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Diary - August 2008
Friday 29 August
Even staunch Buckley loyalists like your Guest Diarist had begun to get very nervous about the paucity of experienced cover in the Town defensive squad. A positivist would have said that the back line with three players out of position last Saturday sort of coped for most of the game. But the realist in me said that Town's back four looked horrible and capable of mistakes at any moment. And one duly arrived, courtesy of Mr Hegggaarty. Game lost. And yet another home league game without a win: a run that stretches back far too far.
Another match with Stockdale and Hope still missing and the possibility that the resurgent Hunt might miss out with a dead-leg, especially an important game away at Lincoln, spells trouble. For the team, for the manager and ultimately for the dwindling bunch of diehard fans.
But Lord Buckley has selected m for Man City on his speed dial and got a result. Not the return of the most attacking ever right-back who hadn't quite got to t for tackling in his coaching manual and appeared to have accidentally skipped c for covering. No, not Logan; this time it is reserve player Javan Vidal another bright young prospect from the City youth set-up. First team experience? Zero. Facebook page? Mais oui. Middle name? Noel. His own personal biographer, who has even annotated a local map to show all the places he has played? Click here, and prepare for a long sapping read.
For those sensible readers too idle to go a-wandering on the web, young Mr Vidal is just 19 and a converted striker. He has been on City's books since the age of 13 and plays reserve team football. Vidal has had a run-out for England under-18s, but seemingly just the one, against France, when he started at right-back. His faithful blogger says: "With his sharp pace, strength and deft control, he has played as a right-back, centre-back but predominantly as a right winger under City reserves coach Ian Miller." The blogger goes on to wax lyrical about Vidal's "eye for goal" but makes no comment about his defensive capabilities at all. In a word: Loganmarktwo.
Now how his arrival will affect tomorrow's team selection is an interesting question. If Vidal is slung straight in then he will play right-back, leaving Bennett to cover for the missing Hope at centre-half and allowing Newey! to revert to left-back in a 4-4-2 formation. That sounds kind of obvious and logical, so this may not be what happens. I'll leave you, gentle reader, to speculate further.
Up front, in the absence of a Mariners World interview with our manager (this is all I pay my bloody subscription for!) the superb new official site claims that midweek goalless pairing Till and Jarman are set to continue up front. Although quite why we would play effectively 4-5-1 at home with Butler sidelined I leave you to work out. Just because he hasn't scored is not reason enough to drop him, in my view. But Buckley has told the Telegraph that Jarman has been exceptional in training, saying: "If he took how he is Monday to Friday into games he'd be in my team for sure." I would like to see Butler play with Jarman in a 4-4-2 using Taylor as a late-impact substitute, which is when he looks most dangerous. Especially in conjunction with that deadliest of weapons: the two-minute Bore cameo.
But whatever happens team-wise, tomorrow is an important game. Town need points however early in the season it is. I know we shouldn't look at the table until October or summat, but I have, and we are already five points off the play-offs. We need at least a point tomorrow, preferably accompanied by goal(s). Those of us that will be there will have to shout that bit louder ticket sales are way down on a couple of years ago. Let's hope we play well or get lucky. And don't forget to cheer on the lads cycling to the match you can put your hand in your pocket here to support their charities. See yer.
Thursday 28 August
They've failed to score against basement buddies Brentford, Chesterfield and Rochdale so far this season, but after easing to a 2-0 win over third division Tranmere in the first round of the League Cup, the confused footballers of Grimsby Town took the lead last night away at Blackburn Rovers of the Best League In The World. Granted, Tom Newey's fabulous seventh-minute free kick preceded four goals from the home side, but never mind about that the Mariners' woes are clearly at an end if Tom can simply take his set-piece skills that little bit higher, so that as well as beating top-flight defences he can occasionally get one further than the wall in the fourth division too. It's just a little sad that the 1995 Best League In The World champions couldn't attract more than 8,379 people through the gates to witness Town's finest hour, isn't it? We got a thousand more than that against Newcastle the other year, and Newcastle were rubbish.
Speaking of Newcastle the other year, the Shearer-twatting former GTFC captain and Cod Almighty T-shirt idol Justin Whittle appears to be settling in well at his new club Harrogate Town. Having taken ten points in their opening five games, the Yorkshire club has climbed third place in the Conference North, and kept three clean sheets in the process. Not only that, but yer man Whitts restored Harrogate's lead with a goal in their 3-1 win at Gateshead last Saturday. If Butler and Taylor keep with the blanks, we could surely do a lot worse.
Lastly today, and lastly for me this week before Guest Diary eases effortlessly into place tomorrow, an email from Richard Lord asks: "I was wondering whether anyone else knows what the SNOS means by instructing us to 'join Scott and Dave for ball-by-ball commentary'? Are they referring to a multi-ball system employed at Ewood Park, or is this just evidence of a clichι from another sport creeping into an area where it's not relevant because most of Britain's football journalists no longer think when they write?" There are journalists working on the SNOS? I'm not sure, Richard as Town prepared to face the club placed third in the Best League In The World, maybe they were just expecting a cricket score. "My tutors always told me to avoid clichιs like the plague. See what they did there?" Yes, and my mum told me a million times never to exaggerate. Ba-doom-tsssch.
Wednesday 27 August
"I will be watching their progress closely, and wish everyone connected with the club every success in the coming season. Good luck Mariners!" Hey, thanks, King$ton Communication$ FC manager Phil Brown! We'll be watching your progress closely too! What's that? You didn't mean us? Your hometown club South Shields FC is also nicknamed the Mariners? Gah!
So, are you off to Blackburn tonight? Loads of people aren't, if the three-figure take-up of away tickets at Blundell Park is anything to go by, and the attendances at last night's round of matches seem to mark a new low point for interest in the competition (at least since its first few seasons in the early 1960s, when it was viewed by football's aristocracy as... well, much as it is again today). The hosts have done their best with their £12 tickets but then Blackburn struggle to attract much of a crowd for league fixtures these days (maybe the predictability of Premier League football has made it even less appealing than the League Cup), so the cheap prices can be seen as part of a wider programme of desperate discounting over Ewood way. If you change your mind at the last minute and succumb to an attack of sentimentality, Town's superb new official website advises that you'll be able to pay on the gate and adds rather hopefully: "Around 7,000 tickets are available for Town fans if needed." Don't be holding your breath, Mr Fenty.
However bleak things may look for the Mariners' injury-ravaged, couldn't-score-in-a-crack-den first team, at least they're not conceding goals to Rory Boulding. This is the ignominious state of affairs that befell our club's reserves last night in a painful 7-1 mullering at Bradford, or somewhere nearby. In fairness, it was more of a Myspace Mariners XI that took the field, as only Straight Peter Bore and Big Danny North among them could boast any real experience the heterosexual one staking a claim, with an excellent goalscoring performance, to replace Andy Taylor in the first XI this weekend but the scoreline must represent the heaviest defeat for the reserves since Paul Wilkinson forgot to field a goalkeeper at York in 2002 or whatever it was.
