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Diary - August 2009
Monday 31 August
"I say, I say, I say – Grimsby Town are appealing!"
"Not to me they're bloody not!"
Just a brief Bank Holiday Diary to relay the news that Town are considering an appeal to the FA to rescind the red card shown to Barry Conlon at the end of the team's latest failure at home to Aldershot over the weekend. In case you missed it, both Conlon and Adam Proudlock were dismissed at about quarter past seven on Saturday night following a huge on-field melée, long after the team seemed to have given up on the notion of retrieving anything other than a characteristically dismal fifth defeat out of six games this season. On the negative side, Conlon's action, while not specifically prohibited by the laws of the game ("lifting an opposing player off the floor in an aggressive manner"), is likely to fall into the catch-all terms of reference of 'violent conduct' or 'ungentlemanly conduct' and the Mariners will have to face up to the difficulties of turning round their appalling start to the season with Conlon and Proudlock joining injury victims Adrian Forbes, Nathan Jarman, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Straight Peter Bore in the club's ranks of unavailable forwards. On the positive side, the case against Peter Quinn's decision is unlikely to be hindered by his sense of timekeeping: how hard can it be to appeal against a referee who blows for the kick-off at something approaching seven minutes past three?
Friday 28 August
"It just feels like every official is against us this year," said Danny North ruefully in a Dolby digital voice before cracking a widescreen smile on that Mariners Player yesterday. Danny's aim, he tells us, is to score, as well as look fitter and sharper than he has in at least 18 months. He certainly earned a few brownie points from his big idol Conlon with that delightfully weighted little cross last match.
Your Guest Diarist has been thinking about Town strikers this morning, provoked by something a couple of the Cod Almighty folk said about players we maybe didn't appreciate enough at the time. Who would I rather have, I mused – Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro or Darren Mansaram? Are they in fact worth having at all? Both a bit awkward, a bit gangly; both threatening to show pace; neither scoring enough goals (Akpro has been booked more times (four) than he has scored (three)). Players like this come and go: flatter to deceive – it might sound harsh, but Town need strikers who score. For now, given North's revived mobility and his enthusiasm to play off the big man, it's just got to be Conlon and North. Irish brawn and Grimsby enthusiasm; striking in the old-fashioned way where you know what you ought to be getting from them and sometimes, one hopes more often than not, you get it. If not there is always Proudlock.
Notorious Grimsby heterosexual Peter Bore was in manager Newell's thoughts ahead of tomorrow's home game against Aldershot. Newell admitted as much to the Grimsby Telegraph. But it is not to be because Bore has done his hamstring in the midweek reserve game and will be requiring a massage that only Dave Moore is allowed to give. So the injury kink – sorry, jinx – afflicting our wide players continues apace – Jarman, Forbes, Hegggaarty; and now one-time striker, forgotten winger and apprentice full-back Peter Bore. Newell says there is a good chance that Colgan, Hegggaarty and Akpro will be back in contention a week Saturday. For Jarmo, Forbes and Bore we must wait.
Newell also told his subscription channel viewers quite airily that a couple of loan signings would happen. If not before the window closes then when the window re-opens a week later. What, what is the point of that week? And do I believe Town will actually sign someone on a short-term loan? Not really. Newell has the nucleus of an adequate team – he just needs to crack the whip to get/keep them fit, enthuse, motivate and pick the best balanced team every week. Easy, surely? See yer.
Thursday 27 August
Emma Blackbourn is to replace Dave Otter as chair of Grimsby Town Supporters Trust. After seven years at the helm Mr Otter earlier this month announced his departure for personal reasons at the trust's AGM, where Ms Blackbourn was confirmed as his successor. I'm sure readers will join the Diary in saying thankyou to Dave for his work on our behalf over the years, and in wishing Emma (who, it has to be said, has excellent taste in music) all the best in taking over. The report on the AGM is worth a read for a fuller account of happenings at GTST – and for treasurer Rachel Branson's admirable restraint of her exasperation at the bizarre financial hoop-jumping that the trust is forced to undertake by the forces of the Man.
Today's turn at Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest – the exciting game that's now been played by members of the GTFC playing staff since early 2003 – falls to Peter Sweeney. "Hopefully now things will change and we can start getting a bit of luck" is the time-honoured gambit used in today's paper by the dynamic former Leeds midfielder, who returned to the starting line-up after being benched for the Great Crewe Disaster and then brought on early in the second half when the game was already way beyond reach. The moral of this story, sadly, seems to be that a less than fit Peter Sweeney with a bit of lard round the tum is still better than the alternatives. Shut Down The Town, that's what I say.
Matt Heywood was the source of Town's equaliser against third division Leeds as the reserves' 2009–10 season hummed languidly into life at Blundell Park last night. That Enoch Showumni who I think Mr Re-Newell signed for Luton half a lifetime ago put the self-styled 'London of the North' ahead in the first half, and while Brian Stein's lot, trialists and all, are alleged to have had the run of the game after the break, it took until injury time for the viciously treated former Brentford defender to make it one apiece from a Chris Jones free kick. Any Diary readers go? Anything to say about the trialists? Jot it down in an email and share it with all seven of us.
Right, I'm off. Guest Diary's in tomorrow so I'll see you in the Rutland Saturday. Well, some of you. Well, three. T'ra!
Wednesday 26 August
Brian Stein – the Peter Taylor, some might say, to Mr Re-Newell's Clough – takes charge of his first reserves match tonight since succeeding Stuarts Watkisses as Town's assistant manager, and let's hope the wage budget isn't exhausted for the sake of the three or four young trialists who'll be in his team. Louis Lavers is already familiar to GTFC fans with an excessive interest in the minutiae of trial players and a good memory for names, as the teenage Watford left-back turned out for the Mariners in the big pre-season win at Winterton Rangers. According to the club's superb new official website, he'll be joined by Manchester City right-back Chris Ramsey, former QPR midfielder Chris Arthur and possibly another midfielder but the SNOS doesn't know who or it's not allowed to say. The visitors to Blundell Park for the game are third division Leeds United, who are threatening. Oh, hang on, there's another bit... who are threatening to send a line-up with some players you've heard of, including the likes of Enoch Showunmi, who I suspect our own Mr Newell signed for Luton many years ago, and David Prutton, who was really good in the Diary's last game of Football Manager, also many years ago. It may even have been Championship Manager back in those days, in fact.
