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Diary - January 2009
Friday 30 January
As cold news teams find out which place does the best bacon sarnies and the cheapest tea on the south bank of the Humber, your Guest Diarist can exclusively report that 'injured' Town full-backs Tom Newey and Robbie Stockdale have not joined the unofficial picket in solidarity. The reason is that they are both training on Cheapside with a view to resuming their careers as professional footballers. Memo to self: this opening para doesn't work: replace. Oh bugger it'll have to do.
So the rather enormous Town squad is just about all available to manager Re-Newell. M. Akpa Akpro will gingerly test his hamstrings having left it as late as possible for all to decide if he is fit to play. Young lothario Peter Bore must feel pretty good about the words Newell spoke of him to Mariners World and the Telegraph. Newell is quite happy to recognise the Bore potential, but delicately points out the need for consistency from the fervent young heterosexual.
The lack of substitutes used the other night demonstrates how strongly the manager feels about his best eleven and one assumes that he is trying his darndest to extend the loans of his new top performers. Someone told me that Joe Widdowson has said he is "in Grimsby until May" on his Facebook page but as I am not (yet) his 'friend' I can't confirm that one way or the other. Later: now I can as the OS confirms Widdowson here for the rest of the season and Sinclair until at least 9 March. Hurray!
The club is having another 'fans' forum' on Friday 20 February and, guess what, Humberside is broadcasting it. Is the cold war thawing? Has Humberside decided to jump on a resurgent Town bandwagon (hey three games unbeaten buys a wagon in my book!)? Or has Fenty been made to feel the tiniest bit illogical by a couple of deadpan questions from his new manager? Or maybe supporters' trust chairperson Mr Otter has brokered the peace (about as likely as Blair doing similar in the Arab world)?
I think you can get 7/2 about Town getting a point tomorrow and that is just about as daring as any sane man should be, I think. But take a look at our factfile and see what the tipster recommends.
It will be a big crowd tomorrow with several hundred noisy Town fans being baited by those nasty Bradford people. Try to be one of them, eh? See yer.
Thursday 29 January
One of the things the Diary likes best about Mr Michael Re-Newell is the way his remoulding of the Mariners' squad has prioritised each area in turn, according to urgency, so that once he'd addressed the woeful inadequacies in, for instance, central midfield which weakened the whole team he moved on to the less crucial but still pressing issues facing, say, the left flank. Having now shored up most of the team, the deceptively dynamic Town boss is peering at the goalkeeping position through narrowed eyes. It emerged yesterday that Re-Newell made an approach last week to loan Tony Warner from King$ton Communication$ FC's a move which our leader explains was a precaution in response to Phil Barnes tweaking something in training, but with the reassuringly named Southend keeper Clark Masters is in line for a trial at Blundell Park, one wonders how long it may be before Barnes develops the same kind of mysterious 'injury' that has befallen the likes of soon-to-be-ex-Mariners Matt Heywood and Tom Newey.
Speaking of Mr Re-Newell's exertions in the transfer market, the superb new official website reminds us today that he is "still hoping to bring in fresh faces" before one of the season's 481 transfer deadlines comes around this Monday. With no evidence for an impending move to sign Ant and Dec, one must assume the manager is seeking to add more footballers to his rapidly expanding squad. But will he be able to get shot of some of that dead wood? "I can't speak about outs because that depends on other clubs, but maybe we need to freshen it up before the window closes," says Re-Newell, whose ability to renew a football club is clearly matched by an equally impressive capacity for renewing prepositions by using them as nouns.
That, I'm afraid, is all you're getting from your regular Diary for a little while, because it's Guest Diary day tomorrow and after that I have to go off and do some real work for a bit although hopefully not too much if Mr Ladbroke continues to pay out on our belief in Mike's renewed Mariners. Bye for now!
Wednesday 28 January
Phil Barnes lightning-limbed saviour of many a game and point, or aerially challenged liability who's sulking his way to a Bosman? After a shaky first season with the Mariners the Sheffield-born-and-bred keeper seemed to have justified his acquisition last term with a string of eye-catching performances culminating in a spectacular display at the Dulux Cup final moral victory over Bastard Franchise Scum. In his third season at Blundell Park, however, Barnes seems to have been a bit of both, crucially keeping Town in the game at 0-0 against Rotherham last Saturday, but last night against Dagenham looking as confident as an arthritic nonagenarian crossing the M6 in a blizzard. It is perhaps with this inconsistency in mind that Mr Re-Newell has given a trial to Clark Masters, a 21-year-old netman currently being kept out of the first team at Southend by Steve Mildenhall, the best goalkeeper to have played for GTFC in the Diary's black and white lifetime. Masters was due to line up for Town's reserves away at Hartlepool this afternoon but the game has been called off because of two waterlogged pitches the chances of which, you'd have thought, were roughly on a par with Phil Barnes signing a new contract with the Mariners.
"Oh Diary, you disappoint me," writes Mat in an email, and I'm going to assume it's Cod Almighty's Mat Hare because I don't know anyone else called Matthew who abbreviates with the single 't'. "I thought everyone knew that the road named after Jackie Bestall was only little as a nod to his diminutive stature. You certainly did if you were schooled in the area so one must assume that the Diary attended neither Matthew Humberstone nor Lindsey lower schools during his education." Well, I can't be giving out such obvious clues to my identity as that, Mat but if the Diary has disappointed you, it's only the same thing I increasingly did to my teachers year after year as my secondary schooling proceeded. Still, a B and a C in my two A-levels still represented the best in my year. It's all about expectation management.
