a permanent basis.) It's a shame they were unable to let us know that Jermaine Palmer has just returned to Blundell Park from his loan at Hinckley United, where he scored four times in nine appearances; perhaps we are to assume that Palmer has even less of a future with the Mariners than Crane?
Big Tony's fellow livewire striker Jones the Lump was in contention for some fourth division player of the month thing, apparently. Gary, as close friends get to call him, seems to have been one of four players nominated for the December prize following some good performances and goals against Rochdale and Bury. But he didn't win it. Some bloke from Northampton did. Perhaps the judges were, er, from Yorkshire. Yeah.
Oh, and Town are third in the league now, cos Carlisle won again on Saturday while their manager thought GTFC were playing in the cup. Well, it seems to work for him, and if Russ calling the African Cup of Nations "the African World Cup" is the price we have to pay for automatic promotion, so be it. No, I don't know what I'm on about either.
Just the one email today, and just the three words in it. "Viriginia Wolf?" writes Paul Wright. "Editor?" Paul is referring to one of the typos that appeared in early editions of Friday's late-published guest Diary and presumably managed to fire off his email in the six minutes before Cod Almighty's lowly sub-ed managed to correct all nine of them. Thanks, Paul. It's good to know CA's normally high standards of grammar, spelling and punctuation are; apresiated.
Friday 6 January
It's one of those days in the Diary room much like reading a Virginia Woolf novel: you concentrate for about twenty minutes on the subject matter, realise you are bored and move on to more important things in life.
Paul Simpson shows the PFA website a bit of the shrewdness that won him the fourth division manager of the month award yesterday, proclaiming: "We've got a good chance to put ourselves into the top two this weekend [with tomorrow's game against Bury], with Wycombe, Leyton Orient and Grimsby all involved in the FA Cup." The Grimmo Telegraph, for a change, captures the mood of Town's fans and trumpets Slade's achievements. The Town gaffer is keeping his feet on the ground and his head out of the clouds: "It doesn't bother me though - the award I want is the one for April because it will mean we are still up there." Which makes the wait for his side's next league game all the more agonising... ah well...
The mammothental (a word our lowly sub-ed is likely to get all huppity about) [not really, Si - I was too busy correcting your spelling from "Viriginia Wolf" - lowly sub-ed.] Tony Crane is - it transpires in a monumental moment of official site investigative work - only on loan at Worksop Town, as the player and his current full-time employers are yet to agree a settlement on the remaining time on his contract.
From something old to something new, promising winger Nick Heggggggaaaaaaaaaarty has been given a new 18-month contract "to prove himself": a story so newsworthy that it currently fills the bottom two slots (huh, huh) of the OS's front page. Hopefully Slade won't send him on another morale-lowering, and reserve-team-crushing, work experience spell to Whitby Town during that period.
Which leaves this guest-written Diary to end on the recent news of top flight referee Mark Clattenburg recently proclaiming that he is willing to learn "for the future from video replays". Those with a memory unblunted by an excessive Christmas period will remember this is the same referee that missed Martin Pringle being somewhat abruptly taken out by Stockport's Dave Challinor just over three years ago. Like he says, he's willing to learn. And, like this Diary, better late than never.
Thursday 5 January
Now that Glen Downey has more or less proven his existence by scoring the winning goal at Wrexham on New Year's Eve, attention is turning to another local enigma: Tommy Taylor, who has yet to even be named as a first-team substitute since allegedly joining the Mariners in the summer from Viking Stavanger. This most peculiar of signings has returned to the Diary's attention not just because of the air clearing over Downey but also because of a discrepancy between accounts of Tuesday's reserve match in the Grimsby Telegraph and on Town's official website. The OS appears to name our Tom as one of the 15 players who lined up against Huddersfield's stiffs earlier in the week, whereas the local rag swears blind that the Taylor who took on the Terriers was 17-year-old striking prodigy and Duran Duran namealike Andy. Dodgy? Let's just say the Diary will continue to believe that Tommy Taylor is a tax dodge until a left-sided midfielder answering to that name pops up with two forms of identification including a recent utility bill, passport, current driving licence or National Insurance document and scores the winner at Leyton Orient on Easter Monday to seal Town's promotion to the third division.
After Russell Slade was beaten to the fourth division manager of the month award last September by Wycombe's John Gorman, you could have forgiven him for writing the whole MoTM thing off as a bad job especially since the Mariners had not only racked up more league points than the Chairheads that month but also knocked Spurs out of the League Cup at the same time as Wycombe were shipping eight goals against Aston Villa. The awards continue to look about as credible as FIFA's world rankings system now that Carlisle boss Paul Simpson has pipped our Russ to the December prize, despite his side claiming one point fewer than Town from the same number of games over the course of last month. "Bovvered?" responded Slade this lunchtime.
