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Diary - June 2006
Friday 30 June
Hi guys! Durham Diary here today, wasting away a warm, wonderful day in Waltham. And first of all I'd like to hit back at claims by Mr Diary yesterday that I was being accompanied by a percussionist of any description in my email. If you look at the average audio assistance for emails sent to the Diary in the last week, you'll find I was actually under the average, and still managed to achieve a mention in the last paragraph yesterday.
Our esteemed chairman Positive Johnson today took the unprecedented, and highly commendable step of going, well, negative. "Chairman hits back" is the very defensive title carried on the OS today, linked to the story of how former manager Russell Slade reckons he finished fourth in the table with one of the four lowest budgets in the division, and Five Star Fenty has called him an egg-headed liar (my words, not his). Mr Fenty points out that the average wage budget for the fourth division last year was £0.9m (my 0, not his), before raging: "Grimsby Town's budget was just short of £1.1 million for the season, a sum that was affordable otherwise it would have been less." Clearly the Mariners' supremo couldn't maintain all that negativity for too long, as his eyes soften and he adds: "It is more likely that it was a top four budget, that is a credit to our fans coming to the games, and the way our administrative staff keep the costs down and commercial income up." That's more like it.
Because I've only found one story so far, I'm going back to the OS, and indeed back to the same article. But I won't tell you that bit. Apparently Town's wage bill went up by the not negligible amount of £6,500 per week over the January transfer window last season. On 1 January Town were second in the league, five points clear of the team in fourth, and with a game in hand that would take them top if they won it. At the end of the season they weren't. I know, I know, I'm sorry. You've had enough negativity for one day.
Which is about all I have to tell you today, except perhaps that former Mariner John Ward has signed a five-year contract at Cheltenham. You can draw your own conclusions on winning the play-off final and getting contracts. I don't really care, but think it would be interesting what a period of stability would achieve at Town. Hope you enjoy the football tomorrow I'll be watching when ever I get the chance around a cricket match. And enjoy the sunshine. Be positive!
Thursday 29 June
By 'eck, lad, tha'd best not be carryin' on wi' t' anti-Yorkie chants next season, else tha'll reet unsettle t' new goalie! It is in honour of the Mariners' latest signing Phil Barnes that today's Diary begins with that shockingly poor rendition of Yorkshire dialect, as the player has already given an interview to Mariners World which begins with a confession that "I were born in Sheffield" and includes the recollection that "I used to come here as a kid! Me mum and dad used to bring me for t' day." Barnes is a 27-year-old goalkeeper and played 170 of his career's 183 first-team games during a seven-year stint at Blackpool before joining Sheffield United in 2004. So far as the Diary has been able to ascertain, he was generally well thought of by Blackpool fans, who were often critical of former manager Steve McMahon for fielding loan signings ahead of him, though there were those who felt the player needed to take more command over his defence. Any road, Barnes has signed a three-year contract after Town and the Blades agreed an "undisclosed fee" (£150,000 then, presumably), and with any luck he will resemble the holiday destination of his youth Beacholme, Cleethorpes in representing reet good value.
Before I sign off for the week and hand you over, as is my wont, to a reserve diarist for Friday, there remains the matter of a jocular email from one of those reserves the estimable Mr Durham Diary. "Pleased to see Sir McDermott has re-signed and not resigned. Is he allowed to collect his wage and pension simultaneously?" he quips playfully, tweaking his bow tie. "Has anyone told Grahams Rodger that if he appointed a number two he wouldn't have to work so hard? Everyone needs someone less important than themselves, so they can delegate the dirty work. I can't be arsed to find out you can do this one Diary," concludes Durham, as a nearby drummer goes "ber-dum-tschhhh".
Wednesday 28 June
Let us hang bunting from the lampposts. Let us party in the streets. Let us binge-drink ourselves into a coma. Today is a day for celebration, as every right-thinking Grimbarian and Meggie-arian will be elated to learn that, far from retiring from professional football, Mariners hero Sir John 'Sir John' McDermott has signed a contract keeping him at Blundell Park for an incredible 21st season. After turning out in Town's friendly against Blackburn last summer, the Great One promptly informed Radio Humberside that the 200506 campaign would be his last, but has now shifted his course by precisely 180 degrees, having put his name to a new year-long deal with the club and told the Grimsby Telegraph: "I had some interest from elsewhere and, to be honest, I was starting to feel my time had come to leave. But it's better the devil you know and I'm happy to still be here." Macca has now not only made a contribution to the cause of Grimsby Town FC that is unlikely ever to be paralleled by any future player: he has also proved the Diary's long-suffering driving instructor wrong by demonstrating that it is not necessarily a bad thing to perform a spectacular U-turn.
This time last year the Mariners were about to begin a reality TV-like week of 5am cold showers at an army boot camp in Cambridgeshire. This was credited by some for the team's strong start to the subsequent season to the extent that promotion would have been a near certainty had they not been knackered by the following spring and the club's series of pre-season link-ups with the military services continues next week as the players report for duty at RAF Honington in Suffolk (insert joke here about aerial bombardment and Russell Slade's style of football). The Grimsby Telegraph reports that Town's players will do some swimming, boxing and assault course type stuff, adding intriguingly that "the base is home to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiments and some of the sessions will reflect that area of expertise". The Diary is, of course, a lifelong pacifist, but if getting out of this division means rolling up your sleeves, infecting Boston United's midfield with a lethal strain of anthrax and detonating small but devastating items of atomic weaponry in Chester's 18-yard area then so be it.
Two days after the unfathomable announcement that both of Town's games against Torquay next season would be played on Fridays, a third fixture has now been moved away from the Saturday afternoon it was scheduled for but this time there is a reason for the rearrangement. Hereford's visit to BP, originally pegged for 7 October, will now take place on Sunday 8 October instead, as it is to be televised live in glorious Murdochvision, kicking off at 4pm. Regardless of our feelings about the traditional timing of matches, we might at least find solace in the knowledge that Town will be very unlikely to play as badly as they did last time they were on the telly.
Tuesday 27 June
Q: What's the difference between John McDermott and Top of the Pops? A: One stopped being any good a long time ago, if it ever was, and the people in charge are quite right to have got rid of it at last, and the other is Top of the Pops. Oops, I mean John McDermott! Heh! Macca, of course, is still good despite being very old, and having seemingly changed his mind about retiring last season the patron saint of Grimsby has now been offered a new contract to remain at Blundell Park for a record-extending 20th or 21st season or whatever it is. The club's official website reports that the terms on the table are "substantially improved", but quite understandably fails to mention that Macca was on knack all last season and only signed up at all a year ago because of the promise of the 'benefit match' against Hull last October. The other difference is that Status Quo didn't appear on John McDermott 87 times, but that doesn't concern us here.
After the acquisition yesterday of Isaiah 'Don't Mess Around Because He Loves The Town And This I Know Fo Sho' Rankin, recently appointed GTFC boss Grahams Rodgers is now hoping to add a goalkeeper to the ranks. According to the OS, La Rodge's target is "an unnamed Championship goalkeeper", and in a Mariners World interview the manager says he is "working me socks off" to bring in new players. Let's hope My Sweet Lord is replaced sooner rather than later, then, because we know what happens when you leave it to the last minute to sign a keeper and take one on trial and they play really badly against Brigg Town but there are no other options left so you have to sign them anyway, don't we, eh?
