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Diary - November 2009
Monday 30 November
In a shock move today's Guest Diarist can reveal that 'sources close to chairman Fenty' have revealed that he has contemplated lobbying the Football League to increase the size of the fourth division by not relegating anyone this season. The justification appears to be that the extra four games per season will allow Grimsby Town to rotate their enormous striker squad enough times so that everyone gets a fair chance to prove how lazy or profligate or useless or hungover they really are. Matters seem to have to come to a head after Town forwards stopped getting sent off every other game and also started to recover from injury. This has led to a very large surplus of underachieving forwards in the building. Industry observers believe the chances of success (which would lead to a useful by-product that would keep Town in the league for at least one more season) are similar to the Irish being awarded the chance to play at the World Cup finals because of one little handball. Something our celtic cousins have asked FIFA for over the weekend apparently. Let us play Mr Blatter: go on let us. Go on go on go on...
Twenty-three first team games without a goal. No, not Town (although we are heading in that direction): that's Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. It's a long drought for a striker we all tried to believe in when he arrived. We used words like raw, fast and exciting a man who would do the unexpected and rattle defences. Maybe he has discovered the joy of English suet sponge pudding and le custard. Maybe the fish and chips got to him perhaps he just needs a big beery blow-out and a kebab, as a couple of his strike partners have suggested.
But anyway, Proudlock is back. And from what I'm told he acted the part of a professional football striker quite convincingly in his brief cameo on Saturday. It's time that Town started to convert at least some of the chances they create. If they had done so then three points were there for the taking against an equally profligate Macclesfield team on Saturday. And Proudlock has told the Telegraph all the things we want to hear; about how we are bound to pick up now and how if the team create chances he will stick them away. He says he will play in the reserve game against Scunny in midweek and then will be raring to go on Saturday. Just keep your mouth shut, Adam, and stay in the referees' good books. We need you more than our other nine forwards, I think.
It was a shame, many fans felt, when Jamie Clarke came on as sub at Macclesfield and not our newest potential midfield saviour recruit, Mr Mark Hudson. But still I'm sure there were reasons, and it does enable us to keep that delicious frisson of hope going for a few days longer. That he might bestride our midfield like Colossus and engender such enthusiasm and hard work and joie de vivre among his teammates that we suddenly stop being totally shit and, well, improve a bit. Even score a goal from open play. Now when did we last do that? See yer.
Friday 27 November
Adrian Forbes, Adam Proudlock, Chris Jones, Michael Coulson, Barry Fucking Conlon, Danny North, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Josh Magennis. Have I forgotten anyone? Has Straight Peter Bore played as an out-and-out striker this season? Did The Jarman go up front as well during his three minutes between broken feet? The reason the Diary is pondering the frankly ludicrous number of forwards fielded by the Mariners already this season is that, in what looks like a frankly ludicrous transfer, yet another one has just arrived. Ben Wright is the name you will struggle to remember during a pub conversation next summer; 21 years old, he has signed on loan from O'Peterborough United, who he joined in January of this year from Hampton & Richmond, where he oh, just look on Wikipedia, eh? Good luck, then, to Ben, whose arrival begs three key questions. Will he play more than about 40 minutes before we send him back and forget he ever existed? What's the record for the most strikers used by one team in a single season? And what's the point in signing that many strikers when the rest of the team is unable or unwilling to get the ball to them anyway?
In what looks like a very sensible transfer indeed, meanwhile in what could actually turn out to be the best acquisition Town make all season, perhaps Neil Woodses looks set to complete the long and drawn-out signing of Mark Hudson, the former Rotherham, Chesterfield and Huddersfield midfielder who has rather strangely appeared this season for Blackpool in the second division and Gainsborough Trinity in the Conference North. After the interminable procession of no-impact loan signings who have stopped off for a quick cup of tea at Blundell Park in recent months, it is genuinely encouraging to at last see a GTFC manager address the shortcomings in the one area of the pitch above all others where the side has been weakest (although God knows the centre of midfield has had some serious competition for that title).
So what's the deal with Hudson? The player seems ready to join until "at least the end of Season 2009/ 2010", says Town's superb new official website, applying an initial capital letter to the word 'season' for absolutely no reason at all, just in time for the transfer to be blocked by FIFA as exceeding the maximum number of clubs a player is permitted to represent during a single transfer period.
Guest Diary has moved to Mondays, by the way. You don't mind, do you?
Good news as Town prepare for tomorrow's could-really-quite-do-with-winning trip to Macclesfield (read Cod Almighty's match preview here): the opposition manager appears to believe we are any good. After his team's game against Accrington was postponed on Tuesday, Silkmen boss and much-loved former Mariners striker Keith Alexander (what we wouldn't give for his like in the side now!) decided to check out the Mariners in their shameful shambles of a non-performance at home to Bradford, and came away with a very different impression from that received by the other fourteen spectators. "I watched the first hour or so and was quite impressed by Grimsby," Alexander says with no apparent trace of irony. "I had a good look at their shape and the way they play and we know it will be a difficult game." Two interpretations are possible: Macclesfield have somehow found a way to be even worse than Town this season, or Big Keef is unaware that he ended up watching Juventus instead after taking a wrong turn halfway along the M62.
The last word before the Mariners' sigh-inducing 3-0 defeat at Moss Rose tomorrow goes to Martyn Wyburn, who has emailed to say: "Surely the Diary can come up with a better nickname for Neil Woods than 'Woodses'. I know it's a bit of a mouthful but how about 'Out of the' Woods or even 'Can't see the' Woods?" Well, 'Woodses' is a necessary homage to Town fans' unique practice of adding an 's' to the names of some players, on a basis as random and arbitrary as the way we decide some assistant managers are the abject servants of Beelzebub, a la Bobby 'Cummings' Cumming, Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger and Joe 'Waters' Water. Oh, wait. "By the way," continues Martyn, "will Cod Almighty be making some nice Neil Woods dusters rather than T-shirts? That's how my Mike Newell shirt's going to end up!" One week later getting the Newell shirt to market, Martyn, and Cod Almighty Towers would have been repossessed, leaving us destitute and starving and forced to eat those dusters. Quite fitting really, what with Town eating the fourth division's dust.
