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Diary - May 2010
Friday 28 May
Armchair Diary writes: Who is Idle Diary trying to kid? I thought padding out the column inches was exactly what we were obliged to do at this time of year when there is no real news out there. It's what I've been doing anyway.
The other day Mardy Diary mentioned Town being linked with two midfielders, according to the SNOS. Michael Coulson was named as being one of the pair with the other an unnamed League One player. I'm surprised it has taken till now for someone to mention in this column that surely that has to be Dean Sinclair, doesn't it? He was released by his parent club a few days back and then the Mariners are linked with a player matching his description. Coincidence? I think not. But Sincs (as he's probably known) would prefer League football next season although he has not yet ruled out a move to Blundell Park. Maybe it's just me but it seems too early to be signing players anyway. Yes, some players will be looking to secure deals now, especially in these uncertain economic times, but last season has only really just finished and the next one is ages away yet so there's no rush is there?
Neil Woodses obviously sees it differently though and negotiations with both Coulson and the unnamed player are reported to be at an advanced stage. Coulson sounds dead keen to join the Mariners so lets hope Woodses can get him to put pen to paper and start yet another new revolution at the club.
There's not much more I can tell you, I'm afraid. The SNOS have confirmed one of the opponents on the Mariners' mega-tour of Scotland as Stirling Albion. The club are to be based at Stirling Uni for this tour (so quite how it's a tour is beyond me) so is anyone surprised by the fact we're playing the local side? No, thought not.
Oh, and the coming season's Conference line-up is still somewhat uncertain as Salisbury City have appealed the decision to relegate them two divisions. Their manager, ex-Mariner Tommy Widdrington, is apparently well behind the decision to appeal. I think it would be nice for Salisbury to be given a reprieve. With sections of the Town support singing "Que sera, sera/whatever will be, will be/we're going to Salisbury" towards the end of last season it would be a great shame if the Town fans were made to look like liars as well as violent thugs.
Have a good bank holiday and enjoy the weather. Ta-ta.
Thursday 27 May
Idle Diary here, stepping into the breach of the Diary's scheduling hull. Thursday is traditionally the 'quiet day' of our week, scrounging around for the dregs of news. Still, at least we aren't obliged to pad out our column inches.
The only news of slight-substance is Town might be after Bury's injury-blighted striker Andy Bishop.
While I've not had much time to explicitly go through my emails the past week, anything that has the subject "Hey [insert my real name here, which you all probably know anyway]" gets first pickings. There's only one of these, but it's from sometime tipster Mat Hare asking about the club's digital media rates, blatantly advertised on one of the site's news pages (in the more traditional press this sort of upsell thing was called an "advertorial" – these days it's most bloody pages on sites like Town's). It was only a matter of time before the club pawned off any remaining space they held, in this case their digital presence. £200 for sponsoring their emails , £400 a month to be the main website sponsor. Do they represent good value? The club claims the emails are sent out to 20,000 GTFC supporters – what they don't say is how many of these emails are opened and then read, and a little eyetracking research on the design would also be interesting to see response to the advertiser's presence. As for getting your name across the masthead of gtfc.co.uk, a season would cost you about £3,600, which isn't too bad in my opinion, although possibly a quick-fix way of making up some of the downturn in advertising revenue from being a Conference club. It's just people tend to ignore those sort of things, stuck away at the top. Again, placement and design dictate exposure and resonance (which is why people do this), but no doubt expect a press release sometime into the season selling either of these again and bragging about "click through rates" and other such antiquated ways of measuring the advertising. (You did ask, Mat.)
Hundreds of thousands of Town supporters though? Really? Quantify that empirically. Go on.
Talking of the SNOS, their Conference Club Guide has you feeling, like a McDonald's burger, unsatisfied and wanting something meatier and more filling, then let your tummy rumble that little bit longer, as the Cod Almighty team are preparing for the return of our awesome rough guides. A new division means pub research for these ale hunters, and while we're doing that we might as well look into the clubs we'll be visiting. It might not stop there – we might do a redesign while we're at it. And while we're at it, what about a mobile app? Only joking with that last bit. We'll try to make the site more accessible by mobile devices though. Even regular Diary's got one these days! On which note, time to head off. Cheerio!
Oh, and, by the way, we're still chuckling and "urrrrrring at "League 3".
Wednesday 26 May
Mardy Diary writes: Ooh! Signings alert. There may possibly be a signing or two very soon apparently – one alleged to be Michael Coulson and the other a player who has yet to be given a name. Bad parenting, that. Neil Woods is reported to be "confident" in making these signings. Ho-hum. I'm not going to sit here and wait because it'll probably be next Thursday before there's actually an announcement.
Oddly, the "tour" of Scotland that was originally reported as possibly involving two or three friendlies against Scottish sides, is possibly only going to involve a single friendly against a Scottish side, or no friendlies at all. The players are going up to Stirling, instead, to do a bit of the old bondage, er, bonding and to use the world class facilities they have at Stirling University. What facilities these are, I haven't a buggering clue – so if any of our readers are based up that way – hello, Kevin Graham – perhaps they'd be so kind to pay a visit to Stirling University and let us know what these world class facilities are.