You don't know what you've got until it's gone - especially when what you've got are an alleged criminal and a proven student of criminology. Recently departed centre-half Rob Jones, according to the Scotsman newspaper, spent the final year of his Mariners career working towards a degree in crime and disorder, while alleged former footballer Curtis Woodhouse is reported by the redoubtable Driffield Today to be facing charges of assaulting a police constable. The alleged incident allegedly occurred in Bridlington on 30 April (the day after Town's season-squandering failure to play football at Macclesfield) and Mr Woodhouse is alleged to have appeared in court wearing a black suit and yellow tie. Sceptical Grimsby fans always suspected the Eye of the Tahger's footballing inclinations to have remained towards the north bank of the Humber, and now Curt seems to have shown his true colours. Did you see what I did there?
And finally today, lots of managers are trying to sign Junior Mendes. One of them is the new Notts County boss Steve Thompson who apparently likes shooting people, though the Diary is uncertain as to the relevance of this detail while another is the new Yeovil Town boss Mr Russell Slades, who you'd think would know better. Not seemingly among them, you may be interested to learn, is Grahams Rodgers. Relieved? Thought so. Now all he needs is to sign up Marc Goodfellow instead.
Monday 26 June
If everyone drowns when the ship goes down, do you blame (a) the brave mariners who gave of their deepest reserves of strength to get the lifeboats out; or (b) the daft bastards who built cardboard lifeboats? Few figures emerged with any credit from Town's catastrophic 200304 relegation season: one was Grahams Rodgerses, finally installed as permanent manager two years and three months too late, while another was Isaiah Rankin, the forward brought in from Barnsley for a loan period that was hindered by injuries but still reaped four goals from 12 games not bad at all in such a rubbish team. Though GTFC slipped out of the third division, Rankin stayed up, signing for Brentford 25 months ago, where his name hit the scoresheet 19 times in the two seasons since, before he was released this summer by the Bees' new manager Leroy Rosenior. What? Oh. Er, he's just signed for the Mariners on a two-year contract. Booooo Rodgers boooo, signing good players with all of six weeks to go until the new season begins.
Speaking of the new season, Grimsby and Torquay have switched the two matches they will play as a part of it from Saturday afternoons to Friday nights. A statement on the Mariners' website declares offering no explanation as to why that the home game has been brought forward a day to Friday 22 December while the away fixture moves from 27 to 26 January. The Diary had been planning for some time to attend the match at Torquay next season, as Plainmoor is a ground I have never previously visited, but like most other Town supporters I will now be unable to do so. It's another result for Friday football.
Four may be the number of Mariners fans who will be cheering on the side at Torquay come 26 January 2007, but it is also the number of pre-season fixtures the club has lined up for this summer now that a visit from second division Stoke City is on the agenda. To meetings with Doncaster (17 July), Lincoln (20 July) and Rotherham (24 July) has been added a rendezvous with the Potters, who will visit Blundell Park on 28 July. Admission to these friendlies is priced at a more reasonable five pounds again now that the tax people are off Town's case and they got a few quid for Rob Jones.
If Tony Blair and George W Bush are men with blood on their hands, Dan Humphrey is clearly a man with time on his, as he is the only reader to have emailed about the challenge set by Lastminutedotcomdiary last Friday to name all the BBC and ITV World Cup pundits who have played against Town. That said, even Dan balks at naming them all, declaring simply: "There are so many; if pundits includes commentators. How about who HAS not played against Town?" I think he's put the wrong word in capitals there. "Gabby Logan, Leonardo, Ray Stubbs, Jim Rosenthal," begins Mr H, clearly having overlooked Leonardo's ill-fated loan spell with Macclesfield Town in 2004.
Friday 23 June
There are two kinds of people in this world, Graham Poll: those with loaded guns and those who dig. Here's the spade.
This is Lastminutedotcomdiary, dredging up your daily dose of Grimsby-infused football triviata in these dark days of departing first teamers. Frustrated by the refusal of Russell Slade to select "the Frenchman", Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalalanolonga no longer plays for Town. He's signed for an empathetic manager who understands his unique talents and will play him more often. He's a Glover lover now. Footballers' logic eh?
Graham Rodger didn't get the Town job in 2004 because he didn't have contacts. Two years on, he's "sorted it". He knows where to meet like-minded people: speed dating evenings, possibly in deepest Derbyshire. Tall man with wild staring eyes, and a strong urge to fly up the league, WLTM tough tackling midfielder with GSOH. Grez/Rodge/Grodger/Rodgerses has met an unnamed midfielder and an evening of chicken chaat is set for the weekend. Let's hope that difficult second date goes well.
The OS is dripping teasers of signings to come, though they always seem to be just around the next corner. There's plenty of time before the season starts, no need to panic just yet. Next Wednesday would be a good day to start panicking.
It isn't all doom and gloom, for turning to our financial pages we see that the Football League have won that court case. You know, the one where the solicitors to the Football League were being sued for being rubbish over ITV Digital. Orange Juice John was, you may further recall, successful in ensuring that Town would get their appropriate cut of the £150m winnings. The court ruled that the solicitors were negligent on both counts and awarded damages. Of £4. After deducting legal fees that amounts to a cheque for 0.032p flying towards Town some time in July. So that's good news: we can afford to keep Glen Downey for another few days. Incidentally, where is Glen Downey?
Never mind judges being soft on paediatricians, pedagogues and pedestals: this is the Knut Anders Fostervold of the law.
Last week the Diary challenged you, the reader, to list the World Cup players who'd played against Town. This weekend's homework is the flip side of Dominic Cork: which of the ITV/BBC World Cup pundits have played against Town? Email email@example.com with your answers.
And finally, the skateboarding duck: Lee Nogan is the new manager of Whitby Town.
Thursday 22 June
Remember when Alan Buckley left for West Brom? And we all had two months of nightmares that the great big Baggies' awesome spending power would finance an immediate £500,000 swoop for Town striking hero Clive Mendonca, only for Buckley's first act of cherry picking to be a rather less terrifying £30,000 swoop for permanently crocked Welshman Tony Rees? Yeovil's Russell Slade has already somewhat outstripped his illustrious predecessor, however, by stealing away the brilliant Steve Mildenhall, followed it up by rescuing ex-Mariner Terrell Forbes from his unimpressive stint at Oldham, and has now snaffled Jean-Paul Kalala from Town's flimsy grasp. Popular midfielder JPK has signed a one-year contract at Huish Park and is now set to strut his stuff on the grander stage of the third division assuming, of course, that nothing really bizarre and unlikely stands in his way, such as Slade dropping him from the team as soon as he has a chance to sign a higher-division replacement looking to play out the last few weeks of his career before becoming a professional boxer.
