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Diary - April 2007
Monday 30 April
It was always going to be too much to expect of GTFC and the local children that they let us say goodbye to McDermott properly, wasn't it?
With nothing to report this morning but a bad taste in the mouth and it isn't just the dodgy Bullion in the Rutland it's a good thing Town's official website has received some
fascinating photographs of "a Grimsby football team playing on the Philips field in Eindhoven on 31.8.1913, to mark the 100th anniversary of the independence of Napoleon". The match is against Willem II, who I seem to think Town played another friendly against in July 2004, and this hitherto unknown (at least by the Diary) detail of Mariners history assuming it is the Mariners and not another Grimsby football team makes you wonder how many other nuggets from the past have gone largely undocumented. If we take as little care about preserving and rediscovering the past as we do about commemorating the present, there are probably dinosaur bones just under the goal at the Pontoon end.
Sir Macca of Macc is not the only one around these parts to be taking his leave, as Ben Gresswell has emailed the Diary to observe: "I see the Postbag has done one again! Shoddy." Yes where is the Postbag? He always seems to be there at the start of the season, then disappear for half of it, to re-emerge promisingly in the springtime but finally vanish again right at the death. The rumours are yet to be started that Letters Ed is in fact Clive Mendonca.
Last up today comes an email from Berkshire Clap Clinic, in which the redoubtable Felix Oliver-Tasker reprises a Diary theme from last week. "With Ms Battersby joining the ranks of the ladies of the night," he writes, "I expect an rise in the number of punters attending our new and state-of-the-art establishment for the cure of Cupid's Measles and other rashly, pardon the pun, acquired maladies, especially if they have visited the Manchester area. I have instructed all staff to keep a sharp look out for a z-list celeb in dark glasses in case she turns unexpectedly. I've told them to let me know so that I can strike up that clamp/thumbscrew thingy I described a week or so ago. We may yet find a use for it. The delectable Nurse Bumm-ffondle can hardly wait to get started." And I thought saying goodbye to Macca was going to make my eyes water.
Friday 27 April
Well, it would seem that the emergence of Ryan Bennett as a genuine first team prospect at either centre-half or right-back has not done a lot for the football careers of Gary Croft, Matt Bloomer and Simon Grand. Lord Buckley has revealed to all and sundry in the last 24 hours that these three defenders will not be playing for Grimsby next season. And with the retirement of Sir John of McDermott, and the dumping also of Robert Murray, who has remained tantalisingly small for a modern goalkeeper, it starts to look like a bit of a defensive clearout. Lord AB also drove the final nail into the Reddy coffin, but admitted that talks are continuing with Lumpaldinho's agent. Your Guest Diarist never really did fathom these fangled contract options and what they really mean, but I hope it ends up with an amicable extension for the big man.
In much more disconcerting news, Town's glorious manager revealed that central midfield dynamo and all-round good egg Paul Bolland "felt a sharp pain in his buttock towards the end of training on Thursday". Buckley then pronounced him very doubtful for Saturday's match at home to Lincoln. The Mariners World interviewer diplomatically avoided asking whether Lord Buckley ever felt the same sensation when in close proximity to the wayward but dangerously straight teenage starlet Peter Bore him being a bit of a pain in the arse I hasten to add. No light was cast on how Town's midfield would be reshaped without Bolland, but given the paucity of central midfielders at the club, compared to the vast number of wide players hanging around, perhaps this might be the time to try Toner and Boshell in the centre? But then again, perhaps not, as horrible Toner gaffes from yore start to pop up in ever increasing numbers in my fevered brain.
Lincoln City, it must be said, have had a bit of a crap run since Christmas. And this time we won't have to endure the pain of watching Gary Jones trying to play centre-half, which was a bit like watching a seven-year-old boy trying to have a kickabout on the A1. Those square balls across his own box were scary stuff indeed. But this is one of those impossible-to-predict matches and Bolland's absence might be a big factor given the Imps' excellent midfield. Don't forget it's a one of the clock kick-off, by the way, and the crowd will be 6,000-plus, we hope. Bring your clapping gloves because they will get warmed up with a full minute celebrating the death of World Cup hero and totally crap manager Alan Ball. A man who auctioned off his World Cup medal. That's like Lisa Dingle throwing Zak's Tull albums out of the bedroom window, isn't it? Sacrilege. Thick as a bleedin' brick. See yer.
Thursday 26 April
Now that is how you design a new football stadium for a coastal town.
Every year, when Town find themselves in a bit of a pickle, the Grimsby Telegraph can be relied upon to team up with the club for a bit of a rallying cry. Keep the Mariners Afloat... Up the Mariners... Be Town's 12th Man... whether it's a financial crisis, a late-season slump in promotion form caused by the manager's uncertain contractual status, or a desperate shout to get behind the team and stave off the threat of non-League football, the local paper has always been there. This time round, after delivering some substantially bigger and more supportive crowds a couple of months ago when GTFC looked likely to accompany Torquay into next season's Conference, the campaign has sort of tailed off a bit as Town's improved form has lifted the side to fourth division safety. But for the final home game of the season against Lincoln this Saturday the Telegraph is urging fans towards one last magnificent gesture of encouragement for their heroes in black and white: wearing funny hats. And what better advocate for the cause than last week's heh! hat-trick hero Danny North? Mind that ink doesn't rub off on your head, Dan.
Do you know what the world's biggest killer is? War? Famine? Aids? No it's work. Two million people worldwide die every year as a result of workplace accidents or work-related illnesses three times more than are killed in wars and Dave the Engineer has emailed the Diary to point out that they are commemorated this Saturday on Workers Memorial Day. "Just a note to those of us who are fortunate enough to attend the match on Saturday. Spare a thought for those who lose their life carrying out their daily toil: 1500 people lost their lives at work in Britain last year, two million worldwide. April 28 is an internationally recognised day of remembrance. Remember the dead and fight for the living is the motto." The Diary couldn't agree more, sir, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. It rather puts in perspective all the health and safety myths we get force-fed by the right-wing media, I think.
