Contact the Diary
Got any GTFC news? Constructive feedback? Offers of hard cash to write something else? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our feedback form and elucidate.
Read another Diary
May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August |
May | April |
March | February | January
November | October | September |
August | July | June | May | April | March | February |
November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
April | March | February | January
November | October | September |
July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July |
June | May | April |
March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January
December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March
Diary - July 2006
Monday 31 July
As Steve Livingstone once said to John Achterberg, you've got to ask yourself a question: do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? The Diary certainly does, because whoever penned Saturday's unauthorised pirate Diary has saved me the trouble of telling you all about Town's friendly against Stoke last Friday night. Hooray!
So that just leaves today's transfer news, and Grahams Rodgerses has signed an exciting young central defender, who can pass the ball and read the game superbly and is strong both in the air and on the ground, to partner Justin Whittle in the heart of the Mariners' back four as the new season kicks off against Boston in five days' time. No, he hasn't. I'm only joking. It's still going to be Fen Butcher, and Town have still only signed four players this summer to replace Rob Jones, Marc Goodfellow, Jean-Paul Kalala, Steve Mildenhall, Curtis Woodhouse, Glen Downey, Junior Mendes and Andy Parkinson. And Jermaine Palmer and John Lukic, if you want to be all spotty and trainspottery about it. You do? OK then. Sort it Rodgers, etc etc. In the diesel age there's never been anything to replace the 31 class BR loco.
So that just leaves the team news for tonight's Cod Almighty-commentated friendly against Leeds. Town's official website tells us that Luton's Michael Reddy is broken again, while Gary Cohen is still broken. Gary Croft is quite broken, and Paul Bolland is a little bit broken. "The number of free juniors is issued," adds the OS mysteriously. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
Oh, and there's some stuff on the internet somewhere about Leeds wanting to sign Luton's Michael Reddy. You never know, but it looks very much like somebody has put two and two together and come up with a life-size model of a brontosaurus wearing turquoise stilettos.
So that just leaves your emails to the Diary. First up it's the Meggies Rockchick Manhunter, who shows that whether the Leeds rumours are true or not, Town's star striker is being closely watched in some quarters. "I'd just like to inform you that last night," she writes, "whilst visiting a local cinema, EVB, Ms Wildthing and myself spotted none other than the long-term injured 'Super Mike', Luton's Michael Reddy, and he was wearing flip-flops and purchasing a Cornetto. Now come on, is that the behaviour of a man with a groin strain??!! We all know that eating ice-cream based products makes you fat and wearing flip-flops makes you walk funny. Both actions therefore could aggravate and prolong his current injury. Don't our players care any more? All this and the season hasn't even started yet." MRM fails to address the real issue here, though, which is whether Reddy was sitting too near the front and thus risking an aggravation of the neck strain he is still carrying after two seasons of Sladeball.
Well, today's has been quite a good Diary after all, and is all the more satisfying for having taken me all of five minutes to knock out, instead of the usual tortuous seven. "Noticed how the auction for naming the gates finished at 28-Jul-06 23:46:18 BST?" asks Loughborough Mariner, and I must admit that I had not. "Think it is a cynical marketing ploy to catch out people tottering in from the pub on a Friday evening feeling a little tipsy? Imagine waking up the next morning with a hazy recollection of spending a few hundred pounds on something useless and then getting your credit card statement showing that you've bought a pair of gates on eBay! Perhaps our commercial department aren't as inept as they seem!" Well spotted, LM. Similarly, perhaps someone from the club will be treating Ken Bates and Kevin Blackwell to a few shandies the night before the next transfer deadline.
Saturday 29 July
Evenin'. After last night's knockabout with Stoke, Dawdling Diary here with a brief catch up to keep y'all going until Monday lunchtime.
To get it out of the way, Town lost to a single goal to a near-enough full strength Potters side. Rodgeres's boys were given a good work out and did well to restrict the visitors to as few chances as they did. Stoke were quick, direct, organised (as you'd expect) but also liked to bomb down the wings, Macca and Newey given a thorough work-out. The Mariners' defence was also given a testing time from a variety of excellent set pieces from the visitors. The goal came as Russell's pacy run from midfield wasn't checked, exposing the lack of pace in midfield and central defence. The ball was rolled across Phil Barnes, returning in goal, into the far corner. Town's best chance came from a rare Toner set piece (rare in that Beagrie didn't elect to hog the chance) that was fizzing just under the bar, before Simonsen parried the shot over. Michael Reddy also had a chance when Sir Macca's pacy low clearance was missed by the Stoke defence, but Redds hit the ball at the visitors' keeper.
Plus points: the return of Reddy, lasting an hour before being subbed, possibly due to knackeredness, possibly due to a slight injury; a most certainly sharper performance from Son of Futch; Toner's presence in midfield increasing as the game wore on; Haaaaarrrrkins being an actual presence in midfield; the appearance of Peter Bore from the bench, who excited, possibly aroused, Messers Butcher and Wilson who were commentating for Mariners World; some handy corners from Beagrie; and the fabled red socks made a welcome return. Let's not linger on any negatives. It was only as friendly and overall an improvement all round.
Grez noted post-match he felt the team was moving in the right direction, and the players had given a good account of themselves, against a team who had drawn 0-0 with Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven a few nights before. Fingers crossed that this progress continues on Monday night against Leeds.
But wait! There's a few other tit bits worth sharing with you. The Rodger is looking at two signings, hopefully by Wednesday. Cross the fingers on your other hand that those moves come off. The official line from the club about the supposed and far-too-mooted return of Alan Pouton was laughed off as "rubbish". According to Radio Humbs, another murmured returnee, George Santos, is interesting the Town manager. But the player is umming and urring about whether he joins Town or Brentford, where he has been playing recently. The whole affair has been dragging on for aaaages and be reminded that whatever offer the Hulk rejected from Hull a short while back was far more than Town could ever afford. Oh, and apparently the red away shirt is actually two halves of very similar shades of red which "doesn't show up in the pictures."
And finally, former Town manager Billy Walsh, who took over from Bill Shankley, has passed away. Walsh was 85.
Friday 28 July
Happy Hanukkah! What? Oh. In that case, here is today's
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Diary coming fresh from the
Lincolnshire village of Tetney. Yes, they are my sheep
in the road. Do you have a problem with that?
