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Diary - March 2010
Wednesday 31 March
Middle aged Diary writes: "Grimsby Reserves F..."
The supporter of my generation will remember the episode of Whatever happened to the likely lads? in which Terry and Bob go to desperate lengths to avoid learning the result of an international so that they can enjoy the highlights later that evening. At one point Bob confesses to catching the start of a newspaper billboard – "England F..." – before he could avert his eyes. They speculate on what the F could stand for: fail, flourish, flop, fantastic...
For members of a younger generation, the storyline must be inconceivable. The match would be ubiquitous: shown live, quite possibly on terrestrial television, and if not on a subscription channel to which they would have easy access via the nearest pub. The expectation of knowing what has happened the instant it has happened has grown. Does anyone really expect to watch a highlights package without knowing the scores nowadays? It is no longer enough to "look away now" for a few seconds during the news before Match of the day as the scores are shown on a bare caption; you also have to mute the volume as those scores are described.
Terry and Bob ended up paying someone £10 when he threatened to tell them the result, before they turned on the TV, to hear the announcement "And now, in a change to the advertised programme following the postponement of the international football...".
England had been flooded out, as was the reserve game at Leeds last night and that, unless you count James Devitt saying how pleased he is to have scored three goals, and how he hopes to score more, is the nearest thing we have got to news today.
Tuesday 30 March
Mardy Diary writes: Today's brief and last-minute diary is dedicated to internet nesbits across the world. Exhibit A: Woods is keeping an eye on a left-back we had on trial a while back.
"Looks like we are preparing for BSP already, young player not much wages there then.WHY are we looking at a left back when a keeper is the most important signing!!!!!!!!!!!! Im sorry but EVEN if we stay up we are going nowhre fast with you in charge Mr Woods!! (Leon, GY)"
Exhibit B: Former Town loan player, Ben Wright, has joined Barnet on Loan.
"and what use is this story to town fans (gareth, grimsby)"
Enjoy the rest of the day.
Monday 29 March
Mardy Diary writes: If you were expecting Town to get hammered at least 4-0, is a 4-1 defeat easier to take? I feel indifferent to this result, really. Yes we were crap, but Rochdale have been scoring for fun past most teams this season (including four away at Bournemouth). They're a bit too good for this division – or rather, they've figured out how the hell you get out. They don't get huge gates, and as far as I can tell they have no rich benefactor. It seems to me (although correct me if I'm wrong) that they appear to be living within their means. They have a fairly small squad of players supplemented by the youth team and a handful of loan players to back up the core squad. Even losing Le Fondre at the end of last season hasn't knocked them. They've worked with what they've got over a number of seasons (are you listening short-termists?) to develop a decent, hard-working squad of players. A team of professionals. And they're not just some frightening Dagenham Team-o-tron2000(tm) mercilessly pumping long-balls in to the box – these buggers only go and play a style of football that we've not really seen down here since Wycombe and Scunthorpe buggered off. Who says you can't get out of this division playing football?
So, let's just forget about it. Pretend it never happened. And hope that, if we're sensible about these things, if we do things properly rather than trying to throw good money after bad, if we think longer term, if we realise that a constant state of change will achieve nothing, one day we will get out of this mess. But there is no quick fix – sorry.
Friday 26 March
Armchair Diary writes: I've got a veritable browser full of news for you today it seems, which makes a change as then I don't have to blather on about funny names, horse racing or anything like that. I bet you're as pleased about this as I am.
Middle-Aged Diary told you the other day that Jamie Devitt was all set to stay at Town for the remainder of the season and the deal has now been done it seems. He apparently praises the fans and cites them as one of the reasons for him agreeing to the move even though he thinks his future lies with Hull. Three goals in seven games for the Mariners is a decent return and may well secure him the glowing reports he desires but is that enough to convince his parent club's "Football Management Consultant", Iain Dowie, that he's worth a first team spot with them?
Like a busy nightclub on a Saturday night, Grimsby Town are operating a 'no trainers' policy. Hang on, nope, that's not right. A 'one in, one out' policy, that's the one. Jamie Devitt is in the building but Paris Cowan-Hall is very much out of it and he has returned to Portsmouth to have his latest hamstring injury dealt with, presumably ending his loan spell with the Mariners. Will we see him again next season? I say "we" but I've never actually seen him at all. A few brief substitute appearances makes it hard to judge the lad but Woodses seems to have enjoyed having him about and Lord Paul of Groves clearly rates him so you never know. Perhaps next season he'll be banging in goals wearing the black and white stripes, scoring against the likes of Wrexham, Mansfield and Barrow. Sorry, I must try to be more positive. Maybe I should be forced to write out "We will stay up" 100 times as punishment. I might wait till mid-May before I do that though, just in case.
More injury news now, or rather lack of injury news. That's news about a lack of injuries as opposed to a lack of news about injuries, just to be clear. I said I had loads to tell you about so there can't really be a lack of news can there? What? Oh, get on with it, right. Paul Linwood, Adam Proudlock and Olly Lancashire are apparently all available again while Devitt still has a knee knock that may keep him out of the side this weekend. Lancashire returning to fitness means Woodses has a defensive headache apparently with loads of central defenders available now. But Olly 'Not From' Lancashire doesn't mind a bit of competition for places according to the Telewag. He sounds pretty happy with Town in that interview actually. I'm never sure how much the club gets under the skin of loanees but he genuinely sounds keen to play for Grimsby.