Tuesday 26 August
Hello, readers, and welcome to another joyous week of supporting Grimsby Town. If you're looking for positives to take after Saturday's utterly rubbish home defeat by Chesterfield, then look no further than an interesting take from Cod Almighty's Simon Wilson. Simon, for reasons best known to himself, has been known to watch rugby league, and writes: "The St Helens boss (much respected New Zealander viewed as one of the best rugby league bosses in the world) was saying over the weekend that he treats the first month of the season as 'pre-season'. If he didn't he feels his players would fade away in the final six weeks of the rugby league season. He also thinks that playing teams in a competitive match is far better preparation for his players than meaningless 'exhibition' matches. Entering the final month of the season, Saints are on a winning streak currently lasting twenty matches." It's a thought-provoking observation, which gains further credibility when you remember how Russell Slade's lot ran out of steam the other year. And if you want another positive, then on a day when three of your back four are being played out of position and you're basically never, ever going to score a goal no matter what, surely only losing 1-0 counts as a big moral victory, right?
Local politician and GTFC chairman John Fenty (Con) can today be found singing the praises of Town's rejuvenated youth set-up. While earlier this decade it took a last-ditch appeal from the then manager Paul Groves to dissuade the club from scrapping its reserve team to save money, these days the Mariners are all about spending cash they haven't got in the hope of sifting out one or two Kevin Drinkells or Danny Norths to give us all a lift. "There are so many football clubs out there who have gone through a similar financial predicament that we have and shelved their youth schemes," the councillor tells today's Grimsby Telegraph. "We resisted that and frankly, we have done the reverse. We invested in the youth set-up and have extended it, even though it wasn't something we could really afford... With Alan Buckley, you have someone big and brave enough to blood youngsters if they are good enough," concludes JF(C), somewhat overlooking the fact that Alan Buckley just the other day fielded a left-back at centre-back, a left winger at left-back and a centre-back at right-back because he didn't feel quite big and brave enough to blood Matty Bird and Grant Normington.
Several of the young players who owe their very lives to Grimsby Town's youth set-up will shortly have a chance to repay some of this debt, as the reserve team opens its 200809 league campaign against Bradford tonight, and if you've got the remotest clue where the Coral Windows Stadium is then you're a better man than the Diary. The Central League doesn't seem to have a sponsor any more, but one hopes that the sport of football as we know it will struggle on somehow.
Lastly today, Chris Beeley has emailed the Diary responding to last Wednesday's statistical analysis by Richard Lord of Town's record in the cups under Buckley. Chris has done a few sums of his own and come up with the following results.
Percentage of occasions we've played shite that Buckley has admitted it was anything to do with him 0
Thanks, Chris I hope you haven't got too behind with your work or painting the spare bedroom or whatever else you should have been doing! One assumes the other 11 per cent of supporters didn't have any pre-season optimism to lose...
Percentage of supporters who know what Stuart Watkiss actually does 0
Percentage of supporters who think we will avoid relegation this year 100
Percentage of supporters who think the reason for that's because of those unfortunates with points deductions 100
Percentage of supporters who think the new stadium will ever happen 3
Percentage of supporters who think it will do us any bloody good if it does 2
Percentage of supporters (self included) who have lost pre-season optimism rapidly 89
Percentage of supporters (self included) who will turn their backs on the club as a result 0
Percentage of supporters who think our true level is proper division 2, flirting with the play-offs until about March every season 93
Percentage of non-supporters who think our true level is proper division 4, flirting with, and ultimately accepting the advances of, relegation to the Conference 99
Percentage of my time I've spent doing this when I should be doing something else about 50
Friday 22 August
Sometimes the team plays absolute crap and the powers-that-be panic, give in to the pressure from the media and the fans, dump the manager, and spend large amounts on the payoff and hiring a new one. And the team goes on to perform even worse despite the new broom. I'm talking about England, of course, but the pattern could be construed by some to apply to Grimsby. Although whether Lord Buckley is McClown or Capello is of course a very moot point. To your Guest Diarist he's more of a Bobby Robson, I hasten to add.
Wherever we are in the economic cycle, Buckley desperately needs a decent error-free performance tomorrow at home to Chesterfield. The good news is that Chesterfield goal machine Jack Lester definitely won't feature. The bad news is the midfield injury epidemic has now officially spread to Town's back line. Stockdale is very unlikely to be risked as Buckley told Mariners World that a game now could put him out for "two to three weeks". Hope has also injured his ankle in training, which means that confidence-hit Ryan Bennett will have to play right-back and centre half, which is a tall order for anyone.
The alternatives? Play Clarke at full-back (whenever I think of Clarke doing that my toes curl in embarrassment like when you accidentally catch your parents doing a big snog when you are twelve). Or revert to wing-backs. The strategy of having no reserve full-backs will haunt Town more than once this season. And tomorrow looks likely to be one of those days. On the other hand Mr Hope might magically recover. It wouldn't be the first time an injury crisis 48 hours before a game dissipates before kick-off, would it?
As for midfield, Buckley has told the Grimsby Telegraph that despite a run-out in the week, it is too soon for the return of the Bosh. Buckley made no mention of his preferred front line probably because no-one had the sense to ask the question although he pointedly mentioned the good performance against the Spireites last season being partly due to a 'fit Northy'.
As for the striker signing story, it would seem from the Telegraph that Town made an offer for a signed player but the club concerned decided to hang on to him. All credit to the chairman for trying to boost the squad with effectively his own money. On balance your Guest Diarist believes that another experienced front player is needed: this would also provide the opportunity for one or two of the younger players to have a spell on loan with a Conference club. This on the basis that if it did Hegggaarty some good, it might help alpha-male-in-the-making Peter Bore. It will almost certainly be easier to get someone on loan in a month's time, though, than signing a decent player in deadline week.
And now, as they say, to your emails. Rachael has been in touch to excitedly announce: "Not sure it's really Words for the Diary but I thought you'd like to know that your superb website has now reached academic fame as I've managed to wangle in a couple of references to it in into my MA dissertation. You can now all call yourselves honorary doctors or something!" Well, thanks for those kind words Rachael by the way, tell your web person at work that there is only one 'L' in 'client', would you? And send us a copy of the tome if you like I promise to read it well, the bits about us anyway.