John Ide has also emailed the Diary, but opts to tackle the subjects of fizzy drink promotions, football hooliganism and Leanne Battersby. "As to our esteemed chairman/ruler asking us to drink that brown American sweet stuff, and then the crowd control officer asking for no trouble on Saturday, I thought that the sweet fizzy stuff made the knuckle-dragging element even more ready for a dust-up. As for the Corrie 'lady of easy virtue', as one of my old mates used to say, who looks at the mantelpiece when poking the fire?" Well, indeed. When poking the fire one must focus one's attention on the task at hand, so as to avoid sending a hot coal tumbling off towards the hearth rug; but what all that has to do with Corrie, the Diary's innocent mind has no idea.
"Whilst perusing your Diary this evening," writes notorious mathematics undergraduate and my sometime Friday stand-in Durham Diary, "I was reminded of the occasion in freshers' week when the university liaison officer (or something) gave us a talk about crime prevention. 'Always lock your door if you're leaving your room, even if it's just for a few minutes or to go to the toilet or whatever,' said he. 'A lot can happen in two minutes just ask my wife.'" Again, I'm really not sure what he could have been getting at there. Was he particularly quick in the bathroom of a morning?
Before the Diary leaves you in the hands of Friday's guest GTFC news regurgitator, whomever and whomsoever he or she may be, there's just time, first, to remind you about 'Wear Your Town Shirt at Work' day tomorrow and second, to point you towards the handiwork of Ben Gresswell, who has responded to the Malaysian football agent who spammed the Diary yesterday and dutifully copied me in. So ace are the CV and covering letter he emailed to Mr Omar Ahmed that I thought they merited a page to themselves. Cheers, Ben and good luck!
Wednesday 25 April
Hello, you! GTFC are still yet to give their side of the story that was the 1-0 away win against Sheffield United achieved on Monday night by a youthful reserve side but the club's official website has somehow found the time to remind us all to consume more sugary carbonated drinks, so that's alright then. The only other new item on the OS is a piece by Humberside Police football intelligence officer Tim Harvey (now where have we heard that name before?) regarding the hope for violence at this weekend's home game against Lincoln, which begins like a best man speech and leaves you with the sort of "oh, so they can be nice as well as scary" feeling you got when the local bobby paid an annual visit to your primary school and did a magic trick or cracked a few cheesy gags. It's all quite well written, as it goes, and the bottom line is that if you know of anyone who may be seeking to express their essential working-class identity by breaking somebody's skull this Saturday then you should either give Timbo a bell on 01472 264725 or ring CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111. You don't have to give your name, but you can't claim a cash reward.
Oh, Grimsby smells of fish, apparently.
Literally two emails have been pouring in with your appraisals of Monday night's television. "Start spreading the news," writes Sibbo. "Anyone with a CA Macca T-shirt should wear it on Saturday and you never know your luck. You may just get close up to the delectable Rosa from GTTV. It can happen, believe me." Hey, I've heard about this. Was that you, then, Sibbo? We take a soapy turn with Ben Gresswell's email, which declares: "As an exiled Grimbarian living in Manchester (which is very close to Wetherfield), I can tell you that a girl of Leanne Battersby's talents would make a packet selling her wares amongst the likes of myself. Beggars cannot be choosers, dear Diary. Besides, what's wrong with her? She may have questionable parentage and be a tad common but hey, she's old enough and with a bag on her head could easily pass as Kylie. Marks out of ten? I'd give her one (and maybe a fiver for her trouble)." Well, each to their own, Ben. Perhaps the Diary is blinded to the charms of all other Corrie women by my ongoing infatuation with the lovely Violet.
"Dear Sir," writes Mr Omar Ahmed of Kuala Lumpur in an email to the Diary, "Welcome to Omar soccer recruitment agency, we make your dreams come true so long you have the skills and good foot-ball control. Applications are welcomed/invited from players who dream to play professional football or have there football carriers tested overseer's. applicants are invited to submit there details for the up coming season's trails starting in June, applicants whose applications are successful and are approved by this organization will have there applications submitted to various clubs here in Asia and clubs in Europe as well and will be invite for trails. As agents we guaranty you, good signing deals in any club that deems it fit or indicates interest to sign you on a one year contract basis's. For more details and logistics kindly contact the recruitment agency officer on telephone number: 60162845745. Attention: Mr Ahmed. Or better still send an email along side with your current profile C.V." Well, the last time the Diary tried to play football I was body-checked eight feet into the air by a midfielder with the aggression of Bobby Cumming and the build of Cyril Smith, so I'll stick with my comfy seat in the Pontoon but any readers who fancy their chances can email Mr Ahmed at email@example.com. And copy it to firstname.lastname@example.org, of course.
Tuesday 24 April
Town's reserves travelled to Worksop last night looking to extend their excellent form this season against Sheffield United's reserve B-team and thanks to the Blades' vastly superior official website the Diary is able to break the news that Stuart Watkiss's side did just that. An envy-inducingly competent match report tells us that the Mariners ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a 19th-minute penalty scored by Andy Taylor after the promising young right winger Jammal Shahin was pushed in the United box. Shahin and James Quinn both went close for Town in the second half, and the result is all the more impressive given that the line-up which excluded Gary Croft, Simon Grand, Gary Harkins, Nick Hegarty, Straight Peter Bore, Matty Bloomer, Ryan Bennett and even Rob Murray was far less of a second XI than a Myspace Mariners side. Tune in next week for the proceeding chapter of Neil Woods' fairytale, in which Bore is rescued from his niggling groin injury by a handsome prince with a magical sponge.
Indeed, two of Woods' recent alumni have made it in to the official fourth division team of the week thing today. In recognition of their splendid contributions to the severe panning Town dished out to Barnet last Saturday, Ryan Bennett and Bald Danny North have both been named among the best performers in the basement tier last weekend which is great news for both players but may begin the worries over how long the club can keep hold of them. GTFC officials are already believed to be in talks, though, over a new long-term contract for the hairdressing services of North's mam.
The Diary is receiving unexpectedly good reports of GTTV, the Town-dedicated cable/satellite telly channel wot made its maiden broadcast last night. As one whose only need for television reception apparatus is for Coro and Doctor Who, I don't even know what it means when the football club says GTTV is on Sky 195, nor when one of my Cod Almighty colleagues explains that "apparently it was on Virgin/ntl channel 879. News to me, as the OS kept going on about it being on Sky this and Sky that." So, in time-honoured Coro style, somebody else who saw it will have to tell me what happened. Please email email@example.com if you can either share your GTTV experiences or answer the question "if Leanne Battersby is really working as a prozzy, how is she making any money?"