This week, the role of being the player to Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest is Tommy Wright – hang on, it's the close season isn't it? At least give us a few weeks off before we start up with those stories again. Woods said there would be a smaller squad this coming season, so if the Telegraph are starting with this already they're either hoping that Town are going to be any good (thus negating the need for these stories), or they have some other devious plan up their sleeve. If they're not careful they'll be on to the Under-11s before October. Although the Under-11s are usually any good, aren't they?
How many fake news stories do you need to produce before people actually visit your site? League Three? Either the person who wrote that is stupid, or they're just a massive twat. Seeya.
Tuesday 25 May
Armchair Diary writes: I fired up the usual news sources this morning to see what was happening in the world of Grimsby Town Football Club and one story immediately grabbed my attention. The headline read "Request to FA to allow 3 teams to be promoted" which immediately made me think that there was some official campaign to make the exchange between the fourth division and the Conference a three up/three down affair. But no, how wrong I was. It was in fact just a filler article on a football network that is notoriously unreliable so I won't even name it. The article basically says it would be nice if it were three up/three down so that Town have a better chance of getting out of the Conference but there is nothing official about it in the slightest. There was me thinking the request was being made by a club chairman when instead it's just by a random staff writer. Oh well. I did wonder why this story hadn't made any of the main news networks and now I know.
And in case you wanted further evidence how unreliable this particular network of club sites is, they have only just announced that John Deehan has been sacked, that Chris Casper has been offered a new deal and that Lee Peacock is probably happy to stay with the Mariners. Keep up, eh?
Let's try a more reliable news outlet shall we? The Telewag bring us news that Dean Sinclair has been released by Charlton although I haven't seen anything saying that he will come back to Blundell Park to sign for the Mariners but we'll see. He'd be quite useful to have in the building wouldn't he? Promising young starlet Bradley Wood is desperate to get back in the first team it would seem. Opportunities for the young defender and local forest nearly-namesake have been limited under Neil Woodses but after winning that floodlit cup thingy with the youth team Wood is keen to get back amongst the big boys. What's the betting he goes on to have a couple of storming seasons and then gets sold for a pittance to a "big club"?
The Telewag also carry a story about Neil Woodses doing his homework for next season by attending the Conference play-off final at Wembley although I thought that match took place a couple of weeks back so that's not really news is it? Perhaps the fact that Woodses was there has only just come to light. Who knows? Who cares, in all honestly?
Ooh, a signing rumour, that's what we need at this time of year. And unsurprisingly, given that Nick Colgan has exercised his "I'm a League standard goalkeeper, get me out of here" clause, it's a keeper that Town are being linked with. OK, so all that's really happened is that Kenny Arthur has been put on the transfer list by Rochdale but as we apparently almost signed him on loan before, maybe, he's being rumoured as a possible summer signing. I can't say I know that much about him so I don't know if he'd do a job for us or not. It would be nice to have a solid, reliable keeper for once though.
There's not much else to tell you, really. Thank goodness the Telewag had a few stories that I could waffle on about though else I'd have had to resort to pushing you in the direction of who various Mariners think will win the World Cup and this picture that apparently shows Ak-Ak being presented with an award. Now is it just me or does it actually look like the two disabled fans are sharing the award between them and are just taunting Ak-Ak with it?It is just me then, right.
Monday 24 May
Mardy Diary writes: Even the Grimsby Telegraph are struggling to come up with a tenuous Town related story today. No interviews with players saying how they've enjoyed it at the club and would like to stay? No ex-player saying things will get better? No potential signing alert based on evidence gleaned from a half mention in the Rochdale Examiner on-line? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
And so it is in these times of news-drought that we turn to our readership to help us fill up a bit of space – gawd bless 'em. Our resident betting guru Mat Hare has found himself befuddled with the kids of today. "I'm not exactly in touch with the kids of today and all this social networking shite", he admits, "but as I understand it, one of the done things is to update one's status on a regular basis such that one's friends are kept up to date with one's life. Now, either Mr Mortlock is bucking that trend somewhat or there's something fishy going on as he claims to be 'trying to earn some money at the minute to go travelling'. He has a job at Grimsby Town Football Club so presumably he is now earning. Can we then expect him to be bugger off round the world soon? I assume his travelling didn't mean to places like Barrow and Tamworth." I expect he's only been given a contract til August. Mat continues: "Mind you, Ben 'Morty/Morters' Mortlock hasn't actually logged in to MySpace for three months so perhaps his ambitions have changed somewhat. Who knows? Who cares, really? But it fills in a bit of space in the Diary doesn't it?" Indeed it does Mat, indeed it does. And this sentence fills a little bit more. They all count.
