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Diary - May 2009
Friday 29 May
Was Mr Newell right to let James Hunt go and re-sign that Clarke? For sure, Clarke will have been cheap he gets panic-stricken when the end of a contract approaches ever since he went out of the league with Boston. And Clarke is also pathetically versatile, and a nice quiet sort of chap to boot. Hunt, meanwhile, is a stubborn bugger with a track record of not backing down in an argument, who also expected a longer contract. But in other respects he is a model professional who came back after a long period out of the team and immediately looked like he had never been away. An ideal defensive foil to that yet-to-be-signed attacking midfield partner? Hmm, maybe, muses your Guest Diarist, who goes on to ruminate further about how hard it must be to run a small club on a tight budget. We can chew the cud all day I suppose, but decisions have been taken and the only conclusion I can reach is that the Re-Newell will require two midfield signings this summer. Somehow I just can't believe we can afford that Sweeney especially as the manager told the Telegraph yesterday that he won't be releasing any more players. Unless we sell someone. Gulp.
It's going to be a hot day hotter than the news on Town, I suspect. Will me telling you that Town have been drawn in the 'group of death' in the forthcoming Errea South West Challenge Cup trigger your adrenaline, gentle reader? With Town, Yeovil and the Belgians drawn together, the group winner will have to beat one of Blackpool, Rushden or Barnstaple to make the final. Our first group game will be against Royal Racing Football Club Montegnee, who are nicknamed 'the Rats' for reasons I have not yet determined. From what I can gather from their English website, the club is for foreign students who like to play footy during their degree course. Half the squad are Canadian and American but their skipper is an English centre-half called Jon Wheeldon. The Rats play in some provincial Belgian league and are bound to beat us.
I sense I am losing my audience so will resort to someone else's humour before signing off here is a carefully crafted and quite hilarious montage of the best bits of Alan Sugar, which includes previously unpublished information about his naughty bits. Have a good weekend see yer.
Thursday 28 May
It isn't easy being the Diary, you know. As much as you might think this job involves little more than spitting the pips from the sweet, sweet grapes peeled and fed to me by the hordes of willing CA groupies stationed in Cod Almighty Towers, and being wearily sarcastic about Town's superb new official website, the Diary has to make some tough decisions every single day. Should I wear the blue Ivano or the '93 pinstripe? Should we go for the jugular on the SNOS this time, or indulge its extraordinary incompetence as an endearing Grimbarian quirk? And should we lead with the pointless story about Mike Newell being 'linked with' the managerial vacancy at Aberdeen or the pointless story about Mike Newell wanting to sign Peter Sweeney? The former, of course, is pointless because it's completely made up and the latter because when a good player who's already had a good period on loan might be prepared to come back permanently, you'd kind of assume that a good manager would be at least vaguely interested, wouldn't you? Still, it's worth looking at, if only to titter at the fact that the manager spoke to officials within the building about the player ("Peter Sweeney is certainly a player we would like to bring in"), only for the SNOS to be scooped by the Grimsby Telegraph, which ran its version of the Sweeney non-story a good two hours earlier. Hang on why don't these groupies bring seedless grapes? My life is hell!
Jonathan Lund, John Lukic jr, Rob Murray, Andy Pettinger, Bradley Hughes, Steve Croudson, Andy Love, Paul Fraser, Morgan Cranley and Ronald Ermes didn't quite crack it, but that's not to say that Ed Eley, Leigh Overton or Rob Peet won't. Peet, a 16-year-old goalkeeper from Leicestershire, linked up with the Mariners in February after being released by Leicester City and recommended by Town scout Dave McNish, and has now been signed on a two-year YT deal or whatever it's called now to duke it out with Eley and Overton in a sort of Grimsby's Got Goalkeeping Talent contest. Let's hope the lad can exceed the limited expectations placed on him by his local paper, the Melton Times, which hilariously speculates that "Peet will hope to follow in the footsteps of brother David who earned a professional contract with Nottingham Forest and went on to play for Boston United before becoming disillusioned with the game". No punchline required.
Before I leave you hungry for Guest Diary's soothing Friday ministrations, there's just time for a quick dip into the old inbox. "Dear Diary," begins an email from Baz Rockliff, "I know you like to publish news of former players, so what better on a Thursday than news of one who wasn't just good, but a bona fide cult hero?" What better indeed. Baz offers a link to the website of Colwyn Bay FC, where a bountiful new three-year contract has been handed out to Town's former big man with a good touch Gary Jones. Thankyou a cheery note for your regular Diary to sign out on for the week. I won't even mention the pre-match build-up in the autumn of 2006 when the team was being read out on the Blundell Park tannoy and the Lump's hallowed name was roundly booed by sections of the Pontoon faithful!
Wednesday 27 May
Since Jamie Clarke joined the Mariners two years ago, as a putative replacement for Sir John McDermott, Town fans have seen little to challenge the immediate impression given in the pre-season friendlies of 2007 that Clarke is, in fact, no right-back at all. Why, then, has he been given a new contract tying him to the club for a third season? There are a number of reasons. He can play to a reasonable standard on the right of midfield or in the centre. He doesn't seem to mind being essentially a squad player. He is a good professional. He can pass a ball better than just about anyone else at Blundell Park. He can chip in with the occasional spectacular long-range goal and dangerous free kick. Most importantly of all, he won't be on very much money.
The Grimsby Telegraph has been very good recently at transcribing pity-poor-me sulks from Tom Newey and Phil Barnes concerning Mike Newell's mysterious and bizarre decision to release them, after which the Mariners mysteriously and bizarrely started playing really well. The local rag seems to have struggled, however, with the actual news side of things and has only today let us know that Barnes spent the end of the season with Gainsborough Trinity and picked up a man of the match award in his only appearance for the Conference North side. The news comes in a piece about Town's goalkeeping situation in which Mr Re-Newell reveals that Jonathan Lund's GTFC career is over and says finding a new number one is "a priority" but that "there is no rush". Just as long as you don't leave it until the last minute and Anthony Williams plays really badly in a trial against Brigg and you sign him anyway.
