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Diary - November 2006
Thursday 30 November
Town don't have a match for another five days; none of their players are currently sidelined with a broken foot; every imaginable kind of transfer window is nailed shut and blacked out; and Curtis Woodhouse has neither beaten anyone up nor embarked upon a new career in professional Scrabble. A good thing, then, that Town's youth team are in action this evening in their defence of the Midland(s) Floodlit Cup, and that their manager is as ubiquitous as Russell Brand in today's media, albeit with different hair. Neil Woods has given interviews to both Mariners World and the local paper in the run-up to this evening's fixture, speculating in the Grimsby Telegraph about the potential psychological effects of his team's recent FA Youth Cup defeat by Huddersfield and the release last week of youth side graduates Ben Higgins, Paul Ashton and Miles Chamberlain. "They can't afford to dwell on it because the under-16s players are now on their heels challenging for a place in the side. They have to show what they are made of and the best place to do that is out on the pitch," says Woods, waving two clenched fists at the nearest teenager. "Admission will be into the [Frozen Beer] stand only. £3 Adults/ £2 Concessions. Turnstiles will open at 6.30pm and the usual kiosk etc," adds Town's official website, getting completely carried away with the feverish excitement surrounding the match.
"Don't want to fork out for Mariners World for highlights?" asks Scott B in an email to the Diary. "No, Scott, I don't, mostly because the shoddy standards of the free official website suggest to me that Mariners World would offer very poor value for money," replies the Diary. "Then watch this from Accrington Stanley's OS not a premiumtv in sight!" advises Scott B, adding a link to some video of Town's two goals in their splendid win over Stanley last Saturday. "Thanks very much, Scott!" enthuses the Diary. While we're doing online footage, I would also recommend the set of 'great moments in football and cricket' links published on the Guardian's website yesterday and if anyone has any others, Town-related or otherwise, send 'em in.
It's the end of Thursday's news, and that makes it time to hand over to Guest Diary. For tomorrow's Diary, though, GD will be otherwise occupied (and I dunno who's gonna write it yet, cos no bugger else seems to want to) but he's sent us an email in the meantime. "A study by Dr David James (not the Portsmouth keeper) has revealed that the average energy output of a professional player over a season could power a house for 10 days. With this in mind, and given the excellent debut from young Mr Paterson, then perhaps Messrs Fenty and Buckley should consider putting Luton's Michael Reddy on a pushbike in the club shop attached to a generator. He could thus provide electricity for the lights and the ever-ringing tills. This will get him fit, and keep him occupied, rather than lounging around all day under that Mariners bedspread." Guest is referring, lest you be unaware, to a recent promotional mailout from the club shop featuring a quite funny photograph of the Hatters striker snuggled up under a GTFC duvet. Rumour has it that Reddy was originally pencilled in to model the playing kit but was shifted to bedding duty following an intervention from the misleading adverts department of the local trading standards office.
Wednesday 29 November
Grimsby Town midfielder Paul Bolland does not have a broken foot. Nor is BBC broadcaster Harry Gration currently afflicted with german measles. David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker magazine, is not thought to be in the habit of adding balsamic vinegar to his cornflakes rather than milk, and the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the environment, Chris Huhne MP, is not engaged in a sordid beyond-the-grave affair with the ghost of Queen Victoria. You may deem these statements unnecessary, but the Mariners' official website has moved swiftly to allay fears that the foot injury suffered by Bolland in last Saturday's win over Accrington was a fracture so swiftly, in fact, that no such fears had any chance to arise beforehand. The problem has been diagnosed as tissue damage by club physio Dave Moore, who says it's "a case of wait and see" but is hopeful that the player will be fit for the trip to Barnet next Tuesday. Subscribe now to the Mariners' official SMS service and be reassured that Alan Buckley's ability to shout from the touchline is not impaired by an acute case of bronchial hyperreactivity.
Observers of the Accrington game are unanimous in their appraisal of Martin Paterson as a highly promising young striker possessed of ample pace, technique and positional acumen. Observers of today's Grimsby Telegraph, however, may also conclude that Town's loan phenomenon could be a bit on the impressionable side. Perhaps influenced by the rapturous ovation he received from supporters as he left the field at the weekend, Paterson has told the local paper that one of the reasons he is enjoying his time at Blundell Park is that the people of Grimsby are "so passionate about their football". I guess he was in the shower when the stands began to empty rapidly with several minutes of Town's glorious victory still to be played.
The debate rumbles on like a big rumbly thing over the ethnic composition of Alan Buckley's transfer record, with three more emails to the Diary upon this subject today. In case you haven't been following this, there are certain West Bromwich Albion supporters who believe AB exhibited a reluctance to sign black players during his term at the Hawthorns, but Diary readers have pointed out that it was Buckley who brought Keith Alexander and Roger 'Harry' Willis to Cleethorpes, as well as Tony Ford for his second spell at the club. "AB was also minutes away from signing George Paris following Andy Tillson's departure to QPR," adds Rob Moore. "However he withdrew at the last moment, resulting in the legendary Paul Futcher being rescued from Halifax reserves. Probably worked out well for all concerned. Brian Laws signed Kingsley Black; however, it should be noted that AB did sign him when manager of Lincoln City, therefore dispelling the slanderous comment that he never signed a 'Black' player once and for all." Thanks, Rob I dunno who George Paris is, but I'll assume he was a black central defender. Ben Gresswell asks: "Has little Al ever signed an oriental player? I recall Loony Lawrence signing Zhang Enhua but don't recall Mr B bringing anyone in from the Far East. As usual, though, I am bound to be proven wrong." Not sure, Ben, but Russell Slade was known to have bought a Chinese in Mablethorpe. And lastly, Andy Ecelson informs us that "AB signed Keith Alexander back in 1988". Thanks for that, Andy. Buckley has recently been reappointed Grimsby manager, by the way!
Tuesday 28 November
Have you ever enjoyed a spot of particularly exhilarating sex, only to turn on the television afterwards to I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here? Well, that's how the Diary feels when Town enjoy a comfortable victory featuring three exciting debut performances and some of the finest passing football seen at Blundell Park since the turn of the millennium, only for the lead story three days later to concern a photograph being sold on Ebay. If that isn't enough to turn the lingering thrill of last weekend's match into a dull ache at the base of your cranium which, if left untreated long enough, will eventually provoke you into a crazy killing rampage using the closest available item of equipment manufactured by Black & Decker, then you could always send an email to Alan Buckley or acquaint yourself with the fine detail of the procedures being set in place for the sale of tickets for the Mariners' visit to Lincoln on 16 December. And if someone had told you a year ago that this fixture promised a festival of fluent passing football you'd have called for Dave Moore to take their temperature and lie them down in a darkened room.
Today's dearth of significant GTFC news is borne out on the club's official website, which is reduced to copying and pasting stories from the Lancashire Telegraph: well, a story, in which Accrington manager John Coleman says that "the best team won" in Town's 2-0 victory over his team last Saturday. Coleman is wrong, of course: the superlative form of the adjective should be used only when three or more entities are being compared, so you could say "the best team won the Coppa Ibiza", which was contested by three sides, or "the best team won the FA Cup", since this season's tournament is being contested by 685 sides in all, but for a single match, contested only by two, the comparative adjectival form is the correct one, and what the Stanley manager should have said is "the better team won". In tomorrow's Diary: why football people are wrong to say "look to" when they mean "appear to", and a refresher course on the use of hyphens in compound adjectives rather than noun phrases.
All of which space-filling pedantry brings us inevitably to today's emails to the Diary, which continue in response to Durham Diary's West Bromwich-supporting (not "West-Bromwich supporting") mate who believed Alan Buckley had never signed a black player. "Chima Okorie was also, and probably still remains, not white," observes Mr Tony Butcher, wisely declining to elaborate upon the almighty row that stemmed from Buckley's decision not to keep the Nigerian forward on the books for longer than a month. "Didn't Laws sign Vance Warner?" asks Em Wilkinson in response to Steve Johnson's suggestion yesterday. I think he did, yes it was a Forest thing, wasn't it? "And didn't Buckley bring in a black keeper as cover?" she continues. "I think he ended up at Crewe. Buckley couldn't (be bothered) to pronounce his name, so called him George." Ah, another Nigerian: Ademola Bankole. Wikipedia states that Bankole was or is nicknamed George, but does not credit the GTFC manager with creating this designation. Typical media, always ignoring Town.
