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Diary - July 2010
Friday 30 July
It's not every day your team gets to play in a cup semi-final. But when the match takes place in July, well, somehow it loses that bit of edge. Your Guest Diarist has always felt that it is a bit of a shame that the Lincs Senior Cup isn't taken a bit more seriously by the clubs; then the fans could talk plausibly about bragging rights et cetera. Tonight Town visit Lincoln and you sense Woodses' disappointment that he can't put out his strongest side due to various injuries. Not because there's a cup to be won but more to do with wanting to try out his nearly-finished team with all the key players in their right places.
Newly appointed assistant manager Mr Moore-o gave a nice interview to the superb new official site. It is such a shame that only those who have subscribed to the expensive Mariner Player service can watch it. Dave issued a cri de coeur to the club's directors that more patience be afforded after being asked whether being a manager at Scunthorpe "had not worked out for him". Reminding us that his team's performance in almost reaching the play-offs had been way above expectation at the time, Mr Moore then stated the bleeding obvious: virtually every manager is deemed to have failed at some stage. "It always ends the same way" he says pointedly.
As for that injury list, well here it is. Atkinson's operation to remedy his 'sportsman's hernia' has happened and as soon as he can drive he will resume light training. "Weeks not months," says Moore-o (who incidentally told us the club now has another full-time therapist, which is why he can combine his new job with his existing one). Lewis Gobern's left thigh continues to puzzle the medics so an ultrasound scan is to be commissioned. Likewise Charlie Ademeno's dodgy hamstring. Peacock's back has started playing up; Lee Ridley got a dead leg at Gainsborough, and Mark Hudson – well, he deserves his a small paragraph of his own.
It seems that ex-Town keeper Phil Barnes kneed poor old Mark up the jacksy at Gainsborough so hard that the lad wailed like a banshee. Said arse is now truly black and blue. Moore thinks it looks a lot worse than it is and that dignity will be restored within a few days. Meantime I bet that mooning has taken a whole new place in the player's life.
As for signings, well, Woodses has reconfirmed that he'd like two more players if possible to promote competition for places. One of them he would definitely like to be trialist Steven Watt. The usual caveats have to be applied though – Watt has impressed, ergo other clubs (Scottish and English league clubs) are interested in the lad. Next week should see a resolution one way or the other.
Finally, although the SNOS hasn't woken up to the fact yet, the horse Town drew in the Stewards' Cup (a valuable handicap race run at glorious Goodwood on Saturday), namely Hawkeyethenoo, has been balloted out of the race. For non-racing folk this means the horse was 'out of the handicap' on previous form; that there were too many runners entered and he didn't 'make the cut'. So all hopes of two grand prize money if it won, plus the outcome of a free hundred quid bet on the nag, are lost. Relax, folks: it wouldn't have won anyway. It is a notoriously hard race to call – being of the cavalry charge type with all kinds of shenanigans tried by crafty trainers intent on 'slipping in' a big-priced outsider which has been over-leniently weighted by the handicapper. So I won't bother wasting your money with my tip. Here's to winning the cup, and a great weekend. See yer.
Thursday 29 July
Now then. Your Guest Diarist here, still substituting for Armchair Diary, who is testing out the NHS to see if they are as clever as that House bloke off the telly. Well, we have two bits of news today for those of you who rely on us to find out what's happening in the Town world. One is definitely good, and one is definitely something you will have an opinion on. You may hail it as a great step forward, or it may send you in to an incredibly boring rant which cites this as another example of what is wrong with GTFC. People of the latter persuasion are kindly directed to the nearest Town messageboard where spleen-venting is positively encouraged.
The truly great news is that Blundell Park is to host an England u17 match against Australia on Friday 27 August. A chance to see the future: a chance to relish names like Callum McFadzean, Jasper Johns and Courtney Husband. And if you like the idea there are other games to be played at Scunny and Lincoln as the whole tournament has an east midlands theme. And it is only three quid to get in!
More controversial, as I mentioned, is the appointment of good old Dave Moore to the title of assistant manager and physiotherapist by manager Woods. There are definite advantages to this idea – a strong menacing character (although, sadly, 'beasting' seems to have been largely replaced by Prozone, a fitness system that sounds like a tranquiliser); Town through and through; a really nice bloke; someone the manager knows and trusts; the ability to drop him back to just being a physio when Fenty sacks Woods on 12 October; a man with surprisingly wide experience with a number of clubs and so on. And, ermm, of course the saving of a salary.
On the other hand, I hear some of you yelp, this means we have a manager who is just a coach, a number two who is just a physio, and a head of yoof who is just an injured right-back. Oh and cheap options, lack of ambition and getting someone in just to be a yes man. Et cetera. But maybe the manager being a coach is quite a good reason for his assistant not to be. And Moore-o can deliver to the team secret strategy messages when he scurries on with his magic sponge. And when all is said and done, getting in that 'bright', intense young man Mr Casper with all his badges, ideas and ambition brought about the square root of naff all in terms of discernible change. We were still unfit and largely clueless and kept losing.
So you form your own opinion, folks. But please don't cite in your arguments a few niggling pre-season injuries as testament and living proof that Mr Moore is going to be completely responsible for the downfall of our beloved club. Someone else is in the frame for that already. See yer.
Wednesday 28 July
You know how it is with the Mariners. If we have a really good set of results in pre-season, the season itself ends up being really terrible. And if we have a really terrible set of results in pre-season, the season itself ends up being really terrible. Still, if you want a positive to take (and your original Diary is in sore need of consolation this week) then at least there's a clean sheet to bring home from last night's draw at Gainsborough, despite a shaky performance from top fan scapegoat du jour Nick Colgan. If you're still hungry for questions after completing today's awesome CA quiz then here's another one for you. Which of these people has overseen three relegations so far in less than a decade as the controlling influence of Grimsby Town Football Club: (a) Nick Colgan? (b) John Fenty?
Incidentally, by the way, I know sightings of Charlie Ademeno are about as frequent as expressions of tolerance and support for multiculturalism in North East Lincolnshire, but has there actually been any news about his injury? What's going on with the lad? There were two half-decent posts on Town's superb new official website about three weeks ago but since then it's been back to the usual. Still, at least nobody followed directions from the SNOS to get to last night's game and ended up in Southport. Always a bonus.
And it's not just that there's no word from Neil Woods about why trialists Dwayne Samuels and Alex Dyer didn't get on the pitch last night. It's also that the Grimsby Telegraph forgot to ask him.
Let's turn instead, then, to the unanswered question that has haunted Grimsby Town fans for almost 15 years, as we've watched our once proud club plummet down the divisions quicker than lager turns to piss. That question, of course: was it a plate of chicken sandwiches or chicken wings involved in the Brian Laws/Ivano Bonetti incident at Luton in 1996? This recent article comes down firmly in the wings camp. But what's your understanding? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we can settle the issue and put the whole thing behind us forever. Or at least until we try and establish whether Bri punched Ivano after Ivano chucked the food at him or Ivano's cheekbone was broken by the plate that the food was sitting on...