Tuesday 27 January
Forty-four years ago today in Liverpool our glorious leader was born, but it is Mr Re-Newell who is dishing out the presents today with the news that discussions have already begun to retain the services of two of the club's three short-term loan players. Dean Sinclair, Joe Widdowson and Stuart Elliott have made an immediate and substantial impact on the Mariners' fortunes with back-to-back wins since their arrival, and the manager is quoted in today's Grimsby Telegraph to the effect that he wants them around for a while if at all possible. "I've spoken to a couple of the lads already about staying for longer," he says. "The last thing you want is to get a few results strung together and then have to replace a third of the side. I think they are keen and it's something we'll be looking at before next Monday, for certain. We'll be looking to extend their loans at least and maybe even make their stays longer than that." Now you're just spoiling us, Mike.
I hope all Diary readers take some time to look around the rest of CA and you don't just drop by here once a day and ignore the rest of the site. Why? Apart from all the great feature writing and humour, match reports and irregularly updated investigation stuff, what has Cod Almighty ever done for us? Well, it's a good thing to see that the regular pre-match factfile is back on the site. Along with a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff, the full team news for tonight's visit of Dagenham & Redbridge can be found in the latest of these. The salient point is perhaps that Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is being widely reported by the BBC, Sporting Life and other sources as definitely out of the match, whereas Mr Re-Newell has been on the internet to say that Akpa Akpro and Jean-Paul Kalala are merely doubtful rather than certainly sidelined. If J-Laa doesn't make it then the smart money is on notorious heterosexual Peter Bore to return to the forward line, in what could only be described as a straight swap.
The Telewag's series on great former Town players has thrown up some good reading over the last few weeks, and its form continues with today's piece about Jackie Bestall. The Diary knew he was our club's first England international but I didn't realise he was only five foot two. Does that explain why the street that's named after him is also really short?
Nutty, from Town's fan team Internet Mariners FC, has emailed the Diary to put a little dampener on our excitement with some bad news for his side. "Stiffs win. First team win.
Fans' team lose. We still haven't managed the treble yet this season. We lost 6-4 at home to Preston." Still, four goals, eh? Readers wishing to follow the exploits of IMFC are guided to the club's online internet website site. Better luck next time to Nutty and the lads, and keep us posted.
"At last I've seen Mariners win!!!!!" wrote an excited Jan Przeniczny in an email to the Diary yesterday. "Yes I KNOW they have won twice before (at home) but Tuesdays don't count (I work) and that other Saturday v Shrews I decided that £18 (Upper gassy lager) was a bit much for headaches, stomach upset and general feeling malaise and depression. So I decided to do something constructive and tile. But this weekend, hey, I haven't fallen out with my wife, kicked the cat, and I smiled all weekend, so I am told. Compared to some of you lot, I'm a Mariners virgin. I haven't found the trick (or is it a skill?) to build a reservoir of happiness so that it tides me over until the next win. But two wins ON THE TROT, eh, might even contemplate an away trip. See if I can cope with 200 miles travelling in hope, and 200 miles back in depression, hmmmmmm. But wait a mo, this Tuesday, that's TOMORROW!!! Sorry, must go, must find my therapy book, you know the one, The Idiot's Guide on being a Footy Fan, and How to Cope!! Bye." Thanks, Jan! It's nice to hear from you, and we hope you continue to cope. We always thought the trick was to build not a reservoir of happiness but a Zen-like oasis of detachment, so that whether the Mariners win or lose ceases to matter in the infinity of the cosmos, but failing that a few pints of Old Mill Bitter tend to do the trick quite nicely.
Monday 26 January
Was it just the Diary, or did you also think Joe Widdowson had put a bit too much power on that cross, half a second before it turned out to be a shot and crashed into the net? And after almost a whole decade of decline has the tide turned at last for Grimsby Town Football Club? Keep sticking your money on Newell's rejuvenated side, because on Saturday's evidence the odds won't stay long for, er, long as the Mariners climb that table.
"It was more kamikaze stuff from us, rather than anything Grimsby have done," is the verdict of a sulky Mark Robins following Saturday's evidence. Clearly brassed off at finding a rather different Mariners team to the one that rolled over in the autumn at the Millers' borrowed pad, the Rotherham boss seems to have spent the weekend trying to convince himself and the world that his 'physical' side deserved something out of the game a verdict that even many of Rotherham's fans seem to view as over-optimistic. In the Diary's view Robins is being harsh on his back four surely Town's first and third goals would have foxed most fourth division defences and his outburst about the Mariners' penalty is nothing more than infantile. Since the recent arrival of Baby Diary I have been reading up on baby development, and the literature clearly states that most people are less than two years old when they grasp the notion that something might still exist or occur even if it is not within their field of vision at the time.
In fairness to Robins, he has confirmed what most observers at Saturday's game suspected: that he substituted his left-back at half time out of sheer amazement that the player already hadn't been sent off. I think most of us would do the same if we were managing Andy Nicholas and he'd made it through the first half without a red despite committing three bookable offences.
The outpourings of the Rotherham manager are of concern to Dave Chambers, who has emailed the Diary quoting this one about the penalty: "The linesman doesn't know why; the fourth official doesn't know why; I don't think anyone in the ground knows why." Dave's answer: "Because one of Rotherham's big brute defenders was holding Adam Proudlock's shirt thereby stopping him from moving? Possibly not obvious from the visitors' dug-out, but certainly I saw it from the Pontoon, as did those around me. Robins's whinges won't mask over a great performance from Town. We murdered them! Well done Mike Newell, and well done the players he sent out."