Monday 27 November
At first GTFC didn't know whether to spell his name with one 'g' or two. Then they didn't know whether he should play football or not. Now they're not sure how old he is. Nick Hegarty is one of the success stories of Town's last month, finally being given a sustained run in the first team (albeit in the absence of anyone else who can play on the left wing), and has earned a mention from Alan Buckley in today's Grimsby Telegraph. "You have to remember down the left that Tom Newey is being asked to do things that he hasn't before," says AB, presumably meaning not hoofing the ball 60 yards down the left touchline to the other team's right-back, "and the lad in front of him is just 19 years old." The profile of Ginger Nick on the club's official website, though, gives his date of birth as 25 June 1986, making him a full 20 and a half years of age. Never mind, though because Nick Fenton has made the fourth division team of the week thing for the second week running. Hooray!
"Quitting was a big relief, like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. When you wake up every morning to do something you don't want to, it gets on your nerves." These were the words of Grimsby Town's Curtis Woodhouse when he retired from football to become a professional boxer earlier this year, and if you can't rely on Woody to refrain from getting pissed up and sticking one on a copper while his football team is in the decisive period of its promotion campaign, he can at least always be depended upon for something to put in the Diary, as the never-a-dull-moment midfielder has returned to the sport that made his name by signing for Rushden & Diamonds. Having made his debut as a welterweight in September with a victory on points over Dean Marcantonio, Curt was found guilty earlier this month of the aforementioned alcohol/policeman/violence incident and, although his career in the ring appears set to continue, he joined the struggling Conference side last Friday and played most of the 90 in a home defeat to Aldershot on Saturday. Insert your own Telegraph Sport joke here about whether the second-from-bottom Diamonds can pick themselves up off the canvas or are out for the count.
It was presumably in response to the lack of email to the Diary last week that Durham Diary posed Friday's question about Buckley's record of signing black players, as my inbox today is at its busiest since I got stuck on the Radio Times Christmas crossword the other year. Pat Bell, Liz Collins, Tim Hubbard, Richard Ellis and Steve Johnson all point out Keith Alexander, with some also reminding us that it was Buckley who brought Tony Ford back for a second spell at Blundell Park. Steve also puts forward the name of Vance Warner, while Richard adds those of Dale Banton and Harry Willis. Funnily enough, though, everyone seems to have forgotten Matt McKenzie.
And that is not all, for Rich Mills has emailed to congratulate the Diary on last Thursday's misappropriation of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy "Now there's a song for the terraces" and Steve Hull has raised the spectre of identity confusion and nepotism: "It appears that Anthony Pulis is the son of Tony Pulis. Maybe it's so they don't get the mail mixed up. A. Buckley didn't think of that one before the christening, did he?" Loughborough Mariner is overjoyed with Saturday's game "4-4-2, pass-and-move, wingers, overlapping full-backs, chances, goals, marvellous! Welcome back Bucko, it was like he's never been away" while Scott B has sent this revealing photograph from the win against Accrington, asking: "Great game yesterday, but did anyone else spot Terry Butcher?"
Saturday 25 November
I know it's going to take Alan Buckley time to reverse the half-decade of mismanagement and decay since he was sacked by the Mariners in 2000, but the quality of football on display at Blundell Park this afternoon - not least from the debutant loanees signed by the new manager on Thursday - makes it hard to believe that the good times are more than a neat passing triangle away. Town take the lead against Accrington on 12 minutes when a sumptuous move is finished by Martin Paterson, whose pace, skill and movement all afternoon produce one of the most exciting GTFC debuts in many a long year. Gary Jones lashes in a second ten minutes after the break, and the Mariners survive a spell of Stanley pressure to send an improved crowd home as happy as a Grimbarian ever gets (answers on an email postcard as to why hundreds left ten minutes from the end). Despite a second league clean sheet of the season, it's far from perfect when Buckley's side don't have the ball; but when they do, by heck, it's a bit good.
Friday 24 November
Hi guys. Durham Diary here, out of bed and fresh from my two morning lectures bringing you all the news you need to know but really don't want to this damp and dreary Friday afternoon. I also have two lectures from 4:15 to 6:15, don't you know. So stop picking on me as an easy target or I'll cry.
One of my more stereotypical student traits is that I do enjoy going out to get drunk with my friends. On such a night out many of the popular clubs operate a strict 'one in, one out' policy, at least until the short blonde with boobs over-spilling and skirt brushing the top of her thigh turns up. Another popular club operating a 'one in, one out' policy yesterday was Grimsby Town. Bouncer Buckley admitted Anthony Pulis and Martin Paterson from Stoke, as well as Peter Till from Birmingham, while youngsters Ben Higgins, Miles Chamberlain and Paul Ashton were shoved out of the fire escape and left to stagger drunkenly away. It would be far too easy to suggest that a Grimsby manager is yet again relying far too heavily on loan signings and not enough on the youth system. However Buckley arrived with the club 22nd and in desperate need of reinforcement before the transfer window re-opens in January, and he has already given youth its chance by starting both North and Hegarty in all of his matches so far. So let's call this a good bit of negotiation on loan deadline day, and hope for something a bit more permanent and sustainable in January.
Interestingly, the aforementioned Anthony Pulis has been playing at the aforementioned Stoke under the management of not-yet-mentioned father Tony Pulis. Rumours that Stoke are currently seeking special dispensation to sign Adam Buckley are, of course, completely made up by me.
Accrington Stanley visit tomorrow for the first time since the 1959/60 season, when the Mariners did the double over 'Accy', winning 4-0 at home and 4-2 away. Team news is fairly unsurprising: Reddy and Cohen are still out; Rankin is not yet fit enough to start but will be in the squad, as will the three musketeers on loan.
An interesting piece on the Telegraph website has a snippet from the Buckmeister with regard to Danny North, or more pertinently Gary Jones: "Some may say that when Isaiah is back then Northy may miss out but if he keeps playing like he is, then maybe he won't. It could be Gary Jones who makes way." Has Big Bad Buckley fallen out with last season's top goalscorer already, or is this just to keep the Lumpstertruck on his toes? Only time will tell...
On a topic not really related to anything a West-Bromwich supporting friend of mine claimed the other day that Buckley had never signed a black player. I am in no way suggesting that The AB is racist, and in truth find this statistic very difficult to believe. But the 'Proof and Reasoning' module I took in the first term of my fresher year taught me the way to disprove a theory was to provide a counter-example, which in this instance I cannot. So perhaps you could all put your brains together over the weekend and email me or your Regular Diary with any suggestions. Cheers!
And that was, in fact, all the news you needed but didn't really want today. I'm going home for a Pot Noodle with beans on toast before having a sleep, smoking lots of illegal substances, drinking a bottle of vodka and attending a demonstration against the Establishment. Or I might just go to those two lectures I told you about. Enjoy your weekend.
Thursday 23 November
TV is it the reflector or the director? Does it imitate us or do we imitate it? Because a child watches 1,500 rubbish dives by Premiership forwards before he's twelve years old. TV is the place where phrases are redefined, like 'recession' to 'necessary downturn', and being killed by your own army is now called an own goal from Justin Whittle. Television, the drug of the nation. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation. And showing Grimsby Town FC play away at Walsall on a Monday night in January. Yes indeed: the Diary's opening titles having finished at last, we can now get on with the show, and for reasons best known to themselves the global media conglomerate that paid $580 million for Myspace will also be splashing out a few thousand to televise the Mariners' trip to Bescot in the new year. The club's official website tells us that the fixture has been put back two days from its original date of Saturday 13 January and will kick off at 7:45pm. Town have failed to win in the nine matches they have played since their last appearance on Murdoch Sports the victory over Hereford on 8 October so if a link exists between the live broadcast of their matches and their ability to take three points, Alan Buckley faces a long, hard slog through the nine games scheduled to take place between now and the Walsall show.
When he penned Cod Almighty's rough guide to Accrington Stanley back in the summer, Miles Moss reminded us how tedious we find it for Grimsby to be associated with fish all the time (fully mindful, I am sure, of the irony superimposed on his statement by the name of the website he was writing for), and for that reason promised not to go on and on about the 1980s milk advert that made Stanley's name famous throughout the land. In profiling Accrington this week the Mariners' official website is unrestricted by any such sensitivity, not only reproducing the script of the ad but exhibiting a still of one of the whiny Scouse kids gulping cow juice. In fairness to the OS, all you need is to ignore the crazy initial capital letters ("reaching The Final of The County Cup") and weird passive voice ("The Unibond Championship was won... The NPL Challenge Shield was retained... promotion to The Nationwide Conference was achieved"), and it's a decent enough read.
