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Diary - April 2010
Friday 30 April
With Guest Diary still stuck in his reclining chair it's that devious Deviant Diary popping out of the box to bop you on the nose with some Hard News and some Hard Realities. So who will eat the Hard Cheese tomorrow?
One week on from Date with Destiny we have the unexpected sequel, but starring who? With Barnet imploding like a far away galaxy Battlestar Townactica are five ifs into the seven point if-plan for survival (Serialised in the Daily Fail and available from all bad bookshops from May 9th). Now if, if and if, then the whiff of localised death remains on the North
Bankers for another few months. And if we revert to type and win 5-0, like in the olden days, we may not even need to beat Burton. Ooh look the plane, the plane! Welcome to Fantasy Island.
Ah, poor Barnet, everything isn't coming up roses for after their midweek panic attack they've taken some slow, deep breaths to find they have a crisis at centre back. It's all going our way: Momentum, the Big M, the world is turning black and white. Nothing can go wrong... oh dear, maybe not. According to the big eared, ruddy cheeked closet Monkees fan Neil Woodses today there is no black or white, only shades of grey. Aks, Prouds, Peacks, Sweens and Sincs are all peaky not perky. But don't worry Chris Jones is back, back, back! I said don't worry. When you see his face are you a believer?
Ah, maybe things aren't so bad. He knows a few faces down in That London, he went around to Mighty Joe's to watch the news and chuckled at some Town fans going to Accridtown (Now official twinned with Cleethorpes). Desperate Dean is eating cow pie in his attempts to play for his dearly beloved Town. Gawd bless 'im, and all who sail in him.
If you haven't got a ticket for Date With Destiny II don't bother trying, unless you can do a canny cockernee type accent. Here's a tip, Barnet is more bagels and brandy than apples-and-pears-have-a-banana type eastender. It's a leafy satellite full of semi- detached suburban Mr Joneses, not a gritty urban wasteland full of whinny sneery sniffers: more neckerchief than nylon. As Barnet took 20 to Accrington, the Town commercial department are confident as many as 100 Barnetteers will trundle up the M1. It's a scientific fact. Grimsby is 5 times more attractive than Accrington. You sexy thing, you. And we have to believe in miracles.
A Public Service Announcement. Five hundred have already gone for a Burton ticket. Hurry, hurry, hurry whilst stocks last. Whatever it is that Burton game will be history. Be there and/or be in the Blue Square (*delete as appropriate at 5 o'clock on Saturday).
Another Public Service Announcement. The Player of the Year Night has been swept under the carpet for now. The boardroom carpet has a very big bulge in it. Why does the image of Mr Fentycon tripping over it like Norman Wisdom keep flashing before my eyes? Whatever happens let's hope he doesn't start singing.
Finally Cyril, if you're going to buy a recliner than you really should let a niece buy it from Shackletons. They've over 100 different ones, and he chose the pooch muncher. Ebonyser's good now though. All's well that ends well, for I believe that the Ayatollah tells a darn good knock-knock joke.
Thursday 29 April
Armchair Diary writes: When I was a kid one of the many crazes to sweep the nation was "choose your own adventure" books. Rather than being read like a traditional book, from cover to cover, you were directed to jump about the pages based on the choices you made in the story. A typical example would see you as a bold adventurer, stranded deep in the jungle. To the right is a path from which some very worrying screams seem to be emanating. In front of you, blocking your progress along the current path, is a huge lizard. If you take the path to the right turn to page 38, else you must fight the lizard so turn to page 54. You then turn to the relevant page as directed and continue through the book that way. If you make the right decisions along the journey you complete the quest and victory is yours but any wrong turn usually sees you hideously killed. Oops!
You are a football club chairman. For the first few months of the season your team were doing quite well and were they to maintain their current form they had a real chance of making the play-offs, at least. However the start of 2010 has not been kind to you and the club is rapidly slipping down the league table. You look to the teams below you as this slide happens and see they are picking up points and closing the gap to you. Lincoln, Cheltenham, Torquay and Macclesfield all breeze past you as your plummet continues. Accrington Stanley appear to offer you a lifeline only to cruelly deny you a chance of safety. Now this is it, it's you versus your greatest rival in a fight to the death. This is crunch time. Do you: stand solidly behind your first-team manager confident that despite a run of five defats the four-point cushion and superior goal difference you have will keep you safe and that you will live to see another season in the basement division (turn to page 38) or do you sack your manager at perhaps the worst point of the season and let his predecessor take charge for the remaining two fixtures of this campaign (turn to page 54)?
Tony Kleanthous of Barnet FC has turned to page 54 dear reader. For the first time in his 16 years with Barnet he's sacked the gaffer, Ian Hendon. Stepping up to the plate is Paul Fairclough who "has experience and knows this club and players" according to the Bees' official site. Hendon had been in charge since midway through last season when he led the club away from the relegation zone so surely he also knows the club and players too. It could even be said he has experience of exactly this situation, saving the club from the dreaded drop, but what do I know?
I have to admit the timing puzzles me greatly. For the last few weeks the noises coming out of Blundell Park have generally been positive. Neil Woods thinks we can survive and his players seem to think the same. And the power of positive thinking has shone though in recent weeks to the point that we could still see another season in this division, which is most unexpected given the long streak without a win earlier in the season and the need for various players to have a go at the Telling The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately, But We'll Get Better Soon, Honest game. While Town have tried to keep a level head it seems that Barnet have done exactly the opposite and are panicking. Either this is some Alex Ferguson-style mindgames but on a whole new level or Barnet really are falling apart and are there for the taking this weekend. Nothing short of victory is good enough for the Mariners but the opposition seemingly set on self-destruct the chances of a home win look good to me.
That's enough optimism for now, let's get back down to business. The club have moved to dispel rumours that the fact that the Main Stand is mostly wooden would prevent the Mariners from re-joining the Football League the season after next. Exactly why this has come up now I don't know. For a start we haven't actually been relegated and then to presume that we could bounce straight back next season is rather presumptuous. It has all the hallmarks of messageboard rumour that has gone too far and Fentycon has felt the need to respond. At least he hasn't lied and used this is an excuse to drive forward plans for the Fentydome I suppose.