Tuesday 27 July
Idle Diary writes: Some team news for tonight's game at Gainsborough Trinity, erm, tonight. As Mardy Diary noted yesterday, Town boss Neil Woods will be taking the senior squad to the game.
And while Town's relegation may have been nearly three months ago now, that time has flown by – we're only a couple of weeks away from the start of the Conference campaign. There's still time for Woods to cast an eye over his current charges, with a view to further bolstering the squad. Observers at tonight's game will see run-outs for some trialists: "former Northampton Town midfielder Alex Dyer, former West Brom defender Dwayne Samuels... and former Chelsea and Ross County defender Steven Watt", to quote the club's SNOS. Watt has already pulled on a Town top (and then subsequently played for Town) against Sheffield Wednesday a few weeks back, but Dyer and Samuels are fresh blood.
Just to repeat Mardy Diary's plea, as none of the Cod Almighty team can get to the game we'd love to hear from any of our readers who can make it tonight. The email address for your reports, short or detailed, is email@example.com. We promise we will share your missives with all our readership and not just keep them to ourselves. (If we were the club we'd charge you for that privilege.)
Talking of trialists, as we were before that plea for reporting, there's word on Friday night's duo, Scott Brown and Lewis Nightingale. Both featured, in a mainly young Town side, at Winterton. Brown has a bit of pedigree (ie. used to be at a big club) but Woods has made it clear he is only really going to be interested if Brown can prove his match fitness, fitness being to Woods what Big Society is to Dave Cameron. Nightingale, a youngster recently released by Huddersfield, won't add anything that is already in the building. Good luck to the lad. There's a lotta people job hunting at the moment.
While Nightingale is a young 'un looking for his next chance, we'll finish with the news of Taylor Gray's trial for the England Schools' Under-18 international team. Previously a youther with Town, Gray's mum recalls he was making progress in his first season with the club before "not enjoying it the next season", and leaving the youth set-up altogether. The lad continued playing football at district and county level, and now has a chance to keep his football ambitions alive further still. Town's loss might not end up being the town and the country's loss. All the best Taylor, from all at Cod Almighty.
Monday 26 July
Mardy Diary writes: So the Myspacers (Next Generation) recorded a comfortable sounding victory over Winterton Rangers at the weekend with a hat-trick for reserve-team-ready Mulready. If you say his surname really quickly, it sounds like Elvis saying "Michael Reddy". Anyway, Woodseses reckons the kids are alright, at least to start in the reserves, but also to push for first-team action next season. It would be nice to see two or three breakthrough this year who look like they may hang around a bit. Woods knows a lot of these players well, having developed them over many seasons in the youth ranks – so should have a better idea than most how far off these lads are from making the grade. It seems to me to be better to ease these players in to the first team through continued development, rather than the shit-or-bust, throw them in to the middle of the baying crowd approach. Common sense, innit?
The first team are back from (what I hope was) a gruelling work out at the picturesque setting of Stirling University. They've now had the weekend off and are expected to go out and play some actual footy football this week – something that a number of them failed to achieve last week when they stood on a pitch occupied by Stirling Albion. So, all eyes on Gainsborough for tomorrow night – we'll have more news on this tomorrow from Idle Diary. Although given that it's usually about 10.30pm before he manages to write his diary entry, we should already know the result by then. Woods has promised a full-strength squad will be there, so another chance for people to see the new boys in action. I was going to go, but now can't – so if you're attending, drop us an email on Wednesday to let us know what it was like. And enjoy your trip to Gainsborough – there are some nice pubs there, and the pie and peas at the ground are great. Seeya.
Friday 23 July
Well gentle reader we have made it through to another Friday and I hope the weekend sprawls before you in inviting prospect. Tonight, if you are geographically adjacent you could spend the early evening listening to the thud of boot on football and aurally absorb the seagull-like cries of Town's Yoof playing at Winterton. The club and media seem slightly paranoid of fan backlash and are reminding everyone that none of the twenty one who went to Scotland will be there. Of course a few prospective first teamers didn't go north so there will be the odd Town starlet in view perhaps. This has not convinced the Town Supporters club though who have cancelled their coach to the game according to a byline in the Telewag.
So the majority of the first team squad have the weekend off ahead of their away game at Gainsborough on Tuesday. That nice, enthusiastic and improving young player Peter Bore has tweaked his hamstring in Scotland though. So his rest will be about ten days longer than his colleagues.
And, finally, in a truly foreshortened excuse for a Diary entry, your Guest Diarist can report that Woodses has told the Telegraph (presumably as a great favour as their GTFC section was in desperate need of a fluff piece) that Andy Bishop liked what he saw at Town, was prepared to put up with whatever money Mr Fenty offered him but that Bury put the mockers on the idea by changing their mind about releasing the constantly-crocked striker. See – good things do happen sometimes? See yer.
Thursday 22 July
Morning campers – your Guest Diarist here filling in for Armchair Diary who is giving his computer a bit of a bottoming. No news Thursday I bet you're thinking. Well, actually, there is news from Scotland on the Superb New Official Town web site.
Manager Woodses, still fuming a bit apparently after the rather dismal display the other night organised triple training for his squad yesterday. In a manner a bit akin to gorging yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet he is so impressed with the training facilities (ooh it's a lovely setting he says) that he is determined to use them morning, noon and night.
And there is news from that Cod Almighty Scottish-based stalwart Kevin Graham who has written us this post debacle letter:
"Well, Tuesday. Due to my lateness and the insistence of a Stirling Albion supporting friend I didn't end up in the Grimsby end but I ended up sat right bang behind the away dug out. I was so close I could smell the ink from Mr Peacock's tattoos. Though disappointed that I had to sit next to the smug fans who can boast that they own their club when the game kicked off I wondered if I had got the best seat in the house as Albion battered the Grimsby back-line.
Would I see a Woodsesses rage? No, I just saw a man looking as perplexed as us and I questioned his man-management skills. You see, as the Mariners hoofed another ball aimlessly forward, or another pass went to an Albion player or out of play – which was a regular occurrence – Woodsesses just stared into the distance, arms folded, like a man looking out to sea or more likely thinking that if he looked long and hard enough then one of his misfiring Mariners would become Maradona. No shouting, no encouragement, no tactical direction... he was offering nothing.
His strange man-management technique was first noticed when Lewis Gobern – who was suffering from that time old failing of believing that he is a footballer before he is one – was substituted (his replacement Josh Fuller looked ok). There was no acknowledgement of the player as he left the field. He just stared into the distance. When the raft of substitutions happened in the second half this ignoring of the players as they left the field continued. There was no icy glare to the players being hooked.
Is he usually so detached from his playing staff or maybe like the team he just couldn't be bothered with the friendly? Anyway, while being disappointed with the result the sight of seeing Grimsby playing badly strangely felt right. If they had played like Brazil 1970 it would have felt like sleeping with your best friends wife."