Thursday 26 November
The performances of Jammal Shahin and Bradley Wood in recent months have shown that it's not all bad at Grimsby Town Football Club. If you're a young player just coming through, it seems, then it will take you at least a year before you pick up the habits of your more established teammates and stop giving a gibbon's hairy arsehole whether you win or lose. In the meantime, as the supporters who pay your wages are entitled to expect, you'll actually try hard and play the game as well as you can. It follows, then, that the further away from the first team a player is, the less he has been exposed to the culture of shrugging incompetence which pervades the very fabric of the club, and the better he will play.
This new theory from the Diary is supported strongly by the latest result for Town's under-10s, who apparently beat Mansfield 12-0, er, sometime recently, we dunno, it doesn't say. One area where this team fails to deliver, relative to the Mariners' other age groups, is that of cringe-inducing surnames used as forenames in the team, with only a Reece York and a Keelan Taylor to keep us entertained, but their form on the pitch will suggest to all right-thinking fans that Neil Woodses must immediately start fielding the under-10s in Town's first-team fixtures, and send out the likes of Leary and Conlon to pick up vital experience on loan at a selection of North East Lincolnshire primary schools.
On the other hand, the reserves lost 4-1 last night, but then again it was against Middlesbrough reserves, who are probably quite a bit better than Bradford, so Town's second string could likely do a better job than the first team at the moment as well, except perhaps the part that contains notorious Grimsby hardman Danny Boshell, who at least managed not to get himself sent off. The Mariners' goal was scored by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, which is not a phrase you hear every day, and if you want to know more the Diary recommends an excellent report on Boro's official website which contains far more information about even Town's substitutions than the rather less comprehensive account to be found on Town's.
In summary, then, when Neil Woodses says: "In a lot of ways I hope to transfer the spirit we created in the youth team to the first team," the Diary's advice to the manager would be that the easiest and most effective way to do that would be simply to transfer the players.
Alan Richardson has emailed the Diary on the subject of the Football League Supporters Survey, which we looked at yesterday. He writes: "At least the Football League is making a bit of an effort to find out what football supporters think. Has GTFC ever taken the time to ask us what we think? (Clearly that question doesn't need answering.) Anyone with a little common sense, some basic computer skills (I know that counts out GTFC employees) and access to the internet could find out stacks of things about the supporters, and possible supporters, of Grimsby Town that might actually help people care a bit more. Mike Newell was right on one thing apathy around the whole club. How many of the Diary readers would like to do a job swap for a month with whoever runs the commercial/PR dept at Blundell Park? They could then see what happens in the real world where, when you treat your customers like morons, they take their business elsewhere. So if anyone from the club reads this, please think about taking the time to ask us what we think. We don't want the moon on a stick; just do the basics please."
An excellent idea from Alan there. The Diary, in fact, was inspired to suggest it directly to GTFC, but when I went to the club's customer charter, where I found the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, I remembered discovering that the club doesn't actually check the inbox for that email address, and that it is effectively defunct. I discovered it, in fact, in July 2005. How strange that a defunct email address is still being publicised by the club more than four years later. If only there were some way of letting them know.
Lastly today, let us take refuge from the idiots of the present by considering the freaks of the past. That time is fast approaching when nominations will close for Cod Almighty's November team of the month, and this month the theme is interesting physical phenomena. If you'd like to nominate Town players of the past who were exceptionally fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, mulleted, or otherwise physically distinguished, please do so now!
Wednesday 25 November
Today's turn at Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest falls to Barry Fucking Conlon! Less than four weeks ago the popular Irish frontman scored a 95th-minute equaliser at home to Accrington Stanley and told the Telegraph: "It felt like a win", "I think we deserved a point" and "Hopefully we can build on that now", only for the team to score one goal in their next five games, fail to win any of them, and crash out of the FA Cup to Bath City. And today Conlon is back with more heart-warming reassurances that the players really care and aren't really laughing contemptuously at the fans who pay their wages as they turn their backs on the pitch and shrug after another abject failure to perform or compete in any meaningful way. After last night's 3-0 shite-out against an average-looking Bradford side who could have played on until Christmas without conceding a goal, the charismatic striker astonishingly told the Telegraph: "We have to get our heads down, and get it sorted", "we need to go and get some results" and "hopefully I can get more starts over the next few weeks and we can pick up some results". Just like last time, eh, Baz.
So despite failing to win any of his six matches as caretaker manager, Neil Woods appeared to have secured the post permanently on the strength of back-to-back clean sheets and an improved performance at Lincoln last weekend. Last night, for Woods' first game since getting the job, normal service was resumed. If there were any justice in the world, Michael Leary would never pull on a black and white shirt again and Fucking Conlon's future would be hanging by a thread, but of course this is Grimsby Town, where failure is met with a shrug and ongoing job security, whether you're shit at playing football and you don't care or you're shit at running a website and you don't care. The headline of a short piece in the Macclesfield Express about Town's meeting with the Silkmen this Saturday is "Mariners will be eager to please new boss". Yeah, sure they will.
Still, at least the Football League Supporters Survey gives Town fans a chance to state their views and perhaps even voice their frustrations! to the movers and shakers of the game. Let's take a look at the treatment of the survey on the Mariners' superb new official website, shall we? "To take part in The Football League Supporters Survey 2010 click here," reads the fifth paragraph. And at this point Grimsby Town Football Club show precisely how much they care about the views of supporters, because whoever is responsible for the content of the superb new official website and whose wages are paid from the money the supporters put into the club when we buy our tickets couldn't be bothered to justify those wages and do their job properly by making "click here" into a link, so that when you click there, to express your views as a supporter, when you click the bit where it says "click here", nothing happens. Thanks for making clear exactly how much we matter to you, GTFC.
Fortunately, we can still have our say, as the link to the survey on the Football League's own site works perfectly well. The Diary urges all readers to take part, and take full advantage of the opportunity to have a say about the way our club (and perhaps also its superb new official website) is run.
Grant Normington is coming back from Frickley Athletic. Tom Corner has gone there on work experience to join Matthew Bird. Good luck to them all.
Among the Diary readers whose emails were rudely ignored by recent substitute diarists is Mark Wilson, who responded to one recent Diary's dietary revelations by asking: "Are 'game meatballs' meatballs made from game or as you try to eat them do they attempt to (a) seduce you or (b) offer to fight you? We demand to be told." Felix Oliver-Tasker, meanwhile, asked a few days ago: "Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps no one wants the job of managing Town? Would anyone of sound mind, sober, rational and be able to walk without his knuckles trailing on the ground actually want to be involved in the management of the company of has-beens, never-will-bes and never-wozzers that make up GTFC's first team squad? In addition there is Torquemada Fenty lurking in the background with itching fingers and a pocketful of matches waiting for the slightest hint of failure. We're doomed, doomed to the obscurity of the Conference and on our showing so far this season, let's face it lads, this is where we should be. God bless the good ship Cod Almighty." I don't know, Felix, such negativity. Tsk. Anyway, see you next year at Eastbourne Borough.