What's that? Buckley chasing new players, you say? Loan transfer deadline looming rapidly, you add in a somewhat alarmed, not to say querulous, tone of voice? Ah. Well, Town are again fuelling the suspicion that the introduction of multiple transfer windows for permanent and loan signings at various points across the season is nothing more than a commercially driven ploy to give clubs the opportunity to market their official text message services, but the Grimsby Telegraph, bless its Daily Mail crime scaremongering socks, carries an infinitely more informative interview with the manager which tells us that, yes, he is trying to sign players today; yes, it might be quite difficult; and no, not Adam Proudlock. Point your browser this way, baby, tomorrow, when CA's higher education correspondent Durham Diary will eventually drag himself out of bed and miss his one lecture of the week to tell you how Buckley fared. T'ra for now.
Wednesday 22 November
He was meant to be cheered into Blundell Park by a joyous throng waving palm leaves. They were meant to play like gods and ascend unto the second round of the FA Cup. As it turned out, the throng numbered only 2,657 and a lot of them muttered dirtily all night about not wanting Alan Buckley back, and Town lost 2-0 with a ponderous performance and an own goal from Justin Whittle. Bubbles are burst, reality checked, honeymoons over, and the manager freed up to focus on improving the Mariners' desperate position of 22nd in the fourth division. Well, it makes a change from saying "concentrate on the league". "I was a little bit disappointed with our play in the last third," said Buckley, and I never thought I'd have to type that again after 2000. "We haven't got enough devil about us." Thankyou for choosing Diary Railways for your 13:59 journey from Heaven to Hell via Grimsby Town Football Club; refreshments will be served when the transfer window reopens in January.
Hey, come on, it's not so bad. Nick Fenton is in such excellent form at the back that he made the Football League's fourth division team of the week thingy after his performance at Wycombe last Saturday. Feeling better yet? Turn your gaze to the Grimsby Telegraph, where the manager reveals that he has "had about six or seven conversations with a [second division] club about players", and with any luck this will mean players that might come and play for the Mariners, rather than that Al has just been on the phone to Tony Mowbray or Phil Parkinson gossiping about Danny Murphy's bald spot or the latest indiscretions of El Hadji Diouf.
Tuesday 21 November
Cheer up, North East Lincolnshire! Oh, what can it mean to a daydream believer and a purple-faced bloke at the back of the Pontoon? Tonight is the night, people, and Town are expecting a larger-than-might-usually-be-expected gate of three or four thousand for the FA Cup first round replay against Northampton to greet homecoming queen Alan Buckley. The Mariners' not-so-new manager is not the only local legend making a return this evening, as Tom Newey's suspension means Sir John McDermott will be restored to the starting line-up. Buckley confirms as much in today's Grimsby Telegraph and suggests that his first XI will be otherwise unchanged from Saturday's excellent draw at Wycombe, with Ciaran Toner still rubbing his groin and inspirational captain Justin Whittle having shrugged off his recent head injury, like Terry Butcher without the sectarian bigotry.
Let us turn back a few days to a development not so far addressed on this page: GTFC's statement late last week about the position of the Fentydome, published in response to "suggestions that there are more suitable locations for a new stadium than the site at Great Coates". Without first explaining where these suggestions have been made and thus denying vital contextual information to anyone who missed them (yes, that means the Diary) the piece reprises what seems to be an old report "by Gerald Eve Chartered Surveyors" on the unsuitability of sites at the docks and Macaulay Lane. The bottom line is the bottom line: Great Coates will stink but it's all we can afford. To the unpleasant odour of Pyewipe is added a nasty taste left in the mouth by the statement's note of exasperation at some fans' insistence on asking questions and thinking for themselves: "The club finds it extremely frustrating that the possibility of alternative locations continues to be raised." Well, how awful for the club. Appreciative though the Diary remains of John Fenty's presence, the chairman seems to grow ever more irritated by the bewildering notion that not everyone in the world might see everything exactly the way he does. We have seen it in those embarrassing scuffles with the BBC and the Telegraph; now we see it in his undignified public spat with a 14-year-old fanzine editor and the insulting dismissal of some fans' wishes for a debate on the site of the new ground as "ludicrous". The Diary saith unto thee, John: loosen up a bit, eh? What about the orange juice, dude?
Town's marketing team have done away with their habitual strategies to draw younger supporters into Blundell Park, and turning their attentions instead to towards attracting an audience of marine cephalopods which can expel ink when threatened by predators. The club's new 'Squid for a Quid' offer extends to both major suborders of the Teuthida order, Myopsina and Oegopsina, who will be admitted to this Saturday's home game against Accrington for just one pound provided that they are accompanied by at least one responsible full-paying octopus. Well, we can dream. The child-for-a-pound scheme is back, and no bad thing, of course. This time the twist is that the vouchers are printed in the Grimsby Telegraph, and if you can find the thing among 20 or 30 pages of reactionary hysteria about crime then you deserve all the discount you can get.
Monday 20 November
Newey to Crewey? It couldn't be truey! And sure enough, all that talk a few weeks ago linking Town's apparent first-choice left-back with a move to third division Crewe Alexandra has so far come to nought. Tom has since contrived to keep Mariners legend Sir John McDermott OBE CBE MBE KBE out of the first team, albeit via Gary Croft playing at right-back, and retained his place after Alab Nuckley returned to Blundell Park the other week right up until the 80th minute of the second game, anyway, when he was sent off for a professional foul. The decision has not been contested by Nuckley (I didn't mean to call him that; it was just a typo, but I quite like it so I'm keeping it for now) and the player now faces a one-match ban, ruling him out of tomorrow night's FA Cup first round replay against Northampton, confirms Town's official website, somehow managing to render the words "professional foul" without initial capital letters (although tomorrow night's game is not just a replay but a Replay).
The OS has gladder tidings for all those concerned by the club's recent lack of firepower (a problem not exactly unheard of at Blundell Park during Nuckley's previous turns as manager), as two of Town's legion of crocked strikers are returning to training this morning. The Mariners have struggled to convert chances into goals this season or, for that matter, possession into chances, or non-possession into possession as first-choice frontmen Gary Cohen, Isaiah Rankin and Luton's Michael Reddy have looked on from the treatment room, assuming that the treatment room has a window that overlooks the pitch, or a live TV link or something. But today's dose of serotonin for Grimbarians comes with the news that Cohen and Rankin have returned to training, and the latter may make the subs' bench as the Cobblers swank into town tomorrow evening. Jason Crowe used to play for Arsenal, you know.
The unfamiliar vibes of happiness resonating around North East Lincolnshire since the return of Mr Nuckley have even set in harmonic motion the heartstrings of the area's business community of business people doing business. Town's commercial department is surprised and delighted that the suits are queueing up to associate themselves with the club now that the good times are back, and where four or five 'associate sponsors' were expected for the Northampton game the club has ended up with 16. Which is nice and all, but where were you when we were shit?
Saturday 18 November
Passing. Movement. Lump. Point. Wycombe. Heee!
Friday 17 November
Hi guys. Durham Diary here delivering a selection of today's hottest toppings to the pizza base that is your Friday afternoon. So get those takeaway menus out, dial the incoherent pikey who will do her best to invent a totally new order for you, and sit back and wait till I arrive without the right change to make your order up to a tenner.
Down to the serious stuff. And serious indeed it is. Many have mocked Boston manager Steve Evans on this website for, well, for being a twat really, in recent weeks, but perhaps they should have looked closer to home for a manager with a shady personality. This after it was revealed on the OS today that Alan Buckley has a preference for pre-pubescent males. "Alan Buckley gives us the low-down on the Choirboys" is the thoroughly disturbing tagline promoting an interview on Mariners World. The only other possible explanation is that the OS is rubbish, and can't tell the difference between the Chairboys, who Grimsby play tomorrow, and the Choirboys, who they don't. You decide. I prefer the latter, but only because Buckers used to live next door to us and we regularly went round to ask for our ball back. In shorts.