I've just realised I used two hideous footballing cliches in that last paragraph. Apologies for that. I will try to get through the rest of the news without any more, because at the end of the day you're above that sort of thing, know what I mean?
Neil Woods doesn't fear Rochdale apparently. And rightly so if you ask me. Yes, they have the best home record in the division and we have one of the worst away records but so what? A performance like last weekend and we can get something from this game. It sounds like there will be a decent amount of support too with 600 tickets already sold and the club anticipating a good number of away fans on top of that to make the trip to Spotland and cheer on the Mariners. I can understand why the club have put on the free coaches but not the campaign they are apparently part of. Be There Blue Square? Sounds like they are encouraging people to go to the Blue Square. Should there not be an "Or" in the middle of that title? Who cares, all that matters is that the fans get behind the team and encourage them to do their best.
Whether you're heading to Spotland tomorrow or not you can get all the information you need ahead of the match from our pre-match factfile. We have to spend our Friday mornings writing it so the least you can do is waste some of your afternoon reading it. See yer.
Thursday 25 March
Armchair Diary writes: It's an early one from me this week as I'd like to get it out the way and get on with other things. No major horse racing events on today but I am pretty busy all the same, which is quite remarkable for someone not holding down a full-time job. Let's get down to business anyway.
What better place to start then where Middle-Aged Diary left off yesterday? Alright, not the URL ideas (although you may have noticed that our .com domain is still not working but our resident experts are on the case) which is how yesterday ended. I meant the reserves match that Forbes and Cowing-Hell were supposedly going to play a part in. They both played and Forbes even bagged the winner in a 2-1 win with Hegarty scoring Town's first and setting up the second. Unfortunately Paris Cowan-Hall's hamstring went at the start of the second half so I expect he'll be making another trip down to the south coast to be treated by his parent club. Talking of which (segue-tastic!) Olly Lancashire is back in town after Southampton have sorted his foot injury out so that ought to mean that he, Forbes and Hegarty are in contention for the weekend.
I've just had a look over the line-ups for that reserves match yesterday. Both the SNOS and Lincoln's site carry the same line-ups (which is surprising in itself) but what I hadn't realised is what weird spellings the kids are using these days. Drewe Rhodes? Drew, perhaps, but Drewe? What gets me most though is Cahrlie I'Anson. That's got to be a typo, surely. That has to be Charlie, no? I'Anson is a bit of a posh sounding surname for a local lad though so I wonder where he came from.
Not so much wondering where a reserve player came from but bringing you news of where one of them is going now. Coo, this segue lark really is easy isn't it? Matthew 'Big' Bird has joined Boston on a one-month loan deal. He had a trial at Manchester United a couple of years back and will now be playing for some non-League criminals, probably against a load of his former teammates as the Pilgrims play North Ferriby United this weekend. I'd make some comment about the mighty having fallen but was Bird ever that mighty? He's out of contract in the summer too so perhaps this weekend he can size up two potential employers at once.
I don't think things have got quite so desperate on the news front that I need to tell you how the various kiddy sides did against Darlington do I? If you care, have a look at the summary report in the Telewag. Oh, hang on, take a look at some of these ace names coming through: Oakley Luddington, Jack Fiddlin, De Gruchy (first name unknown), Harry Lightfoot, Emil Powles, Alfie Usher. It's like being back in the 1950s when footballers had proper names but with some posh and space-age names mixed in. I really hope they all make it as professionals at Blundell Park simply because so many of those names sound about as un-Grimsby as one can get.
Did you ever watch your music idols on television and think how cool it would be to hang out with them? Your luck could be in, if your idols happen to be whoever it is that is recording a charity song for England's world cup campaign next week. The SNOS is giving you your chance to appear in a music video for said song but neglects to mention who is actually recording it. It's being laid down at Abbey Road in That London though and as part of the video you get the chance to actually cross the tarmac, presumably without your mum or a lollipop lady checking for traffic coming in either direction first. Whoop-de-doo eh? You'll have to wear the club's home colours and get there early presumably as it's "first come first serve (sic)". And err, just remind me how many professional clubs there are in the English League structure again?
Wednesday 24 March
Middle-Aged Diary writes: "Joe Paisley, but you are probably too young to remember him" is the cryptic start to Antony Chapman's letter to the Diary. Now, being Middle-Aged Diary, this is something of a challenge, but I must confess to being none the wiser, unless the question was "Name the folk-rock artist who wrote 'This Town'." As I see that Paisley's "lyrics take us on a journey through ... the pain we endure in any relationship", not least with a fourth division football club no doubt, this does seem a more relevant question than one might at first suspect. On the other hand, it could be an attempt to answer in two words the question David Elvidge posed in Friday's Diary, asking after anyone who has been appointed internally and been an outstanding manager, by citing both Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley, who, with Kenny Dalglish, succeeded Bill Shankly during Liverpool's must successful period.
Antony goes on to ask "What's this in-joke about 'Straight' Peter Bore? The endless repetition has got boring. Not h*m*ph*b*a, I hope?" For this we must turn to the one and only original Diary (but please continue to accept imitations) who takes us back to his entry of 6 February 2007:
"Not homophobia, no: in fact, it's a mild rebuke to Bore's own soft homophobia, which emerged the other year when the player's Myspace profile came to light. In this, Bore bravely came out as a screaming hetero by deeming it necessary to describe his sexual orientation as not merely straight but 'STRAIGHT!'"