Town news! None. However, those of you who follow
the careers of ex-Mariners will be interested to hear
about Mick Boulding, and his brother. But wait a mo... isn't following the careers of ex-Mariners a bit
tragic? I used to watch Lovejoy but I haven't followed
the subsequent career of Eric with any great interest.
Ah, yes, but the Boulding news is relevant, see,
because he's signed for Mansfield, see, who are in our
division, see, and what's more, we used to call him
"Quick Mick", see, and yet each and every one of our
defenders answers to the name of "Slow Joe". There is
potentially a dangerous situation here. Have you
spotted it? No? Even despite my over-use of the word
'see'? Oh, get along with you. You're pulling my leg. Which will doubtless be Justin Whittle's best tactic
His brother has also signed for Mansfield. Rory.
He is 17. Stags' boss Peter "vulgar and cheap
homosexual name-pun" Shirtlifter describes him as "one
for the future". Oh yes. One of those. We've had a few
of those as well haven't we? No need to worry there.
So that's that - a short Diary full of nonsense. I
have to go and rescue a butterfly from the house now,
which always seems deeply symbolic in a kind of
late sixties Mick Jagger-ish way. Man.
Thursday 27 July
As the Diary has learned the hard way, supporting the Mariners is all about expectation management. I never allowed myself to believe for a moment that Town would be promoted last season, and escaped from the debacle that was Slade's final
with only minimal emotional scarring. Another member of the Cod Almighty team had persuaded himself all season that the Town weren't going up, only to let himself believe for a few minutes during the Northampton game; the plastic surgeon says he may never recover from the real, physical scarring incurred when he beat his head repeatedly against the back of the Pontoon stand. This being the case, the Diary is pleased to note in today's Grimsby Telegraph an interview with Stuart Watkiss in which Town's new assistant manager observes: "There is more quality here than in the Kidderminster players I inherited when I joined the club." So the chances are that the Mariners should avoid relegation to the Conference. Expectation management, readers. Spare yourselves the pain.
Watkiss has begun his work with GTFC in loquacious form, as the erratic Teamtalk website also finds space for a few words from the former postal worker about how he landed the position. "Graham [Rodgerses] and I were young apprentices together at Wolves and have always kept in touch," explains Wozza. "I texted him to say 'well done' when he got the Grimsby job and then out of the blue he got in touch and offered me the number two job." Yes, Stu. That's 'out of the blue' in the sense that Eccentric Rich Aunt Diary sends me a huge cheque out of the blue every time I phone her just to say hello the week before my birthday.
Although the picnic of Town's playing squad is still several sandwiches short, none of the many trialists who showed up at Blundell Park earlier this month featured in the friendly against Rotherham on Monday. And if Danny Boshell and Richard Evans are wending their way back to their places of residence with empty hands and heavy hearts, they might take heart from the tale of Makhtar N'Diaye. "Makhtar who?" you ask. Ah, how quickly you forget. N'Diaye arrived for a try-out at BP in June 2005 alongside Jean-Paul Kam-Kal, failed to impress master tactician Mr Russell Slade, signed for a club in Switzerland instead, missed out on the World Cup because Senegal didn't qualify, and has just been given a contract by big-fish-in-small-pond Glasgow Rangers. Aw. Don't you love happy endings?
Wednesday 26 July
Grahams Rodgerses's assistant manager has been revealed as Stuart Watkiss or Stuarts Watkisses, as he will undoubtedly be rechristened on the streets of Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Wozza, as the Diary has decided to call him for the time being, began his managerial career at Mansfield, where his playing days ended in 1998 and he replaced Tony Ford as youth team coach, bringing a number of players through into the Football League before eventually becoming manager in 2002 and guiding the team to promotion. He was rewarded with a three-year contract extension and sacked six months later. Then he managed Kidderminster and didn't do very well but, to be frank, nobody would have done very well at Kidderminster at the time. As a player the Wozmeister, as I will call him for the rest of this paragraph, started out at Wolves at around the same time as Rodgerses, booo nepotisms or whatever booo, before a spell in part-time football during which he worked for the Post Office, and Town fans will be hoping he can stamp his mark on the job by delivering some first-class football at Blundell Park. Yes, I am after a job on the Grimsby Telegraph.
"It's great to announce that the board of directors have granted recently appointed Town manager Graham Rodger a testimonial match," beams the Mariners' official website today, in a piece littered with more 'misplaced' inverted 'commas' than Freemo market ('DISH CLOTHS' 5 FOR £1!!!). The question readers are most likely to be asking, though, is that if GTFC think it's so great to announce that next Monday's friendly against Leeds is being for the benefit of Mr Rodgerses, why didn't they do so until two days after Leeds announced it?
In other Grimsby news, town leaders have announced plans to build a new training establishment for the seafood industry on the Europarc industrial estate.
The proposed £5m Humber Seafood Institute, according to Fish Update, would be financed jointly by the Government and bizarrely the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, and eventually expand to become Britain's first 'fishing university'. Academics are already being recruited to teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses covering overfishing denial, advanced Europe-blaming, and the thermal and optical performance of the yellow sou'wester.
Tuesday 25 July
If you like hot weather and you tend not to ascribe any significance to the results of friendly games, then you're probably happier right now than a man from Hull in a field of goats. If, on the other hand, you've been taking the temperature from Town's pre-season games and casting a prognosis for the season ahead, then your mood will have grown stormier still as a result of last night's 2-0 home defeat by Rotherham. Cod Almighty's man on the spot Tony Butcher has reported to the Diary that Grahams Rodgerses's men retained the passing style the fans have been crying out for but looked painfully short of pace in the continued absence of Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy and barely had a chance of scoring all night save for a walloping 30-yard volley from, um, Justin Whittle, which hit the bar. This with almost a first-team line-up, save for the presence of Rob Murray and Danny North (neither of whom looked ready to make the step up). "We have the right method," concludes Tony, "but too many of the wrong players, and not enough either." Remember, though: Town had a fantastic pre-season in 2003.
The playing squad, of course, is not the only area at Blundell Park where there exist situations vacant, as Rodgerses is still to appoint an assistant manager. There may be progress on this front very soon though, according to the Mariners' official website, which reported at about quarter to 11 last night that Grezbo's number two "could be named within the next 24 hours". You never know; with a bit of luck Town might sign some players at some point as well.
