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Diary - April 2009
Thursday 30 April
Observers of Grimsby Town in the early part of this season could have been forgiven for thinking Simon Heslop was unlikely ever to grab anything by the scruff of its neck but that's exactly what happened at Oakwell last night, if you take Barnsley's official website at its word. Five minutes in to a match there last night, a Town reserve side that was barely out of nappies had run up a two-nil lead with goals from Josh Fuller and Tom Corner (more youth players named after set pieces, please, Grimsby) but Heslop belied his crap form on loan with the Mariners as part of a midfield trio that turned the game around with the home side scoring four times in the second half. The Barnsley XI, interestingly, actually included some players who have never been had a loan or trial with the Mariners or been linked with a move to Blundell Park in any way. Curious.
If a great attitude, more intelligence than your average English footballer, and three goals in mostly cameo appearances are enough to get you a contract in the brave Newell world of Town's 200910 battle for upper-mid-table respectability, Adrian Forbes is your man. Which is just as well, as the on-loan Millwall forward is quoted extensively in today's Grimsby Telegraph forming words into sentences which aren't just uninformative clichιs, to the effect that if such a contract is waved in his direction then he'd very much like to sign it. I sort of hope they can do something with Forbes, because he seems ever such a nice lad. Then again, I said that about Martin Gritton.
What do the mid-1990s mean to you? To the Diary they are synonymous with the Cones Hotline, working in shit jobs, chuckling indulgently at Steve Livingstone and reading Sing When We're Fishing. It is with some excitement, then, that I note the reappearance of Town's once outstanding print fanzine in blog form with an ace scary picture of Mike Newell at the top. Actually, though, it has nothing in common with the fanzine at all apart from the name, which some might call cheating. The content so far looks decent and fairly original, though, and that's the main thing really (that and it doesn't have bloody adverts everywhere), so the Diary wishes SWWF2 every success, even if they could have chosen a new name less reminiscent of the Britpop era. I dunno, anything would have done... Blundell Parklife?
As fans decide not to renew season tickets in favour of taking up the £10 and £5 offers that will definitely apply to every single one of Town's 23 home games in the league next season, the club's finance people are looking worriedly at the drying-up of a key revenue stream and trying to maintain cashflow from some smaller revenue rivulets instead. Hence the call to subscribe to that official email newsletter thing, which tells you all the same news you can get everywhere else but tempts you mightily with the chance to "receive exclusive offers from the club and our official partners". Oooh, lovely adverts. The superb new official website also informs gamblers today that "Conlon to score first and [Club] to win 2-1 is 35/1," in a piece of generic copy sent to every generic club site to promote the generic gambling product, but in which the SNOS staffers have forgotten to replace "[Club]" with the name of the club. You can tell John Fenty doesn't work on the website; otherwise it would say "Building".
Some of your emails now. "Thanks for the mention in the Diary. Very much appreciated," writes Rob Parker, editor of the Off The Post blog which we quoted yesterday. "I can't help but feel you got the wrong end of the stick though. At OTP we deal in humour, irony and satire. While you took 'A bloke called John McDermott' at its literal level, it was actually a subtle way of pointing out the lack of publicity the lower leagues receive. Even if I was the biggest, laziest, prawn sandwich-eating, lower league-hating, Man Yoo-loving of journalists, the simplest of Google searches would have given me all the information I could have wished on Mr McD. And if I had genuinely wanted to offend him, which I didn't, I would have called him worse than 'bloke'. I'm sure he heard worse during his playing days." Well, the Diary has to hold my hands up here and admit that I perhaps took Off The Post too literally not realising that the whole site is in fact a clever parody of those blogs that think they're amazing for regurgitating dull, second-hand content about moneybags football and adding little more in the way of editorial insight than "cuh, what's that all about, eh?" Fair play, Rob it went completely over my little Grimbarian head!
Your last word with the regular Diary this dreadful season, before a substitute diarist guides you tomorrow to the weekend's anticlimactic denouement, comes from Dave the Engineer. "Now that young Bennett has swept the board at the player of the year awards," he writes, "let's hope he doesn't follow some past winners in a swift exit from BP. ReNewell has a clean slate now and he needs to sign up his talisman pronto if we are to challenge for promotion next year. On another note, I thought I should inform you of Sibbo's impending wedding to Mandy on Friday. The celebrations are to be held at McMenemy's following the execution oh sorry, wrong word at Tattershall Castle. Good luck to them and the Mariners." Seconded! Thanks for reading, folks I'll see some of you at the Macclesfield game and the rest back here on Monday, when the phoenix starts to stretch its smouldering, knackered wings. T'ra for now!
Wednesday 29 April
What's the least surprising thing we've heard in April? Is it the Metropolitan Police 'allegedly' killing an innocent man and then trying to cover up the facts? Is it the torpor and lack of motivation that suddenly enveloped the squad of Rochdale Football Club after they signed Tom Newey? Is it the excellent second division goalkeeper Town recently loaned wanting to play in the second division? Not quite. It's Ryan Bennett winning just about everything it was possible to win at GTFC's player of the year awards last night. Least surprising for everyone, that is, except for Bennett himself, who said: "It shocked me a bit getting so many awards. Obviously I was hoping to win a couple in a season that's not been too bad for me. But it surprised me getting so many." Long gone are the days when Mariners officials would invite Cod Almighty to take part in the awards and nominate our own player of the year, but if we still did then we'd find it very difficult to demur from the popular verdict this time, so outstanding has Bennett's contribution been. Congratulations on a thoroughly deserved sack of shiny things, Ryan. We bloody love you. Now how about showing your appreciation by signing a new 15-year contract?
Another prize, which we have deplorably overlooked thus far in the Diary, is the Professional Footballers' Association's official recognition of Sir John McDermott. At a ceremony over the weekend the Mariners legend accompanied by those figures who were so influential in his career: Alan Buckley and, er, Dave Boylen was given a Merit award by the PFA for his tremendous service to his club and the game. The sight of PFA members voting freely in a private ballot to celebrate the achievements of their colleagues, regardless of their fame, seems just too much for the famous football blog Off The Post to cope with, however:
A bloke called John McDermott, who spent 20 years at Grimsby Town, has been given the Merit award for his services to the game. That is the award Giggs should have been in contention for! He has been a terrific servant, is still a tremendous asset and has a part to play for Manchester United, but he has not been the best player in the Premier League this season.
Off The Post prominently describes itself as "the best football blog on the planet", and with the sort of insight, style and wit on display in that post entitled 'PFA Awards are an absolute joke' it's not difficult to see why.