This might perhaps have deterred those scouts from other clubs who are said to be "eyeing up" the new improved right-back (with 35% more heart), except that the story proves to be little more than the Telegraph's attempt to fill space by rehashing recent comments by Neil Woods, including the hardly emphatic quote "I think he is attracting the attention of other clubs – it would be wrong if he wasn't."
In other news, Jamie Devitt is still likely to remain with Town for the rest of the season, despite a sore knee, and Adrian Forbes and Paris Cowan-Hall may play some part in the reserves' tie at home to Lincoln this afternoon.
Congratulations on finding us while we remain exiled from our usual www.codalmighty.com, although our use of www.codalmighty.net meets with the approval of Tom Carpenter, as part of his campaign to get the SNOS relocated to gtfc.haddock, suggesting we go a step further and move to trawler.codalmighty.net. Insert your own fishing quota punchline here.
Tuesday 23 March
Mardy Diary writes: Mmmmmm, noodles. Sorry – the Diary, right. You've caught us a bit short this week (or not if you're still trying to get through via codalmighty.com – which isn't working due to reasons only known to the internet gods). As per usual no-midweek-match Tuesdays, there's plenty of 'news' stories out there, but not really any real news. I can tell you that John Deehan thinks we can stay up, and that John Deehan believes his job is to help us stay up, and that John Deehan remembers that goal he scored which knocked us out of the cup yonks ago. They could've put all those in one article, couldn't they? Or at least spaced it over a few days. Ne'ermind – this is what passes as news these days so I'll guess we'll have to put up with it. At least until, if the rumours are to be believed, the Telegraph starts charging for online access... hahahahhahahhahahahhaha.
Sorry, where were we? Ah yes, joint-second top-scorer Jamie 'The Devil' Devitt is hanging around until the end of the season – which can only be good news as he's largely looked pretty handy and Jude is happy to be here again, having been one of about two million Russell Slade-era trialists that didn't make it. And to think that Ronnie Bull did. That's sent a chill down my spine. In other temporary player news, goalie Oxley has gone back to Hull as I guess we don't need him right now. I'm right in thinking that under the convoluted loan system we can still loan a keeper if Colgan gets injured, yeah? I'm sure I'm right.
And so we move on to your letters – as there were complaints from some quarters that the Diary inbox wasn't being checked regularly. I dunno – some of us have better things to do than sit around reading letters while smoking a pipe and wearing slippers – like your regular Diary is wont to do. So, Tom Carpenter writes regarding the re-emergence of the codalmighty.net address: "May I congratulate the editorial board of Cod Almighty on their change of moniker. I had long felt the need for more fishing references in the various web guises of the club." We're here to please, Tom. "I sent an email to Mr Fenty asking him to change the name of the SNOS to gtfc.haddock," he continues, "He failed to respond, either because of my failure to sign off 'Heil Thatcher', or because the email account expired with the late great Alan Buckley's contract. Your re-emergance as codalmighty.net would seem to fit the bill, however. The next logical step (I mean this in a real, rather than Fenty, sense) would seem to be the abandonment of the un-fish-laden 'www' at the start. May I suggest a change to trawler.codalmighty.net?" A fine idea Tom, which will closely be followed by the launch of our very own social networking site 'FaceHook'.
And on that bombshell I bid you farewell. Oh wait a minute, news just in: John Deehan thinks the club won't be relegated. And more news: John Deehan thinks the club will be in the Football League next season. And further news...
Monday 22 March
Mardy Diary writes: Ah. It's March – can you smell that winning feeling? Pity then, that there's only one more March match left and it's away at Rochdale. If it was any other month I'd expect a four-nil thumping, but as it's March I'm thinking sneaky one-nil win against the run of play. I'm not even thinking about April right now, and don't get me started on May. One game at a time, Ron, isn't it? Hmmm.
One player who'll be looking to play a part again next week is loanee-in-waiting Ashley Chambers. I've just watched his goal again on the BBC highlights and I agree with Woods – it's actually really, really good. Very calm, good power, well placed – we haven't seen much of that this season. Ash is also attempting to get himself integrated in the building by introducing his own management speak to interviews. John Fenty will be loving a bit of that. Young Ashley promises to bring more goals to the table – but which table is that Ashley? Which table is that? I hope it's not an occasional table! Although, yes, an occasional table is better than no table at all – and certainly better than the Conference table. What the hell am I talking about?
The match highlights also confirm that Coulson chested the ball in to the goal and didn't use his hand as some may claim. Yes – it looks like his hand, but I ran the footage past Football League referee Mark Haywood and he confirmed that, yes, it was definitely his chest. He even did that referee gesture thing by patting his hand against his chest. So that's that. No arguments.
In further news, Woods confirms that it was he – not Fentee – that instigated the appointment of Deehan. It's all part of the Woods Masterplan – that being the plan to actually run the club professionally, from top to bottom. Or anywhere is a start. Deehan seems to be taking on some sort of hybrid coach/scout/physio/scoreboard operator role – basically the bits that Woods hasn't got time to do, while also offering a "wise head" to the... unwise? This was in the response to a rumour that Deehan was installed to replace Woods as manager – everyone seems to 'rubbish' rumours these days don't they? There's not enough 'scotching' going on any more – scotching was how it used to be done, before all this modern, er, rubbish. And there's definitely no pooh-poohing anymore. Yes – I am talking shit.
Oh and if you were wondering where we went – we were still here. Although you probably haven't found us again as I write this. For future reference: if codalmighty.com doesn't work, try codalmighty.net. If neither work, get your tin hat, sit under a table and await the alien invasion. Seeya.
