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Friday 31 December
George Kerr said in the papers this morning that he was ecstatic to be awarded the CBE. Your Guest Diarist, who is continually amazed at the secret achievements and hobbies of folk which are only revealed by that Wikipedia is astonished to discover that George received the order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese emperor last month. And that he is the president of the British Judo Association. No mention that I can find of any accolade awarded to Sir John of McDermott. A shame as the Prime Minister has claimed that at least three quarters of this years honours have gone to 'local heroes'. Like that bloke who sold Cadbury down the river and then put gas prices up despite his company announcing their next profit was definitely going to be over two billion quid. Those acts of local heroics got him a knighthood.
The superb new official Town web site is sweating with panic as no-one has bought a ticket for tomorrow's game. After crying wolf one time too many with their 'almost definitely on' mantra of recent weeks the removal of the word almost hasn't, they obviously feel, done enough to convince folks to turn up at Blundell Park. Hastily shot 'free view' video shows the solemn ceremony of the fork being eased in to the playing surface. It doesn't actually go in very far but a separate article shouts to us that the match is on and that there is neither frost nor standing water in evidence at the ground. Only a cruel and bizarre toilet catastrophe can thwart them now.
The match preview continues with an interview with Dave Moore. Manager Woodses obviously not being able to face trotting out the tired old rhetoric for the sixth time in a month. Predictably we have another chat about 3G artificial pitches or Astroturf as Dave is naturally prone to call them. You can do anything on a 3G he tells us. Which gives him the lead-in to spout on about 'twisting and turning' with his usual gusto. Everyone's fit Mr Moore tells us his treatment room is empty. Even Watt is back training with everyone else, and Moore alludes to younger players returning from loan spells without bothering to name who or when.
But, of course, the players aren't match fit. Unlike opponents Mansfield who thumped Cambridge 5-1 away on Tuesday. This after stuffing Worksop in their previous match a month earlier 5-0 in the FA Trophy. Gulp.
Charles Ademeno has been confessing to the Telegraph in the usual manner. Except that he sounds very very nervous. Dave Moore, after declaring everyone in the squad to be fit made a telling comment to the effect that Ademeno keeps having 'little scares' with his knee. Ademeno is scared of his injury re-occurring, he's scared because he hasn't hit the back of the net all season, he's scared because he's nowhere near match fit (in his estimation anyway). Mr Ademeno is a very worried man. All that training ground bravado, all those special training-ground-goals; all that means nothing, nothing, nothing without a goal. It's a man's man's man's world out there Charles.
And maybe there's another reason to explain the Ademeno fear factor thing. An article in the Northern Echo speculates that Peterborough's Liam Hatch who has been on loan at Darlington has signed a contract with Grimsby Town. Hatch, a big twenty eight year old striker, has been doing a Livvo at centre half for the Quakers but they can't afford to buy him. Town, on the other hand, can just knock Hatch's fee of what they owe us for Bennett presumably.
Believe me gentle reader, it's on tomorrow and the world is re-awakening with transfer bombshells, approaching hangovers and the prospect of only one more long weekend until the world has to start grafting normally again. Get yourself to Blundell Park on the morrow and watch some football. See yer.
Thursday 30 December
Two days to go to a match that looks like it actually might get played: two days to the transfer window this year it is the round window your Guest Diarist believes.
Will Town have the sense to swoop on a good player at a smaller club like I've been recommending for months? Or will they go for the he's-been-crocked-for-ages-but-he'll-be-fit-soon-honest option from that Football League what we used to be in? A front hold-up player or an all-action tackling, passing, creative midfielder? Or will Woodses stick with what he's got having pronounced himself fully happy with every player in the squad at the start of the campaign. Well, Barry fucking Conlon is looking for a job but the smell of him will surely dissuade even the looniest of professional football clubs. Seriously, I can't be arsed to join the rumour mongers but the best candidate in the second category of player a midfield player from a smaller Conference club has to be Jay Smith.
There I've said it and I'll trouble you no more until tomorrow when there might be an actual match to start getting revved up for. See yer.
Wednesday 29 December
Hello, is it Wednesday today? Your Guest Diarist is one of those tetchy middle-aged men who moans when he can't find out when the news is on telly, and who moans again when he sees it and the only news is that Elton John has bought a child and apparently added a contractual obligation that its birthday fall on Christmas Day.
It may not even be my day to write this diary, but marijuana has shot down my capacity to absorb simple, recent instructions (although my recall of a 1977 Zappa gig is almost total). But hell, someone has to bore you with non-news and false promises.
The superb new official website has published the headline "Mansfield tickets on sale". Of course, in the small print below the infuriating advert I read that they are on sale. But not on Wednesday. It is Wednesday isn't it? The game, the SNOS assures us, without a trace of irony or hint of apology, "is almost certain to go ahead". Damn fine meteorologist is the Town webmeister. Damn fine.
The Telegraph continues to rattle out the requisite number of Town articles per day with today, featuring Coulson (WNBTBLBWGBS,H) and Heggggaarty! whose broken leg is mending nicely and whose hair looks normal in Scotland.
Oh, that competition to win a T-shirt was won by Baz Rockliff who got all the answers right and whose entry came in first. Hard luck to those who got them right but were too slow. And thanks to those who entered even though they didn't quite know all those haunting faces.
Any road, I taped Just William before dinner so I'm off to relive the years just before my childhood so you can skweem and skweem until you are sick but you'll get nothing further here today. Wednesday. Wednesday. You sure? See yer.
Tuesday 28 December
Reserve Diary writes:"The game should be on," declared the SNOS just last night, on without a hitch. Just as Woodses' men were about to embark on a new beginning our hopes were dashed this morning by referee Richard Wigglesworth, a man from a Dickens novel who confirmed that a frozen pitch would once again keep us from our beloveds Leary and Ridley.
It's not like someone from GTFC to make an outlandish claim only for the complete opposite to happen straight after though is it?