A relieved John Fenty (Con) has made some important announcements to fans in an interview on the club's £35 web subscription service Mariners World. After praising the "voice-iferous" support at Bournemouth last Saturday, the Town chairman:
There's also a bunch of stuff about which loan players might stay or go but other than Henderson, it just amounts to "maybe it's up to Mike, obviously let's see what happens". Are you alright with all that? I'm alright with most of that. Except the Fentydome bit, obviously.
- reasonably implores season ticket holders not to be put off renewing by the recent flurry of special offers for people buying match-by-match, which won't be repeated next season
- amusingly says "the building" several times to mean "the club" ("Joe is a great lad around the building", "we've got some good players in the building", etc)
- considerably overestimates the historical magnitude of Town's recent good run of home form
- correctly offers no sympathy to his counterparts who have run other clubs into administration and that
- alarmingly raises the possibility of a resurrected Fentydome folly without the need for an 'anchor' retail development.
Finally today, Mark Wilson has emailed the Diary, quoting my assertion yesterday that last Saturday "will mark the end of the lowest and most wretched spell in the long and occasionally distinguished history of a sometimes proud football club from northern Lincolnshire". And what's he got to say about that? "Oh how I wished I had your optimism." After spending most of the last decade telling myself this is as bad as it can get, and being proven wrong every time, the Diary must admit that it was just rhetoric, Mark, and I don't necessarily believe it. But everyone else should.
Tuesday 28 April
Sorry about my absence yesterday, folks but the Diary has declared 27 April to be a public holiday for Grimbarians from now on.
Guest Diary was spot on last Friday when he wrote here: "I have a feeling that we'll lose but that Chester will fail to win so our season may end in a damp squib sort of way." Only now, though, has the Diary recovered sufficiently to read about what happened at the Recreation Ground the other day: an injury crisis in the Shots' defence, with a midfielder at centre-half; a goalkeeper stretchered off with knackered ankle ligaments; chaos at the back with both Shots keepers making fine saves; and an unmarked Ritchie Partridge heading straight into the sub's arms in injury time from five yards.
So how, other than the heroics of Nikki Bull and Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz in goal, did Aldershot steal a draw and the Mariners remain in the Football League for a 99th consecutive season and a 116th in total? The answer comprises two words: Kirk Hudson.
Kirk Hudson was born in Rochford, Essex in 1986. He played for England schoolboys and made his debut for Aldershot against Basingstoke Town in a Hampshire Senior Cup quarter-final on 14 January 2006. He was on the books at Ipswich, Celtic and Bournemouth before joining the Shots; he was then loaned out to Ashford Town. He is five foot eight tall and weighs 10 stone. He describes himself as funny and outgoing, and he loves his mum and dad, Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and someone called Biggie. He had scored only twice in his last 20 appearances before Saturday. But on Saturday he scored two more. Two goals which will mark the end of the lowest and most wretched spell in the long and occasionally distinguished history of a sometimes proud football club from northern Lincolnshire. Because the Town are staying up and this is where the fightback begins. Because of Kirk Hudson. And you can keep last week's St George's Day and stick it up your arse for all I care because from now, Chez Diary, every year 27 April is Kirk Hudson Day. God bless you, Kirk. May your very being brim with victory and delight from now until your dying day.
Saying that, we really ought to stuff Macclesfield this weekend anyway.
Friday 24 April
Town will have to play quite a bit better than last week if they are going to get anything out of tomorrow's visit to Bournemouth your Guest Diarist woke up musing this morning. The match is just about a sell-out with no tickets available on the day says the superb new official site. But there are still just a few left at the Town ticket office.
It is a long way to go, and a difficult match in front of a sell-out home crowd, so prepare yourself, gentle reader, for the possibility of the season going down to the last match. Town manager Mike Newell, in a free interview on Mariners World, also broke the news that Sweeney has picked up an injury in training this week and that 'Jean-Louis is also struggling'.
But I have a feeling that we'll lose but that Chester will fail to win so our season may end in a damp squib sort of way safe but knowing we are crap really and thinking the best half of the team may not be back next season. Sorry folks that sounds horribly pessimistic when I know you are looking for unbridled optimism. OK then comfort yourselves with the thought of how much extra tax those Premier footballers will be paying.
If you are trekking down to Bournemouth then my wishes go with you. I will be stuck in that Diana hospital watching a brave man slowly die, which is another reason today's Diary is a bit early, a bit short, a bit downbeat, and well, shit really. I hope it's a great match, the sun shines, and we get at least a point. See yer.
Thursday 23 April
Much could be made of Town's triumph in the Youth Alliance Cup earlier this week. Certainly the young players involved deserve every word of the copious congratulations they've been receiving since their heroic fightback from behind to lift the trophy at the home of their well-heeled opponents Queens Park Rangers. At the same time, though, Grimsby fans of a sceptical bent (sorry tautology) will be mindful that youth teams tend to be praised constantly by their coaches and the local press alike, presumably out of a wish not to discourage them or undermine their undeveloped sense of self-worth, and that many generations of young Mariners before the current crop have been hyped up by the Grimsby Telegraph and Neil Woods into some sort of hybrid of Portugal's 'Golden Generation' and the Man Yoo side when Giggs, Scholes and Beckham all came through. In particular, it's noteworthy that of the 16 Town players on duty at the 2006 Midland Youth Cup final victory, most have moved on to clubs such as Louth United, Winterton Rangers and Lincs International Shipping FC, with only four seemingly still at Blundell Park and Matty Bird may still have much to offer but North, Taylor and Straight Peter Bore have moved backwards this season. So without detracting in any way from the admirable performances and progress of Josh Fuller, Kiel Thompson, Danny Freeman and their teammates, let's just leave them to it for now and see how they go on.
Perhaps aware that the predecessors of the 2009 vintage have not notably surged through into the first team and saved the club's bacon, then, the GTFC youth coaching personnel are refusing to get too carried away with this week's great win. Neil Woods has given an interview to the Telewag which ostensibly celebrates the win but carries a cautious undertone. "I had a text off all the School of Excellence coaches straight after the game," he says. Fair enough.