Yes, so 400 hundred is 40,000, not 400,000, as the Diary realised this morning, shortly before changing what I'd written yesterday, congratulating myself in the belief that I'd got away with it, and then checking my email to learn that I hadn't. "When criticising the accuracy of the official site (and quite justifiably), people in glass houses can get splinters when they hurl their stones!" writes David Wilkinson (and most of the Cod Almighty team). Still, one little slip in five years isn't too bad. If Danny North were as accurate as the Diary, he'd have had six last Saturday instead of just the three. Ow, my hand!
"Anyone listen to AB's pre-match interview on Radio Humbleside Saturday?" asks Clav Divs, in another email to the Diary. "I lost count of the number of 'obviously's, as he managed to avoid those nasty searching questions about player contracts from the best investigative journalists our local station could muster. This is obviously (sorry) not as bad as most players, who (if you can understand them) often refer to what must have been a previous conversation in the pub with 'as I was saying'. At least AB is coherently incoherent. Obviously." Yes just like the Diary, Buckley generally avoids the terrible strings of meaningless clichιs that blight most discussions of English football, at the end of the day, to be honest with you.
Monday 23 April
Ticket news! The Diary must apologise for having given the impression last week that places would be scarce at Shrewsbury a week on Saturday for Town's season-closer and, of course, Sir John McDermott's career-closer. Nothing could be further from the truth, because when GTFC finally got round to making an announcement this morning (nearly two hours after the tickets actually went on sale), the club revealed that an astonishing "400 hundred" tickets were available. It is stressed that these are initially offered to season ticket holders only, on a one-for-one basis, but even if every one of Town's 2,000 or so season ticket holders were to buy one, this would leave a more than sufficient 39,800 tickets when they go on general sale. We're not sure when they do go on general sale, because the club's official website either still doesn't know or can't be bothered to tell us, but the club has clearly gone the extra mile and then some for fans wishing to bid farewell to Macca! Hats off to GTFC for looking after the interests of their own supporters!
Alan Buckley's form in his Mariners World interviews is as entertaining as that of his team in tonking Barnet the other day, and the press conference he gave after that game was no exception. Also worth a look this languid Monday lunchtime is a Grimsby Telegraph interview with the weekend's three-goal bare-headed hero Danny North, who declares that his close shave up top came in direct response to his erstwhile barren spell in front of goal. "I'd not scored in seven games, so I thought I'd get it shaved, and it's worked," grins young Dan, who also reveals the identity of his exclusive high-class hairstylist as "my mam". Danny's mam's hairdressing skills are also believed to have been sought out already by a despairing Luton's Michael Reddy, who still hasn't returned to form since having his hip shaved in Coventry last week.
If you're a Diary reader who likes getting tarted up to the nines and prefers to avoid mingling with the riff-raff while taking in a little association football, why not take a punt at CA's latest competition? Answer five questions correctly and you could win a pair of executive tickets for this Saturday's final home game of the season against Lincoln, depriving you of the basic human right to dress as you wish but entitling you to a pre-match meal at McMenemy's and then two seats in the directors' lounge. This would normally cost about £180, apparently, and the competition is free to enter, so get cracking now, quick, cos you've only got until tomorrow night!
On the subject of finding a new right-back, with which we toyed briefly last week, Mat Hare has emailed the Diary to ask simply: "How can anyone replace John McDermott? Surely the only decent thing the club could do is retire the number 2 shirt. That and divert all Fentydome funds into a statue of his McDermottness." Email further suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org... meanwhile Mark Wilson was befuddled by the recent scout camp/junk food festival at Blundell Park and asks: "Were all those scouts fined for 'entering the playing area' like I'm threatened with every time I visit BP?" Yep just like the 200 nylon-clad 13-year-olds who will run onto the pitch at (or just before) the end of the Lincoln game will be too...
Friday 20 April
Hiya guys! Durham Diary here, bringing you up to date with the news via this, the internet's number one independent Wrexham fanzine. The Dragons host already-relegated Torquay tomorrow while BUFC (Built Using Frequent Crime) are at home to Chester. It still looks very possible that relegation matters will be decided on the last day of the season when Boston and Wrexham meet at the Racecourse. Bury, who still aren't safe as the proverbial brick living buildings, travel to promoted Walsall, who unfortunately will probably still be chasing first place.
What, you want news about Grimsby? Why, what's the point?! Can't we just wait until August and see what His Royal Buckleyness has decreed from the manager's throne? If you really can't wait 'til then, I think the main thing you need to know is that the club is still encouraging young children to drink as much fizzy drink as they can, as there are only five days remaining! Even the usually enthusiastic, if severely under-punctuated, official site has given up bothering about the Mariners. The current poll is with regard to whether or not a fictitious character deserved to be incarcerated in an overrated long-running play on telly. If you don't know what I'm talking about, believe me, you don't need to find out.
The Grimsby Telegraph is nothing these days if not sensationalist, leading with the headline Wing Crisis Rocks Town. One must either presume the ever-popular 'Wing Crisis' held a gig in Grimsby which really got the town bouncing, or that Peters Till and Bore are struggling for fitness before a game that really doesn't matter. Maybe the OS should have a poll on which of the two stories you'd prefer. Power to the people!
Any students with nocturnal sleeping patterns may have caught Soccer Night on ITV1 last night, in which Mariners legend Peter Beagrie congratulated small local side Scunthorpe on their recent promotion whilst asserting that top scorer Billy Sharpe would be elsewhere next season. Sort it Buckley he lives close, you know!
Which is all I can be bothered to write today, I'm afraid. If we had twelve points more or twelve points fewer I'd probably put a bit more effort in same as the players, really. I'm playing cricket all weekend, but I'll be cheering on Wrexham with Wales in my mind and Danny Coyne in my heart. Oh, and good luck Chester!
Thursday 19 April
If no news really is good news then today Grimsby Town FC should be thoroughly delighted, as very little in the way of significant new developments has issued from Blundell Park since the Diary was last published roughly 24 hours ago. Justin Whittle is happy at getting another year with the Mariners; there's a Town-dedicated TV channel starting up on Sky 195, whatever that means; and the Scouts have had a traditional outdoor pursuits breakfast at fucking McDonalds, proving that North East Lincolnshire is officially shit. All, therefore, is right with the world. Can I go now?