There's a lot to be said for tradition. Town playing in red socks. Grimsby getting a Christmas tree as a present from Norway, or whatever it is. And "Snickers" still sounds stupid to the Diary. But traditions are never fixed: sometimes old customs are replaced by new ones, and so it is that the fixture list for 200607, published today, has preserved the Mariners' recent tradition of a bank holiday match against Lancashire opposition rather than return to the past for a local derby. New Year's Day will see Rochdale visit Blundell Park, while Easter Monday institutes a completely new tradition by bringing Wycombe up to the Humber for a pulsating Lincs/Bucks clash. Proceedings take a slightly more local turn on the opening day of the season, Saturday 5 August, when Boston travel up the A16, but the fish and chips derby is too recent a phenomenon if indeed it can be deemed a derby at all to really get the blood racing. If the sad death of bank holiday derby matches is because the police have to be paid double time for working bank holidays then perhaps Cod Almighty should organise a whipround to pay them a bonus if they manage to throw Steve Evans out of the ground again.
Ahead of the teams' forthcoming encounter in the League Cup, Crewe have already taken a psychological advantage over GTFC in the bad web publishing stakes. According to an unofficial Railwaymen site, Town "endured a good run" in the competition last season well, Grimbarians can't stand it when things go well and there's nothing to complain about while the opponents' official website does far worse, partly by chucking random capital letters around like there's no tomorrow but mostly by rendering the name of the Mariners' new manager as "Grayham Rodgers". Town's OS has its work cut out to keep up with these guys.
Speaking of which, Dan Humphrey has emailed the Diary regarding the club's new service whereby existing holders can renew season tickets online. "Tried to buy a season ticket for the 'Osmound Stand'," writes Dan, "but it wouldn't let me." The Diary had a look at this earlier on and won't be using it because the entry of personal data does not appear to be protected by a secure server. It's nice to know they've got one thing right though, even if that thing isn't the names of stands in the ground that the club has called its home for 107 years.
Today's second email comes from Guest Diary, who has found an interview with Grayham Rodgers somewhere in which the new boss explains: "I've got a couple of key players to replace and I'm working very hard to do that. I've made a couple of enquiries and they've spoken to their respective managers, but I'm in no real rush." Guest D comments in turn: "The first sentence sounds all right. But I'm worried by the second one." Well, I'd sooner see a manager wait around and get the right players than panic-buy Jermaine Palmer, but with Russell Slade clearly on a mission to thwart the Mariners' every move (yesterday's Grimsby Telegraph having reported that Rodgerses wanted to keep Andy Parkinson; check out the nesbits while you're at it) the Diary can certainly see your point.
Before I leave you in the hands of a guest diarist for tomorrow (who may, or may not, turn out to be the aforesaid Guest Diary) there's just time for some World Cup news, and Newcastle parasite Freddy Shepherd says he "nearly vomited" when he saw Michael Owen injure his knee while playing for England on Tuesday night and reckons the insurance money heading his way from the FA "isn't high enough". Funny really, since Shepherd and his family took £5.5m out of the club in share dividends from 1998 to 2005, and Shepherd's annual salary rose from £23,533 in 1999 to £717,145 in 2004; and when Newcastle fans discover these figures a lot of them tend to feel quite sick as well.
Wednesday 21 June
Those who believe Andy Parkinson has never scored enough goals at Blundell Park are sure to be proved wrong next season when the jug-eared winger returns to Cleethorpes with his new club Notts County and puts four past the hapless replacement for Steve Mildenhall. GTFC aren't saying whether Parky was offered terms to stay but turned them down to become a Pie, or might later have been offered terms to stay but Graham Rodgerses didn't get round to it before he went on holiday, or was never ever going to be offered terms to stay, like not even if we were being eaten by wild dogs. Whichever is the case, the player has become one of several in recent years to swap one set of black and white stripes for another, with Mike Edwards preceding his journey from BP to Meadow Lane and the splendid Paul Bolland having made it in reverse last summer. Some of the pint-sized scamperer's 13 goals for the Mariners were lovely things to watch, but even as his spell with the club drew to a close with three excellent performances in the fourth division play-offs, Town fans remained divided between those who found Andy Parkinson bloody infuriating and those who found him really bloody infuriating.
If the spills of Town's 200506 campaign took place at Sincil Bank and the Millennium Stadium, the thrills mainly occurred in the League Cup, where the War of Shearer's Lip was of course preceded by two dead good wins over Tottenham and Scab Derby. Reason I mention this, of course, is partly because it was a lot of fun and partly because the draw for the first round of next season's competition has been made already, and the Mariners have been given a home tie against Crewe, who have just been relegated from the second to the third division, but whose fans aren't having a massive strop and shouting "boooo, Gradis out" and stuff, strangely enough. The match "is likely to be played", reports the official site, on Tuesday 22 August, unless it gets moved to a Friday.
Season ticket holders will be spending the week sifting through the plethora of forms and flyers that constitute the renewal pack unless they've been unnaturally keen and done it all already. A comparison table in the pack tells us that Town's prices will still be among the cheapest in next season's fourth division, undercut by only a handful of clubs such as Macclesfield Town, Darlington, Rochdale and "Stockpoty County". The covering letter from the club chairman goes on to announce a sponsorship deal with a brewery described by Mr Fenty as "an exciting new venture". It is surely to the benefit of the club that the chairman gets such a big kick out of these things, but if Blundell Park selling a slightly different kind of rubbish lager next season counts as exciting then the Diary fears for the health of John's heart should he ever go waterskiing or skydiving or something.
Among the Diary readers who sent despairing emails this way during Cod Almighty's recent downtime was Nick Meaney. "Like other fans, you may be suffering from a Mildenhall-departure-inspired breakdown," he wrote. "Quite understandable. I hope it's fixed soon. I miss it." Thank you Nick; I hope you feel better now. Perhaps inevitably, meanwhile, it is Dan Humphrey who has taken up the challenge of naming all the players at the World Cup who have played against Town. Unlike Paul Robinson, Dan makes a reasonable fist of it, producing 29 names although a number of these are speculative, and the Diary is fairly sure John 'The Statue' Terry and Frank 'Super Goals' Lampard have never been tested by the likes of Jonny Rowan and Des Hamilton. Tony Butcher's pick of 37 players remains the benchmark: can anyone pick him up on anything?
Lastly today, Mike Harrison has emailed again with "a further thought on the Rodger/Rodgers saga. Our man could be hoping to emulate the great deeds of his illustrious American relative Roy. Not only would he have a choice of ready-made assistants Dale Evans, Trigger and Bullet the alsatian he could serenade the supporters over the Blundell Park High Power Disco Speaker System. That should bring back the thousands of missing fans." Thanks, Mike. Any more for any more, or do we need to move on now?
Tuesday 20 June
During my time off from Cod Almighty duties the Diary took the opportunity to look around a little. I went down to some dark places. I saw some scary things. Things that make you doubt your own sanity and wonder whether there's any point carrying on. Things that make you wonder whether planet Earth might not be a better place all round if the whole of humanity were suddenly wiped out, such are men's folly, blindness and wilful depravity. Then when I'd finished looking at the messageboard on Town's official website I watched Big Brother and cheered up no end.
Sorry, anyway, that you have been without not only the Diary but the entire body of this website for the past couple of days. It's not our fault! We had a massive email from the server people saying it's not their fault either, and trying to say whose fault it was, but I sort of switched off after the first few words, uncertain whether I was reading English, double Dutch, xml, C++ or just plain gobbledegook. Maybe that was the idea, eh?