Town are unbeaten in the league since 10 October, a full 79 days ago, but have picked up just eight points in that time. Ah well, another kickabout for the squad at the Playsport centre it is then.
Anyway, if you're fed up the club shop is flogging a 1997/8 season
DVD, rather than a dead horse. Yes, it really has taken 12 years to
bring out a commemorative DVD of the club's greatest campaign. It's a tenner by the way.
If you're at a loose end this afternoon, why not have a read of the
Telewag's 2010 Mariners review. We all know the ending, but keep reading it and willing the players to put any sort of performance in during that dreadful 25 game run, and perhaps you'll change history. Or just watch this instead. Pretty much how I've felt every summer opening a gift bag full of new signings only for them to fail more miserably than the last set.
Still, at least we're giving the Aussies a good hiding down under. Perhaps Andy Todd's in the crowd; he plays his football for Perth these days. I'm off to work soon, see ya.
Monday 27 December
With Mr Normal Diary slumped by the fire with his whiskey and gin, and donning his Christmas cardigan to sing about his delicious chocolate ιclairs, it is left to me, that is I, Deviant Diary to be your slightly underwhelming replacement. The Val Doonican to his Perry Combover, if you will. A slight space-filler in this unsettling midpoint between postponed matches.
It's the time of year for rueful reflection and wistful, wishful nostalgia. Nothing says Christmas more than a five hour special on Nazi collaborators or a trite space-filler in the GT about Town's year from hell (series 10, released as a DVD box set on January 3rd, to beat the VAT rise). In a very real sense, a documentary on fascist stooges is a companion piece to the Queen's speech, of course. A complimentary piece and a complementary piece. An unsettling space-filler in the slight midpoint between paragraphs.
Are we at peace? We'll know tomorrow morning whether a positive pitch inspection by a man from Doncaster will end Town's hysterically historical unbeaten run. Let the facts speak for themselves sir no league game lost since October 10th and no goals conceded since November 20th to boot! This could run and run, unlike some of our midfielders.
In the land of amateur football administration revenge is a dish best served with some advanced ticket sales only: Mansfield supporters have the utter and ridiculous annoyance of having to buy tickets for the soon to be postponed New Year's Day fixture; it's a reciprocal arrangement, as an actress never said to a bishop, Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman in bar or whilst she crossed the road. At this rate all will be quiet on New Year's Day, and the western front too. A bummer crowd, rather than a bumper one.
There is no news on the state of Town's toilets. If we can't flush, there can be no push for promotion.
And if the ground upon which our warriors roam remains as hard as a barmaid's face in Eastenders we can console ourselves with Ricky's pouting in a land down under, where the sneers flow and their men chunter. We can snuggle up to snigger at Rrrrrrricky.
Friday 24 December
Here we are then, Christmas Eve and the world is frozen solid. Your Guest Diarist has just been down to the allotments to observe four old codgers trying to get parsnips out of the ground. I left when the pickaxe routine failed comically. Of course, the Boxing Day game at Mansfield has been called off too. If you can't get a pickaxe into the ground you certainly can't get a stud in. And to make matters worse the Mansfield toilets are a no-go area due to a whole series of burst pipes. As for Tuesday's home game, the mood is despondent ahead of Monday's pitch inspection.
Manager Woodses succumbed to the normal pre-match-postponed interview like Gordon Ramsey filming his family Christmas lunch with the leaves still on the trees. A pointless contractual obligation for a TV audience trying to feel festive by proxy. Ho, ho, ho, everyone's fit bar Watts; the tackles are flying in from Bradley Woods and "the quality and attitude are ten times what they were this time last season." Speaking of quality, as Woods did when mentioning how difficult it is to attract League players to a non-League club, brings me to Arsene Wenger, who has had words on an allied subject this week.
Now the Diary doesn't quote top premiershite managers too often. Unlike all too many lower-league fans, us lot at Cod Almighty don't 'follow' a top team as well as supporting Town. Myself, there's room in my heart for family, for friends, my favourite musicians and for Town and not a lot else. But what Wenger said (in the context of young players being rubbish for England U21 if they've had a taste at full international level) struck a chord: "When a player plays under his normal real level he is never good. When you put a player down two divisions, you would be disappointed by him because it is a low mental key, and, for him, he has to adapt to a different game, and he will be lost."
You can put arguments for and against when better-class loanees have turned out for Town. Beasant was awesome, as was, all too briefly, Pringle, and Andy Todd was ace some of the time. But I remember thinking that Richard Hughes didn't look any way near premiershite quality and that Dean Sinclair didn't exactly tear any trees up in his first loan spell. And that brings me to Andrew Wright. Wright was neat and tidy; he didn't make a lot of mistakes; but he didn't sparkle did he? John Oster, with a home-town point to prove of course, was, to use the modern vernacular, a different-class legendy loanee. This discussion is going nowhere isn't it? But I still say that the best players Town can sign in our present situation would come from our own division. Players who are used to the Conference and who see a move to Town as a step up, not down.
Anyway, we've had Matt Pakes on shouting about our festive splash screen: "Get Jarmo off that image, you bastards." Well Matt, it's a well-known fact that I said (more than once) that Jarman would just about scrape into my top ten favourite Town players. But he spoiled everything at the end didn't he? As the journos say, the manner of his departure was a real disappointment. So that's why he's there.
So how about an impromptu competition to name all the people on that screen? The first all-correct answer received will get a famous Cod Almighty T-shirt. So send your entry in
with your address and size. What the winner gets, frankly, depends on what size you are. We'll try to avoid sending you a Newell one though.
So have a happy, safe Christmas, gentle reader and we'll be back next week with news of more postponements. See yer.
Thursday 23 December
You would have had a Thursday diary but Durham Diary has obviously forgot. Come back tomorrow for your weekend Christmas bumper Guest Diary. Oh, he's turned up with something. This just in...
Hello everybody. Sorry this is so late. In an email-checking, present-buying, soup-drinking chat-astrophe I missed my call to write. It's several years since I last splashed musings all over this page, so forgive my rustiness as well as my tardiness while I attempt to keep my mustiness and mardiness under wraps.