Tuesday 24 November
Through no fault of his own, Neil Woods will fail, just as Gary Brabin, Gerry Taggart, John McDermott, Russell Slade and Lee Richardson would all have failed. He may fail honourably; he may fail miserably; but he will fail. Why? Because, as you know, as the Diary knows, and as even John Fenty (Con) might suspect, a fundamental overhaul is needed of every aspect of Grimsby Town Football Club. The Mariners will continue to be mired in failure until the club shakes off the culture of contented incompetence that permeates every part of its activity, from the serially flawed executive decision-making to the daily embarrassment of the superb new official website to the laughable, couldn't-run-a-bath excuse for a ticket office. Among players, backroom staff and club shop alike, every aspect of their demeanour and attitude, everything about the way they do their jobs, screams: "We're shit and we don't care."
Good luck, then, to Woods: nothing would give the Diary greater pleasure than for him to prove me wrong, with the possible exception of a spot of energetic whoopee with Eliza Dushku. But how likely is a fundamental overhaul of every aspect of Grimsby Town Football Club under the current chairman and a manager who just a month ago didn't really know whether he wanted the job or not? In any other world, perhaps, Neil Woods' lack of ambition would have counted against him, but in the world of John Fenty (Con), Woods has been given the job precisely because he won't be able to get a job anywhere else. "After a raft of applications for the manager's post, the board of directors dismissed the journeyman and those that are likely to get itchy feet during the contract," explains the councillor. Why? Because "we are crying out for stability at the football club", apparently, stability being the watchword of the chairman who is now on his fifth 'permanent' manager in as many years. What exactly is a raft of applications, anyway?
So if Town will fail regardless of who the manager is, what sort of manager should we have appointed? The Diary has long since ceased to give a stuff about formations or signings or passing vs direct football or any of that, because it always ends up being shite either way. All the Diary wanted was a manager who would get the players out of their comfort zone, where they play shit, lose, and then shrug and laugh and go out and get trolleyed again. A manager who would make the players suffer, in fact. A manager who would make those worthless turds on the pitch wish they'd never been born just as their weekly failure to perform or compete in any meaningful way saps the will to go on living from the supporters who are paying nearly 20 quid a throw for the privilege. A manager, in short, who is a right bastard. Yes I wanted Russell Slade.
As always, though, the Diary will be as supportive as I can of the new boss (in the seven years or so since this page first appeared, you will not have heard a single call from me for the sacking of a manager) and do my best to judge everything on its merits. So while it is not at all encouraging to read Peter Sweeney saying the players welcome Woods' appointment, there may be positives to take. As my old Nan used to say, you should never believe anything you hear from strange men on internet messageboards, but the Diary couldn't help but notice one particular posting this morning claiming: "wot i heard on friday from one of the players is they dont like him because hes got them wokring 6 hours a day now instead of 3 hours". Now, once you've translated it into English, that sounds to me like a very good start indeed.
Monday 23 November
Sign up for our SMS text service and be the first to know who is Town's new manager wheedled the SNOS at the weekend. Well your Guest Diarist can report that BBC Radio Humberside are broadcasting on the hour, every hour, that the appointee will be Neil Woods. We'll be back after three to update you with what Chairman Fenty has to say for himself this time.
Well the quid a time or whatever text messages confirming the appointment of Mr Woods have started to appear folks. As to whether Mr Fenty has made the right appointment I defy anyone to be able to express a correct or objective view. Certainly the anti-Slade camp have been vociferous. And, nice chap and loyal former servant that he is, Macca surely needs experience. As for the other collection of applicants well rag, tag and fucking angry bobtail best describes them.
When Newell came there was universal approval. And when he left there was growing relief as his behaviour became increasingly erratic. Woods is a different kettle of fish entirely. There will be approving nods and talk of bravery. There will be others pointing to a lack of experience and a lack of wins in his caretaker spell. And those who will cynically talk about taking the cheap option. Me well I'd have to ask the shoeshine man. But in the meantime here's wishing Neil Woods and GTFC all the luck in the world and by god we need it. See yer.
Friday 20 November
Neil Woods has spent a lot of time over the past few years watching kids play football. Watching his interviews, it strikes your Guest Diarist how the softly spoken, mild-mannered Mr Woods would have made the best games teacher ever. And all those Saturday morning matches are pretty much the reason that Woods has taken both Coulson (see yesterday's Diary) and Nicky Featherstone on loan. Our caretaker has told everyone from Dale Ladson to Johnny the shoeshine man in Police Squad that he has watched the pair regularly ever since they were kids.
Featherstone, Woodses told the select few who are rich or daft enough to subscribe to Mariners Player, used to be a striker. The lad, he says, can play in the middle, on the right, or as a link-up man. I spent an idle hour yesterday reading reports of Hull reserve games and deduced that their (our) Nicky seemed to be quite an important player for Hull reserves. They missed him when he didn't play due to him having a go for the second first team in the League Cup. And Woods, who is as much of an enigma now as he was when he was a player, confided that little Nicky was a right handful of a player when he was about 14. Let's hope he still is when he's playing against those big rough types from Lincoln.
Lincoln are even money home favourites to beat Town tomorrow despite having as many players injured and suspended as we do. More even, probably. The Mariners are back to their average quota this season of one suspension (Atkinson) and the manager has said nobody is back from injury yet. One assumes that one (or possibly both) loanees will start, the 'possibly' part coming from the feeling that to start with both away from home is looking for trouble defensively. A Bore and Featherstone combo down our right-hand side might result in a torrent of pace and counterattacking trickery. But then again, when I think of Bore at Lincoln, the image of him sulking on the touchline, "disintegrating before our very eyes" (as CA match reporter Mr T Butcher put it) back in December 2006 never fails to torment me. Enough said?
That was the day we realised what we had in Justin Whittle. Will we ever see a heart like his in a Town shirt again? Somehow I don't think a side stuffed with loanees and squad players masquerading as first teamers will ever have the motivation or the sense to go to ask Johnny's advice or Justin's, for that matter. It's a big city, gentle reader; oh for Justin Whittle now. See yer.