We've had a bit of correspondance on scouts after a request for information by Armchair Diary last week. Christopher Beeley suggests the following may potentially be part of Town's scouting network: "Mr Magoo; Nigel Adkins; Landlord of the Rose & Crown, Swansea (see Chris Jones); John Fenty;
Manager of Greggs, Leeds (see Peter Sweeney); Charlie Cairoli (see Tommy Forecast)." I couldn't possibly comment, but Ben Gresswell has clearly had the same thoughts as he claims "I have it on good authority that Stevie Wonder and David Blunkett have been scouting on behalf of the club for several seasons. I cannot confirm however that it was David's dog Sadie that sniffed out AK-AK." And not a single Baden-Powell reference – poor effort all round, I reckon.
We finish with an update from our resident Scottish, non-Grimsby supporting, Grimsby follower Kevin Graham who last graced these pages in January. Kevin writes: "You may remember I e-mailed you a few months back regarding my being doomed when I walked into a boozer, after watching Celtic struggle to beat some team with a quarter of our budget, and asked the trusty bar keep if he knew
the Grimsby score." Indeed I do, Kevin. "Well, my interest has continued and wasn't a fad. So it was with a glee that I noticed Grimsby have a Scottish Tour at Stirling University, which so happens is only 3 miles from my house. I hope I catch them as having frequented the University bar on occasions I can't remember a Scottish Tour round the University being offered and if there is such a thing it will probably not last very long as it's not that big. Maybe they will visit the Wallace Monument which would add at least 30 minutes mainly due to the number of steps you need to climb to see a statue that looks nothing like Mel Gibson." If Newell and Conlon were still around, some may suggest that the tour of the bar may last the entire week. I'd never make such allegations, of course.
Until tomorrow then folks. Seeya.
Friday 21 May
Is no news good news, or is some news still good news even if that news isn't what you hoped it would be? Is mildly bad news worse than disappointingly average news? Is there really any news any more anyway?
Oh we'll sign someone in a bit.
Thursday 20 May
Armchair Diary writes: There's nothing going on in the world, at least not the world of Grimsby Town Football Club, and I have to go out soon so don't expect top quality journalism from me today.
Yes, dear reader, I am back after missing the last couple of weeks. I gave up my regular Thursday gig to go on holiday. Rhodes, in case you were wondering. And if you're still wondering, it was dead nice and I had a really good time, thank you. Admittedly it could have been timed a little better as I was out the country when the inevitable happened so only found out in the early hours of last Sunday morning that we'd been relegated, a full week after the event. On the bright side I managed to avoid all the media coverage of the pitch invasions so didn't feel embarrassed to support Town like I'm sure many of you did at the time.
Yesterday there was no explanation as to why John Deehan left the club. Today, there is. His contract expired, simple as that, it seems. However, Deehan is still talking to the Telewag and reckons the club are right to stick with Neil Woodses. I don't blame the Telewag for the confusion in this article as I'm sure the noises coming out of the Blundell Park building were just as puzzling. Deehan was brought is as head of recruitment to add his experience to the coaching team and had an input into training but his main role was scouting. Eh? What? I am just a naive fan but to me scouting means being out on the road, watching other players, making contacts and networking. You're away from base looking for players that could benefit the club. Coaching, in my books, means helping out with training on a day to day basis, passing on your expertise to the players to help them improve their performance and become better footballers. Scouts are on the road, coaches are at home.
So was Deehan only at training every now and then and spent most of his time on the road checking out other players and thus mainly a scout, as Woodses suggests? Or was he scouting from the BP/Cheapside area, perhaps just by playing the latest version of Championship Manager to see which players come good, and was thus able to have more input into training? Either way, it doesn't really matter now as he's gone. According to the gaffer we have a "big scouting network" anyway so don't need Deehan. So here's a challenge for you: name any of the scouts employed by Grimsby Town Football Club. Emails can be sent to the usual address or you can use the feedback form to show us how much you know about the inner workings of the club.
Hated local rivals, Scunthorpe United, booooooooooooooooooooooooo, will be the Mariners' opponents if we manage to get past Lincoln City in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, or the Lincolnshire Football Association Ltd Senior County Cup Competition to give it its full title (and pad this Diary out to a more respectable length), as Scunny have been given a bye to the final. Not sure why, but then I have never really understood this competition. Oh, right. According to Wikipedia it seems that as there are just three Football League sides, two of them play a semi-final with the winners going on to play the other side. With Scunny being the holders it seems reasonable that they get a bye to the final. But why are Town playing in the semi-final when "teams in levels 5-8 [Conference and the numerous regional divisions below that] compete for the Lincolnshire Senior Shield"? Why aren't we playing for the Shield instead of the Cup? That's a serious question, y'know. I want to know the answer and I'm not writing another word until someone explains why the Lincs Senior Cup isn't now a straight fight between Lincoln and Scunthorpe.
Wednesday 19 May
One of the factors that has contributed to Town's relegation, of course, is the fitness and lifestyles of the playing staff. Neil Woodses has mentioned it several times since becoming manager. Supporters, likewise, have often been horrified to see the players whose wages they pay going out on the piss and shovelling junk food down their traps. Positive noises have been heard from Blundell Park since the end of the season, however. The Fenty/Parker coalition has promised to fund new training resources as well as the appointment of a full-time physical conditioning scientist in Ben Mortlock. Many fans have been reassured by these moves and are looking forward next season to a completely fresh start and a clean break with the Newell era of laziness and booze. What a fine thing it is, then, to see Mortlock – a 23-year-old lad from Grimsby – using the profile picture on his Myspace page to promote precisely the kind of lifestyle that will make the Mariners the fittest and most professional side in the Conference next season.