Those of who you perused this website in the mid-to-late noughties may remember me as Durham Diary, although since I no longer reside in Durham and haven't visited for aaaages that moniker is a clear contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. The way this is going so far you'll be lucky to get the 'diary' bit out of me, either. Although if you've read this far you might be praying for that by now!
Your third paragraph today is the point at which I finally admit there's nothing to tell you. Not even the delay in going to print has saved my bacon with a story from leftfield. Town's superb new official site is helpfully reminding fans that the match away at Mansfield is all-ticket for Town fans. Helpfully, that is, were the Boxing Day game not going to be called off for the second year running at tomorrow's 10:30 pitch inspection.
You may remember last year's Boxing Day cancellation was at Notts County, which is where Chelsea youngster Michael Woods has ended up on loan. This being Michael Woods, nephew of Neil. Come on Woodses, surely he can recommend us a player or two? Boooo, sort it!
A DVD of the 1997-98 season (surely the greatest in the club's history? Certainly the greatest in my time as a Mariners fan) is on sale from the club at the fairly reasonable price of £9.99 plus postage and packaging. Why the club has announced this now, when most people have already finished Christmas shopping (no, not me: most people), I don't know. It's a shame. I would have quite liked that in my stocking and my birthday's not until September. Still, by then there may be a DVD of our promotion-and-FA Trophy-winning season. Yes, alright, alright, it is silly season after all!
I'm going to go and curl up in front of the fire and fall asleep. If I'm lucky I might dream of Paul Groves rising highest to head the ball so hard it bursts the seams of the Pontoon goal behind the opposition goalie. Do goal nets have seams? I don't even know! Merry Christmas from me, everybody, and see you on Sunday if global warming kicks in before then.
Wednesday 22 December
The cold weather continues, then. The snow still falls. The crystals of ice on the ground and the windscreens obdurately refuse to thaw. And your original/regular Diary's breath turns to steam in the freezing cold downstairs toilet of my ivory tower. I'm fortunate, because when it's my turn to write something about the football, and I can't because there hasn't been any, the amateur, free-wheelin' nature of Cod Almighty means I can pad it out with all this bumph about crystals of ice. Our professional counterparts over at the Grimsby Telegraph are afforded no such luxuries, and must instead hold fast to their imperative of producing Proper News or, in the absence of Proper News, something at least resembling it.
So I might go on randomly to tell you, for example, that Baby Diary recently turned two, and can now respond to the question "What's our football team?" with the answer "Imby Town!" While I'm thus indulging myself, those straitjacketed pros at the Telewag have to run what is actually a quite nice piece about the Imby Town players being able to train on the new artificial pitch at Bradley and lots of other stuff that keeps them fit while there's no football. I don't know what a 3G pitch is, but if it's anything like the Diary's spanking new 3G phone, its battery must run out about twice a day on average.
Over on Town's superb new official website there's a free-to-watch video of Town's players making a festive visit to the children's ward at the Dead Princess Hospital. It's very good of them all to do this, of course, and bring a little Christmas cheer into the lives of poorly kids. There are lots of clips of the lads doing the rounds on the wards and then an interview with 17-goal top scorer Alan Connell, who explains: "We're more than happy to do things like this in the community." The video ends, however, before the players leave and the children can be seen asking each other: "Which one was he? The way Town get through managers and players these days, I can't recognise a single one of them from that lot who came round last Christmas."
As to when we'll actually get a game on, Neil Woodses sounds vaguely optimistic about Mansfield on Boxing Day, though he's the only one who does. That Christmas Eve inspection looks increasingly like a way of getting the postponement confirmed as quick as possible so the players and managers can have Christmas Day off, doesn't it?
And that's about that. I'm going off to make lentil soup and cheesy bread. Cod Almighty will do its level best to provide a diary as often as we can over the holidays (and if you follow us on Twitter you'll find out when the diary and everything else new goes up on the site). But from me, in the meantime, have a nice Christmas and I'll see you soon.
Tuesday 21 December
Thank you for queuing around the base of our gleaming Ivorian Tower. Our diaries are now running on a reduced timetable because of the frozen news items. With Mr Normal Diary roasting his chestnuts on a misplaced apostrophe, Mr Guest Diary wistfully roaming the Fens in search of the perfect sprout and Mardy Diary being truly, mardily and deeply disturbed by the rank hypocrisy and utter cant of the governing classes, it is left to me, that is I, Deviant Diary, to grit the path of Town knowledge. The stocks are low, we need a shipment soon, for even the local rag is reduced to speculative speculation about Town players who may be interesting proper football clubs, possibly, if they are. It could happen. Remember: the chances of anyone living on Mars are a million to one, they said.
The Mansfield game will officially be postponed sometime around 09:16:54 on Christmas Eve, rendering all that nonsense about tickets utter nonsense. What nonsense it was. Sometimes it feels like Town fans are viewed as cash cows. Well, we do moo a lot.
Let's chew some cud. Set your controls for the heart of mid-winter: the Southport, Kettering and Forest Green games have finally been rearranged. Ah, Kettering, the once tall poppies of the Conference with dreams of Gazza-led triumphs, cut down to mere stumps and scavenging for players from Barnstonworth. They tried to sign Golden Gordon last week. Michael Palin got the name for Ripping Yarns after travelling down the A15 you know. That's a true story, Kate.
A digression into the nether word of the non-League; pray why, good sir? It's a murky world out there, with snake oil salesman circling the dying, promising fishes and loaves. The latest dying swans are Kidderminster, who appear to have avoided a harrowing future. Mr Fentycon may be few things, but he hasn't been banned from running a company, only from swanning around the lanes of Lincolnshire in one of his two Jags.
And in late breaking news, it's... a bit cold. Chill out dudes, it's nearly Christmas.