Thanks for that Kevin – I think, on balance, that awful performance took place simply because the club knew they had a virgin fan. Supporting Town (and working for GTFC) is all about expectation management. And your future expectations, I fully believe, have been well and truly managed by that game.
Speaking to the Grimsby Telegraph Woodses has also revealed that he has a short list of candidates for the number two position and might appoint one of them before the end of next week. The article also quotes him as saying the Winterton game will be yoof based and the real Town side will emerge at some point during the Gainsborough and Halifax matches. And on that bombshell I'll leave you for the joys of a lunchtime showing of the new Toy story movie. See yer.
Wednesday 21 July
Mardy Diary writes: Ah – the indifferent form of Grimsby Town Football Club. They build us up to knock us down in record time. And so a more familiar tale rears its ugly, festering face once again – and that is the tale of our beloved club capitulating to "lesser" opposition. We should just start to think of ourselves as underdogs for every match we play, I think.
Woodsesses isn't happy of course, and who can blame him. It was a different team to that which performed so well against Sheffield Wednesday, but if those on the fringes of the first team do not have inclination or ability to perform to a competent level then really they need to leave now – transfer offer or not. At least be honest with yourselves – do you want it or not? We're tired of players who don't care, we've seen them all too often. Player – if this is you – do the good thing and move on.
According to Woods we deserved to be several goals down in the first ten minutes or so – a first-half substitution or two seemed to have altered the balance slightly, but still chances were few. The second half gave nothing to note. This has a familiar ring to it, and should tighten the sphincter of even the most rose-tinted of optimist. At least, as with the Owls match, we know this is pre-season. It counts for little but fitness and organisation, yet still this match sounds one of little organisation and debatable fitness. Treadmills and heavy workouts for the slackers then, until they come back at the weekend to another match and a better performance – otherwise they'll experience the bleep test from the stands as well as in training.
Enough of the glum, already! On to your missives to cheer me up and one reader, John Ide, spotted familiar footwear on Saturday, as did I. "I see your prolonged push to get red socks for the mighties has been won. I now predict that we will storm this league," he blithely declares, "Then draw the ure at home in the third round of the cup fergie will put out his reserve team and we will take them back to the theatre of woes and get stuffed." Ah, that's what I like to see – proper Grimbarian optimism where the ultimate outcome is always defeat.
On the subject of the now defunct www.gtfc.co.uk URL, Dan Brown writes to say that "a quick web lookup shows that it was registered by a company based in Crawley, perhaps this is a pre-emptive strike?". Eagle eyes there Dan, although Richard Lord has a more convoluted theory: "I reckon Garforth Town will be sniffing around," he starts, "purely because I moved to Garforth a couple of months back and got quite excited when I realised they shared the same initials as us." Right – I'm not sure where this is going. "Still don't know why that got me excited, although it wasn't quite on the same scale as the time I noticed GTFC written on the gold shirt of DI Grimm's football top in an episode of The Thin Blue Line many years ago. I'm all for supporting my local club irrespective of their division, so it's quite nice that it's also GTFC – but the genuine GTFC (can I say that?) will always come first, obviously." Nice tangent there, Richard, but I'm not sure it solves the riddle of the the URL.
I should point out, before panic sets in among the more nervous of our following, that it's just the registrar of the URL that is based in Crawley – the address is registered to the club until August 2011. God knows why they aren't using it, then? Ooh looky here – the club registered gtfcnewstadium.co.uk in November 2005. It expires in 2011 though – quick, get building!
Tuesday 20 July
"The board have invested heavily in putting together a team that will do us proud come August". Define the word 'invest' there, please.
Your Idle Diarist has left his packed lunch and wallet at home. A great way to start reading up for today's diary, dear reader, resorting to chomping through two packets of Hula Hoops from the office tuck box. Were they tasty? Well, yes. Do I feel I am bringing forward my last breath? Well, yes.
Talking of unhealthy eating habits, Town have headed up to Scotland to continue their pre-season preparations. The reason for nipping north of the border? A five-day stay around tonight's friendly against Stirling Albion, not an extensive tour like the club's PR missives have been suggesting previously. Neil Woodses reveals there was only room to take 21 players, but "just because people are not in the squad doesn't mean that there [sic.] are written off... At this moment in time we've only got one game up there. There's no point in taking players and not playing them."
One of the players travelling is trialist David Hutton. "Super touch on the ball, not uncharacteristic of a couple of wide players I used to play with here," says wise Woods. Stop teasing us, man! Just make sure he passes his fit and proper footballer test, so we've the new Dave Gilbert, not the new penis Peter Sweeney. Remember to check they're all in bed by lights out, Woodsy.
None of the Cod Almighty team will be spending their holiday near Stirling this week (unlike last year, when one of us was conveniently in Devon for the club's pre-season piss-up down there), so if you want an on-the-spot lowdown, Grimmo Telegraph reporter John Tompson has travelled up and will EXCLUSIVE SERVICING OFFER FROM THE GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH be Twittering. If you're the sort of person who is into that sort of thing (and can tolerate that awful tiled background on the paper's Twitter page), 'follow' them. It's already got the potential to descend into Deliverance territory. Squeal like a haggis, Tompson!
Boots that weigh "only 238 grams" and "come in bright colours to appeal to younger players"? Take note, right-winger-back Peter Bore! You'll be the rich man's Darren Bent in no time.
We draw to a close with the sad news that Shaun Mawer has passed away. A former young player of the year (for the 1977-78 season), Mawer made his Town debut in September 1977, but his football career was short, as he was forced to retire three years later at the age of 22 due to a serious knee injury. Our thoughts are with his family.
Monday 19 July
Mardy Diary writes: Well, that was good, wasn't it? There seemed to be some nice partnerships forming between various pairs of players on the pitch, especially Peacock and Connell. Blimey, two intelligent forwards playing clever football, when did that last happen? And again, Bradley Wood was outstanding (we'll ignore the little mistake for Wednesday's goal, although it did look like a foul at the time). Garner looked experienced beyond his years, organising the backline. Ridley was solid in what he did and good in the air and the triallist looked neat, efficient and a good footballer. It was a strange experience seeing such a well organised defence. Biggest surprise for me though was the performance of Leary, or rather the debut of Leary 2.0. I thought he looked fit and lively and got stuck in well.
Ok. Yes. Back to earth. It's only one game, blah blah blah. But take the match out of the context of the forthcoming season and just look at it alone. It was a very enjoyable match. We looked good, we played well and we beat a team two divisions higher. It doesn't mean we'll storm the Conference, it doesn't mean those players will all play that well every week when the season proper starts. It doesn't mean anything like that. But as a match, it was a joy to watch and we've not had many of those over the last few seasons so I'm bloody well going to enjoy it, ok?