Today's special offer: read the first two paragraphs and get the third free, for collection only. Writing today's third paragraph myself seems an absolute travesty. Your regular Diary (with extra pepperoni) slogs his guts out here four or five days a week and lets someone else have a go on Friday. Then on Thursday afternoon the OS publish an absolutely dire attempt to justify the creation of a new stadium at Great Coates and the poor man can't rip it to shreds because some student type is writing the Diary today. The injustice of it all! Anyway, he'd do a much better job than me, and he really does live for things like this, so I'm going to reserve comment and leave his thunder unstolen so he can do his worst on Monday. Don't miss it guys.
Tonight Durham Diary and housemates are embarking on a college bar crawl round Durham. The target is to get drunk, the method being to drink an alcoholic beverage beginning with the first letter of the college name. Then at about midnight we will hit the union for Planet of Sound until 2am. At 2am we will then join the queue for Winter Solstice tickets back up at college, and will try not to be thrown out until 4am, at which time our replacements will arrive. Why am I telling you this? Well, one because it's quite funny, and two because Town's ticket office will be open 9am-3pm tomorrow for season ticket holders wanting Northampton tickets. So expect to see several drunken season ticket holders arriving with sleeping bags at 2am to make sure they're in the queue. I don't think.
Team news for tomorrow: Gary Jones back from suspension, Bore and Ravenhill back in training for the Mariners. Tommy Doherty, Russell Martin and Anthony Grant are all back from suspension for Wycombe, and Tommy Mooney isn't dead yet. It doesn't matter: Buckley is back. If the kids are united they will never be divided.
Oh, and just as I was signing in to email this off, in pops an email from the aforementioned regular Diary telling me Bury have released Marc Goodfellow. I'd take him back; anyone else? He could be the new Kevin Donovan!
And that's it from me. Hope you all have a good weekend, I'm off to line my stomach with lots and lots of fatty food. Such as pizza. Enjoy!
Thursday 16 November
As if three promotions, a Football League Trophy, ten years of overachievement and a strong reputation for attractive football were not enough, Alan Buckley surpassed all that the day he began a third spell as GTFC manager by brokering a peace deal between the club and Radio Humberside, bringing to an end the latest in Town's long line of embarrassing spats with the local media in recent years. Just as supporters were planning visits to Crawley Town and St Albans City in next season's Conference, the return of Buckley has brought a bigger feelgood factor to the south bank of the Humber than if the entire population of Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Immingham and South Ferriby had simultaneously necked tablets of the finest-grade ecstasy known to humanity. And to cope with the demand for tickets to the manager's first home game in charge the FA Cup first round replay against Northampton next Tuesday the Blundell Park ticket office will be opening this Saturday afternoon, while Town prepare for a league game away at Wycombe. The club's official website says that fans will be able to buy tickets for the cup game from 9am to 3pm for season ticket holders wishing to secure their seats, which will go on general sale from 5pm on Monday. The club is expecting a gate of between 3,000 and 4,000. Crazy times!
The good times had come back for the Mariners' reserves, of course, afore yon Buckley had even turned rudder back Cleewards. After an amazing 18-month winless streak was brought to a spectacular end in October with a 6-1 win over Boston's second string, and Stuart Watkiss led the reserves on an open-topped bus ride through Top Town watched by 17 people on a windy Wednesday night, there was no looking back, and the stiffs proceeded to win their next... er... well, I would tell you how many games they'd won after that, but I can't remember off the top of my head, and nobody at GTFC cares enough to have bothered updating the relevant page of the club's official website since 29 August. But you get the idea: once third-rate, the second string is now first-class. This tremendous reversal of fortune continued at Blundell Park yesterday with a 3-0 win over Sheffield United reserves' B-team (the reserve 'A' players of Premiership clubs presumably being too rich and delicately scented to have to play against scabby little Grimsby), in which all three goals were scored by Andy Taylor and Town fielded a trialist called Kyle Nix. That name rings a bell have we had him before, or was that just the Diary in Chammy Manager?
Notwithstanding the apparent incompatibility of their reserve teams, Town and the Blades have crossed paths once or twice in the past. The Yorkshire side intercepted Steve Kabba and Michael Boulding on their way to sign contracts at Blundell Park, while it was from Bramall Lane that the Mariners nicked both Phil Barnes and that song about a packet of Woodbines. Curtis Woodhouse, of course, played for both clubs before he became a professional boxer, but now that he has been found guilty of assaulting a police officer it is mostly as "a former Grimsby Town footballer" that he is designated by the media. The sentence for this crime which took place on 30 April, right at the climax of the Mariners' 200506 league season has now been imposed by the hotbed of justice that is Bridlington Magistrates Court, and the guilty party seems to have got off quite lightly, having been ordered to complete 120 hours of community service and to pay £100 to the copper who he decked. Let us hope Curt can now make a better job of continuing his boxing career than Town made of continuing their promotion challenge immediately after the incident.
It is from violent crime to financial crime that we now turn with today's emails to the Diary. "If you're unlucky enough to have a train journey long enough each morning to buy a newspaper with more in it than pictures of David Gest or Princess Diana," begins Steve Hull, "then you might have seen today's Guardian sports section that has half a page of dirt on Boston, or at least the shady characters that inhabit that part of Lincolnshire." That'll be this piece by the estimable David Conn, summarising all that has made the Pilgrims rotten to the core, and well worth a read if you didn't feel too sick after reading Richard Dawson's excellent account of the same right here on Cod Almighty. "Sadly no mention of the BP ejection incident," observes Steve. Hey, what happened with that in the end? Did Evans get done even more, or is the FA operating to its usual timetable and planning to bring charges some time in 2013?
Finally today and this is all from me for the week, as this page will be guest-written by Durham Diary tomorrow Rick O'Shea has an axe to grind. "Martin McIntosh. James Lawson. Tony Thorpe. Andy Butler. Kevin James," he writes. "That's five loan players, not four." Sorry, Rick, but you'll have to take that up with the Quiz. Thanks for pointing it out, though that means this Diary scored eight, not seven. Get in!
Wednesday 15 November
For your Text Alert Diary, one of the great joys of working at home is being able to make a cup of tea whenever and however I want. Sadly, my biscuit tin always lets me down. By midweek all that remains are the crumbs of chocolate covered Hobnobs. The Jaffa Cakes don't even make it that far, munched within hours of the Saturday shop. In their absence the serviceable reserves of Rich Tea biscuits acquired from the nearby corner shop have to do. I want to dunk and I don't care what biscuit I have to do it.
Alan Buckley, however, comes across as a more conservative man, who would rather go without than succumb to such a meagre biscuit. The top man has made it clear he's seen what is in the Blundell Park tin, but isn't going to rush and bring any old biscuits in to the changing room. "I can go out there and sign ten players but they might not be the right players for Grimsby Town." The loan window shuts a week tomorrow, but rest assured Sir Alan knows his biscuits from his cookies, and won't be settling for any of that Maryland crap.
How times changes for the reserves. A couple of weeks back such was the disillusionment with the first XI, there was unheralded jubilation as the club's stiffs full to the brim with youngsters (or, hee hee, home-made biscuits, if we are to continue that tedious analogy) - broke their winless streak. And then they followed it up with a second glorious win! Now with Buckley back and hogging the limelight, it is time for the second string to return to playing second fiddle. They're taking on Sheffield United's 'B team' today, and Stuart Watkiss is already getting his excuses in, forced, as he is, to use ever younger youngsters: "It's great to win of course but results can be misleading if we play a weakened side, for instance. What we look for mainly is the performance." And all eyes will be on the performance of trialist midfielder Kyle Nix, who, like a twelfth man in cricket, is borrowed from today's opposition.
"No running. No petting. No bombing." Those were the three key no-nos I remember on a poster at Scartho Baths. And Gary Cohen and that hot little biscuit called Luton's Michael Reddy are out to flaunt the first of those rules, grasses teacher's pet the Grimmo Telegraph. It's OK though, before you purse your lips and whistle Mr Lifeguard, for the lads are using "Aqua Running" in their get fit programme. Apparently, unlike running on a football pitch, running in a pool doesn't put stress upon ankles, knees and hip joints, which means less chance of the guys hurting themselves again. Yeah, and NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA it also means you move as quick as the Six Million Dollar Man in those slo-mo sequences. Shelly Wilkins, whose scheme this is, also thinks "it would also be good for the fit players because you are using your leg muscles all the time". Shelly, meet Gary Jones...