Friday 19 March
And now I know how Alan Buckley felt. Hello readers – it's your original Diary back today, the very one who occupied this chair from 2002 to earlier in 2010 and who, for some reason, some people on messageboards seem to think was Tony Butcher. Ha! Biggest laugh I've had since that injured Kidderminster forward had a row with his own physio and had to limp round the perimeter from the Pontoon to the dug-outs all on his own.
Many recent occupants of the Diary's chair, it is fair to say, have given the impression of wanting to get the job done quickly with a minimum of effort and scant concern for quality, so they can go and get on with doing something more enjoyable. While, on the face of it, this might not provide the pleasantest experience for Diary readers, it's important to bear in mind that they're not just being lazy: they're making an ironic comment on the performance of the GTFC squad for most of the past decade.
So it is that Straight Peter Bore, until recently the very emblem of the players' underachievement, can be found today engaged in a round of Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest. "We should be picking up more points than we are and we are running out of games, so Bournemouth is an extremely important match. It's a tough game, but in our last home game we got a good win, so hopefully we can get the fans behind us and make it two home wins in a row," ventures the dangerously heterosexual forward turned right-winger turned right-back, throwing in a reminder for good measure about his own improved form and in the hope of keeping himself in the team at the expense of dead good actual right-back and injury returnee Mr Robbie Stockdale.
In fairness to the Diary's colleagues, we seem to have entered an age in which football news has largely been replaced by football people saying stuff, and so if recent Diaries have veered towards the perfunctory there has often been a good reason. While yesterday there was genuine news in Town's surprising and noteworthy appointment of John Deehan as chief scout, today Straight Peter Bore's tedious recital is just about all we have to report – apart from Michael Leary saying basically the same thing, of course. But you don't want to read that because it will make you want to gouge out your own eyes with a plastic teaspoon and disembowel yourself atop the south tower of the Humber Bridge.
Not that a lack of genuine news ought to hold back the Diary altogether from providing content, of course. Just as Buckley returned to Blundell Park in 1997 to survey the wreckage left by Messrs Laws and Swain, so the Diary is perplexed by the unwillingness or inability of the shower of ne'er-do-wells who have succeeded me to check the Diary's inbox more than once a month. An email from Martyn Wyburn, hence, has been lying unread and unloved since Mardy Diary's outburst here three whole days ago. "Dear Mardy Diary," writes Martyn, "something has upset you hasn't it? Do you want to talk about it? Please don't lock your feelings away. It's important to tell people what you really think." Anyone who sits in proximity to MD at the back of the Pontoon on match days will be in no doubt of his feelings, Martyn, whether it's National No Swearing at the Ref Day or not.
That just leaves us with David Elvidge, then, or "Ageing Rocker of north Norfolk", as close friends get to call him. David has emailed with a distinctly East Anglian take on the latest chapter of the Woods revolution:
My morning paper, the Eastern Daily Press, has just arrived and has a prominent piece about John Deehan's appointment, plus photo. I tend to support [Armchair] Diary's intimation that this could be Woods replacement already being shoehorned in. Interestingly, the EDP mentions Deehan's role as assistant to Kettering manager Lee Harper in December, but Deehan only lasted one month. So he has non-League 'experience.'
Deehan was one of Bryan Gunn's appointments when 'Gunny' became manager of Norwich City. The whole setup was short-lived and Gunn & co were sacked after a 7-1 home defeat to Colchester. Goes to show the folly of promoting folk who were doing a perfectly reasonable job in their own clubs (and in the case of Gunn, was a local legend), but could not hack it as managers. As the Good Book says, "A prophet shall not be known in his own land." Can any Diary reader point to anyone who has been promoted internally and been an outstanding manager?
So back to John Deehan and, as the title of Chuck Berry's hit has it, you never can tell.
Indeed, David, although the current incumbent in the Bournemouth manager's chair was promoted from within and seems to be making a reasonable fist of it. Bournemouth? Cod Almighty's pre-match factfile will be published as soon as Simon Colin Wilson shows up to write his parts. But soft! Here's some team news: Jamie Devitt, Dean Sinclair and Penis Peter Sweeney may return tomorrow, while Oliver Lancashire is back in Southampton with his injury because they're a big club and they don't trust our fishy hicks to look after him properly. You've got the BBC to thank for that, by the way. Enjoy that while you can, before the Tories sell it to Rupert Murdoch to pay for their tax cuts for the rich. Enjoy that while you can. Now who said that back in 2002, when Town were an established second-flight club and half the fans wanted to 'sack the board' for their lack of ambition? Oh, it was me. Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend.
Thursday 18 March
Armchair Diary writes: Can we make this quick please? There's a major jumps racing festival going on and I'd rather be watching that, quite frankly. It's a good job there isn't that much to tell you about then really.
You probably already know that Town have appointed John Deehan as "Head of Recruitment" whatever that transpires to be. Woodses tells us it means that Deehan will be out scouting players building up a list of players who will then probably turn us down in the future. Deehan has scouted for Bolton and Norwich as well as having management experience. Much is made of his contacts, as it seems to be whenever Town sign someone to the backroom staff. Is he being brought in to replace Woods via the back door, especially since he expressed a great interest in the job when the club appointed Mike Newell? Has Fenty realised he has cocked up time and time again with his previous appointments and has panicked yet again? Who knows? Who cares, at the end of the day? After all, there's not much us fans can do about it and it would be mental to stop going because you don't approve of Fenty's staff choices.
By the way, has John Deehan watched much non-League football? If he hasn't yet he will have to next season.