Speaking of our local rag, did anyone notice this sorry-arsed excuse for a story the other day? Years ago, when some of the CA team were involved in starting up the Electronic Fishcake, which later became The Fishy, we introduced a section called 'Mentioned!', which tracked mostly derogatory references to Grimsby in the national media with a sort of tongue-in-cheek excitement. Northcliffe Media, which owns the Grimsby Telegraph, is sacking thousands of journalists despite recording profits of £64million in 2008, and the result is a newspaper that runs stories on the same flimsy premise of 'Mentioned!' but without the irony. And as much as the Telegraph urges us to take pride in our hometown, it is the abject nature of articles like this that does more than anything to reinforce the image of us as a bunch of slack-jawed hicks who are pathetically grateful for any kind of acknowledgement from the outside world and feel dizzy when they think about anything further than half a mile from their own front door. Wait what do you mean the image is true?
The Diary is growing reluctant to continue reporting scandalous stories concerning Chester, so commonplace have they become but it's a laugh, so here goes. Maybe it's the FA who should feel ashamed, though, at the news that Deviants midfielder Jay Harris, along with his co-accused in the Accrington/Chester betting scandal, is being given more time to enter a plea. The five alleged dirty cheating sods were supposed to respond to FA charges by today, but they haven't, so the FA has sort of said, oh, alright then, have another two weeks, just to make things a bit easier for your clubs. So that's nice then. Unless you're a rival club who's done nothing wrong. And meanwhile, Harris's teammate Damien Mozika has been suspended by the club for unspecified breaches of discipline like refusing to play despite being judged fit by the physio. Again, one would like to think the scandal will shake the Deviants to their core as a prelude to Aldershot grinding them into the dust in 48 hours' time but our caution about the betting scandal having a similar effect on Accrington the other week proved sadly justified, didn't it. Look out for them timewasting tactics, Shots!
Wednesday 22 April
There's no knowing yet whether the Myspace Mariners who lifted the Youth Alliance Cup last night will go on to successful careers in professional football, but they've already given the Grimsby Telegraph its best headline in living memory. Fighting back from behind on the home turf of their opponents who represented, let us not forget, the richest club in the world with goals from Kiel (is it meant to be spelt like that?) Thompson and goal machine Danny Freeman, Neil Woods' callow side appears to have turned in a truly heroic performance and, going by his photo on the Telegraph site, man of the match Josh Fuller has rock star hair that will be every bit the envy of Barry Conlon.
News of another Mariners cup win today is equally impressive: former GTFC forward Gary Lund has scooped a string of prizes in the prestigious Estate & Letting Agent Awards 2009. Can you scoop a string? If you can, that's exactly what Lundy has done. Are you watching, Gary Croft?
Time for a couple of jokes now, Diary readers. What's the difference between Alan Shearer and Newcastle United? Alan Shearer will be on Match of the Day next season. And what's the only thing worse than being dragged into a ridiculous folly of a new stadium by a vainglorious criminal chairman and sent spiralling into administration as a result? Why, being dragged into a ridiculous folly of a new stadium by a vainglorious criminal chairman, sent spiralling into administration as a result and then being linked with a takeover by Stephen Vaughan, of course! As if Chester and Roll Over Darlington didn't already have enough on their respective plates just now, the shady Deviants chairman has been forced to deny rumours that he's about to jump ship for the comparatively untroubled environment of the New George Reynolds Northern 96.4 Darlington XFM Echo Williamson Balfour Motors Webnet Arena. Does this really need a punchline?
As the Diary continues to look forward to Town's potentially fateful trip to Bournemouth this Saturday by sort of pretending it's not really happening, Diary reader and one-time Mariners World heartthrob Richard Lord has found a chucklesome anecdote from the Wikipedia page of Town's current goalkeeper: "On New Years Day 2007, Bournemouth beat Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 with an amusing goal from Brett Pitman in the 90th minute. As the Brighton goalkeeper Wayne Henderson controlled the ball just to the left of his six-yard box he took a step back to clear the ball as Pitman chased the ball down. Unfortunately for Henderson, he slipped on the floor, Pitman got the loose ball, took it around two defenders and smashed it into the back of the net at the North Stand end." Thanks, Richard and we shouldn't be scared why? "The chances of that happening again to the same keeper against the same opposition at the same crucial time of the game must be astronomical. With Henderson between the sticks we've conceded on average less than a goal a game, so despite previous form I'm quietly confident that he won't fall on his arse at an inappropriate time and an inappropriate location on Saturday." And if he does, we'll all know who to blame.
Tuesday 21 April
The sun is out, the sky is blue, Town are taking a lot of fans to Bournemouth, and there's not a cloud to spoil the view unless you support Rochdale. Our universally admired and superb new official website reports today that the club has already shifted around half of the Mariners' initial allocation of 1,000 tickets for this weekend's potentially decisive game at Dean Court, and may have to take another 300. Cor!
Meanwhile in deepest Lancashire our old friend Tom Newey is continuing to weave his special brand of magic with his new mates at Spotland. The player's arrival at then promotion-chasing Rochdale last month 'coincided' with a shock 3-0 defeat at Chesterfield which left manager Keith Hill bemused by his side's lack of appetite, and as the Newey effect has continued Dale have all but dropped out of contention for a top-three finish. Cod Almighty's Mark Stilton has done some number-crunching and the statistics are as follows.
GTFC with Newey: W14%, D32%, L54% 1.05 goals scored per game, 1.70 conceded, 24% of possible points won
GTFC after Newey: W57%, D14%, L29% 1.57 goals scored per game, 0.57 conceded, 62% of possible points won
Rochdale before Newey: W47%, D26%, L26% 1.71 goals scored per game, 1.18 conceded, 56% of possible points won
Rochdale with Newey: W17%, D33%, L50% 0.67 goals scored per game, 2.00 conceded, 28% of possible points won
Just to season the raw data with a little empiricism, Dale's latest defeat two-nil at home to Roll Over Darlington with nothing to play for has prompted another confused outburst from Keith Hill: "All of a sudden around the place there is a sense of underachievement, and that's wrong. I've been sensing that for quite a while and the players have, and it's wrong." So had we, Keith. So had we.
Grimsby Town are a struggling fourth division side with minimal support, technically insolvent and based in a singularly unattractive town that has failed to recover from the death of the industry it depended upon for the best part of a century. Queens Park Rangers are located in affluent west London; going by the resources available to their owners they are the wealthiest football club in the world, and Trevor Sinclair is the only Englishman alive who has ever looked good with dreadlocks. Tonight the two clubs' youth sides meet in a rich v poor Youth Alliance Cup final at... Loftus Road, the home of Queens Park Rangers, who have been given home advantage because they have more money than us. Good luck, Town and remember those QPR lads know you've never seen a 50 pound note, so beware when they wave a few wads of them at you to distract you from the game.