Speaking of the man who looks like his daily sustenance is ten packets of chocolate digestives covered in extra chocolate, the Tellywag is giving away a "day to remember" to some lucky under-14s. Nine-year-old Joe Lofts reckoned "it was really good" because he got to run onto the pitch with Gaz J. A nine-year-old and Gary Jones who would win that race?
And finally to the top story on the OS, the promise of "John and Alan part 2". Not, sadly, the second instalment of a chat with comic book legends John Wagner and Alan Grant discussing Judge Dredd among others. Although you wouldn't put such a trick past Dale Ladson and his internet pixies, this is actually the concluding half of Monday's confabulation with Grimsby Town's chairman and manager. And if your Diary writer had remembered to renew his Mariners World subscription we'd be able to tell you what the top two said. Before you say: "Call this coverage? This takes the biscuit!", though, fear not, for the supporters' trust (who have kinda reminded me this morning my trust membership is paid by direct debit, unlike my Mariners World sub) are going to transcribe the whole thing and put it up on their website at some point in the near future. If you want your AB video fix and can't afford luxuries like Mariners World, then try this free little gem hidden away on This Is Grimsby. Enjoy.
Tuesday 14 November
The returned saviour of all humankind, Alan Buckley, has stunned Grimbarians by admitting that his side's chances of victory in their first-round FA Cup replay next week followed by wins in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds, quarter-final, semi-final and final are slim. Just three days after the first game of Buckley's third spell at Blundell Park ended in a creditable goalless draw at Northampton, the manager has dashed hopes of Town seeing off the Cobblers in next Tuesday's replay and Barnet in the following round and then recording wins over opposition from throughout the Football League and Premiership in the six rounds that follow to amaze the football world by lifting the famous trophy in a historic Millennium Stadium final on 19 May 2007. "I am a realist of course and know it is unlikely we can go on and lift the FA Cup," Buckley says in a Grimsby Telegraph interview today, as everyone in the room broke off their conversations to look round and stare in horrified, the jukebox suddenly lurched into silence, and a big, scary-looking man turned furiously away from the dartboard after his final arrow on a double-top checkout flailed wildly into the wall.
Yes, well. The interesting stuff today is in the interview given by Buckley and John Fenty last night to Dave Otter of Grimsby Town Supporters Trust, and it's only on Mariners World at the moment and the Diary's Mariners World subscription lapsed some time ago. Still, now that the club is talking to Radio Humberside again, I might renew it, to be honest with you, Burnsy. In the meantime, until normal service is renewed, here's a picture of John McDermott without a dog and a noughts and crosses game on a blackboard for you to bid on and raise funds for the trust.
Town's lengthy FA Cup run this season has got Diary readers tapping frantically at their mail packages, so to speak, and Michael Shelton is a bit concerned about the effects of a long weekend in north London: "If we do beat Northampton we play Barnet away on 2 December, followed by Barnet away on 5 December. Anyone fancy splitting the difference and having a winner-takes-all double match at 2am on the 4th?" Be careful what you wish for, Michael, especially within earshot of Sky. "Or shall we just lose to Northampton?" That would probably be the simplest thing.
A reader calling himself John O'Groates, meanwhile, has noticed the item on the OS about tickets for the Northampton replay and the league game at Wycombe this Saturday. "I'm a little worried about this bit: 'The Grimsby Town Supporters club are running a coach to Wycombe. The cost is £24 and can be booked by calling Terry Hall on: 07716 094444.' Terry Hall? I certainly hope it won't be a ghost town at Adams Park on Saturday... err... I'll get me coat." An apt reference indeed in the light of Buckley's reappointment, given that bit in the second verse that goes "Why must the youth fight against themselves?"
That just leaves Sibbo, who returns to familiar Diary territory by beginning his email: "I couldn't quite believe my ears as I listened to the breakfast news early on Sunday morning. They were discussing and asking viewers to text in, regarding pasties! Now I can't say what it was all about because I switched the TV off. I did wonder, though, if anyone from CA had instigated the discussion." You switched the TV off? What? "However, there are much more important topics to talk about now. Football being one. With Alan Buckley back on the scene, I hope we're in for some good times again. This season I've sat watching Town and thought: 'For Hell's sake, excite me.' I've never understood why so many of our fans dislike AB so much. We've a lot to thank him for. If he and his team excite me then it'll do me." Football more important than pasties? Speak for yourself, man...
Monday 13 November
Hello and welcome to today's Buckley or, as it was previously known, the Diary. Passing? Movement? Isn't it? Town's new old manager has celebrated his side's marvellous performance in drawing 0-0 at Northampton on Saturday by pulling on his boots for the club's Chairman's Challenge match yesterday. The game which takes place to raise funds for something or other, I think, possibly just the club, I can't quite remember belied the latter days of Buckley's previous spell at Blundell Park by yielding 16 goals in all (nine for the GTFC XI and seven for the sponsors), and a report on the club's official website depicts the manager showing Luton's Michael Reddy how to win a penalty by diving and make it look convincing. The photographs are credited to Mark Fenty, proving that if you can rely on a Buckley regime for proper passing football and a refusal to consider employing non-British players, you are also guaranteed rampant nepotism.
Should Buckley's FA Cup battlers overcome the Cobblers in their replay a week tomorrow an occasion that is promising to be not a little rousing, if not arousing their reward will be a second-round visit to Barnet, who currently sit two points and two places above Town in the fourth division league table. The tie is scheduled for Saturday 2 December and pits the Bees against Lincolnshire opposition for a second consecutive round after they claimed a late win on Saturday at Gainsborough Trinity of the Conference North. The match could also see the Mariners line up against Paul Warhurst, who formed part of GTFC's infamous Law's Losers side in 2004 and has made 13 league starts for Barnet this year more than twice the number he managed for Town, Stoke, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Carlisle, Blackpool, Wrexham and Forest Green, if you want to go into unnecessarily painful detail about his record since leaving Bolton in 2003.
Any old how, the tickets for next Tuesday are now on sale: it says so on the OS, but thanks to John Ide for emailing to tell us in the meantime.
"So the sour-faced dwarf is back?" begins another email to the Diary, this time from Ben Gresswell. "All I want to know is who the other 'numerous' applicants were? And what's with the unfinished business crap? I guess only time will tell but if we don't get promoted and win the FA Cup this season, it will be proof that Fenty has made yet another bad decision. Booo, sort it Mum!" Confirming that he is in a satirical mode, Ben then asks: "Oh, and another thing, when is the new stadium going to be finished?"
Today's final word is from Guest Diary or, more accurately, from Emily Dickinson, since it is this enigmatic American poet into whose work GD has dipped for some thoughts that sum up the return of Mr Alan B. "Good ol' Emily words for every occasion," enthuses Guest. See you tomorrow, all.
My life closed twice before its close;
Saturday 11 November
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
The phrase 'immediate impact' trips joyously to mind as the first game of Alan Buckley's third spell in charge of the Mariners, a daunting FA Cup visit to third division Northampton, yields the side's third clean sheet of the season in a goalless draw. Indeed, Town came close several times to breaking the deadlock in a heart-warming exhibition of old-school passing and movement, despite injuries and Lumpension necessitating a rookie forward line comprising Danny North and Nick Hegarty. The result means Buckley's first home match will be the replay at Blundell Park a week on Tuesday. Please, quickly, somebody tell me when the tickets go on sale.
Friday 10 November
The stretched twig of peace has been in meltdown these last twenty-four hours, on the Grimsby Town messageboards. Fans who were screaming like stuck pigs at the prospect of the third coming of Buckley were mysteriously converted overnight, and are screeching like teenage Beatle girls at the prospect of being in the presence of their latest messiah at the next home game. I hear it on good authority that the Blundell Park pie order is likely to be increased by at least twenty per cent and that two and a half ambulances may be required. The Grimsby Telegraph is expected to run a two-page supplement on the latter issue in the near future. Long may the bubble swell isn't it nice to feel vaguely optimistic again?