Speaking of your emails, apologies to those of you who sent them during the Diary's recent absence and didn't see your words put up on this page because the sub diarists forgot to check the email. I will spare blushes by preserving the anonymity of the readers who were convinced Stuart Elliott couldn't play 90 minutes and who were probably drunk when they emailed. Meanwhile Jim in Manchester asks: "Any chance of a Mike Newell T-shirt being added to the great range of T-shirts available on Cod Almighty? I love my 'Grimsby is not in Yorkshire' and 'Sergeant Whittle' T-shirts but tend to wear my 'Alan Buckley's Black and White Army' behind closed doors these days. Being exiled in Manchester I find the CA T-shirts provide good talking points with fellow followers of the beautiful game or some sort of 'Grimsby, who are they?' remark from armchair United fans. It would be nice to be able to wear some kind of Newell-based T-shirt; don't know what sort of slogan you would put on it, 'In Newell we trust' or such like." Perhaps the Cod Almighty T-shirt man could bring us an update on that, when he's finished crossing his fingers that he'll be able to shift all that unsold stock when Buckley lands the Notts County job.
Friday 23 January
It's a flipping wet Friday alright your Guest Diarist got mud up to his eyeballs down the allotment trying to dig leeks and swedes an hour ago, and now has returned to find that the superb new official site's paid-for Mariners World preview runs for precisely 1 minute 29 seconds during which we only get chance to learn that manager Newell thinks the 6-2 reserve win in the week proves he has a much stronger squad than previously (as newly-fringed players try to impress their way back in to the reckoning).
As for the Sports Telegraph website, well, it is on a major go-slow. In fact it is down.
But us Cod Almighty lot have contacts. Having rung my 80-year-old mum, who has the paper in front of her, I can reveal that the Telewag has Newell saying that Town were not as bad as the 4-1 scoreline when we played Rotherham away and that we are a lot different team now any way, and Mr Proudlock saying Town 'fear no-one' in a very short interview of no tangible worth.
Tomorrow Town play a form team and one desperately hopes they take them down a peg or two in front of our home crowd who deserve to see Town play. Given that neither Newey nor Stockdale played for the stiffs one assumes that the side will be little if any changed (although Straight Peter Bore might make the subs' bench). A quick gleg at the BBC Rotherham web page is as illuminating as: "team news will follow later" and the Rotherham official site only tells us that the Millers are 6/4 against to win the match.
Diary reader Jim has rightly taken me to task for what I said that George Kerr might have said if he had taken over the great young squad assembled by the late Tommy Casey. His central point being we had a spell under John Newman of course before the great George took the reins. "Sentiment is still correct though TC did more for the Mariners than many managers before and after." Well said Jim, but I love hypothetical quotes because they can't really be rebutted can they?
So, folks, that's it for another week hope you make the pilgrimage tomorrow and that it is a game worth watching and the right result for us. See yer.
Thursday 22 January
Idle Diary writes: Apologies for the slight delay; just had to buy some raspberry canes. Unless you're also a keen gardener, ignore that last bit. Let's just crack on, shall we?
"After not losing this week and actually gaining ground on the other lesser sides in our division, including two of the three nominees for the Gordon Brown Fiscal Prudence In Football Award, I felt strangely at ease," starts James Parrot's email, without which your Thursday Diary would have amounted to no more than the opening paragraph. "I quickly came to the conclusion that this wouldn't do. It is with some relief then that I turned on Sky Sports News and imagine my indignation and found nothing on the Town's mooted bid for Kaka! I couldn't believe it! No mention at all of the £100 million of seafood ready meals to be shared between the player, his father, parish priest, valet, 43 agents and Silvio Berlusconi. Honestly, this bias toward the bigger clubs is sickening! I will never watch Sky Sports News again!" Idle Diary applauds anyone who can shun facets of the Evil Murdoch Media Empire, but Comrade Parrott has found the best reason yet. Fear not though, any like-minded fans. Who needs Kaka when we have the bashful Nathan Jarman?
Following on from Jonathan Spurr's attempts to get the kick-off of the Town-Lincoln game moved back to the more sensible 3pm (as reported in Tuesday's Guest Diary), Mark Wilson feels moved to observe: "The cyclists would have to leave Blundell Park at 4:30am to get to Lincoln for a 12:00 kick-off? Lincoln's 30-odd miles away which means they're expecting to do an average speed of less than five miles an hour. A fit human can walk at four miles an hour. Are they spending too long having breaks? Are they walking up all the hills? Do they have to have a drink in every pub they pass? Honestly, the youth of today..." Problem is, Mark, at a steady average pace of eight miles per hour, these lads will still need to be on the road at seven o'clock. And there aren't that many pubs open in Lincolnshire before eleven o'clock. Sorry to be a killjoy, but the idea of the club moving the starting time back to something like the norm on account of some fans biking to the game seems strangely appealing. However, if I was to walk to that game, I'd need to take the Friday off. Here starts the campaign for a Sunday lunchtime kick-off!
Wednesday 21 January
Comrades, welcome it is I, Deviant Diary, bringing news of nothing but the internal contradictions of capitalism, Mr Re-Newell saving the planet and a signing of someone we thought we'd signed anyway.
Money, eh? Where's it all gone? Did it ever exist? The answer is before us, and it comes from Comrade Fenty's meisterplan for Town's renaissance: if there's a hole, fill it up don't just leave it for someone to fall into. Yes, it's spend, spend, spend to ease the pain with some quantitative teasing. The more cynical and observant will note that the stadium disappeared and the cash appeared, but, hey, that's last year and we are where we are. Chairman Mao-riners has seen the light and the People's Republic rejoices at the beneficence of Our Dear Leader. Hang his portrait from every lamppost down Humberston Avenue; build a statue in the car park of McDonald's; let us sing and dance around the traffic lights in Riby Square: he's doing the right thing now.