I'm not expert on football management by any means but I know what it takes to make a team, and in association football that's 11 players. Paul Ince, Les Ferdinand, Des Walker, Paul Merson, Lee Sharpe, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Dion Dublin. That's only seven players but they will apparently form an All Star XI for the Keith Alexander tribute match at Sincil Bank on Monday. You can insert your own jokes about some of those players having put on a few pounds and now weighing the same as 11 professional footballers, I can't be bothered. I will say though that it looks like they need a keeper and to bolster that defence a bit. Walker is the only defender named isn't he? Perhaps they are playing rush keepers and plan to pack the midfield and have goal-hanging strikers just like when we were kids. One can hope, eh?
According to the news, house prices have gone up 10.5% this year so who better to ask for an opinion on Town's plight than an estate agent? What about an estate agent who used to play for Grimsby Town? What a great idea! Gary Croft fits that description and reckons Town have a psychological edge this weekend. Citing Barnet's recent results and that they may try to play for a point knowing that would be enough for them, Crofty says the Mariners have the freedom to go for it with little to lose. He could be right and it would be typical of Town to drag it out for yet another week, especially since I booked a holiday for the final weekend of the season assuming we'd be relegated by then and I wanted to get out the country and away from all the coverage of our final moments in the Football League. I'm not sure the missus will be too pleased with me trying to find a bar in Rhodes that shows coverage of League Two matches.
Look at that, another week done without mentioning the reserves, who lost 3-0 to Leeds the other night with Luke Sharry getting a match or the various youth sides who dished out spankings to the corresponding Hartlepool sides. Oh.
Wednesday 28 April
Mardy Diary writes: I don't know whether to feel excited or utterly sick about the game this weekend. A week or so ago I didn't expect to be in this position, so given that I'd resigned myself to relegation this match should be approached with excitement, right? A chance to survive that we didn't expect to have? It will be tense though and the longer the match goes without us scoring, the more the momentum will shift to Barnet. I just hope the atmosphere is as good as the one last night when 100-odd Grimsby fans joined in with the Stanley Ultras to support Accrington. If the crowd are up for it the players will be. Torquay was an odd match as I entered the ground the whole atmosphere felt wrong. It was like turning up for a wake for someone who hadn't died yet. We don't want that on Saturday if we're going down, we need to go down kicking and screaming. Well, making lots of noise anyway I'm not suggesting violence here.
Tickets for both the Barnet game and the Burton game are, unsuprisingly, selling pretty quickly. If you're a season ticket holder you may want to think about sorting yourself out a ticket for Burton pretty quickly. If you lives outside of Grimsby, you can phone up and book your ticket thankfully. Unless you happen to live in Doncaster or the surrounding area then you'll, presumably, have to travel to Grimsby to get your ticket. Talk about a postcode lottery, eh, eh?
Our mail box has been bare of late, mostly due to the .com domain being absent for a short while. Toronto's third biggest Grimsby fan, James Booth, has finally found us again though. He writes: "I assume there were some technical difficulties in the last month or so with the site as after two weeks of looking for it and finding only search links to religious pages I had stopped checking to see if you we're still there. I finally thought you had abandoned the Codalmighty ship when my enquiring emails were sent back as undeliverable. So yesterday when I typed in the URL I was very pleased to see that the site is alive and well. It also appears your great service was continuing while I could not access it. Not sure what happened but am very pleased you are still going and that everything seems to be back to normal." Yes sorry about the James. Unfortunately we didn't pay a bill on time for the .com domain which meant it was temporarily off air. Some readers were still able to access the site through the .net address but most probably don't know it exists. So in the future, if you can't get through dial the .net address.
Jesus are they still banging on about that bloody Sweeney goal award? Give it a rest it's not important right now. We don't care.
Tuesday 27 April
So you know last week, when the Conservatives' John Fenty gave an interview to Mariners Player, right? And he went into considerable detail about his plans for running the club in the Conference, didn't he? And Town sort of aren't actually relegated just yet? Well, here's my question. Is it just the Diary who thought this was spectacularly inappropriate?
Hello readers. For a second successive day your original Diary (2002-10) is back on the case. And what an honour it is to be doing the job in the run-up to the most important game in the history of Grimsby Town Football Club. I refer, of course, to tonight's meeting between Accrington Stanley and Barnet, where a win for the Hertfordshire/north London side will dump the Mariners out of the Football League for the first time in a century. Remember John Fenty represents the Conservatives, by the way. Do you have any special plans for this evening's occasion? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. I thought I might follow the match with the BBC online text commentary, light a candle and get shit-faced on Jim Beam or something.
Whichever division Woodses's battlers find themselves in next season, they'll need reinforcements. Especially, the Diary suspects, in the centre of the park, once Dean Sinclair has signed for Notts County, Peter Sweeney's contract has been paid up and Woods insists on PLAYING PEACOCK UP FRONT FFS. So it is that Bradford midfielder Luke Sharry has arrived on trial and will play for the reserves against Leeds tomorrow. Twenty years old, with two first team games to his name for the financially challenged West Yorkists, Sharry has been compared by Bradford fans to a Mariners midfield great of the recent past, and has 47 friends on Facebook.
Are you planning to attend the match that could be Town's last as a Football League club? Are you hoping a bad day isn't made even worse by a gaggle of nylon-clad Grimbarian mouth-breathers running across the pitch at the end, waving their hands about a bit in a vaguely threatening manner, and then dispersing into the town to intimidate women with young children in pushchairs? Then you'll want to know about tickets for the trip to Burton Albion on 8 May. The Mariners' superb new official website reported yesterday that there are 1,400 of the things, and they're on sale now, one per person, to season ticket holders, in person at the ticket office only. The Mariners' superb new official website reports today that that there are 1,400 of the things, and they're on sale now, one per person, to season ticket holders, in person at the ticket office only, except for season ticket holders outside the DN postal code area, who can buy over the phone. Get in! If you're not a season ticket holder, you'll have to hope there are still some left after the Barnet match this Saturday, when they go on general sale. "We won't be selling tickets to anyone who looks like a knobhead," a club spokesperson didn't add, but should have.