Pete Brooksbank has emailed the Diary over last week's crap extended metaphor whereby I likened Paul Bolland's failure to reproduce consistently the excellent form of his first season for Town to pop bands who put out a good first album and then a string of rubbish ones. "Whilst I would wholeheartedly concur that many a good band has suffered an alarming sophomore slump," begins Pete, "I would contend this wasn't actually the case with Le Tigre, since their first effort was a big pile of dogshit too. It was, in my humble opinion, one of those albums with one decent track ('Hot Topic') made big off the back of a shitstorm of hype, mainly driven by Hanna's enduring legacy as poster-girl for the Riot Grrrrl movement and, let's face it, her status as member of the 'Cobain's Ex' club." Well, I readily concede that Le Tigre may not have gained the attention they did without the presence of Kathleen Hanna, but to connect this in large part to the Cobain phenomenon is, at best, to downplay Hanna's own epic talent; some might go further in averring that this leans towards the deplorable rockist misogyny that informs the Courtney Love hate. Far more importantly than that, 'Deceptacon' is fucking ace, man!
"Anyway," continues Pete, "moving back on to matters football-related, I was passing Meadow Lane last week on my way to a pub, the day after your game there, and spotted this (attached). I thought you'd appreciate the photo as evidence that it isn't just your lot who are prone to public and humiliating manglings of the English language." The photo Pete attached is below.
Ah, that old chestnut. Thanks, PB it's always good!
That's all from today's Diary, but incidentally, Pete, if you're around in Nottingham this Friday then one member of the Cod Almighty team strongly recommends you attend a gig. He might even be DJ-ing the next night as well, so he could spin a bit of Le Tigre specially!
Monday 20 April
New cult hero and rock and roll legend Barry Conlon could be on the books at Blundell Park as a permanent signing next season. After another brace in Saturday's handsome win over Port Vale made it five goals in six games for the on-loan striker rated by some Bradford fans as "the worst player we've ever had" Mr Michael Re-Newell told the world's media that he will make every effort to retain the services of the craggy rebel on a permanent basis should the Mariners remain in the Football League. "He's a popular lad and he's just done the job that we needed doing," said the Town boss, laughing at Stuart McCall.
And that's all you're getting today. It's bloody lovely out there so me, Mrs Diary and Baby Diary are going out for a picnic. Bye!
Friday 16 April
Supporting Grimsby Town is a serious and sometimes complex business. Your Guest Diarist has lately been forced to find more about what makes internet video tick than is perhaps healthy, mentally juggling words like 'codecs' and sentences like 'why does Mariners World give me audio but not fucking video?' The superb new official site is definitely great in every way; provided you use that Internet Explorer. Rebels like me who use Firefox are up to about one in five of all web users these days, and among regular users just about everyone I know has cast Explorer into the local lime pit. Any road, I heard Mr Newell but could not see him as he joked his way through the pre-Port Vale match interview.
Illuminating it wasn't, really. No question like 'what was that 4-3-3 first-half aberration at Notts all about?' No particular predictions about who will beat whom, Newell coming from the 'no-one can predict a game of football' school. The only fact came right at the end when the manager and his interviewer sounded like schoolboys giggling over the question that asked whether JP Kalala would be seen again in a Town shirt this season. Perhaps you needed to see it to be able to guffaw along with them. But Mr Newell did admit separately to the Telegraph that the three up front idea had backfired. Apparently the lads forgot to attack or pose a threat and without the ball we looked very vulnerable, so thank God we have a brave and reliable keeper these days, eh?
The Re-Newell also explained that Hunt and Lulu have had a rest and would be coming back tomorrow and that he has a full squad available, bar JP and Bolland. With three games to go it's worth pausing a second to savour that. No niggles, no mystery ailments and no suspensions. Discipline has improved and so has squad spirit with everyone chasing a game. Skipper Bennett will have his hundredth game tomorrow, by the way. Hats off to the lad.
The official site has also announced that Town have an initial ration of a thousand Bournemouth tickets and that season ticket holders get first grab next week, with ticket stub holders from the last two home games getting second priority from Monday, and riff-raff only allowed to buy from Wednesday onwards. Hang on, I think he told you that yesterday sorry.
Let's just hope that Town start well tomorrow and then get better. We played well in the second half back at Vale in December, I'm told, and deserve revenge for that late defeat. Keep the faith, folks, and try to turn up if you can. See yer.
Thursday 16 April
Away from home their loud vocal backing inspires the team and awes the opposing fans into silence. Back at Blundell Park they sort of sit there being tense and hoping something nice might happen. Presumably delighted with the net effect of Town's recent artificially inflated support, club suits have come up with another sponsorship deal to subsidise tickets for this Saturday's big match and, more importantly, another snappy name to go with it. The 'Nail Vale' promotion will allow supporters who collect a voucher from the Grimsby Telegraph this week to grab a ticket for the Mariners' really quite important game at home to Port Vale this weekend for "just £10 and £5", according to the club's unwilling-to-explain-details but quite superb new official website. I think I'll choose £5, thanks.
Contrasting fortunes for the two goalkeepers were the salient feature of Town's reserve game yesterday. An inexperienced second XI travelled up to Hartlepool and came away with a 2-2 draw which, by all accounts, did not reflect the run of play, as both of The Jarman's strikes seem largely due to errors by Pools stickman Mark Cook. The home side dominated possession but were denied the win by "some superb saves from on-loan Leeds keeper Jonathan Lund," laments the Hartlepool Mail incorrectly, amply demonstrating the journalistic dangers of relying entirely on Soccerbase for information about players.
He irks the Pontoon, he's out of contract soon, Danny Bosh, Danny Bosh. Ell. The likeable but injury-prone midfielder whose neat goal sealed Town's crucial win at Notts County the other day can today be found in the Grimsby Telegraph talking about his recent contribution and general state of health. "The Notts County game was my first since Chester [on 14 March] and, to be honest, in the first half I think it showed," admits Bosh, diplomatically declining to wonder aloud what everyone's excuses were. Back to 4-4-2 on Saturday, eh, Mike, there's a good chap.