No, I can't, because two of you have emailed the Diary, and Andy Lumbard has the scoop of the day. "Not sure if there is an official announcement yet, but in a noble gesture to the Shrews, Grimsby are not taking their full allocation of tickets for the final game ever at Gay Meadow," Andy reminds us, before revealing: "In a mocking thanks to Town's travelling supporters, we are having 324 seats. These tickets will be available to season ticket holders from Monday 23rd on a one-for-one basis, then to voucher holders from 30th. Then, if there are any left, to those with ticket stubs for Barnet, Notts County, Swindon, Mansfield, BFSFC, Wycombe, Hereford, Walsall and Peterborough... so I should be alright then, as I kept mine!" Thanks, Mr L. I'm not sure which is worse: the size of Town's allocation or the fact that they haven't bothered telling it to us yet.
Lastly, then, before I hand over to Durham Diary for tomorrow, Rich Mills has been reading Cod Almighty's new John McDermott interview, which celebrates his stunning strike against Rushden last season being voted Town's ninth best goal in living memory. Rich takes up the issue of where the club's number 2 shirt goes from here: "Macca mentions Crofty but he's getting on a bit. I reckon Roberto Carlos would work too but again he's a little too old." Not only that, sir, but his free kicks aren't up to the same Kingsley Black standards of yore. "Time for a new feature, chaps who can replace Macca?" Are you volunteering to write it, Rich? In the meantime, readers, email email@example.com with your ideas. Thanks for reading see yers Monday!
Wednesday 18 April
"NCM bring you EXCLUSIVE transfer news on a possible summer arrival. Ciaran Toner will join Notts County in the summer from Grimsby Town, NCM can reveal. After it was picked up on messageboards across the Midlands, NCM did further investigation and can confirm this "rumour" to be true... [Steve] Thompson has been quoted as saying he will definitely be here, though the exact quote isn't known. NCM are of the belief that Ciaran Toner will definitely be a Magpie next season."
Notts County Mad, 28 March 2007
"I have shook hands on an agreement with Ciaran Toner, for a new two-year contract."
Alan Buckley, 18 April 2007
Would you believe it? The messageboards were wrong! And not only has Town's revivified goalscoring midfielder decided to stay put: Justin Whittle and Nick Hegarty have also agreed terms to extend their stays at Blundell Park for a further year. Even at the age of hang on, let me check on Soccerbase 36, the Mariners' Shearer-bashing central defender and captain has impressed this season with a string of committed performances, and only the worst kind of dyed-in-the-wool Hullophobes continue to deny the Sarge due recognition. It is perhaps more surprising to see terms offered to Hegarty, who hasn't appeared for the first team in three months after featuring heavily immediately after Lord Buckley's return. The manager insists, though, that the ginger winger is "one for the future" and, despite Town managers seemingly having said exactly the same thing for the last five years, Soccerbase insists that the player is still only 20. Bucko sounds delighted to have secured the continued services of the trio, particularly after Toner's earlier seeming reluctance to commit himself to stay. "It was quite important to tie Ciaran up," says the GTFC boss, zipping up a thigh-high leather boot.
One explanation for the extension of Hegarty's contract is his impressive recent form for the reserves and, indeed, the flame-haired temptress played a key role in both of his side's goals last night as the second string drew two-all at York. Town took the lead twice with strikes from Josh Burge and Steve 'Interesting' Davis, and I can't tell you whether Stuart Watkiss's side are still top of their division because it's actually really hard to find up-to-date reserve league tables anywhere, and the OS doesn't even bother publishing an out-of-date one.
John Fenty continues to sound positive about his stately Fentydome. Today the relentless cheerful and laid-back GTFC supremo can be found in the Grimsby Telegraph, dreaming that, because his new stadium will be designed "to actually meet UEFA standards", it might host England under-21 games. The Diary's immediate suspicion is that the FA would deem the Fentydome's capacity inadequate for such events, but if England's senior team continues to perform like a group of asthmatic octogenarians in new shoes then there's every chance that public interest in the whole national team set-up will wane sufficiently for 12,000 seats to be more than enough.
And finally today, there's just time to tell you that Luton's Broken Michael Reddy is about to have another operation on his dodgy do you know what, it's been so long that I've actually forgotten where it is that he's injured. After seeing specialists in London and Ireland, reports today's Grimsby Telegraph, this time he's having his hip bone shaved in Coventry as you do. The Diary wishes Town's fragile forward well, but with his contract up in the summer the possibility of his playing any more football for Grimsby Town looks about as likely as international football at the Fentydome.
Tuesday 17 April
Positive John Fenty has not exactly been a model of calm in recent times, what with his monthly expressions of exasperation at any broadcaster, local newspaper or fanzine editor not seeing the world entirely the way he does. The Town chairman is at his most chilled-out for ages, though, in an interview put out today on Mariners World, in which he addresses in a notably laid-back manner the issues of Lord Buckley's return (worked out well, hasn't it), Gary Cohen (hopefully back next season), Luton's Michael Reddy (no idea really), and the Mariners' proposals for a new stadium on the outskirts of town, just off the A180 near Great Coates (best idea by anyone ever in the history of humankind). Towards the end of the interview, as Peaceful John gets positive about the Fentydome, his words are almost drowned out by what sounds like a large and noisy flock of birds somewhere off camera, and only the worst kind of cynic would ask whether it is actually a squadron of airborne pigs.
The Myspace Mariners have been pwned by Walsall in the semi-final of the Midlands Floodlit Cup. After exiting the Puma Youth Alliance Youth Cup at the Northern Area Final stage with a disappointing performance last week, Neil Woods' promising young charges have made it two cup exits in five days, albeit with an improved showing against the side they beat in last year's final. Town's official website reports that the yoof caused a lot of problems for their Walsall counterparts in losing 2-0 last night. Given that the youth team's fixtures and results page seems not to have been updated since 17 February, perhaps the OS could now concentrate on the league.
Not to be outdone by these scoops for the OS, the Grimsby Telegraph has returned for its lead sports story today to a seemingly inexhaustible source of news: Curtis Woodhouse. The idiot who runs Town's fourth division rivals Chester City was recently reported to be trying to bring Curt back to the football pitch from the boxing ring, but after winning the second fight of his professional career in boxing, I mean; he won more fights than that during his football days the former GTFC midfielder explained that Stephen Vaughan "wanted me to go back playing full-time and that was never an option for me". Woody's points victory at the Barnsley Metrodome on Sunday night was watched by several of his former teammates from various football clubs, and the player-turned-pugilist explains cutely that "I bump into Whitts and Macca now and again over in Hull in the shops". Next week a BBC documentary is expected to reveal what they were all buying.