That's just about it for this week before I hand you over to tomorrow's guest diarist, but let us first take a moment to nominate the Grimsby Telegraph for the 2006 Blundell Park Scoreboard Award for Good Timing. In a time when the local football club continues, from a financial point of view, to drift along Shit Creek with little in the way of propulsion, and when its chairman is forced to publicly beg fans to come and support their local side instead of whichever big London or Lancashire club has the most money this year, the Telegraph has chosen a perfect moment to run a piece of marketing copy for the Premiership. I'm sorry, but haven't you people got illegal fox hunts to go to?
Wednesday 4 January
Brave though their performance was in Monday's defeat by Carlisle, it seemed that several members of the Mariners' starting line-up were less than 100 per cent fit, and suspicions to this effect have been strengthened with the news that Justin Whittle may not play again until February. Today's Grimsby Telegraph reports that the team captain and scourge of conceited former England strikers is one of several players (also including Michael Reddy and Andy Parkinson as well as the side's legion of crocked defenders) who have been left battered and bruised by the hectic but fun Christmas and new year schedule of matches. With legendary right-back Sir John McDermott hopefully close to a recovery from that nasty ankle thing, Matt Bloomer may soon be freed up to cover for Whittle's absence in the centre of defence, but the Diary is expected to have to undergo physiotherapy shortly for strained joints caused by excessive finger-crossing.
For many millenia in the history of the human race, people have been able to rely on the regularity of certain natural phenomena as an impulse giving rhythm and structure to their lives. So important was the daily rising and setting of the sun to the ancient Babylonians, for example, that they worshipped it as a deity; in 2006, similarly, the world's greatest atomic physicists are believed to set their watches by Grimsby Town Football Club's reserve team losing matches. The latest in this cosmically steady and reliable string of defeats came yesterday afternoon at home to Huddersfield, when an unusually young second string did its usual thing of letting the other team score a few (in this instance three, two from Matty Young and one from John McAliskey) and then making a brave but not-quite-adequate fightback (in this instance with two goals in the last ten minutes, from Danny North and a lad called Bird whose first name is seemingly unknown to the club's own official website). As time ticks relentlessly on, the Universe continues to expand at a constant rate and the stiffs still bump along the bottom of their league, the only surprising feature of the match seems to have been that Town fielded 15 players.
George Burley may be this season's surprise managerial hot property, but before he joined Southampton, before he joined Hearts and even before he joined Derby his head was once rolling around the Ipswich boardroom after being neatly severed by the scythe of the Grimsby Reaper: that nefarious creature of darkness who sees to it that football managers are sacked after their team gets a bad result against Grimsby Town. Following the dismissal of Notts County's Ian Richardson last April for only drawing 2-2 at home with the Mariners, the Reaper took a nine-month sabbatical, but the break seems only to have quickened his thirst for blood, as Lincoln boss Keith Alexander now finds himself 'on leave' following his side's tonking by the Town last Wednesday night. I know we still love Big Keef despite his predilection as a manager for 'direct' football, and OK, rumours are abounding that Sincil Bank bosses are aggrieved by him wanting to move to Rotherham rather than losing at BP, but I still think we should claim this one.
Tuesday 3 January
The Daily Post, which covers the Liverpool and north Wales area, has run a confusing and contradictory piece about Steve Mildenhall being punched by a home fan late on during Town's visit to Wrexham on New Year's Eve. The report states that a number of "yobs" ran onto the pitch, one of whom lamped My Lord on the ear, and that stewards handed over the offenders to police. So far, so good. Then the police said they didn't arrest anyone, despite the apparent violation of at least two laws of the land. I guess that's a decision for the police; but then the article indirectly quotes "club bosses" as saying the pitch invaders would be banned from future fixtures "if traced". Now as far as the Diary can see, being apprehended and handed over to officers of the law seems to fall pretty squarely within the definition of 'traced'. Has it not occurred to Wrexham FC simply to ask the police for the names of Mildenhall's assailants? Or did the police not even record their names before releasing them? The Diary thought the gaping holes on the left of Town's defence were pretty big until I read this story.
As viewers of BBC2's Dragon's Den are fully aware, capitalists are really nice, warm, lovable people, and not a bunch of charmless twats at all, and the human race would be greatly impoverished if the Diary were to invent a selective biological weapon to wipe them all off the face of the planet. It comes as a considerable surprise to learn, then, that local businessman Michael Rouse has issued a writ against the club he presumably professed his undying love for right up until he left its board of directors 15 months ago. Rouse lent the Mariners £50,000 at some point and has demonstrated his deep and passionate support for the club by letting it keep the money right up until now the same time as the club's bankers have halved its overdraft facility. But don't let the odd bad apple taint your perception of business people as a whole, readers, and remember that the rest of them are every bit as nice as that charming Alan Sugar chap.