When Town appointed a new chief scout after last season's transfer window closed, there were those who had their doubts. Indeed, your original Diary couldn't help but wonder whether the usefulness of such a move wasn't akin to that of giving a packet of condoms to a Catholic priest. Clearly we were missing something, as John Deehan has now left the building with his mission successfully accomplished and no explanation at all for the decision from the Mariners' superb new official website. The SNOS adds, however, that assistant manager Chris Casper has been offered a new contract as he has "worked well together" with Neil Woodses, who is "keen to retain his services". Perhaps we are simply to infer from the absence of any such comments on Deehan's position that he became embroiled in fist fights with the manager several times a day and Woodses was so keen to get shot that he offered to drive Deehan to the dole office personally.
Whoever has the job of organising Town's schedule of pre-season matches this year is certainly no slouch, anyway. In stark contrast to the lethargic pace at which the friendlies usually dribble out into public consciousness – not to mention the way season tickets seem to go on sale later than at every other club in England, once everyone is skint from booking their summer holidays – the club has already announced a full schedule of warm-ups for the exciting 2010-11 season to come. To the already-revealed meetings with Brigg Town and Big Wednesday have been added kickabouts with Frickley Athletic, Boston United, Lincoln City and some as yet unidentified teams from The Scotland. Last year, of course, the Mariners had to pull out of one such friendly at a day's notice after stupidly organising seven games in a week. This year's schedule. happily, seems to allay any fears of a repeat. Apart from the bit where the game against Wednesday kicks off 17 hours after the end of the Boston match.
One supporter whose glass looks at least half full is Jase Ives, who has emailed the Diary to say: "Now Colgan's finally getting the boot (hopefully!) I'm feeling a tad better with regards to next season in the Conference." Is Colgan getting the boot? First I heard. Maybe you should take over writing the Diary, Jase! "So long as we acquire a more authoritative keeper along with a no-nonsense Whitts-type centre-back (how we have missed him). Majorly disappointed that Fenty is still 'in the building' and that season tickets/match day prices are likely to remain the same – can't 'devalue the product' now, can we... tit. Can't say I'm massively in favour of Woodsy being at the helm either, but understand the need for a bit of longevity (I reckon Fenty will get non-sacking syndrome come October and react accordingly), and hopefully he can acquire a good young player or two, who will be competitive and not some over-the-hill has-been wanting a last payday – which is what our club was reduced to whilst hanging on to its league status. However, comments from Fenty towers aren't encouraging as he seems to have plan A – throw money at it, or plan B – throw money at it. Some people never learn...
"Also, as a side note," continues Jase, "just letting you guys know that Playsport won the North Lincs New Enterprise Business of the Year – we're delighted, and hope that a bit of publicity will encourage groups/communities/disabled people etc to get in touch and see if we can help, encourage and engage them, and the facility is used for the community as a whole. PS: Thanks for the good work in difficult times last season, and the chinwags in the pub – see you guys in August. UTM." No, no – thank you for reading. Playsport, for them wot dunno, is a new Grimsby-based sports centre which looks proper decent, so congratulations on the award and we'll see you in the Rutland in August, Jase. A happy summer to you and all our readers – or as happy as possible in the circumstances.
Tuesday 18 May
The sky is blue, the sun is bright, and it's silly season in the world of Grimsby Town Football Club news. Your original Diary has its work cut out today. Indeed, for the next ten or twelve weeks, nearly every Grimsby Telegraph story 'about' the Mariners will begin with the same sentence.
FORMER Grimsby Town [playing position] [name of player] has been [released or given an contract extension] by [name of current club].
Today sees a particularly interesting variation in an otherwise unbearably dull article about FORMER Grimsby Town defender Simon Ramsden signing for another year at unpromoted Bradford (although he did join them from very much promoted Rochdale, which is quite funny). After three very short paragraphs on Ramsden, the Telegraph's attention deficit kicks in and we move to another ex-Town player.
Meanwhile, ex-Town winger Peter Till has been released by League One Walsall.
Two very short paragraphs later, via Till and Matt Harrold (loanees apparently count as FORMER players these days), we find an identically constructed sentence. And this time it's a player who isn't even a FORMER Mariner and indeed has never had any connection at all with GTFC other than being born nearby.
Meanwhile, Cleethorpes-born winger Peter Winn has been released by Scunthorpe.
But soft! A failed chairman speaks! Is there finally an official statement on Grimsby's superb new official website condemning the violence committed at Burton Albion ten days ago by people from Grimsby? Is there bollocks. Instead, John Fenty (Con) is to be found in today's Telegraph with his coalition partner Mike 'Hasn't Got A Nickname Yet' Parker, reassuring the watching world that we'll still have a reserve team next season. The message is that, despite Fenty's relegation into the Conference, GTFC will continue to be run with the professionalism that has always been the hallmark of his tenure at the club. So that's three more relegations by 2016 and a summer of confident rebuilding ahead of the forthcoming campaign in the Unibond Premier League Division One (South).