Interviewed by Chapman Baxter on The Day Today (link sadly unavailable due to copyright reasons, explains your Guest Diarist), Mr Buckley explained that the "unfinished business" to which he has constantly referred in all media interviews since his appointment does not include the prospect of physical assault on either journalists or fans. Indeed Mr Buckley confirmed that he never squared up to anyone during his two previous terms at the club, adding that even his wife had put up with him for over thirty years. In a crafty swipe at those likening him with the son of God, Buckley reassured viewers that those Town players injured before his arrival, were, in fact, still injured. Buckley's eyebrows remained resolutely static during the exchange with Baxter, and his body language was described by Suzannah Geckeloy, an expert in these matters, as 'oaky in character with distinct after tones of middle aged adrenalin and fiery jack.'
Coincident with the appointment of Mr Buckley comes the news that former Town favourite Peter Handyside has been placed on the transfer list after Hucknall Town were knocked out of the FA Cup. Will Buckley be tempted to attempt a Sea Biscuit with his broken down old favourite? This information was discovered by a Cod Almighty hack whilst vainly perusing Hucknall Today for news of his beloved Mick. Actually Mick Hucknall once sang a very creditable cover of Neil Young's on the beach that I would like to hear again. Has anyone out there got a bootleg of it?
In a Mariners World video interview and another one with the Grimsby Telegraph Messrs Buckley and Watkiss have faced up to the injury and suspension problems for the away game at Northampton in the cup tomorrow. Jones is suspended; Rankin's injury has recurred; Bore, like many teenage boys is having trouble with his groin and has had the same fluey bug as me; Ravenhill has a hamstring problem; and Barnes' dodgy thigh continues. Of these, Barnes and Bore will likely play; Ravenhill likely won't and Rankin is rated 50:50. So one of the young lads may get a chance to partner seasoned pro Peter Bore. I won't be going so if anyone gets a chance please give the Crowe man a good booing for me. See yer.
Thursday 9 November
It is 9:30, your Guest Diarist is poorly with man-flu and the two big stories of the day have already broken so I might as well tell you about them. First there is the tale of Ashley Sestanovich's attempt to outdo Curtis Woodhouse in the criminality stakes. Ashley is accused of helping to set up an old fashioned 'blag' on a roofing firm via many mobile phone conversations with his mate (who worked there) and his hairdresser. The hairdresser and another mate burst in to the roofer's and shot the owner's brother because he could not produce the eleven grand in cash that was supposed to be there. If the poor bloke hadn't died after the first shot "miraculously missed him" (but the second presumably didn't) then there would be a feast of jokes in this story. The trial, as they say, continues.
The trial that is being sentenced to be a lifelong Grimsby Town fan continues too with the heavily trailed appointment of Alan Buckley to manage Grimsby Town being confirmed by the club at about 09:01 this morning. Sky beat the official site by about four seconds to announce this news. The official site tells us that Alan has signed a "rolling two and a half year deal with the club". Now does that mean every two and a half years the interested parties will meet and debate whether to renew? God knows here for the interested is a definition of a rolling contract.
Stalwart Cod Almighty match reporter Tony Butcher has emailed the Diary to point out that Buckley's appearance at Northampton will represent the third coming one more than Jesus managed apparently. As you will gather the Spinal Tap video is very well worn in the Butcher/Firth household. But Mr Butcher has also been reading a fine interview with the estimable Nigel Blackwell from Half Man Half Biscuit (a Tranmere fan, for the uninitiated, who made some fine records) and the following two paragraphs are reproduced here as a rejoinder to all the shouty 'big' men who have been screaming down at us from the various messageboards this past week:
"I take the stance that whatever division this club happens to be in doesn't decide if I'm going to support them or not - that is the behaviour of a spoilt child. I can honestly say I don't concern myself too much about who is in charge (boardroom or team manager) as it is the Institution that I follow so over the years heads roll and Chairmen step down but it never particularly interests me. I simply go through the turnstile, watch the game and go home. It was ever thus.
It is time to get back to the basis of once-a-Town-fan-always-a-Town fan regardless of who manages them and who plays for them. Town are Town and thus it will ever be. Real Town fans need to stand up and be counted fair square behind the team and the manager. Mr Fenty has taken a risky decision, but it is taken and nothing has been lost, in my view, for taking it quickly and decisively. Now Mr Fenty should apply some management expertise to make sure the club is being run as well as possible off the pitch, leaving Mr Buckley to generate improvements on it. If we avoid relegation and pass it a bit this season that will be real progress. If we stabilise the club's financial figures, stop being over-sensitive to media criticism, and recognise that a new stadium is an aspiration rather than a short-term necessity then that would make more pragmatic sense and represent further progress.
"I will NEVER get on a player's back as that NEVER makes him perform better (quite the opposite in fact). Let's say for instance David Raven turns out to be hopeless - fingers crossed he doesn't of course - well how could anyone bring themselves to lambast someone who is probably acting out one of his adolescent fantasies (after the Vorderman one of course) by playing for the team he supported as a youngster. He can already do no wrong in my book. Encouragement is such a powerful weapon."
The decision to keep Mr Watkiss as the number two provides for an interesting blend of the old and the new. You show me your coaching badges and I'll show you my winner's medals. In an interview on Mariners World Mr Fenty has said the pair "got on like a house on fire" at their first meeting. He added that Mr Buckley would be provided with any players that he recommended to the board, but that the biggest task he faced was to turn a squad that is strong on paper for this division into a team that wins matches. AB in turn said that he was looking forward to working with the players on the training ground; that he was unlikely to take the lead for Saturday's cup game, but that he would be training with the players today and tomorrow. He said that he was prepared to take the flak for "over-playing", as do Arsenal, but that his vision remains to play fast, progressive passing football.
The next three months will be fascinating and are unpredictable. Make sure you go to some Town matches to see the next few chapters unfold. See yer.
Wednesday 8 November
Grimsby Town Football Club's annual manager hunt involves several ritual procedures by all those involved. The chief of the clan initiates the ceremony by reciting traditional folk wisdoms concerning the need to appoint the right candidate and the number of high-quality applications already received. The followers then begin a formal invocation by continuously chanting the mantra "Buck-ley-Wil-kinson-Cock-e-rill... Buck-ley-Wil-kinson-Cock-e-rill... Buck-ley-Wil-kinson-Cock-e-rill... Buck-ley-Wil-kinson-Cock-e-rill-FORD!" The Diary then starts a massive fire, draws marks across his face in lipstick and runs around the local park stark bollock naked.
Town's directors were meeting last night to carry the rite to its next stage. Positive John has told Radio Humberside that one candidate stands out Herbal Essences above the rest, and the name of Alan Buckley is featuring more loudly than usual in the current round of incantation. If this should prove to have been significant when the vacancy is filled, it will surely beg the question of why, if Positive John dumped Graham Rodger because the fans didn't like him, he went on to appoint a manager who despite, or perhaps because of, his record as the most successful in the club's 128-year history is utterly despised by a sizeable proportion of local supporters. Still, it was the chairman who, shortly before appointing Rodger five months ago, said: "I'm sure the fans will be happy with the choice." Sorry head and shoulders.
The yoof were knocked out of the FA Yoof Cup last night by their counterparts from Huddersfield. Booo, Woodses out! The only goal came after 80 minutes in which Town's callow blooms seemed to have a slight edge over their opponents, according to the account given on the official website, which is fairly decent but towards the end reverts to capping up random words (Assistant Referee!) and reports that Andy Taylor had a "foot race" against the Terriers' keeper. This is perhaps a kind of reverse echo from a future age when one of Sepp Blatter's ideas is finally put into practice and youth football introduces 200cc motorbikes in a bid to boost attendances.
Ray Davies may have been a lover not a fighter, but Curtis Woodhouse is a fighter not a creative midfield dynamo. The former Town, Peterborough, Birmingham, Sheffield United and King$ton Communication$ FC player was known to be partial to the odd barney even before he swapped the pitch for the ring, and his fledgling pugilistic career has now been dealt what is hopefully not a knockout blow by Bridlington magistrates who yesterday found him guilty of assaulting a police officer and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. The charges related to an incident that took place on 30 April during the decisive period of the Mariners' unsuccessful bid for automatic promotion last season and the sentence will be passed on 15 November after reports are received by the judge. Mr Woodhouse is also believed to be built for speed.