Ashley Chambers is in the frame for this weekend after a brace for the reserves in a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough yesterday. Ak-Ak reckons it's all about League survival for him even though his contract is nearly up. Gosh, that article has a lot of short, one-sentence paragraphs doesn't it? That looks like I wrote it. I didn't though. I wrote this instead.
Now can I get on with watching Cheltenham please?
Wednesday 17 March
Deviant Diary writes: With 52 days left as a Football League club it is I, Deviant Diary, filling the Rosa Klebb-like hobnail boots of Mardy Diary's uber-mardy incendiary incensed Diary. The fire brigade has left two Simon Snorkels behind to damp the keyboard down overnight. No, that isn't a reference to Mr Burns' posterior; someone has gotten far too fixated with Dave's derriere. That's a metaphysical place no human should ever delve. Let's treat it like Tomi Ameobi and never speak of such things again.
News! No, no news really. The reserves are playing Middlesbrough and Not So Nasty Nick Colgan is not so unhappy now he is not so disliked by the not so many fans that keep turning up. Not so much news as a shrug of life. And who cares about Slow Michael and his brotherly love. Boulding was another guy, in another job, in another time. Too old, too late to be a hero.
Where can we turn to lighten the mood? At least we can share a chuckle with the toothless Tigernation. An embarrassment of WI fisticuffs, Dowie dewdrops and doesn't Jimmy Bullard look like he'd go to Grandma's party tonight.
Ah, our world. This season's Save the Mariners campaign doesn't even pretend to believe its own lack of publicity: it's a motion being gone through like an egg on a tricycle. Where is the heart? Is the Town officially dead? Have we all given up? Where is the love Fenty? Where is the love? Hang on, where is The Fentycon these days? Well it's hard to believe I know, but we used to hear him singing in the sighing of the wind, blowin' in the Findus Stand way above. Fenty, remember Grimsby?
And what about that orange? We never did find out.
Tuesday 16 March
Mardy Diary writes: Think Town are shit? Not much money and would rather spend it on a Sky subscription? Think it's funny that the local club are going to get relegated to the Conference? Bought the latest Man Utd replica kit? Would buy a cheap ticket to watch Grimsby but raise expectations unrealistically then boo at the first sign of a tiny mistake? Then YOUR club needs YOU! Yes – much to the dismay of those season ticket holders who put the effort in week in and week out, the club, in its final desperate minutes, are giving out cheap tickets to the unwashed moaners again. And again. And again for the rest of the season. So if you found it hard enough sitting through the matches as your team plummeted towards the Conference without so much as a murmur, then prepare to step it down a notch. You too can now be accompanied at the match by your very own greasy, unintelligible, loser, co-commentator: "that number seven is shit, YOUR SHIT TOWN". Enjoy the match-time banter: "Fucking Blue Square Town, ha, YOUR SHIT". Partake in the support: "Going down, going down, going down... YOUR SHIT TOWN". And all in the comfortable knowledge that this here-today-down-the-pub-wanking-over-John-Terry-tomorrow cock end paid much less to get in than you did.
If you are that cock end, then here is a pre-emptive bit of 'banter': fuck off and die.
Monday 15 March
Mardy Diary writes: Mmph. Unhn. Urr. Who wins 6-5 anymore, eh? That's so 2002. Stupid bloody game. I'm not sure there's anything really to add, is there? Just read the Monday diary from the other week, or the week before that. It's that sort of thing really. I feel like apologising, but it's not my fault. Oh well – it's nearly over folks. Brace yourself.
Friday 12 March
Armchair Diary writes: It has fallen to me to bring you the news again so let's see what's going on in the world shall we?
Town travel to Morecambe tomorrow and with games running out this season we could do with picking up the full three points again. Unfortunately Neil Woodses will have to do without Jamie Devitt who is still suffering the groin problem that forced him off midweek. Dean Sinclair is "very doubtful" too as he has a dicky knee. Peter Sweeney's knee is a bit better than Sinclair's though and he's 50-50 to make the team, as is Olly Lancashire. As if that weren't bad enough at this stage of the season, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is struggling with a thigh injury and young Bradley Wood's groin is giving him grief. Nathan 'The Jar Man' Jarman is back from suspension while Tommy Wright and Ashley Chambers are likely to be available again after injuries to their achilles and ankle respectively. If Ak Ak isn't fit then Woodses can always call on Adam Proudlock after his goals in that friendly win over Forest the other day, and with Robbie Stockdale fit there is the potential to move Peter Bore into a more attacking role. What condundra eh? Or should that be conundrums? Either way I'm glad it's not up to me to work out who to put where on Saturday afternoon.
One player I forgot to mention till just now is Nick Hegarty. He came off the bench to replace Devitt on Tuesday night and did alright by all accounts. He has told the Telewag that he's raring to go after his injuries and thinks Morecambe is the ideal place to show what he can do. Let's hope so Nick as we need some Hegativity. He does make me feel old though. It seems like he's been at the club for ages and he's only 23.
So often this season the Telewag has carried a story from one of the players along the lines of "we know we've been a bit rubbish but we will get better, honest." Blond Bob Atkinson has put a slightly different spin on the tale this week saying that the players owe the away support a win and the best way to achieve that is to shore things up at the back after a couple of dodgy performances. He could have a point. The forwards have been scoring recently so if we don't concede as many as we score then we'll win. Cuh, this football lark's dead simple innit?