One thing that can be read from the performance though is fitness. With a couple of minor exceptions, we looked very fit already. Fitter (as a team) than we did at the beginning of last season and this is a 'good thing'. At the very least, the very, very least I expect my team to be able to run about the pitch for 90 minutes even if they're not contributing anything else to the match. This is a baseline as far as I'm concerned, and one which – for some players anyway – wasn't ever attained last season. This season I am convinced that we will be fit and active, injuries permitting of course. I can't be certain about anything else, but this I am very confident of. Even the "unfit" Connell put more legwork in during his 60 minutes than Sweeney did for most of last season. Although I suspect he was using some sort of teleportation device given that at one point he was helping out in defence and the next second he appeared in the opposition's box and almost got on the end of a good cross. Or is it just that Connell looks like Bradley Wood's older brother and I got the two mixed up? Either way, my enthusiasm will not be dampened you hear. Will NOT be dampened. At least until the season starts.
Oh, has anyone else noticed that www.gtfc.co.uk no longer seems to take you to the SNOS, but www.grimsby-townfc.co.uk does? Is this a domain name renewal issue? Have Gainsborough Trinity nicked our domain? Or is it some weird thing like PTV or the Football League own the rights to www.gtfc.co.uk and we can't use it anymore? If you've any idea about this, or anything in general, then drop us a line at the usual address.
Friday 16 July
This weekend is your chance to see Town twice in 24 hours. A Friday night game at Boston, followed by a home friendly against Sheffield Wednesday the following afternoon, is the frenetic, expensive and possibly-slightly-pointless for-anyone-but-the-players schedule of events. Your Guest Diarist can report that tonight's team, as widely trailed, will feature a lot of yoof. Manager Woods explained that he doesn't want anyone getting on the bus to Scotland next week unless they have at least 70 minutes' continuous play notched up. This came up in his weekly chat with the SNOS for its paid-for service to explain to us what's happening at our beloved club.
Before that Woodses had opened the interview with a cold, clinical account of the present stage in the pre-season fitness training regime. It's all about power, folks; power, endurance, hills and running. Woods mentioned power several times almost menacingly – moving the interviewer to bleat in a weak and frightened voice: "And when will the running stop?" No more flippant questions about 'getting a beasting'. No, this week is training for real – all uphill with no down Dale.
As for the Saturday game, Woods would have liked to have played some semblance of his physically exhausted first team, augmented by trialists. But Atkinson might be a victim of Gilmore's groin (which is a type of hernia suffered by sporting gentlemen from time to time). So he may need an operation. Kempson and Ademeno have little pre-season muscle strains, and Coulson and Gobern will have to see whether their assorted niggles also preclude them from having a go against the Owls.
But fans attending on Saturday will get the chance to have a look at Ross County ex-starlet and former Chelsea player Steven Watt. Watt played for Chelsea once when they beat Scunny in the cup, moving Mourinho to utter his name in a sentence that contained vaguely complimentary terms: "I didn't have a very strong defensive line-up. Only Glen Johnson was a regular as a right-back. It was the first game for centre-half Steven Watt and [some other no-marks]. But I am very happy with their performances." So the myth about Johnson being a defender goes back a long way indeed, gentle reader.
Watt is a big, strapping Scots lad without a club. Let's hope he plays well enough to be taken on the Scottish tour where his knowledge of the local culture may be very helpful. I should point out of course that other trialists exist and may be available to play in some or all matches.
Anyway, to the much delayed Diary postbag. Matt Pakes has been talking about Kenny Arthur's sideline: "Quite some time back you made reference to KA gloves – 'More than just a pair of gloves' and all that nonsense. Well, as an amateur goalkeeper, I looked at the site, and scoffed at the prices. However recently, I dislocated the tip of my ring finger playing cricket. Immediately I was recommended a pair of 'KA Fused Finger' gloves by a chap who knows nothing of Grimsby or Mr Kenny 'KA' Arthur. On this recommendation, I will be purchasing myself a pair in the not too distant future and will let you know if it makes me play like Mildenhall... or (heaven forbid) Williams."
And here is another tale from the youth of the redoubtable Felix Oliver-Tasker: "On reading yesterday's diary I remember my reasons for not wanting to be striker, or centre-forward as it was called in my day, were very similar to those of Richard Lord. Mine stem from reading a story in the Rover. The story featured Nick Smith, an England international, and his sidekick Arnold Tabbs. Arnold Tabbs was an ex-iron puddler turned half-back who must have had neck muscles very similar to the iron he had once puddled. In this particular instalment they were playing against a team and the ball was kicked into the air. Arnold stood firm, with his legs apart and waited for the ball. He just stood there without moving and with a flick of his head passed the ball to Nick who scored the winning goal just before the whistle blew.
"It was a cold, wet day, the pitch was like a minor swamp and the ball like lead when I foolishly attempted to do the same. The ball hit me on the head and flattened me. To say I saw stars was an understatement. I was carried off the pitch and that was the end of my game. The outcome was that I became a moderately successful winger, cancelled the Rover and bought the Adventure instead, in which the football story featured the far more sensible Baldy Hogan. Ah, the naivety of youth." I know that feeling, Felix – heavy ball lace-downwards, from a great height onto the top of your bonce. Now forbidden by the Geneva Convention, thank God. See yer.
Thursday 15 July
Armchair Diary writes: Don't ask what happened to Idle Diary yesterday. I don't know. I'll pick up the pieces today though and see if we can't cover everything.
The sensible place to start would be Tuesday night's friendly at Frickley Athletic wouldn't it? I can't believe that Cod Almighty is your only source of Town news (unless you're not a Grimsby Town fan and are just reading our site for the sheer hell of it) so you probably know the result. If we are your only source of Town news then we're delighted about that and must apologise for not telling you yesterday that the match ended as a 3-0 win for the Mariners, with Josh Fuller scoring in the first half before Frickley banged in a couple of own goals. So there you go. If you go to the SNOS you can probably watch highlights from the match. Oh no, not yet.
The SNOS does at least give us some idea of the line-up though. Kenny 'KA' Arthur in goal – yep. Bradley Wood at right-back, Mark Gray and Scott Garner as centre-backs with Lee Ridley at left-back. OK. Hang on, who's Lee Ridley? I'm not following all this squad rebuilding closely enough. Anyway, Peter 'Hetero' Bore was pushed on to right midfield with Josh Fuller (who has silly hair) on the other wing and Mark Hudson and Micky Cummins in the middle. Yep, I know all them, that's fine. Michael Coulson and Lee Peacock up front. Gotcha. There were changes aplenty as the game progressed but that's the point of these friendlies isn't it? Give as many players as possible a decent run-out and see what they've got and what's still to be done.
Incidentally, did we know Ben Chapman was at Frickley now? Or is this another example of me really not keeping up with things? And did anyone else chuckle at the line-ups given at the bottom of that SNOS article? The ref has a funny name, yes, but what amused me more was "Clarke (Sturdy)". Is he a solidly built fella? I want to know.
Let's have a chat with Neil Woodses, shall we, and see what he reckoned to the performance the other night. We would if we had access to him but we don't. We do have access to Mariners Player though, so that'll have to do. Coo, isn't the camera in very close on the side of his head? A few players had to play the full match (which wasn't part of the plan, seemingly) due to others carrying minor strains but no harm done as it wasn't a hot day and the rain meant they could move the ball around a bit, but the players did tire after an hour or so. No injuries to report, other than Bradley Wood (who "without a shadow of a doubt" was the best player in the two pre-season games so far, apparently) who picked up a little knock in the last minute but Woodses doesn't seem concerned about it.