"The infamous petrol station on the A180 must have a midlands adjunct, for that is where most of our successful managers come from. Well, Buckley anyway." Thus begins an email from Cod Almighty's match reporter come hell or high water, Mr Tony Butcher, who offers what is presumably a unique perspective on the current vacancy at Blundell Park. "My friend Jackie, who supports Arsenal, took her daughter and friend to Nottingham to see McFly in HMV. They couldn't get in, so she took them for a meal in TGI's. That's her daughter and friend, not McFly. At the next table was Nigel Clough and family. When not asked about the Grimsby job he didn't say he was going to take over from Graham Rodger, but he absolutely did not tell Jackie that he wasn't." And Alan Buckley wasn't even in TGI's to deny it so there it is in black and white (with girly white socks): Clough as manager, Buckley as director of communications.
That's all from yer regular Diary this week, as I have an important interview to attend tomorrow.
Tuesday 7 November
Sky Sports has won the race to become the first professional news medium to mention Glenn Cockerill in connection with the vacant job of Grimsby manager. This keenly contested annual award, now in its sixth year, was scooped by the broadcaster last night with an impressive time within 11 hours of the sacking of Graham Rodger being announced by the club. As is traditional for the competition's winning story, Sky's piece contains absolutely no evidence supporting its assertion that the Woking manager is likely to apply for the position at Blundell Park other than that he was born in Grimsby. Media organisations that missed out on first place in the Cockerill competition are now preparing for the annual contest to link Nigel Clough with the Mariners job with absolutely no evidence other than that somebody mentioned on a messageboard in 2001 that he'd done quite well at Burton Albion and the idea just caught on for some reason.
The youth of today, eh? When they're not smashing up old grannies and mugging phone boxes, they're winning the Midlands Floodlit Cup. And Town's super team of young chaps did exactly that last season. Win the Midlands Floodlit Cup, I mean, not smash up old grannies and mug phone boxes. I hope. Tonight they are taking their talents to a grander stage, as their assault on this year's big one, the FA Youth Cup, begins at home to Huddersfield. Not to downplay the achievements of the yoof last season, but in the MFC they were playing against Walsall and Kidderminster and that, while in the FA Cup they could come up against the absolute cream of England's young talent: the future internationals waiting in the wings at Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. And you know what the Diary always says: if you can't beat 'em, steal their expensive watches from the changing room.
"Beagrie for manager, he's the fans' favourite," writes Michael Shelton in an email to the Diary. Well, with all that media work, Mike, he's bound to have loads of contacts. Steve Hull, meanwhile, picks up on the disgrace to Grimsby Town FC and the English language that was the official website's send-off to Graham Rodger yesterday. "Luckily (to save Grimbarians' embarrassment), the BBC managed to pluck a number of extracts from the official site and make suitable edits to make them comprehensible," writes Steve. "I was relieved that they dropped the capital 'B' from board as well as that strange 'circumstances' fallen'." Is it just me, or is the OS getting worse? It used to just misspell the names of the club's own players and invent non-existent countries in Africa; now it reads like one of those spam emails that tries to fool the spam filter by putting the real content in an image file and loads of random stuff in the body text of the email.
You can use Guidance Explorer to find out. The fruit can be prepared and matured well a head of time. You can use Guidance Explorer to find out. If cooking in advance, store chilled in an air tight container. Place the pudding into the pot and cover. In the evening, after it was dark, Bertram was admitted into Diana'sindeed impossible, that any gentleman would ever be found who woulditself in the wide sea. The package would also be well suited for bakers, food technologists and product developer as well as the keen home cooks. Coarsely chop the rosellas and the limes and slice the quandong into strips. So I unhappily, to find a mother and alost his wealth at sea Or is it the death of some dear friend that fair prayer to soften Angelo, and that is my business between you and you are the lady of the house for I should be sorry to cast away my him, saying, Come, boy, with me. My thoughts are ripe for mischief. which Lucius's pride had made necessary to him yet, oh! the monster How often have you seen a location on TV to find that the site is inaccessible to the general public? During the cruise, we will be hosting various Australian themed dinner menus in the Compass Rose restaurant. Then grate the Granny Smith apples into the mix.
Monday 6 November
The first thing the Diary learned today was that pau heoheo is a Hawaiian phrase signifying a person who returns from fishing without any fish. A couple of hours later I discovered that Graham Rodger had become a pau heoheo, his spell in charge of the Mariners having ended with 16 points from 17 league games representing something of an empty keep net. Let us look at how Grimsby Town Football Club reports the news.
Graham Rodger has been most loyal and dedicated servant to the Club, which started back in 1992, he has qualities this Club needs, the shame of it is that this man deserved better. Sadly, he has become a victim of circumstances' fallen in his current roll due to the unrelenting pressures and lack of patience that surrounds football.
It is indeed a shame that so loyal and dedicated a servant is given a 'tribute' that reads like it is written by a dyslexic chimpanzee and the shame deepens when you read between the lines, since the subtext of this drivel seems to be "we don't think sacking him is the right thing to do; we're just doing it because the impatient fans wanted us to". This moral frailty is borne out further as the club's website announces the decision to "relieve the Manager of his current duties": a euphemism as cowardly as it is clichιd. Few would argue that Rodger looked like the right man for the job but if this was John Fenty's conviction, it is sad that the chairman seemingly lacks the courage to go with it. Rodger's temporary replacement Stuart Watkiss becomes Town's fifth manager in two and a half years a chronic instability of leadership which prompts the Diary to wonder whether the net effect of today's decision may only be to make things worse.
This chop-and-change management policy differs markedly from that in operation at Town's little brother club Scunthorpe United, where Brian Laws has been in charge ever since he was sacked by the Mariners in about 1842, and who are currently sitting third in the third division league table, a record 43 places above GTFC. Laws is unlikely to immediately enter the running to replace Graham Rodger, as he is set to be appointed at Sheffield Wednesday today but given that managers tend to depart from Hillsborough at the same dizzying regularity with which they are now despatched from Blundell Park, Town may well decide to keep Watkiss on as caretaker for the time being, and then give Laws the job when he gets sacked by Wednesday in two months' time.
Today's events will at least give John Fenty and Dave Otter plenty to talk about when the club chairman is interviewed by his counterpart at Town's supporters' trust next Monday. The head-to-head will be broadcast on Mariners World, reports the OS, with a transcript on the regular site, and the trust is inviting fans to suggest the queries they would like to be put to the chairman. "Questions covering topical subjects such as the new stadium development will be especially welcomed," explains the site, not adding: "Please, just ask about the stadium, and not the culture of administrative complacency and recent sequence of executive decisions that have brought the club to its most desperate circumstances since the introduction of decimal coinage." The club and trust are also planning a joint fans' forum and quiz night at McMenemy's on Tuesday 12 December, so make sure you send your questions to the right email addresses and don't end up asking Fenty what 'Tardis' is an acronym for or which James Bond film starred George Lazenby.
The Cod Almighty mailserver has been groaning under the weight of the two emails sent to the Diary in the hours since Rodger's sacking, with Michael Shelton declaring himself "disappointed but not entirely surprised. I'm sure he had very good intentions, and actually seemed to care, unlike some previous managers. Perhaps after being a player/assistant for so long he found it impossible to command respect from the players, to stop being their mate
and start being their boss?" Perhaps so, Mikey or maybe during his team talks they just couldn't concentrate on what he was saying because they were all mesmerised by the way his eyebrows moved up and down all the time. Mark Dill (or Dillerstone, I suspect), meanwhile, demonstrates that the Diary's ongoing campaign for better communications from the club is grounded in pragmatism rather than pedantry. "The wording of the text from GTFC left me slightly confused," he writes. "Does 'relive the Graham Rodger of his duties' mean he has gone or that we have to suffer it all again?"
Saturday 4 November
Rrrrrricky Rrrrrravenhill cracks in a last-minute goal as a battling and gutsy performance from Town sees a deserved last-gasp victory against Bastard Franchise Scum FC. We can dream, eh. The truth is far bleaker: Rrrrrricky's goal is barely deserved as Town's whole team - let alone the defence - goes AWOL, letting the visitors put three tame goals past a bewildered Phil Barnes. The last ten minutes of the game are witnessed by what seems like half of the official attendance of 3,268, as supporters stream for the exits when BFSFC net for the third time. Those early leavers missed the highlight of the game: a string of fireworks exploding beyond the Osmond, each pretty explosion greeted by a cheer of "hooray!" Town slip another place in the league to 22nd, three points ahead of the Fat Fraudster's Boston United.