"So you feel sorry for Gary Cross?" emails Steve Hull. "What about 'Sean Doherty the tapped'?" Either Steve has found another mistake in the deeply flawed BBC report on the Mariners' weekend defeat at Accrington, which we took the piss out of here yesterday, or Town managed to make an illegal transfer approach to Doherty during a stoppage in play.
"I've been a bit intrigued about all the 'same soil base' stuff seen on CA and originating on the official site," writes Clav Divs in response to last week's story about Town's groundsman Mike 'Digger' Phillips. "As far as I can deduce, my lawn is also on its original soil base (give or take a few sprinklings of weedkiller and dog muck) from its conception back in the early part of last century. That's a coincidence isn't it?" Mildly spooky, Clav, mildly spooky. Now if you were planning to move to a new garden that you can only access by car, with twice the square yardage you actually need, and very little to set it apart from any of the most boring gardens to be found elsewhere in the country, that'd be a coincidence.
Today's final word comes from Durham Diary, who seems to have left the north-east for an extended Easter break. "As I sit here (having may or may not been to the Rose and Crown in Scartho for several pints) I am moved to reply to your Diary," he writes. "I always think of Scunthorpe as my younger brother, who I always want to destroy when I play cricket against him in the back garden, but if it came to him getting runs or anyone else getting him out I'd much rather the runs (in a non-diarrhoea sense). In fact I would delight in Grimsby fans throughout the world being so magnanimous and arrogant with the Scunny Bunnies as to wish them well for next season with a patronising pat on the shoulder. Surely the best way to demean them (and I really hate them so) is to think: 'Bless the poor blighters,' and still view them as a smaller and inferior club to us, even though they will play two divisions above us next season?" My thoughts exactly, DD. If we're going to be hateful and bitter, let us at least do it in a subtle and stylish way.
Monday 16 April
"The result in Accrington put a dampener on a lovely sunny day for Town fans. Their mood wouldn't have been helped with the news rivals Scunthorpe had won promotion." The Diary cannot speak for other fans, of course, but I couldn't disagree more with this assertion from today's Grimsby Telegraph. As the outcomes of football are decided more than ever on bank balance sheets before balls are even kicked, the Diary's spirits are increasingly lifted by any news of a poorer club outperforming richer ones, and the fact that Scunthorpe happens to lie 30 miles down the road from where I grew up does not diminish how ace it is that their little football club has done what our little football club used to do not long ago, and soundly beaten off a number of better-funded rivals in securing promotion to the second division. So, well done, the Irons. Could you just start slipping some LSD into Nigel Adkins' post-match cup of tea before he goes on the radio or something?
You're not that arsed about the result on Saturday, either, are you? Bit of a pig if you've travelled there and everything, sure, but it signifies nothing about how Town will do next season. Let's just get that one thing completely Peter Bore.
I do feel sorry for Gary Cross though.
Friday 13 April
Now gentle reader, is it Town team news you want, or a tip for a horse race? Or maybe, just maybe, it's a clearer understanding of why each type of biscuit tends to be characterised by a certain shape and size. Think about it bourbon; shortcake; digestive; gari-flaming-baldi... your Guest Diarist, you see, whiled away the nether regions of yesterday afternoon listening to one of those quaint and gloriously English radio programmes that explored the latter topic. But then got an anonymous email containing a clip from another recent BBC radio show. Yes, here it is the punk version of 'Sing When We're Fishing' in all its pomp (and with no little circumstance). Artist unknown, but one for the archives and iPods, maybe? Back on the biscuit front, it's apparently got a lot to do with a bloke who invented a gadget to press the biscuits out. Although that sort of wheel effect that shorties have is summat to do with an ancient Scottish pagan festival involving the sun. More on this story later, and thanks Si and Pete for the mp3 file.
Lord Buckley was his usual forthright and pragmatic self during his weekly interview on Mariners World, pointing out that a four-point Easter haul from two play-off contenders was slightly disappointing. This, he said, shows how far the team have come on in the last six months. In the now weekly section about the shape of the squad for next season, AB was prosaic, saying that some out-of-contract players would be let go and that some were not really interested in staying. No names, no pack drill yet, of course.
Responding to the very valid point that it would be a bit weird not to have Sir John of McDermott's ever-lengthening moniker scrawled across the back four on the teamsheet next season, Lord Buckley agreed, and then commented that the old warhorse was looking very tired these last few matches. The interviewer completely forgot to ask for team or injury news for Saturday's away match at Accrington, and this amnesia also stretched to how Accrington play (which was amply demonstrated in the home fixture, as I recall). But perhaps I am too harsh, because I am sure that if I met the queen I would probably just mumble something suitably pointless about her dogs or her holidays or something whereas you always think you're gonna say something acidly witty and really meaningful like "up the Tooting Popular Front!" or "come the revolution, missus, come the revolution..."
Si Wilson has just emailed me another little nugget: a match report of an East Riding cup semi-final between Bridlington Town and Sculcoates Amateurs. In it is nostalgic news of a GTFC defender: "Town had the edge in pace and skill, but all too often their efforts foundered on the rock that was Amateurs' centre-half Mark Lever, a veteran of over 500 league games with Grimsby Town, and perhaps the best defender Town have come up against this season. At 38 he is clearly winding down a long and successful career, but could still clearly play at least Unibond football, or possibly higher." Sign him up Bucko I miss my 'Lever moments'.
Having not given you the team news, I am certainly not going to tell you owt about 'Positive' John Fenty's Fentydome-based promise of a statement on the official site. He can dream on; my dreams for the future are a lot different. Just giving it a name doesn't make it real, you know. Ooh err, time for a consoling biscuit, I think. Have a nice weekend see yer.