What else? New boy Alan Connell got involved a lot when he came on for the last 20 minutes or so and it's important to get him right for the start of the season. The midfield didn't have control of the game as much as the gaffer would have liked and overall the players were a long way short of where Woodses wants them to be. But he's confident they will get there. Stand still, man! The youngsters fitted in well, didn't look at all out of place and are expected to compete for first-team places as the season progresses. All sounds quite positive doesn't it?
The interview with Woodses finishes up with a chat about Adrian Forbes, who, in case you didn't know, is training with Darlington for a few days. He won't be playing any games for them though, as Town "wouldn't allow that, for obvious reasons". So obvious that I have no idea what these reasons are. Maybe he's one of these players who is ace in training but crap on matchdays so Town are trying to con suitors into only seeing the good in him. He looks very jolly in the pic on the SNOS though, so I hope he finds a club that wants him.
And Forbes is by no means the only Grimsby-related player on the move. Olly 'Off!' Lancashire has joined Walsall, Steve 'My Lord' Mildenhall has taken the "wasy" decision to sign for Millwall after having his contract at Southend cancelled. Another ex-member of the Town defence with a new club is Matty Heywood, who has gone to Gateshead on trial, apparently. Why the story is only being carried by a Burnley fan site is beyond me though. Oh, hang on, it's mentioned in passing in the next story I was coming to, about Paul Bolland training with York City. It's all go at this level isn't it?
By the way, Matt Pakes and Felix Oliver-Tasker, I haven't forgotten about you: I'm just leaving your missives so tomorrow's diarist has something to do.
Tuesday 13 July
"A certain, a certain feeling, a certain love, a certain heart. A certain toughness. Mental toughness. And physical toughness. And, and, and some... something so beautiful, I can scarcely express it!"
If you've never heard the great Peter Cook in character as football manager Alan Latchley – "a Scunny man through and through!" – then download it and listen right now. It's a classic. The quality of mental toughness espoused by Latchley is also highly prized by Town's new forward Alan Connell, who can be found in today's Grimsby Telegraph, where he rightly points out: "We have to get our mentality right as well as our ability." But in adding: "Grimsby is a big club and it should be in a lot higher division. It is up to us to get the club back in the Football League," is Connell becoming the first Grimsby Town player in history to Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest before he's even kicked a ball?
Your original Diary, as regular readers may recall, has never held back from criticising Town's superb new official website. This is not gratuitous criticism: it's very seldom that we dish it out to sites run on an amateur basis (like this one). It's just that the SNOS often seems to falls short of the standards that might reasonably be expected of an organisation that employs around 300 people and typically records an annual turnover of two to three million pounds. But let's also give credit where it's due. Because the piece that appeared at the weekend telling us that 1,500 season tickets have been sold so far was really pretty good: clear and direct communication, with competent spelling and grammar, and almost entirely free from typos and literals. More like that please!
Diary reader Kevin Graham, I seem to recall, is a Scotsman rather than a Grimbarian, and adopted the Mariners as a second club recently because of some happy circumstance like Town having the third best online fanzine in the world or something like that. And not only a Scotsman, but one who lives in Stirling, where Woodses's battlers will be strutting their friendly stuff in a week or so's time. "While I'm looking forward to seeing the Mariners in the flesh for the first time on the 20 July (against the only fan-owned club in Scotland) I'm worried that my enjoyment of the football may be spoiled," writes Kevin in an email to the Diary. "Those banning orders dished out seem only to apply to England and Wales so does that mean I will need to phone the only fan-owned team in Scotland and tell them to increase the stewarding?" Well, if some accounts are to be believed, the banning orders were given only to decent fans who had a little rush of blood to the head, so if that's true then there shouldn't be anything to worry about.
Our Stirling correspondent continues: "If any Diary readers are up for the game then I will be the lonely Scotsman, sitting in the away end." Aw, I wish I could make it now! Be sure to email again and let us know what you thought, Kevin – it's good to hear from you again. Thanks also to Matt Pakes and Felix Oliver-Tasker for getting in touch – I'll leave your emails to subsequent diarists this week in case there's no news to report!
So have you read the Non-League Paper yet? The Diary picked up a copy yesterday to read the Fenty (Con) interview trailed on the SNOS last week. I've bought it a few times now and again, just to find out more about grassroots football. It's a good read. If you've never seen it, get yersen a copy and get genned up on the non-League scene. Embrace it. This is where we live now, and anyone looking with disdain at next season's opponents and expecting to 'bounce straight back' without getting their hands dirty is in denial. And in for quite a rude awakening.
This isn't to say that Neil Woodses is doing a bad job. But Town won't be in the top five at the end of September. That's just the consequence of having to rebuild practically an entire first-team squad from scratch. You could put Vicente del Bosque in the dug-out and Town still wouldn't be in the top five at the end of September. Buckley mark 2 was a one-off. At least one season of regrouping a la Slade or Buckley mark 1 should be the very least we prepare for. And anyone saying "let's give Woods ten games of the new season before we decide he should be sacked" is just making the same mistake that Fenty (Con) made several times in getting us relegated to this level. Got that? Good. Thanks.
Monday 12 July
Mardy Diary writes: At last. The law of averages said it had to happen sooner or later. So finally, on a day when I write the diary, not only is there some actual news but it is actual news of Alan Connell actually signing for Grimsby. Actually. Alan was first touted among the credible rumours a few weeks back, but Neil 'cards close to chest' Woods seemed to suggest the deal was pretty unlikely only last week. But it was just mind games you see? He was keeping other clubs off the scent of our hot, impetuous signing streak. So, another player in with strong rumours of a further, and probably final, player this week. Cor!
And this is a good thing, by the way, to disagree with Armchair Diary's previous assertion that early signings are bad. It appears to me that some of these signings have been tracked since well in to last season (Woods said as much with the signing of Gobern and, er, oh Cummins I think). I would presume that some, if not all, of the players approached were on John Deehan's magic shopping list that he was employed to compile last season. To me it makes sense to get a full squad in before pre-season really gets going – and that's exactly what has happened. If you hang around too long waiting for one player to sign you end up making panic signings like Anthony Williams and Ronnie Bull. And all the other crap we've signed since. If we make this final 'alleged' signing before the Frickley match I will consider myself to be 'bloody' impressed – which is one up on the scale from 'very'.
Reports back from Friday's pre-season opener at Brigg say... not too much, really. As we are all well aware, there's not too much that can be read in to pre-season games – especially the first few. Woods put out a mixed youth/experience team in each half to give everyone a run out. Reporter extraordinaire Tony Butcher commented that there was nothing much to report from the first half other than Peacock was as you'd expect, the trialist was a flitting disappointment and the youthers didn't do much to suggest their readyness. The second half showed some improvement with noticeable displays from Ademeno ("small, rapid and lithe"), Cummins ("old head guile") and Garner ("a born leader"). Bore and Ridley looked steady and experienced and Mark Gray looked capable. So, not a bad run out and a simple 1-0 win with a nice goal from Coulson. We're still over a month away from the start of the season, so a long time to go yet.