Fortunately, very little seems to have been happening in my absence in the DN35 postal code district the one exception being Steve 'Steve' Mildenhall's departure from Blundell Park and subsequent arrival at the Huish one. The Western Daily Press has today revealed that the grace of My Lord was being sought by an amazing 13 clubs possibly because his performance in the play-off final was made to look even better by the shite served up in front of him and he was "bombarded with calls" from managers yesterday even as he headed down to Yeovil to do the dotted line thing. It is to be hoped that the former (sob!) Town keeper's car is equipped with a hands-free kit of some description, since the law is now very clear about the use of mobile phones while driving even for a man of Mildenhall's quick reactions.
Season tickets are on sale for the Mariners' third consecutive season in the bottom division, and it will come as little surprise that the club is claiming that sales are going really well. The official announcement of excellent season ticket take-up is now recognised by Town supporters as an annual ritual, as much a part of the British summer as Wimbledon, food poisoning and fat, sweaty crimson men walking around with no top on.
The Diary and the Cod Almighty server are not the only ones returning from an extended break, as new GTFC team manager Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger is back and can be expected to show his pale, eyelinered face at Gulliver's any Tuesday night now. His comment "I never liked the sun that much anyway," is the highlight of a long interview given by Town's gothic coach to Mariners World today, which otherwise tells us little we didn't already know. Rodge is clearly a more articulate man than his predecessor, Russell 'I Could Get Any Female Off The Street' Slade, but his MW debut seems to achieve little more than stating the obvious, with a double "no easy games" clichι and an observation that the areas of the squad most in need of strengthening are the ones that are weakest. This may be unfair, as deeper insights may have been lost beneath the constant buzz and crackle of the fiver-from-Mad-Harry's microphone used by the club's premium web service assuming it wasn't 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' or 'She Sells Sanctuary' playing in the background.
There'll be more from the Diary tomorrow then, God and WWWserver willing. It's nice to be back!
Friday 16 June
Citizens Advice Bureau Diary here, taking a break from the real world of Carol Vorderman-induced debt to bring you all the latest news from Blundell Park. This is a first for me and possibly for you, dear reader, as CAB Diary is actually resident in Grimsby. Hard to believe, eh? But what does this mean to you the punter? "Not a lot" can be the only response. But I am of course ideally situated to bring you all the news from that theatre of bad dreams Blundell Park. Taking the role of news gatherer rather too seriously, CAB Diary has earlier today visited said theatre of dreams to gauge pre-season activity. I am disappointed to report that I could have left my pre-season activity gauge at home. Mind you, it was only 8 o'clock in the morning, which is a bit early in the day for pre-season activity.
Seeing as season tickets go on sale on Monday, though, I was somewhat surprised to see no queue forming as yet. I would have thought getting season ticket number 1 would be top of any Town fans summer wish list. Who does get number 1? Does being first in line at 9am Monday mean you can legitimately call yourself Grimsby's number one fan? Or does the honour go to the first renewer out of the hat? You'd think I had nothing better to think of. It is of course an admirable leap of faith being one of the first to commit so early to the GTFC cause. Bit like getting tickets for a five-day rock festival when the line ups are yet to be announced. "I'll go anyway, just for the atmosphere" must be the thinking. Hmmmmm. Maybe not.
This has all been a rather roundabout way of saying "News? What news?" Sounds like a cue to let Jo Tilley enlighten us with her thoughts on the question of who could possibly play second fiddle to our brand new number one fiddle. Errr... did I phrase that badly? Anyway over to Jo, whose email says: "Further to Mike Harrison's email last week about Graham Rodgers and Cliff Richards, Town need look no further for their new assistant manager than world-famous science-and-funny-voicebox bloke Professor Stephen Hawking. His unique insights into advanced cosmology could get to work on the problem of how it is possible for Fen Butcher to occupy no space on the pitch while simultaneously occupying every space in the universe, and the fans could shout 'Booo! Sort it Hawkings!'"
One for the shortlist, surely? See you in the queue Monday, and whatever you do, don't listen to Auntie Carol. She may look like a nice girl but she's only after your money.
Thursday 15 June
Hello, and welcome from me, Capital Diary. As the eyes of the rest of the English nation this morning scoured the internet for news of Rooney's foot, those of a Mariners persuasion sat restlessly awaiting news too. Following a typical advert for the club's text service an announcement late last night on the official website stated that there would be news this morning of a second Grimsby signing. And we weren't to be disappointed. I can exclusively report that at 9:56am I received a text message confirming that, following Gary Croft's lead, Justin Whittle, Shearer-Slayer, has penned a new contract with the club, tying him down for another year. Good news, everyone.
Further good news comes from the mouth of Grodger's first signee, Crofty. In an interview with the local rag he makes all the right noises about next season, both personally and from a club's point of view. He's very positive about Grodger's appointment, which is good news, and reckons we'll see another side to the new boss. I'm not sure many fans will be sympathetic however, when he explains that Slade's failure to sign a new contract was the reason the players were crap on the run-in. Yeah. That'd be it.
And that's about it regarding news concerning the Mariners, I'm afraid. It's a dry old day. Although there is the fact, I guess, that you can watch the England match at McMenemy's tonight while eating "Fresh Grimsby Haddock" (so special it deserves to be capitalised) served with chips and mushy peas for only a fiver. Hmmmm, mushy peas. Oh, and I can just say "Who?"
So with nothing else to tell you about Town I thought I might turn elsewhere. And to begin it appears our near neighbours and perennial play-off drop-outs have appointed a successor to Big Keef. Following our lead they've promoted from within, with first team coach John Schofield being promoted to head coach. They've also brought in a director of football. How very progressive of them.
And speaking of progressive, next up is an excellent demonstration of fan power. Colchester recently announced they'd be playing a pre-season friendly against The Team Formerly Known As Wimbledon. But fans of the U's, not happy with that, decided to make known to the club their disappointment at the arrangement. And such was the volume of displeasure displayed that the club have backed down and cancelled the fixture. Good going all around, I reckon, although perhaps we should question the club for arranging the match in the first place.
And finally, a little quiz for you. In yesterday's coverage of Saudi Arabia v Tunisia it was noted that the Saudi record scorer Sami Al Jaber once played against Grimsby (during his Wolves days). We at CA Towers have spent much of this morning trying to create a definitive list of current World Cup squad members who have done likewise. I think we got to 24 when we stopped. Can you beat that? Mail answers to the Diary at the usual address.
Wednesday 14 June
Luton's Michael Reddy has rented out his hair to Croatia. FACT!
I didn't know that. Nor that the actual words of the Croatian national anthem are "We all follow Croatia over land and sea (and Yorkshire)". Weren't you watching the Brazil game with Ceefax subtitles then? Deviant Diary returns from the dark side of life (remember always look on the dark side of life) to urge humanity to End This Now. Burn John Motson, or at least cut out his tongue and hang it from a lamp-post down Blundell Avenue. Brazil are fat, lazy, arrogant and old, merely resting upon the aura of accumulated memories. We have Lumpaldinho, they have Lumpaldo: they may as well call the whole thing off.
These games come thick and fast, like a Motson bon mot. Who was it that had a player with a tarantula on his forehead. Or fancy a game of Pimpong? And what's it got to do with Town?
