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Diary - October 2008
Friday 31 October
"Glad the Diary is back, but could Thursday's Guest Guy be a bit more upbeat next time he is asked to put trotter to keyboard? I don't need reminding how crap and poor (on and off the pitch) we are: all I want is a daily 'happy pill' from the Diary, even if it is all made up and lies. I hope I am speaking for more than myself on this matter 'quote me happy' (or something like that)." So said Jeremy Baily in an email to the Diary yesterday afternoon. Well, mate, I don't know if you are alone in wanting to hide from the magnitude of Town's plight, but assuming you are not I won't mention today that Town still owe about £180,000 in tax, according to Chairman Fenty in his Q&A with the supporters' trust, and the overdraft also remains up to the hilt.
You might be pleased to hear about the two loan signings though JP Kalala from Oldham yesterday, and Rob Atkinson from Barnsley this morning to shore up our leaky defence. Mr Re-Newell seems determined to improve the spine of his team and says that Kalala will add inspiration, enthusiasm and a much-needed element of closing down and competing for the ball. Your Guest Diarist always felt that he never saw enough of JPK to really form a considered opinion, as Slade favoured the 'Frenchman' on his bench rather than in the team, but it can't be bad news that he is returning until at least January. Quite how the team shapes up, assuming both loanees play (and I think they will), is an interesting conundrum to solve. Drop the skipper? Is that allowed? Drop Bennett surely not? Drop our best of a bad bunch in Hunt? We'll have to see. But you have to admit the players coming in strengthen the squad, at least on paper.
Newell was quick to remind folk again in his free Mariners World interview that there can't be any new injuries after Tuesday's debacle, as no player put a foot in all night. So he has plenty to choose from to face a totally in-form Darlington, who have three good strikers out of four fit to play against us. Somehow we have to avoid going a goal down with confidence at such a low ebb. Newell feels that the younger players will respond with better performances after a win, but is patently shit-scared that he may have seen the best of the more senior members of the squad during the recent awful run.
October has been a tough month, when we came up against both good teams and in-form teams sooner or later surely we must be lucky enough to face opposition who cock it up or who are on as big a slide as we are? Heart says yes, head says no, I'm afraid. But maybe the manager can find the right formula with Atkinson and Kalala to at least staunch the goals and introduce a bit of creativity in the middle. A fiver on Kalala having a shot at least tomorrow then, which will double the amount of efforts on goal we have been having lately, eh?
Any road, I'm still looking forward to an afternoon at dear old Blundell Park, cheerful or otherwise. And if you see a bloke there with a red hat, don't stick a poppy on it he doesn't like being deflated, apparently. For me, it's part and parcel of being a Town fan these last forty years. See yer.
Thursday 30 October
We probably only need about 38 points to stay up, gentle reader, your Guest Diarist opines in a glass-half-full sort of way. "But what if Bournemouth do the double over us?" that pesky voice in my head mutters. Then again, someone else will probably cop for a ten-point deduction before the end of the season, won't they? Errr... won't they?
Town seem to be the new Newport County remember when poor old Newport just couldn't beat anybody? No, you possibly don't, as I just realised that my addled brain has resurrected something from about 1971. It is difficult to see Town winning at the moment. And the new manager seems hell-bent on galvanising his team via loan players. Hmm. When he started he was saying things like "everyone will get a chance", wasn't he? So what chance have players like Hope, Montgomery and Stockdale had? I happen to think these guys are experienced professional footballers who deserve a chance in the first team. Hey, I never said they were over-endowed in the talent department but why pay them if you never play them?
Diary readers may remember me shouting from the rooftops at the beginning of last season about Clarke not being a right-back. And I stand by what I said. The chairman backed Buckley on the Friday and sacked him a couple of days later; the manager backed his squad one week and is now backtracking furiously from those comments a couple of weeks later. Newell needs to calm down, make sure his squad are properly motivated and disciplined and fix a fewer of the easier problems. Like how to defend and take corners. Having said that, things aren't quite right and people are muttering about the last chance saloon. They are even saying some players are drinking heavily there when they should be washing their hair or reading the Complete Book of Sports Nutrition by the fabulously named Shelley Meltzer and Cecily Fuller.
Newell has been muttering about loan players the rules on which remain an arcane mystery to me. We have had a load already but, I think, if they are not season-long loans (which, of course, is what we need to get some spine into this awful side of ours) then we can have some more. Or can we? Reading the transcript of the recent Fenty/Newell Q&A session on the supporters trust site you can't help but notice how Chairman Fenty dodged answering the question about how near the salary cap we are except to confirm that loan salaries are included in the calculation.
Oh, and you should read that transcript congratulations to the patient soul who managed to almost make sense of Coun Fenty (Con) who, bless his heart, has, shall we say, a rambling, mangling command of English. But in it he finally admits that the Great Coates Fentydome project is stone dead. We at Cod Almighty have been telling him that for bloody ages, but no schadenfreude here. Just a shame it cost three quarters of a million quid or more of his own money loaned to the club before Mr Fenty realised. So now GTFC is skint again, deep in debt to the chairman and up shit creek without a paddle on and off the pitch. Is there worse to come? Time will tell. We need a slice of luck; that's for sure. See yer.
Wednesday 29 October
"All together now... 1, 2, 3, wahey!"
The only way to Save Our Town is for a small man to count to three. We all know that not only are people the same wherever you go, but there is good and bad, mmm-mmm, then Dave Boylen. I'm Deviant Diary and, like Mr ReNewell, I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!
Take what? Yesterday, that's what, when all our troubles seemed so faraway in that London. "Has the bottom fallen out of everybody's world?" asks Mr Jeremy Baily. No, not in impotent rage over events down in the Cockernee badlands but a gaping hole in his life as Tuesday afternoon was never ending. "What happened to my daily dose of Diary on Tuesday?" A very good question indeed Jeremy I'm glad you asked us that. The designated driver forgot his keys and walked home through the fog of despair. We don't know where he is, but we have sent the helicopter of hope out to search for the hero. We'll be lending it to Mr ReNewell later as he combs this crumbling land for men with hearts of oak.
Steady boys, steady! We'll fight and we'll conquer again! Hurrah! Sorry, that should be "1, 2, 3, steady boys, steady! We'll fight and we'll conquer again! Hurrah!"