Monday 20 December
Mardy Diary writes: It's on these Monday mornings after a matchless weekend that I feel a little bit sorry for the Grimsby Telegraph. Just a little bit, mind. You see, usually on a Monday they'd have a match report, player interviews, manager interview, other little bits and bobs about the match. But today, it's clearly a big struggle to fill the space. So, we have a rather dry story about the Mansfield match being all-ticket, and a story where Lee Ridley tells us how hard it is to be a footballer because unlike other people they have to work on Bank Holidays and Boxing Day, BUT FAILS TO MENTION ABOUT ALL THE OTHER BLOODY DAYS THEY GET OFF DURING A NORMAL BLOODY WORKING WEEK. Sorry, I'm a bit tetchy about such things.
Here at Cod Almighty's exceptionally ivory towers, we have no such problems on slow news days taking the opportunity to trot out the same old formulaic, un-funny, studenty, who-do-they-think-they-are, pompous, trite, self-important drivel that we always do. And you're lucky today, because I'm a master of the above. When I say 'master', I mean I actually got an MA in it from New Anglia Generic University Sponsored by Maltesers. I bought it on e-bay this weekend: I'm loving this free-market education shit already.
And so it is we come to the now regular 'root about in the mail box to find emails from readers so I don't have to write anything else' bit. Root, root. That's a mildly rude word in Australia that. If that's actually possible.
Mike Worden writes: "Further to the reference in [the] diary regarding famous people at Blundell Park, I can indeed confirm that Elton John has visited the ground. He walked past me at the back of the Main Stand in the mid 1970s when I was trying to sell 'Golden Goal' tickets. He didn't buy one miserable sod." Well, I'll take your word this time, but I want evidence in the future. What was the equivalent of a camera phone back then: a sketch pad attached to the leg of a pigeon or something? "That was the best job I ever had, selling Golden Goal tickets between 2-3, getting a few pence in commission and getting into any stand for any game for free. Top stuff. I sold a winner once and the guy came back to me the week later and gave me a tenner. Good times," says Mike, "Of course we used to frequently have famous people visiting Blundell Park. They were called footballers." If that wasn't so depressingly true, I might laugh Mike.
All-round GTST 'good egg' Emma Blackbourn has written in to berate a previous diarist (not mentioning any names) for being a bit of a lazy arse. "Yes GTST do still have the affiliate site with Buy.at link is www.buy.at/gtst. There are also a couple of small hints on the website..." says Emma in the politest possible way. Seriously Emma, it's like playing with a team of Barry Conlons I'm carrying these buggers. Seeya.
Friday 17 December
It's absolutely brass monkeys here in Lincolnshire. Your Guest Diarist, just in from an early morning expedition, has had his arse well and truly frozen off. The chances of a football match being played in the county this weekend are utterly utterly remote. Groundsman Phillips has no blanket of snow, just a pitch frozen solid. The postponement of tomorrow's game against sweet little Forest Green is a matter of inspection formality.
Which is a shame, because the lads who inhabit Cod Almighty towers had finally managed to defrost their own arses and construct an excellent pre-match factfile stuffed with, well, stuff you need to know, and other stuff you didn't know you needed to know. It's a poor substitute for a game, I know, but read it anyway folks.
Encouraged by my own reading of this almighty factfile, I journeyed to the Forest Green website. And came upon a picture of fish, chips and mushy peas to compare with the one offered by McMenemy's which we discussed in some detail the other week. Thankfully our fish is obviously better than theirs and, in fact, the whole Forest Green plate looks like a specimen meal prepared by a sports nutritionist rather than a jolly Grimbarian.
But I digress. More interesting really is the Forest Green statement about Russell Slade-era Town trial reject Lee Fowler, which explains that despite their putting up with his alcoholism stoically, and paying to get his knee fixed, the player has apparently done the dirty on them and talked to other clubs behind Forest Green's back. So they won't offer him a contract. Which sounds like a damn fine decision to me. Plus, if the Forest Green first team squad profiles are to be believed, both he and his brother were nicknamed 'Fowls'. Cue 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' or summat.
Speaking of fully-functioning alcoholics, Barry Fucking Conlon has hit the headlines again, with the Manchester Evening news reporting yesterday that the total bloody idiot has been caught driving while nearly double the legal limit (again) and without insurance. Conlon, who rarely makes the Stockport first team, no doubt went out for a few consolatory pints afterwards: good old Barry full of yarns, full of escapades, full of beer. Lazy, full of shit and just about all washed up. Enjoy your retirement.
Elsewhere on the quite lovely Forest Green site is a piece which baldly but honestly explains that the team are not going to waste money by bothering to travel up to Grimsby on Friday as "the Grimsby pitch is currently frozen solid and not covered". Neil Woods laboured his way through another pre-match preview video in which he explained that he liked to spend Christmas Day with his family so would be trusting the players not to over-indulge and giving them the day off too. I will spare you, gentle reader, a precis of the rest of his preview same-old same-old. As are the Telegraph articles where players (Peacock "I'm a striker, I really really am and I have no plans at all to retire: Kempson "I'm glad Watty is still crocked") explain that 'we've-been-a-bit-shit-lately but-are-raring-to-go, honest'.
The Boxing Day game, weather permitting, will be played at Field Mill as our opponents have finally managed to shame the ground 'owner' into allowing them to play there. Which, considering Mansfield Town seemingly paid him a huge dividend to facilitate him buying their own ground off them seems only fair really. You just can't make modern football up, can you? See yer.
Thursday 16 December
There are many traditions of Grimsby Town Football Club that have been abandoned under the stewardship of Neil Woods. League football for one. Another long-established custom in North East Lincolnshire is that success in cup competitions is only permissable when accompanied, in the early rounds, by dire league form. One only has to cast one's mind back to the third tenure of Alan Buckley (peace be upon him) for a classic example of this venerable tradition in practice.