Thursday 19 November
"Chester striker Michael Coulson opened the scoring, rifling an 18-yard drive into the top-left corner."
There. Taken at face value, your Guest Diarist delivers good news to Thursday's Diary of hope. Town have unexpectedly signed a former Scarborough wonder-kid on a month-long loan from Barnsley. That goal was only a couple of weeks ago but Chester have been unable to extend the lad's loan spell due to their utter skintness. So he has come to Town with a sad story of promising youth and horrible cruciatory knee injuries. Soccerbase says he is only five foot seven, while the hyperventilating hyperbole on the superb new official Town website claims he is five-ten and ten stone wet through. Danny North was not available for comment when I rang. The Town midfield live to cause us anguish for a while longer too, unencumbered by competition from anyone remotely capable of playing there.
You want more, gentle reader? It's no-news Thursday, you fool! The scrap of contemporaneity above is all you are going to get. But do not fill your time Googling Coulson on Soccerbase. You just don't want to know the bald statistic that the lad averages 0.17 goals per game do you? Although it rises to 0.33 for FA Cup matches. Shit we are out of every cup, aren't we?
So we are in career kick-starting country again folks. And the rumours will start ooh, Coulson was at Scarborough when that Slade(s) was. It's a sign! A Telegraph reader versed in the metric system has calculated that Coulson's BMI is a paltry 20.04. Paltry? That is in the middle of normal, I thought. Mine is over 30, I'm proud to report, due to a dietary regime of game meatballs, pasta and red wine.
We've had an email from Dave Tasker: "I have nothing to add to today's Diary comments on the new manager shortlist, which sums it up perfectly. I would, however, like to attract everyone's attention to Neil Woods' fantastic impersonation of Stan Laurel in the Sports Telegraph today. I hope he included this on his CV and highlighted this talent at his interview."
And word on the reserves from Pat Conway (are you the same one as used to do the Town programme, Pat?): "The youngsters against Sunderland reserves last night at Eppleton commendably got the ball down, passed and moved. Wood, Gray, and Moore were the pick and Overton looked assured. They were let down by Conlon and Akpa Apro who did not put themselves about saving themselves for Saturday presumably? Hope that's the case!"
Now I'm off to sort out my greenhouse smashed up in these winds. I'll be back tomorrow. See yer.
Wednesday 18 November
This Diary lark is tough sometimes, writes Mardy Diary. There's really nothing going on at the moment (apart from the interviews which we're not privy to). Everyone is just sat there in anticipation, trepidation, distress... whatever. Even the OS has only managed a short report on the reserves' loss at Sunderland (our OS: Evans played well; their OS: should have scored more, Overton good). That's it. That is your lot. There's a couple of is-it-the-weekend-yet Telewag articles, but frankly I can't be bothered to say more on them.
At least Stephen Vaughan has finally failed the fit and proper persons test even though we all know that he's been neither fit nor proper for a long time. How many other DIRTY FUCKING CRIMINALS are being allowed to run our football clubs by a limp FA that would fail a fit and proper test itself. Chester fans must now try to resurrect the remains of their club after years of mismanagement by the DIRTY THIEVING CRIMINAL BASTARD Stephen Vaughan, although the DODGY FUCKER will probably just run the club by proxy through one of his sons.
And the punchline is: he can still have 30% of the shares in the club. The FA sees no problem with this. Superb.
Tuesday 17 November
It's me again, Mardy Diary, a little bit less glum. I don't know why really I guess the further you get away from each miserable Saturday, the easier it becomes to forget about it and convince yourself that the next performance won't be utterly awful. Still a new manager by the end of the week, eh? New manager, yeah. Feeling excited? Pulse racing? Can't wait to find out? Nope, didn't think so.
So, given that the only real news today is that the club won't appeal against Rick Flair's sending off because of rubbish camera angles, I shall give you my own personal run down on the potential new managers.
Lee Richardson: Mphm
Gary Brabin: Uh-huh
Russell Slade: Hmmm
Neil Woods: Ah
John McDermott: Eh?
Gerry Taggart: Err
If any of our readers have any further insight they'd like to add, then just contact us on the usual bat channels. Cheers.
Monday 16 November
Does this Monday morning feel so bad? Saturday's Sixfields shindig was the stuff of no-one's legend as we march towards the Brave New World (mark 23). This is your Deviant Deja Vu Diary; that was a goalless, soulless draw. It's the same old story they get slandered, libelled, and hear words they never read in the bible. And they didn't even lose this time.
Quiz time! Which number will be Town's highest by the season's end: a) players used; b) points scratched; c) goals scored, or d) players sent off?
Last week the Dear Leader announced he knew who he wanted to go through the motions of interviewing before giving the job to the Sorting-it One. This week he's announced, perhaps during the imperial tour of his lands on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, that he knows who he is going to interview, sometime, soon, during this week, probably, if he hasn't got a horse to tow or some shrubs to prune, before announcing it was Russell Pupkin all along. It's a whole bunch of cheese and onion. Do I have to spell it out? Slade, Macca, Woods, Taggart, Brabin and Richardson. The loan window shuts a whole two days after Slade gets re-appointed.
"Crisis, what crisis?" one expects Sunny John to snip at Delightful Dale.
And in the parallel world of the Grimsby Town first team yet another almost signing is nearly officially announced. With Mark Hudson floating somewhere between Gainsborough and Grimsby (which satellite navigation technology insists is the tap room at the Hope Tavern in Holton-Le-Moor), an ex-Moan United cheeky chappie is exciting many. Who? Why it's Ludlow-born left-winger Sean Evans of Zamaretto League Stourbridge, of course. Sniff ye not madam. No, no and thrice no, listen... he's scored a bunch of goals already this season in fact only three fewer than the whole of Town's first team. Another week, another trialist; it's the same old story.
Quiz time! The astute and observant among you will have noticed that we have no match report yet, and it's all because: a) the lady loves Milk Tray; b) an injunction obtained in the High Court of That Justice by Adrian Forbes; c) terminal ennui, or d) illness. Ponder and wonder.
What else is there to say? Lincoln tickets still available.
One day Adrian Forbes will not be offside.
Friday 13 November
After two cup defeats in the last six days the Grimsby Town players are tired. Your Guest Diarist knows this because the careworn caretaker manager Mr Woods told me and the rest of the select few that are daft enough to pay to hear the prospects for Town in their away game at Northampton tomorrow.