Or perhaps we should all just treat Tuesday as a void day: it never happened, alright? Especially if Wednesday morning papers didn't come.
Oh, alright, I suppose we have to mention it. That exhibition friendly kickabout last night in wet and woeful Dagenham. If anyone was there and can be bothered, please whisk a trifling reportette to us, as the official Cod Almighty matchday Fentybaiter, like Town's players, stayed at home and watched it on Ceefax.
Be positive John, for with the Luton/Bournemouth match being abandoned due to despair Town cannot be caught by the naughty boys until 25 November 2008 at the earliest. Get out your abacus and poke your tea leaves it's competition time! When will see we three points again, when will we share precious moments? Remember a big thing or a small, the winner takes it all. Such poetry.
Enough sullen avoidance of things past; let us bang the metaphorical drum for the shining city on the hill that is Town's wonderful future of wonderfulness. Oh no! Gawky toryboy, Positive Orange Juice Fenty, the rapping councillor, wants a choir and band to fill the dead air. Doesn't he realise there's already a Greek chorus? In these straightened times perhaps a single instrument will do. Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the Last Post.
Laughter is the best medicine, they say, so here are two teaspoons of comedy linctus to help put the grin back in Grinsby (© Grimsby Telegraph). First, in a quest to find a footballer of less use than Marie Antoine-Curier, Town stumbled upon Tomi Ameobi, and therefore succeeded in something this season. We should rejoice, rejoice, rejoice in that. Reflecting on his trips to the seaside, chesty Ameobi has opined: "I started in two games while at Grimsby and I felt that I did quite well." Tomi, we don't opine for your return. And never one to avoid shooting a dead fish, let's turn to today's Grimsby Telegraph, which reports of last night: "The home side were relentless and Town's negative equity was soon doubled thanks to the capital side's Gain." A classic of its kind, possibly written in an attic, and that's being kind.
Clunk-click, every trip, even in a bubble car.
Monday 27 October
Go, go, go, get up Lazytown. It should be lazy, what with it being My Birthday and a week off w*rk, but for your reading pleasure I've got up early so I can scoff cake and drink dandelion and burdock. Not that it's a Happy Birthday.
My next door neighbour, like most of the locals, supports "Sit-eh". It's a geography thang. Such are the perils of being Idle Diary: Idle by place, not idle by nature at this moment. There were knowing glances swapped yesterday afternoon as I raked the leaves. Yes, we lost to your ten men, my slightly puffed cheeks and raise of the eyebrows intoned. Yes, we won with only ten men, his little smile and wink confirmed. Yes, shrugging, I support a spineless team, whose dire predicament is assuaged by the two teams who started off with a handicap. I slump my shoulders and just accept the reality of being beaten by a bigger and better financed team. As Radio Leeds put it on Friday night, the difference between the two sides was the quality when given sight of goal.
Despite not being good enough when Alan Buckley was in charge, it was the same old story under the new man against Bradford, dominating, creating a host of chances, but still losing. To all those whingers and doom mongers, I say this: us Town fans got our way, we got our man, it's what we all wanted without one dissenting voice (not one), and he's looking at what he was left with first, so stop whinging. And at least we haven't got to bear the mantle of being the only team not to win a league game this season... Ah.
The aftermath? Mikey N knows what needs to be done, although the OS piece "Keeper wanted" isn't an immediate sign of desperation, just a polite way of asking you to pay 250 quid to play in goal during a fund raiser. Whether Mr Newell can immediately do the do is another matter: limited funds, salary cap, number of loans used so far, and that massive old chestnut hanging on the highest branch waiting to fall and bump you on the head at terminal velocity, actually getting players to come to Grimsby.
What remaining plans I had for today have been thrown into chaos with the short away trip to Leeds United being postponed. What away trip to Leeds United? The reserves'. Yes, I am aware how sad it would be to spend part of my special day watching the Town stiffs. How many of Friday night's starting XI will be gracing the rearranged game at the Big Club's ground on Monday 8 December? Ah well. At least there's a break from the league trauma in a couple of Saturdays, with an Oldest Cup In The World tie against Morecambe. Cake and pop anyone?
Friday 24 October
Manager Newell has 24 fit players to choose from tonight for the dreaded Friday night home game against Bradford. Your Guest Diarist thinks he is spoilt for choice in the team-picking department and would respectfully suggest he send one or two loanees home. Ameobi, Kamara, Heslop do we need them? We have quite enough of our own uninspiring players without having to borrow them from other clubs, surely? Only Bolland is not available for selection tonight, and mumbling Stu ventured the opinion to Mariners World that Boshell (a naturally fit young man, he told us) had looked very sharp in the two training sessions in which he had participated since his return from injury. So it will be interesting to see if he returns to play at least part of tonight's match.
Bradford are blessed with a decent front line in Boulding, Conlon and Thorne, but declining form and a couple of injuries (Bower and Bullock) have meant manager McCall is looking round for loan players. Of Town's performance on Tuesday he had this to say to the Telegraph and Argus: "For parts of the game they were very good and for others it was poor. But it was the same with Luton." No doubt he will think, like me, that he has enough pace and mobility up front to ensure that the rock of Heywood can be circumnavigated before the Town skipper can react.
So with that damoclean threat it is even more important that Town win and keep possession in midfield better than of late. Having the option to use fresh legs later in the game will surely help. Being honest, at the moment the problem is finding opposition we are capable of beating. The clubs below us are in a false position; the clubs above us have better squads, more confidence division four is a scary place for Town at the moment. The senior players and the captain really need to prove their worth and instil the right work ethic and confidence through the rest of the squad. It is a tall order. A win tonight would be a massive boost but you can't bet on it, even at better than 2/1.
Mr Newell, though, has reminded the Telegraph that recent matches have all been against in-form teams and that, although a tough one, there is no reason to fear the Bantams: "I went to watch them this week and they are well organised and have experience down the spine of their side, like the centre-backs Clarke and Lee, and Peter Thorne up front. But Darlington proved that playing football can get you a result and that's what we'll be aiming to do. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully we can play like we did in the second half against Luton and like we did in the previous two games. It's nothing to be scared of just because Bradford are expected to do well."