Kevin James, stretchered off after an awkward fall half an hour into the game, is sidelined for "six to twelve weeks" with a dislocated shoulder, according to the GTFC CLBTXT service. He remains with Town until 27 January 2007, however. Graham Rodgerses tells Radio Humberside that the club is definitely in a relegation fight now and the team needs some firepower now rather than December (when Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy are due back). He also thinks the fans have been "patient" and "fair". Did he hear the Pontoon calling "we want Rodger out"?
Friday 3 November
For the last hour or so your Guest Diarist's teeth have been gritted as I listen to the vacuous pap that is Radio Lincolnshire. They have lots of bat facts to send out, apparently. And have sent out "over thirty" already. And why am I doing this? Because today is the day when Steve Evans might get sent down for defrauding us taxpayers out of over three hundred grand and denying those poor sods from Dagenham & Redbridge their right to play League football. And I was just interested to see how local radio was viewing the situation. Meantime the writers of impsTalk are having a right old time posting up-to-the-minute updates from Southwark, where the court action is due to commence at 2pm.
But he won't go down, will he? The judge will view this as more of a corporate crime than one that put a greedy club above its station and fucked up the lives of its closest rivals. Let's hope the league take a sufficiently dim view of it all to kick them back to the Conference because that is what this offence warrants. Most clubs, from the top down, get up to the odd shenanigan. Boston have got up to more shenanigans in the last ten years than I've had hot flippin' dinners. Call back later on this afternoon and I'll post an update on what the judge says.
Most Town fans are long-suffering. We've had practice. And we maybe even secretly like it when we have a clown to shout at. Someone pointed out recently that the "clown" insult is peculiarly Grimbarian and is implicitly handed down from generation to generation. But I've found a right one this morning: a Town fan who patently needs help. Not only has this poor creature shelled out to buy a four foot square picture of Russell Slade, but he's bid over a hundred quid (and counting) to try to buy Beagrie's shirt. Perhaps he's planning to make a Town-themed Guy Fawkes to burn on Sunday? But seriously, mate you need to calm down a bit. Why not write in and tell us all about it?
As for the clown in question, well, Mr Rodger said "stand up and be counted" more times than I care to remember in his Mariners World match preview today. At one stage the camera operator neatly highlighted his problem, panning away from Rodgerses' eyebrows to a group of nine Town players five of whom were lounging on their backsides on the turf. Rodgerses feels that Town have played a lot of games lately and that his team were half a yard short after the Peterborough heroics. Butler had the flu, apparently, and may miss his last game tomorrow. Curiously, this comes at a time when Whittle is fit again. In fact Whittle is only ever fit this season when he is required to step in to one breach or another. Bolland is back in contention, Rodgerses tells us, and so will be the other usual suspects.
Milton Keynes Today is another vacuous publication to which I have resorted this morning. It delivers unto us a preview of Grimsby Town which is as entertaining as it is accurate. On another page you can read that the Franchisees have been sunning it this week on a three-day mini break in Oman. I'd have come up to Humberston Fitties, meself, which would have been much more relaxing.
Anyroad, that's it until the sentencing verdict comes in. Talk to you later...
"What a fackin' liberty!" he wheezed. "What time is it?" said the judge to Evans when they met. "Five to ten," said Stevie. The judge says, "That's exactly what you'll get." There endeth this most stilted of Tate/Dylan homages. It would have been better no doubt for a touch of Scarlett Rivera on the violin. But the violins are playing for Boston and the whole flipping game of football as the fat recalcitrant Evans gets a measly 12-month suspended fucking sentence. The other villain of the piece, 'long-time Boston supporter' and ex-chairman Pat Malkinson gets two years, also suspended. Both villains begged at length for mercy with Evans reportedly claiming all the wrongdoing was well under way before he arrived. Thanks to impsTALK for this news. Time I got the tea on. See yer.
Thursday 2 November
The five years since Town bizarrely topped the Football League for a day have been characterised by poor executive decision-making, excessive use of the loan system, dwindling attendances, hopeless football, relegation, disappointment, cynicism, misery and despair. Oh, and players taking it in turns to do interviews where they say: "I don't know why we're doing so badly in the league. It's not like we're rubbish or anything. We just need to string two or three results together and we'll be up there in the play-offs," only for the team to go without a win in their next half-dozen games, failing to register a single shot on target at Gigg Lane and Gay Meadow and blundering from one defensive catastrophe to another. This week it's the turn of loanee AM/F RL Kevin James, who enjoyed a super debut when the Mariners claimed a rare away point at Peterborough last weekend and is still sufficiently full of the joys of life today to proclaim to a global Mariners World audience of millions that a spectacular ascent up the fourth division league table is just a matter of time for Rodgerses's battlers. Well, I assume that's what he says from the fact that the headline thing reads James: Town Are Better Than This, anyway, because I haven't actually bothered looking at the interview. Heard one, you've heard 'em all.
Even if Kev means every word he says and who are we to doubt him; it's not like professional footballers have ever left us disappointed his mission to make us believe cannot be helped by GTFC sending out adverts in their emails that look like this. Take comfort, reader, that if our club ever ceases to exist then sooner or later somebody will reinvent it as the basis for a TV sitcom.
It should be a cracking read here tomorrow, when Guest Diary will be rubbing his hands in glee at the sentencing in the Boston fraud trial. Until then all that remains is to note that, like many citizens of his namesake city, Steve Hull seems to enjoy a fight but his preference is for a civilised kind, conducted by email with the Diary. "Perish the thought, but do I note a grammatical error with 'paradoxes'?" he asks, referring to yesterday's shooting-fish-in-a-barrel job the Diary did on the hopeless OS match report for Tuesday's no-show at Mansfield. If you can think of a better plural for 'paradox' then I'd be delighted to hear it, but go on. "A quick google confirms my suspicions, and throws up an amusing couple of alternatives: parodies or paradise. I don't think the latter would be suitable for a Town match report." No, but the former would if the OS were not taking the piss already.
Wednesday 1 November
With Isaiah Rankin regaining something approaching match fitness and Gary Cohen returning to the training ground, Town supporters have enjoyed nothing but good news this week, and last night's defeat in the Pot of Paint is no exception. With their side being ejected from the tournament courtesy of a 3-0 thrashing at Mansfield, Mariners fans will no longer have to endure match reports littered with puns about glossy performances, matt finishes or painting the Town red. "The fans deserve better than that level of spineless sub-Richard Whiteley wordplay, and after this sort of performance from the players they won't have to put up with it any longer," GTFC boss Grahams Rodgers might have said, if he'd been up for joining in the Diary's lame-ass attempt at making light of the situation. There are those who refuse to take the Pot of Paint seriously, of course, but Town supporters will never forget their brush with success in the 1998 competition.
Entirely predictably, the Mariners' official website performs no better than the players when it comes to last night's game. A disastrous match report on the OS (where the Town squad still has two number 12s: Richard Ravenhill and Ricky Ravenhill) begins by naming Andy Butler as responsible for the own goal that opened the scoring at Field Mill, then explains that "Hamshaw's corner was met by the head of Danny Boshell and the ball flew into the net". The paradoxes continue in the second half, when we discover that a substitution can somehow be made and not made at the same time. "The Mariners introduced Nick Hegarty on 67 minutes, replacing Kevin James," says the OS. "Gary Harkins came on for a limping Gary Croft on 72 minutes. That didn't happen and the home side continued to cause the Mariners problems." In a way the Diary can make sense of this, as my fondest wish is to discover that everything that has happened to GTFC from the play-off final onwards has been a sort of collective bad dream, and that we can breezily dismiss it all just by saying: "That didn't happen."
"Oh God. Can this get any worse?" begins an email to the Diary from Rich Mills, capturing the mood nicely. "I'm finding myself siding with the nay-sayers and other assorted whingers; maybe Town should get rid of Grezza before it's too late. Or maybe I should keep off those messageboards before my grammar and spelling go to pot..." Cheer up, Rich! The future is bright, as the Mariners' all-conquering youth team have proved. True, it's a shame that nobody at the club has been bothered to update their results page on the official website since 9 September, but the youngsters look more than capable of defending their Midland Floodlit Cup thing if this week's 6-1 win over Kidderminster is anything to go by. What's that? Andy Taylor's return to the youth team meaning Danny North had to play half the first-team game at Mansfield last night? There are those who refuse to take the Pot of Paint seriously, of course.