"Like yourself, I have found myself being pleased with Scunny's promotion, although I cannot get any enthusiasm for Hull for some reason. I think your open-minded attitude sums up what I like about Cod Almighty. The daily summary of Mariner life, the ability to see beyond conventional wisdom, inject some wit and offer (fair) criticism of the team keep myself and probably many others coming back, so thanks for that and keep up the good work." Thanks very much, James Booth it's very nice of you to say so. "With regard to seeing beyond conventional wisdom," continues James, "presumably it is only the media who think Newcastle are everyone's second team? Anyone I have spoken to who has expressed an opinion on it is pleased they have gone down, even non-Mariner fans (assuming all our fans are chuffed to see Shearer unhappy). I would be interested to know if there are readers of your Diary who are not pleased about this turn of events, although many probably do not care?" Well, the Diary decided a few weeks ago that I'd be delighted to have seen either Newcastle or King$ton Communication$ FC bite the dust the latter, of course, being nothing to do with local rivalry and everything to do with the way 20,000 people suddenly decided they liked football because there was a new place to watch it. Both would have just been greedy, though.
James has some thoughts on Town's recently announced price cuts too. "Even though I live in Toronto so it does not affect me, I think that the reduction is season ticket prices is a good move and should be taken as a positive by the club who seem to have actually listened for once. By comparison it makes the tickets here in Toronto look expensive for our MLS team; our mid-priced season tickets cost $50/game = 28 quid. The football is mediocre (although better than the UK media makes out) and you still have to wait most of half time to have a piss. You can have a beer in your seat though if you are prepared to pay $9 (about a fiver) for a can of Carlsberg. They must be doing something right though as they sell out 20,000 seats every home game and have a huge waiting list for tickets. Anyway, thanks again for keeping our chins up during a dismal season, UTM." An interesting perspective there so, readers, if you have an opinion about the cheaper tickets at BP, this season's relegation from the top flight, or indeed why the Post Office still 'needs' to be privatised despite making record profits, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Tuesday 26 May
I expect you've seen by now, so there seems little point in rehashing the weekend's news that Town's excitable communications team couldn't wait until 8 June after all to tell us about the big cut sorry, Slash! to season ticket prices this summer. It would look a bit strange if we didn't bother, though, so let's try and find an angle. The big thing for the club was clearly to try and retain some of the fans who decided to support their club in its darkest and deepest hour of need, right at the end of last season, when they were bribed with discounts, and the superb new official website breathlessly reveals that GTFC officials "have been working flat out to try and find a sensible way forward" to this end. As well as cutting sorry, Slashing! season ticket prices to, the Grimsby Telegraph points out, the same as in 2001, there seems to be something called a "New 5 League Match Trial" whereby the prices for matchday tickets will be a couple of quid cheaper as well for a while, challenging fans who've promised to return to the club on the condition of price cuts to put their money where their mouth is.
Naturally, the response has been mixed. Many supporters seem to be welcoming what seems an honest and well considered response to the economic situation and the really quite helpful if belated surge of support in April and May. Grimsby would not be Grimsby, however, if there were not a sizeable contingent of observers who see the world through shit-coloured spectacles. "I personally think they have put the wool over peoples eyes," offers one glass-half-emptyist in the Grimsby Telegraph's comment section. "How come Blackburn Rovers can charge £199 for a season ticket yet we a divison 2 side charge a lot more ?????" asks another. Well, the Diary is no accountant but, just as a wild stab in the dark, I suspect the answer to this might be vaguely connected with "divison 2" sides not receiving 60 million quid a year in TV money.
Ultimately the success of the Mariners' new promotional wheeze may depend to a large extent on the skill with which it is implemented on the ground. The club, as we know, has often acted with the best of intentions, only for its measures to be derailed by the staggering administrative incompetence in which it largely remains mired. "Good to hear the new kit is available to buy," begins an email from Diary reader Martyn Wyburn. "My fashion-conscious son tried to buy his fashion-conscious dad a shirt for my birthday last year. There was a problem processing the order and so he rang the club. They promised to get back to him but never did. He bought me something else instead. Still, it's alright it's not as if the club needs the money."
Let's talk about something actually to do with the football, then. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro has been offered an extension to his contract, which currently runs until the end of next season. Already capable of striking fear into lumpen fourth division defences, J-LAA is bound to improve with a full pre-season behind him and some expert coaching from Mr Re-Newell. For all these reasons, the Diary very much hopes he accepts and very much hopes we get to hear the audio one day of an interview with the player and discover how the word 'gaffer' sounds in a Toulouse accent.
Finally, the Diary's heartfelt congratulations to Scunthorpe. For one thing, in these days where money speaks louder than ever, it is even better to see smaller clubs progressing up the league, whoever they are. Secondly, it is pleasing to see a big reward for any club that deals a significant blow to the progress of the Buckinghamshire franchise football operation instead of, say, rearranging your fixtures to assist in their push for promotion, like, say, Grimsby disgracefully did last year. Thirdly, the more Town fans seem to be falling into this daft 'local rivalry' trap instead of looking out for Scunthorpe's results and cheering them on, like we used to when the Diary was a little lad the more stupid the whole thing looks, and so a fair few misguided noses must have been put quite out of joint by Scunthorpe's fantastic and fully deserved promotion. Very well done, Scunny. Very well done on all counts.
Friday 22 May
Your Guest Diarist returns today to tell you that a week in Devon in mid-July would make an ideal family holiday. Your chance to visit places like Appledore, Barnstaple, Bideford, Ilfracombe and Torrington. But pack not only your bucket, spade and real ale guide, but also your Town scarf as the club has announced its planned participation in a pre-season tourney involving big clubs like us, Barnet, Exeter and Yeovil and a team from Belgium. Oh, hang on, a subsequent superb new official site 'announcement' says that Barnet have been forced to pull out. The word used is 'enforced', which sent me scrambling to see if they had gone pop in the night, but the Barnet FC website makes no mention of ever being in this tournament and as long ago as 14 May was telling the world about pre-season games at home to Arsenal on 18 July (which clashes with the Devon tournament directly) and Charlton the following week.
Yesterday the club confirmed that Barry Conlon will be our very own barbarian for the next two seasons, not just a borrowed one. All fourteen stone plus of him is ours; local brewery shares rose sharply this morning and lots of young fans breathed easier in the knowledge that our latest lump of a hero has only six letters in his surname. Whether he will be that mythical 20-goal a season striker we shall have to see, but I, for one, am happy to see him stop with us for a bit. To me anything over ten is a good haul for a modern striker at our level and Conlon has the physique, the experience and the drinking capacity I look for in a centre-forward. Good on yer Bazza mate.