Tired? We fans are tired too. And brave enough to admit we are dispirited. Too dispirited to even gossip about who will be appointed as manager. Does it really matter, we say. They all possess qualities, they all have weaknesses. They all can point to CV features that show they have been 'winners'. They all claim not to be quitters. They have all failed: either they have failed, or they want their first chance to be a manager the chance to fail.
The chairman signed a new director this week: the manager thing can wait, one assumes. Fenty, having rushed to knock on Alan Buckley's door without thinking through how long it would take for Lord Buckley to mould a winning team, and then having rushed to excitedly sign up Mr Newell without getting character references, is and should be chastened. So he is dithering this time unsure of what to look for, and bereft of professional advice.
The new director has also allowed himself to be interviewed on the subscription-only Mariners Player. His credentials appear twofold he is a lifelong fan, and he is prepared to loan the club the requisite money to get the kudos of being a director. More small-town seafood experience, more of the same lack of experience in running a professional football club. In the interview, Mike Parker comes across as a nice chap. He also appears detached from any decision-making going on at the club and gives no indication that he can offer anything apart from hometown business homily. Another puff or two of air into the punctured Town balloon, but no likelihood of a workmanlike repair to it.
So the Town squad were disappointing in training on Thursday Woods said so. And he weakly tried to imply that if they didn't perk up in today's session he'd have no hesitation in dropping them. Town's squad is bigger, I suppose, by virtue of no-one being suspended for a change. Those that were injured last week still are, and those who played at Leeds are not. Just tired. It is Danny North and Michael Leary's turn to mumble platitudes to the Telegraph. North made his debut three years ago at Northampton and brags that League clubs enquired about him when Newell made North available a few weeks ago. Well, bravo, Danny.
Leary thinks that he and Sweeney are all the world desires in a central midfield combo: Sweeney the flamenco dancer, and Leary a veritable toreador of a tackler. The truth of it is that Leary is shit scared of losing his place to a loanee, and that Sweeney, Sweeney with that sweet left foot, Sweeney doesn't need to give a shit: he's an artist.
It's harder than it's ever been to care about Town. Especially when you know that tomorrow the closing down and the physical side are going to be a world away from the space and time the lads got at Leeds. Can we get a point? It's doubtful, even against the out-of-form Cobblers. See yer.
Thursday 12 November
Stay away from the ball boys! The Tinytot Towners have flu-like symptoms after beating Rotherham. Surely it's shock at a Town team winning: pass the smelling salts from the left-hand side.
Now then, when was the Battle of Wonky Tie? It's nearly a month since the lovers' terrible tiff at closing time and the Dear Leader has finally gotten around to doing a sift of applicants. Behold the news! Chairman Jong-Fen-Ti has a shortlist of six people he wants to speak with. Behold the news! Mr Sort-It-Slade isn't on it: he doesn't need to interview him, he knows all about him.
This is Thursday. This is Grimsby. This is Deviant Diary.
And this is no way to select an employee. If Slade is your man, why go through this farrago, this fandango, this fugazi? Is it Mr Shoo-in-Slade or Mr Stewing Slade, the backstop candidate chosen eventually because he'll do?
The expected return of the Slade is filling many with inertia, or almost as much inertia as Town's midfield. Ah Russell Slade, the man who bored us to not being promoted, but with the added thrill of a 12-hour round trip to Cardiff. Russell Slade, the man who succeeds in getting employment contracts for himself. Russell Slade, the man who thought Junior Mendes and Ben Futcher were the icing on his cake. It's pronounced cackckckckck. Does even he remember Marc Goodfellow? Who hasn't forgotten Glennnn Downey, Terry Bar-wick, and whirlwind romances with 'Frenchmen' that end in tears. Au revoir Monsieur Ak-Ak. That's your baguette and butter for the Sladeable future.
And all the while the ship in a state sails on, picking up waifs and strays along the way.
The Enigmatic Woods is continuing his trolley dash around Lidl with further loans sought, and the expected arrival of Mark Hudson, who's perambulated east from Rotherham, via Blackpool and Gainsborough (aka Southport), an unholy trinity of northern clubs. Isn't this all so reminiscent of the Watkiss weeks loans chucked in, then chucked out immediately when a new manager is appointed. Still, at least we're not pinning our hopes on Tomi Ameobi this time.
But we were pinning our hopes on the Pooperscoopers from 'Ull. Featherstone and Atkinson, two Premiership ponces from the Dark Side of the Humber, turned their noses up at the chance of an escape to the country. Perhaps the lure of watching Mad Bad Brown's imaginary lifesaving was too strong.
We started on a high, let's end on a high. The reserves played yesterday at Bradford. Jones the Limp scored, presumably off his deadly backside again, in a 1-1 draw. Thought you'd like to know of another Town team not losing. One day the first team will succeed in not failing.
Wednesday 11 November
Having walked away from one cup final in the summer which they would probably have won, Grimsby Town have gone on to subsequently get themselves comprehensively knocked out of all three cup competitions left to them. Losing 3-1 at Leeds last night in the Dulux Cup seemed inevitable. A bigger defeat seemed on the cards in the first ten minutes as our fragile defence hyperventilated. But some cracking goalkeeping from striker Forbes seemed to spur the Town on for a bit until the tie was lost with two goals in six minutes just before half time.
If your unexpected Guest Diarist sounds like a crap match reporter, well, you can put that down to just getting an email asking me to write this and the fact that I watched the match in all its HD splendour on evilSKY last night. It was also pleasing to note that there were several moody free video streams of the match available on that interweb. Given more time on the ball, as you usually do against higher-class opposition, Town looked a lot better side. But we won't get that at Northampton on Saturday so, although caretaker Woods saw lots of positives, whether they will translate into league points remains a matter for long conjecture. Whatever, that volley from Sweeney was absolutely sublime consolation.
My only other comment is to ask whether someone has been introducing our Gallic striker to the pleasures of fast food he looks chunkier, doesn't he? And slower.
Now the notoriously busy Mr Diary just found the time to email me and ask if I would look at your correspondence. Well, here's one from a few days ago from Jim Waterson: "You might like to know that the excellent YorkCityTV service have free-to-view highlights of the Grimsby vs York Yoof game on YouTube. It's a volunteer-run service and used to upload highlights from every home game. That is until Cambridge manager Martin Ling told his York counterpart after a game that he'd sat online studying the video and working out how to defend against our corners. That's how shit this league is no club can afford a scouting system and they're reduced to huddling around a laptop for tactics. Don't make the mistake of thinking that getting relegated would be anything but the start of a long, painful non-League death."