More than half a week after the event, the club has still not deigned to explain to anyone without a Mariners World/Player subscription the mysterious absence of Nick Hegarty from the Town squad that lined up against Bury last Saturday. What a good thing, then, that the willing ginger winger can be found in today's Grimsby Telegraph doing just that. Turns out Heggs has been carrying an injury since the end of pre-season, but Town have been playing him anyway. "By the time we played Crewe and Rotherham, I was taking a lot of painkillers," says yer lad. "But it finally gave up on me last week and it wasn't fair on the other lads to play if I couldn't be at 100 per cent." Cue a bunch of perma-furious Daily Express readers pouring irrelevant bile into the comments box about what a disgrace it is that the Mariners' leading and most consistent goal provider of the past two years is even on the payroll, let alone in the team.
That's all today then – and with Town and Leeds reserves playing this evening, I'll leave you with a nice little story from the days when their first teams would meet on a regular basis. Cheerio.
Tuesday 25 August
"Let's shut out shots" is the headline of a piece in today's Grimsby Telegraph, which sounds like such a good idea that you wonder why Ryan Bennett and his fellow GTFC defenders didn't think of it before. Then you read the article and realise that "shots" should actually have said "Shots" and our Raz is talking up the need to build on last week's 1-0 win at Bury by keeping a clean sheet at home to Aldershot this weekend. Town's prodigious young centre-half and captain goes on to perform an impressive balancing act by speaking of the need for first-choice keeper Nick Colgan to return from injury as soon as poss without jeopardising the confidence of loanee Tommy Forecast. "It's not nice to keep having to change the goalkeeper. Tommy has come in and you can see from the clubs he has been at that he is a top class keeper. So it doesn't really make too much difference," improvises Ryan, ducking sharply as a trapeze artist flies across his tightrope.
Money can buy you a lot of things. It can buy you more good lower-division strikers than you'll ever need, to the extent that you can buy them just to stop them scoring for your rival teams. It can buy you a great big new stadium – especially if it's the council's money – to attract 20,000 people who've never been to a game of football before in their whole lives but presumably nurture an odd fetish for cantilevers. Ultimately, it seems, money can buy you a place in the Premier League. But one thing it can't buy you – at least for the time being – is a youth team that can overcome the mighty Myspace Mariners, as King$ton Communication$ FC discovered at the weekend (and Town's superb new official website has only just been arsed to tell us). Tom Corner and Bradley Wood were the scorers as Neil Woods' team of pocket dynamos saw off their wealthy north bank neighbours by two goals to nil. Now, will KCFC's millions find them a new and less embarrassing manager?
"Having been a huge Town and avid reader of your website for a few years now I'm fully aware that you're not really up for shameless plugging but I'm going to try anyway," begins an email to the Diary from Steven Young. That's right – we're not. Have you bought a Newell revolution T-shirt yet, by the way? "You see I'm doing the Great North Run this year on 20 September," Steven continues. "Following a drunken bet with my girlfriend I promised to do the run in her nurse uniform if we can raise over £1,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. We only started fundraising yesterday and have raised £240 already. I just wondered if you could give me a little mention in the Diary to encourage a few much-appreciated donations, no matter how small, via my Justgiving page. You can use the link to view a few pictures of me modelling my potential running outfit." Well, you're in luck, Steven, because as everyone knows, the three reasons for the Diary's existence are to round up the Town news every day in a half-arsed semi-comic style, to take the piss out of the club's superb new official website, and to encourage cross-dressing wherever and whenever possible. Here's the link to the Justgiving page!
"Regardless of whether you help me out or not," adds Steven, "I also wanted to say well done on the excellent website. It's kept me smiling during these dark days while Town have been stuck in [the fourth division]. I'm not too sure about the Shut Down The Town campaign though; personally I think you should change it to Shut Down The Opposing Team's Wingers Before They Put In A Cross Leading To Yet Another Headed Goal Being Conceded, or something equally snappy." Well, Tom Newey's gone, so that's half the battle, eh? See you tomorrow.
Monday 24 August
"I think your campaign to Shut Down The Town is quite brilliant in its concept and I wish to goodness that I too, as a long-suffering Town fan, could find a way to alleviate the pain. However, I've been a fan for some 42 years and in spite of the fact that I've lived in south Manchester for 40 of those years I've always followed my home town team and have resisted the temptation to follow either of the big Manchester clubs. Like you, in times of 'suffering and shattered hope' (as you so accurately put it) I question the wisdom of my allegiance since the pain in following Town generally outweighs the pleasure.
"However, even in the depths of my despair my mind often drifts back to better days – beating Everton at home in the League Cup in 1979 and again a few years later at Goodison, the great Grimsby side of the early 1980s largely made up of home grown talent such as Drinkell, Wilkinson, Ford, Lund and the Moore brothers. I remember watching them more than hold their own in the second flight, beating far bigger clubs, among them Manchester City 4-1 (oh joy of joys!). I remember Buckley's first side winning two consecutive promotions and the tears of joy as we defeated Exeter to pip Bolton Wanderers to promotion on the last day of the season. I remember Buckley's next side winning twice on the hallowed turf of Wembley, Burnett's golden goal and Donovan's play-off winner. There have been some other (though fewer of course) joyous occasions since but we all live in the hope that more will follow.
"That word 'hope' is crucial to us small club fans and at times it seems to be all we have. However, is it a good thing to rely on hope since, as the great philosopher Nietzsche put it: 'Hope is the worst of evils for it prolongs the torment of man.' He also said: 'The miserable have no other medicine than hope' and I'm beginning to wonder did he visit Blundell Park for his inspiration?
"To conclude, hope still lingers deep in my weary soul and so on balance I feel I must (though reluctantly it has to be said) decline the kind invitation to join your campaign. Mind you, tomorrow I'm off to Bury, more in hope than expectation of course, so can I hold on to the invitation until after the weekend?
"PS. If our football team could match the excellent Cod Almighty website they'd be sitting pretty near the top of the Premier. Keep up the good work boys and girls and never give up hope."
Along with the 364 other Town fans who made it over to Gigg Lane on Saturday, John England would presumably have felt rather chuffed with his decision after Barry Conlon's close-range first-half header got the Mariners off the mark for the 2009–10 campaign. David Lawrenson of the Manchester Evening News, meanwhile, should be feeling rather less pleased with himself for reporting that "just like last season, rock bottom Grimsby Town picked up their first points of the League Two campaign at Gigg Lane". First win last season, David, if you please – Town had picked up a mighty six points from draws by that point, thankyou very much. And just when Bury fans had started to believe that all their hopes for this season were misplaced after losing to the likes of Grimsby, here comes another massive kick in the chops to confirm it: they might be signing Tom Newey.