With Mr Re-Newell living in Holton-Le-Clay the chances of him being caught doing 95mph on the M62 are radically reduced and Town's carbon footprint is now dwarfed by Tony Crane's backside. Let's hope Mystic Mike has a sturdy cagoule and walks to Cheapside (obvious cheap shot eschewed in the interests of national unity). But remember: look right, look left, look right again as we won't be there when you cross the road. Hey! Let's be careful out there. Citizens of North East Lincolnshire (and surrounding villages of the damned) drive carefully along the A16; you know it makes sense.
Another day, another signing, or more accurately another announcement of The Blond Bob's naturalisation. Cup that ear. Can you hear the echo of a distant time? Beverley-born centre-back partners elegant young tyro at the heart of struggling Town team for newly appointed, highly regarded manager. With Jarman morphing into Gary Childs the clues are there. Next year: infinity and beyond.
And Town's reserves are still going to be playing against Rotherham this afternoon, even if the SNOS has a cold and insists they're playing Rorherham. Town still expect to have some flower power on the right with Mr Chrysanthemum hoping to have international clearance.
Be still. Be happy.
Tuesday 20 January
Your Guest Diarist is ageing and easily confused. I thought the Americans had had a black president, and that a woman is now in charge? Or is 24 not reality TV and just a thriller after all? On the day when Walsall announce a new manager who is not Buckley, and the Americans roll out a self-confessed mutt, it is Stuart Elliott who I am listening to. Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Elliott said the debutants did their bit and the existing players did their bit as well (even the Buckley signings). He reminded us too, in a non-arrogant tone, that Saturday was only his second full game in ten months, and his first for three months.
Elliott is a big solid lump of a player: when he goes down (which he did quite often against Wycombe) the earth tremors a bit. He is very good at winning headers and heads the ball very hard. His shot is also powerful and you can see why he has scored lots of goals from time to time. Not the most mobile, but hard-working, and with those natural attributes he will be a huge asset during his stay I am sure. Like a nine-year-old handicapper he will come on for the outing.
The absurdly named Kevin Tunani has left us, according to the SNOS, which "would like to wish Kevin all the best for the future". That Greek lad from London, the SNOS adds, is hoping to get a game for the Town stiffs at Rotherham this afternoon. Nicholas Chrysanthou the same lad who they wanted to play last week but the paperwork was too complicated as he is registered with Anorthosis Famagusta (that Cypriot club).
Does anyone know how they pick the league team of the week? Jamie Clarke wangled his way in and Mr Akpa Akpro leads the line mainly for his fantastic final whistle love-in with the away fans on Saturday. Quite how JP Kalala was omitted, one will never know.
That lot who rode their bikes to Lincoln last season are trying to do it again, but the home game against the Imps has been assigned a noon kick-off again, which would require a 4:30am start for the bikers. Young Mr Spurr who is trying to organise things told the Telegraph that "for health and safety reasons, I can't allow that". What he means of course is it would be dark. When I was a kid I remember all the older pupils walking to Lincoln to try and keep our local grammar school open. It was 25 miles and they set off at 10pm, arriving at breakfast time. But then I was living in a lake in 1963 and never realised just how lucky I was. See yer.
Monday 19 January
Idle Diary writes: Yeesssss! Everything fell into place for Town's ReNewell on Saturday, with the first team a Magic Mike's Mix of talented loanees and the best of what Alan Buckley left behind. The manager's preference for Nathan Jarman on the right was repaid with a spunky performance from the youngster capped by a sweetly struck winner, modestly described as "I managed to just get the end of my foot on it". Sweet as beating the team top of the table is the final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation in the away end not seen since Margaret Thatcher decided to sling one from Number 10 will the Mariners produce another bon-bon performance like that against the more lowly placed Rotherham this Saturday? And then there's the other remaining 21 fixtures...
But, you know what? I'm not worried. I'm sure Mike Newell has it all under control. It's all part of a plan.
Friday 16 January
"There's a basis for a team there, and we are clear in our minds where we are going." That could have been what George Kerr said when he took over the Town squad which Tommy Casey (bless him) had stuffed with promising youngsters like Tony Ford, Kev Drinkell, Kevin Moore and Nigel Batch. Casey also signed Joe Waters (with a bit of help from all of us Town fans) and introduced us to Bobby Cumming. Enough said: he never won us owt, but we will never forget him.
The quote above, your Guest Diarist should explain, was actually uttered this week by the next great Town manager Mike Newell. In his Mariners World interview Newell hid his frustration well: having lost both his full-backs to eternal injury (Newey being no better than he should be, and Stockdale's hamstring having given up its ghost in the reserve game) the manager's newly spine-stiffened line-up will sadly lose some balance again. Loanee youngster Widdowson will finally make his debut on the left and one supposes that either Clarke or Bennett will have to fill the right-back spot, given that brave soldier and defiant heterosexual Peter Bore has succumbed to a little nick on the back of his ankle. Injuries really are that lad's achilles heel, you know.
But hang on, gentle reader we play well against better teams, and Wycombe don't exactly score loads of goals, as our newly reinstated pre-match factfile shows. So those odds of 7/1 in a two-horse race are too good to ignore. Go on, risk a fiver I have. Wycombe manager Peter Taylor is shit scared of what Elliott can do and has more or less said so. Newell glowed about Elliott's training performances; he is a model professional (and has God on his side). How can we lose?
Actually there are many ways for us to not win The Chairboys are well-organised masters of the 1-0 and the 1-1. And we can't hold on to a lead, as the last-minute equaliser they got against us at home proves. But, full-backs notwithstanding, there is a new spring in the Town step and I can't wait to watch them tomorrow.