And Richard Lord has been on this morning to discuss last night: "That old theory of relativity has come to the fore once again after Town lost 2-0 at home to Bath, a couple of Leeds fans I know are actually embarrassed with their 3-1 winning scoreline against Town. I've already pointed out that, going by goalscorers on the night, it was actually 2-2, and that Peter Sweeney's goal pisses all over Tony Yeboah's (it doesn't, but it was worth saying to further annoy them). It's funny I've come to work almost feeling smug about Tuesday, while the Leeds fans are on the defensive, admitting that they couldn't do a better job than Bath City in terms of giving us a good pasting on their own patch." And the ref he wasn't just extremely OK: he was embarrassingly good. I didn't even know he was there. Can we have him every week? He gets plus points from me simply for not giving Leeds a penalty or sending off Big Baz."
Now that's what I call taking the positive. See yer.
Tuesday 10 November
Middle-Aged Diary often reflects what it must have been like to be a middle-aged Grimsby supporter forty years ago. Like us, there would be the recent experience of a progressive Town side holding its own in the second flight, but for them the current plight of a side perennially at the wrong end of the fourth division would be thrown into still harsher relief by vivid youthful memories of the Mariners in two FA Cup semi-finals, punching well above their weight in the proper first division. While we contend with the loss of potential stars in Ryan Bennett and Jack Barlow, the fan of the late sixties had seen established heroes Matt Tees, Rod Green, Charlie Wright move on.
What none of us can know is what happens next. For the fan of 40 years ago (who had also, of course, lived through events that put sport in context), it was the return of Matt Tees and the arrival of Lawrie McMenemy, and from this perspective, you can see why he is held in such esteem by the Town supporter of a certain age. Celebrations in 1972 were ecstatic precisely because those at the 3-0 win over Exeter that secured the title had also been there when Grimsby had seemed terminally shit.
For us, for now, there are two arrivals. Mike Parker, a former deputy chief executive of Young's Bluecrest has joined the Mariners' board, promising to commit both time and money to the cause. Damien McCrory, a Republic of Ireland under-18 international, has arrived on loan from Plymouth, following two spells and 12 appearances for Port Vale. No pressure, but there is an excellent precedent for the loan of players raised in Limerick. On Mariners Player, Neil Woods stresses that McCrory can play left midfield as well as left-back, but makes it clear that he will indeed replace Joe Widdowson. He goes on to make sympathetic noises about Widdowson, promising he will be reintroduced to the first XI when the time is right. McCrory is likely to join Peter Sweeney and Olly Lancashire in the side at Leeds tonight, with Adrian Forbes also a possible, having resumed training.
In the same Mariners Player interview, Neil Woods (who is coming somehow to resemble Jim Broadbent) tells us that he took the opportune moment of defeat by Bath to let John Fenty know that he would like to be considered for the manager's job permanently. If that doesn't work out, he can look forward to taking the youth team to Macclesfield in the third round of the Youth Alliance Cup, after they beat Rotherham 3-1 on Saturday.
This, then, is where we are. Like the Town supporter of 1969, we are here when we are shit, but we have been around long enough to know that it was not always like this, and it won't always be like this. Draw strength from those moments of joy you can still recall, and when the next one comes along, remember to celebrate all the more enthusiastically for having been here, now, just when it is hard to remember that this is supposed to be a pleasure. Or just think how glad you are you do not support Liverpool.
Monday 9 November
Mardy Diary writes:Do you remember when we used to be half decent? When we won promotion, and when we held our own against bigger and richer clubs in the second tier? I remember it. I also remember that even then, even when we were actually doing alright, there was still the occasional chant of 'sack the board'. I know it's a silly chant really yes, you can't sack a board. But regardless of that, it was still a chant that showed disgruntlement with the board at GTFC. What suprises me is that Fenty seems to have avoided this wrath. I heard a grown man scream obscenities about Paul Groves' mother when we struggled in the second division (yes, the second division!). Yet there has been barely a murmur (at matches anyway) when it comes to Fenty. Why is he absolved from all blame in this sorry mess? Why is he seemingly above criticism untouchable?
Ok I'll take a step back here. Yes I can hear your argument and I've read it on many a messageboard. Fenty's money has saved this club from bankruptcy, they say. It's a fair argument and I'm not going to sit here and argue about Fenty's commitment both in his heart and his wallet. There is no denying it. But there is something that is a bit of a niggle in the back of my mind. There's that thought that these are just loans of course they're loans who'd be stupid enough to just throw money at the club. No, they're loans and they're secured against the club, and they appear to be interest free. That's all entirely sensible. But they're still loans, and can still be called in. If a new majority shareholder was to come in, I would be expecting Fenty to ask for repayment of his loans. Which is well within his rights, and there is no problem with that. Except that, that is what would actually happen. There is no escaping from it. And it's easy, isn't it, for me to sit here and carp? I've not put my money in to the club to keep it afloat. Well if I wanted to be spiteful about this I could argue that, yes, I have. In the form of season tickets, merchandise, shares etc etc. It doesn't match up to the money Fenty has put in but the money I've put in is non-returnable (well, I don't think the shares will give much of a return). That is petty though, not worthy of argument.
Of course if Fenty did walk away who would step in and take over the club? There is no-one, you say. Well we don't know, or at least I don't know. What I do know is that when other clubs throughout the league find themselves struggling and up against the wall, they always seem to find a buyer (for better or for worse it's always the risk). So I don't see how it would be any different for us. I don't know who is out there, who is potentially interested, who may step forward when the need arises. I don't know. I cannot say one way or the other whether there is anybody out there who could step in. We. Don't. Know. That is the only fact.
So am I suggesting that Fenty walks away? No, not at all. For all his big mistakes and minor gaffes he is clearly a fan of the club, and he clearly wants the club to succeed. This is very obvious. His heart is very much in the right place. However, you cannot deny the fact that under his stewardship the club has plummetted. Not stuttered. Plummetted. On and off the field. It is not working.