So there we have it – the World Cup is over (won by Buckley's Spain) and it's back to the proper stuff before you've even had chance to catch your breath. Excited yet? What's wrong with you?
Friday 9 July
Now then – Guest Diary here to lead you by the nose, gentle reader, into a hot and steamy weekend full of the noise and clamour of high performance F1 engines, plastic trumpets and disraeli gears. And the return of team action for our beloved Grimsby Town who are sending two teams to Brigg tonight to kick off their pre-season matches. The game kicks off at 7pm, according to the Brigg website, and admission is six quid (but may be less or nothing if you have a season ticket). Brigg have a lovely ground and a nice laid-back atmosphere so I urge you to go.
What Neil Woods urges you to do is take no notice of the result, the formation, who plays with whom and, although he didn't say it, how well Town play. Speaking to the expensive mouthpiece of the superb new official site on Wednesday, Mr Woods explained that he has twenty-two players in training and that he will play two teams for a half each – with youth and experience, talent and, erm, dross, as thoroughly mixed as a Victoria sponge. In the next game (Frickley on Tuesday) some players (still randomly selected) will get an hour. In the one following that (which is Boston a week today) the others will get seventy or so minutes. So I suppose that means the match against Sheffield Wednesday the following day will be fairly meaningless too.
It's all about fitness, you see, and as the players have been following a scientific approach to getting fit rather than the 'daily beasting' to which Dale refers so regularly and wistfully in his pre-season interviews with all and sundry, then they can't possibly play a full game of football in front of paying spectators until the season starts proper. But the good news from Mr Woods is that "the times are down" and everyone seems to be more partially fit than they should be at this stage.
Woods also talked enthusiastically about his new left-footed centre-half, saying Garner's attitude and enthusiasm to attack the ball had impressed him, also saying that he had watched the player a few times towards the end of last season and was, frankly, astonished when he became available on a free transfer (albeit with a sell-on clause). The manager also confirmed that new forward Ademeno does have pace and power as he had hoped but the search continues for another striker (a goalscorer, no less) and also a utility player who can "cover a couple of positions".
Off the pitch the Riby Square Thunderer has had a field day naming and shaming some of the Town fans convicted for offences committed during the Burton debacle. Now encroaching on the pitch is a criminal offence these, days so no-one can feel really hard done to for getting prosecuted, I suppose. But were the punishments for all the defendants correctly meted out? Maybe fines or community service would have been better in some cases? I wasn't there, but if you were let us know your considered thoughts via an email to the Diary.
Richard 'Handyside' Lord has written in response to Armchair Diary's assertion that all kids want to be a striker. Before I recount to you what he said I need to explain that I never wanted to be a striker either: I wanted to be a winger who could cross the ball (in the air) to the far post for a striker to nod in. Being very left-footed was a good start but taking a flighted corner on a nearly full-sized pitch at the age of ten was a major undertaking, so I practised solidly for about two years until I could achieve it fairly reliably. I also wanted to be a winger because I really disliked heading the ball, but that's another story.
Which leads me quite neatly (as you will see in a minute) to what Richard has to say on the matter: "I'm proud to say I bucked the trend – mainly because, at dinner time football at school, everyone was a striker and no-one passed to each other, so in order to get more touches of the ball I sat in defence and blocked, swiped and struck anything that came my way. I turned out to be very good at it. I was also one of the very few kids who enjoyed heading the ball too. My defensive tendencies also made me a popular choice when picking teams, as I did the job that no one else wanted to do. Throughout my entire time at school, in which there were daily 23-18 scorelines, I reckon I scored no more than four or five goals. It was a record that underlined my dedication to defending and was something I became proud of. I think I would have played more for my school team had it not been for the fact that, at the age of 16, I was still only 5'2" and weighed seven stone. That was an issue only with the PE teacher, who judged me before I had even kicked a bloody ball. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything."
Town's future starts here, folks – and to the eight hundred folk who have bought season tickets already you have to say well done for keeping the faith. Have a great sporting weekend. See yer.
Thursday 8 July
Armchair Diary writes: Is it Thursday already? Christ, this week has just flown by.
And talking of time flying by, it doesn't seem that long since Town had their relegation confirmed with defeat at Burton Albion and yet the new season is only just over a month away. Neil Woodses started the process of rebuilding the playing squad to his own specification weeks ago and has continued to bring players in and ship others out at a decent pace. Will we see the transfer-listed players leave before the new season begins or can we expect to see Nick Colgan on the bench against Crawley on the opening day of the season? Actually, come to think of it, if Colgan does leave suddenly then we only have one keeper on the books. I wonder (as I so often do these days) whether Woodses has a replacement in mind or will just turn to a loanee as and when to fill the vacancy.
I am on record as saying that I think Woodses started his rebuilding too early for my liking and that I would have waited a couple more weeks into the close season before bringing in new faces. But what do I know about football management? I will say this, though: I accept that having the vast majority of the squad signed up by the time pre-season started was a smart move, as it means they have the maximum amount of time to gel. And that's something I think will be important this season. This division is tough to get out of at the first time of asking and the players are going to need to be a lot more than a collection of talented individuals. They are really going to have work for each other and play as a team.
Incidentally, how do you think we'll do next season? Is it too early to be posing that sort of question? I can see us making the play-offs or thereabouts but I can't see us seriously battling for automatic promotion. Will it be dreams of glory or nightmares of another failed season? Why not email us at the usual address and let us know. Please. The Mariners have pretty much signed all the players they are going to now, and with little else going on in the world this Diary can be quite tricky to write without a bit of help from you lot.
When you were a young kid what position did you want to play? You wanted to be a striker, didn't you? Of course you did. Goals equals glory and the only position you can score goals from is centre-forward; everyone knows that. I suppose there is a slight chance you liked flinging yourself to the floor, in which case you may have wanted to go in nets. Why did no-one want to be a marauding full-back, a destructive centre-back, a nippy winger or a midfield general? Anyway, if you were fortunate (OK, talented) enough to play for a proper team with proper kit with numbers on the shirts and all that gubbins then you probably witnessed at least one scrap for the number nine shirt.
So who's just won that scrap at BP? At a couple of inches shy of six foot, Charlie Ademeno may not be the biggest bloke around but it seems he has claimed the coveted number nine as the Mariners announce their provisional squad numbers. The transfer-listed players have been given numbers, obviously, as they are still under contract with the club and can be called upon if needed. I respect their professionalism in this respect because when I announce my intention to leave an employer I generally do nothing of any use, although some would say that's not that different to how I am before I hand my notice in. Those squad numbers haven't been registered with the authorities yet so there could still be changes, just so you know. And I wonder (I'm at it agan) if Woodses plans to fill in the gaps with four more players joining the ranks.