The Grimsby Telegraph is busy trying to fan the flames of the Bennett sale rumour today, saying that the Town skipper "will listen to offers from other clubs this summer". In a piece so flimsy that I could have written it in five minutes without a stroke of research, the paper claims that Bennett is being considered by clubs in higher leagues and that the lad will not stick his fingers in his ears and make idiotic lah lah lahing sounds if a club makes him an offer. Quite right too it would be rude, childish and plain daft not to even hear an offer, but that doesn't mean he will be gone within the week. He is young, talented and therefore has an asset value. The Telegraph tries to hint that Posh would outbid Celtic for him with half a million quid but that, gentle reader, is pure, unadulterated speculation.
In other Telegraph stories Coun Fenty (Con) manages to mangle the English language yet again by harrumphing: "My personal opinion is that the transfer window has been counter-productive, particularly to clubs at a lower level for the simple reason that often, sustainability is derived through selling players." He means sell to survive, I think. And manager Newell has been his quiet sarcastic self again, saying: "The first thing I was told when I arrived was that it was very difficult to attract players to Grimsby in this day and age. It doesn't seem as hard as I was led to believe. I say that because I'm getting calls from players and agents recommending players and others wanting to come and speak to us and they are good players." So there.
First men wielded clubs, then it was all swords and axes and that, and then things like nightsticks and coshes. Nowadays, in the slow, inexorable Americanisation of our beloved country, blokes routinely threaten each other with baseball bats. To be frank I'd rather someone came at me with a knife than a lump of American ash, for purely patriotic reasons. But I digress what I meant to say is how much I've started missing Jones the Stick again now that he is featuring daily in the sports gossip columns. When he left I seem to remember quoting Jim Morrison at you but then I got over it, partly because the last game he played for us stuck in my mind too prominently. But he was great, nay, heroic in the latter time he spent with Town and I hope he gets a good club and does well. If there's a stale crust in it for Town then so much the better, eh? See yer.
Thursday 21 May
I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate! Ha! Do you get it? Do you? Darren Ferguson clearly doesn't, as the oedipally challenged Peterborough manager has apparently been telling his local paper that the million quid price tag greedy Grimsby have put on ace young defender Ryan Bennett is a bit on the steep side. "We tracked Ryan Bennett for months but he signed a new contract which entitled them to ask for a fee and they wanted £1million, which was quite ridiculous," is what today's Grimsby Telegraph says Ferguson told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. Yeah, except you've got it completely wrong, haven't you, Daz, because the whole million quid thing was just a bloody throwaway comment by John Fenty to Barry Fry, a figure of speech indicating simply that Bennett is not for sale, and Town always had an option to extend Bennett's contract by two years, which they were always going to take up, so if you were watching Bennett all season long expecting to be able to get him on a free or a tuppence-ha'penny tribunal fee at the end of it then you were wasting your time all along, weren't you, so you've made yourself look a bit silly there really. Still, thanks for stopping Bastard Franchise Scum getting promoted. Tom Newey's available if you still fancy him.
In the middle of yesterday a page appeared on Town's superb new official website with the headline "18 Days To Go". The page promised "You WILL NOT be disappointed," and enigmatically left it at that. Today the SNOS has elaborated, explaining that the guarantee of our happiness on Monday 8 June relates to the offer of season tickets for sale rather than, as most readers, had assumed, a new link to a poker website, an announcement about an announcement about an announcement about the Fentydome, or the sale on eBay of an official GTFC teacup once thrown at half time by manager Graham Rodger and still intact. What's the plan, then, Town? Has John Fenty (Con) backtracked on his previous insistence that super-cheap Bradford-type season tickets would be impossible and decided to devalue the product after all? We wait with nothing less than total excitement.
The same page also announced that the Town's new replica kit will at last be made available to fashion-conscious fans on Sunday 7 June at a "special launch in McMenemy's". The event will reveal which of the two prospective shirts was chosen when supporters voted on the design in that poll a few month ago which we'd completely forgotten all about in the meantime. Sadly, the Diary was forced to abstain from this empowering exercise in supporter democracy, since there was no option to combine the sensible stripes from option 1 with the nice round collar from the otherwise absurd option 2, which makes it look like the wearer has bent sideways to retrieve a ball from the ground on the other side of a freshly creosoted fence.
"I thought it a very valid point in Wednesday's Diary," begins an email from Sibbo about the midfielders who are leaving or staying in the building. "Players such as Jamie Clarke and Danny Boshell may just surprise some of the supporters next season, if they remain in the building, as part of the building programme. Ryan Bennett struggled at the start of last season but as we all saw went from strength to strength as the campaign progressed. Rob Atkinson must take a lot of credit for helping steady the ship with some assured performances and with the influx of loan players towards the latter stages. I thought Nick Hegarty in particular came on leaps and bounds. Having better players around can give ordinary ones more confidence and therefore perform to a higher level. Not suggesting for one minute that Ryan Bennett is ordinary but at a young age, he needed someone with Rob's presence alongside him. Perhaps Grimsby won't be Wayne's world next season, but a keeper of his stature is vitally important. Expect our Mike will ensure we get a suitable replacement. The excitement is growing already for the new season and" and there it ends, unfortunately, as the rubbish Cod Almighty feedback form only carries 1,024 characters. I'm going to change the link on the side of the page now, so that people don't use the feedback form to contact the Diary and email email@example.com instead. Sorry about that, Sibbo!
The CA team is trying to ascertain whether the brilliantly named young American centre-half Dallas Moore is still with the Mariners or was recently released when they decided which young 'uns were getting kept on. If anyone knows, please contact the Diary using the email address above. Thankyou! We've found the citation Wikipedia was looking for about Town having a sell-on clause in the deal that took Rob Jones to Hibs, though. Today's Telewag mentions it in a 'meanwhile' section towards the end of the piece about Darren Ferguson and if Wikipedia can't trust the Grimsby Telegraph then I don't think there can be any hope left for the world.
I don't know who's writing tomorrow's Diary it might even end up being just your regular Diary again but with a bit of luck there should at least actually be one. Thanks for reading and t'ra for now.
Wednesday 20 May
Hold on to your black and white bobble hats! It's a crazy mad busy day for the Mariners, with another player in and two more out. I know, they don't make bobble hats any more, do they. And look at the parliamentary expenses scandal. Coincidence? I think not.