If all this talk of number twos hasn't killed your appetite, read on. For the team's final two friendly games this summer against Stoke this Friday night and Leeds the following Monday GTFC's official club restaurant is "offering special meal deals", which sounds more McDonalds than McMenemy's, even if they weigh in at five quid a go. Using a frankly repulsive photograph of what is hopefully not any kind of food substance at all, the OS explains that fans at the Stoke match will be able to "enjoy our chef's special Curry [sic.] and chipped potatoes". Mmmm! The Diary is mighty tempted to sample these new and exciting-sounding "chipped potatoes", because I'm really fed up of chips. With any luck, the kiosks will also be doing away with boring old pies and stocking some innovative new stuffed and oven-baked savoury pastries instead.
Monday 24 July
Town are missing half a team ahead of tonight's run-out against Rotherham, the most significant absence being that of new goalkeeper Phil 'I Were Born in Sheffield' Barnes, who was subbed off against Lincoln last Thursday with a thigh strain. Barnes' absence means another go in goal for teenage reserve stickboy Rob Murray, while the club's official website reports that Tom Newey, Gary Cohen, Jones the Lump, Sir John McDermott and Luton's Michael Reddy will also be sitting out this evening's proceedings. Coming in to the team, meanwhile, will be Adam Wykes, a Leicester midfielder who is arriving at Blundell Park today on trial and whose name the Diary has just spent an almost entirely fruitless half-hour googling. For what it's worth, he seems to be thought of highly by his friends.
Just as they belatedly registered the fact that they were spending enormous quantities of money that wasn't theirs, second division Leeds have belatedly registered the fact that they will be following most of their Yorkshire neighbours to Cleethorpes this summer. A team from Elland Road arrives at BP next Monday for the Mariners' final friendly game before the season begins, and LUFC's official website has just got round to mentioning the fact. Interestingly, the site states that the match will be a testimonial for Graham Rodger, but goes on to claim that "Leeds also took part in John McDermott's testimonial match at Grimsby last season". The Diary was there, and I swear it was Hull, so I'll be taking everything Leeds say with a pinch of salt unless it turns out that Eirik Bakke and Gary Kelly just popped over to Macca's game to make the tea.
That just leaves the recent exploits of three former Mariners to fill you in on. You don't really care that Paul Fraser is on trial at Boston Town, do you? I'd be surprised if you could remember who he is. That just leaves Jones the Stick wowing the chilly Jockos with a headed goal in Hibs' Intertoto Cup exit over the weekend ("With big Rob we can be more direct!" enthuses manager Tony Mowbray) and Ashley Sestanovich ending up in prison. I'm not sure which is more depressing really.
Friday 21 July
Greetings again from Citizens Advice Bureau Diary as the pre-season lurches into gear with a clutch of octane-fuelled encounters. Bigging it up a bit Top Gear stylee there, wasn't I? Sorry, but football in July doesn't really excite, does it?
It's been a week of no goals for the Town but, according to witnesses, some semblance of a return to the passing game of old. No, not a reference to Part-Time Pete but to the happier days when Town played with style but rarely troubled the scoreboard. Mr Tony Butcher has again provided us with the words only he could to describe last night's 2-0 defeat at the hands (and feet) of Lincoln City.
Overall Mr B was not too unhappy as "Town played like a slow and a bit rubbish version of a Buckley team. There was no hoofing (except Barwick)." Mr B saves his invective for the one they call Harkins: "I really hope he is tremendously unfit. Far from being a midfield destroyer, he'll destroy our midfield. He's the slowest professional footballer I have ever seen. His limbs do not move in the same space-time continuum, he was almost incapable of passing the ball to team-mates. He's like a Bolland, on a bad day, playing badly with two broken legs. If Boshell is simply a small cog in a wheel inside a watch, then Harkins is the gnomon on a sundial."
Not overly impressed then, Tony? What's a gnomon?
Moving on to the saga of Luton's Michael Reddy's groin, it seems that one magic injection has made all the difference and our hero (Reddy returns) will be back to save the planet as early as next week. Call me a cynic, but this one will run and run. Unlike the player if he comes back too soon.
Good to see that someone on Town's official website can wax lyrical when required. I refer to the purple prose accompanying the Blundell Park Great Gate Giveaway: "The fortunate winner of our auction will become known throughout the length and breadth of Britain wherever Town fans come together to talk in hallowed terms of the great events witnessed at Blundell Park!" Steady on, chaps. As I write the bid stands at £255 with seven days left. Good luck to all you egomaniacal gate fans out there. As an afterthought, why not name them "Bill Gates" and pursue the seriously loaded boffin to be the saviour of the club? It's a great time to try while he's giving much of his stash to charity.
Too much sun or a good idea? Let's have a readers' poll. Oh no - wrong website. Sorry. I'll go now.
But not before a plug that those of you whose world is rocked by Mariners World can access commentary on the friendlies with Stoke on 28 July and Leeds on the 31st. Nothing unusual there, except that the commentary team will consist of Cod Almighty's Tony Butcher and Simon Wilson. Tony's style has been compared to Stuart Hall so I guess that Simon must be Eddie Waring. Should be fun!
Just two bits of late news. Firstly, according to the Telegraph, "Gary Boshell" played in midfield for Town last night. Secondly, an email has arrived from Mark Wilson enlightening the Diary as to what tendons are: "Tendon, n., a firm, white, fibrous inelastic cord that attaches muscle to bone (Churchill Livingstone's Dictionary of Nursing, 17th edition). It can be very painful, I nearly had to stop playing football because of it (Mark Wilson's Reminiscences, 1st edition)." Thanks Mark. Intrigued as to why you have the Dictionary of Nursing. Anyone else in possession of books other people might find disturbing?
Thursday 20 July
Spurred into action by saucy gossip surrounding the absence so far of Gary Cohen from Town's pre-season friendlies, the club's official website has today explained that the pacy forward has been away for no more interesting a reason than that he is suffering from tendonitis. What's that, then? Why, laughs the OS, it's "a condition which causes the tendons to become inflamed". What are the tendons? Dunno. Grahams Rodgerses' team take on Lincoln tonight and Rotherham on Monday before second division Stoke visit Blundell Park next Friday, and it is for this match that Cohen who looked a quality addition to the Mariners' playing squad last season after Russell Slade loaned him from Gretna, until January, when his transfer became permanent is earmarked for a return to action, or something approximating to it.