Poet not in residence at Cod Almighty Towers Al Wilkinson has this to say after my virtue-extolling The Wire reference yesterday: "Ah, The Wire, now there's an example of how much can be done with an old format. Yes, that is a reference to television and football and Buckley. I haven't seen the fifth series yet and I'm currently re-watching the first four in preparation for its release; they really do get better and better. I'm more excited about that than I am about Town I think." It's one of those things you are either in the game or out of the game. Me? I am definitely in the game, thick and thin.
Don't forget it is a noon kick-off tomorrow, folks. See yer.
Thursday 21 August
The difference between Lord Alan Buckley and that bloke Capello is that at least when Town play utterly shit Buckley usually has the honesty to say so.
Nic-Nic Nicolau has been sent home, reports the superb new official website. "Town boss Alan Buckley wanted to see how the player fared in a match situation and has now decided to allow the player to leave" we are told, before the SNOS hastily adds: "We would like to wish Nicky all the best for the future." Just in case he decides to check what they said about him when he gets home.
Town midfielder Paul Bolland has been having a word with the Grimsby Telegraph. His operation has gone OK and he says: "I'm OK and not in pain thanks to the painkillers but it's frustrating not being able to do anything apart from lie down on the sofa." Sounds like heaven to me: I suggest he watches all five series of The Wire and then starts on Homicide: Life in the Street. That will get him to Christmas without a hint of boredom. God, The Wire is just the greatest TV show ever. I'm sure Bolly would be rooting for Omar in no time.
Now look, gentle reader, your Guest Diarist is only here because Mr Diary isn't. And it's Thursday and news is thin on the ground. So I might as well tell you that 'lucky' Hull have a cunning plan to remedy their lack of strikers. Today's Times claims the doomed Hully-Gullies have decided to try to sign a six-foot-eight-inch cook to play alongside that middle-aged retired coal miner. Rumours that Herr Maierhofer will also be required to make some snap every day for the veteran Windass cannot be substantiated at this time.
The dearth of news allows time for idle speculation as to who will play on Saturday. Surely too soon for Mr Boshell to do more than warm the bench after so long out? Did North and Jarman do enough to impress at Winterton? Will Stockdale risk his gammy leg (I really hope so)? You go off now and think about it. And email a couple of carefully crafted sentences about who should play and why. I'm likely back tomorrow so we can have a look then. See yer.
Wednesday 20 August
Ah, Winterton Rangers where would we be without you? Every time Town need to struggle to a narrow victory against sub-Conference opposition without spending too much money on diesel for the team coach, there you are. It was, of course, a reserve side that traipsed out 1-0 victors from last night's friendly up the road albeit one featuring a number of players from the first team or thereabouts, such as Jamie Clarke, Danny Boshell, Straight Peter Bore and Big Danny North. The goal came from Nathan Jarman a "stunning 35-yarder", says Town's superb new official website; he seems to be good at those while the Bosh played a full 90 in his latest injury comeback, and two trialists seem to have done their chances no harm: Nicky 'He Used to Play for Arsenal, You Know' Nicolau and Frank Belt, a right-back who came through the not especially renowned youth system at King$ton Communication$ FC. Gary Montgomery made some fine saves, reports the Telewag, so if Nicolau can just fill in at left-back then that's three of the positions covered where the Mariners looked weakest in last Saturday's thrashing at Brentford. Huzzah!
And so to Chesterfield. In 2001 they cheated their way to the third division. In 2004 they cheated us out of our place in the third division. In 2008 we cheated them back, with a series of dodgy penalties playing a key role as Town inflicted a league double over the Derbyshire side. I can't remember where this was going now. Oh yeah violence. This Saturday's game between the two sides at Blundell Park kicks off at 12 noon after some silly little boys were naughty last time. And the Mariners' defeat at Saltergate in the first round of this season's Dulux Cup has also now been allotted a role in the relentless march of time, life and death: it will begin at 7:30pm on Wednesday 3 September. The Diary heard from a bloke at work yesterday that Jack Lester is injured again, so that's a bit of good news ahead of Saturday, at any rate.
A few years ago Cod Almighty boasted a somewhat more almighty editorial team, roughly twice the size of its current, sorry, diminished rump. One of its members was Andy Holt, who used to entertain readers of a numeric bent with a series of interesting statistical analyses covering various aspects of Town's performances and recent history. Today a Diary reader steps into the large void left by Andy's sodding-off to New Zealand. An email to the Diary from Richard Lord explains: "Well, it turns out that I'm the one with the time and inclination to discover that Alan Buckley does indeed enjoy being the cup-shocker rather than being the cup-shocked." Oh yes? Please, carry on...
"According to my research," continues Richard, "(which is often sketchy and unreliable as those who know me will agree that, when performed in the blasι, time-restricted fashion of the best superb new official website, my work suffers) Buckley has managed us in 84 cup ties to date. On 32 occasions we have played teams from a higher division, winning 11 of those, losing 14 and drawing seven. That's a 34 per cent success rate, I'll have you know. On 21 occasions we have played teams from a lower division, winning 11, losing five and drawing five. That's a 52 per cent success rate, but more importantly we've only lost 32 per cent of games to lower league opposition.
"So, in conclusion, we inflict more cup shocks upon teams than they do on us, by 2 per cent, which was my initial hunch but I'll admit I didn't realise it was that close. And just if you were wondering, when facing teams from the same division in cup games we've played 31, won 15, lost ten and drawn six. I'd just like to thank Soccerbase, Google, my parents who have been supporting me through this tough time all my friends (you know who you are), Princess Diana and Jesus. I love you all." Moving words there from a world-class statto. So, Richard now that you've volunteered to resurrect Ballpark Figures, when can we expect the next instalment?
Tuesday 19 August
In the wake of last Saturday's whupping at Brentford which scarcely drew so much as a half-frown from the Diary, so accustomed have I become in recent years to Town being whupped Lord Alan Buckley has sent a stern message to his first-team slackers by arranging a friendly for the reserves. The second XI will travel to Winterton Rangers tonight, explains the Mariners' superb new official website: "With the Central League not kicking off until next week... Buckley felt that some of his squad players needed to get some more games under their belts." In a Grimsby Telegraph piece the manager names Jamie Clarke and Straight Peter Bore as the fringe players in need of a workout. Buckley hopes recent injury victim Robbie Stockdale will be able to take part, adds the SNOS, without deeming it necessary to refer to the performance of his stand-in Ryan Bennett at Griffin Park. In a similar spirit the Diary hopes Gary Montgomery will be able to take part, and that Town sign a reserve left-back today who will be able to take part as well. Oh, hello, Nicky Nicolau I didn't see you there! I don't expect Tom Newey did either.