Thursday 12 April
It's been a good 12 months for the Myspace Mariners. They've won a trophy. Some of them have made it through to Town's first team. They've had thousands of 'adds', enabling them to have pointless gibberish posted on to their spectacularly ugly web profile pages by a whole new swathe of random, dull strangers from all over the world. But last night's Puma Youth Alliance Youth Cup Northern Area Final proved a bridge too far for Neil Woods's GTFC youth team. It seems from the match report on the club's official website (which can't be bothered to identify the opponents until about half a dozen paragraphs in), that in losing 2-0 the team just never got going, and Woods appears from the headline to be "devastated" about the result in his Mariners World interview on the subject. If you want to know any more than that then you'll have to watch and listen to the interview yourself, because I've got the new Au Revoir Simone album on, and I'm not going to turn that off for anybody even Neil Woods. omg wtf lol!!11!1!, etc etc and so on. Gaz Cohen, incidentally, sorted me out.
Town's website has published its regular away travel guide, this time for the visit to Accrington this Saturday, and sadly the official mouthpiece of our professional football club appears to be exhibiting standards of literacy that would bode ill for the average 11-year-old preparing for their SATs. One suspects that the text was copied and pasted, or emailed over by staff at Stanley, since this represents an improvement in the usual standards at the Mariners' OS, where the writing skills are more Key Stage 1. Maybe all those horsemeat McNuggets really are bad for your brain.
Thursday's bout of passive-aggressive piss-taking and sarcasm being concluded, then, all that stands between the Diary and the end of the week is a long but brilliant email from Mike Harrison about the claim made by Town's groundsman Mike Phillips (see yesterday's Diary) "that Blundell Park is on the same soil base as in 1899. The ground may be," says Mike, "but the pitch has had a few shenanigans. My memory may be fading but someone on the staff told me as a youngster in the 60s that no game had ever been postponed at GTFC for flooding. I can remember a match against Charlton in the mid 60s when a thunderstorm about 2pm flooded the pitch. The groundstaff just forked the grass and by 3pm the match was being played with no problem. Tees scored the only goal, I think. You see, Blundell Park was laid on sand, so surface water just went straight through. The only problem was that the grass didn't get a firm grip in the sandy soil so by March, apart from a couple of 15-yard-wide strips down the wings, the pitch was as bare as a badger's posterior.
"Then somebody had the bright idea of digging it all up and laying the grass on a peat base. This totally knackered the playing surface and for years the only cure was to empty tons of Cleethorpes beach on top. A few years later there were some rumours that the Findus stand construction affected the drainage. Then didn't the weird and wonderful Mike Lyons have something done with the pitch so the ball would stop dead in the corners when they sliced a 4 wood from their own penalty box? Somebody will know the answers to this and other mysteries, I'm sure." Thanks, Mike hope so. firstname.lastname@example.org is the address to email if you can shed any further light on any of these issues (or, indeed, the mystery of the punk version of 'Sing When We're Fishing' played on Radio Five Live last weekend, which has been corroborated by an independent witness).
That's me done, then, but don't forget to check back tomorrow as your daily GTFC news digestion needs are more than adequately met by, I think, the original Guest Diary once again. Bye! Have a good weekend!
Oh, it was Stockport, by the way.
Wednesday 11 April
The long and winding road to Sir John McDermott's retirement takes an another unexpected twist today with the news that he may play on next season in non-League football. Over the past few years Macca has hinted many times that he would be looking to GTFC for a coaching job when he retires from playing indeed, the then Mariners boss Russell 'Sort It' Slade stated in January 2005 that Town's record-breaking right-back had been taking coaching sessions and stuff but no formal arrangement ever seems to have been reached, forcing La Macc to deploy a bewildering variety of negotiation tactics, including delaying his retirement to summer 2007, nearly signing for King$ton Communication$ FC, and then just insisting on a second testimonial game against them instead. Now, with just four games remaining before McD faces the final curtain, the player who would be coach has spoken to the Grimsby Telegraph of his ever-changing future plans. "I definitely won't be playing for Grimsby next season. I want to go into coaching but where that will be we will have to wait and see. You have to pay the bills. I might have to play non-League," said Macca, lowering from his temple a revolver containing only one bullet and passing it to John Fenty.
Today is one of those days, in fact, when the Telegraph manages to find two or three good stories out of nowhere, and anyone sufficiently obsessed with the Mariners to read the Diary five days a week 52 weeks a year will doubtless find themselves fascinated by a piece about the club groundsman. Mike Phillips has been responsible for the Blundell Park turf for donkey's years now, winning the second division groundsman of the year award ten years ago and consistently ensuring a smooth and agreeable playing surface for Town's players to weave their magic (or, as was the case in certain recent seasons, wallop the ball 60 yards up in the air instead). He is in contention for the fourth division award this season, and the Telegraph's close-up is worth it for Mike's genuinely fascinating revelation that "Blundell Park is still on the same soil base that was here in 1899". GTFC's progress towards their proposed new stadium at Great Coates is understood to be followed closely by Channel 4, who are ready to despatch Tony Robinson's Time Team to BP to uncover evidence of Roman football on the site, while the club is already preparing the item description to sell it all on eBay.
The local rag completes its hat-trick with a Ryan Bennett interview, in which Town's latest prodigy shares the unique perspective afforded him by having a foot in the three camps of first team, reserve team and youth team. Again, this is well worth a read, and a young man with three feet is bound to have an advantage as a central defender, even if it may be harder to keep them all on the ground.
Tuesday 10 April
Great news! When Rob Jones comes back to Blundell Park he won't need a passport!
Hello, readers. You join the Diary this week to find Alan Buckley describing his team's first half showing against Wycombe yesterday as "the poorest 45 minutes I have seen from the lads for a long, long time". The manager's damning verdict lovingly rendered in today's Grimsby Telegraph as part of a characteristically interesting interview/post-match press conference thing seems a little harsh to these eyes, as Nick Fenton's two errors were surely all that separated the sides at half time. But then Buckley's Mariners have looked so much the part recently that perhaps we should be disappointed if they could only match a Wycombe side that looked competent but a mere shadow of the slickly oiled football machine that did the double over Town last season. Don't go raising our expectations, now, Alan! People will consider next season a failure if we finish fourth.
While the Diary was away over Easter your emails continued to roll in well, one did, on Saturday night, in which Rich Mills wrote: "I awoke hungover this morning to hear a punk rock version of 'Sing When We're Fishing' on Radio 5. Was I still drunk?" And was it only alcohol you'd imbibed? Some might think an auditory hallucination of such peculiarity would perhaps have needed a stronger intoxicant unless they heard it as well, of course. "And Town beat BFSFC," adds Rich, "surely proof that there is a god after all." Indeed, sir, and with another defeat yesterday Bastard Franchise Scum FC are now six points off an automatic promotion place. Less encouraging is the news that Town fans apparently packed in to the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday in their hundreds. With our moral empathy seemingly crippled beyond repair, there's little wonder that the BNP sees Grimsby as a potentially happy hunting ground.