John Fenty (Con) has rocked the Football League's boat of complacency after Sir Brian Useless Mawhinney vigorously congratulated himself last week on the latest apparent fall in money 'committed' to agents by the FL's 72 clubs. The Mariners appeared in the League's report as one of the clubs that didn't 'commit' cash to agents – an unpleasant euphemism for 'give' favoured by the spin wonks who put the report together – in the 12 months to June 2009, but the club's chairman has told the Grimsby Telegraph its basically all bollocks because clubs are still paying agents' fees as part of the wages they 'commit' to players. It may be a long time since Blur played Cleethorpes Pier, but close your eyes and listen to Tories fighting each other, and it could almost still be the 1990s.
Jean-Paul Kalala is training with Yeovil, his prospects of first-team football at Huish Park having risen considerably now that Russell Slade has left. Alan Buckley is being 'linked with' the vacancy for a manager at Gainsborough Trinity, but won't be interested. And finally, Peter Hopgood has emailed in response to Guest Diary's request last Friday for observations about Mr Re-Newell's interesting contractual arrangement at Luton. "All I can say is that if any company is stupid enough to put a clause in somebody's contract like that then the employee is entitled to expect it to be paid," offers Peter, bluntly. "Rather like the employer expects the employee to turn up to work on a regular basis. However, my worry would be if MN receives his £2.8m. Then what? If I had £2.8m handed over to me, my current employers wouldn't see me for dust! Would MN want to carry on? Think of the choices, cool drinks on a luxury yacht somewhere hot and sunny... or dealing with us! Our loss; his gain." Or is it? "I perceive a slight hardening of attitudes to him already after our start to the season. Are the great Grimsby public thinking last season's god might yet have feet of clay? Or is it just a bit muddy on the pitch? I'll get my coat." At this point it's only fair to make clear that Peter's email arrived before Saturday's annual renaissance at Gigg Lane. Even the Tommy Forecast is for brighter spells ahead!
Friday 21 August
Another match tomorrow, with a chance to put Tuesday's improved performance behind us by getting stuffed at Bury. Can Danny North play like that twice in a row? Is Jamie Clarke right to point out that he played wide right at Bury last season and we won? Or should we rely on manager Newell when he told the superb new official site's subscription channel that we keep losing because of our injuries?
Your Guest Diarist knows Bury are a decent side, and stronger than last year when they missed promotion by two whiskers – automatic on goal difference, and play-offs by losing 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out after leading on 88 minutes. They will score against us – I have almost no doubt about that; the question is, can we? You'd expect Town to start with the same team as against Rotherham given that there are the same players to choose from. Newell told us in the pre-match subscription-only interview that Sweeney was dropped last Saturday because he is unfit. In my view the pre-season training seemed to pass him by, and the weight gain is noticeable. So Newell can only hope to get him fit by playing him twice a week. His talent is as obvious as his current ability to make a defensive wall solo. Danny North, who obviously did make the effort to get fit, told the Telegraph on Wednesday: "I like playing with a big man up front, and play off them, and they don't come any bigger than Baz." True; true.
Yesterday's Diary told us about how Town are managing to avoid paying agents, along with a significant number of other smaller Football League clubs. No bad thing – agents cause a lot of grief and rarely add any value to a transfer transaction. But what I want to know is what you, gentle reader, think about managers who make a percentage when clubs sell players. How else can, say, Harry Redknapp (bless him) afford to live in that really posh house? I'm not suggesting he takes bungs either – maybe he just has a clause in his employment contract with his club that entitles him to a percentage of the transfer fee when a player is sold. I don't know about Mr Redknapp's contract (Harry, you are just a colourful lead-in here), but what I do know is that Mike Newell's contract at Luton entitled him to 10 per cent of the fee every time a player was sold.
Now this is not a scoop, as yesterday's Diary hinted. It's sort of been in the public domain for ages. Dave Conn in the Guardian said in October 2007: "Luton sold Edwards 19 months later, in January this year, to Sunderland, for £1.4m. Luton have said Newell's contract paid him a 10% commission on sales and, if true, he made £140,000 for selling Edwards on. Newell has never commented on the terms of his employment. He is suing Luton for wrongful dismissal and the case will be decided next June." And I am totally confident that Mr Newell did have such a clause. One hundred per cent confident, shall we say.
You have to feel for the new Luton consortium a bit, as every time the previous owners unloaded a player not only did the transfer fee not seem to find its way back into the club to help them be financially stable, but also the contingent liability owed to Newell grew by 10 per cent of the sale value. Now you start to see why he is claiming the amazingly high £2.8m from Luton plus legal fees. And they can't get away with offering him 10p in the pound like the other creditors because the unique rule which only applies to football says 100 per cent of the 'footballing creditors' must be paid 100 per cent before the new owners can join the Football League.
Perhaps the extreme anger Luton fans feel about Newell is more understandable in this context? And I bloody hope that Mr Newell does not benefit from the sale of Grimsby players in similar fashion. Email the Diary at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think. Did Newell deserve that 10 per cent? See yer.
Thursday 20 August
"No Commitment By Town" announces the Mariners' superb new official website today, but rather than making a belated admission about the team's performance at home to Crewe last Saturday, the SNOS is trumpeting the fact that GTFC are one of 19 clubs among the Football League's 72 that didn't 'commit' any money to agents between July 2008 and June 2009. Town's PR and communications team have cunningly pasted up the story from the same copy used by the Football League itself, which also uses the word 'commit' repeatedly in phrases such as "the amount of money committed to agents", "League clubs committed £8.8m to agents" and so on, in the hope that "committing" money to football's despised parasites sounds somehow less offensive than simply giving it to them. Any old road, the Mariners have clearly come a long way from the dark days of, um, three years ago, as more than £34,000 of our money was committed to the bulging pockets of the agents in 2006 alone. Ah, the play-off final... but of course, only a cynic would point out that 2006 was the only year over the past decade when Town finished higher than 15th in any division. Hey, maybe a bit of commitment is just what we need.