After winning last season's Midlands (and Grimsby) Floodlit Cup, Town's youth team has found itself under greater than usual attention from supporters hoping that the club's new golden generation will not be much longer in coming. So it is that the club today reports news of a successful beginning to Ver Yoof's pre-season, with a 6-2 win over York City on Tuesday night, the boys responsible for this mighty show-the-first-team-how-it's-done haul being Stephen Rock (3), Andy Taylor and Jammal Shahin (2), who I seem to remember scored the winner in that cup final way back in the mists of April.
Yeah, it's a bit of a slow news day (new shirts now on sale!), which is why this paragraph is about Michael Boulding. Not that Boulding is unworthy of comment, as there can't be too many people who have left their careers as high-ranking British tennis players to enter professional football with Mansfield Town, then move on to Grimsby and score a hat-trick against Wimbledon shortly before scoring for Aston Villa in the Intertoto Cup, returning to Blundell Park and then pursuing Premiership ambitions with Barnsley, only to reject a contract offer from Crewe to retire from football and go into business, and then return to football with Rotherham. Not by the age of 30, anyway. The player is now on trial back at Mansfield, where he has already scored against Derby in a friendly and brought his 17-year-old brother for a kickabout as well. So there's never a dull moment for the former Quick Mick! Apart from playing for Aston Villa, I suppose. That must have been really dull.
From a former tennis player to a current tennis journalist, Stephen Bierley (though, like Boulding, he does other sports as well), who has emailed the Diary thusly. "Even though the MMs have yet to kick a ball in real anger (i.e. played Boston) it's good to know that Rodger (and out?) is already 71st in the longest-serving managers list on the League Managers' Association website. Worringly (or not) Mr R Slade does not appear on the list at all, so may have already fallen into a Somerset levee. Should we be told? Probably not, but watch out in those parts for something shiny bobbing near the surface. It may not be a lily pad." Indeed, Stephen, and how fitting it would be if Slade has mysteriously gone missing, since that's exactly what his players did during his final game in charge of the Mariners.
Wednesday 19 July
When Curtis 'Eye Of The Tahgers' Woodhouse arrived at Blundell Park during January's transfer window Town's then manager Russell Slade had to make a decision as to who would make way for him in the centre of midfield. Ciaran Toner had played well but could be moved out to a wide position where he would play badly, but never mind. Jean-Paul Kalala had played well but was away at the African Cup of Nations, and Slade wouldn't have to worry about his relationship with the player afterwards as JPK would be out of contract at the end of the season and the two would never work together again. The one player not even Slade would have considered dropping was Paul Bolland, who enjoyed a consistently magnificent season and has now been rewarded for his efforts with an extended contract. As ever with the Mariners, though, nothing is quite as straightforward as that. The club's official website reported yesterday that Bolland's new deal would keep him in Cleethorpes until 2008, but has changed its tune today and now insists that the player will stick around until 2009. The third possibility is that both pages contain a series of typographical errors and the story actually concerns a playful black and white stray cat turning up at the club shop and miaowing the theme from Rentaghost every time a season ticket is sold.
The round of strains and twinges that tends to afflict the Mariners' playing squad a week or two into every pre-season has returned for 2006, with the club reporting a host of injury doubts for tomorrow night's stroll in the sunshine, also known as the Lincolnshire Cup. Sir John McDermott, Tom Newey, Slimline Jones the ex-Lump and Sergeant Whittle are the players who may join Luton's Michael Reddy on the sidelines when Lincoln come a-visiting, and former Imp Ciaran Toner is on compassionate leave following a family bereavement. No mention is made of Gary Cohen, who is now rumoured to be missing in action following a game of hide and seek during Town's recent RAF training camp in Suffolk and may still be squatting in the corner of a shipping container at Felixstowe docks.
It is concerning the players' recent game of soldiers that the Diary has received an email from Nigel Hardy (who maintains a nicely written blog in between travelling the world), and with it a clipping from the newspaper that covers the area in which they were stationed. "I thought you'd appreciate this article about our favourite team ('Girmsby Town') from the Bury Free Press (that's Bury St Edmunds)," explains Nigel. "Sir John McDermott seems to have been affected by the nuclear/biological shenanigans, if the caption is anything to go by. And Rodgerses gets another misspelling." Here it is, then, folks. If nothing else, it should make the people who do Town's official website feel a bit better...
Tuesday 18 July
You know those rumours about Paul Bolland leaving? Course you do. They've been everywhere, those rumours. Every time you buy a pint of milk, the lady behind the counter in the shop is all "oooh, yeah, Paul Bolland is leaving Grimsby, y'know". Every time you go down the pub, the next table is all "oooh, yeah, Paul Bolland is leaving Grimsby, y'know". Every time you turn on the radio, it's all "oooh, yeah, war in the Middle East, but first: Paul Bolland is leaving Grimsby, y'know". What? Er, no me neither. But GTFC have announced that Town's midfield superstar is "expected" to sign an extended contract shortly, tying him to the club until 2008 and "will now put an end to rumours linking him with a move away from Cleethorpes". Either the club's crack web team has got its ears pressed much more firmly to the ground than you and I, then, or they've just skim-read a headline on Ceefax about the other Bolland who plays for Chester and got a bit confused.
The Diary is again privileged to receive a summary of one of Town's pre-season friendlies from Mr Tony Butcher. "It was a pleasure to see such sumptuous, one-touch, free-flowing passing and movement," writes Tony on last night's run-out against Doncaster. "A cohesive team, all for one and one for all, everyone comfortable in possession, ripping opponents to shreds, at will. It was beautiful to watch. Pity they wore red and white hooped shirts." The Mariners lost 2-0, in case you hadn't seen, with Donny pretty much bossing the game particularly down Town's left, where Booo Beagrie and Tom Newey offered little resistance and don't get him started on his namesake Fen Butcher. Rovers took the lead from a late first-half penalty when notorious referee Carl Boyeson bought a dive, and sealed it when Fen "stopped, sighed and shrugged" as the visitors passed all around him. Richard Evans is still here and did well in the second half; Danny Boshell remains in limbo with another performance of "nothing spectacularly bad or good". Phil Barnes did well. Peter Bore impressed again early on. Gary Harkins is going to get sent off three times before Christmas. Town were beaten by a better team from a higher division. Boooooo! And nobody knows where Gary Cohen is.