Is this the face that launched a thousand Harley-Davidsons? After the permanent signing yesterday of Joe Widdowson, another of the loanees who helped to preserve the club's Football League status in the spring has returned and this time it's rock and roll animal Barry Conlon. Big bad Baz found the net five times, of course, in his eight games for Town, prompting wild celebrations that the club had found a replacement for Gary Jones at last, and the player has now signed a two-year contract to raise hell on the south bank of the Humber, prompting the biggest sales of bald wigs in the local area since Duncan Goodhew visited Holton-le-Clay Junior School in 1981. Welcome back, Barry. There's a lot of love in this room.
Absence through injury has made the hearts of Grimsby Town fans grow fonder of Paul Bolland. While he was sitting out the entirety of the season that's just ending with a knackered cruciate ligament, the Mariners faithful seemed to remember the player solely as the commanding midfield presence of his debut 200506 campaign, forgetting entirely that in the following two seasons he seemed no more capable than, say, Danny Boshell, of stringing together a run of consistently good performances. Bolland is one of two out-of-contract midfielders who, it has been announced this morning, won't be staying in the building in his case because it seems he was unhappy with Mr Re-Newell's invitation to what would effectively have been a trial in pre-season, and wanted a contract offer on the table sooner rather than later, regardless of from whom. In this the player's leaving of Blundell Park seems of a piece with his arrival, when he signed the first contract Russell Slade waved at him rather than wait for his existing manager at Notts County to get back from his holiday none of which will affect in any way the imminent supporters' campaign for Bolland to be awarded an MBE.
The other one on his way is James Hunt, who joined the Mariners in 2007 and was largely overlooked since the departure of Alan Buckley last autumn. He and Peter Till were the best of a bad bunch in the early part of the 200809 campaign and, when he was brought back into the side at the end of the season, 32-year-old Hunt earned plaudits from fans for some influential displays and praise from Mike Newell for his professionalism in coming in to do a job, and do it well, after being out of favour for so long. The big question begged by these two departures, though, is whether the manager will be able to use the wages freed up to bring in superior replacements and his track record so far suggests that, even if Peter Sweeney proves beyond Town's reach, the team will begin next season with a stronger midfield than fans have seen for some time.
Speaking of Danny Boshell, he and Jamie Clarke have been in discussion with GTFC to remain in the building, much to the horror of the Grimsby faithless. "We've spoken to both Bosh and Clarkey about renewing their contracts because we think they are good enough and young enough to play a part with better players around them," explains Mr Re-Newell to the Grimsby Telegraph today. Today's genius observation in the comments section is: "You don't have to know anything about football to see that Clarke is just not good enough," which is just as well for most of the people who post comments there.
And speaking of irony and Joe Widdowson, the Diary has been reading a blog dedicated to our new left-back's old club West Ham United. Earlier this month, you might recall, we looked at a very clever blog called Off the Post, and our dim Grimbarian minds failed to grasp its sophisticated wit so much so that the editor emailed to explain in an entirely non-patronising way that "at OTP we deal in humour, irony and satire". So now that we understand humour, irony and satire, we are able to understand that the aforementioned Hammers blog, The Game's Gone Crazy, when it says "Joe Widdowson has been snapped up by the mighty Grimsby", doesn't actually mean that Grimsby are mighty. It means Grimsby are shit. These Londons really are the craftiest! I'm not surprised that taxi driver won Mastermind!
Tuesday 19 May
"Is he the one from the West Ham academy?" asked Mrs Diary this morning when I mentioned that Joe Widdowson had returned to GTFC on a three-year contract. I confirmed this to have been his origin. "Well, he must be dead keen," she observed. "A young lad moving from London to Grimsby!" Even the proudest Grimbarian must acknowledge this to be a pretty telling point, and Mike Newell himself points out: "When it comes to the crunch you have to take into consideration he was moving out of London permanently. It's a big commitment for a 20-year-old lad." The move, happily enough, comes just half a day after Mr Re-Newell's cheeky observation that, while his predecessors may have struggled to attract players to the Humber Riviera, he's fighting them off with a stick. In his weeks on loan with the Mariners last season, Cockney Joe showed potential to become the reliable left-back the club has needed for years and when you think about it, being better than Tom Newey, Darren Barnard, Tony Gallimore, Ben Chapman, Ronnie Bull and Knut Anders Fostervold shouldn't even be as hard as it sounds.
Speaking of sticks, Rob Jones is being 'linked with' a move to Nottingham Forest this summer. The reason the Diary sees fit to mention this and not the transfer of some other former GTFC player (like, say, Ricky Ravenhill going to Notts County) is that Town are widely rumoured to have inserted a sell-on clause when Jones moved to Hibernian from the Mariners in 2006, entitling Blundell Park's bean-counters to a cut of any fee received for his next transfer. But does hard evidence of such a clause exist? The Cod Almighty team spent the whole of April scouring the internet and drew a bigger blank than Rochdale with Tom Newey in the squad. The Stick's Wikipedia entry, significantly, repeats the popular belief that "Grimsby negotiated a clause meaning that they would receive a portion of the transfer fee Hibs receive for Jones if they sell him", but adds in square brackets: "citation needed". So where's that citation, anyone?
Andy Taylor, meanwhile, has left the building. After being told last week that he wasn't part of Mike Newell's plans, the 20-year-old striker has agreed terms with GTFC to end his contract a year early. The Diary wishes Taylor well but not so well that he does a Cameron Jerome and our whole lives become no more than a futile maelstrom of pain, regret and bitterness forever.
Diary reader James Parrott has emailed in response to the Grimsby Telegraph reader comment we featured yesterday which would have Tim Berners-Lee wishing he'd never been born. "I love comments like those from the Mysterious Knight Pete of Clee," writes James. "And so it was written that ye olde soccer fan speake ye utter balderdashe. Indeed, what football manager wouldn't 'of' taken a third division team coming off relegation to Wembley twice within a few months? I tried wracking my brain for an answer but such a conundrum confounds a mere peasant such as myself. Keep up the great work Sir Pete of Clee." Glad you enjoyed it, James, and the Diary is glad I ignored my schoolteachers when they told me not to make fun of people who were less intelligent than me although, in fairness, I did make fun of my schoolteachers quite a lot.