Wednesday 15 April
After a strong-looking reserve side was beaten last week by plucky little Scunthorpe, Town have gone for the obvious remedy of sending a weak-looking reserve side to take on Hartlepool this afternoon. Since the Diary read through the line-up on the club's superb new official website earlier today, however, the name of youth team goalkeeper Leigh Overton has at least been replaced by that of first-team standby Jonathan Lund. Anything else of interest? "The Mariners will give another run out to former Crystal Palace defender Ryan Hall," the SNOS drops in casually, like we all knew perfectly well that the former Bromley and Crawley Town midfielder of that name who turned out for the stiffs' last defeat against Hartlepool in March had also played at the back for Crystal Palace. Maybe finding that out is what persuaded Town to give him another go, eh. Either way, Hall's biographer on Wikipedia seems unimpressed, going by the playing position given for him there.
Le Tigre, Paul Bolland, The Stone Roses. All experienced severe second album trouble, with Bolland never quite having reproduced consistently the outstanding displays of his first season with the Mariners in 2005-06 and the others having, um, released second albums that were nowhere near as good as their first. Bolland's chances of a return to form this season were, of course, sadly zeroed out by the terrible knee injury he suffered last summer but an interview in today's Grimsby Telewag finds the Yorkshire-born midfielder in fine fettle on the road to recovery. It's nice to see, too, that Mr Re-Newell has said Bolland, who is out of contract this summer, will get a chance to prove himself worthy of a new deal and do a Belle & Sebastian by emerging stronger than ever from various spells in the wilderness. The Life Pursuit was a bloody awful album, mind.
"Just a thought on T-shirt designs I had after reading the Diary the other day," reads an email to the Diary from Sibbo. "What about 'Another Conlon moment' or 'Play safe and use a Conlon'?" We're looking into it, Sibbo, although going by the current inability of the CA team to get anything done in less than a geological timescale and Bazza's propensity to fall out with his managers, any Conlon T-shirt we produce may end up having to be marketed to the 37th club of his career.
Sibbo's mate Dave the Engineer has some happy reflections from Monday. "I had the pleasure of attending the match with Tom, a work colleague who is a County supporter. We dropped his two children off at his mum's on the way (she prepared us some lovely sandwiches and home made sponge cake) and then we met up with his dad for a pint in the Magpie club. We sat next to a big moron who knew nothing about football and Tom suggested moving because he said he felt like hitting him, never mind about what I felt. We moved to the back row about three rows away from the net between us and the Town fans. I wouldnt want to pay £20 every week but the away win was priceless, as indeed were the sandwiches. Up the Mariners and thanks Tom's mum." Tom's mum could do worse than bid for a catering outlet at Blundell Park next season, from the sounds of it.
Lastly today, Alan Dickens (aka 'Exiled in Essex') has emailed about the Meadow Lane seating shenanigans: "The stewarding was poor... Town fans seemed to be milling about all over the place and there didn't appear to be any stewarding going on only the usual glowering from them and the Fuzz from the perimeter track," but he adds: "The Town singing was brilliant and to have 2,000 of us there deserved the win shame us fans weren't as vociferous last Saturday I sat in the Main Stand for the first time in my 50 years of Barrett/Frozen Beer patronage cos there was a mix-up on the ticket front and it was all very quiet different at Notts Town should have a 'Jesus' in every stand to organise the singing or a bouncing-ball screen with the words on. By the way, what's your take on the Pilks-handball-out-of-the-area shenanigans?" Well, Alan, Akpa Akpro's challenge on Pilkington certainly didn't look like a foul to me, but that is largely because I didn't see it.
Tuesday 14 April
Just a truncated Diary today, readers, as the Diary's best typing fingers have been cut off by the Man. Lovely weather we were having at Meadow Lane yesterday, wasn't it?
Mike Newell is never short of a word or two to say about match officials, of course, and today he surprised no-one by pointing out what a very good decision yesterday's referee made in making the very good decision to allow Town's second goal. Not that it was questionable in any way (indeed, even Notts County fans seem content to admit that Bosh's strike was permissible in every way): we're just amazed that there are still officials overseeing fourth division games who are good enough to have interpreted the offside rules about non-active players correctly for a change. Well played, Mr Haywood.
So, what was your experience of the crowded conditions at Notts County? Did you pay 20 quid and not have a seat to sit on? Did a steward make a surprising admission to you about the number of fans in the stand compared with the number of available seats? The Diary would like to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. Thankyou!
Good Friday 10 April
That Tony Blair (he used to be prime minister, and now charges about two hundred grand for half an hour of scripted platitudes) has been explaining why he believes in God to some Radio 3 programme. If, gentle reader, you will permit your Guest Diarist an attempt to succinctly paraphrase his reasoning, then it goes like this: when I was 10 my dad was rushed in to hospital and my posh private school headmaster told me and we prayed to god that he got better. Even though I told him my Dad was a militant atheist we still did. And he got better. God. Proof. Sorted. No wonder the Middle East problem looks so doable to him.
The nice young men whom I sit with in the Pontoon had a similarly revelatory experience a few seasons back when Town were just about to start their inexorable slide down the divisions. They decided that Town never lost when I brought home-made sausage rolls to scoff at half time. And to be fair, when I stopped bringing them, because I just couldn't be arsed any more, things did get steadily worse. They recently beseeched me to start bringing them again; I tracked down the butcher who makes them (he is a Forest fan and says they don't work very well for him, and maybe he should try haslet instead), and, so far, the results speak for themselves, don't they? A prayer or a sausage roll I know which I'd plump for.
Manager Newell, in a windy interview, didn't need much encouragement to single out some of his team this week. Sweeney, he said, combined ability with quality and effort not ruling out trying very hard to sign him at the end of the season. Conlon, he said, had been a right barbarian and we want to keep him too. Whereas James Hunt had been a model professional during his time out of the team, and had been 'outstanding' since his return to the fold. Hunt(y) tweaked his back but has had it 'seen to' and should be OK for tomorrow's home game against mid-table Accrington. Thank the dying Christ for that.
Sweeney, bless him, gave a separate, and wonderfully enthusiastic interview to that nice chap at Mariners World where he told us how much he is enjoying himself and that, back in Ireland, his family is known to be a "dynasty of goalkeepers". He also apparently told the Telegraph that he is "due a goal" soon. Mr Re-Newell also hinted to the Telegraph that he may start with an unchanged team yet again but is considering rotating one or two players at Notts County on Monday. You do have to feel for Proudlock especially he deserves a game, I reckon, at some point soon.