Monday 26 April
Your original, regular, great-tasting Diary can't even be bothered to read the habitual reams of complacent "oooh, the pressure's on now, hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves" rubbish churned out by the players via today's Grimsby Telegraph. Can Woodses not slap a ban on his players talking to the media this week? I don't know why exactly ‒ beyond the obvious fact that they have never once in living memory uttered a single word that is remotely interesting or revealing in any way. But it would seem a very dramatic gesture. The silence would be infinitely more enthralling than another round of the players Telling The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately, But We'll Get Better Soon, Honest. And a dramatic gesture of this sort would make the whole week just that bit more exciting, or at least bearable. Because we all know what's coming next, don't we?
I mean didn't you just know it would work out like this? Town finally beating Darlington, for the first time in 15 attempts; Barnet losing and the Insurmountable Gap of Torment reduced to four points. It could all be over less than 36 hours from now, of course, by which time those big tease Bees will have completed their distinctly winnable-looking game in hand at Accrington. But you know as well as the Diary what's going to happen. Barnet will succumb to great whuppage in east Lancashire on the morrow, and again when they visit Blundell Park this Saturday, further narrowing the Insurmountable Gap of Torment to a single point. On the final day Barnet will again suffer an almighty mauling by Rochdale, featuring a hat-trick from Ciaran Toner. Town will scrape a victory against Burton with a comedy goal deflected in off Adrian Forbes' arse. The three points gained will take the Mariners to 22nd place, pushing Barnet into the second relegation spot.
Then the Football League will deduct six points from GTFC for the pitch invasions at the end of the Burton and Barnet games and we'll get relegated after all.
Friday 23 April
Yes, it's Deviant Diary on date with Darlo destiny day minus one, reporting live and exclusive from sleepy old Trent Bridge. And now the end is near, we've reached the final curtain with Woods the Enigmatic preaching to the loft converted with wild thoughts of a lively pitch and throwing caution to the wind. But in Darlington no-one can hear you scream, for nobody will be home. He's got a little black book with some poems in and, if the nesbits have their way, a bag with a toothbrush and a comb in on Sunday.
But it isn't over yet. If... if... if... if and if then we'll still be down in the dumps. Are we that interested in tomorrow? The Simon Davey jazz free form combo (Tuesdays at 8 at Pizza Express, Thirsk) has lost its amp and he'll have to go acoustic tomorrow. Nothing from free-scoring scat machine Tadgh Purcell, but Mor Diop's sax will be blowing bubbles and... ooh, nice shot Mr Trescothick: sumptuous lean into the full-pitched delivery for a drive through the off side. We've put the effort into a constructing a fantabulous factfile contraption that can fly underwater, so you can put the effort into reading it. Go on, you know you want to, it's as tempting as Mr Kipling's French Fancies.
The usual blah-di-blahing goes on and on in the localised rag tag newpaper thing with Cap'n Bob insistent that they will remain professional to the end with a fine run of ancient clichιs. Or as the link insists elliptically, "heart mother fights skipper Atkinson". She'll win if she goes for a left hook. Next up on the dreadmill of dross is Tommy Wrong, who hopes to right the wrongs of last week. He'll also write the wrongs that last the whole day through.
We'll leave the indulgent immolation and general discombobulation at our desolation until next week. Gotta leave some meat on the Diary bone, otherwise they'll talk about allotments.
Wahey! A wicket at the cricket. I was Deviant Diary, I am diverted. It is done.
Thursday 22 April
Armchair Diary writes: I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to have the proper dot com domain back, dear reader. I could have changed my CA bookmarks to use the other domain instead but it somehow felt wrong, like I would be cheating on the real site and as such I refused. OK, this meant every time I used these bookmarks I had to manually edit the URL to point to the working version of the site but maybe life as Grimsby Town fan has made me feel as though I have to suffer in some way on a daily basis.
The senior playing squad may include a bunch of loanees and players on short-term contracts but some of the players have signed on with the club for a couple of years, and mostly they did so knowing that relegation was a very realistic prospect. But still they signed on the dotted line and committed to Town. They know that being relegated from the Football League is not exactly a joyous occasion. Some of them may even fear for their futures at the club, either because their wages may be deemed excessive for the Conference or because the club could potentially cash in on them albeit for modest transfer fees. In short these are potentially uncertain times for many people associated with the club.
Should it be all doom and gloom though? According to many of the comments on the Telewag story about the club's awards night on May 4 it should indeed be that dark with numerous calls to cancel the ceremony because the club has underperformed this season. Let me get this straight the awards night should be cancelled as there can be no players worthy of a gong as we have lost our League status? There's no player of the year, no single player that stands out from the rest, is that right? If any of the players were any good we wouldn't have been relegated of course, silly me. I was brought up on Buckley-era Town, the whole team working together playing excellent pass-and-move football. The team had no star, we were never a one-man team yet every year one of the players was honoured with the player of the year award. Why should this season be any different? Some of the players that have been brought in have done a good job and without them we would have been relegated long ago. Players who have been here for years, like Straight Peter Bore, have come on in leaps and bounds and had a good season. What good does it do the players to be told the annual awards ceremony has been cancelled? It tells them they are all shit and they might as well not have bothered. OK, for some that may be true but not for all of them. Relegation hurts the players too. We need those that remain at the club next season to be professional, to knuckle down and to help drive the club forward again and for that they need confidence, not the kick in the bollocks that comes from scrapping the awards ceremony.
Anyone else think that this weekend's game between Darlington and Town is a strange one to turn into a ladies' day? In fact does anyone know what "sumptious" means? And as both teams will be playing non-League football next season, should the post-match presentations be cancelled?
The reserves dished out a 6-2 beating of Scunny yesterday as their season nears its end. There's just those rearranged games against Leeds (next Tuesday afternoon) and Newcastle (next Thursday night) to go now and then that's it for a while following Fentycon's announcement that the reserves probably won't compete in their league next season and will just play ad-hoc friendlies instead. The goals came courtesy of Adrian Forbes and Nick Hegarty who each scored a couple with Adam Proudlock and youth-teamer Nathan Dixon also getting on the scoresheet.