"Don't know if you heard Fighting Talk on Saturday?" asks Loughborough Mariner. "It was nice to hear Sir John of McDermott getting a mention as a 'real man with football running through his veins' from that doyen of lower league football (well as far as Fighting Talk is concerned anyway) Bob Mills. Nice to hear some praise for someone associated with Town occasionally!" Indeed, LM the Diary was assembling Ikea furniture at the time, with the radio on in the background, so the mention of Macca's name was like an oasis in a desert. You know, one of those flat-pack deserts. "Also, don't know if you have a scouting hotline to Mr Re-Newell, but has anyone noticed that Notts County have released Richard Butcher? Any time I've seen the Pies recently he's consistently been their best player snap him up Mr Re-Newell!" Mike could need more persuading than that, though. Describing someone as Notts County's best player of recent years is surely the ultimate back-handed compliment.
Monday 18 May
Well done, Scunny! That's the important part done. Pats on the head all round!
Chris Llewellyn has become the seventh player to have joined Grimsby Town on a 'permanent' transfer before Mike Newell arrived and left since. Unlike Martin Butler, Richard Hope, Peter Till, Tom Newey, Phil Barnes and Gary Montgomery, however, it seems that the Mariners' forward-looking young manager wanted to keep hold of him. Llewellyn's slow start to life in a Town shirt seemed to some to typify the inadequacies of the squad Alan Buckley built last summer, but his emergence in the latter part of the season as at least a useful squad player belatedly showed what Mr Re-Newell's predecessor was thinking. One year into his two-year contract, though, the player has left to join Neath of the Welsh Premier League: a move seemingly connected to personal issues and a need to get nearer his family. "Chris is a good lad and one of the best pros I have ever worked with. But he had some issues that he needed to sort out and felt it was better to be nearer home in Wales," the manager tells the Telegraph, prompting curious comments from some supporters about what a good decision Newell has made to get rid.
Chester City have entered administration. The Diary isn't really sure what this has to do with the Mariners, but I'm mentioning it anyway from the force of habit, after spending a fair proportion of my recent waking life obsessing over any detail, no matter how small, which might have tipped the balance of probabilities towards the Deviants slipping down to the Conference rather than the Mariners. Now, should we never speak of this again?
Finally today, let's raise a glass to "Pete, Clee", who has posted a comment on the Grimsby Telegraph website explaining what a great Town fan he is because he stopped supporting the club when Alan Buckley returned in 1997. Hats off to you, sir. As if this sort of dedication to the cause wouldn't be worthy enough of celebration in its own right, Pete, Clee has conjured a truly unique piece of punditry and insight in his observation that "You will say he got us to wembley, true but whats to say another mananger wouldn't of done the same." What indeed, Pete, Clee. What indeed. Surely this proud club would never slump into the doldrums if only Grimsby had thousands more like you.
Friday 15 May
Did you know that John McDermott had said Ryan Bennett ought to leave Grimsby Town this summer? No. Did Ryan Bennett know that John McDermott had said he ought to leave Grimsby Town this summer? Probably not. He does now, though, thanks to John Fenty (Con), who can never resist giving publicity to a bad news story that nobody even knew about in the first place. The voice-iferous Mariners chairman has gone and told the club's superb new official website that he is "really puzzled by John McDermott's intervention", which the Diary was been unable to find any report of during five minutes of really intensive Googling. However puzzled Fenty might be by John McDermott's invention, it isn't half as much as the Diary is puzzled by John Fenty's intervention. One surgical brace, please, to keep the chairman's foot out of his mouth.
Elsewhere in the football world it's business as usual the rich are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer; fans on messageboards are playing a deeply Freudian game of 'my support is bigger than your support'; and Glasgow Rangers defenders are being hospitalised by exploding poached eggs. The Diary is not one of those Town fans who believes cheaper tickets would really benefit the club or even attract many more supporters in the medium to long term, but one thing Mr Fenty could usefully talk about today would be the position regarding season ticket prices if Town have only 22 home games in the league next season instead of 23. Is this possible? Yes. The Football League has announced that if troubled Darlington go out of business before 23 May then Chester will take their place next season, but if the Quakers stagger on beyond that date only to go bust afterwards, then the fourth division will comprise only 23 teams instead of 24 next season. An odd decision, and one that would cost all the clubs tens of thousands of pounds each in lost gate receipts at a time when as the travails of Darlington and many others show all too clearly they can very least afford it.
"Very sorry to see Taylor go," writes Phil Watson to the Diary." The few times I saw him in a not very good GTFC team in the '07-08 season he was clearly the best player in black and white on the pitch. If he'd been given the number of chances e.g. Bore has been given he would have had a pretty good chance of establishing himself as a first teamer. I hope he finds another club." Comparing the relatively short shrift given to Taylor with the patience extended to Straight Peter Bore makes a very good point, Phil; thanks for your email. One can only wonder how long Mr Re-Newell might spend on this project before drawing the same conclusions as every other manager who's worked with SPB and whether Bore might ultimately find himself offered the same chance as Taylor to settle up and look for another club before the end of his very generous new contract.
Thursday 14 May
Andy Taylor has been told he can leave Grimsby Town Football Club. The 20-year-old Grimsby-born striker is a product of the club's youth system and has been on professional terms for two or three years but, despite a few games, a handful of goals, and some flashes of promise here and there, has not established himself in the first team set-up and may depart this summer, with a year still to run on his contract. It seems a shame in many ways, as Taylor has a good turn of pace and, when he gets through on goal, seems a decent finisher too but perhaps lacks the physique necessary to reach goalscoring positions often enough in the fourth division. Oddly enough, he'd probably have fared much better in one of Buckley's teams of yore, two steps higher up the league. Taylor has worked hard and seems to have been a good pro, but was cruelly thwarted by something he couldn't do much about in contrast, some might say, to certain of his peers. So good luck, Andy. Danny North's sighs of relief, meanwhile, are reported to have been audible from Scandinavia.
Nathan Cook is a 17-year-old central midfielder with Scarborough Town FC and Scarborough Academy. He is the son of former Scarborough FC, Darlington, Blackpool and Hartlepool defender Mitch Cook. His favourite player is Paul Scholes. His favourite drink is cola and his favourite food is Indian. He has a friend called Poppy who posts scandalous things about him on his Bebo page. And after a couple of trial-type appearances for the Myspace Mariners recently he will be joining up with Town again for pre-season training at the end of June. "He has come on leaps and bounds this season at both the Academy and Town. This will now be a great chance for him," is the enthusiastic quote in the Scarborough Evening News from the aforementioned dad Mitch, who has coached his lad at the two Scarborough clubs. So good luck, Nathan. If anyone's looking for an amusing finale to this paragraph you're going to be sorely disappointed, because there isn't one.