If the Mariners' playing staff is to increase in size – and I don't mean by eating pies – then one man who could be on his way to Blundell Park is Alan Connell, if rumours are to be believed. I can't name my source but they also told me the other day that Scott Garner was set to sign too, and what do you know, Garner joined the throng yesterday. Connell is a "hold-up striker from Bournemouth" who is "highly regarded", apparently, so that sounds quite exciting doesn't it? Talking of strikers, it seems to have eluded other diarists (and me till just now) that Woodses has been talking to Matt 'Prince Harry' Harrold after his release by Wycombe Wanderers. However, it seems the former loanee wants to stay in the League so won't be back at Town. Shame. If you clicked the link I directed you to just now and read the story you'll know the same is pretty much true of Nathan Stanton too. And if you didn't click the link you probably don't need to now.
Remember Curtis Woodhouse? He was the midfield thug who seemingly didn't care too much for football and went off to become a boxer, before returning to football and then going back to boxing again. Him. I was going to say he was the ex-Town midfielder who got in trouble with the law but then I didn't want you to confuse him with Ashley Sestanovich. Anyway, it seems Woodhouse has got bored of flitting between non-League football clubs and is a boxer once more, for he's due a proper pasting by Frankie Gavin in September, according to the Telewag. For those of you who don't know much about boxing, Frankie Gavin was reckoned to be Britain's best medal hope in the boxing before the Beijing Olympics but couldn't make the weight. He turned pro shortly after the games finished and is doing alright for himself. My money's on Gavin for this one, and remember I was spot on last time I gave out betting advice here.
Wednesday 7 July
Your original Diary has struck lucky today: the Mariners have signed a player. Scott Garner is a six-foot-two, 20-year-old central defender who has arrived from Mansfield Town. "Having worked with Scott for the past three years I know he has the ability to go to the highest level," Mansfield manager David Holdsworth says of the player, who he was unable to tie down to a new contract. Garner joins the Mariners seemingly without a fee but with an "undisclosed sell-on clause". He has already captained the Stags a number of times and chipped in with seven goals in his 52 appearances for our Conference Premier colleagues (and the closest thing we have to a local rival in this division). Town fans looking for a new Ryan Bennett, then, are quite likely to be all of a flutter today.
This is, for one thing, to forget about how we were all of a flutter on similar mornings last summer – and on many other occasions in recent years – only to be disappointed over and over again as the culture of failure that has become embedded under the chairmanship of John Fenty (Con) continues to pull down the club and all who sail in her. More specifically, the Diary can't help being a little alarmed at the ongoing callowness of Town's central defence. If Garner himself has barely put down the Clearasil, Rob Atkinson is still only 23, Mark Gray just 18, and Darran Kempson the old man at 25. Didn't the Mariners' many shortcomings last season include the lack of an experienced head at the back? Wasn't Atkinson all at sea without a seasoned partner? Will all of Neil Woodses' impressive squad building avail nothing without a big, bald, shouty bastard to wear the armband and crush the other team's knackers just by squinting at them?
Mark Hudson has signed a new contract. I thought he'd done that ages ago – didn't you? Whatever. It seems the former Huddersfield and Rotherham midfielder – whose short-term contract expired at the end of last season – will now stay with the Mariners for a further year, most of which he will presumably spend sitting on the bench and wondering why he's not getting a game when the club is about to be relegated and the manager is persisting with a midfield pairing that has utterly failed umpteen hundred times already.
Town's reserve team are going to play against second division outfits such as Leeds, Middlesbrough and King$ton Communications FC again next season, reports the Grimsby Telegraph. I thought John Fenty (Con) had announced a few weeks ago he was going to scrap Town's reserve team – didn't you? Whatever. It's easy to get confused with so many Tory cuts to keep track of.
Rather than drop a division by remaining with the Mariners, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro has gone up one by signing for Rochdale. The exciting but very much out-of-contract striker has done one to Lancashire's newest third division side, signing a two-year contract and prompting hundreds of bemused shrugs of 'good riddance' from Grimsby folk who have been watching football for many years, perhaps even admiring players such as Peter Beardsley and Teddy Sheringham, without realising that a forward isn't necessarily shit if he scores fewer than a goal every two games.
All of this genuine news, alas, is not enough to stop the Grimsby Telegraph recycling stories from a week ago. Paul Groves has moved from Portsmouth to West Ham, apparently. I know, fancy that, eh? And top comic Steve Evans thinks his former player Charlie Ademeno has made the wrong move because Crawley will finish above the Mariners next season. Saying that, I'm not at all sure that these were picked up by the Diary, either, so there you go. People who live in glass houses shouldn't swing a cat. Oooh, we missed Tommy Widdrington becoming assistant manager at Southend as well.
Anything there provoke a thought? Take pity on the other diarists and give them something to publish by emailing said thought to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheerio!
Tuesday 6 July
Idle Diary writes: "The inquest continues," declares the Sport Grimsby website. At last! The Riby Square Rag is charging its journalists to get out there and provide some well-researched and insightful analysis on a footballing matter that is close to the hearts of North East Lincolnshire! Yes! England's failure at the World Cup! Er, hang on. England?
Why haven't Town had this sort of high-level analysis over the years? If you want to define failure then look no further than the past few seasons of Grimsby Town FC, culminating in the recent relegation, a big bad failure of the massivest kind. It's the sort of fucked-up situation that needs in-depth analysis driven by proper probing and pertinent questioning. But you know how it is with local papers: do a little prodding but not too much, otherwise the club will take away your precious access to the players, and no access to players means watching Mariners World to recycle interview material in your back pages, boo hoo hoo.
Was England's performance at the World Cup really a failure? Sections of the Cod Almighty team go into these Major International Tournament Things with a strong sense of realism, perhaps instilled by recent seasons supporting Town. We know Match of the Day just shows the highlights (ie. the good bits), we know the England players struggle to pass the ball about, we know it's those Foreign Types that do the ticky-tacky, and we go into these summers expecting no goals, no wins, and no points. Anything else? Bonus. Just accept that the England national team aren't as good as the media-fuelled speculation leads you to believe. Believe England are great and can win the World Cup? You are a sucker, drinking from Rupert Murdoch's organs.
Yeah, we admit it. We were suckers too once upon a time.
Monday 5 July
Mardy Diary writes: You know it's a slow news day when the Telegraph don't bother to report any Town news, the OS attempt to flog you something and Vital Grimsby are directing people towards Newsnow which itself highlights the fact that there isn't any news.
Still, fifteen quid for fish and chips and pudding – is that a good price, then? Seems a bit steep to me when you can get a good plate of fish and chips at Steel's or Beckett's for a fraction of the price. The pudding would have to be bloody good to tempt me – and we're talking a three-course pudding here: sticky toffee pudding, followed by rhubarb crumble and ice cream with a final course of New York cheesecake. Even then, I'd probably not be allowed in due to the ridiculous dress code at McMenemy's – or have they dropped that now we're non-League? Has anybody been recently? If so, let us know what the food was like and whether or not you got in wearing trainers – usual address.