Hot enough for ya? Turn up the air conditioning and tune in to the ex files, baby, as the Diary desperately pieces together a third paragraph from the exploits of former Mariners. First and foremost, GTFC legend Glen Downey like GTFC legend Tony Crane before him appears to be wintering in Worksop while his agent weighs up the offers from Barcelona and Inter Milan. Paul Groves' role at Portsmouth will be coach of next season's reserve team, which will probably approximate to last year's first team as Dogface Redknapp splashes the foreign cash. And after an extended trial period, Thomas Pinault has signed for Brentford, subject to a medical. It's not every season I say this, but I'm really looking forward to Brentford playing Yeovil.
It's time to turn to the Diary's inbox, where we find an email from Guest Diary clarifying the composition of the Mentos/Cola bomb in response to Andy Holt's query yesterday. "The Mentos flavour is pretty immaterial," writes GD, "but some say that diet cola works better than regular. Less sticky when clearing up, anyway. Next week I'll tell you all about drain unblocker and aluminium foil a very explosive combination. Hehehe." Scared? I am.
Monday 17 July
If you've ever looked at Wayne Rooney and wondered what strange forces are at work to accelerate the ageing process of young males from the Mersey area, then your inquiry could extend to cover Francis Smith. Who? Yet another "tough-tackling, all-action" midfielder arriving for a trial with the Mariners, this time via the youth set-up at first division Liverpool. Smith may take part in Town's friendly against Doncaster tonight, speculates the club's official website alongside a brief biography of the player which, by a remarkable coincidence, reads almost identically to another one which comes up near the top when you google 'Francis Smith' and 'Liverpool'. By an even more extraordinary twist of fate, the OS has used the same photograph as well, in which the 18-year-old Scouser takes the appearance of a 44-year-old PE teacher. Hope he shows same maturity in performances, etc, joke about stamping on Portuguese bloke's bollocks, etc etc.
Another player shortly to arrive for a trial with GTFC is 16-year-old Oliver Harrison. Little Ollie has recently hit the headlines in his native Lancashire by recording a round at Greenmount Golf Club at four under par just one below the course record and lowering his handicap from 19 to three in just one season. It is the Diary's fond hope that the lad seizes his chance at Blundell Park with both hands and is delivered from the horrific clutches of golf forever after.
Oh Town won 1-0 at Gainsborough on Friday night, by the way. I nearly forgot! But you probably know by now anyway. Cod Almighty's mystery representative at the match oh, OK, it was Tony Butcher has reported to the Diary that the first half was a bit of a non-event for the Mariners, who were under constant pressure from the home side, but that the more-like-the-first-team line-up that emerged after the break did some good stuff, with yoof teema Peter Bore tricky down the right flank, the first flourishings of an understanding between Isaiah Rankin and Gary Jones up front, and an 'upper arm of God' winner from the Rankster following good work by Bore and Boooo Beagrie. There was "absolutely no hoofing or aimless punting," adds Tony excitedly. "The ball was played to Rankin's and Jones' feet and chest, with a supporting run around them. Toner is earmarked for the Cockerill/Groves 'bundling late runs from midfield' role. The ball was played to wingers, and the full-backs were supporting well. The emphasis was on passing, movement and crosses." Quick buy your season ticket while the discount period is extended! Unless you can't make Friday nights, obviously.
Town's friendly at Gainsborough is the subject an outraged email from Keith Collins. "They couldn't run a bath!" he fumes, referring not to GTFC's web team but to the BBC. "Listening to Radio 'Ull on Saturday morning to see how Town had got on at Gainsboro', it was reported that the GTFC match was postponed! And I pay my licence fee for this!" Don't get me started, KC! The Diary has only just started supporting public service broadcasting again after the debacle of the World Cup, and is in fact still severely traumatised by the match when France full-back Eric Abidal had not enjoyed the most successful opening 45 minutes and one member of the BBC's commentary team observed during the half-time break: "I could understand it if he was called Abigail!"
We remain with the Diary's inbox for the final item today: an email from Andy Holt asking simply: "What flavour Mentos?" Andy is referring to the recipe for high explosives carelessly given out on this page by Guest Diary last Friday, which has already resulted in my house being staked out by US intelligence agents wearing clichιd dark suits and sunglasses. I guess I'll have to hand this one over to GD, assuming he gets out of Guantanamo by the end of this week.
Friday 14 July
The task fell (by accident) to your Guest Diarist, and I waited until half time to find the right moment to do it. The evening was balmy, the lovely little ground that is called home by Lincoln United was as tranquil a place as you could imagine, and there was not much you could possibly find to say about the football that had just been played. "Nice to see David Gilberto again; Rankin looks old, though he isn't of course; the keeper hasn't inspired, although nothing can compare to the awful debut of Williams at Brigg can it?" "Oh, and Tony Syd has died". The look on ace Cod Almighty match reporter Tony Butcher's face would probably have reminded a Blade Runner replicant of the sound of galaxies dying. But even that could not spoil the evening. There is nothing quite like ambling along to the first publicised kickabout of the season. You come away with no bloody idea at all as to whether any of the new faces are any good or not, but as a match day experience you cannot beat a little non-League ground. Try it at Gainsborough tonight. I just know you'll love it especially the cafι where the pie, chips and peas combo is especially recommended by that bloke who used to edit the Cod Almighty postbag.
Town manager Mr Rodgerses has let it be known that he has been talking to "two well known central defenders". The official site also tells us that "Rodger, who would ideally like to have at least one more midfielder in his squad, has been in dialog with a player who played in League One last season." I will make no further comment, gentle reader, save to refer those pesky young scamps who write this stuff to a handy spelling guide.
Hiding their collective lights under a bushel as they do, it falls to me to endorse that fine eclectic set of alternatives to the Grimsby Town home gigs that the Cod Almighty staffers published this week. However, there remains a gap in this particular market until the first home game of the season - a gap I have resolved to fill by suggesting a series of home-based adventures that can be undertaken by bored readers. With Richard Dawson having skirted delicately around the fascinating subject of leg wrestling last week, I now urge you to make a coke bomb using these simple instructions:
Before I go I should mention that today and tomorrow are your last chances to get a season ticket at that low, low price the Telegraph tells us that Town have shifted 1,400 so far and the office is open until five today and for an hour in the morning from nine. See yer.