Being from Grimsby often proves to be a cause of severe social embarrassment, what with the racism, the horrible accent and the Town fan who emailed the football chants website to tell them how we like to sing "red boy, red boy" at the other team's goalkeeper. Another group of people attached to the local football club appear to have dragged your name through the mud again, as the official website of Brentford FC today carries an apology from a Mariners supporter "for the very poor behaviour of some of our 'fans' who thought it was clever to chant through the speech by the widow of the guy who sadly died at the back end of last season". And there we were thinking these people couldn't sink any lower after the taunts to Brian Laws at Scunthorpe the other year.
Last up today, some ticket news for the League Cup game at Blackburn. Town's superb new official website revealed yesterday: "Tickets are expected to arrive at Blundell Park early this week and they will go on sale to our season ticket holders exclusively on Wednesday and Thursday. They will then go on general sale on Friday." An adult ticket will cost you just 12 quid, with concessions priced at a fiver. Just remind me how it is that GTFC justify charging visitors to Blundell Park 18 to sit in the Osmond, will you?
Monday 18 August
Town's chances of another good run in the Dulux Cup this season have been dealt a devastating blow by the draw for the first round, which pairs the Mariners with another fourth division club. Last season's contrasting fortunes in the league and the cups whereby the side stumbled to a rubbish 16th place and received more handsome thrashings from Accrington 'three season ticket holders' Stanley but breezed past several higher-division sides en route to Wembley suggested that Alan Buckley's team can play really well against third division sides but are mostly pretty useless against their fellow basement outfits, and the first eight days of the 200809 campaign appear to confirm the thesis beyond doubt. After becoming moral winners of last term's Dulux Cup by dint of being the only legitimate football club left in the competition, it is clearly a disaster for Town's hopes of defending their title to be drawn away against Chesterfield in the first round. Jack Lester will score twice in a year-overdue Spireites rout in the week commencing 1 September.
On the bright side, life just gets worse for Mark Clattenburg. Hauled up before the courts for alleged debts relating to his electricianing business and banned by the FA from ruining any more matches, the referee who gave a big thumbs-up to the career-wrecking assault on Martin Pringle's leg by Dave Challinor has now had his car vandalised. "Police received reports of damage to the paintwork of a vehicle," said a spokesperson for Northumbria police. "A person or persons unknown appears to have scratched the letters 'GTFC' along the rear door on the passenger side," they might have added but probably didn't. Poor old Clatts. If it weren't a £40,000 sports car the Diary would almost feel sorry for him.
Tourism now, and while many British people are responding to the global economic slowdown by holidaying in their own country (thus finally catching up with a trend established by the Diary years ago), our beloved hometown is unlikely to reap the benefits if David Mitchell has anything to do with it. I bloody love David Mitchell, by the way. In a piece about hotels for the Times, the writer and comic recalls: "The worst was a hotel near Grimsby. I was on a theatre tour and the company looked after us well where there was a nice hotel, we stayed in it, so this was clearly the best there was to offer in the Grimsby area. It called itself the something country-house hotel. It wasn't a hotel, it was a guesthouse at best. There was a fruit machine in reception is that really very country housey?" Ah, Grimsby still proudly oblivious of the way things are done in the rest of the world. I was talking to some people the other week about where Grimsby is you know that conversation: is it in the north, or is it the east midlands really, how do you categorise it in terms of a wider region of England, etc etc. In the end I just said it doesn't belong to anywhere really it's just Grimsby...
Oh yeah, and the Mariners played a game of football on Saturday. Alan Buckley says he could tell something was very wrong within two minutes of the players starting to warm up. Whatever it was that was wrong, it was so wrong that even he couldn't put it right, despite having managed more than 1,000 games in the Football League, and the team ended up losing quite heavily. Bit worrying really. Still, it's only a game.
Friday 15 August
London-based Mariners had better turn up to see their team tomorrow in what promises to be an interesting match in Brentford. The Bees have signed no fewer than 12 players to start the season and results have not gone their way in the opening two matches. Despite, this rookie manager Andy Scott has told his official site: "I believe that we can play a passing game in this league and still be successful." Well, we'll see about that, won't we?
Meanwhile, your Guest Diarist learns from Mariners World, Grimsby manager Lord Alan Buckley has again admitted he hasn't a clue about his upcoming opposition to his looming interviewer on the now-you-have-to-pay-for-it-again weekly preview. Luckily his scouts have left a report on his desk and he might get time to have a quick gander at it sometime today, one hopes. Buckley explained that Stockdale will not be asked to struggle on through a third match in a week but will be given a rest to let his calf injury settle down. For once Buckley made it immediately plain who would replace him: Ryan Bennett. Buckley has also told the Telegraph that the promising young defender has no chance currently of displacing either of the strapping centre-halves signed in the summer in their current run of form.
Buckley went on to profess himself happy with the pairing of Butler and Taylor up front: "Butts has led the line great for us and deserved a couple of goals in his performances. He's been outstanding especially the way he has taken the brunt of the physical side. Andy has come on alongside him in the last few games too. I felt his ability to hold on to the ball was good against Tranmere and we have tried to instil that in him. Over the past 18 months or so, we have worked with him to make him aware how he can play a part by keeping the ball. That pair has looked promising and, while they play like that, they deserve their places."
Pete Green's mate Chris Stride has helpfully dropped us an email containing a pithy appraisal of Town trialist Nicky Nicolau or Nic-Nic as he is inevitably known: "Nic Nic is an OK left-back or left midfielder, with a penchant for wearing a vest to show off his tan... might get a bit cold up north. Squad player who always gives his best sign him." Heggaaarty with a tan then.
And one-time Cod Almighty contributor Richard Lord has also been in touch: "In the light of Town's impressive win over Tranmere in the League Cup it got me thinking... we're not bad at beating teams from a higher division under Buckley, are we? My instinct tells me that we've beaten more teams from a higher division in cup competitions than we've lost against teams in lower divisions. Then again, my instinct told me that we'd lose 2-0 on Tuesday so it's not the most reliable source of information. Is there anyone out there who has the time and inclination to prove I'm right?" Well, if there is, Richard, it is not your Guest Diarist, mate. Can anyone out there be arsed?
Durham Diary has sent us a great photo and says: "Given our lowly status, I feel we give far too little credence to non-League football. These guys have made their message clear, but are they on Sky Sports News? Are they bollocks, but they should be! Thankfully, we never have to send this message to our sensational keeper, but still worth bearing in mind." That made me snort with mirth all right! See yer.
Thursday 14 August
We got us a wealthy man and you'd think we could fool around and have a ball. But, no. It's all hard graft and devotion to the game for us fans following the possibly-getting-to-be-mighty-again Mariners. Drawing Blackburn in the League Cup has got people drooling over an away payday. Big name, big games, big money, big yawn. We've had more of those in the past few years than the majority of League clubs a day out at Wembley last season in particular springs to mind but our life remains the same, still our club needs more. Your Idle Diarist prefers to think love makes the world go round, and salivates at the thought of making the third round of a cup by denting a Premiership ego, with the perfect accompaniment of a tasty pork pie and chutney half-time snack. But each to their own, yeah? Let's spread the love: old romances rekindled include Paul Ince (now Rovers' manager; previously manager of the Bastard Franchise Scum) and Paul Robinson (now the goalie at Ewood Park; previously beaten by some fluke shot).