Off the field the disquiet over Mr Fenty's new stadium project continues to grow, with the council's head of regeneration suggesting that the club consider a 'plan B' in terms of location. It seems to me that the club badly needs support from the council to have any hope of making a new ground a reality. But to get practical help surely means that that the club will have to make concessions too. Mr Fenty may have engineered complete control within his boardroom, but to turn a pipe dream in to reality needs hard cash and a plan that is viable in 2008. A stadium project plan is needed that is both endorsed and practically supported by other interested parties in the local community, and Coun Fenty (Con) of all people should recognise this.
The world has changed since the Great Coates project was first sketched out all those years ago the club's finances have declined, the economic viability of out-of-town retail has been drastically eroded and the planners' support for this type of development is, I bet, now non-existent. I would respectfully suggest that it is time to accept this and to have a frank and open discussion with the fans, the council and the community, Mr Fenty. The club needs regeneration and so does the town, and working at arm's length has been a failure. Draw a line and start again is my advice because you can't succeed alone. See yer.
Thursday 23 October
Former Town striker Martin 'Oooh, Me Back!' Butler has spoken of his regret at the completely rubbish way his career at Blundell Park unravelled completely rubbishly. Until his contract was cancelled/paid up in full/paid up in full with bonus free pizza and Wii console (delete according to your level of Grimbarian gloominess) earlier this month, the player spent most of his time at home in Hereford following his non-move from Walsall last season although when he could make it along to his job he looked more likely to score the goals Town sorely need than anyone else who's pulled on the black and white stripes in the last couple of years. "I'm disappointed the fans didn't see the real Martin Butler because that's what I wanted. They probably think I'm rubbish after what they saw of me and I wish it was different," says the player in a Grimsby Telegraph interview today. But if Butler did only half a job, his non-performance has sadly been matched by the Telegraph, which reports: "The 34-year-old lasted just 12 months on the east coast after failing to come to terms with a 360-mile commute from his Midlands home." FAIL. It was a 180-mile commute from his Midlands home; a 360-mile round trip from his Midlands home and back again. The Diary is still awaiting any evidence of a sub-editor within 180 miles of Riby Square.
Mike Newell, meanwhile, has pledged to give his coaching staff a chance to prove their worth, just as he offered a clean slate to the players. "Replacing any members of the backroom staff is not something I've thought about," the recently appointed Town manager, for whom the Diary remains at a loss as to any potential humorous nickname, has told the Telewag. "When I got here, I said I would give the players chance to prove themselves and I'll do the same with the staff. They have a chance to show me what they're capable of." It's all worked out well so far, of course, as Straight Peter Bore has responded well to the offer of a fresh start under new management with one or possibly two goals in three games after seemingly being written off for an apparent lack of dedication by not only Lord Alan Buckley but also York manager Colin Walker during the player's recent loan at Bootham Crescent. We can only hope a similar success story awaits Town's assistant manager Stuart 'Boooo Cheap Option Fenty Boooo' Watkiss after seemingly written off by large sections of the Mariners' support for no good reason that is readily apparent at all apart from a mumbly Brummie accent.
Wednesday 22 October
On this date in 1646 in Grimsby a ducking stool was dismantled for repairs and it took 30 years to come back into service. Does anyone know if it's still there? If Andy Haines is still playing injury time, it may not be too late to give the hopeless bastard the sousing he deserves.
In the wake of last night's robbery at Blundell Park Mike Newell has said he knows which areas of his new team need to be strengthened but adds a distinctly Buckleyesque dampener to the effect that the right players for the job might not be available right away. "I know that we need to strengthen if we want to take the club beyond where they are. We know we need to add here and there, but we will get there," said Newell after his side was held to a 2-2 draw by virtue of two Luton goals which would not have been scored had the chief adjudicating official discharged his duties with anything approaching a basic level of competence. "I would never be a manager who buys or gets people in on loan for the sake of it, to make the numbers up or to get bodies in. That's not how you improve the team," he added, frowning darkly towards the corner where Stuart Watkiss and Tomi Ameobi cowered quivering.
Things not so Grim for Luton. Hurrrrrr! Do you get it? Grim! Do you? Hurrrrrrr!
Oh, I've had enough for today. "Is Joe Mooney's dad my cousin Mike?" asks Rich Mills in an email to the Diary. "If so, please pass on my regards to him and Belinda. I really ought to try harder to stay in touch." That's your lot if today's Diary goes on another minute, I'll be sure to concede some sort of last-gasp typo or somthing. By!
Tuesday 21 October
Straight Peter Bore's two appearances under Mike Newell so far could mark the start of a longer spell of action. The new Mariners boss has made a big point of offering every player in the squad a blank slate and nobody needs one more than the enigmatic Town forward and eschewer of bum fun, who proved as unable to secure a slot in the first team during his recent loan to non-League York City as he was at Blundell Park under Alan Buckley. The player has made a reasonable re-re-restart so far, sliding in to block a Wycombe defender from clearing Nick Hegarty's goal from off the line and, er, well, we didn't go to Exeter but it said somewhere he'd done alright there. "I have got to show a bit of faith in him and see if he can deliver over a number of games," No-Nickname Newell has told the Grimsby Telegraph, showing an approach that contrasts markedly with that of his predecessor, who had latterly taken to bringing on Bore as an 89th-minute substitute just to take the piss out of him. One thing's for sure: if SPB doesn't take the chance being generously offered to him by his third GTFC manager and fourth overall then his undoubted talent may be frittered away for good. He may never knowingly drink in a gay bar but he's certainly sipping pink pina coladas in the last chance saloon.
When Bore runs out to face Luton tonight it may be in a Town starting line-up that remains the same for a third game on the trot. I wonder when was the last time that happened. Maybe the start of the 200304 season or something. The Mariners' only new injury worry is over James Hunt, who did something nasty to his hip at Exeter the other day; more team news for both sides and all the usual stuff can be found in Cod Almighty's remarkable pre-match factfile, so go there and read it.