While we're on the subject of food, one of my best food-at-footy-ground experiences was at Gainsborough Trinity during a match against Blyth Spartans a few seasons back. Nice and simple: pie, peas, chips, gravy. No fuss. In a good size tray. All of it was delicious – even the Blyth bench warmers were queueing up for it at half-time. Although I wouldn't want to waddle around a football pitch after eating all that. I'm not Peter Sweeney. I am looking forward to seeing if the offer is still on for the friendly match later this month – especially as I can't make it to Brigg to sample their homemade sausage rolls. Mmmmm. Dinner time! Bye.
Friday 2 July
Well, by Friday lunch time, your Guest Diarist was expecting (and sort of hoping) that the Town squad would be thoroughly knackered, stiff and aching after their return to pre-season training on Tuesday. The superb, new official Town web site has interviewed (for those rich enough to listen) the redoubtable Dave Moore however, who mused wistfully about how pre-season training was not what it used to be in the old times. No longer is he allowed to 'kill them in the first few days'. The long runs are gone and the main parts of the first session were stretching to warm up, stretching to cool down and then the ice bath beckoned apparently. On the second day the film showed them hanging about as one by one they did a little shuttle run recorded by Pro-Zone. "To get some baselines" said Mr Moore airily, who hid his desire to play sergeant major and get them running fast, hard and long to his raucous encouragement well.
Charlie Ademeno. There can be only one Charlie Ademeno. His post-signing interview revealed a pleasant, stocky young lad who believes in his pace, and in his ability to 'get on the shoulder' and score goals. He believes in Grimsby too. A big league club is what he sees. And he believes with better players around him and professional coaching he can have a great season. Let's hope so – I said before I wanted a striker on the way up not one on the way down. Well I didn't say that exactly but my other words should have led you to that pithy conclusion. Maybe, just maybe, we've got one.
At last Macca has got a job which he can say is the first rung on the management ladder. He's been taken on as the number two at Harrogate Town in the Conference North. Harrogate seem to have a bit of ambition these days after a few wobbly economic years, and, as the job is basically only three days a week, Mr McDermott plans to carry on coaching at the Grimsby Institute (where I'm sure he teaches the secret of successful defending without tackling to the yoof of Grimsby). Good luck to him to eh?
So the fixtures came out yesterday at the predicted time and Town will start away at Crawley on Saturday August 14th, with the first home match against York the following Tuesday. Poring over the games seems slightly pointless – we play everyone twice and we have no idea who we can beat really have we? Mr Woods mentioned in passing to the Telewag that the lads have been enthusiastic in training and also noted there are lots of games to get stuck in to in August. For once, just for once, can we have a good start?
Chris Casper, the Town assistant manager, who struck me when he arrived (in that instantly judgemental way of mine) as intense, fidgety and ambitious has left. He got offered a job by the premiershite as a club support manager in the north west so has gone back to roots, yoof and family. Woodses didn't sound too devastated by this news and has resolved to take his time finding a replacement.
So live football is back this afternoon with some tasty World Cup games this weekend. And how the pressure is off, and how the pleasure factor rises with England out. Canadian-based mariner James Booth has been in touch to wish us all a happy Canada day adding:" I also wanted to let you know that England's poor effort in the World Cup has made me look forward even more to the Mariners new season. After watching the supposed "Golden Generation" fail to even be mediocre, somehow the further away from the Premiership you can get the better it would seem to be. Perhaps this was something the Grimsby team already knew last year, hence their concerted effort to get down to the BSP." James adds a postscript to complain that the Canadian coverage has taken to the ubiquitous and intensely annoying 'three lions' nickname. As was beautifully documented in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller willfully invented nicknames never stick. Well they ruined rugby league for me anyway. See yer.
Thursday 1 July
Your Idle Diarist was greatly looking forward to opening his email inbox today. The bank's giving me some money back, I'm waiting on some potentially exciting Job News, and no doubt there'll be info on Town's fixtures for the coming season. And sure enough, there was an email titled "Fixtures Out Today". Forget snagging £15 back from the Halifax. Forget the offer of moving up in the employment world. This – this! – was what I wanted.
I shouldn't have hoped so high. In keeping with the recent seasons' disappointments on and off the field, the club saw fit to send me this – this! – fucking pointless mailer.
'Today' in the subject line, 'this afternoon' in the emailer. When, Town, when precisely? We're 75 minutes into the afternoon as I type this and still they haven't arrived. And if you're going to get a sponsor for those "newsflashes", at least make some bloody effort.
Luckily the precise time is on the Football Conference's website: 3pm. Load up the SNOS in your browser ready, set your watches now, and hammer that refresh key on your keyboard come three o'clock, yeah? At least the club can then claim they had a stupid number of page impressions today.
While reading that did you absorb the reason why the Conference is announcing the fixtures early?
"Most football supporters will now have a free World Cup weekend, the Football Conference felt it would be prudent to allow fans the opportunity to have them a few days earlier and to look forward to the new season with relish, rather than bemoan England having already returned home from South Africa."
Aaaawwww, come on! Most real football supporters won't have a weekend free from the World Cup. Most real football fans will be taking in the World Cup quarter-finals. Come on Conference officials! We thought Town would be dropping to a level where there is a higher level of commitment to football supporting, leaving all those, erm, plastic fans behind to their Football League! Real fans who care whether "lesser teams" like Paraguay can make the semi-finals in South Africa.
Still, "Fixtures Out Today" is somewhat better than the "Charlie Set For Town" email sent out by the club earlier, an email which had this Diarist thinking that last season's rumoured drink-fuelled excesses would look lame in comparison to a sudden uptake of Colombian marching powder down at Cheapside. I'm above cocaine-related quips, but feel free to think of your own at this point.
Thought of one? Is it good? Let us know at email@example.com, and let Guest Diary be your joke adjudicator tomorrow.
Anyway, the Charlie in question – you will be relieved/disappointed to learn – isn't Neil Woodses new-found need to have Town's players snorting a line before they run out to Up the Mariners next season, just the recruitment of "highly-rated young striker Charles Ademeno". The QT is that out-of-contract striker Ademeno started his career at Southend, before falling a couple of divisions to put in 31 games last season for Steve "Eyeliner" Evans at Crawley Town. He bagged 11 goals in those games, which seems a decent return. "[Crawley] offered me a new deal but I turned it down. I just wanted to play at a bigger club. Grimsby is a big club in this league," claims Ademeno, simultaneously instilling a sense of fear at all the "big fish" witticisms from lazy writers we'll probably now have to endure.
The Riby Square Rag also confirms Woodses has made a move for ex-Scunny defender Nathan Stanton, but apparently there's interest from League clubs. Which sounds more like a ruse by Stanton's agent to hike up his client's weekly wage from Big Fish Grimsby. Gah! See how easy it was to fall into that trap? Still, if Town put in a top drawer performance they could then be Five Star Big Fish Grimsby. Get it? Big Fish? Five Star Fish? No?
I'll get my coat.