Mike Newell, meanwhile, has backed up John Fenty on the issue of Ryan Bennett's immediate future. Fenty, you will doubtless recall, was forced to speak up yesterday after Peterborough's director of football Barry Fry went gobbing off to the media about his knock-back over Bennett, and the Town manager has reiterated the chairman's 'he ain't going nowhere' theme, adding a few delightful Newellian flourishes. "We won't stand in his way when the time is right but that time isn't now," is the top and bottom of it. Our Mike overcomes his well-known love of agents, furthermore, to make a point about the random bloodsuckers purporting to represent Bennett to Posh. "He wont be swayed by the people who are trying to influence him at the moment. Some of them wouldn't know one end of the pitch from the other and are only interested in one thing," growls Newell, presumably not referring to nookie.
Lastly today and lastly from your regular Diary this week before a guest diarist hopefully appears here tomorrow there's terrible news for Lincoln City, and we're not just talking Dany N'Guessan turning down a new contract so he can sign for Leicester instead. Still smarting after their promotion challenge started to crash and burn just as Tom Newey arrived on loan, Rochdale have included the former Town left-back among ten players who won't be given new contracts at Spotland leaving the way clear for Newey to join up with his friends at Lincoln. Shame. N'Guessan would have been just the man to add a touch of class to the Imps' gritty 200910 relegation battle.
Wednesday 13 May
Agents you can't live with them, you can't live with them. That's the gut instinct of most football fans and the agents, it has to be said, do very little to disabuse them of this notion. What has all this to do with our beloved Mariners? Peterborough United's director of football Barry Fry has been asking John Fenty (Con) about the contractual situation of player of the season Ryan Bennett, having apparently been told by several agents that the Town captain was available for transfer. As any fool knows except, it would seem, the agents Bennett is contracted to GTFC for another two years under an option in his existing contract, so Town's chairman explained to Mr Fry that the player was not, in fact, available for transfer. What happened next? "Barry then said, well that's alright John, if that's the situation then so bit it." Ouch! Oh, and then Barry told Radio Humberside all about it; the Grimsby messageboards cranked out the 'how much money should Town accept for Bennett when the offers start?' threads for the 914th time in the last two years; and agents looking for new business continued to approach clubs and offer players who aren't even on the agents' books, so that they could then go to the players and say "hey, kid, sign up with us and we'll get you that move to Peterborough that you've always dreamed of". Someone remind me again why we support football.
Scared shitless that Town's dwindling band of season ticket holders will see their arse about the recent big discounts offered to fans who pick and choose their games, the club has announced that season ticket prices will stay the same as last year and emphasised that those fiver/tenner tickets of recent weeks are an offer not to be repeated. Incidentally, speaking of season tickets, if any Diary reader knows of a senior English club that puts its season tickets on sale later than the Mariners, I would love to hear about it. Readers who live outside Grimsby when in the year do your local Football League or Premier League clubs start selling their season tickets? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us.
Elsewhere in the world of Grimsby the Grimsby Telegraph, to be precise John Fenty (Con) claims that he could tell as early as last pre-season that the signs weren't good for the campaign coming up. "The new additions weren't going to fit in as Alan Buckley had hoped and soon into the season it was clear our biggest fears were coming to the forefront," says the chairman, trying to use the phrase 'coming to the fore' and getting it slightly wrong. "That's not because Alan wasn't a good manager because nobody can argue he's an excellent manager," he continues, this time saying the exact opposite of what he wants to say, which is 'nobody can argue that he's not an excellent manager' or 'nobody can argue against the notion that he's an excellent manager'. The real thing is, though, that JF(C) kept telling us at the time that everything was fine, and continued to insist that Lord Buckley was the right dude for the gig until approximately 3.7 seconds before sacking him. I know a chairman can't really come out and say: "Shit! We're completely buggered!" without fatally undermining his manager, but it sort of begs the question, when Tory John pronounces on footballing matters, of whether we can really set any storefront by it.
Tuesday 12 May
His presence in Rochdale's building 'coincided' with the club's worst run of form by far all season, and the club's dreams of escaping the fourth division at last now lie in tatters on the soggy Spotland turf. What better moment, then, for Tom Newey to follow Phil Barnes' suit and try to paint himself as the innocent party in the pages of the Grimsby Telegraph? In not just one but two features in the local rag, though, the outgoing GTFC left-back goes a step further than Barnes and hits out at the supporters who have paid his wages for the past four years. Like Barnes before him, Newey doth protest too much his perplexity as to why Mike Newell ordered them out of the building a couple of months before the end of the season. Bust-up? What bust-up? Who said anything about a bust-up? "I believe the three of us were made scapegoats possibly to detract attention away from the team's poor form," pleads the wayward defender. "It was made to look like it was all our fault." Yes, Tom, it was but not so much by anything that anybody's said; more by the fact that Town suddenly started being any good after you left. "To be labelled as bad apples after we left wasn't nice either," adds Newey, clearly referring to Town fans, as nobody from the club said any such thing. Still, at least now we all know where we stand in Newey's case, five or ten yards too far from the other team's right winger to stop him getting a cross in.
The Football League has published shiny, happy attendance statistics for 200809: crowds are up again, by a further 1 per cent on last season, with support in the second, third and fourth divisions continuing at a 50-year high. The Grimsby Telegraph points out, though, that until those cheap ticket offers saved our ass Town were averaging just 3,793 this time around: only in the desperate 198788 season has Blundell Park been emptier than that since we last saw top division football in 1948. The league's own headline announcement manages to gloss over the fact that the crowds in the basement were 4 per cent lower this season than a year earlier (credit to the Telewag for picking that up), perhaps out of shame at its decision to give the lion's share of Birmingham's unclaimed parachute payment to clubs like Sheffield Wednesday and QPR, because they clearly need it more than anyone.
Just in case you didn't see that a few days ago, Birmingham's immediate return to the Greed League means the £11.2million second instalment of their elite hegemony fund sorry, parachute payment will instead be split among the Football League's 72 clubs next season. And with the Football League lamenting the unequal distribution of wealth caused by the Premier League, they'll share it out equally, right? Wrong. Second division clubs are getting £400,000 each out of it, while those in the third get £50,000 and the likes of Grimsby just £30,000. That's what 'real football for real fans' means when there's a failed Tory politician in charge.