More wealthy men: payments to agents by Football League clubs have fallen to their "lowest level" during the four year period the League has been publicly publishing the figures. It's all glossed up as the "lowest level" means the lowest percentage recorded. In actuality, last season saw the highest total amount spent on transfers in the League, and who benefited? Those agents of bling, who received the highest amount split between them yet. Let's save on food miles and look at out local area: the fourth divison saw 1,188 transfers, 38 using of an agents, who received £227,686 from only 10 clubs. Town were one of the 14 that didn't pay out to football's equivalent of an estate agent. Good on yer Town!
Yesterday's Guest Diary wondered if the upcoming Lincoln game would move from it's 3pm kick-off. Not so says bright spark Leon Harding: "The Lincoln kick-off won't change due to Bike to the Bank taking place on the day. Lincs Police requested the kick-off for 3pm as they are providing us with an escort. Feel free to plug us again!" Feel plugged in, Leon, and dear reader, take a moment to click through and pledge some sponsorship money.
And finally, another worthwhile cause is the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust. They got their heads together recently, did a bit of a meet and greet last week, and are comin' back at ya! There's a comprehensive update elsewhere on this site, detailing where the trust are now and where they could go. But not to Las Vegas or Monaco with all their funds. I hope.
Wednesday 13 August
Now then. Guest Diary here, trying to slip in to the regular Diarist's red Converse trainers while he has to work for a living today impressing the suits or summat. And the only thing missing last night amidst the entertaining football from both sides with moves, shots and saves aplenty, was a decent crowd to enjoy it. Town now await the second round draw tonight with interest after beating Tranmere 2-0 and on this performance they will be pleased to welcome almost anyone to Blundell Park and give them a game.
Lord Buckley told the Grimsby Telegraph: "I'm delighted with the result. Like Saturday, we kept a really good discipline to our game in the first half. They had a couple of looks at our goal, which a team like that is going to have against you. At times, we played some good football and created one or two decent chances. We scored a very well-worked goal. It was a terrific bit of play. I thought Martin (Butler) should have finished it off himself but Hunty was in the right place to get the lead for us. The second goal was a terrific break as well, albeit ending with an own-goal. We then dug in because we got very tired towards the end."
Two clean-sheet-swallows do not a summer make, and they are queueing up to bugger off back home anyway, but it is a cracking start not to leak a single goal against two decent footballing sides. And if creating chances was not happening enough on Saturday, then the trend was reversed last night as Town tried to move the ball much more quickly in to the danger zone. Butler worked his socks off and was real handful all night; Hunt got the sponsor's man of the match again; Heywood was commanding and a real leader and Barnes pulled off yet more top class saves. The spine, so beloved of TV pundits, has appeared. And we have proper wingers.
Let's put the improvement so far in to perspective: Town have migrated from acting like a small impecunious Conference-threatened team who concede silly goals nearly every game, in to a small impecunious club who have a balanced squad with loads of commitment and endeavour and a recognisable shape and pattern to their play. The new signings all performed well last night but one of the few missing ingredients is match fitness. You can't make a bad player good but you can get a decent player fit so the future outcome to a degree lies with Mr Watkiss(es) and Mr Moore. Buckley can feel quietly satisfied this morning with his signings and the initial results of his strategy to tighten the defence and create chances via entertaining wing play.
The superb new official Town web site has announced that tickets for the away match at Lincoln are now on sale to season ticket holders. Strangely the article claims that this will be a 3pm kick-off. I have no reason to doubt this except that the last few years have been early kick offs over zealously policed by what seem like hundreds of rather thuggish policemen. So be careful the kick-off time might change? See yer.
Tuesday 12 August
One game in and anyone, like Idle Diary, following the Tale of Grimsby Town Football Club reaches the first twist in the chapter '2008-09', with the diagnosis on Paul Bolland's knee injury declaring him out for the remainder of the season (or 45 league games). "I knew I had done some damage to my cruciate I learned that after seeing a consultant in Grimsby last week. But I never expected this. I can't quite believe it," revealed the distraught player, "I'm absolutely gutted." You and us, Bolly, you and us. "I was really looking forward to the season after last year's problems now the enthusiasm has all gone. I just have to somehow try and stay positive and focus on getting back to the player I was." Fingers crossed...
Struggling to decipher the superb new official site's stadium update? The second twist of the new season is unravelled thanks to the local rag's piece, the opening paragraph of which provides more clarity than the club's 289 words shorn of context: "Grimsby Town's stadium plans will be reassessed after councillors gave the go-ahead for the town's £30-million Wharf Retail Park." The bones of it: Councillor Fenty is "disappointed" that last week the council chose to give the thumbs-up to the inner-town shopping redevelopment proposed by Henry Boot.
Why would our Conservative chieftain be like that? Highly publicised city redevelopments currently under way are struggling to attract big-name stores (or, in JF's favoured phrase, "anchor tenants"). To sign one up would (a) buck the current national trend by either expanding into a new greenfield area, or relocating from an existing site in the area; and (b) buck the current trend of ignoring North East Lincolnshire (tongue slightly in cheek with that point). An inner-town option, closer to the consumers, will be more attractive, far more attractive than an out-of-town retail park, such as the one supposedly attached to the Fentydome. Also, any proposal for urban redevelopment will be viewed far more favourably by any number of funding bodies, than whatever new development on virgin land.
The Fenty versus Henry Boot match-up seems a winner-takes-all clash (HB failed in an application for a review of Town's new stadium plans back in April: a clear statement of intent). But the statements from Fenty are clear: he is going to persist with the new stadium project, but how will it be adapted after this reassessment? All the eggs have been in one basket so far, and despite the chairman's attempts at maximising the security of his investment in the club (outright control of the club, positioning himself within the council), the Henry Boot plan is a very real risk to the Fentydome's proposed financing of the project through the retail area. The Henry Boot project is also, to this writer, a more favourable, worthy and better positioned (on all levels) development for the people and town of Great Grimsby.
Fenty's going to hate me for saying that. Ah well. At least he'll be hating someone who works on regeneration and redevelopment.
Anyone eyeing up the razor blades after reading that news, skip to the next paragraph, as the following is likely to have push you over the edge. As a teaser for a bigger interview later this week, the Telegraph comes across totally doom-laden as they also reveal that Gary Jones will not bless a professional football pitch with his silky skills again following his retirement from the game. A sad day for the big man's many fans. All the best, Lump.