Finally, a plea for sanity and sensible behaviour comes from Emma Blackbourn, chair of the Grimsby Town Supporters' Trust. She asks fans not to behave like dickheads and invade the pitch once relegation is confirmed. Unfortunately I fear these words will fall on deaf ears as the childish element of the Mariners support will surely want to get on the pitch before running around aimlessly for a bit having realised that they no longer know what to do. A stroll towards the opposing fans will follow, accompanied by some hand gestures before the police and stewards over-react in getting them all off the pitch. It's been done so many times before and each time it's an embarrassment. A couple of hundred teenagers thinking they're hard by running on to the pitch, verbally abusing opposing fans, including families, before getting bored and wandering off to hang around McDonalds car park is pretty pathetic. If I was in charge of stewarding at the ground when it happens I think I would go have a cup of tea and a biscuit as it will all have blown over by the time I'd eaten those last few crumbs. I'm not sure Cod Almighty's audience and the type of 'fan' who invades the pitch intersect greatly on any Venn diagram but to anyone who does fall in that category, do us all a favour and stay off the grass please. Why not make your feelings known in a much more effective way by joining a Facebook group or something instead? At least then you can act like a complete wazzock without several thousand real supporters having to witness it. Ta.
Wednesday 21 April
Speaking of John Deehan, only Grimsby Town could appoint a chief scout, until the end of the current season, after the transfer window has closed.
Hello readers your original Diary is back for the day, and struggling more than ever to find anything worth telling you about. I'm sure Neil Woods really is hurting, and I'm sure every one of the people who posted comments underneath that article really does believe the internet will save the planet as holders of opposing viewpoints find a forum to mutually test their hypotheses and synthesise a position of genuine insight which might achieve practical progress on the issues that threaten our continued existence as a species. But the longer this season has gone on, the less I've wanted to read about it. Just the other week I received two football-themed birthday cards and went on a massive killing spree. I suppose this interview with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro might offer a little more than the usual fare even if the Grimsby Telegraph thinks you're likely to be intellectually challenged by paragraphs comprising more than half a dozen words but David Pye avoids the Ivorian elephant in the room by opting not to ask J-LAA if he'll still be here next season. Will you?
One of the few moments of levity in this infamous season came a few months back, when a Mariners fan using the name Poojah posted an entertaining rant on the messageboard over at The Fishy about Town being shit. The rant went viral, and for a few happy days football supporters all over the world understood what an unhappy time we were having. True, it didn't save the club, but it was never meant to, and it was a laugh. If you're not one of the 60,000 people who've seen it, the sequel is already doing good box office. Cue another round of emails from my non-GTFC-supporting friends who see links to it on forums about films and eBay and stuff, and want to know if it was me.
"Several times now I've clicked back to 14 April," writes Sibbo in an email to the Diary, "and Mardy Diary`s thoughts of what he would like and not like to see happen next season. Excellent remarks and I hope they've been read by those in charge at BP. We all want the best for our club and regardless of results since Woodsy took over, the entertainment has been far better than before Russell Slade's managership. Some of the football has been above average whilst some has been poor. Although our league standing has not improved, the performances on a whole have. Of course, if the seemingly inevitable happens, Woodsy will have to start his rebuilding from scratch. I believe he's capable of doing it. Where I get my optimism from, Cod only knows. Keep the faith you Town fans." Indeed thanks, Sibbo and readers, if anyone asks you whether you're still going to support the club next season, ask them why they even need to ask.
Tuesday 20 April
Mardy Diary writes: Vote for Sweeney? VOTE FOR SWEENEY? I tell you what, relegated club of mine, why don't you just come round to my house and spit in my face while stapling my season ticket to my balls? No, it's not enough that I have to watch my club drop out of the bloody Football League with barely a whimper after ten years of mismanagement. It's not enough that I pay a premium for this over the unwashed, ridiculously-coiffured chavs who turn up for the cheap seats before running on the pitch and fighting around little children. No, that's not enough. On top of all this you want me to vote for the pretty-vacant midfielder who is one of a number of under-achieving, over-earning players who've got the club in to this bloody mess in the first place. And further more, you want me to do it for some insignificant non-event of a trophy, and that the only benefit to me voting is that I may win some computer game or other and that one of our players may get some fame and recognition that he doesn't really deserve. I don't really want to single Sweeney out here it's not all his fault but you've left me no choice, because YOU'VE singled him out. And not only that, but with some awful, self-congratulatory, cheesy copy taken straight from whichever paint company it is that are the current sponsor of the damn thing. Thousands have voted, have they? Well you can stick my vote up your arse.
Still, at least we're spared the Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest stories today it's perhaps a bit late for those now. However, in their place we have the Isn't It Really Sad That Once Successful Grimsby Are Getting Relegated Out Of The Football League stories that have been missing for a few weeks. This time it's the turn of lower-league, midfield stalwart and ex-Town youther Chris Hargreaves who, incidentally, is also selling a book. Or writing a book. Or is going to write a book. Or something to do with a book anyway. To his credit, his comments do seem quite insightful, if not fairly obvious to most Grimsby fans. "When a team goes down they are usually in a mess off the field as well as on it," says Chris, adding that last season "should have been a big wake-up call to the club about getting its backside in gear and making sure it would never, ever be in a similar position again. Unfortunately that didn't happen." There's nothing more to add that that, really.
Fenty himself is blaming our impending demise on, er, not winning and being shit from what I can make out. For those of you who really can't summon the energy or willpower to subscribe or even look at Mariners Player, we've done the dirty work for you. Here is the CA executive summary of what we think Fenty is saying. Bear in mind that the whole interview is quite vague in places, and I'm a long way from being over the disappointment of the weekend. The key points seem to be:
We will have money to assemble a competitive squad in the Conference. Although did anyone have any doubts about this? If we didn't have the money to compete with Barrow, I'd be a bit concerned.
There'll be loads of league rejects available when all of those badly run clubs go under and all their players are released. Perhaps we could tempt Mike Edwards back, then?
We'll probably stop playing in the reserve league because we have to provide a doctor for the match and we can't afford to do that, apparently. I'm not sure if that means we have to provide a doctor for away matches too, or what. Anyway, doctors are expensive so we'll be ditching the reserves (if we stay up or go down) and arranging matches on an ad-hoc basis. I think some teams like Forest already do this.
The youth team will remain but will be reviewed. Uh-oh.