But, it's Fenty's money (sort of), so he calls the shots. Yes but in a normal organisation, although the board have ultimate decision-making authority, they do not involve themselves in the day to day management of the organisation and its communications. The club has a Chief Executive Ian Fleming what does he do? What he should be doing is running and organising this club from top to bottom, making sure it works as an organisation, not just as a team. If he is doing this then he's doing a terrible job of it, if he isn't doing this then Fenty needs to take a back seat and allow this executive to manage. If he can. This club isn't desperate just for a first team manager, this club is desperate for decent management throughout the organisation. If there is no-one at the club capable of dragging it in to the new century, then someone should be found who can perform that role. And I don't mean building a new stadium with bloody conferencing bloody facilities. I mean just running the bloody club properly.
Mike Newell was right about one thing there is a negativity that floods through the entire club, and that is the legacy of poor management from top to bottom. Low wage staff who have experienced job cuts and wage slashes while disinterested, over-paid footballers waltz around them are not going to go the extra mile for you. You need your staff with you not just the players everybody. There is a pandemic of misery throughout the club you feel it in all contact with the club. It oozes from the walls. The club is limping along and no-one wants to give it a helping hand why should they? It is a dying beast bring in a vet or put it out of its misery.
I know this is all over the place about as well thought out as a Fenty communication but then there is nothing at stake from my bleatings. And this is how I feel right now. Saturday was enough. It was enough for everybody I expect. Woods talks of taking responsibility well that must start at the top. The very top.
Friday 6 November
It seems hard for your Guest Diarist to strike a tone with today's Diary. The news that more and yet more fine young North East Lincolnshire lads are getting killed for less and less plausible reasons hangs over me like a black cloud. Normally I'm not one for too many pre-match elegiac ceremonies. But an expression by the Town fans that we are all thinking of the families, the friends, and everyone who knew them seems like a good call to me tomorrow. We will never forget them.
As for Saturday's home cup tie with Bath City, well, Chairman Fenty must be wishing he had gone to that seminar on how to use fruit analogies effectively when publicly speaking after all. It may be a New Labour thing John, but that Miliband bloke is a closet Tory really. Waving a banana at the camera and speaking of the entire fruit both lend themselves to suggestion as to where the offending musa acuminata should be stuffed. There will be a banana in the building tomorrow alright, but I doubt anyone can be arsed to do owt with it if we lose.
That Mariners Player has decided to give its paying customers just under three minutes of Neil Woodseses' preview. And nearly nine minutes of The Jarman talking about his love for Newell, his girlfriend and playing up front with Alan Smith for Newcastle on some computer game or other. We learn that Atkinson has trained for the last two days and might make it, that Forbes's experience tells him that something tweaked in the groin area and The Jarman has one shake for breakfast, one at lunch and a balanced meal in the evening. Worth every penny, eh?
Bath will send a few up to the match tomorrow but I get a strong feeling that the Town turnout will be thin with everyone having to buy a ticket. Some are predicting as few as two and a half thousand. Town will have just two suspended players this week: Lancashire (sent off) and Sweeney (five cautions). Hegggaarty is still not right so may not play either, I gather. To me it looks like our side, a bit weakened, and a bit shit, will be doing well if they get a draw against motivated semi-professional opponents up for one of the bigger matches in their careers.
As for the club accounts, well, Coun Fenty keeps lending the club money to pay for his executive mistakes. Within the sizeable losses accrued these past few years are the monies wasted on the new stadium (he should have listened to Alec King, who told him it was a pipe dream in 2004) and the annual rounds of monies wasted every year when Fenty gets cross and has to pay off yet another manager. Being a fan and being relatively rich are not enough: he needs to stop lending us baskets of fish and instead get an executive and management team who know how to run a small club prudently and efficiently: who know how to fish, for God's sake.
I have to confess I won't be going tomorrow I'll miss being there and I hope they win, or at least stand in the right places and try. And I'll spare a thought for the lads who'll never get to go to a match again. See yer.
Thursday 5 November
With two days to go until the first round of the FA Cup, football epidemiologists are looking in vain for the first outbreaks of cup fever in Grimsby this season. The Mariners' opponents this Saturday, Bath City, however, are at least experiencing a few mild cases of cup bit-under-the-weather and an unconfirmed infection of cup one-of-those-24-hour-virus-things I'll-probably-be-alright-tomorrow-morning. So rare is it for Town to be the favourites in any kind of competitive fixture that chairman John Fenty (Con) has got his clichιd football terminology all wrong and described his club's meeting with Conference South opposition as "a big banana" unless, of course, he didn't mean 'banana skin' at all and was instead intending simply to emphasise the tremendous significance of the match in terms of how Town's season might unfold from here on in. Hang on, no if he'd meant that, surely he'd have called it "the biggest banana in the building".
But are the Mariners, in fact, favourites to win on Saturday? Anyone in any doubt as to the plight of Mr Fenty (Con)'s club must turn immediately to the Bath Chronicle, where proof abounds that GTFC are in their worst long-term run of form in the club's 130-year history. "We will be going there to win. In our minds, certainly in mine, it will disappointing if we don't win. No disrespect to the opposition but we have to go into the game with that frame of mind," says Adie Britton, and the Diary defies any living Mariner to show that our club has ever sunk lower than being patronised by the manager of Bath City. Not that he doesn't have a point, of course. Britton concludes: "If we play exceptionally well on Saturday and Grimsby have a bad day then we have a big chance." Grimsby don't have any other kind of day, Adie.
A year and a half or so ago we were hearing that Matthew Bird was going to be the next big thing, the new Ryan Bennett, as the young left-sided defender was given a pro contract and various clubs with the ability to get Jack stood watchfully by with their great big player hoovers that hoover up all the little clubs' good players. It's not quite worked out that way so far, as Bird seems to have been overtaken by Mark Gray on the grand highway of maturity between the Myspace Mariners and the shower of shit that calls itself the first team and this week the player has followed his fellow promising youngster Grant Normington to a loan at Frickley Athletic of the Northern Premier League. Frickley are expected to field their Town twosome in both full-back slots. Good luck to both players it must be as daunting as it is inspiring to see Bradley Wood slotting in brilliantly as right-back in the senior XI, but if Bird starts looking the part then a few sleepless nights would do Joe Widdowson no harm at all.