Mr Diary (see paragraph four on Wednesday this week) has been admonished by those nice folk from the Grimsby Vital Football pages. After a rather bizarre paragraph about substances which affect the football fan, the piece goes on to reach the apparent crux of its objection, saying: "There comes a point where regardless of what is going on, on or off the pitch, everyone should just support our club no matter on your views or opinions." Well, we think being a 'slave to love' is just so 1980s and, to be frank, while we still have folk hanging about, looking for trouble and throwing bricks it is going to be difficult to negotiate police costs downwards. Stop the idiots and then maybe we can get somewhere, eh? Bet Tony Blair wouldn't have a clue how to start on that one though.
The club is predicting over 6,000 again tomorrow and has opened the ticket office today to try and cut down on matchday queues. Remember, with a Telewag voucher (and thanks to some truck company), admission is a tenner. Let's hope we keep this good home run going. I can't wait see yer.
Thursday 9 April
Twenty-year-old goalkeeper Kyle Letheren has joined the Mariners on trial. Well, you try making a witty opening line out of that. A Wales under-21 international like Anthony Williams before him, Letheren came through the youth system at Swansea before joining Barnsley, where he has made one first-team appearance to date. He's been on loan at Doncaster this season but hasn't played any senuir games. Just to pad out this paragraph a bit, I'm going to add that the player's solitary appearance for Barnsley was as a half-time substitute in the Yorkshire side's win over Blackpool in last season's FA Cup; they were losing one-nil at the break but won 2-1 after he came on. And that's about it really. I'm afraid it's just that sort of day.
Town have been awarded a silver, er, award by the Football League for the club's work in the community. Shut up. It's not as easy as it looks, this, you know. The award brings with it an, er, award of £48,000, but this has to be spent on more work in the community, dashing the initial hopes of every Mariners fan who read the story and immediately assumed that the cash could have been used on bribes for Accrington to lose at Blundell Park this Saturday.
Speaking of Accrington at Blundell Park this Saturday, waggish GTFC officials have added an extra apostrophe to the name of the club's latest promotional offer just to rile the Diary. Since we first looked here at the erstwhile ACCRING'Ten scheme, whereby you can go and watch a game against ACCRINGton for 'Ten quid, it has since transformed into the equally ingenious ACCRING'Ten'. I suppose those could be inverted commas now that there are two of them. Not that this would be any less of an abomination on the name of all that is holy and pure.
I dunno I'm just a bit bored and restless today. Let's quit while we're behind and let Guest Diary work his mojo tomorrow but not before a lighter, brighter email from Ben Gresswell, who seems to spend most of his spare thinking time coming up with new T-shirt ideas on behalf of CA. "I seem to spend most of my spare thinking time coming up with new T-shirt ideas on behalf of CA," writes Ben, and don't say I didn't tell you so, "so here goes my latest... 'Conlon the Barbarian'. Sure to be a massive seller should the big man continue his superb contribution to the cause thus far." I like it, Ben thanks very much but what if he doesn't and Town suffer relegation? "If the unthinkable happens, maybe 'Newey The Wanker' would be more appropriate?" Ah yes or, of course, Onan the Barbarian.
Wednesday 8 April
Greetings, reader! All the hot news that is germane to the Mariners today comes from other clubs. I use the word 'today' with some hesitation, as your normally pulse-thinking, finger-on-the-blue-skies Diary only realised yesterday afternoon that the goalkeeper with Town's relegation rivals Chester one of the Deviants' three decent players, of course could miss the rest of the season with the injury he picked up when Notts County let them win last Saturday. It is uncertain why, as the Liverpool Daily Post reports, John Danby "hobbled off" with a shoulder injury, but perhaps it was one of those really nasty shoulder injuries that give you a dead leg as well. Don't plan street parties just yet, though, Town fans with no other senior goalkeepers on the books, Chester will probably be given permission to sign a replacement before the weekend, despite the deadline for all transfers including loans having passed by the other week and the additional transfer embargo imposed on the club because of the shyster in the chairman's office.
All of this is mere froth and bubble, however, compared with the scandal that this week threatens to overtake both Chester on top of all the other scandal that's overtaken them already and Town's opponents this Saturday, Accrington Stanley. After a ten-month investigation the FA has charged five players with illegal betting on the Stanley v Bury game at the back end of last season: Jay Harris, David Mannix, Robbie Williams and Peter Cavanagh were on the books at Accrington at the time and Andrew Mangan was with Bury. Harris and Mannix have played for Chester this season, while Williams and Cavanagh remain key players with the Lancashire side. All are accused of backing Stanley to lose, which they did, 2-0 and bookies stopped taking bets in the run-up to the match after noticing dodgy-looking patterns of betting. In normal circumstances the destabilising effect of the FA charges could be expected to have a devastating effect in the changing rooms of both clubs; as it turns out there'll probably be some sort of galvanising, rallying round thing going on instead and squeaky clean Town will end up shafted.
Cavanagh, you may remember, was the player quoted in the Lancashire Telegraph piece linked to from yesterday's Diary, saying Accrington will come to Blundell Park this weekend "looking for a win". "I'm not surprised Cavanagh wants to win on Saturday," writes Mark Stilton in an email to the Diary. "He's probably got a £5 accumulator on it."
The fans who run the Grimsby pages of the Vital Football website have come up with a quite intriguing item about the apparent spat between GTFC and Humberside Police in the run-up to the recent derby against Lincoln. The police, you may recall, wanted an early kick-off because of the fairly minimal threat of disorder, while the club wanted 3pm, and the club won. The piece is not flawlessly presented ("Why weren't [potential troublemakers] turned around under police section 27 [sic]?", ask the Vitals, who elsewhere on their site campaign against the use of Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act on football fans and link to a factsheet explaining that "There is no power to apply S27 collectively against a group of people") but indirectly quotes an anonymous police officer to the effect that Plod's intransigence was rooted in an ongoing row with the club over policing costs (Town pay £60,000 a year, Lincoln £20,000) which bears an astonishing resemblance to the club's recent disagreements with several other organisations. I guess when you've had blazing arguments with the Professional Footballers' Association, the BBC, your local newspaper, the local authority, Natural England, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs and a 14-year-old fanzine editor, and you're wondering where to go next to satisfy your pathological need for a public shouting match, the police are bound to figure sooner or later.
Lastly today, Town's reserve team lost 2-1 at plucky little Scunthorpe last night, fighting back strongly after shipping two early goals but failing to add to Matt Heywood's headed consolation goal. "It's important we keep everyone sharp and match-fit like Prouds, Forbesy, Bosh and Jarmo," said the watching Mariners boss Newzy.