I'm glad you asked. Like hot rats in London, you're never more than six sentences away from a Town connection. Apparently last season's official 'Frenchman' was interviewed on Radio Five Live yesterday. Jean-Paul Kamustillhereifanyoneisinterestedala was asked for his detailed knowledge of African football, presumably for being African (having played for Doctor Congo) rather than for sitting on a bench in a Grimsby park. His association with Grimsby Town Football Club was referred to in the present tense. There you are: investigative journalism. You'd have had a world exclusive too last Friday, if the Cod Almighty editorial team had bothered to tell you that it's Peter Taylor's turn to ensure Crystal Palace fail. But it's less interesting, and less relevant to the football world, than a cat chasing a bear up a tree. Hey, it's a metaphor made flesh.
Time for some more reflections in a golden pond of warm beer and bobbies on bicycles two by two about Town's new kit. Horrid T-shirt time if you ask me. How did they come up with that? Scraping the bottom of Nike's washing basket, or maybe Positive John is a closet Star Trek fan. That may also explain our transfer policy in recent years. On Earth we call that missing, Junior.
Look, everyone is still on holiday watching the World Cup. There ain't no news, OK?
Is everybody happy? Oh never mind! No problem. There you are: more padding than Ronaldo's shorts.
Tuesday 13 June
Being Middle-Aged Diary, I am more or less old enough to write: "It weren't like this in my day," and it is perhaps with people like me in mind that the official site describes the new kit as "a new design in the traditional black and white stripes". For those of you not in a position to look, the very broad "stripes" look rather like quarters, running down the length of the shirt. The use of a model (that's the one in the home strip, not the away one, which resembles Arsenal's strip of last season) manages to duck such issues as what colour shorts and socks we'll be wearing. Now if they are ditching the red socks, that will get me impersonating a Grimbarian Fred Trueman.
The woman in the inappropriate footwear is not our first signing of the summer, but that sense of deflation when the word 'signing' is not used for a new player is today entirely inappropriate: that is the headline for the entirely welcome news that Gary Croft has signed a one-year deal to remain at Blundell Park. John Fenty also prompts us to expect more re-signings in the near future, perhaps including Steve Mildenhall.
More jam in the near future with the club having interviewed two prospective Graham Rodger number twos and expecting to appoint someone soon.
If watching the world's best players does nothing for you, you won't be at all interested in the news that pre-season matches against Doncaster, Lincoln and Rotherham have been lined up, and will probably just carry on watching the World Cup instead.
Which is what I am going to do now. Good luck.
Monday 12 June
Prepare yourself for a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest... to provide you with this week's diaries in the Diary's absence. Kendal Mintcake Diary reports for sentry duty today.
"Stop moaning." The Home Office has rejected that slogan. Chairman John, however, isn't going to let such a snappy line go to waste. Town's kingpin has returned from his arduous week at the Footie League AGM, his batteries fully recharged with positivity. All you pessimists out there beware: here's Johnny! And he's psychotically waving an axe through the front door of Blundell Park in the direction of all the miserable gets whinging about the appointment of Graham Rodgerers. Positive John reminds them how close Town were to promotion thanks to Rodergers' efforts as Bustle Slade's assistant. And all those who think the reserves winless season (which Rodgerers was in charge of) is a barometer of what is to come need to be told. The reason: a restrictive budget meant there was a lack of first team reserves, too many youngsters were asked to fill in and these games were frequented by numerous trialists who couldn't be arsed and/or were rubbish. And where are these people who wanted a big name manager and accused the club of going for the cheap option? I know not. Whoever said the easy, 'cheap' option is automatically the worst?
If you are in doubt as to who is under contract and who is not, then let your mind be at ease. The club's official site lists, in an idea not too dissimilar to a feature found elsewhere on the internet, such first-team luminaries as Jermaine Palmer and Glen Downey as being 'out of contract'. Those players who are still with Town seem to form a more than capable 'spine'. Maybe even Terry of Barwick. And, let us be positive: seven players under Rodgerers' control is three more than what Slade inherited two years ago. Now if we can get Parky and Goodfellow re-signed to provide width for Rodgerers' promise of on-the-floor more-attacking footie... oooo... I am purring like a pussy at the mere thought. Scratch between my ears, Ernst Blofeld.
Some News on which players will be Town's next season. A report yesterday says that Oh Lord Mildenhall is to decide on his future with Town "in the next few days". With the BBC concentrating on that World Cup TM thing you can excuse them for thinking Milds arrived from Oldham. Some fans love Tom Newey; others hate him. If you fall into the latter camp about the dawdling left-back, then you're going to have to raise your tolerance levels and seek a way of lowering your blood pressure, as a club mouthpiece doesn't share your views: Tommy N is staying next season. Another player the club wants to remain in the black and white strips/halves/hoops is Luton's Michael Reddy. "We don't want to sell our best players," communicates the man upstairs, forgetting that it's not been a week since the club sold one of our best players to Hibs of the rubbish Scottish "Premierleague".
...which neatly segues to our rummage in the Diary's inbox. First up is a lengthy note from John Scott, who hails from that homeland of tarts, Bakewell in Derbyshire, questioning if Stick Jones's recent move wasn't completely football-related: "Bring up a kid in a) Grimsby or b) Edinburgh? A hard one that." A hard one indeed, especially since the Jones family will have trouble putting their little one down to sleep with all that boomin' noise on New Year's Eve. "I've just read further down
your column and can take the 'playing for fourth place' crack [in Thursday's Diary] as that's probably
true. However, you could argue that all bar ONE of your glorious Premiership play for second place. Only that's not true either as it's ONE for first, THREE playing for second and the rest making up the numbers. You've a country of 50 million to Scotland's five million. So why do you have to employ so many foreign players then? At least Jones is off to a team of exciting young British/Scots players. Your infantile derogatory remarks underline why we Jocks will support anyone other than mighty 'Engerlund'. Keep wrapping yourself in Scottish colours, singing the British anthem and tell the world how great it is to be English. Oh, and enjoy your trip to see Rotherham pre-season. I and my mates will be off to Europe to see the Hibees.
[pause for breath]
"One last thought: I know nothing about your team or league. That's why I've not slagged them off. To your credit you haven't taken the easy route by supporting one of the big Premiership clubs. Likewise I don't support either of the Old Firm. I'd rather pull my teeth with a pair of pliers. However, given you think so little of my team and/or league I'm amazed you know so much about both. I bet Rob Jones knows less about Hibs than you. That will change and I bet you any amount of money he WILL be impressed. I'll put your remarks down to disappointment he's leaving. That being so it's to Hibs' benefit. I hope sincerely you enjoy the coming season." Reading that, you'd think the top flight of Scotland was one of the best in Europe, that it is the fault of the Town-supporting Diary writer for the Scottish hating the England football team, and we give a toss about the English Premiership. Which we don't. But thanks anyway John.
A quick consult of the JF Book of Positivity shows we should look for Words of Praise, and lo!, here are some from 'Meggies Rockchick Manhunter' regarding Friday's Guest Diary-penned diary, "the coolest Diary entry ever. Thank you for keeping the spirit of The Lizard King alive in Grimsby! Bugger the regular Diary and his obscure alternative/indie band that no-one's ever heard of references. I think you should take up permanent daily diary residency. We need more ROCK on CA!" Indeed we do! If only we could find a half-decent rhythm section. And Rich Mills is a man who half-agrees, I think: "The Doors? I said Zappa!"