"Unless I missed something," writes Joe Mooney in an email to the Diary, "it seems that the Town feature in last week's Football League review in the Guardian was not mentioned, which seems unlike the Diary, leading me to believe it has been missed. Perhaps it pales into insignificance when compared to a proper feature but I thought it was worth a mention, albeit a week late." The clue is in the section of Joe's email that began "Perhaps it pales" because, notwithstanding its excellent recent feature just after Newell got the Town job, if the Guardian thinks it can trot out a perfunctory little fucking bullet-point list every Monday by way of coverage of the weekend's events in the second, third and fourth divisions and somehow think it's done right by the millions of people who support the 72 clubs therein then the Guardian can fuck right off and piss up a rope.
At least this is more honest than the tabloids, however, which 'cover' every game in the lower leagues by cobbling together a report from newsfeeds, Ceefax and guesswork and as often as not get the names of half the team wrong. As a sometime Cod Almighty contributor you'd think Mat Hare would know better than to read the Sun but at least he's got the good sense, he insists, to only look at the pictures. And, it transpires, to email the Diary in response to yesterday's, er, Diary, where Clav Divs and I were mulling over the "There's only one..." chant and its recent setting to a different tune. "So 'Blue Moon' can be used for bisyllabic strikers can it?" says Mat, and offers this wilfully perverse example:
"That's a good start surely," concludes Mr Hare. "Now if someone could just finish it off that'd be great, ta." Well, you heard the man. It's not like there's any transfer news to fill the space.
I saw you standing alone
With no defender nearby
Without an offside flag shown
I knew just what you were there for
You really looked like you would score
The goal we were all waiting for
Lastly today, but not leastly, Russell Moseley writes: "I saw Town at Exeter on Saturday and was heartened (a) by the fact that they were considerably better than when I saw them lose there in the cup a few seasons ago, and (b) by the reassurance offered by my brother-in-law (a Grecians supporter) that Town were by no means the most hopeless outfit to be seen at St James's [sic] Park this season (he specifically mentioned Gillingham)." Thanks, Russell. I don't suppose you fancy writing a match report for us the next time Town play in the south-west, do you?
Monday 20 October
Under normal circumstances two points from a possible six, with no goals scored in almost 180 minutes of football not to mention club record spells of no league wins in seven months and a fifth consecutive season in the fourth division would be cause for concern, not least to the preternaturally pessimistic folk of northern Lincolnshire. These days it's smiles all the way, though, as Grimsby Town fans rejoice at their glass being half full for the first time in their miserable lives. New manager Mike Newell, far from having dropped four points in his first two games in charge, has stopped the rot with a draw that was nearly a win against unbeaten league leaders Wycombe and now a first clean sheet since the far-off days of August, far away at Exeter, who had won three in a row before the Mariners' hard-won goalless draw at St James Park on Saturday. "You have to start by being hard to beat and we were certainly hard to beat," glowered a satisfied Mike Newell afterwards. Young right-back Grant Normington has apparently turned into a midfielder and made his senior debut as a late sub, while Tom 'Let Newey Take It' Newey was lucky to escape with only a yellow for the same no-contact aggressive head-waving offence that got Mark Lever sent off at home to Barnsley on 28 January 1997.
Diary reader Clav Divs is bemused by Town's attempts to 'improve' the atmosphere at Blundell Park by recycling a failed idea. "Looking for someone to bang a drum?" writes Clav in an email. "What's all that about? What's wrong with standing up at the back of the Pontoon kicking the back wall in perfect syncopated rhythm whilst singing four-part harmony to 'There's only one [Insert current striker here]'? Mind you, we always had a problem with Matt Tees not enough syllables, you know." These days, of course, the 'Blue Moon' tune can readily accommodate bisyllabic forwards. I said bi-syllabic, Straight Peter Bore!
Friday 17 October
A bloke called Alan Peach was interviewed over your Guest Diarist's breakfast smoothie this morning (on the Today programme). Mr Peach is head of retail for Brookfield Europe, which plans and develop shopping centres it is a seriously big outfit, which did the Eden centre in High Wycombe, among others. Would he, the interviewer posed, commence the development of any retail development in the current economic climate? Peachy snorted and then there was silence. Recovering his composure, he said words to the effect that, basically, it would be suicidal. Even if things improved he felt it would be a long time before there was an appetite for retail expansion, especially out of town. Peach said things like: "No-one in their right mind would open a shopping centre in the current climate" and "it takes seven to ten years to plan a successful centre". Oh dear.
Whether Mr Fenty takes Radio 4 with his cornflakes we don't know; perhaps he is more of a Wogan man. But if he does listen to the politically obsessed, economic-doom-laden Today, then he would have heard an independent qualified expert rubbish the Fentydome concept in today's England, probably without him being aware of its planned existence. You can't make a hen out of a feather, this Swedish bloke used to remind me in my Tor Line days. Funnily enough, Triangle sort of proved that homily, you know, and if it didn't then I still think there is a lot more feather than hen these days to Town's new ground project, don't you? Oh, now it sounds like I'm rubbing it in but we can't wish away a recession, and this one is big and here for ages and bloody ages. Time to do a Changing Rooms-style makeover on BP, folks!
Well, Town have four matches between now and the end of October, starting with in-form Exeter away tomorrow. Mr re-Newell told Mariners World yesterday that he was taking 18 players, leaving at sparrow-fart this morning with the aim of a leg-stretch training session this afternoon. The interview this week was enlivened by the requirement to guess the question posed from the content of Newell's reply, as we couldn't hear Dale at all. This editing may have been necessitated by a combination of the length of Newell's answers and the slow, measured tones he adopts when questioned. The newest messiah also confirmed that he is glad to have another month's worth of Trotter and joined the general chorus that we haven't seen the best of the lad yet.
Boshell's ham is still a bit strung so he he won't rejoin Town's party until "some stage next week". Bolland, of course, is still midway through series 4 of 24, although he has promised to watch a Town match on DVD as a bit of a break as soon as the lads win one. Newell claims that he is picking the side at the moment based on who is "on form in training" but didn't proffer any names of those looking sharp. Exeter are feeling confident after three wins on the bounce and those loyal and slightly mad Mariners fans trekking down to Devon may get the chance to see an opposition player rejoicingly called Jack Obersteller. I don't know why, but Obersteller is just a great! name. See yer.