Hey! Come on! Put the Sylvia Plath down! It's not all bad! Pepper up! After all, there's the cup game against Tranmere tonight! "We won't be fearful," Sir Alan proclaims, back to his pompous best and concentrating on his team rather than the opposition. Town are likely to send out the same side from Saturday. Mindful that the visiting opposition are not even a middle-sized draw for many Town fans, Councillor John does a high kick in his shortest skirt and beckons you to Blundell Park with his pom-poms. Cheaper tickets would have cajoled more fans to the ground, like. For the full lowdown on the game, we've given our full pre-match treatment here.
It's "yassoo!" to Nicky Nicolau, "an English professional footballer who is without a club": a situation he is looking to change by joining Town on trial. A left-sided midfielder, I seem to remember him being half decent when at Southend a few years back. And before you think "lower league Jason Crowe", let's give the lad a chance. And if he's any good, how he'll fit into the left-footed club of Newey, Lulullewellyn, and Hegarty is anyone's guess...
Thanks to Paddy Grant for making us aware of a News of the World fourth division preview. "Buckley's new look line-up that is designed to challenge for honours," they believe, giving Town an end-of-season placing of fourth, while neglecting to choose a team to finish just above them.
And, finally, for anyone thinking that Saturday's 0-0 wasn't that good, listen to Neil Warnock, if you can. He summed up his Palace side's 0-0 draw with Watford at the weekend with "the first game you've just got to get it out the way and if you're going to have a clean sheet, that's Utopia really." So there you have it. You should be swinging from the chandeliers, you ungrateful sods!
Monday 11 August
So, after all the close-season talk and activity to shore up the Mariners' leaky defence, Alan Buckley's new-look backline got off to a "satisfying" start, keeping promotion-tipped Rochdale at bay. The visiting side themselves also managed to keep Town at bay, but let's not split hairs. A solid start, something to build upon, or knock down. Incidentally, and possibly not so interestingly, it is almost ten years to the day since the Mariners last kicked off a campaign in goalless fashion (against Ipswich), and seven years since they managed to keep a clean sheet on their opener.
Your Idle Diarist was at the Oval on Saturday (where I listened to Danny Butterfield miss an easy chance in the only other goalless game in the Football League), so am having to rely on the words of others about the game. The Sun reports the game was "dull". Our Tone thought it was a solid display from the H-block, plumping for Heywood as his main man. A lot of other people reckon Hunt was equally ace, while Heslop shows promise but needs to work on his fitness. The BBC declares Barnes our hero with his spec-tac-u-lar save from Chris Dagnall, while the Times bestowed him the honour of the division's player of the weekend. Let's hope no prying clubs were watching... On the downside, Tom Newey, the latest player to carry the hex of a Cod Almighty sponsorship, continued the time-honoured tradition by being rrrrrrrrubbish. We would apologise, but he was born that way.
Some three weeks after he knackered his knee, Bolly's off to see a specialist, hopefully in knee-related injuries, to determine how long he'll be out for. In the Bradford Breeder's absence, Hunt will be adding the bite to the midfield chutney, and is certainly looking forward to tomorrow night's League Cup game against Tranmere to get a run going. Bye the bye: we have to pass through the first round of the Paint Pot Trophy.
Are we missing something? Nick Fenton left Town on Friday to join Rotherham's bench, so maybe not. Time for me to get this live in time for the rest of the day's play. Only 88 to win the game. Cheers!
Friday 8 August
Today is the last day before the footy season starts proper, gentle reader. And Town have had a really poor pre-season build up haven't they? Not so much the results, but the injuries. To have Boshell and Bolland definitely unavailable and Till likely to be playing with a dodgy hamstring is not where Lord Buckley would have wanted to be in the midfield department. To add to that list our first proper right back for a year hasn't trained all week because of a sore calf, and is 50-50 at best to play tomorrow when we take on Rochdale at lovely old Blundell Park.
The Grimsby Telegraph has had the audacity to publish their idea of the team. Interestingly the Telewag has decided that Till and Jarman will not feature in the 16 at all, although later in the same article Buckley says: "Peter Till has had a sore hamstring but has trained this week and will hopefully be okay." Your Guest Diarist has noticed that there are very, very few players in the current squad who could be considered as nailed-on automatic choices every week. OK so we have only one real left back (but whose erratic form hardly makes you enthusiastic about his appearance on the team sheet) and only one old-fashioned-Jimmy-Hill-style-number-nine, but the rest of them are kind of interchangeable. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Time will tell I suppose, but we need a hero or two to emerge.
Visitors to the superb new official web site today are greeted with another free Buckley interview courtesy of those kind people at Mariners World. The phrase of the week from Buckley, by the way, is "cohesive unit". Those who have said that our manager is trapped in the past may well ponder whether he would have spouted nonsense like 'cohesive unit' every other sentence 15 years or so ago. The interview is also memorable by Buckley's justification of his decision to appoint Mr Heywood(s) as club captain. Although admitting Heywood(s) talks to his colleagues on the pitch, it is Heywood's semi-gargantuan stature that seems to have sealed his appointment.
One of the least attractive features of modern professional football as far as I am concerned has been the tendency for football clubs to be as careful with their money as a gambling addict with a pocket full of change in an amusement arcade. The ham-fisted league then brought in various penalties to stop clubs going in to administration to sneakily avoid paying their creditors. Now that sort of worked when it was only an odd club here and there, but now we are faced at the start of the season with Luton (-30), Rotherham (-17) and Bournemouth (-17). Now a club having a really quite decent season will only average 1.5 points a game. So it will, in all probability, take until about Christmas for those three clubs to pass from negative to positive. Actually, you'd think it very likely that at least one of them won't maintain that sort of point-scoring and will get relegated out of the league. Having say 4 points coming up to Boxing Day makes the second half of the season somewhat of a battle shall we say?
So the bottom division this season is a bit of a farce. Having got rid of the nouveau riche clubs who distorted the league in another way last season we've got another can of worms with three heavily penalised clubs. Never has 21st in the basement division looked a safer place to be. I don't see how the league can carry on dishing this sort of penalty out through the present depressed economic climate. Surely they must realise that more cash has got to come down from the televised leagues? Even if a lower league club nurtures a promising youngster the tribunal system stops them cashing in effectively.
Professional football is just eating itself whilst us lower league fans watch in helpless despair. I maintain that it is basically impossible for a modern fourth division club to survive on its revenues alone without reconciling itself to the fact that a losing play off place or a lucky cup run is the limit of its forward ambition. A new stadium won't fix it in my view it is just another debt millstone. We need to overturn the premier league money tables and pick up some loose change or die.