Tomorrow sees Macclesfield Town's first home game since the sad passing away of Keith Alexander and the club will mark the occasion with a minute's applause as well as a wreath-laying ceremony involving representative of all the clubs he managed. There's a quite moving video tribute on the Wraggs to Riches website too. OK, so it's just a series of stills rather than footage of the man in action but it's still brilliant to see the passion he exuded as well as his big smile beaming back at you. Wraggs to Riches have also produced a special memorial edition of their fanzine which you can buy here with all proceeds going to the Sacred Sports Foundation.
As usual on a Friday afternoon, the internet is starting to fill up with match previews. I've given you the main team news but for the rest of the facts you need ahead of the match at Morecambe why not check out our pre-match factfile. You know it's the only preview worth reading but if you want to read the others as a way of wasting your Friday afternoon at work don't let me stop you.
Thursday 11 March
Armchair Diary writes: Don't ask what happened to yesterday's journal, I simply don't know. I've put this one up early to make up for it though.
What I do know though is that Town's youthers beat Walsall the other night, not York. The Telewag have finally clarified this so hopefully Mardy Diary isn't as confused now as he was the other day. Tom Corner bagged the only goal late on to take the MySpace Mariners to the final for the second time in a few years. Now we know who we beat but not how often we have been in the final. Is this the second time in four years as the Telewag claimed in that article from the other day, the second time in five years as the Telewag reckon in the second paragraph of today's article (although towards the end of that article they go for the second time in four years again) or the second time in two seasons as the SNOS reckons. Who knows? I think we can all agree it's not the second time in three years though. Well, whatever, it's a mighty achievement by the micro Mariners.
Continuing the theme of kids winning football matches I ought to tell you that the under-10s side from the school of excellence beat Scunny 2-1 recently. I don't know much at all about football at this level but was enjoying the report until I got to the bit that says "The third period started with..." and was taken back a bit. Football, it's a game of two halves at the end of the day innit Gary? The article goes on to report on a narrow defeat for the under-nines, the under-11s (in only their second proper match), the under-12s and the under-15s but the under-13s bagged a win at the weekend as did the under-14s. I feel sorry for whoever writes those reports. It must be dead hard trying to work out who did what when you've got 20 kids all chasing the ball everywhere round the field and at least one of the goalkeepers getting bored and sitting down in his area or wandering off to talk to his mates. School football is still like that, right?
And did you know Town had so many junior teams? I didn't.
Want news of another win? Would you like some first-team players to have been involved rather than their kids? Alright then. How about a friendly win against Nottingham Forest (presumably a representative XI rather than the first team), will that do you? Adam Proudlock bagged a couple in the 3-2 win at Blundell Park yesterday. Paris Cowing Hell was due to be back for that one but in the end he wasn't. Hamstrung in Hampshire still apparently. I'm assuming Portsmouth still have a physio to treat him after laying off 85 people yesterday else don't expect to see the lad in a Town shirt any time soon. Actually, the way things have been going I doubt we'll see him line up for the Mariners at all. Ever.
That's all the wins you're getting out of me today I'm afraid. I'm going to have to mention the totally unexpected defeat at Crewe now. Who could have expected the Mariners to have lost that after their fantastic winning run? It's a funny old game. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is getting a glowing report from Woodses after the last couple of matches and he reckons there is more to come from Ak-Ak. Jamie Devitt picked up an abductor injury on Tuesday night and is now a doubt for the weekend as is Olly Lancashire (foot).
I'm going to finish up today with Dario Gradi's emotional response to Carl Martin's red card in the last stages of their win over the Mariners. Not seeing the incident is very Arsene Wenger but not seeing it because you were bawling with rage is something else altogether. And to say that whatever ban the lad gets is music to your ears is harsh if you ask me. Calm down Dario, it's only a game. Imagine what would have happened had Mike Newell taken the same approach. With all those red cards in the early part of the season we'd have had to bring in almost an entirely new team. Oh.
Tuesday 9 March
Mardy Diary hurriedly scribbles: It's all go again tonight with raised hopes for another victory – another three points would really make a huge difference right now to our chances of staying up. Why do we do this to ourselves? Have we really turned a corner this time? Will we scrape a narrow win, tear them apart but not score or simply not bother to turn up as we have done so often this season. Which Town will it be tonight? Whichever one shows their face, be sure to read our pre-match factfile which should be turning up sometime soon (Si!).
One Mariners team still flying the flag is the youthers, who recorded another excellent win last night against
York Wals Yor... against, who the fuck knows? I've re-read that Telegraph article several times and I'm still none the wiser. You know what they say – if you put a bunch of monkeys in a room with a load of typewriters, they'll eventually get recruited to write for the Grimsby Telegraph sport section.
Whatever happened when, one thing we do know is that the Youthers beat
York Walsall at some point recently and that sees them through to the Midland Super Floodlit All-Stars Football-a-rama Super Cup Final in association with Tom's Carpet Warehouse. League form has suffered somewhat as a result of minds being on the cup, says Adam Smith (still in his 'caretaker' role), but victories are victories and we'll take them wherever we find them. Well done Myspacers.
In other news – there isn't really any other news, except that the pitch at Crewe is fine. Game on! Come on you bloody buggers!
Monday 8 March
Idle Diary writes: What a difference a week makes. Seven days wallowing in the aftermath of the dismal Dagenham defeat and it, to borrow some Diddy Dave Boylen speak, is now One, Two, Three, W-hey time! 3-0, a great relief and a boost, and the players now need to keep that going. It's a start for Town's survival bid, closing their winless run at 26 games. But keep those feet on the ground. It's just a start. Five more wins and the team can ram David Burns' repeatedly repeated observation that he can't "see them getting six wins" up his arse.