If the Telegraph still needs a story, our overworked and underpaid counterparts at Riby Square could do worse than a titbit which has just reached the Diary. Town's scouting network, it seems, has extended up the north-east coast to England's hotbed of footballTM, as Blundell Park's crack youth team coaches have given a trial to Sam Irwin, a 17-year-old left-back/left winger from Newcastle. If the football doesn't work out for Sam, there's an alternative career in the offing, and either way let's hope for his own sake that he doesn't end up on too many nights out with Rob Atkinson and Peter Till.
Monday 17 May
Mardy Diary writes: There really is no news today. Well, there's a couple of guess-work type articles about who may or may not go. There's a Mariners World interview with Jean-Louis where he says he might stay or might not – but you suspect he's probably just sorting out a deal elsewhere and he'll be off. But it's not really news because nothing has really happened.
And so it is in these times of no news that we turn to the trusted CA mailbox and print all those emails you've been sending for weeks but we've ignored because we've been a bit lazy.
Phil Watson is the first to comment on the brave new world: "In these days of brave new coalitions, when everything is going to be done completely differently and we're not going to treble unemployment and grind the poor underfoot, honest, who the blazes is
Nick Clegg Mike Parker? I think we should be told, and the shameless muckraking indefatigable research of the CA team will surely do the job." Our chief muckraker is on the case as we speak Phil, although he's probably nodded off at his desk again. Dave the Engineer clearly has had the same thoughts though: "I presume Mike Parker is of Lib-Dem persuasion? He could not possibly be a left-wing Trotskyite could he now?" Cuh, failed revolution was so last season, Dave.
Anyone else ever wondered what Dave's engineering specialism is? I'm going with mechanical.
We've had further emails on the ongoing debate about our horrendous trainer-wearing fans – speaking of which, I see Kevin Garside has apologised. Gutless bastard. At least have a bit of conviction in what you write, you twat. See, it's easy to be consistent.
Our friend in the north, Michael Shelton, suggests a more, er, violent solution to combat the violence. "Would just like to add my ballooning weight to the comments about the crowd trouble after the Burton game. I wasn't at the game, but", he starts, sounding suspiciously like a Radio Humberside phone-in caller, "seeing on telly those associated (at least by the rest of the country) with our club acting like complete bell ends was more upsetting to me than my team being relegated from the football league. Now don't get me wrong, I've invaded the pitch towards the end of the season before (beating Fulham to stay up, beating Gazza's Burnley to stay up, more embarrassingly drawing with Brighton to send them down with us), but I've grown out of it. And I've never done anything more violent than jumping on Alan Pouton's shoulders in celebration. We should all be doing everything we can to ensure these thugs embarrass us no more, they are not welcome in our club. Interesting, in this light, that we've already arranged a pre-season friendly with Sheffield Wednesday, another team whose season end was marred by pitch invasions and crowd trouble. Perhaps we could invite Luton over for some sort of round robin, and let the idiots invade the pitch at the end. In fact, sod it, let's give them all pick-axes and let them go at each other. Worst case scenario they all turn into wimps and go home with their tails between their collective legs, best case scenario they all kill each other off, and ruin no more end of season maches.It could work". It'd be like a sort of crap mixture of Ultimate Fighting Champion and Total Wipeout – for fat and bald losers in faded Stone Island jumpers.
Anthony Galvin has written in response to Alan Richardson's email last week. He says: "Whilst I understand Alan's concerns, if genuine fans stop going to games because of a small objectionable minority then the idiots have won. Genuine fans need to go, especially to away games, to be seen and heard. I was first taken to watch town in the 1980s, and on occasion there were some difficult things my dad had to explain (language, actions etc), but I think it was something that benefited me tremendously. It's a sign of defeat if real supporters start wanting their team to finish mid-table." I tend to agree with this Anthony, and is exactly the reason I plan to take my son to matches, once I can get him to sit still for longer than three minutes. The world is full of wankers – best get used to dealing with them from a young age. Reclaim the stands!
More of your letters tomorrow folks, bye for now.
Friday 14 May
Mardy Diary writes: In the close season, every day is a slow news day. When does the close season become pre-season anyway? Is it when the new fixtures come out? Is it on the date of the first pre-season friendly? Is it after the final whistle of the World Cup final? Does it really matter? I suppose not, I should get out more.
Although the Telegraph is fully of 'news' today, there's not a lot of real news in there – just a snippet here and there of information. Woods says he will make use of the youngsters next season. Youngsters being those that have made the step up from youth team to earn professional contracts recently. It is interesting to hear Woods suggest that Bradley Wood is already up to the required level and will definitely be used next season. He certainly seemed to have the physical and footballing qualities when he played last season, before mysteriously disappearing from the first team. According to Woods there were "personal issues" that are now sorted. Along with Wood we should see a few more appearances from the excitable Josh Fuller along with recent graduates Mark Gray, Tom Corner and Nathan Dixon.