Tuesday 7 April
Those foreign people they're a funny lot, aren't they? And gay people. Gay people are funny. Climate change? Don't make me laugh. It was snowing the other week! The Diary, in case you're wondering, is adopting a persona in this paragraph because we're talking about road vehicles and I know from watching Top Gear on the telly that talking about road vehicles means you have to rant like an ill-informed right-wing dickhead. First up, as of yesterday afternoon all the free seats had been taken on eight of the ten coaches Town are laying on to take fans to next Monday's game at Notts County. The deadline has now passed for season ticket holders to claim places, and the remainder can now be taken by fans with ticket stubs from the Aldershot and Accrington games, which nobody knew at the time they might need to keep so they'll all be thrown away. Also, taking a particularly successful leaf out of Andy Townsend's hit book, GTFC have strengthened their bid for survival in the Football League with a big truck. Nobody seems too clear what purpose it will serve, really, but there's nothing about football that can't be improved by the addition of a 26-tonne lorry. Scottish people, Polish people, women drivers, tax, for crying out loud, oooh I'm dead macho me, grrr.
"On-loan Grimsby striker Barry Conlon insists his side will be gunning for three points in Saturday's clash with League Two rivals Accrington," reports the indispensable Teamtalk website, which ought to clarify the issue for the thousands of fans who believed the Mariners would be going all-out to lose the game this weekend. Thanks, Teamtalk!
Speaking of Barry Conlon, the Irish rock monster's arrival has been a bit of rum luck for Adam Proudlock. No sooner had the Proudster hit full fitness and recorded a sumptuous hat-trick against Lincoln than Conlon revved into town on a Harley Davidson and started knocking in a goal a game. The Diary has no doubt that the big-boned ex-Darlington forward will play a big part in Town's satisfying ninth-place finish in next season's fourth division, but for now, of course, the starting XI is all about survival. Any old how, Proudlock and his fellow unlucky forward Adrian Forbes will line up tonight in a suddenly quite experienced Mariners reserve team travelling away to plucky minnows Scunthorpe United. Matt Heywood, Jamie Clarke, Danny Boshell and Nathan Jarman are among other first team types in the side, alongside former hot prospects Straight Peter Bore and Big Danny North.
Oooh look Accrington want to win as well. This is crazy talk!
Monday 6 April
Another great performance from Mr Re-Newell's side in securing a point at Shrewsbury was overshadowed by wins for every bugger else down the bottom on Saturday. But one thing the weekend's fixtures have made clear is that it might have been wiser for Town, before allowing Tom Newey to join Rochdale on loan for the rest of the season, to check which teams Dale had left to play. After the player's spell at Blundell Park coincided with the Mariners' worst spell in 130 years of history, it comes as no surprise that, since Newey's move to Spotland, Rochdale's promotion challenge has collapsed like a trifle under a tram. Even before the former Cambridge United left-back got on the pitch, his new team's form plunged with a 3-0 defeat at mid-table Chesterfield which left manager Keith Hill scratching his head and wondering: "I am bemused by it because in training on Tuesday the lads were up for it but it just didn't materialise on the night" and Newey's debut on Saturday as a half-time substitute found him on the wrong side of a crushing 4-0 defeat by Town's rivals in the danger zone Bournemouth. When the Newey effect ratchets up as the player makes his full debut this Saturday, Port Vale's huge win at Spotland is expected to remove them from the relegation mix entirely.
As a card-carrying member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Apostrophe Abuse, the Diary finds frequent cause for outrage in the shop signs of Great Britain and was naturally stoked into an almighty fury by the emergence in 2001 of 'reality' TV pop group Hear'Say. It is with some distress and a heavy heart, then, that I am obliged to tell you of the Mariners' latest special offer on ticket prices. After a five quid admission charge brought in big and surprisingly supportive crowds to recent games against Gillingham and Aldershot, GTFC chiefs have decided to see if they can still get good support without giving away quite as much money and are charging a tenner to get in to this weekend's match against Accrington Stanley. The name of this promotion, I am appalled to have to inform you, is "ACCRING'Ten". Quite aside from the flagrant misuse of the apostrophe, it also strikes the Diary as a bit stupid to put the ACCRING part in capital letters rather than the ten part, because it's the ten part you want to emphasise, isn't it. You can have that one for free, Town.
Friday 3 April
If you are squeamish turn away now, gentle reader. Because your Guest Diarist is about to delve in to JP Kalala's lower stomach (well, groin really). Manager Newell told Dale the name of the operation that JP will undergo before he can resume his loiter-on-the-edge-of-the-box-at-every-set-piece duty. Here it is in glorious technicolour. If it is good enough for Michael Carrick then one can assume it will do for our beloved loanee and let's hope he is back for a game before the end of the season. If only to say au revoir once again.
Town are away at Shrewsbury tomorrow a chance to do the double over one of the few footballing sides in our division. Both skipper Bennett and young Widdowson (I never really think of Ryan as young any more given that he has played nearly a hundred games already) enthusiastically mention Shrewsbury's new ground in their standard template Telewag interviews. Let's just believe they are being ironic, shall we? The place you get a free bus to but the ride home to Shrewsbury costs two and a half quid or summat. Two years ago the sun shone and we bade the fondest of farewells to Lord John of McDermott at lovely old Gay Meadow in a perfect 2-2 draw. Tomorrow we need a point much more urgently. But more than that we need an honest, hard-working team performance as the maintenance of morale is almost as important as the acquisition of points at the minute.
It helps that we can field an unchanged team with a strong bench. Conlan the barbarian has shrugged off his dead leg and Lulu's knee is alright after a couple of days' rest so I think Proudlock, Forbes and Jarman will miss out on a start again given Hegggaarty's rich vein of form and Hunt's dramatic resurgence.
Diary stalwart Sibbo has written in attributing Conlon's rapid acclimatisation to Pettit's best raw steak, while Les Brechin emailed to explain the reason for the high numbers of Aldershot fans at BP last weekend it being down to this match having been chosen as the annual 'tour of duty' away game where fans pledge their allegiance by 'being there'. Nice idea, eh? We have also heard again from Jan Przeniczny asking about the legality of the uphill terrain in the Pontoon end goalmouth. We can't recall this ever being the cause of a public complaint, mate. It's just one of the quirks that make British sports great like that tree on the cricket pitch at Canterbury, the Brechin hedge and the fact that you can get one for his nob.
When we beat this lot at home our back four were outstanding due to us having two good centre-halves and Mr Hope surprising us all with a good performance at left-back. Our back four tomorrow is even stronger let's hope Bennett keeps Holt in his pocket and the referee keeps Bennett on the pitch this time. Let's hope even harder that Ryan takes his contract offer off the 'back burner' soon and swallows the Town shilling for another couple of seasons. And remember Rob Jones, Mr Fenty centre-halves are as important as strikers; there is nothing wrong with paying them accordingly. See yer.