The board Will talk to Woods at the end of the season about what he's learned and and what he knows about the lower leagues and then decide on what they then need to do to go forward. I'm not sure what this speaking to Woods about what he knows actually means. Are they suggesting that they'll talk to Woods in order to support him going forward, or that if they don't like what he says they'll get rid of him and change manager again? Note to Neil Woods: if asked tell Fenty that you know loads about non-league.
In another oddly-timed article in the GET, John Deehan says there's more to come from the strikers. I presume not much more though, given that there are only three games left. I can't fathom the purpose of this piece it would have been more interesting to hear about what scouting Deehan is involved with, what plans he is making for us should we stay up or go down. Has he put together a possible list of targets for Woods already? Is he coaching or scouting? Will he be around to help in the signing of these players before his contract expires in the summer? Does he expect to be at the club next season? Does he expect these strikers to be at the club next season? Ah well, at least we already know that the Telegraph will be providing non-league reporting next season, regardless of whether Town stay up or not.
Oh, Sinclair is buggered. Great. VOTE FOR SWEENEY then.
Monday 19 April
Middle aged Diary writes: I am changing jobs in May. Nevertheless, when I put my bag down at my desk this morning, and was greeted with "Counting down the days then?", my first thought was not of how long before I ritually burn my building pass, but of the days remaining of Grimsby Town's Football League existence. The weekend's pursuit can loom out of all proportion. Tony Butcher's report, the interviews with Olly Lancashire and Neil Woods, all make clear how much it hurts, and we shall all howl, inwardly or outwardly, when the inevitable is confirmed, but I also hope that the Cod Almighty readership has a sufficiently broad perspective to need no reminding that if you find your happiness depends on the league in which your favourite football team plays, you should be having a serious think about the direction your life is taking.
Cod Almighty has noted before the strange relationship between politics and the Mariners: our slumps almost always coincide with Labour governments, our revivals with Tory ones (and this is the most benign construction I can put on John Fenty's politics). Nevertheless, if relegation is, somehow, still in the balance on 6 May, please take your convictions (whatever they may be) into the polling booth. The letter from an Altrincham fan in the new Postbag shows that there will still be pleasure to be had from following Grimsby next season, and life will go on.
Friday 16 April
Armchair Diary writes: Sorry folks but you have to put up with me again for the second day in a row. Let's just try to get through this together without too much fuss eh?
On Monday 3 May, the same day that the youth team will contest the Midlands Floodlit Cup final at Blundell Park, a host of stars from the world of football will line up at Sincil Bank for a benefit game for Big Keith Alexander. Gary Simpson will manage a Keith Alexander XI, who I think will be players Keith managed at some point in his career if memory serves me correctly, while Paul Ince takes charge of an All Star XI. Tickets are a tenner for adults and half that for concessions so if you can get along to support this cause on that bank holiday Monday then please do so.
It's Torquay's turn to come to Blundell Park tomorrow and their boss has said they will be going for the win despite a draw being enough to ensure their survival. The Gulls' run of 10 points from their last four matches has done wonders for them but detracted somewhat from the belief that were Town to string a few results together they may yet escape the drop. Bastards! Still, not everyone has given up hope. Dean Sinclair is still hopeful of the club playing in League Two next season even if he does resort to many of the cliches so typical of footballers these days. Michael Coulson has similar thoughts and of course Neil Woods is banging the same drum so perhaps he and the players genuinely believe that the Mariners really can take maximum points from their remaining fixtures. Personally I don't know what to think any more. I have been preparing for relegation for a couple of months now and the longer it eludes us the more I wonder if we really can survive.
The South Devon version of the Telewag has marked out Jamie Devitt as a danger man for the Mariners and based on recent form they seem right to do so although they could have put a bit more effort into it and made a proper article out of it, maybe including a few words from the lad itself. As it is, this paragraph in today's diary is almost as long as their article and I haven't even got round to mentioning how many goals he has scored yet. Nor am I going to actually, just to be different. Oh, alright, five. Happy now? He's not the only one scoring goals though as it seems the midfield and strikers all seem to be in rich goal-scoring form. It has taken a while, and perhaps a few significant changes in personnel but Woodses has got his team banging them in at last. Now we just need to wait and see whether it has all been too little too late.
Still, if as this article on the SNOS suggests Town can be declared the winners if the match ends 2-2 then maybe we can get some revenge on the rest of the division who seem to have been conspiring against us in recent weeks.
Normally I would sign off with a link to our pre-match factfile but it's not ready yet and all has gone quiet at CA Towers so I have no idea what the delay is I'm afraid. A link will appear in the usual place on the home page when it is ready I suppose. Enjoy the weekend everyone, whatever you may be up to.
Thursday 15 April
Armchair Diary writes: It's Thursday which means it's my turn to bring you updates on the reserves, the various youth and academy teams and bugger all in the way of real news. I assume that's how today will go down anyway although I haven't actually checked the news wires to see if that really is the case.
Let's have a look...ooh, I wasn't expecting that. I can't find anything about the reserves. A quick check of the fixtures on the SNOS reveals they didn't play this week, that'll explain it. Although I thought they had rearranged games against Newcastle and Leeds coming up soon. Who knows? The SNOS cupboard is disappointingly bare when it comes to news on the ressies.
On to the youth team instead then in the hope that there is something I can say about them that will pad this diary out to a length worth me getting out of bed for. The Telewag tells us the young 'uns play Lincoln on Saturday looking to make it 12 matches without defeat. That's some going, well done lads. The result won't affect their league position though so in that respect it's perfect preparation for life in the first-team. But there are cup final places to be earned with the Midlands Floodlit Youth Cup final to be played at Blundell Park on May 3.
I wonder if it is disappointing to have the cup final at home or whether it's an advantage. OK, so the final of this competition is never going to be played out in front of a packed Wembley crowd but would you rather play the match on your home ground or does a day out somewhere else, usually a bigger ground, make it more special even if the ground is almost empty? If you've any experience in these matters, even if it's just from your schooldays, why not drop us a line and let us know your thoughts? I'd add a mailto link in to that previous sentence but when our .com domain is still down what's the point? The feedback form still works though so use that instead, eh?.