However, not only is the senior team proving moderately successful in the Methodist Anti-Gambling Conference Premier Division and the FA Trophy: the youth team too has steamed through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. The Telegraph match report of this happy event, while we are on the subject of broken traditions, carries considerably less literary merit than the SNOS account, which reveals that among the victorious Mariners' substitutes was the improbably named Brodie Blankley. The youth team, for those who are interested in such matters, will face Newcastle United's youth side in the next round, should the young magpies pull off an unlikely giant-killing against that of Dulwich Hamlet.
Let it never be said that Grimsby Town players lack empathy with their loyal supporters. Mr Steven What (?) admits in the Telegraph's main piece to his "frustration at having to watch on from the stands" for the duration of his recovery from a knee injury about which your Reserve Team Diary had completely forgotten. Mr What (?) is clearly one of the brighter members of the home dressing room at Blundell Park as he has managed to include some very amusing puns on his affliction which have obviously passed the less erudite Telegraph sub-editors by. He refers metaphorically to having "stumbled again" during his recovery and of the necessity of having to take "a few steps back". Such witticisms doubtless mean that there isn't a dry eye on the training ground when Steven What (?) takes to the stage.
Wednesday 15 December
Sorry there was no diary yesterday. Idle Diary forgot to write it!
"Rob Eagle hopes Town can keep the momentum going," is the headline of today's lead story from the Grimsby Telegraph sports desk, which seems to your original/regular Diary a little presumptuous, given that you have to have momentum in the first place before you can keep it going. Oh, right, sorry he means the momentum generated by the Mariners' win over Redditch United in the FA Trophy last Saturday. That's the one. Town's first game in three weeks and their second win in the last ten games. That momentum.
What Rob is doing, of course, is playing Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately, But We'll Get Better Soon, Honest the fun game enjoyed constantly by Grimsby Town footballers of all ages and abilities over the past eight seasons of relentless failure. Yer man Eagleses, though, has been one of the Mariners' better performers this season, contributing five goals and lending creativity to the attack, despite many messageboard pundits having written him off as another useless waster within roughly twelve seconds of his first touch in a pre-season friendly. Obviously, it wouldn't be fair to judge Eagle and his current teammates all the more harshly for our frustration at the failures of, say, Peter Sweeney, Adrian Forbes, Terry Cooke, Anthony Williams, Mickaλl Antoine-Curier and Barry Fucking Conlon. A fair proportion of Town fans will do it anyway, naturally, but it still wouldn't be fair.
So, anyway, Chasetown. For those of you who weren't aware, Town couldn't play Kettering in their rearranged league fixture last night because Kettering were replaying Chasetown in the FA Trophy a game for which the winners had been drawn against Town in the second round. It's neat circularity rather than dramatic irony. The drama came in extra time, when Kettering scored the first goal of the game only for Chasetown to equalise, then miss a penalty, and finally bring on a substitute who scored the winning goal in the 120th minute with his first touch of the ball. Saturday 15 January will see the Mariners visit their Staffordshire opponents, who play in the top flight of the Northern Premier League, two divisions below Town, after being promoted last season through the play-offs. We may not yet know a great deal about Chasetown, though that will change over the course of the next month, and we can at least agree in the meantime that they have an awesome name.
Lastly from me today, if you're looking at buying a copy of Kevin Drinkell's autobiography for the Town fan in your life this Christmas, you might want to buy one of these off of Ebay. They're a couple of quid cheaper than the RRP and they're signed by the actual Kevin Drinkell who wrote it and everything. Speaking of Christmas shopping, does the supporters' trust still do that affiliate linking thing whereby it gets money if you click through from the GTST site to Amazon and all those other big online shops? I can't find the link now. Answers on an e-postcard, please and while you're about it, please do email email@example.com with your other festive gift suggestions for Town fans. There are only nine shopping sessions left until somebody has to figure out where we're playing Mansfield on Boxing Day.
Monday 13 December
Mardy Diary writes: Hello there! It's been a while, and I see in my absence that lots has happened: we've signed a player and played a match. What more could possibly happen in the world of football? Not a goddamn lot and today's news only serves to reinforce this. Yes there was snow, and then there was not snow. And then we won a game of football. And that is it really. This season's dragging already isn't it?
And so it is in these times of news paucity that we delve in to the diary postbag, discard the bleedin' Holker Street Newsletter that our good friends at Barrow seem determined to send us about three times a day, and move on to your missives. Is there really that much news at Barrow? It sounds like a hive of activity. I suppose I should actually read one and find out what it is exactly that's going on there. I am afeared of what I may find though, so I'll leave it for now. But if news stays this dry for another week, I may have to publish one in its entirety. My hand may be forced, that's all I'm saying.
Anyway, Steve Carlton has been kind enough to drop us a line about famous people at BP. "After reading about David Elvidge's celeb spotting at Blundell Park, I'll see his Terry McDermott and raise him Elton John." It's a bold opening gamble, no mistaking. "We played
Watford at home, probably 1999/2000 or something like that. He turned up in the Upper Findus wearing a long camel coloured coat." Good spot, Steve. "I'm pretty sure I'm not making this up." Ooh, so close. So confident to begin with before fading when it mattered most like a foray up the wing by Peter Bore. Was it real, was it a dream? I'll leave it up to the reader to corroborate this factoid you know what to do.
Chris Beeley is another person having visions of the famous: "Just wondering if Teddy Pendergrass or Chef from South Park is now writing for the SNOS 'help us get it on' (8/12/10)? Oh no, it's about snow clearing." And they did indeed get it 'on' after much huffing and puffing late in to the evening. "I have to say living a long way away from GY reading the article did make me feel wistful, I could imagine if I lived locally bunking off work and turning up tomorrow with my shovel encountering a crowd of jovial ruddy face Mariners fans clapping each other on the back and exchanging banter, perhaps the odd player mucking in, a throw back to the good old days, jumpers for goal posts etc." Well, not really wishing to ruin that image Chris, but I will anyway, it's more likely to be purple-faced Town fans screaming "You're shit Beeley. Get it off, you waste of space. Behind you, the snow you tool!" and then leaving the ground ten minutes before you finish. "Anyway, forgive my ramblings, I'm off now to help Lee Peacock push his Jeep out of the snow." You needn't have bothered.