Thursday 16 October
So far he is cautiously optimistic about our plight, he is pragmatic, and his reputation has dictated that good old Grimbsy has gained lots of column inches since his arrival. So your Guest Diarist feels obliged to excuse the fact that the Mirror told us last July that Mr Newell is big mates with old strike partner and shithead scaredy-cat Alan Shearer.
Mr Newell has given a beautifully timed and balanced interview today to the Telewag where he explains his cautious position about strengthening the squad. In it he recognises the need for a sensible and equitable wage structure for the different levels of players, admits the difficulties (money notwithstanding) of bringing higher-profile players to a struggling club in North East Lincs, and recognises that "the growth of the club on the field has to run concurrently with its development off the field".
Meanwhile Town chairman and local Tory hotshot John Fenty has spoken of the end of the Butler saga, about which Mr Diary told you yesterday. The Telegraph believes that Butler can't now play for anyone until January. This can only be a good thing Butler getting paid for doing nowt is one thing: the prospect of him getting paid twice for the next three months would be beyond the bloody pale wouldn't it? As Deadly John says: "It has cost the club money and we didn't want to pay but it is a relief to settle and move on." A-flipping-men.
When Liam Trotter arrived I hailed it as a great loan signing. The question is, was I foolish to do that? Trotter sort of does what it says on his tin: he always looks at half pace. Perhaps, as with that likeable German bloke Ballack, this is a peculiarity of his gait and he covers vast numbers of pitch miles, always arriving in the vicinity of the ball a couple of seconds late but still to offer succour to stricken ball-carrying teammates by providing what the pundits refer to as an out-ball. Any road, it looks like we might get another month to make our minds up as both Mr Newell and the lad himself are anxious to renew the loan. Let's hope Ipswich say yes eh? See yer.
Wednesday 15 October
In the early 1990s, when Martin Butler was a young striker breaking into the team at Walsall, his role models would presumably have included the likes of Les Ferdinand, Chris Sutton and Robbie Fowler. In 2008 he has looked more likely to follow in the footsteps of Capability Brown, Percy Thrower and Charlie Dimmock, as his time at Grimsby Town has been largely given over to gardening leave. All that is history now, however, as the player and the club have reached an agreement to cancel his contract, ending an unfortunate but not exactly catastrophic episode in GTFC history and hopefully freeing up some quiddies for Mike Newell to bring in a footballer who might actually fancy playing a bit of football now and again. "I don't think I'd have had any more joy than the last manager had with that situation," said Newell. In hindsight, of course, it seems that the increasing desperation of Lord Alan Buckley's search for a striker last season blinded him to the impractical commuting distance between Blundell Park and the player's home in Worcester but when Butler managed a few games towards the end of last season he seemed to have justified the manager's faith with half a dozen goals and some genuinely intelligent and threatening forward play. It's just a shame, really, and nothing more than that although Butler's begonias will surely have been glad for the attention.
Subscribers to Mariners World, Town's paid-for web service, have probably long given up on ever seeing anything genuinely revealing or interesting in return for their £35 a year, and today's interview with Liam Trotter is unlikely to restore their hopes. Is the Diary being just a little harsh? Well, it was a shame Town couldn't hang on for the win against Wycombe, apparently; Trotter is enjoying playing first-team football; and the players are a nice bunch of lads. This weekend's game at Exeter will be the last of the player's current one-month loan from Ipswich Town, and "if both clubs are happy for me to stay here, then I'm more than happy to stay". It seems to the Diary that if Trotter could only release the ball more readily then he could make a really telling contribution to the Mariners' attacking play, but on the plus side, he seems quite a well-spoken young man, and is possibly the only member of the squad who looks fit enough to play at his best for 90 minutes, so the Diary would be quite happy to see him stay for those reasons alone.
"Town chairman John Fenty agrees that, apart from Saturday, the atmosphere at Blundell Park has been lacking in recent weeks," says Town's superb new official website. Town chairman John Fenty is correct. But having improved the atmosphere at Blundell Park by appointing Mike Newell, GTFC are now taking the entirely redundant measure of trying for the 38th time to persuade some attention junkie in the Pontoon to spend an hour and a half whacking seven shades out of a great big fuck-off drum instead of watching the football. "The drum is coming back and we are looking for someone to bang it for us," warns the SNOS, using the first picture that comes up in a Google images search for 'drum'. Rumour has it, furthermore, that Blundell Park chiefs have already taken the dreaded step of playing music over the PA system when Town score a goal but, given the miserly total in the 'goals for' column this season, nobody has actually noticed it yet.
Tuesday 14 October
It's not often that Town are bracketed together with Tottenham, except when we're knocking them out of the League Cup, but just now the media seem particularly keen to report that Spurs and the Mariners are the only two senior English teams without a win this season. Recently every time the Diary has looked at Ceefax which pisses all over the glacially slow digital press-the-red-button version of teletext, incidentally another few decades have been added to Tottenham's worst-start-to-a-season-since-19xx statistic. But today the Grimsby Telegraph has been doing some book-bothering of its own and thoroughly deflated last week's euphoria over the appointment of Mike Newell with the gloomy claim that Town's "winless start to the 2008/9 league campaign is now their worst ever". Ace GTFC historian Rob Briggs is enlisted to confirm a second unhappy fact: that a failure to take three points from this weekend's visit to Exeter would mean Town equal the club's longest ever winless run in the league, established in 198182 when George Kerr's side went 18 games in the second division without claiming two points. Boooo, Newells out, etc etc and so on.
In times of grief the thoughts of Town fans often turn, in the hope of a brighter tomorrow, to the fortunes of the youth team. While Liam Nimmo, Iain Ward and Chris Bolder did not go on to enjoy long and successful careers in the Mariners' first XI, the picture has become a little brighter now that Ryan Bennett has emerged brilliantly and Danny North and Straight Peter Bore might do likewise if they can get their heads right. The latest triumph for the Myspace Mariners is a win on penalties against their north bank counterparts at nouveau riche King$ton Communication$ FC. Thanks to an excellent report on the KCFC site, we know that the two sides ended the football part of their first round Youth Alliance League Cup match level at 1-1, and that Town took the tie 8-7 on the shoot-out part. A second-round tie away at Scunthorpe on 22 November gives the lads a chance of exercising more local bragging rights on their social networking sites of choice.