Lastly today and lastly from your regular Diary for this week, as Guest Diary will be in his usual place here tomorrow a long shot but it might just work. Former Town favourite Jack Lewis, currently recovering from a hip operation, is gutted at having lost a video while he moved house, featuring the match when he returned to Blundell Park with Doncaster and scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 win for the visitors at the end of the 197879 season. So if anyone has a copy, or indeed any other footage of Lewis in action, please get in touch and we'll join you up with the right people. The Diary knows how poor Jack feels, as my framed print of four team photos of various GTFC sides of the 20th century got broken by the removal men last time I moved house. Why couldn't they have stolen my season ticket instead?
Wednesday 4 November
If no news is good news, then Deadly John's eventual choice as the 39th manager of Grimsby Town Football Club in the last hour will surely be an inspired one. Sixteen days after the bizarre sacking of Mike Newell, there's little sign that an announcement is close, and the chairman is continuing to make delighted noises about the caretakership of Neil Woodses, which has so far yielded one point from a possible six, and even that needed a 95th-minute equaliser at home to Accrington Stanley. Supporters continue to be divided by the prospect of a return for Russell 'Sort It' Slade, who has not so much thrown his hat into the ring as pretended to drop it by accident in a vaguely ringwards direction. "If God had meant football to be played on the ground, he'd have put grass on the pitch at Spotland," said one advocate of Slade's direct style of play. "What does Slades know about football? He's just a bald schoolteacher," said a second Grimbarian, gazing enviously at the successful team just up the A180 managed by a bespectacled physiotherapist.
What would you all think about Paul Groves, anyway? Email the Diary and talk.
It's that time of year, meanwhile, when Town do the books and there's a nice sit down and a chat with the placeholder yes-men who rubber-stamp everything John Fenty (Con) asks them to. Directors, that's the fella. This year the AGM will be on 27 November, giving both of those involved a bit more time than usual to get their Christmas shopping done afterwards. The accounts for 200809 have been posted out to shareholders, but anyone who wants a look can apparently just follow this link and click on 200809. Salient points seem to be that the club lost £602,000 last season, following the £147,000 profit of the previous year, despite running costs barely changing from one year to the next: this is what happens when you're careless enough not to reach the final of the Dulux Cup. Overall debt is up from £1.7m to £2.4m a rise of around £700,000, which the Diary seems to recall is around the same amount that the club has chucked away on consultancy fees and stuff for the Fentydome, coincidentally. The directors' shareholdings are unchanged, as follows:
|John Fenty (Con)
Can anyone remind me why the supporters' trust isn't allowed a place on the board?
Lastly today, Town's much-vaunted youth team have been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by York City, which sounds like a bad thing but in fact leaves them free to concentrate on the more realistic target of the Midlands Floodlit Cup. If you think the Premier League is a stitch-up for the rich, it's nothing compared to the FA Youth Cup. The Myspace Mariners have less chance of winning the FA Youth Cup than the senior side have of lifting the FA Cup. The FA Youth Cup isn't for the likes of us. It's for clubs that have the ability to get Jack.
Tuesday 3 November
When Lord Alan Buckley returned to his manor for a third residence in 2006, the Diary struggled to imagine any managerial appointment that could have been more divisive among Town fans. Around Blundell Park AB was always a figure who inspired both admiration and loathing: admiration among sensible supporters for his awesome record of three promotions, which no other GTFC boss has come anywhere near emulating; and loathing among Grimsby's dyed-in-the-wool miserable bastards who hated him for being successful and depriving them of anything realistic to moan about. Today, however, as John Fenty (Con)tinues to take his time over choosing his fifth manager in five minutes, we are unexpectedly forced to consider a figure whose return would perhaps split the support more sharply still: Russell 'Sort It' Slades.
Despite being the only manager who has looked anything like capable of reversing the sickening plunge down the Football League that Town underwent earlier in the 2000s, Slade is not generally remembered with fondness by a sizeable swathe of the Mariners' support. In particular, he is believed by many to have undermined the fourth division play-off final in 2006 as he approached the game with one eye on the road to Yeovil. To his credit, of course, he took Town to the fourth division play-off final in the first place. To his discredit, perhaps, he wouldn't have needed to in the first place had he not stuffed up a bloody good shot at automatic promotion. And so on. Why are we digging up painful memories? Because Sort It has surprisingly expressed an interest in returning for another shot after his recent sacking by Brighton. "I'd certainly be willing to talk with the club," Slade told a Grimsby Telegraph reporter while hurriedly scanning his Yellow Pages for a local supplier of olive branches.
A somewhat less controversial return, but one that has moved beyond mere hypothesis into the hard world of fact, is that of Ed Eley to Mansfield. The teenage Town keeper was recently on loan at Field Mill to provide cover to first-choice custodian Alan Marriott and has gone back until the end of 2009. "I'm delighted. I had returned to Grimsby but received a phone call to come back, so I got straight on the motorway," says Eley, despite looking as puzzled as ever about the whole affair.
Eley's contract with the Mariners also expires at the end of 2009, so there is a chance that this is the last Town fans will get to see of the player. Still, things could be worse. Ooooh, butterfingers!
Monday 2 November
Today's turn at Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest falls jointly to Adrian Forbes and Barry Fucking Conlon, the two goalscorers from F****y n***t's 2-2 draw with Accrington. For those who have started supporting Grimsby in the last five minutes, this is a ritual whereby a player (or players) give an interview to the local paper in which he acknowledges that the team, given its apparent strength on paper, has certainly been underachieving somewhat over recent times you know, like the past seven or eight years but rest assured, he and his colleagues are firmly resolved to put that right, starting now! Forbes and Conlon, like the Telegraph itself, are too easily tempted to see the latter's 95th-minute equaliser against Stanley as Some Sort Of Potential Turning Point for the team, telling the Riby Square Thunderer: "Fingers crossed it's onwards and upwards now" and "I think we deserved a point. Hopefully we can build on that now" respectively. But what do you think the revival of Town's fortunes will depend upon, readers? A fortuitous late equaliser against a bunch of cheating cloggers or the recruitment of some players who actually give a shit whether they win or lose?
In other news today, the one managerial appointment John Fenty (Con) has managed so far which briefly looked like it might not end in disaster, Russell 'Sort It' Slades, has been sacked by Brighton but won't come back to Grimsby because of his lingering bitterness at the way he was treated by supporters during his two-year stint in Cleethorpes. I dunno, eh, all we did was jeer and boo his players every week and hoist up a banner in the Pontoon saying 'Slade out' when he'd been in charge less than a year and his team was in mid-table. Some people are just so touchy.