Mr Diary rightly exulted in the news yesterday that shit referee Clattenburg has been suspended. Sadly the Independent has underestimated his popularity in a piece this morning saying: "Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League's youngest referee and an official respected by all except Everton fans who have never forgiven him for last season's Goodison derby defeat, has been removed from Sunday's Community Shield and suspended from all refereeing duties pending an investigation into alleged £60,000 debts." Well there is at least one other set of fans who despise him, right? Us! And for a much better reason than a few dodgy penalties.
Diary reader and aspiring pop star Pete Green alerted me to a page on one of the Rochdale sites where they have picked a team of ex-Town players who also played for the Spotlanders. This may be your thing, gentle reader. If it is, enjoy. But even if it isn't you should note the compiler reckons Tony Ford was watching Rochdale last week as a scout for Town. Interesting, eh?
And the final rallying cry at the start of a scary new season has to come from regular correspondent Sibbo: "So the season is upon us and I'm as optimistic as ever but Town fans should remember that if you boo your team when things aren`t going right, you can`t cheer with any sincerity when they`re winning. Come on you Mighty Mariners." Well said that man. See yer.
Thursday 7 August
Town chairman John Fenty (Con) may have done more than anyone to keep the club in existence during its recent financial difficulties but, like many a Tory grandee before him, he can't really boast much of a feel for the mood of the common people. With attendances plunging and optimism at an all-time low even by the extraordinarily miserable standards of Grimsby people, Fenty remains defiantly positive in an interview with today's Grimsby Telegraph. "If ever there was a season where we have a good opportunity to succeed, it's this season," insists the fast-driving Mariners bigwig, citing the disappearance from the fourth division of moneybags clubs such as Peterborough and Bastard Franchise Scum and the huge points deductions meted out to Luton and Rotherham. "We just need the fans to be patient with us," pleads Fenty forlornly, with this Saturday's boo-fest against Rochdale already ringing in his ears. Indeed, some supporters can't even wait until the season begins before they start squealing like spoilt toddlers, with "Marcus, Lincoln" getting his moaning in early by commenting on the Telegraph website: "Skysports [sic] have use [sic] down to just about avoid the relegation dogfight due to the manager's experience. Of course they don't know anything about football do they?" The Diary doesn't buy Fenty's line entirely, but if that's the best logic the crybabies can muster then I think I'll cross the floor and sit with the Tory today.
Further great news for Town fans and Martin Pringle alike. As readers of yesterday's Diary will be aware, shit referee Mark Clattenburg, who condoned the mutilation of Pringle by Dave Challinor in 2002 by awarding Challinor only a yellow card, has been taken to court with alleged debts related to his other job as an electrician. Since we enjoyed that cake 24 hours ago, the FA has put the icing on it by suspending Clattenburg from his refereeing duties which were to have included this weekend's prestigious Community Shield game at Wembley. "It has been decided he will not officiate any matches pending enquiries into the background to these reports," says a statement from the FA and the refs' organisation Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO). The rationale for the ban, I have to say, pretty much eludes the Diary, but anything that prevents Clats from ruining more football has to be a good thing. "Mark Clattenburg is one of England's leading referees," added a PGMO spokesperson, communicating by email so as to conceal their titanic struggle to keep a straight face.
This will be my final contribution to the Diary before the beginning of the 200809 season, but if you come back to Cod Almighty tomorrow you shall have your fill of content with both the gentle wisdom of Guest Diary and the avalanche of actuality that is the CA pre-match factfile. Before I go, there's an email from Al Wilkinson, who has a suggestion for something to buy using the new GTFC Direct fundraising retail portal thingummy. "If the Diary's struggling to remember what to buy on the internet, may I point him in the direction of Madmen?" offers Al. "An excellent show that was on BBC4 recently and now available for a mere £18 online. Fantastic TV and with a name you're not likely to forget in a hurry." And if you do, you can just think of Lennie Lawrence and Bryan Huxford and you'll remember it in no time.
Oh, and don't forget the petition against Thatcher getting a state funeral. Bye!
Wednesday 6 August
The Diary would never accuse Paul Bolland of tedious professional northernerism or a painful inability to sing a note, but there his dissimilarities with The Stone Roses end, as both Town's longest-serving central midfielder and the defunct Mancunian indie/dance crossover outfit have experienced serious second album trouble. After one outstanding season for the Mariners in 200506 Bolland much to supporters' disappointment has failed to produce anything like the same consistently wonderful form. Is it because his style was better suited to the more direct tactics used by Russell 'Sort It' Slade than to Lord Alan Buckley's patient passing approach? Is it because his awful run of bad luck with injuries seldom permits him a proper pre-season in which to build up fitness? No. Today, Town fans are at last able to surmise, it is because the player is up all night every night either feeding babies or making new ones, as the club's superb new official website has revealed this morning that he and his wife have just had a second little 'un since Bolly joined the Mariners. The Diary's congratulations go to Mrs and Mr B, who quipped to the Grimsby Telegraph in a reference to his current knee injury: "At least it gives me something to occupy myself while I can't play football!" From now on, though, Paul, you'd better start doing sudoku when you get crocked, or start looking for a 48-bedroom house.
From heroes to villains now, and while Town fans have been left mystified by the recent rise to prominence of Mark Clattenburg, both Mariners and Martin Pringle alike will take comfort from the financial misfortunes of the world's worst referee. After absurdly failing in 2002 to send off the then Stockport defender for shattering Pringle's leg in two places with the vilest foul ever committed on a football pitch, Clattenburg was rewarded with promotion to the Premier League. He may perform with greater distinction in his other job of electrician presumably he must; otherwise he'd have snuffed himself out with 12 trillion volts up his arse last time he changed a plug but not great enough to have stopped his company, MC Electrical Retail N/E Ltd, reportedly being wound up by the county court. Clattenburg denies owing £7,200 to another electrical firm and further money to his former mate, but has failed to comment on his outstanding debt to Martin Pringle.
"I thought the other Diary reader might be interested to know that Eastwood Town got tonked 5-2 by Notts County earlier in the summer," wrote Mark Wilson ages ago in an email to the Diary which I forgot to publish. "I don't know if we can draw a comparison but County are likely to be competing with Town for mid-table obscurity in the coming season." I guess mid-table obscurity would represent huge progress for the black-and-white-shirted perennial strugglers, though, eh. What do you mean 'which ones'?