It is time to scarper. On a final note, I will leave you with this musing from Dave the Engineer. "Can anyone tell me who the last player of the year was who actually stayed for another year? Next year let's all vote for Sir Glen or Newey if they are still in our employ." Guten abend!
Friday 9 June
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes... again
So as we bid tear-stained goodbyes to another season filled with weird scenes inside our particular goldmine, it occurs to your Guest Diarist that all may not be lost. Maybe there is just the odd blessing to count. Another season at good old Blundell Park to look forward to. And no doubt as the last swallow thinks about leaving the Grimsby climes we will hear a new call from the Pontoon asking Grezza to give us a wave. And as sure as that swallow will be back next spring, Rodger will oblige. He's been down so goddamn long that it must seem like up to him these days, don't you reckon? Losing Rob Jones is tough, and it's a crying shame that his last match with the club was so disappointing not for the result but for the individual performances. I still get flashbacks of that potentially suicidal Stick back-pass which signalled early in the game that our future was very uncertain, and that the end was always near. And Scotland is definitely no place to bring up a kid, Rob. You'll be back. In fact, just like Jim Morrison, you'll never really leave.
In the meantime Mr Rodger for we must call him that now, gentle reader needs to work his coaching miracle on Fen Butcher. Just as he did on Rob Jones, who was a poor excuse for a centre-half on arrival. And all that cash must be burning a hole in his pocket, although the club's biggest creditor may have a beady eye fixed upon it after our long-overdue slice of footballing fortune. A cup run, a play-off series, and a transfer fee all in one season blimey! As Cod Almighty's very own match reporter Mr Tony Butcher so wisely observed in an email to me today, "undisclosed fee is clearly Football Speak for £150,000. Alan Pouton came to Town for an undisclosed fee... of £150,000. Livvo was variously undisclosed for... about £150,000". All comedy legends make one and a half very big ones then at some point in their career. But this time we were lucky enough to be selling rather than buying. Crumbs of comfort indeed, methinks.
Apropos of hardly anything, our young chums on the official Grimsby Town website have been moved to publish a terse statement about Luton's Michael Reddy. It basically says that young Mr Reddy is on his holidays and has so far not even bothered to send a postcard, never mind a transfer request. And that no-one wants to buy him at the moment anyway. Oh, and Tony Blair has every intention to serve a full third term as prime minister. And Jim Morrison is dead.
But wait. Even as I write, Grimsby Town accounts manager Steve Wraith has drawn a deep breath and stepped forward, blinking shyly, into the Town spotlight to announce that season tickets will be on sale from 19 June. And that they will cost the same as last year. To get the discount one has until 15 July to make one's mind up. As Mr Wraith puts it: "This gives those supporters who might not want to buy a season ticket time to weigh up how the squad's progressing and make a commitment." Risky, Steve players can leave as well as arrive, just as shares can go down as well as up.
In other news, the World Cup starts today in Germany and the Grateful Dead lost their third keyboard player to another fatal case of death. To quote Ian Fleming: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and three is enemy action." Or did he say thrice? I must go and check. See yer.
Thursday 8 June
Rob Jones may have been justified in getting pissed off when Fen Butcher signed for the Mariners on twice the money the Stick was receiving, but rather than give the club that saved his career a chance to put things right with an extended contract, Town's player of the season has joined the exciting battle for fourth place in the Scottish Premier League. Neither the player nor his new club Hibernian have yet confirmed the news, but in keeping with agents' sense of their own importance the move has been announced by Jones's Mr 15% Kevin Smith, who clearly never wanted his client to remain at Blundell Park for ten seconds longer than was strictly necessary, and is now battling gamely to convince the world that the transfer was all about the wonderful management style of Easter Road boss Tony Mowbray. "Tony has done a fantastic job so far in his time at Hibs and Rob was attracted by that," announces Smith, not quite adding: "rather than the chance to double his salary, and it's neither here nor there that I'll also be doubling the slice of fans' ticket money I'm taking out of the game for doing little more than make a few phone calls." I'm sure all right-thinking Town fans will join with the Diary in fondly wishing Jones the Stick every success in his career at Hibs, and not in any way hoping the team concedes eight goals a game and finishes bottom of that laughable travesty they call a league.
Ireland? The Isle of Man? Ibiza? If you're planning your holidays around Town's programme of pre-season friendlies, pack your suntan lotion and book yourself a cheap flight to Humberston Fitties, as the first fixture of the summer has been announced, and third division Rotherham are
on their way to Meggies for an evening kick-off on Monday 24 July. The Millers, of course, played a similar fixture at Blundell Park in the build-up to the 200506 season, and if the rest of South Yorkshire can spend a day out in Cleethorpes every summer there is no reason why Rotherham United should be any different.
Returning to the issue of the Mariners' new manager, and more precisely the correct rendition of his name, two of you have been moved to compose email-style communications and fling them gaily this way. Durham Diary suggests an addition to the Cod Almighty range of quality fashionwear, asking: "What chance of a 'He's not bloody called Rodgers' T-shirt? I would wear it." Nice idea, DD, but we'd like the new manager to remain in place for more than a week. The departure of Rodgerses's predecessor, you see, was announced just as the CA team was obtaining quotes to produce a Russell Slade eggcup.
Our second item of correspondence is from Mike Harrison, who muses: "All this talk about Rodgers and Rodger reminds me of the (cough, wheeze) good old days of popular music, when virtually everyone called the sainted Sir Cliff by the moniker 'Richards'. I think Richard was chosen (as opposed to Webb) as a publicity gimmick in the hope that people would deliberately mispronounce it. This made me wonder whether Mr Rodger is really Mr Rodgers but is hoping to become better known by using the same gimmick? I understand also that his assistant may be a Mr Hammerstein." Thanks, Mike you've just wiped out the Diary's future store of Rodgers gags at a stroke.
That being the case, it's probably a good job I won't be writing the Diary for the next 10 days. What? Yes! Keep emailing firstname.lastname@example.org though, and your musings will reach my replacements: tomorrow you will be transported with delight by the guest diarising of Guest Diary, and CA's bench of substitute diaries will be made full Sven-like use of for the whole of next week, as I will be suspended in a small velcro pouch 238 feet above the Appalachian mountains. See you on the 19th.
Wednesday 7 June
So who are Town going to sign when their new manager gets back off his holiddies? Finger on the pulse as ever, the Mariners' official website has updated its official rumour and official gossip section with the two-day-old story that Doncaster midfielder Ricky Ravenhill could be on his way to Meggies. The story is accompanied by a photograph of Graham Rodgerses, despite making no mention of him anywhere, and thus lends him the creepy omnipotent aura of Chairman Mao, Saddam Hussain and other violent dictators who liked to have their pictures painted all over walls and stuff.
As widely anticipated, Rodgerses's predecessor Mr Russell Slade has now been officially confirmed as the new manager of third division Yeovil and signed a two- or three-year contract (depending where you read it) which presumably sets out considerably more favourable terms than were available to him in Cleethorpes unless, of course, you subscribe to the outrageous conspiracy theory that he was already talking to the Glovers before he left the Mariners. Some observers will be interested to see how Slade's alleged philosophy that you can't pass your way to promotion in the lower divisions will be received at a club that has already disproved it. Others may be anxious that the former Town boss will 'do a Buckley' and cherry-pick the best of the squad he assembled at Blundell Park, and to address the latter scenario Rodgerses must make his first priority a new five-year contract for Glen Downey.