Lastly today, Ben Gresswell has emailed: "Can I just say thanks to Pete Green for yet another excellent match report which made me laugh out loud in the office this morning and brightened up yet another shitty day in the wrist slashingly tedious world of finance." You can, Ben thanks, and I'm sure Pete's capacity to appreciate these effects of his writing is undiminished by the fact that he has barely done an honest day's work in his life.
Friday 6 April
Regular readers of Tony Butcher's idiosyncratically brilliant match reports may remember the brief period this season when he chose to nominate a word of the week. This section was quietly retired after a few matches not because, as some wag no doubt wagged, he had run out of words, but rather that... erm, well I don't actually know why he did. And I certainly can't be arsed to ask him now. Anyway, the point is that Lord Buckley has a word of the week in similar vein on Mariners World. This week's excellent interview finds AB perturbed. In fact he is perturbed, finds certain things "a bit perturbing" and almost accused 'Straight' Peter Bore of committing the sinful act of perturbation in the bath after his two-goal reserve team midweek triumph.
Lord Buckley's biggest worry is the 'soft centre' that means we concede too many opening goals. He has latched on to the fact that Town do not draw many games and has slyly calculated that if we had drawn eleven instead of five we would be much higher in the table. Although, gentle reader, one assumes he has chosen to postulate that we would draw the losing games rather than the ones we went on to win. His interviewer made the timorous point that "Tom couldn't do much about the first one at Notts though, could he?" Alan's response was designed to show why he is a vastly experienced league manager while the man holding the microphone is nobbut a lad in football understanding terms. Because of course, the goal started some three minutes earlier when Barnes caught a corner, explained Buckley. A hasty throw-out to a nearby monochrome stripey caused all the ensuing problems, you see. So to Buckley's simple maxim of 'defend when they have the ball; attack when we've got it' should be added the rider 'don't bring pressure on your defence by giving the ball away. Next week a masterclass on how to avoid your laces coming undone when they have a corner.
And what caused Peter's bathtime perturbation anyway? Well, your Guest Diarist can only guess that his back was a bit sore. But regardless he is 'in contention' for a place in the team to face the Bastard Franchise Scum tomorrow a team possibly even more physically direct and aggressive than the truly awful Notts County. This will, again, not be a match for the faint-hearted so although young Ryan Bennett gets to ride on the first team bus these days it is very unlikely that he will figure. Still, at least he is learning the rudiments of five-card stud. Mr Fenton is still having to go gentle on that knee but, with a rest on Friday, should be OK to play. But even if Bore does play and gets kicked into the air, inducing a massive teenage sulk, then no Town fans will get on his back. Because they will not be there. Boycott this game, as Pete Green advises in his wittily excellent article in today's Grimsby Telegraph. I know there should be a link to it, but I can't find the flipping thing so will rely on the editor to sort that out... [The Telegraph doesn't seem to publish Pete's columns online any more, GD, but here it is on his website ed.]
The other thing Buckley said that made me smile was in answer to a poser about how contract talks are going. "Well, we've got two games in three days so I think I'll leave that until after Easter." A bit like leaving the washing-up because we've still got two clean forks, a spoon and the dog bowl to use. Anyroad, I'm off to work now, so let's hope McLeod's pace is less of a worry than Jason Lee's elbow. See yer.
Thursday 5 April
Straight Peter Bore has decided he's OK to play this week and scored twice yesterday for the reserves. The practising heterosexual winger has recently reported fluctuations in his fitness which seem to coincide mysteriously with the likelihood of him making the first team that weekend, but played a decisive role as Town's all-conquering second string won 3-2 at home to York. SPB's brace followed an opening strike from centre-half Simon Grand (sexuality undeclared), who put his side ahead on 11 minutes from a header on from a free kick. "We will have a summary of the game soon after the final whistle," promises the Mariners' official website, straight after a summary of the game that appeared soon after the final whistle.
It must be at least a week since a former Town player was last tried or sentenced by a court of law for a serious crime, so let's get the latest on the ne'er-do-wells who once represented our club. Terrell Forbes was acquitted, of course, on charges of rape while still on the books at Grimsby only for his form to nosedive spectacularly afterwards, and by all accounts he ne'er did very well at Oldham while Curtis Woodhouse recently made time, in between his monthly changes of career, to be found guilty of assaulting a police officer in an incident that took place during Town's unsuccessful charge for promotion at the end of last season. Now a third Russell Slade signing, Ashley Sestanovich, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his part in planning a robbery in June 2005 which resulted in murder, and a BBC London report reiterates the curious misconception that 'Stan' played for Manchester City rather than GTFC and Scarborough. At least Jamie Lawrence did time before he signed for the Mariners.
A happy Easter weekend to you all from the Diary, and Town fans thinking of attending Monday's traditional bank holiday derby against long-standing local rivals Wycombe Wanderers will be bouncing like bunnies at the news that they can get in for ten quid instead of fifteen. A voucher in tomorrow's Grimsby Telegraph will offer supporters five quid off the usual admission price as the momentum recently generated by the 'Be Town's 12th Man' campaign dwindles away along with the players' interest and motivation and we all look forward to finishing 19th and dreaming of August.
"Thank you for keeping us informed about our former Mariners," emails Felix Oliver-Tasker in response to yesterday's Rob Jones news. "I'm very pleased for the Stickman. He always gave honest performance and I was sorry when he left but at least he went to Hibs, one of my favourite clubs, being a Left Footer, Pope Head, Bead Jiggler or whatever else I have been called in the past or may be called in the future. The boy's doing good." Indeed and he scored again last night. Felix proceeds to update us on his own recent career developments, explaining: "We have moved to a brand new clap clinic and we now have lots of new equipment to supplement our rusty penknives and blunt old chisels. We have a bale of second-hand barbed wire, some new shards of broken glass and something that looks a bit like a thumbscrew, albeit somewhat larger. I'm not sure what it's for but I've been told on good authority that it doubles as a wheel clamp. It's good to give our clients such a high-class modern service." If any of Felix's clients are reading today's Diary and have appointments booked for next week, I expect they'll be cancelling now but as a good Catholic boy Felix himself should have plenty of experience of pulling out at the last minute.