That should just leave me with the rest of the news to round up and based on previous weeks a couple of sentences should do the job. Mike Newell still has the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history. Really? I didn't know that, nor do I know why this is news today when the Messi hat-trick was in a match played last week. Maybe in 20 years time Messi will be in charge at Town and can have a crack at getting sacked in fewer games that it took for Fenty to dispense with Newell's services as a way of getting his own back. Town's relegation could be all but sealed this weekend but as this helpful article explains, even if we lose we probably won't be relegated just yet. Typical Town, prolong the agony just that bit longer. I swear they only do it to wind Mardy Diary up. Torquay, on the other hand, can make themselves safe on Saturday and their gaffer has urged them to continue their good form with a win in Cleethorpes.
Our hopes of survival were dashed some weeks ago were they not? Now we just need someone to put us out of our misery and confirm our drop from the League.
Wednesday 14 April
Mardy Diary writes: First it was Lincoln and then they won a few, then it was Cheltenham and then they won a few so we focussed on Torquay and they went and won bloody loads. And so it is now that our lonely, desperate eyes glance over at Barnet who've come to give us a bit of company down the bottom. Good ol' Barnet. Always had a soft spot for them, although that's disappeared a bit since they stopped letting us beat them easily. Of course, our hopes will be dashed further when they stick three goals past roll-over-Bradford on Saturday before having a mini-revival which lifts them to lower mid-table. Stupid division anyway. Stupid league. Newcastle and Leeds getting promoted? Pff. Some cheats in the cup final and another bunch of cheats at the top of the fourth division? Where's the fun in that? No I wash my hands of this stupid league. I'm taking the moral high ground in relegation it's all I've got left to cling to.
Neil Woods believes we can still do it and, yes, there is still an outside chance. It's not over until it's mathematically over, but it still feels like it's over every time I look at the results. Not that I want to take anything away from the current set of players those that played last night played well and kept going. Indeed, take away the context of the match last night and what you're left with is a bloody good, entertaining game of football between two good, attacking sides. It was a good game and if we were anywhere except the position we are in most will have left that match in fairly high spirits. And both our strikers scored in open play when was the last time that happened? Probably when Lester played for us. Oh Jack it's not your fault, but did you have to try so hard?
The worse thing about all this though is the fact that we remain in limbo there is still a chance we can stay up, we're not down yet. Half of me wants us to keep pushing this, to take it to the wire, so it all rides on the last game and we survive. The other half wants it over now so we can start the rebuilding start planning because what we don't want next season is half a squad by August, a poor pre-season which largely involves a piss-up in the south-west, a bloody ridiculous collection of badly organised pre-season matches, a team made up of loan players and journeymen, another season where we start five months after everyone else, another mid-season manager change, another mid-season clear out of players. People keep saying, in the usual places, that if we go down then Fenty needs to "get his cheque book out". No he doesn't that is exactly the sort of panic that has got us in this mess in the first place. Throwing good money after bad at players like Conlon on their way down, looking to pick up another tidy pay packet. What we need are players with hunger, desire, ability and ambition players on the way up that want to play for us and want to play in the Football League. Trying to buy our way out of trouble will just dump us further in the shit. If we must spend money, we spend it on the infrastructure of the club, we spend it on running the club properly from top to bottom. We spend it on stability and long-term planning. We invest in the future of the club instead of just trying to paper over the cracks. We act like professionals, or we don't bother at all.
Tuesday 13 April
Middle-aged diary writes: Football is a particularly partisan sport. There is a rough code over what kinds of taunts are acceptable between different sets of supporters, depending on whether the sides are traditional rivals, competing for the same league positions in the promotion places or above the relegation zone, or are purely 90 minute rivals for the purpose of a single match. The taunts, the temporary enmity, are part of the experience, the bitterness ideally washed away within minutes of the final whistle in mutual analysis and good wishes. Not always, of course. While we are currently fair game for chants of "going down", the spectacle of Tranmere supporters revelling when our anticipated relegation was confirmed in 2003 still seems to have overstepped the bounds. Years before, my impulse to congratulate the supporters of a Portsmouth team that had beaten us 4-2 in a thrilling early season match was cut short when I overheard them moaning that one of our goals, a rather fine chip by the much maligned Mike Jeffrey, should have been ruled offside.
The skills of your opponents you may come to appreciate only hours, days or years after the event; misgivings over your own side's stratagems are suppressed in the heat of the moment. There can be little doubt that should Jack Lester take a tumble in the penalty area tonight, our misgivings will be expressed at far greater volume than they would have been a decade ago. As our pre-match factfile makes clear, at least Barry Conlon will not be on hand to convert any kicks he is awarded.
In the usual pre-match interviews in the Telegraph, Mark Hudson and Neil Woods are as usual making the right noises: the question, as usual, is whether they can be backed up by the distinctly unusual third (and then fourth) win in a row. A fair few players are recovering from various knocks- Colgan, Widdowson, Akpa Akpro and Peacock or illnesses Wood and Chambers. Woods stresses that any use of the word "rested" in tonight's team selection will not be euphemistic. And no doubt euphemism will also be in short supply in the Pontoon.
Monday 12 April
Mardy Diary writes: I dunno you go away on holiday for the weekend to come back and find... everyone else has gone on holiday. And yes, the dot com situation is still a problem, but the CA elves tell me things are in motion.
...but you're not here either are you, reader? Disappeared along with our former domain name. Still if you concede that the season is over, might as well take an early holiday to try to forget about it all, eh? You still have to come back though.
We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow. We will try to be better tomorrow.
Friday 9 April
Doesn't anyone ever email the Diary any more? Hello, readers. It's your original and once-regular Diary today, who's been here long enough to know that some people get terribly offended when you talk about politics. Speaking of which, it comes as no surprise that David Cameron says "let's start with the public sector" when introducing his idea that the highest earners in an organisation should be paid no more than 20 times the lowest. If he wants us to believe that this isn't just another stick to bash the public sector with, why doesn't he approach all the private companies who ganged up with him on the National Insurance cut, and ask them to implement his grand plan for equality as well? If you don't think a daily online news round-up about a small provincial football club should say things like that, make your own website.