Oh look away at Kettering or Chasetown in the next round of the cup. Oh, the irony. Seeya.
Friday 10 December
After a long and presumably careful look at Dean Sinclair's knee, Town have signed him on a short contract to the end of the season. Manager Woods is happy that Sinclair's dodgy knee stood up to the rigours of a run on the beach and some intensive five-a-side indoors and declared the returnee in contention for a central midfield place. In fact he claims that he has no 'squad' players at all now and that everyone even the young players are jostling to be picked.
Your Guest Diarist, as ever, looks at that assertion in several different lights. No dead wood, no passengers now that Lewis Gobern has left to hone his, errrm, talent elsewhere (no doubt he can fill his time until some desperate club takes him by whittling sticks with a sharp knife). Or a gaggle of sub-par little-hopers and battling-on crocks? You look at the squad on paper and you get a little surge of optimism. You see them on the pitch and you are engulfed in hopeless despair.
Maybe tomorrow (if the thaw allows it pitch inspection Friday afternoon, folks) is the time for Woods to get brave and pick his best team. If you digest all the snippets he's mentioned this season, that would have Peacock in midfield and Ademeno and Connell up front. Woods must be desperately disappointed that Gobern's immaturity and behavioural problems let him down the manager's eyes lit up in pre-season when talking about the lad's pace. But now that he has Sinclair, and Peacock is confident about his physical condition again, maybe he can try something completely different in the middle by playing them together. And a home cup-tie against lower-tier opponents is an ideal time, in my opinion.
The shadow of Gobern's impending official exit did not hang over the pre-match interview the manager and the lugubrious-as-ever Dale chose not to even mention it. But the shadows were there principally perhaps because the paid-for preview was filmed in the gloom of the indoor sports centre where Town have been training all week. Woods reported that Eagle(s) has a precautionary-tight-hamstring dropped-out-of-training thing. And that Watt is running for England but it hurts when he kicks a football. Otherwise he has a full squad to choose from. The rest of the five minutes is just a mangled rehash of all the themes endlessly rehearsed in earlier interviews.
By the manager's own logic the large number of catch-up games to be played over the next couple of months should see the team start to assert itself in the division. A big, equally-talented squad where everyone is good enough to play in any game should mean that Town start to grind down their opponents, most of whom lack equal playing resources and facilities. Except, of course, that this is Grimsby Town we are talking about. And there is no logic, no winning mojo in sight. But at least we still sort of foolishly hope don't we? Don't we? See yer.
Thursday 9 December
Reserve Team Diary writes: So what are you up to today? Bored? Need some fresh air? Fancy moving a shit load of snow from the Blundell Park pitch? Town are today hoping to cash in on some FA Trophy fever by encouraging fans to help Grounds man extraordinaire Mike Phillips and Stadium Manager Nick Dale clear the pitch ahead of Saturday's game with Redditch. In an interview on the SNOS Mr Dale, nudged by Dale, even admitted there might be a free cuppa for volunteers. If anyone deserves a bit of help it has to be Grounds man Mike. His ability to produce a top surface over the years is a staggering achievement considering the ineptitude in most other areas of the club. I wish I could help him out myself. If only I knew of a group of 20 or so unoccupied young men in Grimsby with nothing better to do...
It's been nearly three weeks without a game and while it's been nice to have to a bit of respite from mid table mediocrity in the Conference we all know it makes for a boring weekend when we don't play. I'm itching to see a game where I will actually give a crap about the outcome. Apart from the rumoured bruised forehead suffered by our left back, the enforced break should ensure that the squad is fully fit and raring to go. The game against Redditch on Saturday could be an opportunity to kick start the season and score a few goals against a struggling side. Don't be fooled by my optimism though, I'm also likely to put a bet on a 1-1 draw.
Should the game go ahead on Saturday it will be Town's first ever game in the FA Trophy. It's a competition that in theory we should have a decent chance of winning. We are however completely crap in cup competitions these days. The pessimist in me seems to think that we will sail through the early rounds, raising everyone's hopes only to suffer some kind of crushing semi-final defeat. I hope I'm wrong but It's the only kind of loss we haven't suffered in the last few years so I'm bracing myself for it now.
A quick last minute check of the news shows that my pointless wittering above was indeed pointless and I could have written something much more interesting about Dean Sinclair signing until the end of the season or Lewis Gobern playing his last game for the club. I could have even commented on some boring filler about Andrew Wright playing a game for Scunthorpe. No matter, I'll let tomorrow's diary fill you in on the details.
Wednesday 8 December
The original Mr Diary normally pens a few paragraphs for you on a Wednesday but he has gone to London (to see the Queen I expect). So here is what there is today from me again, your Guest Diarist.
And there isn't a lot. Despite weather forecasters trumpeting a thaw arriving Thursday there is so much packed ice in and around the stadium, and such a paucity of fan volunteers to help clear it, the chances of Town resuming their playing career against Redditch in that FA Trophy thing must be less than even.
As ever Town groundsman Mike Phillips has a plan involving a JCB and the leaving of three or so inches of snow on the pitch until the thaw arrives. And then going hell for leather to shift it. But the surrounding streets are in a right state. There is a rumour the match will go ahead without the Main Stand being open I'd expect the crowd to not go far over a thousand wouldn't you? But we'll have to see.
Meanwhile, a tiny bit like a copper examining CCTV footage on the tele, I spent a bored few minutes after yesterdays diary trying to spot Lewis Gobern in the murky film-noir the SNOS released showing the Town indoor training session (see yesterdays Diary). I couldna spot him. Gobern, whose nose was reportedly broken in a training session spat (with many gossipy fingers pointing Ridleywards), has not had a good time of it since joining Grimsby.
And they're having it a bit rough on Corro too so rough that last nights episode was unrelentingly grim as cast members plucked lots of useful looking lengths of timber from the rubble and surprisingly little else. Now, I've got to leave you because Mrs Guest says there is what looks like a snow avalanche about to slide off our front roof and, at-best, nastily surprise, or, at-worst, kill some unsuspecting pedestrian on the pavement below. Quite what I am supposed to do is another thing anyone got a grappling hook handy? See yer.