Tuesday 5 August
Where are we up to today then? Ah yes final disappointing pre-season friendly result just in, long list of injured players, last-ditch efforts to boost squad before season kicks off, abject pessimism about opening match and long-term prospects of club. It's the first week of August and Grimsby is agog with anticipation of a mauling for the Mariners as rampant Rochdale hit the east coast this weekend. Last night's 1-1 draw at Brigg Town where Alan Buckley's side benefited from an own goal by the Zebras is unlikely to have lifted the gloom that is currently choking the North East Lincolnshire region like a Beijing smog, despite the fact that it gave a 90-minute workout to injury returnee Danny North (20-year-old scorer of 15 league goals in 33 starts and not good enough for the Football League, according to some GTFC fans) and the seriously mitigating factor that the Town line-up included four trialists and, other than North and new loan midfielder Simon Heslop, barely a first teamer among it. The Diary suggests that the only viable response to our club record stint in the bottom division is just to accept that we're rubbish with a little bit of perspective and cheerfulness, shrug your shoulders, support your team, and then go and do some other things until the next game. Never did Rochdale any harm, did it?
GTFC web spaz crack editorial team behind the Mariners' consistently embarrassing excuse for a superb new official website only knows who one of Town's four new trialists is is shrewdly keeping the identity of most of Town's new trialists under wraps. The one name the web team have had the basic competence to discover are prepared to make public at this stage is that of Wayne Corden a 32-year-old former Port Vale, Mansfield and Leyton Orient winger, cunningly described by the SNOS as a 33-year-old former Mansfield striker, just to put other clubs off the scent.
So that's Cod Almighty's chances of an Alan Buckley interview screwed by the Diary for a second successive season. In other news from behind the scenes at Blundell Park, the club won some award yesterday for some bank account thing or something like that, and today they've done a thing where you can earn 0.0003p to support the GTFC youth set-up for every £5,000 you spend with some of the biggest names in online retail, or something like that. I seem to remember the supporters' trust setting up a similar scheme a few years ago, and it's not bad, to be honest, though whenever the time came when I wanted to buy anything on the internet I always struggled like hell to actually remember it was there. The name of the scheme is GTFC Direct, bringing to mind the excellent NHS Direct, whereby users of healthcare services can often avoid the need to visit their GP by receiving advice on the telephone. Presumably the club chose the name GTFC Direct with this in mind, as most Town fans are similarly keen to stay at home rather than turn up in person.
Monday 4 August
Something suggests to the Diary that had Town just lost 4-0 away against another club newly relegated from the second division Leicester, for example then the outbreak of messageboard mouth-foaming that has apparently followed Saturday's defeat at Scunthorpe may not have been quite so severe. Then again, who knows? There were, after all, plenty of Mariners fans who greeted Alan Buckley's sacking in 2000 as the manager's just deserts for the hideous crime of failing to challenge for promotion to the Premier League. I reckon we're in for another slow start can anyone remember a Buckley season other than 199091 when we had anything other than a slow start? and in all probability another mid-table finish, but somehow there just seem to be far more significant things these days to get all het up about. I mean, really, how will we be able to justify to our children and our children's children the endless hours we spent watching and talking about football when we should have been trying to stop the global food crisis, devastating climate change, and the lyrics to our favourite Violent Femmes song being altered when it was used in a TV advert for rubbish Australian lager?
The counterweight to all this doom and gloom is that there are promising early results from research into the use of algae as a biofuel and Town are about to sign Simon Heslop on a three-month loan which could become a permanent transfer. Heslop, we learned three weeks ago when Lord Alan gave notice of his interest in the player, is a 21-year-old midfielder who came through the youth system at Barnsley and has impressed in loans to several Conference clubs so far, scoring five times in 30 games last season for Halifax, where he was generally deemed to be on his way to greater things. It was with some surprise, then, that we learned over the weekend that he was on his way to Grimsby particularly given interest in the player from Rochdale, Port Vale and possibly several other clubs with at least superficially greater chance of success next season than poor little us. The phrase 'box-to-box' is being used in connection with Heslop, so let's hope he lives up to it, because the Diary is just about ready to give up on Paul Bolland and his fragile legs.
What, then, does the manager have to say for himself in the wake of his team's catastrophic defeat away from home in a pre-season friendly against a higher-division side? Well, you can have a look for yourself today, reader, because GTFC have kindly made available a five-minute video interview with the Buckster free of charge. He looks a bit bristly and defensive to the Diary, I have to say, and observations like "When one team is far better than the other, sometimes you get results like this" don't really help his case though he is right to point out that his team played OK in the first half against the Irons, and only the worst kind of crybaby could fail to enjoy Buckley's gallows humour in observing that, while Simon Heslop might have a good chance of starting against Rochdale this Saturday, "if I take part in training next week, there's a chance of me playing as well". What's that? You are the worst kind of crybaby? What do you think this is a football website? Oh.
Friday 1 August
Your Guest Diarist woke up this morning knowing exactly what to write. How Town must still be planning a super scoop secret signing because the Lord Buckley had never finished allocating the squad numbers. My daily morning visit to the shrine that is the superb new official website put paid to that straight away. Mr Butler has won the battle to get the number nine shirt, with Danny North having to settle for n-n-n-nineteen. The captain for this season has been announced as Matt Heywood(s). The number 21 shirt is still available though, and it transpires that Buckley's phone stayed infuriatingly silent yesterday when a potential new signing failed to call him again. So, as Buckley says: "That's that."
As George W Bush sagely remarked a few days ago, "the future is yet to come". The season starts tomorrow with a death-or-glory trip to Scunny with the Lincs Cup at stake. Martin Butler, who apparently told the Telegraph that it was the weight of carrying two numbers on his back last season that caused his mysterious back injury or summat, added: "I had a goal to get myself fit and I feel quite fit at the moment. If I'm fit I think I can still do a good job and score goals." Shame about the word 'quite', but we shall see.
Tomorrow's team news comes via the Telewag again with AB reporting: "In Peter Till's head, he is going to be playing Saturday. To have a player with an attitude like that makes my life easier. Hopefully, he will make progress and will get a game at Scunthorpe." Bolland may play some part too, and Buckley reports that Richard Hope is OK again from whatever it was he had. Peter Bore continues his journey round the sporting injuries of the world with his reporting of a pulled calf and Tom Newey's back is already sore from carrying the weight of Cod Almighty sponsorship. Buckley asserts that he will play the strongest team available.
Garrulous Nigel Adkin(s), on the other hand, insists that he will follow his policy of squad rotation, and that his team tomorrow will provide no clues as to the starting line-up in the first league match. The Iron are without injured goalie Murphy and so tomorrow may be a chance to catch a glimpse of Kevin Pressman again (if only on the bench). Don't ask me why I want to see Mr Pressman again; I just do. Andy Crosby has a really gammy knee these days so there is no chance of him featuring. The third Scunny player injured is Joe Wilcox.
If we win tomorrow then it will be a fine result; a draw (irrespective of the penalty shootout that will follow) will be a good result. If we lose, but put up a good show, then that will improve optimism in all but the most cynical and jaded. If we get stuffed then it will be awful Buckley and Heywood(s) have got to get the lads going to prevent that happening. First test of resolve. Be there. See yer.