They've also run with a strange interview with Paul Linwood. I say strange because it goes the whole interview without really mentioning the fact he's been transfer-listed. Sure, it reports that he has been listed – but they don't ask him his views on it. Instead he tells us why he thinks Grimsby getting relegated is different to Chester getting relegated, before stating that "the [former Chester] chairman, Stephen Vaughan, works really hard there which people don't see". Eh?
Sorry, we'll just pause a minute here while any fans of The Club Formally Known As Chester who happen to be passing through take time to wipe the spit off their computer screen – once they've fetched it back from the garden and boarded over the broken window. Are we back? Right.
He says: "The chairman, Stephen Vaughan, works really hard there which people don't see." Yes. He does actually say that. And if that's his level of football awareness then I don't think he's really cut out for the role of central defender. He goes further though – deep breath people: "He doesn't get the credit he deserves sometimes. He didn't get a lot of luck there. I don't think he made money out of it – he put money in. I spoke to him once and he'd put £4-million in." Yes, Paul – football really is a money merry-go-round isn't it?
Anyway back to Town: the good news is that some of the money that Fenty and Parker are putting in to the club will be used to modernise the training facilities in the hope that we start the season with a bunch of players who aren't knackered after ten minutes. There were times this season when I suspected that certain players were having a fry-up at half-time. Thankfully, Woods feels the same, telling the Telegraph: "to have to talk about the fitness of professional footballers is outrageous". Quite.
Finally, if I were to suggest that all journalists who write for the Daily Telegraph are a bunch of Old-Etonian-posh-boy-daddy-bought-my-education-fafahr-fafahr-used-to-play-cum-on-the-biscuit-with-Cameron-and-Nick-Robinson-fox-raping-racist-Tim-not-nice-but-still-dim-public-school-rogered-webbed-fingered-in-bred-duck-moat-building wankers, you'd rightly accuse me of gross generalisation. They are all Thatcherite pricks though. My name's Ben Elton. Good night.
Thursday 13 May
On this day of Thor the gods smile upon those they will destroy. Deviant Diary shall look into the runes to tell of futures past and then have some cheese on toast.
Wasn't it lovely to see the podgy posh boy and his body double fag enter a very public civil partnership. It truly is a new Britain. It's all about partnerships these days, in the national interest of course. They're doing it for you, because we're all in it together. And now Town have their own Mike and Bernie Winters double act: Fenty and Parker, our very own million dollar babies. They claim up to a million of the English pounds they hold will be made available for the good of our nation during these troubled times. How fascinating, they think that to deal with a fiscal crisis they need to invest funds, not cut costs. Some more quantitative teasing of the masses by our masters.
And there was you thinking that Fenty (con) was going to be Fenty (gone).
And there was you thinking Positive John had gone all negative on his Pyewipe dream donkey: "Mike and I are joined at the hip in that objective". So more time and money to be washed away on his field of dreams to look forward to. Let's just get promoted eh?
Ah, next season and stuff. The dull aching thud of the hip Football Conference fixture list won't emerge until the end of June, so delay making plans for the Barrow winter wonderland. The retained list is out next week and Straight Peter Bore would have sheepishly received loads of player of the year trophies, but there will be no Player of the Year ceremony. So he had to make do with looking sheepish in a young person's jacket. So when are Scunnythorpe going to sign him for £50,000 plus 23% of Nigel Adkins' positive personality?
Bookmark this. It's where we are now, where the word on the experienced street says there are only four or five decent teams, the rest are hard working families, sorry, eew-aww cloggers.
Is that it? It surely is. You must not blink or you'll miss what didn't happen.
Wednesday 12 May
Nathan Jarman's contract has been cancelled by mutual consent. Whoops, no it hasn't! It's almost as if Town's superb new official website knew your original Diary was coming. We all remember March 2009, don't we, when the SNOS fucked up spectacularly even by its own fucking woeful standards in announcing that Phil Barnes, Tom Newey and Gary Montgomery had packed their bags and left the club, and then having to perform a quick u-turn when Mike Newell said: "They were [still with the club] when I left this morning." Well, the people paid out of your ticket money to run the site still don't understand the straightforward difference between a footballer being told they can leave a club and that footballer actually leaving. Hence the difference between the SNOS' declaration yesterday that Jarman had already gone and the SNOS' clarification today that, er, he hasn't, and instead simply features on a list of players who have been made available for transfer. So when Mike Parker takes responsibility for marketing, presumably he'll know exactly where to start.
"We expect the winning submission to be ensure adequate spelling and correct use of grammar." Priceless.
Whuh? Muh? Uh? Right. Matthew Bird, Leigh Overton and Jammal Shahin have been released and, as well as Jarman, Adrian Forbes, Nick Hegarty, Chris Jones, Paul Linwood, Adam Proudlock and Peter Sweeney have been transfer-listed. Parker is to become vice-chairman and invest a big wad to equalise his shareholding with that of John Fenty (Con), as well as overseeing the Myspace Mariners and all that (anyone heard of the "Young Scholars" before now? Thought not). They're stepping up the Woodsian emphasis on fitness with the appointment of a "Nutritionals and Sports Therapist". Oh, and Neil Woods is still the manager.