Grimsby Town Supporters Trust is inviting fans to submit questions for a forthcoming interview with new manager Mike Newell and club chairman Deadly John (Con). The event will take place on Monday 20 October and the GTST website explains the various ways in which supporters can send in the queries they'd like to put to the two. Trust chairman Dave Otter will pose the questions to DJ(C) and Newell; Mariners World will carry footage of the interview afterwards; the trust will publish a transcript on its website at a later date; and nobody will be any the wiser about what's happening with the Fentydome.
Monday 13 October
Nathan Jarman is Cod Almighty's choice of man of the match from the weekend. Phil Barnes, Ryan Bennett and James Hunt all staked a claim. But it's Straight Peter Bore who's grabbed all the attention after being handed the umpteenth clean slate of his short career by Mike Newell and seizing the chance with both hands by making sure Nick Hegarty's 41st-second shot crossed the line to give Grimsby Town an early lead in their 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday. In the final year of his contract it remains to be seen whether Town's enigmatic winger/forward can belatedly get his head down and command a place in the side after failing to display the attitude to impress either Lord Alan Buckley or Colin Walker, his temporary manager during his recent loan at York. But SPB's star turn on Saturday should come as no surprise at all. With Mike Newell's arrival as manager last week having made a tremendous impression on Town supporters, the stage was set for one of his players to seize the moment. And after a spectacular two-goal debut in 2006 and a marvellous hat-trick on his recall to the side a few months later, it seemed strangely inevitably that the first goal of the Mariners' new era should be scored by the member of the squad who is most assertive about the sort of entrance he prefers.
Friday 10 October
So, appointing Mike Newell has been one hell of a good thing. When your Guest Diarist rang the ticket office today the lovely lady said that sales for tomorrow's match were "excellent" with 700 extra tickets having been shifted. The superb new official site confirms her story, claiming that the expected gate will crack 5,000. Just shows what a tenner a ticket and a popular new signing can do.
Not only that: Town are getting a bit of national press coverage. Today's Guardian has a nice piece where Mr Newell strikes a realistic but positive tone about his and Town's lot at the minute: "I'm not the type of manager who paints a bleak picture when they take over at a club, so that any success makes them look like a miracle worker. There is plenty to work with here, and if you start scoring goals and winning games it's surprising how quickly people forget you have a weakness here or there. Having the league leaders first up is ideal because there is no pressure on us. I've told the players to go out and play with the enthusiasm and desire they've shown me in training, and there's no telling what they're capable of."
In the interview Newell makes it perfectly plain that Mr Fenty's unexpected phone call was perfect in both timing and content. Newell had recovered his appetite for the job but had not considered the likes of Grimsby. However it all turns out, our Chairman can never be blamed for this appointment, and as Newell said: "Now I feel totally fresh. I don't have any ego issues about taking on a club at the bottom of League Two, because this a club with history and far more potential than a lot of clubs, so I was as pleased to hear from them as I could have been. It was what I needed to reignite my enthusiasm."
Town even merited a package on Look North last night. Whether the BBC deliberately sent a 'slip of a girl' to do the piece and goad Newell into an unsuitable outburst we will never know, but the words back from the training pitch were of sunshine, good spirits and a quiet authoritarian.
The Football League has started a new feature on its website imaginatively called 'Ones to Watch'. And the first guy they have chosen is none other than our 'Raz' Bennett, who reveals himself as a young Ford driver who would cheerfully abandon all his possessions in a house fire. What a shame they don't roll out a credible pundit to write an additional paragraph about these kids in terms of their performance and ability rather than concentrating on their taste in music.
One of the many interesting items brought to you today by Cod Almighty's returning pre-match factfile is the news that tomorrow's team won't include Danny Boshell, who has 'tweaked his hamstring' in training. Mr Newell has told both the Telegraph and the still free Mariners World that Boshell will probably be out for about ten days but that Kamara(s) is back in contention.
The new boss mused that he prefers playing 4-4-2, is very happy with the content of his squad and that he might change a few players for his first starting XI. Mr Newell, it would seem, has never been known to smile and has slightly scary eyes which swivel through at least sixty degrees on receipt of each question posed. A serious leader for serious times. See yer.
Thursday 9 October
It didn't sound from the press conference like Mike Newell would be bringing in a load of players straight away, and so it comes as little surprise today to hear the new Town manager offering a clean slate to his existing squad of underperformers. "It would only be fair to assess what we have got at the club so far and give them a chance, and give the lads who are not in the team a chance, or certainly have a look at them before I decide what I need and what we need to bring into the club," are the words Newell chooses to downplay any expectations of a quick supermarket sweep around the transfer market. In fairness, this is the right thing to do after the failure of Disco Stu Watkiss's three loan signings to improve Town's horrible run of league results, though it can also be seen as a vindication of Alan Buckley's squad-building. A fully fit back four including Richard Hope and Robbie Stockdale alongside Matt Heywood and Tom Newey may yet prove formidable; lest we forget, this was the defence that kept two clean sheets in the first two games of the season, and it was rotten luck for Buckley that he never had another chance to field it.
"You attributed the words 'verbally unspectacular' to Nigel Adkins in Tuesday's Diary," begins an email from Richard Lord. "Bloody hell, you weren't wrong. When we got back into the car we put Radio Humberside on as we sat through that bastard traffic jam out of the ground. All I can say is that I'm glad we were in that jam because we weren't let down by the repetitive dross that spewed out of Adkins' mouth. He seems a nice chap, fair in his assessments and all that, but his five-minute interview consisted of three things: (1) 'Credit to Grimsby, they've come here and given us a game', (2) 'Our objective was to win the game and we've done that', (3) 'I said before the game that their new manager will have an effect on their performance'. It was like being stuck in a time warp. His insistence on saying those three sentences seventeen times, one after another, had us in creases. He was so boring it was laughable!" At least he didn't start on the middle-management corporate toss this time though, Richard. You'd have been crying instead of laughing if he'd started on about the forward objective of achieving excellence together.
Hang on. A traffic jam? After a match at an out-of-town stadium? Surely not!