Monday 11 May
Farewell, then, Stuart Watkisses. Deemed by many Town fans to be incapable of doing his job, on the basis of little more than a mumbly Black Country accent and his presence at Kidderminster when financial reality bit, the erstwhile assistant manager to Graham Rodgers, Alan Buckleys and Mike Newells was told over the weekend that his expired contract at Blundell Park won't be renewed. As widely expected, Brian Stein takes the assistant position: "There isn't a club at this level that operates with two assistant managers," points out John Fenty (Con) in Town's official statement. In fairness to Watkisses's detractors, his spell as caretaker manager during last season's interregnum did little to persuade anyone that he deserved the job permanently (Tomi Ameobi, anyone? No, thought not), but he seems well thought of by the players and the chairman's goodbye is warmer than mere protocol would demand. Good luck, Disco Stu. The Diary will always remember with hilarity the work of one internet nesbit last autumn, who insisted repeatedly after the sacking of Lord Buckley that Watkisses' accession to the manager's hotseat was a done deal using the phrase 'cheap option' approximately 849 times in all and finally accounted for his error, when Newell was appointed, by explaining that he alone had changed Fenty's mind with all these well-reasoned posts in the comments section of the Grimsby Telegraph website.
Busting the mould? Very much commissioned? The aforementioned John Fenty (Con) is nothing is not the most voice-iferous of Town chairmen, and today the triumphant Tory can be found in the pages of the Telewag explaining the financial context of his bid to get Barry Conlon into the building. In an interesting aside, JF(C) puts some figures on the unsuccessful recruitment campaign of January 2006, which saw Russell Slade's GTFC side plunge from top of the table to fourth and an abject surrender to Cheltenham Town in the play-off final at a cost, it turns out, of £7,000 per week for the five players involved. The club must clearly be careful with Conlon, given his previous club Bradford's penchant for paying players well beyond their means in a gamble on their league form which never pays off. There was a very good reason why Peter Furneaux waved away all those exhortations to sign Benito Carbone in 2001, you know.
So, an excellent weekend for former Mariners in the fourth division play-off semi-finals. A penalty miss by Phil Jevons sealed defeat for fourth-placed Bury at the hands of seventh-placed Shrewsbury, while the Newey Effect reached its inevitable conclusion at Rochdale, whose faltering bid for promotion from the fourth division for the first time since the reign of Ethelred the Unready ended at the hands of Gillingham after a horrendous plunge to match Town's in 2006. Just for the record, then, poor unsuspecting Dale were placed second in the table when Tom Newey joined and won just once in the ten games they played afterwards, taking six points from a possible 24, and could easily have fallen out of the play-off places altogether had their two key rivals not been paired together on the final day. Look out, Lincoln you're next!
Friday 8 May
Bloody rain. While it's miserable outside, there's sunshine trying to break through the clouds: Joe Widdowson is all up for upping sticks from the bright lights of that London for a daily glance at the Dock Tower building and boogeying nights away at that Flares building in Meggies. The only hurdle is clarifying the situation with his current club West Ham. But the lad's keen, and when was the last time you heard a player, any player, so enthusiastic about wanting to join Grimsby, let alone such a bloody good one? Answers in an email, unless your name is 'Kris'.
News on the other loanees' situation can also be summarised in a weather forecast fashion: Peter Sweeney (overcast), Adrian Forbes (brightening), and Barry Conlon (down to his kegs it's that hot). Sounds like a matter of sums for two out of three, but if the club needs help convincing Sweeney, a player who certainly adds glue and groove to the Town side, Idle Diary has a bit of spare time on his hands these days, and would gladly take a break from trying to give his lawn that two-tone effect loved by award winning groundsmen.
Which, with bugger all else news, leaves me time to prepare for cheering on Scunny against the Evil Franchise tonight. Ciao.
Thursday 7 May
"Is Forbes in MN's plans?" asks the headline bit on a Mariners World interview with Adrian Forbes today. The on-loan striker, speaking after last Saturday's warm-down against Macclesfield, speaks very warmly of his time with Town "It's been enjoyable; the fans have been superb; the management and the lads have been brilliant" and, like Joe Widdowson yesterday, expresses a hope that he can leave his London club and sign up for the Great Cleethorpes Re-Newell ("It's something I'd love to be part of"). But is Forbes in MN's plans? We still don't know after watching the interview, so that headline was just a little bit cheeky. It's a bit like the amazing piece that appeared on the Sun's website the other week headlined "Google gets its knuckles rapped", which turns out to be about Google not getting its knuckles rapped at all. Phew, wot a scorcha!
The Grimsby Telegraph, very similarly, has made an early start on its annual summertime barrel-scraping festival, with a completely pointless piece about Paul Groves not being in the running for the manager's job at Burton Albion, 'despite' somebody on a messageboard being bored the other day and making up something to the contrary just to stimulate some new posts. Nigel Clough, incidentally, is understood not to be in the running for the Town job when Mike Newell gets poached by Tranmere or someone like that in a couple of years' time.
Joe Widdowson has been a great lad to have around the building, said John Fenty (Con) in an interview recently, where he used the phrase 'the building' a number of times to mean Grimsby Town Football Club. By the same token, Wayne 'Elvis' Henderson has left the building, and Tom Newey has been a great lad to have ejected from the building. Diary reader and university student Tom Carpenter has emailed with some further thoughts. "As well as finals revision, I have been pondering the use of the word 'building' in all statements coming out of GTFC recently," he says. "As it seems to have emerged about the time the Fentydome was put on ice (Diaries passim), is it possible that it reflects a long-awaited embrace of BP as a feature of the club's future?" If only, Tom, if only. Our Tory chairman alluded in the same interview to the possibility of a new way forward for his Great Coates folly without the need for the mythical 'anchor tenant' at the associated retail bit. Despite the harsh lessons currently being learned at Darlington and Southampton, it seems this unnecessary building could still be built after all.
Wednesday 6 May
He's pacy and keen. He's young and talented. Best of all, he isn't Tom Newey. And if he gets his way, he'll be turning out in the number 3 shirt for the Town again next season. Yep Cockney Joe Widdowson has been on that Mariners World today telling subscribers how much he's enjoyed his time at Blundell Park "It's been a great experience for me. I've loved it" and what his next move is: "I'm gonna go back [to West Ham] next week and find out what's happening. I don't think I'll be there next season... hopefully I'll be back here next season full time, which would be great." With GTFC boss Mr Michael Re-Newell having already expressed a wish to keep CJW on the books, then, we could at last be about to see an end to Town's epic struggle to find a left-back after Gary Croft departed for Blackburn Rovers 13 years ago. And it hasn't been easy. Even Gary Croft couldn't do it when he came back in 2005.