Wycombe are controlled by that rich bloke who owns Wasps rugby team and they had great plans for a new stadium. But the recession-edging-to-depression has completely buggered that idea up. Apparently they were going to build it on an in-use aerodrome to be called Wycombe Air Park. Why does that make me feel uneasy? Perhaps a keeper could hit a helicopter with a clearance one to send in to the 'you are the ref' cartoon in the Sunday paper perhaps. I've never hated Wycombe, but do feel that this is the season where they need to bugger off out of the way so we can push on and have a go ourselves next campaign. Plus I quite like that Bill Turnbull bloke on the breakfast telly, and he supports them stoically. But their home record needs spoiling and we should have a right go at it tomorrow, eh?
Meanwhile Peter Till has been moaning to the Telegraph. The perma-tanned winger with undoubted ability (which he seems to keep resolutely stuffed under his bushel) whined: "Obviously, the manager has his own ideas and I'm not in his plans at the minute so to go out and play games will be good for me, rather than sit on the bench for the reserves. It's difficult when new players come in and others play in front of you who aren't natural in your position." What most Town fans would enquire in polite riposte to this is: "Why, Mr Till, did you never bother to turn it on for more than half a game?" Till also set the record straight (hah!) about the Town fight club: "I'm not in the plans at the minute and I heard rumours that people said there had been a bust-up but that's not the case I want to put that straight." Ex-skipper Heywood smiled enigmatically when he read that, I expect.
Regular Diary reader Tony Rogers has written in with a clever thought: "Loyalty. Everywhere demands it these days. Sainsbury's with its Nectar cards. Starbucks with a 'get six stamps get something free'. Even our local kiddies play centre gives us a free cuppa after six visits. How do Town reward our loyalty? With a league victory every eight games?"
And Sibbo has been on again. After a few false starts this came in: "Thinking of Town's match at Wycombe on Saturday, reminds me of a visit with Dave the Engineer. It was the return of AB who had taken over for his third stint as manager the previous week at Northampton. Town earned a creditable draw as I remember but ironically Mike Newell had recently made a comment about female officials. The lineswoman in question came to check the goals and nets in front of the black and white army, prior to the kick off. As one, we sang 'There's only one Mike Newell'. Funny old game eh!" Yes, indeed it is, mate. Let's hope we all have good reason to sing it again tomorrow. See yer.
Thursday 15 January
Idle Diary rattles off: There's this bloke I work with. Guaranteed on a daily basis he'll remind you of where he used to work, who that company worked for, and how he has brushed shoulders with a revered advertising guru. Sample: "Years ago when I used to work in Stockport, when I used to work with some quite big companies like Adidas, and I used to see Trevor Beattie about a lot."
Name droppers. I bloody hate them. Inevitably, name droppers as John Fenty knows (Robbie Fowler!) get their come-uppance. Mike Newell isn't such a fool. Today's paper reveals that the latest stage of the ReNewell Plan could see another loan signing joining the club, bringing this season's total of loanees to 12. Mindful of his chairman's loose tongue, Masterplan Mike is keeping his cards close to his chest, making it clear that "there's nothing certain but I've a few irons in the fire". And when Mike moves he pleasantly surprises us: bringing in some promising youths from Big London Clubs; giving Adam Proudlock a chance to shine; snapping up an eager French trialist; and lending out Peter Till to Chesterfield. Yes, you read that right. The man certainly knows how to surprise, eh. Newell's probably had enough of thinking he'd turned the contrast on his TV up too high when he was watching training, the massive orangeist. Or something.
The SNOS is, as you'd expect from an arm of the GTFC marketing department, a bit more excited about any new signing, probably due to some blatant profiteering opportunities from new text message subscriptions. Well, we reckon they're on about a new signing when they say Newell "is hoping to have another body in the building". Or has someone at the club got a boxset of the excellent Six Feet Under for Christmas and decided to branch out into funeral services? Which could be viewed as an unfortunate segue to the next item...
Some sad news to report: after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, former Town manager Tom Casey has died, aged 78. Casey will always hold a special part in this Mariner's heart, being in charge of the team when I was brought into the world. Younger readers who can only remember as far back as Alan Buckley's first stint, Alan Buckley's second stint, or Lennie Lawrence's Liverpool Legend, can learn that Casey's reign as gaffer lasted from February 1975 until November 1976, when he was sacked after a run of three wins in 16 games. Our thoughts are with his family, and there's a colourful if all too brief recollection of the man from Dave Boylen over here.
Incidentally, Mike Newell is currently at the 16 games mark in his Town career and has overseen just two victories. Fingers crossed it can be a third league win for Mike and the season on Saturday. We'll be previewing the trip to Wycombe in our pre-match factfile, which you can read by tuning in tomorrow, and for Guest Diary as he prepares for his trip down south. Maybe we'll see you there? Up the Mariners!
Wednesday 14 January
Chambers Diary writes: Ever find yourself spending an evening with nothing else to do than sit in front of the gogglebox and then there's nothing decent to watch? Most nights for me. Plopping that sexy lass from LA Law into Emmerdale won't enliven that dreary make-believe Yorkshire village. Licence fee payer, you have funded a mismatched pair's drinking jaunt round this hallowed land! John To. Rode. Put. Ting. A. Brief. Pause. Be. Tween. Ev. E. Ry. Syl. La. Ble. No! Stop! And close your mouth while you're eating as well! Were you brought up on Ings Lane, lad?
Give me ten minutes of Sky Soccer Night and its Ludovico treatment of unrelenting talking to, talking between, highlights, league tables, GOALS!, and results. Last night the on-screen chaos was a sea of calm, my eyes drawn only to one line, the top of their vidiprinter box: "Grimsby Res 1 Middlesbrough Res 1". I was befuddled. The biscuit being dunked into my tea soggied and fell away to the bottom of the cup as I tried to fathom what I was seeing. I was lost in incomprehension. But why? Maybe Murdoch had succeeded. Maybe my brain had finally shorted from an excess of Soccer.