"Do you keep an eye on the players' Facebook pages?" the Diary was asked the other night, as a prelude to a tale of some web-based 'banter' about Town's slow start to the season from embittered former goalkeeper Phil Barnes. As it turns out, there is still no such thing as a Diary Facebook account, despite invitations to join from such GTFC-supporting journalistic luminaries as Steve Bierley (The Guardian) and Alex Green (The Fishy). If you see anything out there of that ilk which might raise an ironic smile on this page, though, do drop an email to email@example.com to let us know.
And that's all from your regular Diary this week. Do keep those emails coming in, and remember to give your reasons for supporting the Diary's all-conquering Shut Down The Town campaign. In the meantime I leave you with the pre-match factfile for Bury, and tomorrow it's over to Guest Diary for his traditional Friday slot. He was talking at the Rotherham game about an interesting scoop or something, but maybe he'd just been to Appleby's. T'ra for now!
Wednesday 19 August
The Diary's campaign to close down Grimsby Town Football Club received a boost last night as a stirring but ultimately fruitless performance from the Mariners showed that Town will always fail, no matter what goes right or wrong. Outplayed but not outfought in the first half, Mike Newell's side dominated Rotherham after the break only to go down 2-1 to a combination of lapses in concentration and weird officiating. On another day, advocates of continuing to run the club might argue, the team might have been allocated another referee, and without the perverse decision-making of Graham Salisbury and his two assistants the same performance might have brought a win. On that day, though, of course, the same performance won't happen. After 130 years of hurt it ought to be clear to everyone concerned with the club that when everything else goes right, the players themselves will get it wrong, or an obscure technicality will mean Blundell Park is closed after failing a safety inspection, or a freakish shower of Gamibian crimson bullfrogs will force the match to be abandoned with three minutes remaining and Town leading 17-0. The only possible response: Shut Down The Town!
New York-based Diary reader Graham King has emailed to sign up to the Shut Down The Town campaign: "OK, you've forced me into it!" Granted, he doesn't actually say he's signing up to it, but that can be the only possible conclusion from the exhaustive list he has drawn up detailing the pros and cons of Shutting Down The Town:
- It will free up the hours from 10am EST and 11:47 EST, allowing me to exercise more or conversely allow me to sit on my arse watching Premier League dross on TV.
- It will save me the effort of writing rude emails that never get answered to MarinersTV (or whatever it's called these days) complaining about the commentary not working.
- It will save me the money I usually spend on the above crap subscription.
- It will free up the hours I spend watching the in-depth interviews and goal highlights. (Yeah right!)
- It will save me a fortune in text messages from Joel Wheatley every Saturday at 12:48 EST moaning about how crap we are and how things will never get better!
Meanwhile John Ellis, the Shut Down The Town naysayer who emailed yesterday with a moving but ultimately very misleading message of hope, has been in touch again. "Thanks printing earlier message," he begins. "Bright idea! Need new slogan! Inspiration young Grimsby womanhood 50 years ago. Word picture. She 5' 2", slim as whippet, little or no bust, cheap peroxide hair growing out roots, short skirt, jumper exhibits remains earlier meals, roll-up corner mouth. Accompanied son, little boy 4-ish, snotty nose, metal-rimmed glasses held together grubby piece Elastoplast. Boy trips over kerb Freeman Street, crashes pavement. Mother unprepossessing, but would never expose child to neglect, cruelty nor abuse – would never be tolerated Grimsby. When gets home, will apply iodine grazed knees. But her instinctive reaction to fall is appeal to child's genetically-inherited, innate intestinal fortitude, and she screams: 'Bloody gerrup!' Mariners are now down, and the crowd, if any, should bellow at them: 'Bloody gerrup!' Well, at least it will be funny and have benefit of logic. PS: Do such young ladies still exist in Grimsby?" If John's singular prose style is the result of a career spent composing telegrams, then he clearly missed his vocation as an advertising executive.
- Struggling with this piece if I must be honest!
- Maybe I could start supporting a proper football team?
Today's final word is from Mark Wilson, who asks simply: "Can we start a campaign to get John Ellis to do the pre-match and half-time team talks?" Great idea, Mark – need contact Newell suggest. If that doesn't work, I don't know what will... hey, and that was the whole point of Shut Down The Town!
Tuesday 18 August
It's day 2 of the Diary's fantastic new Shut Down The Town campaign and, to be honest, I am a little underwhelmed by your response so far, as it should be quite clear to all right-thinking readers that the only way forward for Grimsby Town Football Club is to close it down immediately. We've tried everything and nothing works, so let's cut our losses and get out now before Notts County have the chance to put 39 goals past us before half time. If you're not yet convinced, just imagine a life without the curse of the Mariners. No more announcements about announcements about the Fentydome. No more of Town's superb new official website giving fans directions to Southport instead of Gainsborough. No more players telling the Grimsby Telegraph they know they're underachieving but they're doing everything they can to turn it round, starting with the very next game. No more messageboard nesbits who want the manager sacked three games into the season, citing Norwich City as an excellent example of a thoughtful and correct way to run a football club. Come on, Town fans – you're not trying! Think about all the other things you could be free of if we Shut Down The Town, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to share them with the faithful. Look, I've even made a campaign banner!
John Ellis is one Diary reader who is really not entering into the spirit of the Shut Down The Town campaign, and emailed yesterday to say: "Simple answer; No! What my credentials? Was little boy in record crowd of 31,000+ in 1937. Remember this; Grimsby is community made tough and coherent by adversity. Recall Nunsthorpe school assembly, little boy next to me crying because before he came to school his family had heard of loss of father off coast of Iceland. This kind of experience made the town stick together against all odds, because they knew that as individuals they could not begin to cope with tragedy this scale, and constantly present. GTFC our outward manifestation this community identity and character. Give up? No, never! So what to do? Don't know, other than to point out that players last Saturday let down not only themselves but a fine, brave town of real people. If they are fit to represent us, then tomorrow they will get stuck in out of respect for themselves and us. If they cannot, they must go. Grimsby has never, ever, had room for weaklings. My youth is far behind, and much has happened, but I remain proud of my heritage." Stirring talk, John – many thanks for sharing. Oh, alright then – let's see what happens tonight, shall we?