Tuesday 7 December
Your Guest Diarist (who is only here, by the way, in case Idle Diary can't make it later on due to having a very complicated life and a very recalcitrant car) told you yesterday that club skipper Lee Peacock is in the form of his life. And the man himself has been rabbiting on about how he feels better than James Brown in a paid-for Mariners Player interview filmed in the dark at yesterday's indoor training session.
"I was the only person who made it to the training ground!" exults Lee. "Like, because I've got a Jeep. I made it in and I was the only one there and I got stuck, like!" babbled the player, who, I bet, lists his favourite bird as a phoenix and whose favourite box set must be Top Gear (the one where they get stuck in the snow). Someone needs to deflate his tyres a few psi the man is on fire!
Bergman-style mid-winter camerawork shows what appears to be a five-a-side game played to a low-key grinding musical soundtrack. Peacock, resplendent in high-vis bib and Abba-style beard, struts imperiously. "Right now! Right here!" drones the club singer repetitively and almost plaintively. The film cuts to the man and Peacock says the word "Yorkshire" and makes himself sound strangely like Armando Iannucci. "You do what you can, in and around the house," says Lee invoking images of chin-ups on door frames to a background of Jeremy Kyle and strange rituals carrying frozen water butts around the snowy garden.
Our man for the moment (which has sadly arrived in a time where there are no games to see him at his beautiful best, like a butterfly who lived only on the one day of summer where it pissed it down like November) is excited about all the cancelled games, citing as his reason the fact that there will be loads of games close together so the team can go on a run and get loads of points quickly. Yes, he talks in these long exciting sentences, overjoyed at the prospect of what is to come. By the end of his first page it is like being in James Joyce's head. It's the end of February everything is going great no injuries, no suspensions, no nothing but winning and optimism like the England Ashes side. We're on a great great run. Phew it's a relief to the frazzled brain when it ends, gentle reader.
Meanwhile, Curtis Woodhouse has been telling the Telegraph how Neil Woodses is under-appreciated and musing on his football career: "I played a few times for Sheffield FC last season but now my boxing is starting to get harder. I've still got a pair of boots and have told Sheffield they can give me a call. But to be honest my left foot has got a mind of its own now; it doesn't do what I want it to. And the phone doesn't ring as much as it used to." My boots got lost when we moved house but otherwise it's pretty much the same for me, Curtis. Apart from the boxing and the telling Sheffield, and, ermm, the left foot as well, I suppose.
The Telegraph also runs a pretty speculative article about Town fans facing the prospect of watching the Christmas Mansfield fixture at Alfreton. And we have had a letter from David Elvidge:
"With not much news about of our heroes can I use an admittedly spurious link to talk about something else? Just finished reading today's Diary (still great reading even when Town are in temporary hibernation) and then turned to BBC Sports' web page to find a mention of the black and white stripes I mean Newcastle United. Why the hell have they sacked Chris Hughton? Newcastle are only in their first season back in the Premiership and, that considered, are not doing too badly. I have been impressed by the quiet way Hughton has gone about things when they got relegated and since their return. He seems a decent bloke and does not deserve this before Christmas.
"Back to Blundell Park, a few years ago Kenny Dalglish and Terry McDermott were sitting a couple of rows in front of me in the Findus, as it then was. Presumably they were on a scouting mission for Newcastle, rather than having followed my black and white scarf believing they were at St James's Park. Perhaps the Diary could invite 'I saw someone famous at Blundell Park' stories to while away these winter days.
Finally, a happy Christmas to all at Cod Almighty, and all avid readers of the Diary."
Thanks David, and I'll add, although unseasonably early perhaps, the same felicitations to all the folk who hardly ever read this bollocks and who hate it really. See yer.
Monday 6 December
Ed Milliband's poll ratings went up when he was on paternity leave saying nowt to no-one apart from "coo-coo-goo-goo" to his new offspring. The criticism of Neil Woodses has died away too, bar the last odd tired curses from the recalcitrant messageboard few. The Town world is in hibernation and going stir crazy from the unremitting cold and the absence of football. Your Guest Diarist tried to cheer himself up at the weekend watching Plucky Scunny on the telly. But even they got stuffed.
These last ten days have seen Lee Peacock in his best ever form for the club, mark my words. The Telegraph hasn't run a single Town article today. A news search on that internet for all things Grimsby Town produces a solitary picture of fish, chips and mushy peas on the superb new official website. I studied it for minutes. Nice piece of haddock, but not enough chips and you know somehow the meal is not hot enough. But the peas look nice. However, the table is crowded a la Little Chef-crowded circa 1979. Too much cutlery, flowers, flags, sugar bowls and all sorts. No, not liquorice allsorts you fool. That's for tomorrow's daydream.
But we did get a letter. Richard Lord replied to my request for information on Qatar his mother confirming my suspicions: "My mum says Qatar isn't even a country apparently it's an inflammation of the mucous membranes causing a stuffy nose, which she gets from time to time, so I don't see how that can stage a World Cup."
Meanwhile the Town squad are training indoors at Play Sport. I bet Lee Peacock scores a hat trick. See yer.
Friday 3 December
Southport is frozen. Neil Woodses still can't get his car out of the drive. Some unnamed Town players actually walked to Cheapside to use the treadmill and look out of the window at the snow. Lee Peacock has trained every day and the Telegraph reports the manager saying: "He's looking really strong and sharp, and definitely comes into contention for the weekend." After a pitch inspection the match is postponed. Another weekend of pain for Peter Bore with his mysterious hip.