Wednesday 8 October
Let there be no doubt about it: Scunthorpe United may have only a relatively short history as members of the Football League but they have certainly enjoyed a spell of comparative success since they were almost relegated back into non-League football in 2004. The Diary is quite happy to give those brave Irons the credit they are due for their recent leap up the leagues which, let us remember, has been achieved against the odds as managers Laws and Adkins have grappled with the distinctly Grimsby-like issues of an unloved stadium and stubbornly low levels of support from the local population. It is said by some that Town and Scunny are bitter rivals, but this is to overlook the fraternal goodwill that extends from the Mariners community to their junior partners down the road. Which of us, when they were battling gamely towards promotion two seasons ago, did not say something along the lines of "It's the first time they've ever played Forest in the league? Oh, bless!" Who, then, would begrudge plucky Scunthorpe the 2-1 thrashing they dished out mercilessly last night to a team just 43 places below them in the Football League?
Yesterday's Diary, as you may recall, took a firm line on the crime of patronising your local rivals. "If there's anything worse than being patronised by Scunthorpe, the Diary doesn't want to find out what," is how it ended, except that there wasn't a capital 'i' on "if" because it was halfway through a sentence and there was a full stop after "what" rather than a comma, but I had to replace it just now because I wanted the sentence to continue afterwards. Mark Wilson has emailed in response: "I know you didn't want to know but seeing 'Ull in a Champions League place is as close to purgatory as I can manage. Increasingly my only hope is that a much bigger club nicks Brown from them and precipitates their slide back to mediocrity. By the way, agree with you about Newell, cracking appointment. Hello to Mrs Diary." Thank you, Mark. If anyone would like to try patronising King$ton Communication$ FC, please email your efforts to the usual address.
Tuesday 7 October
GRIMSBY WILL BE UP FOR IT. It's true I read it on the internet! And this time it isn't Tom Newey, Jason Crowe or Bradley Allen promising the Grimsby Telegraph that the Mariners' underachievement ends here: it's the headline of an item on the official website of Scunthorpe United about tonight's meeting between the two clubs in the second round of the Dulux Cup. The premise is that Town's hitherto comatose playing staff will be alert and on their mettle this evening as they seek to impress incoming manager Mike Newell, who will be assessing his new charges from the dugout as caretaker Disco Stu Watkiss chooses a team for the last time. "We can never underestimate the opposition. Grimsby will go out there and make it tough for us," says the verbally unspectacular Irons manager Nigel Adkins, who is personally responsible for a large number of deaths every year as his Radio Humberside interviews send drowsy drivers crashing off the M180. It is earnestly to be hoped that Newell achieves something approaching Adkins' success fairly soon, because if there's anything worse than being patronised by Scunthorpe, the Diary doesn't want to find out what.
The popular and promising appointment of Newell has left many desperate Grimbarians looking for a new scapegoat for the woes of their local football club. Watkiss remains assistant manager, so that's one in the bank for later, of course; but in the meantime, councils are always good for blaming things on, so the theme for this week is that our local authority should, um... er... 'support' the Mariners. Deadly John (Con) has been saying it so now some fans are signing a petition to say it as well. How, exactly, should the council support the Mariners? Funnily enough, people aren't quite so clear about that. As far as the Diary is aware, the council has already given planning permission for the Fentydome, and the main reason the project hasn't gone further is the developers' failure so far to find the mythical 'anchor tenant' needed for the shopping centre part. If DJ(C) or the petitioners should suddenly become more specific about how our local authority should support the Mariners then the Diary will, of course, report it; but in the meantime, as lethargic and insular as they are, it doesn't seem entirely reasonable to me to blame North East Lincolnshire Council for the social and ecological unsustainability of 1980s and 90s-style exurban retail and leisure developments, still less the crisis of confidence in the global financial system and the concomitant slowdown in the UK retail sector.
Monday 6 October
Town's new manager is Mike Newell a genuinely exciting appointment which ought to unite the fans and galvanise the players, and which the Diary is 100 per cent delighted with. Over the course of Saturday when the Mariners crashed to a heavy defeat at Rotherham despite dominating the first half and going in 1-0 up at the break four leading candidates emerged in Newell, Mick Wadsworth, Antoine Hey and Martin Foyle. Wadsworth, the Diary felt, was a manager with his best days long behind him, too old-school to excite the fans and motivate the team. Hey was an intriguing leftfield candidate but with fresh fourth division memories of Claude Le Roy's failure at Cambridge, he would have represented a huge gamble and wasn't, it seemed to me, the right man at the right time. Foyle seemed to have performed more than adequately at Port Vale but gave little sense of how much of that was down to the goodwill of the players he'd been a teammate to beforehand a sort of Cockerill effect which would be unreproduceable elsewhere. So all weekend long thereafter the Diary kept mentally repeating the phrase let it be Newell. Deadly John (Con) seems to have got it absolutely spot on this time. It's now up to the fans to do likewise and unite behind the new manager. Up the bleedin' Mariners!
Friday 3 October
If you want to see Town playing well then don't trek across to Rotherham and pay a fortune at the gate. No instead, Town's stand-in manager suggests in his free (for once) weekly Mariners World interview that we all troop down and watch the squad in training. Watkiss(es), who looks hollow-eyed and gaunt these days, explained that lots of good stuff goes on in training, none of which was reflected in last Saturday's most abysmal performance.
There's a bit more science involved than under Lord Buckley, he explains, and an awful lot of hard work going on. Town have trialled two alternative game plans for Saturday, one of which worked "much better" than the other. We shall see. It was a nice touch to invite supporters to watch training though. Having said that, expect the first fight to break out within days.
As for team news, Watkiss(es) revealed that defender Hope became crocked again in the reserve match and Kamara hadn't trained much due to a dead leg but should be in contention. The Grimsby Telegraph reckons that Boshell may be back if Town opt for a five-man midfield in this away match with one of the form teams in the division.
Town's superb new official site has published another daily update with regard to the vacant manager position, crossing off Andy Ritchie by saying that even if 'someone from Grimsby' had sounded him out it was no-one from the club. The piece goes on to explain that of the final three candidates to be interviewed, one was seen yesterday, one today and one next Wednesday.