Publishing a local newspaper is difficult enough without having the piss ripped out of your efforts all the time by a smug bastard daily news summary column on an unofficial football fanzine website. But hey they're getting paid for it, so today let's turn our contemptuous laughter to north-western rag the News & Star, which today demonstrates that its Grimsby-area counterpart is far from alone in publishing on its website football stories that cut abruptly to words such as CONTINUED ON PAGE 33. We have no way of knowing whether the News & Star also follows the Grimsby Telegraph's suit in running pro-fox hunting propaganda thinly disguised as journalism, but at least the Telegraph tends to know where it is, while the News & Star describes Carlisle's victory yesterday as "only their second win at Whaddon Road in 19 attempts". Like I say, it's really hard publishing a local newspaper, and having to employ football journalists who know what football grounds are called.
More factually challenged reporting can be found on the Mariners' official website, which ran an item yesterday stating that Tony Crane was "thought to be on his way to Worksop Town", by which time the big-boned Town defender had already put pen to paper with the Nottinghamshire non-League side and was helping them to a 2-0 defeat by Gainsborough Trinity. According to Worksop's official site, Crane started the match up front with Darren Mansaram, the loaned-out Halifax striker still listed by Town's OS as a GTFC player about a year after he swapped Blundell Park for the Shay. Cuh!
If you're back at work today and wishing you weren't, let's pretend it's still Christmas. The Diary has recently had a bit of an Email Thing going on, which means I didn't pick up all your festive electronic communications until, well, the festivities were nearly over. Here, then, is a selection of your emails flung Diary-wards during the past week and a bit.
Hi Diary. The big day is nearly here , so I'd like to wish you and the CA team best wishes for Christmas and let's hope the only way is UP in the New Year. Many thanks to all who keep the website an interesting read. See you... Sibbo.
from: Chris Parrott / re: Royalties for using the League fixture list
You could always create a fictional list made up of clubs with made-up names, thus Grumbly Town's rearranged fixture against Hotpot County on Jan 24th could be shown with impunity.
from: Dan Humphrey / re: Mirror
Page 14 today, nice headline. merry xmas. d
from: Andrew Taylor
Can I just say fandabidozee? I agree with you about Roy Player. I may become a Mariner - I went to Cleethorpes in 1982 and saw a camel on the beach.
from: Dave the Engineer
17 a beautiful mutation, no longer thomas wheres my beret pinault but glen on my head son downey. What a result UP THE MARINERS and happy new year to you all.
One can only conclude from the above that Dan had discovered the "Cod Almighty" headline in the Mirror, Andrew had better avoid the random drugs test next time he makes the subs' bench for GTFC, and Dave was stuck on the Radio Times Christmas crossword. Thanks, everyone hope you had all had good ones, and hope work isn't too awful today. See you tomorrow.
Monday 2 January
The Mariners begin 2006 much as they ended 2005: placed second in the fourth division league table despite today's eighth home defeat of the season at the hands of Carlisle, who come back from an early Ciaran Toner goal with two badly defended strikes by Zigor Aranalde. Despite a Tom Newey penalty miss that is as surprising as Chelsea's 14-point lead in the FA Barclaycard Cash Dosh Lucre Spondoolicks Money Money Money Premiership, Town battle back gamely in the last 10 or 15 minutes, hitting the post and bar, but the three points scarcely flatter an impressive Carlisle side. The Cumbrians remain fourth, just two points behind GTFC; third-placed Leyton Orient pull level with Town having played a game more, as have Cadbury's Flake Wycombe, who stay top despite a spectacular 5-4 home defeat against Macclesfield, of all people.
Other points of interest for black and whiteys as the calendar, er, gets thrown away and replaced by a new one include the re-signing of former Mariner Matt Bloomer on a one-month loan from Lincoln in response to Saturday's defender carnage at Wrexham, where Rob Jones, Simon Ramsden and Gary Croft all joined Justin Whittle and Sir John McDermott on the great big injured defender list. Bloomer made his second debut for Town this afternoon playing at right-back. Well, Tony Crane was never going to get a game - bound, as he seemingly is, for Worksop Town. Sad, isn't it.
Tomorrow the Diary will go over some of the emails you sent over the Christmas and new year period, which I forgot to go over at the time. Tonight I will end by wishing you all every happiness for the new year. More happiness than the Town fan who said to his mate, while coming out of today's match: "That Reddy's just a donkey." And more happiness than Andrew, who phoned Radio Humberside afterwards to bemoan the apparently poor quality of the players Town will apparently sign to replace Michael Reddy and all the other players they're apparently going to sell this month. No, of course he hadn't been to the game. Cheer up, you miserable bastards!