Whether Town knock together five more wins or not, it'll be some time further still before they'll be comfortable enough to resort to the time-wasting and space-filling tactics of the Grimmo Telegraph in this chat with Dean Sinclair. In a prime example of what is commonly known as "modern day sports reporting", see if you can spot the multiple attempts at bulking out a skimpy piece of copy with far too many little facts and figures. We know it's just a day job and it was the weekend, but would it have hurt to maybe have got some more words out of the player?
And before you ask, no, I'm not bitter that I missed this historic victory as I was working on Saturday. No. Not at fucking all.
Friday 5 March
"Be There or Blue Square" asks the Telegraph, probably in the build up to a campaign I can't find the details on. Sadly, your Idle Diarist won't be at Blundell Park this Saturday, as the rigors of his day job have spilled into the weekend. A shame as the match had been penciled into my diary a month back as an intriguing encounter.
Four weeks on from that life planning exercise and Town are still looking to break that duck while the Shrews are gamely aiming for the play-offs. Neil Woods admits to a hard week, full of truths and honesty from himself and with his players. Yet again we hope as fans that the week's endeavours transfer to the pitch.
The Jarman (banned) and Forbes (injured) will miss out, while injuries rank Olly Lancashire, Tommy Wright, and Ashley Chambers as borderline for selection. There's talk of tactical and staff changes for the starting XI, but why sit here speculating? It's what Woods decides for tomorrow's game that will determine the outcome. You just need to decide whether you are there, and whether you are supportive. Whatever your choice take a couple of minutes at 3pm to remember Big Keith, an honest player if ever there was one.
Thursday 4 March
Armchair Diary writes: It's a bit difficult to know what to say today. Keith Alexander had left Town by the time I started going to games so I never actually got to see him play. Despite that, I always knew him as a true legend and a real folk hero. I feel more moved by his death than I thought I would. I'll tell you what though, I thought the England team wearing black armbands in his memory was a nice touch last night. I don't know how many of those massively overpaid buggers really knew that much about Keith, no doubt someone at the FA suggested the armbands, but fair play to the team for respecting a proper legend.
As you'd expect, tributes to Big Keith have been pouring in. Macca and Neil Woods have paid their respects in an article in the Telewag. It's great to hear how Alexander, a former non-League player, could give big-time pros like Tony Mowbray and Gary Pallister a problem but also as a manager never forgot his roots and would give other non-Leaguers a break. Woods' words really hit home though and remind you that, despite his health problems a few years back, Keith's was a shock death at a young age. Garry Birtles, a former team-mate of Alexander's under Sir Alan Buckley, is another to remind us all what a great bloke Big Keith was and how sadly he'll be missed. Sam Metcalf has penned Cod Almighty's tribute to the great man.
I've not yet heard what is happening about Macclesfield's game this weekend and whether or not that will go ahead. Similarly I have no idea how Town plan to honour the memory of one of the club's greats in this weekend's match against Shrewsbury. I do know the match is part of a Football for Heroes campaign the Football League is running, raising awareness of the Help for Heroes fund so let's hope that while this worthy fund is supported the club can find some way of celebrating the life of one of their own heroes. Even though Town's current playing staff are mostly short-termers and loaners none of whom have been here long enough to really soak up what it means to play for Grimsby Town, let's hope Neil Woods can inspire his players to a performance worthy of Big Keith, and hopefully a win too.
I'm afraid I feel duty-bound to bring you some more bad news: Town's home record is now the worst in the league after Stockport beat Wycombe last weekend. To be fair to Stockport, they tried hard to bugger it up, letting Wycombe peg them back from 4-0 up to set up a tight finish but they held on to win their second home game. OK, we have picked up 11 points at home to County's 10 so our home record is only the worst in the country if you're only taking the number of home wins into account. Even all the Conference clubs have won more than one game at home so we might not find it so easy next season either. But there is a positive in every story if you look hard enough, and today you need to be looking to Montrose in the Scottish third division who haven't won any games at home this season. We may be shit but at least we're not Montrose.
We end with a quick round up of player news. Olly Lancashire hasn't broken a bone in his foot so could be available again this weekend. Paris Cowing-Hell or whatever he's called is in light training but is a couple of weeks away from being available. Peter Bore is getting used to life as a full-back and wants to improve. And Adam Watts doesn't bear a grudge against Lee Peacock for the tackle that left the defender with a broken leg.
Wednesday 3 March
Mardy Diary writes: Having exhausted the list of players that the Telegraph can call upon for its weekly "tell the fans we've been shit, but we'll get better soon" article – and given the number of players we've used this season, that takes some doing – they've, unsuprisingly, had to adopt a different approach lately. This latest space-filling initiative sees them call upon former Town players to essentially say: "it's a bit sad what's happening to the club really, isn't it?" Firstly it was here-today-gone-tomorrow Damien McCrory, today it's Bradley "Boulding would have been shit without me" Allen. Who next? My money is on a shock appearance by the great Livvo – or perhaps that's just wishful thinking on my part. Looking at who we've got to play and former players connected with those clubs I'm going for...Ciaran Toner perhaps? There's a few weeks before we play Rochdale though – so come on, give us your suggestions. The winner gets, I don't know: that long lost sense of winning something. There.