- Buy a cheap two-litre bottle of coke e.g. Roller Cola
- Empty it to the top of the label
- Have a spare set of clothes handy and take everything outside
- Drop four Mentos (sweets get 'em at Woollies) in to the bottle
- Run away fast. If you are really hard (and dextrous) put the top on the bottle first for an explosion as opposed to a fountain.
Thursday 13 July
Owing to clash with a jumble sale at the 3rd Cleethorpes Scouts' Hut on the corner of Cooper Road and Carr Lane, today's Diary has been moved back 24 hours to Friday. There are no apologies to any readers who have already bought computers and signed up for 12 months of broadband internet.
Wednesday 12 July
Doing things in the wrong order must run in the family. Just as Wayward Cousin Diary's spectacular career as a multiple teenage mother unfortunately preceded her education about birth control methods, so the Diary's publication yesterday occurred just before the news broke that Town had signed Gary Harkins. A 21-year-old midfielder, Harkins joins on a two-year deal from first division Blackburn Rovers, don't you know, where he never quite made the first team and was loaned out to three other north-western clubs the most recent being Blackpool in late 2005, where he scored twice in five appearances. The Mariners' official website has dipped into its big list of words to describe new players and come up with 'combative' again, suggesting red cards aplenty may be ahead so if he can just practise shots that hit the scoreboard on the Osmond stand, there'll be no need to bring Alan Pouton back.
From a new and untried GTFC midfielder we turn to one who played hundreds of times for the club, consistently excelling, scoring many vital goals and captaining the team throughout much of its most successful period of recent decades and yet was violently hated by sections of the Blundell Park 'support' even before he played for Scunthorpe. Granted, Paul Groves' term as Town manager was less impressive than his playing career but this has proved no obstacle to his appointment to the coaching staff at first division nouveau squillionaires Portsmouth (third photo from the top). Groves' admirers were unsurprised by the recent promotion to the Conference National of Stafford Rangers, where he had been employed as a player-assistant manager, but even they will admit to some shock that PG's fortunes have since turned upwards with all the sharpness of an Italian insult about your mum.
So what happened last night? Town won 1-0 at Lincoln United, that's what, their last-minute winning goal recorded by Nick Hegarty and perhaps inspired by a fear of being kept out of the first team by a man born before England won the World Cup. The club's official website notes merely that "several trialists" took part indeed, even the Ashby Avenue tannoy announcer gave up trying to keep track midway through the second half but the Grimsby Telegraph battles gamely to record their names. Two of these are unfamiliar: Tommy Stuart, who may or may not be Tommy Stewart, a former Kidderminster Harriers utility player now registered with Bewdley Town; and Louis Buckthorpe, who is probably Lewis Buckthorpe, a midfielder with Grimsby Borough. You'd hope not, really, if only because Boro used to be sponsored by the Telegraph and it'd be a terrible shame if they spelt his name wrong.
Tuesday 11 July
Grimsby 'til I die,
I'm Grimsby 'til I die,
I know I am,
I'm sure I am,
I'm Grimsby 'ti... BOOOOO RODGERS BOOOOOOO Y IZ U SININ PLAYAZ OFF SKUNFROP WE 8 SKUNFROP INIT!!! PETER BEADLES PLADE 4 SKUNFROP AN SCORD GOLZ 4 DEM AN WE 8 SKUNFROP INIT!!! AN HE WOZ ON TELE SAYIN VAT TOWN R CRAP!!! BOOOOO RODGERS MUPET IM NOT OFF 2 C TOWN NO MOR COZ TOWN R CRAP!!! MUMMY!!! BOOHOOHOO I WANT MY MUUUUUMMY!!!
If you are reading this in the North East Lincolnshire area and are wondering about that strange noise outside, then the news that Peter Beagrie has joined GTFC will make everything clear. It is the sound of teeth being gnashed and season ticket renewal forms being torn up. Beagrie, you see, has played for ten clubs in his long career, and one of them was Scunthorpe, and Scunthorpe is quite near Grimsby. Before his release at the end of last season the 40-year-old winger spent five years at Glanford Park, scoring a despicable 37 goals in getting on for 200 appearances. In a Mariners World interview, though, Beagrie not only neglects to wear a pantomime villain's fake moustache but comes across as articulate and likeable with a good understanding of the game, and insists that his recent past will not stand in the way of a successful spell at Blundell Park, where he has signed a one-year contract. "I see no reason why not," muses the player. "Every club that I've left, I've left on good terms because as well as the stuff that you can do on the ball, the trickery, I don't shy out of a tackle... The fact that I've come from Scunthorpe won't make any difference whatsoever." But we don't want old men who were born in Middlesbrough playing for us, do we? Oh.
The news of Beagrie's arrival causes editorial discomfort in today's Grimsby Telegraph, which leads its sports section with the story but refers, in a piece about tonight's friendly at Lincoln United, to John McDermott as "the oldest member of the Town squad". Grahams Rodgerses explains that he intends every member of his squad to get 45 minutes' play this evening, including the four trialists taken on by the club yesterday. Poor Danny Boshell, true to Town's form, has simply disappeared.
Monday 10 July
Natives of the North East Lincolnshire region are born with a genetic predisposition for concern over three key issues: the price of fish, the roadworks on the A16, A46 or A180, and the groin condition of Luton's Michael Reddy. The Hatters forward struggled for fitness and consequently form as Town's promotion bid dramatically faltered towards the end of last season, and as his injury recurred last week the player was sent home early from the team's pre-season global thermonuclear war training camp. "We have tried to ease Michael back in, but he started to feel it and we didn't want to push it any further," team manager Grahams Rodgerses has told the club's official website for an article which ends with a photo caption but doesn't have a photo.
But when one door closes, as we say in these parts, four more flap open in the stiff breeze off the Humber estuary and a quartet of new trialists are accordingly ready to strut their stuff at Blundell Park this week as Town shift their attentions from lethal biological weaponry to football. The OS lists them as: 23-year-old Sheffield Wednesday winger Richard Evans; Nigerian-born midfielder Chibuzor Chilaka, recently released by Notts County; "local lad" Will Clifford, a forward who has turned out for Louth United and North Ferriby; and Tony Stewart, who is "said to have been on the books" at Wolves. The latter seems a somewhat alarmingly cautious turn of phrase, and one is reminded of Southampton legend Ali Dia, who was "said to have been" a Senegalese international and cousin of George Weah. At least Evans should be who he says he is, as the player turned up for another trial at BP back in November but like so many other trialists before and after him didn't get to play a reserve game (in his case, it was a goalless draw at Scunthorpe) due to GTFC's failure to secure clearance from the FA because some mushy peas were stuck in the fax machine.