Look North last night ran a rather feeble 'club for sale' package hosted by the weirdly-eyed Simon Clark, and then the suddenly-trying-to-appear-interested-in-football-because-they've-told-him-to Peter Levy interviewed Bryan Huxford about what failure as a football club chairman feels like. Huxford appeared as shifty as he ever did and is patently a secret reveller in Fenty's misfortune. "Being a councillor he should know what's going on at the council" (dig). "I always had a great relationship with the local council when I ran Town" (dig). "Most incomers view running a football club as a viable business venture when they start but soon find out the truth." Oh, and some other dig about how Fenty was "seen as the Messiah" when he took over. Infra dig, gentle reader. Infra dig.
But if, like your Guest Diarist, you are a tad depressed with the way things are going at present, then it could be worse. Much worse. Have a gander at the transcript of the stand-in Newcastle manager in today's Grauniad.
There, you must feel better after that. Surely? See yer.
Thursday 2 October
Do you know what? Nuff respect to John this morning. He's come out and laid it on the line with the most measured and concise statement of his chairmanship. His response to recent debate and analysis of his reign is open, honest and seemingly tinged with emotional exhaustion, an M6 away from his usual reactionary outbursts.
Sure, the timing isn't great. Any prospective manager without any grounding in the current situation would wonder what the fuck he's letting himself in for. But with no need to mask the truth, Fenty's statement is a shot of realism. What's Chairman John said? He and the club have made mistakes, some of which didn't need hindsight to be seen as errors, but let's not lurk on the past; time to put it right, although it's going to cost a bit. The man's giving a lot time, money and he's the only one willing to do that. He's on his own and seems to be in a dark place. To your Idle Diarist it sounds like he's listened, thinks he's learned, and wants the fans to believe in that. If at the end of that statement you don't want to put your arm round the bloke, thank him for being a man and give him some support, then don't bother turning up to the next home game.
Fenty's ire seems mainly to be aimed at the council, for what he perceives as their inconclusive position towards the new ground, despite their initial 'yes'. Brinkmanship from the club's chairman-cum-councillor, definitely, but his question to the area's councillors is simple: stop pissing around as the clock ticks away and spit out a unified position. What does Positive John want them to say? Do they object to idea of a new stadium? Do they object to parts of the plan? Do they want one? Where will they let one be built? Do they actually have an opinion? I've tried to find out this morning what the chairman thinks the council aren't doing at the moment, and when I do I'm off to find out the answer.
By the way, the new manager isn't going to be Dave Bassett or Tony Cottee, they're interviewing until the middle of next week, and today they've got "an interesting applicant who has played at the highest level in Germany and the UK and has international coaching experience". Someone will have seen Paul Lambert or Berti Vogts at a petrol station in the vicinity of Blundell Park today, mark my words.
Wednesday 1 October
How many people say the league table doesn't lie? Well, I think we all know, based purely on the ability to win football matches this season, that Grimsby Town come bottom of the pile. Only they're not, of course, so it seems the league table has developed a sense of humour and is craftily avoiding the truth these days, at least in the fourth division, and your West Yorkshire Diary can't help but point out that those people who say it never lies are notable by their absence.
There have been more managerial names touted for the Grimsby Town job in these past two weeks than I would care to shake a stick at, and I'll tell you that for nothing. No, on the other hand, I'll tell you that for 20p or 50p, or whatever the club's official SMS text alert service charges these days. Michael Appleton has popped up out of nowhere, and clearly it's just a matter of time before the likes of Lee Ashcroft, Lee Nogan and Wayne Burnett are mentioned. Do you reckon Michael Jeffrey would have loads of contacts?
Town have been chopping and changing their manager this millennium about as regularly as that awful Nicky Hambleton-Jones changes her glasses on 10 Years Younger. She's annoying, but you still would, wouldn't you? Your West Yorkshire Diary has seen her strut about on Channel 4 in the kind of sexually cultivated way that suggests she's probably quite dirty in the bedroom department. Let me tell you something, Paul. Supporting Grimsby Town is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. You eagerly anticipate your next encounter; you prepare yourself by spending lots of time in the pub beforehand; and then you spend 90 minutes with each other, if you're lucky, after which you realise that the performance wasn't what it used to be and the end result makes you want to go home and cry yourself to sleep in a darkened room.
I suppose the above is a kind of cross between Swiss Toni and something Ian Holloway might say. It's all gone quiet on the Holloway front, and if rumours of an approach for Leroy Rosenior are to be believed yes, the man who was reportedly sacked 10 minutes after being appointed manager of Torquay for the second time, and who is currently filling his time as a Five Live 'pundit' (but without the puns) I think we can confidently put the Holloway hope to bed: as appropriate a place as any, given today's theme. Sort it out, Fenty! He'd be an option of the less expensive variety!
Since messageboard rumours arose a couple of days ago suggesting that Steve Evans, of brown envelope fame, was approached to take over the reins at Blundell Park, the superb new official site has burst onto the scene, like Batman and Robin (the '60s version starring Adam West and Burt Ward) to punch, kick and throw poorly assembled wooden chairs at these pesky messageboard shit-stirrers, producing a scuffle of explosive onomatopoeia while someone strums the show's theme tune on the bass guitar in the background. You can probably understand why the club is sensitive about being accused of approaching another manager and being told, in no uncertain terms (or in the Fishy's terms), to 'intercourse off' if it weren't true in the first place, so they've quashed the Evans thing before it had got remotely warm and also the bit about Ronnie Jepson being a contender too. If they keep quashing rumours at this rate they might be in danger of revealing who's on this magical List of Eight.
But I reckon the SNOS could have at least found a better picture to use to accompany the article than that of Evans attempting to lick the top row of his teeth while waving his arms about frantically and looking like his eyes are about to pop out of his head. Maybe that picture was taken at the exact moment he was told by the fourth official to leave Blundell Park and sit on the coach for being a naughty sweary person.
But away from all this managerial nonsense, there was a rather nice interview on Mariners World with that rather nice goalkeeper of that rather nice time we spent in the second division. Danny Coyne was back in town to catch up with old mate Steve Croudson who is, of course, the goalkeeping coach at Blundell Park. It sounds like Coyne sat through the full 90 minutes on Saturday, so any affection he had for the club where he played some of the best football of his career would have been drained away almost entirely. But he still keeps an eye out for our results, so that's nice.