So either all the news has waited until Friday or all the other Diaries just ignored it. Let's start with loanee centre-half Oliver Lancashire, who was wrongly shown the fourth red card of his 30-match career against Northampton last Friday by hallucinating referee Anthony Taylor. Following an appeal by GTFC, the sending-off has been overturned by some men in suits and 3D glasses, freeing him up to appear at Hereford tomorrow and restoring the three points Town were robbed of by Taylor's shit decision, apart from the last bit. Other team news is that Nick Colgan might be back and ready to have his performance undermined by more of your good-natured abuse, but the drugs don't work for walking cortisone sponge Lee Peacock, whose troublesome achilles thing will keep him out for a second successive game. Hit the Cod Almighty pre-match factfile for your fix of day-before-the-game truth.
Ever the bastion of proactive local journalism, the Grimsby Telegraph has come up with a story about Nathan Jarman in response to some people talking about him on a messageboard, or something, probably. The out-of-favour Town forward, who hasn't played for ages because that's what being out of favour means, has apparently been moaning on some shit website or other and Neil Woods has handled the issue in absolutely the right way. Er, I guess that's the end of the story then. Bye.
What else? This week the names drawn out of the hat to Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest are Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Mark Hudson. That's not interesting in the least, admittedly, but in turning from an unfocused running machine to a consistent and genuine goal threat over the past couple of months Akpa Akpro also seems to have changed nationality from French to Ivorian. The Diary intends to apply immediately for Ghanaian citizenship to see if I wake up tomorrow morning as a respected and generously remunerated journalist, and indeed whether there is such a thing as a respected and generously remunerated journalist.
Did anyone mention that Chambers lad going back to Leicester? It was Leicester, wasn't it? Shame, that, what with him having marked himself out from the other 913 forwards to have appeared for the Mariners this season by demonstrating a peculiar ability to score goals. Well, if you're not emailing, I have to do something to make sure you're still reading. Have a good time if you're going tomorrow, have a good time if you're not, and remember it's only a game!
Thursday 8 April
Armchair Diary writes: Why, when the powers that be at Cod Almighty were asking for regular diarists, did I volunteer to do Thursdays? Nothing happens on a Thursday. It's the lull between any midweek losses and the impending doom of playing again on a Saturday. On a Wednesday you get the fallout from the midweek failure plus the opposing manager gloating and if you're lucky maybe the odd ex-player saying it's a shame to see their former club struggling so much. On a Friday you get some team news ahead of the weekend fixture and an injury update. On a Thursday you have to somehow make the reserves result sound interesting before plundering the reports from the various academy sides for silly names and then try to dress that up as news. So you'll forgive me, dear reader, if I don't have a great deal of interest for you this week.
Hey! The reserves played yesterday and for the first time since September they faced Hartlepool. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw followed by a 5-0 drubbing for the Mariners then. But what of yesterday's match? Did the Mariners level the score by beating them Monkey Hangers? No. They lost 2-0 actually. The SNOS must know how I feel on a Thursday as even they are struggling to make the reserves result sound interesting: "The Mariner's second string concluded their home calendar" is a pretentious way of saying it as their last home game but credit for trying I guess. It's gets better though as, according to that report, Town even tried cheating by having 12 men on the field. Drew Rhoades (who I'm sure was spelled differently the other week) had a shot near the end but wasn't even in the starting XI or on the bench according to the line-ups. Perhaps Woodses was getting Caspar The Friendly Assistant Manager to try out a new tactic the senior squad will employ this weekend. Watch out for it.
I was right. On 25th March I told you about Drewe Rhodes and Cahrlie I'Anson. The reserve report mentions Drew Rhoades and someone with the surname L'Anson. How can we expect players to be passionate about keeping this club alive and in the Football League when the club's official website can't even get their names right?
Christ on a bike! I have some real news to report. Town have a good old-fashioned keeper crisis going into the Hereford game on Saturday. Mark Oxley has paid yet another bridge toll to get back to Hull for a "reserve outing" today. I wonder where they are going. It's sunny round here so maybe they've all gone for a day out up the coast in Bridlington. Unless it's just wanky journo-speak meaning "match" of course. Anyway, Colgan is having a scan on his injured whatever-it-is and Leigh Overton is crocked as well so unless one of them gets better sharpish then Woodses will be on the phone to Hull's Football Managerial Consultant, or whatever stupid job title it is they gave Iain Dowie to persuade him to go there, to ask if we can borrow Oxley again.
Wednesday 7 April
Mardy Diary: Gutted. That's how John Coleman, manager of Accrington Stanley, feels. He's never felt so bad seeing his Accrington team lose to the likes of Grimsby. Christ it's bad enough still getting patronised by those black and white frauds from the north-east, without bloody Accrington joining in too.
Anyway in typical Town form, still this season lingers on. It wouldn't be normal to just have done with it get it out the way. This will be torture to the bitter end. I fully believe this season will again go down to the final two games and that's not to suggest we'll stay up, or even have a realistic chance of staying up but that it won't be mathematically over until the very end. Just that little bit of hope just a grain, to keep you hanging on. Keep you thinking that if we do that, and Torquay do this, and Cheltenham do the other oh and look there's Lincoln in sniffing distance with a handful of difficult games coming up. They'll win them of course because Lincoln are the sort of side that do that sort of thing. As are Cheltenham despite never looking like a side capable of even playing football. Torquay though there's something Town-like about them. In fact, it would be typical Town to pull ourselves briefly out of this mire right near the end, before slumping back down with a disappointing away draw at Burton. And so the faint hope begins to gain momentum as we approach the weekend...
Actually who knows what will happen between now and 'The End'? I tried to convince a friend on Saturday that Adrian Forbes would come on in the last game of the season, run about like a mentalist before tripping over and deflecting the ball in to the Burton net to secure a late winner and our Football League status, thus turning him in to an instant Grimsby legend. He wasn't convinced. We'll see.
Tuesday 6 April
Middle-aged Diary writes: In my youth, I'd often regale myself with the thought on the all too frequent occasions when Town created the opportunity that my ambition was to see the Mariners win a game from two goals down. Yesterday it happened. Metaphorically, the league table still has us two goals down, but yesterday, the players of Grimsby Town answered a lot of questions about their commitment to the cause. It may not be enough, but yesterday's win was, in itself, something to hold in the memory.