No further mention seems to have been made of Danny Boshell, the midfield hopeful who travelled to RAF Nuclear Apocalypse with the Town squad. For what it's worth, the Diary received mixed reports at the end of last week. Boshell's career began with Oldham, where one fan has recalled that he was "nicknamed Bambi" and added: "Looks like a ballboy could cut him in two. Occasionally plays well, is a creative midfielder. Only ever saw him have one good game: a 3-3 draw down at Blundell Park on Boxing Day about four years ago. He's crap." A fan of the player's last club Stockport, however, has told a member of the CA team: "Actually I liked Danny Boshell. I don't think he'll be a 'complete lemon', as you said strong in the tackle, has a good shot. I was quite upset when he was released as I think he had a lot to offer us." And speaking of creative midfielders whose departures are viewed with dismay, Thomas Pinault is having a trial with Brentford, who just missed out on promotion to the second division last season. CA contributor Mat Hare has emailed to point out that the account of this news given on Town's official website "says he left the club at the end of the 2006/2006 season, which was so short I can't even remember any of the games."
Lastly today, GTFC have declared that their pre-season fixture programme will culminate on Monday 31 July with a home game against second division Leeds. No announcement has yet been made on whether Ken Bates will insist upon travelling back to West Yorkshire afterwards with half the gate receipts in his wallet.
Friday 7 July
Hello friends, Durham Diary invading your privacy once again. Given the significance of today's date this is a suitably sombre diary coming your way from deepest Waltham. And while the world mourns those who died tragically in the terrorist attacks one year ago today, Grimsby Town fans the world over will feel a more specific pain, a more consuming grief. It is my deeply unpleasant duty to inform you that today marks the end of a glorious era. Ladies and gentlemen, Glen Downey has left the building.
Which is news of sufficient magnitude to put all other stories into perspective. If you care, it has also been confirmed today that both John Lukic and Jermaine Palmer have left the Mariners, having between them made a nice round number of appearances for Town. And midfielder Danny Boshell, formerly of Stockport County (for whom he made 28 league starts last season), Bury (on loan) and Oldham, is on trial with Town, having joined the players at the boot camp thingy.
And Pouton still hasn't signed.
Sorry this has been so dull today. I feel this is a time to say the things which need saying, then leave you all to deal with the shock, the pain and the disbelief in your own ways. Try to have a nice weekend.
Thursday 6 July
Hello, Miss Guest Diary here looking forward to the match coming up. A little tootle down to Lincoln seems an excellent way to start the pre-season build up.
Oh, you thought I meant the World Cup Final - well, of course I'm looking forward to that too, if only so that I can admire the talent which will be on show; something in short supply in the current England team. I was rather partial to Frank Lampard at one time, but then I heard him interviewed on the radio describing how he likes to do a bit of "light shopping" after training. That, and the fact that during the last few England games he couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo as the (rather odd) saying goes, has put me off him somewhat.
I have also been watching talent of a different kind during this last week. Sun, scenery and sprint finishes: what more could you ask from a sporting event. Did you know that the way to prevent saddle sores is to put a piece of lanolin-soaked chamois leather in your shorts? Somehow, washing windows will never feel the same again. Of course, the Brits aren't doing too well in this event either; or the tennis. Is there any sport we are good at these days? But I've got no room to criticise: my last competitive sporting performance was a netball match when I was 11 and I'm pretty sure my team lost.
But back to our boys at the boot camp. We heard yesterday how they were "making their way down an imaginary river through an imaginary minefield". Today the Telegraph tells us they also had to "use equipment to carry them over an imaginary gorge" I'm really hoping that doesn't make them think it's OK to make imaginary tackles and score imaginary goals next season. According to Rodgerses the week is not about fitness but about team-building. I'm all for that; let's hope it works. The official site has some pictures and, if you are a Mariners World subscriber, you can seeing action footage too. Footballers playing in gas-masks and chemical warfare suits brings a whole new meaning to the term 'solid defence'.
Keep that chamois in your shorts boys!
Wednesday 5 July
ATTENTION! Hi guys, Durham Diary here to lead you through today's virtual boot camp. And while you read the next paragraph I want you to straighten your legs out in front of you, lift your feet 30cm from the floor, and hold them there. I don't have a job, because nobody likes to employ students for a few weeks in the summer, but if you're reading this at work do it anyway. And SIT UP STRAIGHT, that's an ORDERRRRRRRR!
Really today's first piece of news is the really interesting news of what the Town players have really been up to at this really good boot camp thingy. "It's really hotting up for the Grimsby Town players as they were really put through their paces at boot camp on day two," proclaims the OS. Asking footballers to use their brains is a bit like asking Andy Parkinson to use his height and composure, but apparently that's exactly what those hardy RAF types did for a 'Military Activities' session yesterday. According to the walking-talking teddy bear that is Grahams Rodgers, the players "had to find their way down an imaginary river and through an imaginary minefield." I, for one, am pleased that at least some of this boot camp malarkey is directly relevant to the season ahead, if only so that the players are prepared for playing at Spotland.
You can stop doing that leg thing now if you want. If I've given you deep vein thrombosis then sue me. I'll pay you £4 compensation, but you'll have to cover the legal costs yourself.
Dig out those Speedos, dip your goggles in the water, and see if you can get one of those silly hats on your head without ripping it or cutting off the blood supply to your brain. You guessed it, we're going swimming. Or at least the players are, as today's activity is a swimming gala. Let's hope it's a nice big pool with Fen Butcher around! Also on today's itinerary is military training, using live ammunition. Considering the current lack of players on Grimsby's books, this would be distinctly worrying had Grimsby players failed to hit each other consistently since Alan Buckley departed.
While Rodgerses is away the mice come out to play, and never was this more evident than today with the news that Mr Fenty and co have been gnawing holes in the woodwork of the board room whilst trying to convince an unnamed midfielder to sign for Town. I won't tell you that it's Alan Pouton returning from Gillingham in case it isn't, but if it is you heard it here first. And while I go to slip a brown envelope to my informer I'll leave you all to contemplate whether Pouton and Bolland would play as well together in a 4-4-2 as Gerrard and Lampard, or whether Justin Whittle would have to be deployed in a playmaker role.