The diary postbag has been a little light of late. Understandable really, most people like to grieve in private. Mark Wilson, however, could hold back no longer. "Whenever I email the diary I try to either raise a smile or point out the absurd but today I'm moved to tell you how I feel. I'm 41 years old, I have supported Town ever since my grandad sat me on the fence of the Barratt Stand in (about) 1975 and from that moment I have lived and breathed this club. GTFC has been the punctuation in my life, good and bad", says Mark, adding "But they have never made me feel as depressed as I was when I left Dagenham on Saturday evening. I have been genuinely close to tears twice since then. My beloved Grimsby Town will drop out of the football league this season and become a 'non-league' club and the reason I know this is because of the dispiriting performance the players gave on Saturday afternoon. They looked like a defeated team the moment Dagenham scored and it looked inevitable that Dagenham would score just as it looked inevitable that we wouldn't. The fight has gone and with it our chances of survival." Come down from the bridge, Mark. "I'm not sure I can face games against Ebbsfleet and Woking." Ah, see – just look through squinted eyes and pretend that it's Wolves and Crystal Palace.
Anyway, context: in the middle of writing this I've just seen that Big Keith has died. So sod football, it's just a stupid game anyway. Other things are far more important: we love you Keith.
Tuesday 2 March
Mardy Diary writes: I didn't listen to the fans forum. I suppose I should have. I suppose I should go on Mariners World now and listen to it. But it won't change the facts – those being that the infrastructure of the club has been neglected for years while some at the club have continued to dream of conferencing facilities at out of town retail parks, and that we now are in very real danger of dropping out of the league. Listening to the forum is unlikely to give me the answers I want either. Perhaps there are no answers – or rather, no-one knows what the answers are. So, no, I'm afraid I can't summarise here what was said because I haven't listened to it. I scanned a few messageboard posts earlier which made reference to a 'farce' and thought – well, I thought I don't really want to know any more. I'll just stick my head in the sand and sing a happy tune – it's cold outside, and I don't want to be there.
Still, I will continue to attend the games: my season ticket holding days have coincided with ten years of decline, but I continue to go. Why? I'm not really sure – a sort of sense of duty I guess. But also, to chat to long-time friends enduring Town's demise with me. I could chat down the pub with any number of Premier watching football 'fans' – but they, mostly, don't get it.
However, in these dark days, there's humour to be found: I seem to have spent many recent games chatting and laughing with Poetry Al at the back of the Pontoon during matches – and there's plenty to chuckle about if you really put your mind to it. Not much has been said on this site about the alleged big fight between Newell and Fenty – but come on: who didn't read that accusation about Fenty smashing a chair twice on the floor before threatening Newell without pissing themselves laughing? I'm still laughing about it now, it's the funniest thing I've heard at Town since Slade's finest radio moment ("I could get any female off the street to do what he's done today"). That word 'farce' rears its head again, of course: but a farce is always funny for those watching, is it not? Ok – I suppose in Sky-era football supporting my proper reaction should be to cry (on camera) about Town dropping out of the league before punching a Scunthorpe fan in the face or something, but I'm afraid, once the mist clears, I'll probably just chuckle to myself a bit. But then, I always did laugh at inappropriate moments.
There is some light though: Adam Smith seems to be continuing to build on the good foundations put in place by Neil Woods with the youth team. We can only hope that some of these youngsters, with proper, continuing development, make the step up to first team level. I expect there'll definitely be opportunity should we find ourselves a division lower. In the meantime, we can look forward to Smith publishing his Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of football clubs. Gripping stuff.
Oh – and that Are You Being Served? reference was really shoe-horned in to the Telegraph report of the match at the weekend. Shoe-horned with a shoe-horn made for elephants. Brutal. See you next time.
Monday 1 March
Idle Diary writes: Your team is seven points from safety, there's thirteen games left in your club's season. Not the perfect situation to be holding a fan's forum. What a brave decision from John Fenty, eh? "No holds barred."
It is, until you look into the details.
The Town chairman has thought about this. It won't be an open debate at McMenemy's. There'll be no fans in attendance. And no mediation from a body like Radio Humberside. It'll just be you, watching it all through the club's Superb New Official Site. Fenty will be sat behind a computer, avoiding any potentially uncomfortable face-to-face explaining or confrontations.
Oh, Fenty will say, this sort of thing is what will take us down, this kind of criticism, this kind of attack, this kind of negativity, this is the sort of thing that has the club where it is. That's right, John, it's always us, the fans. It's never you who faults. Nothing is ever down to your fellow board members either. It's always us fans, who have turned up, and never stopped supporting, willing the team to turn it round. We've put up with this for years. Yes, years. Year of misery. Never mediocrity. Just bottom of the table scrapping. Season after season after season, with one year off for good behaviour for Sladeball.
Every one of those painful, miserable, fucking seasons was down to a decision taken by the chairman and the board of Grimsby Town Football Club. We get to have our say in what our kit will be – our fucking kit for fuck's sake! – while those in charge of the club make decisions that matter. Yeah, so you foot the bill, as you keep telling us, lending the club money to keep it going. But let's be honest, time and time again, you've fucked up. Let's just keep lending the club money, until somehow the shower of shit slides off.
Tonight, a time to engage the people, to talk about decisions, to discuss outcomes, to think about the future of our club, whatever, everything. Tonight, the one time (or the latest time) you need the club's leader to stand up, really show some balls, and to take it like a man. This isn't about John Fenty the politician, this is about John Fenty the chairman, the leader of your club. And what's he doing? Hiding behind a computer screen.
Shall we all just give up now? Or shall we all march down to Blundell Park tonight and demand the forum we deserve?