That's all from me until Monday evening then, but Guest Diary will be doing his thang tomorrow. See yers!
Wednesday 4 April
While Ciaran Toner ums and ahs, Danny Boshell is about to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's. It may be the former Northern Ireland international who has commanded headline space with five goals in the last two months, but Town's improved form in that time is at least as much due to Boshell's contribution from central midfield and as Toner stalls over extending his contract, Dan the man has agreed terms to stay at Blundell Park until 2009. In marked contrast to the careful ambiguities Toner delivered yesterday, Bosh sounds grin-inducingly enthusiastic in today's Grimsby Telegraph, declaring himself "really happy" to be remaining a Mariner. Boshell may often have been absent from the side a few months back, and the Diary may be a sentimental old fool, but at this moment I'm struggling to imagine a more credible candidate for player of the season.
Following the financial unease of recent years, GTFC have been forced to auction off just about everything Tony Richardson could think of and more besides, from a token place in the playing squad for a season to a unique set of commemorative plates. The club's latest eBay venture is the sale of what the official website is calling a 199091 "Promotion Winning Signed Ball" and though credit may be due to the inflated spherical object in question, this designation seems to overlook the important contribution made by the players themselves to Town's great triumph of that season. I say "inflated", but the ball seems to have gone down quicker than a team managed by Nicky Law.
Rob Jones is quite liderally the biggest thing to come out of Grimsby for many a long year, and barely a week goes by without the Scottish press swooning fanatically over another of his heh! towering performances for Hibernian, the club Jones left Blundell Park for last summer. Having seemingly run out of nice things to say about his defensive ability, attitude, goalscoring, leadership, and capacity to win cups single-handedly, the Scotsman newspaper has this week found a new quality for which to praise the player: he isn't a cheat. The fact that an editor considers this story newsworthy seems to reflect both the astonishing new levels of Stickmania being reached north of the border and the appalling depths of cynicism being plumbed by professional football in 2007 ("Soccer world stunned as player admits not cheating"). "Some people have said I should go down, but that is not in my character," says Jones, who is expected shortly to be awarded the freedom of the city of Edinburgh, have the local airport renamed in his honour, and put forward to Pope Benedict XVI for imminent canonisation.
Tuesday 3 April
Wantaway midfielder Ciaran Toner, as the Diary would have to describe him if I were a Sun reporter, may not want away after all, according to a report in today's Grimsby Telegraph. The only Northern Ireland international in Town's current squad has enjoyed an improved run of form of late even if it hasn't improved quite as much as his recent goals tally suggests and was strongly rumoured last week to have agreed a transfer to fourth division rivals Notts County when his contract with the Mariners expires this summer. Toner has told the Riby Square Thunderer, though, that rumours of his departure are greatly exaggerated and he'll stay if Town offer him enough money. I suppose we could have guessed as much really, couldn't we? "I believe I've been linked with [County] but I don't know much about it," shrugs the player. "I'd like to stay. Obviously I want the deal to be right for me so I'll just have to wait and see what happens." 'Pies boss Steve Thompson admits that Toner is "one of a number of players we are looking at" and adds curiously: "I took him to Cambridge and I got him to Grimsby", suggesting either a shady double life as a manager/agent or a close enough friendship with the player to justify giving him a lift to Blundell Park to sign his contract in 2005 when Toner's car broke down.
Town's youth team have discovered their opponents for the semi-final of one of the cups they're doing so very well in. Having already reached the northern area final of the... hang on, let me check... Youth Alliance Cup, that was it, in which they will play away at Stockport on 11 April, the Myspace Mariners will also line up at home to Walsall on 16 April in the last four of the... wait a sec... Midlands Floodlit Cup, reports a very short item on the club's official website, with only a wrongly placed apostrophe, a "passed" instead of "past", and a couple of unnecessary initial capital letters to its discredit. Walsall are the side Town beat in the final of the same competition last season, despite their lodging a last-minute bid to have the result overturned on the grounds that they are in the midlands and Grimsby isn't.
"I think it would have been nice to offer a word or two of congratulation to Scunny in yesterday's Diary, given the paucity of Town news," chimes in Guest Diary by email. "Scunny have had a hell of a season and, from what bit I've seen of them on the telly, play good passing football. The new manager has had one hell of a hot streak, hasn't he? I've never hated Scunny, reserving my loathing for 'big' clubs like Wednesday and Hull. So here's to the Scunny fans enjoy it whilst it lasts!" Have they already secured promotion, then, GD? I didn't realise. If that's the case, then congrats are indeed in order for our cousins down the road, though rumour has it that Radio Humberside will discontinue post-match interviews with Nigel Adkins after several serious accidents on the M180 were recently caused by listeners falling asleep at their steering wheels.
Finally, though, if you've any loathing to reserve, keep it for Bastard Franchise Scum FC and don't give them your money this weekend. The home 'fans' who go to their games could easily have supported any number of teams that already existed in their area without having to steal a club from another group of supporters, and by visiting their ground you will be giving financial support to a club whose continued existence is both an insult and a threat to the values of community and local dignity that sustain our own beloved GTFC. Course, it's up to you what you do, but I reckon the best way to show your pride in the Mariners this Saturday is by staying away. It sounds crazy, but it's a crazy situation that allows BFSFC to exist. See yers tomorrow.
Monday 2 April
As David Burns never tires of reminding us, Alan Buckley's post-match press conferences are Getting Later And Later Every Week, but once the microphone is switched off, the dressing-room door locked and GTFC closed for business on a Saturday night there is seldom anything worthwhile to report for at least 48 hours. This makes the composition of any Monday's Diary a peculiarly demanding task. When Town's players seem to have reached the 50-point mark much too soon, and are dreaming of their summer holidays before March is even out, the job is harder still, as there is very little to say about the inevitable-seeming two-nil defeat at Notts County on Saturday. The most important point to have emerged is that Phil Barnes had a good game, but Lord Buckley has revealed that even the Mariners' sort-of-slowly-improving goalkeeper threw the ball to a County player he had mistaken for Paul Bolland. Even overlooking the important strategem that is the use of a second kit, it is hard to imagine how proper stripes could be mistaken for Town's awful halves. Keep on dreaming, Town, and we'll keep on paying our 15-odd quid a week each to send you on your jollies when the 46th game is over.