Most of the news of the last four days is covered (or soon will be) in the match coverage elsewhere, but playing his full part yesterday Olly to Accrington's Stanley, if you must was Lancashire, the club having decided to appeal against Friday's red card. Given the caution Town have displayed for fear of exacerbating the punishment in the past, this suggests the video evidence gives us a firm footing for hope that the sending off will be rescinded, the damage, of course, having been done.
Friday 2 April
Was Paul Crichton really with us for only three years? I could swear it seems like double that. Hello readers ‒ it's your original and once-regular Diary back for a quick Good Friday peek at all the news that's fit to copy and paste.
Most of the news these days concerning our beloved/beloathed (delete as applicable) Mariners, of course, simply follows the formula X says Y, where X is a randomly chosen member of the Grimsby Town FC playing staff and Y is "uh, dunno, yeah, we'll try and win the game or something". The Diary, then, can't even be arsed to read what Joe COVER YOUR MAN! Widdowson has to say for himself, or even the admirable Lee Peacock, because we've all read it a gajillion times before. We all know the Telewag has to fill that space somehow but, like most fans, all the Diary wants is something entirely greater to the surrender at Rochdale eight more times between now and the end of the season, which is not so much asking the Earth as simply requesting payback for all those other surrenders we sacrificed time and money to witness before the likes of Peacock arrived to stiffen up the side.
As ever, Cod Almighty's match preview will bring you much of the stattery and factitude you could wish for, but who will be the men asked to record a third successive home win tonight? All eyes are on the goalkeeping position, as Nick Colgan has knackered himself up, and Leigh Overton hasn't, but the club are saying he has, so that they don't have to admit that they don't think he's ready for first-team football. The likelihood is, then, that Mark Oxley will make his second appearance for Woods's battlers, having just crossed the bridge for a second spell on loan from global finance's King$ton Communication$ FC. The Diary didn't see Oxley's other turn-out for Town, in the 2-0 defeat at Dagenham a month ago, but from what some supporters say it wasn't a performance to fill you with confidence. Then again, just 12 months ago some supporters relentlessly booed and jeered Wayne Henderson for most of his GTFC debut, so what the hell do they know.
Elsewhere in the sides, Jamie Devitt returned to training earlier this week and is supposed to be starting against the Cobblestones. Paul Linwood and Tommy Wright are still injured though, and joining them on those legendary sidelines, unfortunately, could be Ashley Chambers, who has recently marked himself out from the other 913 forwards to have appeared for the Mariners this season by demonstrating a peculiar ability to score goals. Northampton are diminished by a trio of knee injuries to winger Andy Holt, midfielder Kevin Thornton and goalkeeper Chris Dunn, it says here, and their manager isn't relishing the trip. "It will be a cold and horrible place," says Ian Sampson, and who could argue with that? One suspects that the Stately Fentydome, should it ever be built, would somehow fail to strike the same fear into the hearts of our visitors. But it'd sure scare the hell out of me.
Danny North, Danny North, Grimsby through and through. You had a trial with Scunthorpe, but Alfreton signed you.
Lastly today, let's play a game! Have a read of the Twohundredpercent blog and this piece from Sky Sports and see if you can work out which site pays its writers.
Thursday 1 April
Armchair Diary writes: Unlike last time it was left to me to bring you the daily update on all things Grimsby Town there is bugger all to tell you. I was tempted to make up some amazing story that verged on just the right side of unbelieveable as seems to be the done thing today but I couldn't be arsed quite frankly. Would you believe me if I told you that in the wake of various professional football clubs going into administration this season that every club has had to submit their accounts for inspection by an FA-approved auditor and that irregularities had been found in Torquay's and Cheltenham's books and that each club was due to be docked eight points as a penalty? Maybe you would if I could provide a link to an independent website that carried the story. And if I had the technical know-how maybe I could have set that page up and linked to it. But I don't have the know-how, nor the inclination quite frankly.
Another reason for me not making up potentially believeable stories about our beloved Mariners is the fact that I bloody hate April fool's 'jokes'. The stories that the media churn out as their attempt at hilarity are always so obviously bullshit that it becomes tedious. I haven't checked the Telewag website but I wonder where they are claiming the viking longship is buried this year. It's been under the Riverhead Centre and Grimsby central library so far hasn't it? Maybe they are being inventive and slightly topical by suggesting Austin Mitchell will mount a Labour leadership challenge in a bid to become Prime Minister following the general election. Or have they gone with local schoolgirls to be sterilised at the end of year 10 in an attempt to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate? I'm going to have to have a look aren't I? Oh. I can't find it. Unless it's this story about shoring up the flood defences around the Fitties. Man dies in fire nope. Tanning salon owners are con artists that's probably true. A new ride at Pleasure Island. Sheesh, is that place still open? I've never been because it looked shit but for them to be investing more money it I guess someone must be going there, probably all those 'comforts'.
Even though neither me or the Telewag can muster up a decent April fool's story that doesn't mean they're not out there. And today they are the closest thing we have to news. Would you be taken in by a report suggesting Blundell Park is balanced on little more than a delicate layer of earth above a huge underground cavern? Of course not, because that cavern wouldn't exist, it would have been flooded by Chapman's Pond duh! And if that story by Phil Friatters (an anagram of April The First) wasn't bad enough for you, how about the Mariners and Lincoln merging to form AFC Linby? The story was vaguely plausible right up till the point when it suggested that given the choice of chairmen the new club had chosen John Fenty. Are things that bad already? It got worse then the police spokesman they quoted called the local 'hooligan firm' the CPB. That'll be Cleethorpes Peach Batrol will it?
Some genuine, real, verifiable news now. Town are expecting a decent crowd for tomorrow night's fixture against Northampton. That's tomorrow night, not afternoon. I'm not quite sure why the club are emphasising this point so much. I thought if you played football on a Friday, even if it is a bank holiday, that it was mandatory to play it at night so it's inconvenient for everyone. Mind you, when was the last time Town could be accused of playing football on a Friday night?
One of the comments on that Telewag story about the crowd for the Northampton game suggests we get better gates for 3pm kick-offs, and especially so on bank holidays. I wonder if this is true. I also wonder if there is some way to measure whether there is any correlation between the crowd and Town's performance. If only our stats guru hadn't buggered off halfway round the world...