Confused? Don't be. Just go to www.gtfc.co.uk! There you will find a comprehensive breakdown of the match. Learn that trialists Kevin Tsunami and Craig David were allowed to play, but Nicholas Chrysanthemum wasn't and didn't. Be amazed that the Town goalkeeper, Nick Montgomery, was in the thick of the action, giving away a penno, saving it, and then setting up Danny North's equaliser with a highly creative long knock upfield. And groan discovering young Danny boy very nearly snatched a win with a shot late that twonked against the bar. Such excitement, such drama!
Two weeks locked away without a match is driving me stir crazy! I am even getting excited about a reserves game! It will all be over on Saturday. I can't wait! And why else would I have possibly been confused about reading that result last night? It was as if... It was as if I was expecting the game to be played today...
Tuesday 13 January
My God, nearly two weeks of the new year and still no football. Well, no proper football I haven't lowered myself to watching that dreary fucking Premiership shite just yet. Man Utd and Chelsea? I heard they played a game against each other and that's as far as my interest goes.
Sorry, a mildly frustrated Mardy Diary filling in ad-hoc today. I don't know where the other diarists have gone; all I know is that you're stuck with me.
So what of news relating to the Mariners then? Well, I must commend the Telewag (and I don't often do that, the piece of shit, dirty, Mail-owned rag) but they've somehow managed to run at least three Town related stories each day for about the last month. They're clearly as excited as we all are about the Re-Newell I almost expect them to have set up a news desk in the corner of Magic Mike's office. Everytime he speaks they publish another article: "Newell asks where his stapler has gone"; "Newell in office swearing shocker"; "Newell goes for an extended lav session"; "Newell forced to wait for shrimps". Today's juicy news snippets include another player interview (this time Clarke) with the usual "at the end of the day, Brian, we just want to be sticking the ol' pig's bladder in the back of the onion bag" type quotes. No slur on the Panda driver there, like when there's not really any news what else is he going to say?
Their third story of the day relates to today's reserve match which will feature a few first-teamers and trialists including Buscher, Tunani and another trialist who apparently came at the same time as Tunani but no-one felt the need to mention at the time. He's called Nicholas Chrysanthou by the way. My two minutes of Googling didn't turn anything up and I'll be fucked if I'm doing any more research than that. He was at some Cypriotic champions or other, but it doesn't look like he played any matches for them. I could be wrong.
For ex-Town player news, combined with laughable, eye-liner-wearing, crook news, look no further than Crawley. The south coast team, famously managed by a convicted criminal, are getting points deducted (again) by being a bit dodgy (again) by not properly registering Isaiah Rankin or some such nonsense. Anyway, they're having a good old cry about that fact that they've been treated worse than Oxford "for an identical but much deeper breach of the Football Conference rules". That's right. Identical. But not the same. Oxford have been deducted five points to Crawley's four. Twats. Is Pinault still there?
Right, that's me done. Back to someone more eloquent tomorrow I expect. Or Idle Diary might do it.
Monday 12 January
Idle Diary writes: With the weather putting paid to Town's last two matches, the pent-up sense of anticipation within Town fans up and down the country for this coming weekend's trip to table-topping Wycombe couldn't be any higher. So exciting, you'll want to crush an grape! Frustrating waiting, sure, but imagine the roar released on Saturday as the black-and-whites come on to the pitch at the usually soulless Adams Park... It'll have been a long time awaiting the team that Mike built, rather than the one he's had to make do with, but at the moment you sense Town fans know it will be worth the wait as opposed to hoping or even praying, for those who believe in a being higher than Mike Newell.
Among all the new faces coming in and rumours of the majority of the squad being made available by fax, one reasonably familiar face has committed to prolonging his Town time, Nathan 'Jarmo' Jarman signing a two-and-a-half year deal late on Friday. While Jarman may not have quite nestled into his optimum position on the pitch, the lad knows that Grimsby is the right place to find it. Onwards with the Newell revolution!
Friday 9 January
Sixty-nine points to play for; fresh, eager new faces in the dressing room and loan players who are not just here for a handful of games. Nary a handful, gentle reader a whole handful and a half! Manager Newell is looking up the table, not down it, and must surely think that Town can accrue points in January given the obviously higher-quality players he has used his reputation to bring in.
Chatting to the redoubtable Dale on Mariners World at a freezy, windy Cheapside yesterday, Mr Newell also informed the world that Robbie Stockdale became a dad in the middle of the night so had skipped training just as his leg was getting better. However, Newell was half expecting the new dad back in training today, so there is still a chance that our only decent right-back could return tomorrow. The Telegraph points out that with all these new players arriving and returning the squad offers all kinds of options. But your Guest Diarist gets the feeling that Sinclair, Elliott and Widdowson will go straight into the side as nearly an almighty a shake-up as possible commences.
With the club signing Adam Proudlock yesterday for a small fee on a two-and-a-half-year contract, and everyone hopeful that Kalala will sign today as well, the spine of the Town team looks an awful lot stronger. Everyone's breath is bated as to whether Rob Atkinson will return. Come on Lady Luck, our damn cake needs icing!
Assuming the loanees return (and, as I write, it is now confirmed that Kalala is back on loan until the end of the season), the team would appear to almost pick itself, save possibly the wide right slot which Till could call his own until something appeared to go wrong a few weeks ago. The perma-tanned winger has been variously injured, ill, and punched (if you believe the half-baked rumours) and Mr Newell has taken to playing Clarke there. So those of us shuffling our feet at half two at Blundell Park tomorrow can twitch for a sight of the lesser spotted brown Till.