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." So wrote the great Victorian wit and dramatist Oscar Wilde, and for all we know he might well have been thinking of the profile of Grimsby Town Football Club that would appear on the official website of their fourth division rivals Hartlepool United in the run-up to the 200607 season. This is part of a "summer of research" that Pools' OS is apparently conducting on its team's forthcoming opponents so let's see what they've found out about GTFC. "The Mariners just missed out on promotion to League One, after they were beaten by Cheltenham in the Play-Off Final at Cardiff. Rodgers was thrust into Town's hot-seat following Russell Slade's departure in the aftermatth of The Millennium Stadium defeat having served as Assistant Manager at Blundell Park." And, er, that's it. As an email from Mark Stilton points out, "they also slip in to the 'Rodgers' trap rather too quickly". Funnily enough, I think the same might have been said about Oscar Wilde.
Tuesday 6 June
In the 30 or so hours since the announcement that Grimsby Town's new manager would be Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger, web servers in the North East Lincolnshire area have been groaning under the strain as messageboards have been bombarded 80 times per second with the phrases "no contacts", "cheap option" and "fenty mupet no ambishun sak the bord". Perhaps anticipating the frenzy of glass-half-empty guesswork that the appointment would provoke, John Fenty has given an interview to the Grimsby Telegraph bigging up his new man. The Mariners chairman's first priority is reassure us as to the girth of Rodgerses's address book, since the local populace has somehow become obsessed with the notion that Grezza keeps forgetting to get other managers' phone numbers when he meets them, or writes them on the back of till receipts and leaves them in his trouser pocket through the wash. "He has been learning all the time in the last few years and has gained a great deal of experience as well as forging good contacts," insists Positive John. Turning to the issue of playing style, he adds: "Graham was signed by Alan Buckley and played in his team in the mid-90s. Those teams played exciting football and I'm sure Graham would like to see his team play in a similar vein." That's as may be, John, but Grimsby and Cleethorpes were full of stayaway moaning bastards in the mid-90s as well.
My guest replacement Deviant Diary was keen to assert last Friday that our interest in the career of Russell Slayed ended at the moment Positive John Fenty decided he wasn't prepared to offer him a new three-year contract with 200 per cent salary rise, company Merc, share options, final salary pension scheme and complimentary poppadums. I contend that football supporters actually rather like to follow the exploits of their ex-managers and players the appointment of Graham Rodgerses, for instance, has been proudly recorded on a Coventry franchise site and that just for once, Town are no exception. Granted, the minutiae of what seems to be Didn't Quite Sort It's progress towards the Yeovil job may not be that absorbing, but Rodgerses hasn't signed anyone yet, so it'll have to do. The Glovers have called a press conference for tomorrow morning and Russ is being reported as precisely the dude for the gig, while Somerset bookmakers are offering spread bets on the number of days it will take the new manager to refer to Yeovil's Argentinian forward Pablo Bastianini as "the Spaniard".
Grimbarians who enjoy watching two muscular, near-naked men parade their sweating bodies in public while alternately inflicting extreme mutual pain and tenderly embracing will no doubt be looking out even more keenly for another recent departee. Unfortunately for them, the beginning of Curtis Woodhouse's professional boxing career will be delayed by two months. Curt's hometown newspaper the Driffield Post has reported that the 15 July Manchester show that would have featured the ex-footballer's fighting debut has been cancelled, and the budding light middleweight will now take a bow at the London Hilton Hotel on 8 September instead "against an as yet unnamed opponent". "I'll be working hard and giving it 150 per cent," explains Woody, demonstrating the same grasp of mathematics that prompted him to sign an 18-month contract at Blundell Park in January of this year only to say later: "It was always my intention to finish this season."
"Just you wait until Friday," writes Rich Mills in an email to the Diary. "The excitement surrounding Rodger's appointment will have dried up and you'll be scraping around for a relevant Zappa quote to pad out your Diary. Just you wait and see." Maybe so, Rich, but if it's Friday it won't be my Diary and it'll be someone else's problem.
Monday 5 June
"If we get the man we want, I'm sure the fans will be happy with the choice." Never let it be said that football club chairmen have no sense of irony, as the man John Fenty wanted to get was there all along in the shape of Town's long-serving but mysteriously unpopular assistant manager Graham Rodger.
Grezbo, now aged 39, has been appointed on a two-year contract with a two-year option (for whom or what remains unclear). He joined the Mariners from Luton in 1992, a talented central defender but as injury-prone as many other Alan Buckley signings. In just over 150 full appearances he scored 12 times quite possibly all headers before leaving for King$ton Communication$ FC (then known as Hull City), where he managed one run-out for the reserves before retiring knackered. He later returned to Blundell Park as football in the community officer before becoming assistant manager to Paul Groves in December 2001 and spending six games as caretaker boss when Groves' reign collapsed in chaos in February 2004. Despite winning three of these matches including the astonishing 6-1 romp over Barnsley, which inspired this magnificent exhibition of journalism from the Sunday Mirror (right) Rodge was disastrously replaced by Nicky Law for the rest of the season, and you know what happened next.
So he played for the club in the early 1990s one of the Mariners' most successful periods since exiting the top flight for the last time nearly 60 years ago. He played pretty well. He became caretaker manager, and did a good job then as well. Any further knowledge about his coaching methods is not yet available to supporters. So why is it that for large periods of his coaching career thus far, Rodger has been about as popular in some areas of the Blundell Park seating as Jeremy Clarkson at a Green Party conference? The Diary, admittedly, does not find cause for optimism in the recent record of Town's reserves who, managed by Rodge, contrived to pass the entire 200506 season without recording a win but there are sufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant giving him a go, and it remains an unresolved enigma why certain sections of the GTFC 'faithful' have seen fit to call for the sacking of the side's assistant manager every time Tony Crane missed a tackle or they caught a cold; still less why they insist on calling him "Rodgers". For its part Town's official website has made an extra-special effort to celebrate Rodger's appointment and somehow managed to announce it using even worse English than usual.
The new manager's first task, of course, has been not to persuade Jones the Stick, Mildenhall my Lord and Luton's Michael Reddy to extend their contracts with the Mariners but to criticise his predecessor, and Rodgeski has obliged by dismissing Russell Slayed's style as only "fairly successful" and adding: "We need to be a bit more adventurous especially at home... it is important that we entertain our fans". If Rodgerses is ever to win over his detractors, this represents a good opening gambit. It is to be assumed that Blundell Park will hear no more talk of resilience and work ethics for the next two years.
As far as those disappearing players are concerned, the media of both Lincolnshire and Edinburgh continue to insist that the Stick is about to up sticks to Scots makers-up-of-numbers Hibernian FC. Both the Grimsby Telegraph and Scotland's Evening News are talking of a fee "in the region of six figures", so we may be looking at £100,000 to £999,999 or something thereabouts.
It would not be altogether surprising if Graham Rodger's black and white army (at last a name that scans!) were to acquire at least one new recruit this summer as others are honourably discharged, and the Telewag reckons Doncaster's Ricky Ravenhill could be on his way in. The alliteratively monickered midfielder has scored 10 goals in 100 starts for the Yorkshire side, building up an frankly terrifying Crane-like disciplinary record along the way. Managerless Lincoln City have also been named in the search for Ricky's autograph, but the player is already considering an offer from third division neighbours Rotherham.