Monday 17 August
"Apart from a late Ryan Bennett header against the post, Town failed to create a significant opportunity throughout the 90 minutes," reports today's Grimsby Telegraph on the depressingly familiar shite-out witnessed at Blundell Park on Saturday. Indeed, the Diary was so dejected by this point that I can't even remember any late Ryan Bennett header against the post. And of course, I stayed to the end. I stayed beyond the end, in fact. I was sitting in my seat with my head in my hands until about quarter past five, unable to believe the utter pig toss I had just witnessed from a Town team that looked devoid of ability, devoid of a game plan, and – other than some signs of spirit from the forwards, on the rare occasions any of their teammates decided it might not be a bad idea to give them the ball now and again – devoid of anyone, for the 24,908th time in the last ten years – who looked vaguely like they might have given a shiny shit about the outcome of the match.
So we've tried changing the manager, and that didn't work. We've tried getting rid of loads of shit players and bringing in some decent ones, and that didn't work. The only option left, it seems to the Diary – the only way to end the misery that so profoundly blights our lives for three quarters of every precious year of our time on God's sweet Earth – is to close down Grimsby Town Football Club. Not convinced? Just imagine an existence free from all this pain. Imagine yourself liberated forever from this endless round of suffering and shattered hope. Feels good, doesn't it? That's why the Diary's campaign to Shut Down The Town starts today!
And you can help. Email email@example.com to join the campaign – and tell us exactly why and by how much your life will improve when we achieve our aim and Shut Down The Town. Yes! Join the Diary's campaign to close down Grimsby Town Football Club right now and claim back your life from the grip of unending despair!
Friday 14 August
Good morning campers. The weather forecast is set fair, and the emergency loan goalkeeper is signed. Young Mr Overton must be in a mixed state of teenage despair and secret relief. Last night manager Newell swooped (stop it!) to sign the pleasingly named Tommy Forecast on a month's loan. Nearly 23, and bloody huge, the lad is so highly rated by all and sundry that he has been kept back in reserve his entire life. So if he plays tomorrow he will make his league debut. Forecast left Spurs, where he had done well in their academy, to get first-team football. Unfortunately he went to a club that already had two half-decent keepers, so for the first season he didn't even get a game for Southampton reserves. Town's superb new official site, copying and pasting from Forecast's profile on the Southampton club website, tells us he is tipped as "a future potential England keeper". Whether Mr Capello will be seen at BP tomorrow remains to be seen. Tell us if you see him.
Your Guest Diarist should of course mention that all this late evening swooping was caused by Colgan's groin. The extent of his discomfort clearly shows in Colgan's face as the SNOS announced his injury yesterday afternoon. What would be secretly amusing, and incredibly frustrating to Mr Forecast (and of course Mr Capello if he turns up), is if Newell puts him on the bench tomorrow. But Newell told the Town subscription channel yesterday that Overton is not ready for league football just yet, unlike, erm, our Tommy.
The Cod Almighty T-shirt man has just excitedly burst in to the CA diary room brandishing a Revolucion T shirt. They will be in the post to you lot tonight. And damn fine they look too. By the way, in an effort to break Town's losing streak, the Tom Newey shirt CA received for sponsoring the useless git last season will be ceremonially burned at noon today.
"Are you worried about those defensive mistakes?" asked Dale politely. "Hah, not worried really – you will always get mistakes," replied Mr Newell, echoing his England counterpart, before going on to explain that Town are making chances, which is the most important thing. The goals will come, the defensive lapses will always happen but as long as we score more, etc. I'm sure he is right actually, but I will be most glad when I've seen the team play well for a whole game and collect some points.
List mania continues in our national newspapers, but today Town stalwart Macca features – being about 5th in the all-time list of one-club players featured in the Independent. Have you noticed how that paper is slowly descending into a sort of pseudo-intellectual Daily Mail? Tragic, really.
So, with extra season tickets sold, and some at least of the masses availing themselves of the cut-price ticket deal to make a decent crowd, let's hope the Re-Newell starts tomorrow at home to the new Crewe. The one that doesn't play football any more. And if Burnsy gives CA one more plug on Humberside he will be halfway to a free T-shirt. Hang on though – he'll be at Chelsea watching Hull get torn apart. Let's hope Town play football and win. See yer.
Thursday 13 August
Rather than wait until they have one foot in the division below before offering cheap match tickets as part of a big Keep Back Our Mariner Buoys Up Afloat campaign, the new proactive era at Town's marketing department means supporters can see the first home game of the new season for just ten quid (or a fiver for concessions). There are coupons in the Grimsby Telegraph like usual, but it's still August and Newell's new boys are only three points off the top of their league table! On the other hand, of course, the Mariners have lost every single game they've played all season, and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, having conceded six goals for every one they've scored, so maybe the Keep Back Our Mariner Buoys Up Afloat campaign is already in full swing.
Wednesday 12 August
How we laughed over the summer, watching the predictions roll in from fans of other clubs that Town would be in for another struggle. Why, even the excellent and normally well-informed Twohundredpercent blog fell into the trap and anticipated 23rd place for our beloved GTFC, not to mention all the rubbish out there as well. How little they knew, as they pegged the Mariners for a second successive relegation battle, of the Newell revolution, of the waves of optimism sweeping through North East Lincolnshire, of the effect of Tom Newey no longer being anywhere near the building.
What, then, are we to make of the Mariners' heavy defeat last night at Tranmere? An uncanny and chilling echo of the tonking we received in the second week of last season when Brentford did us 4-0 as well, and hence a harbinger that all our summertime love and positivity are misplaced entirely, with all those predictions ringing in our ears and another demotion decider at the end of the season? The Diary is weary of optimism – so many times over the past seven years I have tried to do a little to keep readers' spirits up and loyalty strong, only for the football fates to piss in my face – but I will try to dwell instead on the fact that most observers seem to share David Burns' view that Town's latest tonking "certainly isn't a four-nil game". One swallow, summer, and all that. Will that do?
If nothing else, last night may have brought vindication for Mark Wilson and other Diary readers and Town fans who have briefly considered shelling out for the club's revamped and rebranded premium subscription web service Mariners Player, then remembered that absolutely everything the club does in the way of communications and media is completely fucking awful, all the time. And sure enough, it didn't take long for those Commentary Problems to make a first appearance of the new season. Still, it could have been worse – there's a subtle but significant difference between taking the piss and having one.