Thursday 2 April
Effect the outcome of the competition? A cost which are unsustainable? In an ironically entitled 'Clarification' of his earlier denunciation of the Professional Footballers' Association loaning money to make sure their members actually get paid for doing their jobs, multi-millionaire Mariners chairman John Fenty (Con) has pointed out this morning that his club has never called in such help from the players' union. Why? The Diary, I am sad to say, has no idea at all. Perhaps some member of staff muttered darkly in the corridors of Blundell Park yesterday that the club's payroll had once relied on PFA funding, implying double standards on Fenty's part. Perhaps it was just a voice in his head. With the chairman refusing, as tends to be the case, to provide any such contextual information for his outpourings, we are left to guess, or simply to shake our heads in gentle perplexity. I wouldn't like to suggest that Fenty should just set up a Twitter account and have done with it, or anything like that, but if the GTFC new stadium supremo finds somewhere on the web to burble endlessly to anyone prepared to listen about whatever pops into his head every hour then it would at least free up Town's superb new official website for something more useful.
Before we tackle the backlog of emails that has mysteriously accrued this week, the Diary would like to mention a new five-a-side centre that's opening in Grimsby this Monday, 6 April. It's called Playsport and can be found on Estate Road 6, South Humberside Industrial Estate. It has three 3G state-of-the-art astroturf pitches, pool tables, darts and a bar, and toilets and so on. Mine's a bitter please Jase cheers.
Now then. First up it's David Elvidge with some thoughts on the Mariners' quite useful win over Aldershot last weekend. "I made the journey from Norfolk on Saturday and met up with second son Nigel from Sheffield (did we travel furthest?). Here's a few observations. First the 'Sold Out' sign on the ticket office when did that last happen? (We ordered tickets in advance.) Second, how come the vociferous following from Aldershot, given they have nothing to play for? We felt it was either squaddies ordered to attend as part a tough fitness course or simply they knew they would see a team 'up for it' (Town). Lastly, it was the coldest match I can remember, with the wind howling through the Upper [Frozen Beer Stand], yet Conlon the Destroyer seemed immune to it. A memorable match indeed! Full marks to Mike Newell and the lads." Barry Conlon is made of leather, David.
Chris Parrot has emailed in response to yesterday's Diary, where Tom Carpenter sought an explanation for a mysterious phrase found on the SNOS. "I don't know about the 'pyramid of teams'," writes Chris, "but for years it's looked as if there's a burial mound in the goalmouth at the Pontoon end." Drainage, Chris. It's all about drainage. If we didn't have that burial mound, Blundell Park would look like Atlantis, or at the very least Rochdale.
And before I hand over to Guest Diary to take you through to the weekend and Shrewsbury, Diary reader and clap clinic technician Felix Oliver-Tasker has today's final word. "I'm hoping to make the Easter Saturday match against Accrington Stanley," he writes, "as I will be home for the hols to stock up on sausages from Pettit's and stuff my face with Ernie Beckett's fish and chips. Where does one meet for a pre-match gargle or three? I will be available for consultations at the usual rate of £50.00 per minute." The CA team will look forward to seeing you in the Rutland Arms, Felix, where your services will no doubt be in high demand given its proximity to the beating heart of Grimsby's thriving sex industry.
Wednesday 1 April
Sensational news from the Mariners this morning as chairman John Fenty responded to the shelving of plans for Town's new stadium by announcing a groundsharing deal with King$ton Communica... oh, I can't be arsed. Two goals from Nathan Jarman secured a straightforward win for the reserves yesterday afternoon at home to Bradford. A cool finish after 18 minutes put Stuart Watkisses's side in front after Danny North looked up and passed the ball, and The Jarman who, notwithstanding the first team's improved form since the departure of the Luton Three, really should be back in the 16 this Saturday at least robbed Bantams keeper Matthew Convey to make it two-nil with five minutes left. Debutant Jonathan Lund made an impressive close-range stop for Town in the first half but was otherwise largely untroubled, and Stuart McCall is understood to be handing in his resignation letter later this afternoon.
It's hardly a new thing for Conservatives to seek the complete emasculation of the trade unions, but it is kind of newsworthy that John Fenty (Con) has hit out at the Professional Footballers' Association for paying the wages of players at financially struggling clubs. The Town chairman, who has done well to keep the Mariners out of administration but does kind of like to go on about it a bit, is trying to stoke up a bit of outrage against relegation rivals Bournemouth and Chester who the PFA has lent money to so that the players can be paid with one of those official statements on the SNOS. "It is immoral that clubs are supported this way," rages Fenty, blithely unaware that it might be immoral for a semi-retired multi-millionaire to argue that workers who may have been expected to support a family on as little as 250 quid a week should be left without any pay at all because of bad decision making by rich idiots in the boardroom.
Phil Barnes has given an interview to the Grimsby Telegraph of several hundred words which might as well have just been two: "Who, me?" Responding to "rumours of a dressing room divide", the former Town keeper bangs on for ages about how innocent and whiter-than-white he is, in terms that will only serve to exacerbate most readers' curiosity about what really went on between Mr Re-Newell and the Luton Three. "To be thrown aside so near to the end of the season is upsetting. In my opinion I was a good servant to Grimsby Town and the way it was all done was very harsh," sobs the player, curiously omitting to mention the time Sky TV came to do that crossbar challenge thing and he introduced himself to the camera as "Phil Barnes, goalkeeper, out of contract this season".
Town have announced details of the free coaches that will take season ticket holders and, it transpires, their families to the Easter Monday fixture at Notts County. "The 10 Coaches... will be given away on Friday (3rd April 2009) & Monday (6th April 2009) between 9am & 5pm," declares the club's superb new official website, presumably meaning seats on the coaches rather than the coaches themselves, although you never know. Tickets for the game will be available at a cost of TWENTY FUCKING QUID FOR FUCK'S SAKE from the Blundell Park ticket office from Monday.
Lastly from the Diary today, an email from Tom Carpenter, who asks: "In the [superb new] official site's invitation to pay the equivalent of the GNP of Ghana for a chance to play against John Fenty, Brian Stein and friends, there is a reference to the 'pyramid of teams' that play at Blundell Park. Any idea what that means?" Answers on an e-postcard, please, Diary readers...