It's getting late, but there's always time for an email from Rich Mills especially if he's picking faults with Deviant Diary. Rich takes issue with DD's careless assertion last Friday that the words "he's history, he's baloney without the mayo" were sung by Frank Zappa. "Tut, tut. Surely that was Ike Willis singing/talking on that track. Poor journalism like that's just going to lead you to a job at the GET and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. Anyway, I spotted your Zappa quote at the top so it wasn't wasted. I challenge you to include a relevant Zappa lyric in every Diary entry. No prizes, just satisfaction if you can do it every week. Let's be honest, as there's no news to talk about you've got to do something to make it interesting." Yes, Rich no news at all, eh.
Friday 2 June
"Sort It has just left the building those are his footprints right there"
Ex-Grimsby Town manager Mr Russell 'Sort the Resilient Frenchman's Work Ethic' Slade has been "strongly linked" with the unvacant manager's position at Millwall. That Nigel Spackman, eh he's done nothing but some interior decorating since he got there last week. He's gotta go. You can't stand still in football, unless you are Lumpaldinho. Hey Sven, it's not too late to take the talismanic ex-Tranmere top-shot. All the way with Gary J is the invisible sticker on everyone's bumper this summer.
Oh, Slade's going to be Spackman's assistant. His number two. Which is what some were rather rudely calling him anyway.
Are we really bothered what job Russell Slade does next. No, thought not. As Frank Zappa sang, possibly in a pink T-shirt: he's history, he's baloney without the mayo.
Hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday for Chairman Positive John. Better than going on a deadlock holiday, but what of the future? No dear, future, not Futcher. But if you insist: Dario Fo at Crewe wants to pay money for him. Oh please sir, do sir. Then he'll be a mardy Gradi when he sees what he's brought back from football's Netto. Yes, Chairman Miaow is going to be supping his pina colada whilst twisting by the pool for a couple of weeks and we may, or may not, have a manager by the time he goes, or comes back. It's a simple as that.
Sometime Postbag editor Mark Stilton has been standing on a street corner, half a bottle of Martini in left hand, a can of Irn Bru in the other, and come over all maudlin at the thought of yet another new dawn. He has visions of Nicky Law, which would cause anyone to seek comfort in half a bottle of Martini. His detailed analysis, submitted in a paper to the Royal Society, is summarised thus:
(a) Fenty will rush to appoint someone this week in a panic and it'll be a Nicky Law scenario
(b) Fenty won't rush and will bugger off for his 2 weeks hols at the end of this week (see OS) and then he'll take his time making an appointment. The new manager will be in post and will have 2 weeks to assemble a team. It will be a Nicky Law type team.
(c) Fenty won't rush until he comes back from his hols, then he'll rush and we'll get a rubbish manager with not enough time to build a decent squad. It will be a double Nicky Law scenario.
You know that'd make a good letter if only we had such a forum.
The flip side of this is from internet betting gnu Mat Hare: "We all need to chill, it's in hand baby." Does he know something we don't? Is it a cryptic crossword clue? Is he Ted Rogers? "Chill"? What chills? A refrigerator, which is commonly known as a fridge. Is there a manager called Alfie Fridge? Google just gives us Alan Partridge fridge magnets, which would, at least be an innovative appointment. Too late, PJ the auction ended before the Cardiff capitulation. A-ha an old fridge uses greenhouse gases. What do you find in a greenhouse? Plants, that's what. The next manager of Grimsby Town is Robert Plant. Another Cod Almighty exclusive. Or Nicky Tomato.
In the meantime the new commercial manager cranks Town into the 21st century with an enlightened evening of sophisticated wit and repartee. Or is this the new management team? So many questions, so few answers, much like my chemistry A-level exam.
And on that bombshell we thank you for reading in this week of weeks. It started with a miss; you never thought it would come to this.
Thursday 1 June
The Diary is finding it hard to muster any enthusiasm for a penning a retrospective on Russell Slade's career at Grimsby. It's not that there was never anything to get enthusiastic about in the past two years which have been considerably more fun than the consecutive relegations that preceded them more that everyone had just about made up their minds about Sort It by last August, and it would be a tall order to conjure any words that will make you regard these seasons in a fresh light. Indeed, plenty of supporters seemed to have made up their minds about Sort It within five minutes of his arrival, and this week's grave-dancers will already have been ascribing undue significance to the signing of players such as Glen Downey and Terry Barwick (never intended as replacements for Thomas Pinault but functional, bit-part squad players signed on negligible wages to supplement the acquisitions of Paul Bolland, Rob Jones and so on) and exaggerating the impact of Slade's direct tactics upon Town's attendances (if it hadn't been that excuse it'd have been another: the Diary remembers when the stayaway fans berated Alan Buckley for not being direct enough).
Oh, all right then. It was a mistake to sign Anthony Williams after his awful trial match at Brigg and it was a mistake to leave him in place after several similarly awful matches for the first team. It was a mistake to leave out Pinault for all that time and then go crazy ape-shit bonkers to John Tondeur when "the Frenchman" had a stinker as a substitute at Notts County in April 2005. And it was a mistake to send Fen Butcher on to slouch around up front last Sunday while the exciting and skilful Marc Goodfellow remained on the bench. But many unexpectedly good players have strutted their stuff for the Mariners in the past two seasons sometimes to great effect, particularly in the cups and if Slade never quite sorted it, he leaves GTFC in a far healthier state than when he turned up. The irony is that Town's board have a stronger hand to play in appointing a manager now than when they gambled on him two years ago largely because of the rebuilding work that Russ himself carried out.
Speaking of Slade's successor, then, the messageboards will be similarly alive with their usual sound of hopelessly ambitious targets (David Pleat is as likely now to swap his comfortable semi-retirement for a fourth division cockfight as John Gregory was two years ago) and the standard checklist of Grimsby-born-and-breds: Paul Wilkinson, Kevin Drinkell and the
Chuckle Cockerill brothers. Forum speculation is already spilling in to fill the vacuum in the press, with both the BBC and today's Sun (apparently) stabbing in the dark and injuring Cockers G, who is still at Woking, who are still mid-table in the Conference, which is exactly how it was last time his homecoming was mooted two years ago, and is just where Scarborough were in 2004 as well, funnily enough.
The departed one, meanwhile, is now being spoken of more loudly and longingly in the same breath as the managerial vacancy at Yeovil, with the Western Daily Press speculating that Slayed might wish to take Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger along with him for the ride (and if I were Grezbo, I'd jump at any chance to get on somewhere else, since he'll never get a look-in at BP with all the Town fans who have just randomly decided to blame him for every problem since Harold Wilson devalued the pound). The jobs at Lincoln and Northampton are also being mentioned, but I can't remember where and can't be bothered to look it up again. Player-wise, Luton's Michael Reddy is now being pursued by Carlisle Five as well as Bristol City and a bear, while Fen Butcher is reportedly being chased by long-long-long-long-serving Crewe manager Dario Gradi and a disgruntled mob of Town fans leaving the Millennium Stadium with pointy sticks. I'm getting bored now. See you sometime after Friday.