Loyal Diary reader and long-suffering Boston United fan Pete Brooksbank has sent an email. "It was with a good deal of sympathy that I read, in my CA catch-up today, Thursday's Diary mentioning how much harder it is to maintain a dedicated football website seven years down the line. I know what you mean. I started impsTALK, the badly-designed Boston site, way back in 2002. I remember thinking just days after I cobbled together my pitiful couple of pages of HTML: 'I really should back that up, just in case something goes tits up'. Seven years, two months and five days later, I still had that nagging thought in the back of my mind when my hard drive didn't so much fry as go supernova, taking impsTALK, a lot of music and all my unfinished rough guides of whoever Boston are playing this season with it. Sure, I guess I could start again, restore the template files, rewrite the guides. But, you know what? At this point in my life, I simply cannot be fucked. Besides, my lot have new managers and finally seem to be on an upward trajectory after a decade of turmoil. It's probably a good time to call it a day. So, I just read your site instead. It makes me chuckle, which is the most important thing, but it also restores my faith in the sanity of football fans after I've endured Tim Lovejoy's pathetic witterings on the radio. Keep it up. It's brilliant. And for God's sake lads, take a bloody back-up! P.S. When is Pete playing Nottingham?"
Well, thanks for the kind words, Mr Brooksbank. Sad to see the end of impsTALK, which brought the CA team a lot of smiles down the years – so we hope you do something else sometime. I'm not sure when Pete's playing Nottingham but I'm sure he'll let us know. And we absolutely agree about selflovejoy. Keep in touch!
Tuesday 11 August
Grimsby Town Football Club may take a distinctly primitive approach to administration, communication and media relations – not to mention a customer services culture that borders on the palaeolithic – but today's Mariners news has an altogether postmodern feel in that nothing has actually happened but lots of people are talking about it. Shaleum Logan, the pretty good Manchester City full-back who came to Town on loan the other year, is now on a season-long stay with Tranmere, and is looking forward to playing football, while Mike Newell and Robbie Stockdale have set their sights a little higher and apparently want to win a game of football. What do you mean there's nothing very postmodern about the Grimsby Telegraph? That report on the Cheltenham match was a masterpiece of self-parody.
The game Messrs Stockdale and Re-Newell have their sights set on is, of course, tonight's Stella Artois Cup fixture at Tranmere (so the Telegraph's bit about Logan wasn't completely random). The Town manager is hinting at an unchanged starting XI to "give players a chance to put things right", while his counterpart John Barnes – a very sensible choice to replace Ronnie Moore after a disastrous 2008–09 season saw the Wirral side miss out on the third division play-offs by two whole points – has spoken of changes after a 2-0 defeat by Yeovil on the season's opening day. Some are thrust upon 'em – Blackburn don't want Gavin Gunning, their defender who's on loan at Prenton Park, cup-tied – but Ian Goodison and Gareth Edds return after completing bans. Best of all, Tranmere have just signed Marlon Broomes – one of the goalscoring heroes of Town's epic win at Liverpool in the same competition in 2001. Yay! For more on the game, hit Cod Almighty's glorious technicolour pre-match factfile. Three fish on me shirt, I know we can't go wrong...
Monday 10 August
Here we are again, then. The season is under way, and its age-old rituals and routines have risen back to life and begun to repeat themselves once more. Town are playing well and losing against teams they really ought to beat. The players are telling the Grimsby Telegraph they know they can do better, and they'll try harder next time. The Telegraph is running a match report centred on an extended metaphor related to an aspect of the town where the Mariners' last opponents are based. And the Diary is taking the piss out of them for it. In Cheltenham's case, of course, this is horse racing – which means a barrage of references to the Mariners "galloping away", getting their "noses in front" and finally being "not at the races". Textbook stuff. Essential reading for any talented young writer aspiring to spend their life scrabbling away on a provincial newspaper. The Diary is just not quite sure how the bit in the first sentence fits in, where Town "ran out of steam" in the second half. Perhaps the 'soccer writer' responsible had already started thinking ahead to this Saturday, Crewe and railways, or perhaps it's one of those newly invented horses that move by the power of highly pressurised water vapour heated using a coal-fired boiler.
Here at Cod Almighty, of course, we try and support the club unconditionally. I mean obviously it's bloody great at the moment, having players like Peter Sweeney, Rob Atkinson and Ryan Bennett around, and hoping we can give them the stage they surely deserve – you know, like above the fourth bloody division – sooner rather than later. And – well, OK, I won't tempt fate. But it's important for a club to have fans who'll keep supporting even when everything is rubbish, and that's what we try to do here at CA – which is a good job, really, because since we launched this site in 2002 that's exactly what everything has been. So our toasty warm thanks to all of you who've celebrated the upturn in Grimsby's mood by ordering one of our new Newell revolution T-shirts since their launch on Friday. Have you also been to check out Cod Almighty's new concise match report and extended post-match factfile? I'm sure all of that relates together somehow, but I can't put my finger on how.
Mark Wilson is a fan who has stuck with the Diary through thick and thin, and has emailed at the dawn of a new season to say: "Dear Diary, in a moment of weakness I thought I'd have a look at the new, digital age, super duper Mariners World (or whatever it's now called) with the intention of subscribing if it was as super and soaraway as the hyperbole infested SNOS suggested. So I clicked on the free preview thingy and the bag of shite didn't work. That's £3.99 a month staying in my pocket and not supporting the club when they need it to fuel this season's promotion juggernaut. Come on Newell, sort it! PS Please let this season not be one filled with heart stopping, gut churning disappointment. UTM!" If only the manager could extend his revolutionary clear-out from the playing staff to the rest of the club – then we might have a superb new official website that justified the tag, eh? Incidentally, the squad now has two number 18s.
John Pakey, meanwhile, has responded to my pitiful attention seeking in last Thursday's Diary with some kind words. "I just wanted to say keep up the good work. I also wanted to say good luck for the start of the new season. Spoke to my mum today and she is dreading listening to my dad moan and grumble about the Mariners. No doubt your posts will keep him cheered up, though." Thanks very much indeed, John – and let's celebrate the return of GTFC to Radio Humberside too. We might still be losing, but at least now we're losing with half-decent coverage.
Friday 7 August
"The squad is much stronger with experienced players in it. And there is a lot of competition for places." That is how Town's manager, speaking to the official site's Mariners Player subscribers, summarised the position of the club in comparison to a year or so ago. Season ticket sales are up and the club is planning to go for a good attendance at the first home game by cutting the price of tickets. Season ticket holders can't whinge because this time they knew that four home games would be discounted to the walk-up trade through this season. And it's a cracking idea to have one at the start of the season – just a crying shame we weren't lucky enough to be at home first match. Things seem better; good, even; too good?