Diary reader Dave Chambers has dropped us a line saying: "The Superb New Official Site is now promoting Evil Sky's televisual offerings, luring us to watch that awful Soccer AM this coming weekend. How many of Town's players can hit the ball onto the crossbar? Who cares!! I am hoping the pop star they are hinting at observing is your very own Pete Green. He's got the hair to be on that show." I must admit Dave, although I've never watched Saturday morning telly since the early days of Tiswas, I would quite like to see players hitting the bar from the halfway line. Perhaps the subs should do it for me as half-time entertainment? But then again, reader, I have to admit to also enjoying The World's Strongest Man (it is my ambition to see a heat live) and I loved Indoor League. Ah'll sithee Dave.
Tomorrow's referee, by the way, is called Chris Sarginson and he has recently arrived from the Conference. Card-happy, he is, there, averaging nigh on three bookings a game, and he's sent off three in 15 matches so far this season. He was the guy who sent Peter Jackson to the stand in the Imps' home game against Rochdale, so he is not all bad, is he?
If this flurry of signings and loans doesn't work then we are kind of screwed. I keep getting flashbacks to the 13 players Wrexham signed last January. But you've got to have confidence in Newell's judgement and you have got to applaud Mr Fenty for putting his hand fairly deep into his pocket. And if none of it works there is a very strong chance that at least one more club in our division will get docked points before the season ends. So one way or another I think Newell will get the chance to finish rebuilding his squad and have a proper go at getting us out of the bottom division next season.
Let's hope it is not frozen off again; that it is a cracking game and that the new-look Town side does the business. See yer.
Thursday 8 January
If there was one sound on Radio Humberside heard more often during the 200405 season than Grimsby 'supporters' who hadn't actually been to the match phoning up to say: "Uh, Russell Slades, uh, appoint a non-League manager and you'll get non-League football, to be honest with you Burnsy," it was the reporter at the King$ton Communication$ FC match saying: "Tigers on course for victory again with another goal from that man Stuart Elliott!" By the end of the season the 'Slades out' banners were painted up and ready to go, while Elliott had netted 27 times from a wide midfield slot in a Kevin Donovan kind of way as Town's nouveau-riche north bank neighbours sealed promotion to the second division. Just like Donovan, Elliott experienced serious second album trouble immediately afterwards and basically disappeared forever until today, when he signed on loan for the Mariners: a move which could later be made permanent, says Mr Re-Newell, with him still living ovver the Umber in Ull. The player has largely failed to trouble the teamsheet at his current club Doncaster, and something about those missing years whispers caution, but it's no use the Diary is ridiculously excited about this one already, and let's face it: at the very least Elliott only needs to be a better left winger than Danny Boshell, Nick Hegarty and Chris Llewellyn.
Also joining on a month's loan is Dean Sinclair, who was a cracking young player when he was with Barnet but hasn't commanded a first-team spot since his move to Charlton in 2007. Newell, who once almost signed Sinclair for Luton, describes the player as "a box-to-box midfielder, full of energy... a hard worker" and points out that both new players will represents good value in being eligible to play seven games during the initial one-month term of their loans. Sinclair looks much less like a potential permanent signing from the player's point of view, it's a shop window thing, while from Town's he represents a stopgap acquisition until either Liam Trotter can be persuaded to return to North East Lincs or Paul Bolland puts Lazarus in the shade with a return both to fitness and to the consistent form that has eluded him since his commanding first season with the Mariners in 200506, or just turning in to Alan Pouton at some point but without the red cards and dodgy knees.
Indeed, Newell's video interview thingy offers similar value today, as the manager proceeds to discuss Town's other loanee Joe Widdowson and at last brings the people an update on the progress of Mickaλl Buscher. Buscher is yet to make a first-team squad since signing for GTFC five weeks ago when some way short of match fitness, but has just had "the best week since he's been here", according to MN, who does not elaborate on whether this means the player has shown well in training over the past few days or made lots of new friends, discovered the delights of those semi-posh new cafιs down Meggies, got his end away and beaten his personal best on Wii Tennis.
That's your lot from the regular Diary this week, and I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to going to see Town on Saturday more than I have for a while. Let's see if Guest Diary feels the same way tomorrow. Cheerio!
Wednesday 7 January
Signings alert. Awooga awooga. Signings alert. Town's superb new official website is urging you to sign up for the club's superb new text message services on the back of the news that Mike Newell "is hoping to tie up deals" for his three potentially league status-preserving recent loan signings, Jean-Paul Kalala, Rob Atkinson and Adam Proudlock. I think we knew that already, didn't we? In fairness, Oldham's OS is at last mentioning something about JPK who looks very fetching in orange and the SNOS adds that "at least one new face" might arrive before this Saturday's disappointing 1-0 home defeat by Morecambe. It's up to you whether you think all this justifies however much it costs to receive text alerts from Blundell Park although it urges you to "text CLUB GRIMS NEWS to 88442" and sign up, the SNOS doesn't actually tell you the charges. You might not be very interested in this but Ofcom probably would.
The Diary applauds the inventiveness of the Grimsby Telegraph today in creating a story out of thin air. Town will claim back from Barnet the travel expenses of £2,500 they incurred en route to last weekend's postponed fixture at Underhill, reports the Riby Square Thunderer but adds that this is "stipulated by Football League regulations" and therefore, presumably, is what football clubs do all the time whenever a match is postponed after they've started their journey. In tomorrow's Telegraph: Mike Newell makes some telephone calls, then receives a bill and pays it.
Tuesday 6 January
While its 'soccer writers' wait eagerly for the Town manager's January transfer activity to begin, the Grimsby Telegraph is making the most of his famously opinionated personality. Today the local paper carries an article in which Mr Re-Newell rather uncontroversially agrees with every other football manager in Britain that there should be less "festive football" played. On the one hand the Diary can empathise with his viewpoint, as I am still at a loss to understand why we just had a match on a Sunday afternoon and not one on New Year's Day. On the other hand, though, my dictionary defines 'festive' as "joyous, merry; offering fun and gaiety", and by that reckoning there clearly needs to be a great deal more festive football at Blundell Park, not less.