What about Joe's fellow loanee Peter Sweeney? Fortunately for the future of the human race, Diary reader Chris Lyons watched the Leeds midfielder's turn on Mariners World earlier this week so we don't have to. "I did take five minutes out of my life, having nothing better to do to fill up my time, and watched the masterful video experience of the Peter Sweeney interview," confirms Chris. "Mr Sweeney said (at least twice) that he fitted in at the Town 'building' really well and that within two days of arriving felt like he had been at the club for two months. He stated that if Leeds could not offer him first team football next season then he would definitely move on, and intimated that in that case Grimsby could see him back. Was he just being polite, I wonder?" Hmmm. The Diary had been supporting Scunthorpe in the third division play-offs, of course, but promotion for Leeds would seem a certain fillip for Town's chances of keeping The Sweeney. Leeds. Bless. I've always had a soft spot for them... no, really... wait, come back!
Tuesday 5 May
To the legendary monikers of Tommy Taylor, Jermaine Palmer and John Lukic jr can be added the hallowed name of Mickaλl Buscher, for Town's unseen attacking force has (as John Fenty (Con) might put it) left the building. One of Mike Newell's first signings for the Mariners last November, Buscher represents arguably the manager's only unsuccessful dip into the transfer market to date, having agreed an end to his contract a month three and a half weeks early without ever having troubled the Mariners' teamsheet. Latterly, indeed, the player was often also overlooked by Stuart Watkiss (remember him?) in the reserves. As Mr Re-Newell says, sometimes you take a chance on players like Buscher and sometimes it doesn't pay off. It was just that, when Russell 'Sort It' Slade brought the mysterious likes of Taylor and Palmer to the club not to mention Glen Downey, Terry Barwick and Clint Marcelle it was nearly all the time that it didn't pay off.
Count yourself lucky, in any case, that Town's pragmatic manager did not bring a rather better known player to the club this season in the grossly distended form of Robbie Fowler. After a crazy week or two of mid-season speculation which all seems slightly dreamlike now, the club announced that its informal discussions with the well-nourished former England forward had come to nowt, and Fowler would continue his career without knowing the joys of Blundell Park. Shrugging his flabby shoulders in between snoozing on his Berkshire-sized personal fortune, the player then followed in Graham Hockless' awesome footsteps by joining an Australian side called North Queensland Fury. And, indeed, fury seems to be growing among the club's supporters, who are increasingly wondering why their ticket money is further enriching an expensive import who shows no signs of getting himself down to fighting weight in time for the start of the Aussie season. "Just how good he still is will depend on what service we give him. Of course, there will be high expectations of him to do well for North Queensland. You are only as good as the service you get," said the already worried Fury manager Ian Ferguson. Good call, Newell.
There's a Mariners World video up called 'Sweeney Will He Return?' Which sounds quite interesting on the face of it, doesn't it, Peter Sweeney having been dead good and everything on his recent loan from Leeds. The Diary suspects, however, that if the video could offer a definitive answer to this question then we would have learned about it already somewhere else. So I can't be arsed to watch it. Please do write in if you can, and I'm wrong.
Diary reader Malcolm Carson has emailed in response to our item here last week about the sophisticated Off The Post blog, which we simple fishy folk thought was dissing Sir John McDermott until the editor Rob Parker very patiently explained to us that "we deal in humour, irony and satire". What say you, Malcolm? "Like you, I had taken Rob Parker's words at their face value, thereby reminding us that irony can be a very dangerous weapon for the wielder when in the hands of the less astute. Reminiscent, this, of Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' in which, as all your readers will recall, he suggests that a reasonable and economically sound way to reduce Irish poverty is to eat the babies and young children of the Irish poor thereby providing them with revenue and taking the burden off their shoulders. His suggestion included appetising recipes such as boiling or a tasty fricassee. Sadly, some took him at his word and believed the proposal to be eminently sensible. So even the greatest writers can lay themselves open to misinterpretation. Some comfort here for Rob Parker perhaps?" Excellent point, Malcolm, and an excellent example. Off The Post was clearly right all along in claiming to be "the best football blog on the planet". Does anyone still say 'dissing', by the way?
Last up today, it's Jon Spurr, who has emailed to ask: "Is there any chance of getting a mention in Tuesdays or Wednesday's Diary please for the fans' team who are taking on the Lincoln fans' team in the return leg of the charity match which is raising money for the two trusts and two local children's hospitals? Here's a link to the Telegraph article please note they did fuck the date of the event up it is Wednesday, doors open 6pm, kick off 7:30pm, £2 entry." Consider it done, Jon, because it is. And all the best with that the cause is good and anything that makes people think again about all the 'local rivalry' nonsense in football is just fine by is. Speaking of Town's neighbouring teams, I take it all right-thinking readers will join the Diary in wishing Scunthorpe well as they prepare to face Bastard Franchise Scum in the third division play-offs. C'mon you Irons!
Monday 4 May
"Everyone needs a break after the last nine months or so. That includes the supporters, who must be at their wits' end. A few months respite won't do them any harm." It's good to know that Mr Mike Re-Newell understands how we feel, but perhaps the most notable element of the Town manager's words to the media at the weekend was his assertion that keeping the club in the Football League was as big an achievement as any in his managerial career so far. This is a manager, of course, who achieved promotions with Hartlepool and Luton, and he's probably right. Onwards and upwards, eh?
What else do you know? Four Myspace Mariners at the end of their apprenticeships will graduate to Facebook after being awarded short-term pro contracts, the surprises being that two of them are goalkeepers (Leigh Overton and Ed Eley) and none of them are Danny Freeman. Booo Woodses booo, etc etc and so on. Midfield duo Drew Rhoades and Jamie Steel complete the quartet. Josh Fuller, who made a jolly nice debut against Macclesfield the other day, still has another year to go in the youth team, in case you were wondering. You weren't? Why are you here on a bank holiday then?
Lastly today, congratulations to Mike Phillips, whose fantastic work on the Blundell Park playing surface has won him the fourth division Groundman of the Year award again. The Diary has just finished potting some tomato plants and they'll probably all keel over dead within a week, so I know all about how hard these things are. There'd be a great chance here for a lame pun about roots and growth and the youth team and Re-Newell, if the Diary weren't in such a desperate hurry to finish up so I can get down to the pub. See you tomorrow!