Whatever next – the resumption of entente cordiale and Humberside commentary on Town games? The silence on this topic has been deafening, but your Guest Diarist, gurning one of those irritating middle-aged astute-because-I've-seen-it-all-before faces like your dad used to pull, would bet a pound to a penny that Burns and co have worked out that, just maybe, Town will be the only club out of them, Hull and Scunny who might be pushing up to the business end of the table this season. So maybe it is time for both sides to eat a sliver of humble pie; kiss, make up and give the fans a vaguely professional level of audio coverage again. You read it here first, but expect to hear Town on 95.9 and 1485AM again this season with the wonderfully knowledgeable and dulcet tones of Mr John Tondeur.
Manager Newell, who is taking the team down to Gloucestershire today, has a fit squad bar unlucky broken-toed Jarman, and Forbes (who needs a scan on that knee). But we have a glut of players who can 'have a go' on the wide right so Newell can still choose from Clarke, Jones and Bore to play there. As we are away I'm expecting it to be Clarke, to start with at least.
To celebrate all this improvement in things Town, and to revel momentarily in the heady atmosphere engendered by a new manager, a new squad, and some common sense here and there from the chairman, Cod Almighty has come up with a new T-shirt to start the season off. And it's got foreign on it. We love it – hope you do. Bigger people (up to 3XL) and smaller people (girly fitted and size small) should order quickly as those sizes always sell out fastest. Ordinary people (S, M, L, XL) should order fast because that way we will make more money for the club. ¡Viva la revolucion! See yer.
Thursday 6 August
So Peter Beagrie doesn't recognise the Re-Newell effect and thinks Town might struggle this season. Anyone would think he associates the Mariners with couldn't-care-less journeymen strolling round the ground to take the fans for a final few quid before their legs go.
There are two days to go until the beginning of Town fans' most keenly awaited season in yonks; Mr Love is fully aroused, and the Mariners' superb new official website is setting out its stall for the months ahead. In its Ref Watch feature (for which it basically nicked both the concept and title from Cod Almighty) the SNOS introduces the adjudicating official for this Saturday's visit to Cheltenham. Mr Darren Sheldrake, it says, took charge of 11 games last season, issuing 19 yellow cards and one red. Which is all very well, except that he took charge of 16 games last season, issuing 54 yellow cards and two reds. The SNOS has given you Mr Sheldrake's stats from the season before. Another day of getting absolutely everything wrong, another dollar out of your ticket money.
This is why you're better off coming to Cod Almighty for your pre-match coverage, where the original and correct Refwatch will retain its place in the stupendously comprehensive CA pre-match factfile. The Cheltenham edition should be online tonight (or maybe tomorrow morning), free of charge and free from advertising. Don't miss it!
The SNOS can at least take comfort from the fact that it isn't the only local institution that doesn't know what year it is. Sarah Cook has emailed the Diary to say: "There may only be three days to go until we finally get our fix, but, since you have asked for emails, I thought I'd share something with you. Two years ago, I took my now ex to the National Fishing Heritage Centre. After looking back to my photos of this trip out, I noticed something odd on the big plaque thing dedicated to GTFC – it says we went to Wembley in April 1988. Which is strange, as I swear I was nearly 10 when we originally went to Wembley, not minus one month old. Well, this photo was taken two years ago, so it may have since changed. If not, I guess we can confirm that it isn't just the club that can't get their details right!" Well, if any Diary readers work at the NFHC, or fancy popping their head round the door to check, it'd be very interesting to find out whether they've realised their mistake. The Diary is very grateful for you pointing out this error, Sarah – though one suspects that the SNOS team may be even more grateful than me.
Sarah adds a PS with some very kind words about the Diary, which I'd be much too embarrassed to publish, but am very happy to receive. Maintaining this website seems to have become harder and harder work across the seven years or so since we launched it, and with the new season about to start we need all the encouragement we can get. Thanks for reading, and keep saying nice things about us!
Wednesday 5 August
If you've never heard a Grimsby chairman discuss sex and reproduction, you haven't seen the newest feature on Mariners Player: an upbeat interview with John Fenty (Con) featuring a glorious analogy about the act of nookie, the agony of childbirth and "the levels of pain that was in and around the building" (hooray!) last season. Season ticket sales have gone well, confirms Town's fast-moving supremo, bringing in £100,000 more than the club had budgeted for, and the 13 points from a possible 18 taken at the end of last season apparently represented Town's best run of form in 25 years. JF(C) enthuses about the quality of the players Mr Re-Newell has been able to bring in, to the accompaniment of that noise you get through loudspeakers when a nearby mobile phone is about to receive a text message, and can't resist the temptation to read positives into the side's impressive form in recent friendlies. "You really should take nothing from pre-season, and we're not doing," says the chairman, who promptly goes on to take quite a lot from pre-season.
While all looks good on the pitch for the Mariners, the club continues to be blighted by a culture of shrugging incompetence among its admin and communications staff. Some of the more recent examples, of course, include the spectacular mishandling of the announcement that Tom Newey, Phil Barnes and Gary Montgomery were no longer in the first team squad, and the contemptuous treatment of season ticket holders who were promised and then denied free entry to this summer's monstrously overpriced pre-season friendlies on the basis of a "mis-print". It's not just the people who pay their wages that these maladroit clodbrains take the piss out of on a weekly basis, though: the discourtesy, it seems, is now extended to visiting journalists. Steve Hossack of the Sheffield Star arrived at Blundell Park late to cover Town's friendly against Doncaster last week because nobody seemed quite certain as to the fairly important matter of what time the match kicked off. "I had been told that it was a 7:30pm kick-off – some supporters thought it was a 7:45 – so I was a bit surprised that it was actually a 7pm start," he writes. "My 'late' arrival meant that all the best seats in the press box had been taken and the light above my workplace wasn't working." And no, the SNOS still hasn't updated its fixture list to show the matches switched to Friday nights this season – six weeks after the alterations were made. Welcome to our world, Steve.