Hope you all have a nice day. My dad reckons there'll be a thunderstorm later on but I'm supposed to be playing cricket, so there'd better bloody not be. AT EASE!
Tuesday 4 July
Q: What's the difference between Big Brother, The X Factor and Grimsby Town FC? A: One keeps losing its mingers, one keeps losing its singers, and and the other keeps losing its wide midfielders! After the recent departure of Andy Parkinson and Junior Mendes to Notts County, Grahams Rodgerses is facing a proper old search to fill the flanks now that Marc Goodfellow has signed for Bury. 'Freezer', as people only called him on the internet, made ten league appearances for the Mariners, scoring once, and seemed to give the squad a certain creativity that was otherwise lacking, so it may surprise some to see the player being allowed to leave Blundell Park now that Rodgerses is promising a new era of flair, imagination, fun and adventure. On the other hand there are shades of Terry Cooke about Goodfellow's CV, so there may very well be sound non-football reasons for his eviction from the BP house.
WAAAAH! In tribute to Siberian tennis ace Maria Sharapova, who is due on court at Wimbledon any minute now, this paragraph of the Diary will be punctuated with WAAAAH! those strange sounds she makes while playing which are too high-pitched to be called grunts. There's still a month until the season begins, and Notts County have already signed all the dross, so things are looking good for WAAAAH! Town's search for new players and there's no need to panic. Just because the players and manager are learning how to build a dirty bomb, doesn't mean the squad-building is on hold, and according to the club's official WAAAAH! website, Graham Rodgerses "will be speaking to a midfield player later today". It is to be hoped that this means a midfield player who doesn't play for the club already and who the club is trying to sign, rather than signifying merely that the manager is having a little natter with Paul Bolland about where they went on their WAAAH! holidays.
New balls please. The last goalkeeper kept losing his swingers.
Things have been a little quiet on the Fentydome front recently so much so, in fact, that casual followers of the Mariners might be forgiven for thinking that the club has forgotten all about the fact that it wants to build a new stadium in all the hurry to reschedule next season's entire fixture calendar for Friday nights. Just to assure us to the contrary, then, a item on the OS urges us all to write letters to the local planning department telling them why the Fentydome and its associated retail centre are a completely brilliant idea and won't in any way attract to matches only a couple of thousand half-interested locals who will mostly trickle away by Christmas, still less suck away what little vitality and commercial vigour remain in Grimsby's town centre. All of which sounds a great idea to the Diary, but I will be prevented from taking part (for a reason that remains unexplained, you have to address your letters to the council but send them to Positive John) by my personal rule not to comply with any request that includes the word 'synergy'.
Monday 3 July
Just as Town's players are off to learn some useful lessons about germ warfare, the plague of Friday football is being revisited on the club's long-suffering supporters. Boom boom! As we know, GTFC and Torquay have already brought both their meetings next season forward by one day, without giving any reason why or seeking the views of fans. Now the Diary understands that, as was the case last season, Town games scheduled for the same Saturdays as forthcoming Ingerlund matches could be shifted as well. This would affect the home games against Macclesfield on 2 September, when Ingerlund will stutter to an unconvincing 2-0 home win over Andorra, and Peterborough on 24 March, when the national team will take an early lead in Israel only to be pegged back to a 1-1 draw. At least there's a reason for it this time, albeit a questionable one though it remains to be seen whether the club will ask its supporters about kicking off at Saturday lunchtime or on Sunday instead. Or what the hell for all that Steve McClaren's Ingerlund side is likely to entertain more than Grahams Rodgerses's Mariners, they could even just leave the fixtures as they stand.
Q: What do Grimsby Town's youth system and R.E.M. have in common? A: Neil Woods plays a black and white Rickenbacker. Er, I mean both turned out some decent stuff in the 1980s and early 1990s but have done chuff all worthwhile for about the last ten years. Yeah, that's it. But while the American alternative rock band should have just given up quietly some time ago, the Mariners' nursery needs to keep on trying, and over the weekend four of its latest products agreed new contracts. Miles Chamberlain, Ben Higgins, Danny North and Paul Ashton all signed new deals keeping them at Blundell Park for another six months, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that they will turn out to be the footballing equivalent of Reckoning or Automatic for the People rather than Around the Sun, but then the youth team did win that cup last season, so maybe Armthorpe Welfare needn't reach for the phone just yet.
So much for Mariners of the future; what of those from the past? Rob Jones thought he was just joining Hibernian for the money, but the quite big central defender has already fulfilled two further ambitions at Easter Road which could almost certainly never have been accomplished in North East Lincs: playing alongside former GTFC trialist and man of many spellings Amadou Konte, and going close with two headers in an Intertoto Cup tie against Dinaburg Daugavpils. You've got to think of your family. And your agent's family. Junior Mendes, meanwhile, has joined the swelling ranks of former Mariners at Notts County, where new manager Steve Thompson has described him as offering "strength, experience and goals" which of course he does, in the same way John Prescott offers pacifism, marital fidelity and intelligible spoken English.
Just as Grahams Rodgerses is scouring the many corners of the globe to bring you new players, so the Diary scans the media of the world to bring you new stories. So it is that we learn of John Foster, a Town fan who moved to the US four years ago to marry a woman he met online and who watched Ingerlund's predictable recent exit from the World Cup on TV in a laundrette in southern Maine. Diary reader Pat Bell has also come across John's story, and emails to point out that the report "may have said Grimsby is in the Humber estuary, which suggests we may have a waterlogged pitch for the start of the season". Perhaps so, but it'll still be drier than Spotland.
"Be positive!" begins another email to the Diary, not, as might be supposed, from John Fenty but from Ian Jackson, who continues: "I was as positive as I could be, and we get let down... how long do we have to wait for that performance where 'everything clicks'? Sorry, I'll clarify... I'm not talking Cardiff in May: I'm talking Gelsersomewhere in July!" Indeed, the parallels between Eriksson's underachieving Ingerlund side and Slade's underachieving Mariners are many, Ian. Though I don't remember this, Mrs Diary swears blind how I predicted a month ago that the national team would lose on penalties in the quarter-finals and that Rooney lad would get sent off; incidentally, the Diary also won back the considerable price of my ticket for the play-off final by betting on the match's final score. Get in!