What do you make of it all, readers? The Diary is disappointed to see Shahin leave, having nurtured a disproportionate adoration of the young forward after his enthusiastic mid-season performances in an otherwise disgraceful excuse for a professional football team. But otherwise, for what it's worth, I'm almost as pleased as it's possible to be pleased with all this. Anything that lessens the executive control of John Fenty (Con) is a step in the right direction, and it is a huge relief that we don't have to undergo the tedium of another search for a manager. Or at least not until October, when Town are 18th in the Conference and Fenty says Woods is the right man for the job and then sacks him a week later.
Another positive sign is that plans for the Mariners' pre-season have already begun. A home friendly against Big Wednesday has been arranged and will take place on Saturday 17 July, kicking off at 3pm. The early announcement offers hope that Town will avoid a repeat of the dog's breakfast of a pre-season calendar last summer, when the club's shambolic organisation led to a programme of seven fixtures in seven days, forcing the team to withdraw at short notice from the final of the
excuse for a huge piss-up Errea Cup.
I think that's all the news, so it's over to the Diary's inbox now for this eloquent email from Alan Richardson:
"I didn't go to Burton for a couple of reasons, but mainly because it had the feeling of inevitability about. Not because it seemed inevitable that we'd lose and succumb to non-League football. But because it was inevitable that there would be trouble. Had we won and Barnet didn't, then the trouble would have less severe – but there would have been trouble.
"Whenever Town play a big/important game, the inevitable happens. The scrouts and scumbags come out of the woodwork, drink far too much and behave like that. We've always had a problem, but as football has moved into the 21st century, some of our supporters seem to have got left in the 1970s and 80s.
"I have two daughters aged under four, who will probably grow up not being interested in football and supporting Town. I'm pleased about that. I would never take any child to mine to watch Town because there is a pretty good chance they will see something that I wouldn't want them to see, or couldn't begin to explain.
"Our club is now at its lowest point. Not because we are no longer in the Football League, but because most of the country think our supporters are thugs (and are either pleased to be rid of us, or dreading when we appear in their town next season) and our decent supporters are embarrassed.
"I'll try to be at the games local to me next year (Kettering, Rushden, Cambridge and Histon) and I really hope we are having a mid-table kind of season. Why? So that I can enjoy a day out without sharing it with the kind of scum (and I really do mean absolute scum) that blight too many of our big games.
"If John Fenty or Mike Parker ever get to read this (probably unlikely), please think about what I am saying. If you want to attract people through the gates at Blundell Park and make the area care about GTFC, you have to rid this club of people like this and make us proud again."
Never a truer word; thanks, Alan, for saying rather beautifully what we were all thinking. Indeed, with Baby Diary now approaching the 18-month mark, I'm also starting to wonder if the whole family might not be a lot happier if he never goes anywhere near a football ground. Thanks, all, for reading, and keep your thoughts coming in to email@example.com. Bye for now.
Tuesday 11 May
"Never before have I been ashamed of supporting GTFC. Not even during the 25 games without a win. Any criticism I received I would simply shrug and smile. But after watching those idiots chucking the advertising hoardings around at Burton, who have done nothing but play better than us, has presented me with the darkest moment of GTFC supporting I've ever had. Forget the relegation, that happens to everyone, but the conduct of fans... Stupid."
Hello readers. The words above are from Diary reader Matthew Pakes, who emailed after Saturday's defeat at Burton. For at least 95 per cent of Town fans, of course, it goes without saying that Matthew is bang on the money. And the problem we have now, we in that majority, is that we can't put back those advertising boards. We can't uninvade the pitch, or unland the kicks and punches, or unfrighten the decent, friendly folks of Burton-on-Trent. The damage is already done. Neutral fans everywhere have lost their soft spot for Grimsby and deemed our relegation good riddance to bad rubbish.
But before the game a couple of Town supporters apologised to the owner of a gardening shop for the vandalism committed on his stock by some of the Grimbarians who'd just preceded them up the Derby Road. So, I dunno, if we get talking to any other fans – online or in the real world – then maybe we can persuade the wider world that the people who hogged Saturday's limelight no more represent Grimsby than your arse represents your face.
Another thing that has saddened but not surprised your regular Diary is the news that Nathan Jarman is on the first train out of Town, despite having time left on his contract. Here at CA Towers we always thought he could play a bit. And it's a shame all the work Jarman did to get himself in shape has come to nought on the back of an apparent spat with the manager – especially given the rate at which GTFC get through managers these days. Any player who finds himself excluded from the first team is surely best advised just to sit it out for a few weeks, as he'll be guaranteed a fresh start under the new boss who'll be along shortly, as sure as autumn follows summer.