Joe Mooney has emailed in response to yesterday's Diary, which wondered aloud how much Winterton Rangers were charging to get in to their match against Town last Saturday, given that for admission to home friendlies this season GTFC have demanded an arm, a leg, the shirt off your back and the slavery of your first-born. "I had a look on the website and I think it said tickets were a fiver or three quid for concessions," says Joe, "a proper price for a pre-season kickabout. I was umm-ing and ah-ing about going but decided against it in the end. The same with the Leeds match – it seems the matches I consider going to, we perform better than the ones I go to (Scunny). So perhaps I'll consider going to all the matches next season and then stay at home. On closer inspection it's probably more to do with the opposition and the team Mr Re-Newell played than the fact that my actions had some sort of butterfly effect upon Town's performance. It's fortunate, then, that I'm not going to need a boo-boy excuse for not going to watch an ailing team next season when we win so many games we're promoted before Christmas. Well, that was longer and less amusing than I'd intended. In summary then, £3 and £5." Thanks very much, Joe! Meanwhile, readers, please email the Diary with any observations about those predictions you see everywhere for next season's fourth division, which all seem to place Town about 22nd again.
"An excellent Diary as always," begins an email from Chris Lyons about Monday's Diary, "and I hate to put a spoiler on things but, as Scunthorpe are playing in the second division this season, they won't be playing in the second round (or any other round) of the Dulux Cup, and so it would be impossible for them to beat the Mariners. Therefore on this point we can relax. Another team will have to beat us instead!" Gah! Without Scunthorpe making a visit to Wembley, visitors to GTFC messageboards with too much time on their hands will have to find another club's level of support to become comically and embarrassingly obsessed with!
Tuesday 4 August
What can we expect from the new season? Another year of disappointment and broken hopes, or a genuinely fresh start with the worst put behind us forever? Town's superb new official website is promising "A Brand New Matchday Experience", with the new Mariners Player subscription service, which replaces Mariners World and offers "near DAB quality live audio of every Town game this season. There's also Match Stats as they happen, Team Line-ups and Info, All the Latest Incidents and Live League Tables". And there I was expecting plain old match stats, team line-ups and info, all the latest incidents and live league tables. "Mariners Player works on Mac and PC worldwide so there's no excuse to miss a single game," apparently. One assumes there's something in the small print about when the SNOS is forced to run an item headlined "Commentary Problems Resolved" every alternate Monday.
What's that? Oh, the actual football. Well, automatic promotion, obviously. Al Wilkinson has emailed the Diary to say "I'm looking forward to the new season with just as much excitement as I always do. And to add my twopenn'orth to the friendly entry fee thing, I can see the bright side of the price hike over the last few years: I never bother any more and I never liked them anyway, so I
no longer spoil the start of the season. The start of the season should feel new, the players a little unfamiliar: new faces in new strips and new hair on old faces. The pitch should be so green that you can't quite believe it and the seat should feel just a little bit cold and impersonal so that you can rub your bum on it till it feels right. It should feel like coming home after a long holiday to a place that's OK to visit but you wouldn't want to live there." I suppose that's exactly what Cleethorpes is, isn't it?
Al continues: "I'm happy to say that I've already lost track of who's in the squad; I know that when I first sit down it'll take all of the first half to realise who everyone is; I'll bug the chap next to me who went to all the pre-season friendlies like he does every year to tell me all about them instead of just watching them. Then I will watch them and I'll decide if I like them. Three matches later I'll have changed my mind a dozen times about each player and by mid-October I'll lose myself in fond memories of Paul Groves. Same as every year. Lovely. See you all soon." Aw. I wish we were at home this Saturday now!
Jeremy Baily, meanwhile, has some suggestions for ways to fill the Diary on these last few frustrating slow news days before the season kicks off. "Do something on Chester or Darlington," he urges. "They are both in deep poo, it would seem. Laugh at Shrewsbury going through the same 'Rats leaving sinking ship' as we had after losing a play-off final. Run a piece about the Mariners Museum. The list goes on and on. Take a chill pill and have a couple of beers (real ale, obviously) – that will sort you out and you'll hopefully come out all guns blazing!" Well, now I know where to go next time we need a stand-in diarist. Thanks Jeremy – and thanks to you all for keeping the Diary afloat with your emails all summer long. I feel quite moved!
Monday 3 August
As more astute Town fans learned from the experience of the 2003 pre-season, the results of friendly matches should not be imbued with any great significance. Just a few weeks after the Mariners beat Boston United, Halifax, Barton Town, Lincoln, Hull and Middlesbrough, drew with Sunderland and won the Copa Ibiza, they were being annihilated 8-1 at Hartlepool en route to the most crushing demotion in the club's 130-year history. The lesson we must not forget is that these summertime kickabouts tell you absolutely nothing at all about what's going to happen when the season actually begins, and that we must never, ever, ever – on pain of death, or worse still, relegation – read anything at all into their outcomes. Unless of course you win 12-1 away at Winterton Rangers.
The down side of Town's weekend walkover, in case you've not seen, is an injury to Nathan Jarman which will keep him out for the first six weeks of the new season. The Cod Almighty favourite went off in the first half at Winterton, when not under challenge, after doing something nasty to his foot
and an x-ray has since shown one of those broken metatarsals that have been all the range since the turn of the millennium. With no specialist right winger in the squad, many would have expected that position at Cheltenham this Saturday to be filled by the Jarm, whose absence opens a door for new forward Chris Jones or, more likely, old and much-abused utility player Jamie Clarke. Clarke, incidentally, rounded off the scoring on Saturday with one of those 20-yard free kicks that he always scores when nothing depends on it. Does anyone know how much Winterton were charging to get in, by the way?
If there are plenty of candidates to replace Jarman down the right, Mr Re-Newell is still looking for cover along the opposite flank, preferably in the form of one player who can fill in at left-back or left midfield. With Lewis Emanuel having seemingly turned down a (relatively) big money offer from the Mariners to remain in the Conference with Luton, the Town manager is giving a trial to Louis Lavers of Watford, who played left-back at Winterton. "He (Lavers) is only 18 but he has got bags of enthusiasm, so we are just having a look at him," said Mike. "We feel we need maybe a bit more cover down the left-hand side, and a few more options, but we won't be rushing into anything," he added, as Paul Groves shuffled awkwardly around a statue of Marcel Cas and Willie Falconer.
Whoever else might come in to join the Re-Newell re-volution, they won't be playing in the first round of next season's Dulux Cup. Nor will any of Town's existing players. Oh, you say, why is that? Have the Mariners' backroom staff – who caused the club to miss out on a transfer fee for Danny Butterfield because they didn't know how the Bosman ruling worked – forgotten to send in the entry forms? No! The club has received a bye, so our narrow defeat at the hands of plucky Scunthorpe will have to take place in the second round, not the first.
Thanks for emailing last week when I was really bored, Al Wilkinson and Jeremy Baily – we'll run your emails tomorrow. Bye for now!