Newell has further strengthened his stated policy not to look at foreign players by handing a trial to Kevin Tunani, a 21-year-old midfielder previously on the books at Bordeaux although not French in any way. Should the player win himself a contract at Blundell Park he will join the non-foreign legion already swelling the Mariners' ranks in the shape of Mickaλl Buscher, who may not have an English-sounding name but actually grew up in Mablethorpe, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Barton-on-Humber) and Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala (Goole). Despite his non-Gallic origins Tunani has also recently had trials with Charlton, Cheltenham and Yeovil the Diary is excited to have discovered one observer on the worldwide web compare Town's new prospect to the great Patrick Vieira. Then again, when Tony Crane was on the books at Sheffield Wednesday, one observer on the worldwide web said he was a future England prospect, so let's not get too carried away just yet.
West Bromwich solicitor Chris Beeley has emailed the Diary on precisely the topic of Town's new trialist and his vaguely piscine moniker. "Having read on the SNOS that we are 'looking at' Kevin Tunani," says Chris, "I can't help but feel that the mysterious humorous powers that brought us Bradley Wood are at work again. Next week perhaps we may have young German striker Klaus Kipperwitz on trial, or maybe promising Italian Ivano Skateri." Indeed, the Diary has already heard whisperings surrounding the arrival of Sri Lankan left-back Srinath Halibutarulanantham sometime next Monday morning. "PS: It's really not that bad being a solicitor in West Brom, honest," adds Chris. "I could be a football manager in Cleethorpes, so I count my blessings." Well, I think Cleethorpes is pretty nice these days. I don't envy anyone who has to be a football manager there though.
Monday 5 January
"Very quick, pretty decent on the ball, but quite slight. Whilst he looks like he could be a good player, at present he very much looks like an 18/19-year-old playing in League Two if you know what I mean. If you were needing a left-back to get you into the play-offs etc then yes; whether he's the sort to get you out of a relegation scrap I wouldn't like to say." New loanee Joe Widdowson spent a similar period with Rotherham last season, and this is the slightly worrying verdict of the Diary's contact in the Millers camp so will this London lad turn out to be just another young Premier League full-back a la Vidal/Logan with reasonable attacking skills but somewhat less in terms of defence and commitment? Widdowson himself insists not. "I want to work hard for the team," the West Ham youngster has told the Grimsby Telegraph. "I play with a lot of energy and I will be giving my all for Grimsby, the fans can rest assured of that." Fingers crossed, then, folks and he might turn out to be more of a Trotter than a trotter.
More new arrivals look certain before Morecambe roll up at Blundell Park this Saturday, with the industrious Mr Re-Newell promising "a busy week" in the transfer market. Speaking to the Telewag after the postponement of Saturday's away fixture at Barnet, the boss seems fairly laid-back about the prospects of retaining his three key loan players, whose short-term contracts have now expired: "Hopefully, we can extend those or make them permanent so it won't matter," shrugs the Scouse Saviour with a cheeky grin. Let's hope his optimism is justified, as the Diary is frankly terrified by the prospect of watching Town try and capitalise on a good opportunity for three points this weekend without Proudlock, Kalala and Atkinson in the side.
And finally today, Cod Almighty reporters have discovered the true depth of anger felt by Town fans who wasted a journey with the postponement of Saturday's fixture at Barnet read the full story and see for yourself. See you tomorrow!
Friday 2 January
Mike Newell has confirmed that young Hegggaarty is not a left-back in his Mariners World interview this week. So that clears that one up then. Given that information it would seem that young Nick must adjust his CV accordingly. Ever prone to over analyse these interviews, your Guest Diarist (who wishes you all a happy new year by the way) couldn't help but note that manager Newell responded to a question about Mr Bore's full-back performances with alacrity (if not total candour?) but was careful to only mention the shape of Hegggaarty's peg being different to the left-back hole.
Stockdale and Newey are still hamstrung, although Newell mysteriously added (after saying they were both out for the away match at Barnet tomorrow, deffo) that one of them might return to the squad. Clear as mud then. No mention was made that Peter Till's return to playing had strengthened his options either. So, new signing notwithstanding, the team will be similar to the one that served up such dross over the holiday. Boxing Day was a game of two halves, Newell jested in his deadpan way: "crap in the first and crap in the second." Even he had to snigger after that that one.
Now, gentle reader, I have to go somewhere in the wilds towards Worksop on a desperate mission. Return late this afternoon if you will, and I will update you as to whether Town really have signed someone on the first day of the transfer window, as the official site hinted we might. Bursting with expectation, we are if Newell does pull that one off it will be a clever and effective psychological boost to us all after that awful Christmas. And it may strike fear into the hearts of those mighty Barnet folk. See you later, eh?
Lunchtime update: Here I am again, having amassed three dead pheasants in a three hour drive through the wilds of north-west Lincolnshire to ensure the Guest Diary offspring eat meat this weekend (a lie: I will hang them for three days, before you write in). And as I predicted Town have a new (one-month loan) signing in Joe Widdowson; he being a left-back. The West Ham number 40 is trumpeted in Wikipedia as the man who marked Beckham out of the game last year in one of his few outings for their first team. Beckham, apparently, was so impressed he gave the lad his shirt.
Googly people and folk whose mate supports the Hammers will tell you the 'lad is highly thought of'. The total cynic brigade will bemoan his lack of experience and the fact he didn't stay on loan at Rotherham for long. Well I say, let's give him a flipping chance he will play tomorrow so look out for Mr Butcher's match report on Monday. Have a nice chill-out weekend after the holidays or party on if you have the stamina. See yer.