Yes, gentle reader, your Guest Diarist has snow-ploughed his way through the Town chaff and panned his way through the frozen news-mud to find these golden nuggets of information in an icy pool of horribly mixed metaphor. Not forgetting a sensational Telegraph interview with Mark Hudson where he tells the readership that although Town have been a bit shit lately and drawn far too many games, they will go on an impressive run soon provided he is allowed to attack and score goals: "That's really my game, attacking from midfield, and I need to show that a lot more. I'm usually an eight or nine goal a season man." Which strikes me as horribly similar to when Blair boasted he was a five-times-a-night man.
I'll level with you I was rooting for Russia to get the World Cup yesterday. The thought of the Bastard Franchise Scum hosting a World Cup match was just too much for me to take. Give the tournament to foreign mafia they are so much more exotic and so much better at it than their English equivalents. And they have ladies called Tatiana and Svetlana and that, with ridiculously sexy accents. I mean how can you get excited about group games taking place in places like Milton Keynes? Neil Woods was disappointed though rambling all the usual blather about how wonderful the English Premiershite stadia are etc and ending with this savage indictment: "It was a shame not to get it but then all the countries have put a lot of work in, so it would have been a shame for them too."
As for Qatar, would someone email the Diary with any kind of rationale for this decision beyond financial shenanigans by FIFA? It seems to me it would be a lot cheaper, easier and more environmentally friendly if Qatar's rulers simply bought a more suitable small ready-made tax-haven country like Liechenstein in which to stage their very own World Cup. But it was a relief to hear Blatter tell the world yesterday that the game of football started in China and was only "organised in England and Scotland". So at least he's prepared the ground for them making shedloads of cash in 2026 in Beijing, Shanghai and a load of other, more unpronounceable Chinese cities.
No football again this weekend but at least England are doing us proud in the Ashes. So get your sport overnight folks: hibernate in bed with a long-wave radio, like me. See yer.
Thursday 2 December
Reserve Diary writes: what is white, shite, overstays its welcome by just being here and freezes our hearts without respite? No, it's not Tom Newey or any other half arsed sub-journeyman nightmare from the recent past. It is in fact the blanket of misery that has put Town's match-up with Southport in doubt. Town are in danger of becoming ring-rusty. That might be a good thing, as our striped superstars have actually won just twice since the start of October.
Ring rust is preferable to poor form? Probably. One of our ex-managers is widely quoted as saying: "Football is a simple game made complicated by people who should know better." He could have had Town over the last decade or so in mind. Buckley preached simplicity and everyone else ballsed it up. How about "football is a joyful game rendered depressing by people who owned fish factories"? I know, a cheap shot. Maybe the club will suffer from Cheapside cabin fever and keep up their preparations for the Royal Rumble, or just perhaps a short break will give them the chance to realise that this league is not going away, and that we are in it until we're either too bad for it or we're actually proven to be too good for it instead of assuming we are. A diarist can dream can't he?
Wednesday 1 December
Pay as you play? Pay as you play? No! Stop saying 'pay as you play'. Are you talking about a footballer giving money to a football club every time he completes a match? No! The football club gives money to the footballer! 'Get paid as you play' might not sound as cool and rhymey and snappy, but it at least reflects accurately the direction in which funds are transferred. 'Pay as you play' is wrong. Everyone stop saying it. Now.
But why are people talking about appearance-related remuneration in the first place? As we saw yesterday, Dean Sinclair is back at Blundell Park and seems to have been promised some sort of contract with the Mariners, conditional on the highly able former Charlton and Barnet defender proving his complete recovery from the knee operation he had back in the summer. Sinclair was interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside's Sports Talk last night: if you want to listen online, it begins at 1:10:40-ish. If you don't, you'll have to make do with the knowledge that Deano says he's "fully fit" and "completely over" the op, and that he also had an offer from Wycombe Wanderers. And that's about all that your original/regular Diary was able to ascertain due to a combination of my crappy laptop speakers and Sinclair's southern street boy accent.
With a club record 493-game winless run and a relegation out of the Football League for the first time since Elizabeth I was on the throne, it's fair to say that Neil Woodses's first year as GTFC manager has been somewhat less than 200 per cent successful. The beleaguered boss nevertheless retained a degree of goodwill, being regarded by most supporters as a decent, likeable sort of bloke, regardless of whether they think he can get Town back into the League or not. And then he managed to squander most of that goodwill by saying stupid things like "no disrespect to the likes of Gateshead/Forest Green Rovers/Barrow etc but all their players and their stadium are shit compared to ours, and don't get me started on their womenfolk, bulldog chewing a wasp doesn't come close".
There was, of course, a degree of naivety when Woodses admitted only putting five subs on the bench against Tamworth the other week because he forgot you were allowed seven in FA Cup games. And that naivety is back in evidence over the Sinclair signing this week, as the Town boss has told the Grimsby Telegraph: "Dean contacted us to see if we would take a look at him." Sadly, this sort of admission can only provide grist to the mill of Woodses's critics, who are now better equipped to accuse him of, um, whatever it is they accuse him of. What poor Neil should have told the Telegraph was: "We've been tracking Dean's situation for some time, in the full knowledge that Scunthorpe might recall Andrew Wright at any moment. This signing is the enactment of our carefully prepared contingency plan to maintain the strength of the squad in midfield an area we will reinforce further come the January transfer window."
Just before I go, the Diary is still puzzling over the description of the BBC as "unpatriotic" by England's World Cup bid chief Andy Anson, in response to the corporation's decision to screen its Panorama investigation into Fifa corruption this week. Anson, of course, is saying what David Cameron said yesterday, which was basically: "Yeah, we might be signing away our souls to people who are massively corrupt, but I don't care. WORLD CUP!" One of the things we've discovered about Fifa other than the whole corruption thing is that they'll force host nations to suspend their own fiscal and labour laws during a World Cup so they can exploit local workers and not pay any tax. The Netherlands very admirably declined to take their own World Cup bid any further once they discovered this shameful state of affairs. The UK, by contrast, is quite clearly dropping its pants to Fifa and bending down as far as it can. We'd very much like Anson and Cameron to explain in exactly what way this is patriotic, because as far as we can see, it brings the nation quite completely into disgrace.