The big news this week, though, hasn't happened yet – and with characteristic perverseness it's mentioned only in passing by Town's superb new official website. Tucked in at the bottom of the page about Jarman is the revelation – and a potentially significant one, you might imagine – that John Fenty (Con) and fellow director Mike Parker will "outline the club's plans for the future" at a press conference tomorrow. In the meantime, the chairman has at least done the decent thing and admitted he's been as good at making the big decisions at GTFC as his political party is at forming governing coalitions with the Liberal Democrats.
Monday 10 May
Mardy Diary writes: I still don't feel like saying much really. There's nothing really to say at the moment – just have to wait and see. Again. So, in the meantime, here's a picture of the calibre of player we'll be up against next season:
Yes, I know: he'll play like bloody Pele against us.
Friday 7 May
Middle-aged Diary is writing as, all over the country, would-be members of parliament, their supporters, the people who try to give life to their beliefs through the political process, have left the cusp at which their futures are still in flux, when there are actions they can still take to influence their fates. There will be glee, satisfaction at a job well done, reassurance that those steps untaken did not prove critical; and there will be 'if only's.
In sport, what looks like fate is often hindsight. Wayne Burnett's golden goal was perfect in space and time, but imagine that, some half an hour earlier, he had brought off that awkward volley from the edge of the area that many of us, at the time, for a moment, thought had rippled the net from the right side of the post. Wouldn't we remember the goal he almost scored just as fondly as the one he did? Might the goals that John Cockerill scored to beat Exeter and secure promotion, local boy that he is, have not been just as memorable had they been scored by Macca, or Tony Rees, making his first start after an injury lay-off?
There are rare, brief, moments in our own lives when we are conscious that we hold our futures in our own hands, before an interview perhaps, and we allow ourselves soft landings from those moments. We minimise our own responsibility for ourselves – "there is probably an internal candidate who's been promised the job" – but, in our hearts, we know that we are at a moment when we have no-one to blame but ourselves.
Tomorrow is the last time the players and staff of Grimsby Town can take hold not only of their own destinies but of that small but essential part of our lives that is devoted to the club. Fail tomorrow and it will be easy to remember the times they have frozen before the responsibility; succeed and we will come to think the fateful moment was the comeback at Accrington, or Atkinson's turn and volley last Saturday.
There have been enough reminders that the players do care, but now is no time to be looking for a soft landing. It is therefore reassuring to read Neil Woods removing all alibis for tomorrow, declaring all but Proudlock and perhaps Sinclair fit and ready, as he acknowledges how much the club means to us. It is too early to be looking for the potential consolations of failure, too early to be talking about fate.
Thursday 6 May
Mardy diary writes: What am I more nervous about? The election, the game on Saturday – or that exam in a couple of weeks which I haven't revised for yet because I can't keep my mind off the football? June is going to be a relaxing month for me – which should help prepare me for July when the Tories cut my job. Hurrah!
There's not much happening in the news today really – it's all about the anticipation, isn't it? Hudson and Atkinson got in that team of the week thing, which is fair enough as I thought they both had good games. Rochdale say they're going to try really, really hard against Barnet. I hope they do – although word has it that they've generally been playing quite well recently, but failing to score from the chances they've created. I don't know if that's good or bad right now to be honest – I'm just going to go to Burton on Saturday, get drunk, and well, see what happens.
The chairman's challenge trophy takes place tonight where a fans team test their footballing skills against club legends like John McDermott and er, Matt Bloomer and um... Jonny Rowan. Ahem. Anyway, moving on. The super-youthers continue to perform well, despite having silly names like Kai. This isn't Australia you know – let's have some proper names like Dave and John. What is wrong with you people?
And that is your lot for today I'm afraid, as my brain refuses to calm down. Just remember: if you are thinking of voting Tory today, it's because you're a selfish twat. See ya.
Wednesday 5 May
Idle Diary writes: There's only 72 hours to go until the big day. Without wanting to extend the rhetoric too far into the realms of the Cameronian election spiel, let's roll up the sleeves, there's not a minute to lose.
Whichever angle you look at it – politics; football – it's a week of slender margins. Town are a mere point behind Barnet. The Tories are looking to limp towards the safety net of a majority, however minute that gap is. Come Sunday, a Conservative government and Town facing a season in the Conference is how a modern day Dante would envisage purgatory. It's a pit of despair that could have the Cod Almighty team packing it all in to retreat to a cabin by the lakes of Cumbria, to make bar billiards tables, read books, and sup ale most of the day.
But we're not there yet! Resignation hasn't set in yet! There's still a non-Conservative government in power! And Town are still a Football League club! The idle fantasy must wait that little while longer.
Saturday "goal scoring hero" (a phrase journalists can use ad infinitum) Rob Atkinson also believes in such positive thought, saying the players wanted to atone for the Torquay defeat: "We didn't want the fans to go home thinking we didn't care. I think we showed how much it means to us staying in the Football League." Rob also nodded agreeably in the direction of the club's fans for their support, wanting more of the same for the upcoming season finale.
And the fans don't believe the fight is over either, with the club confidently expecting to take its full allocation of 2,111 tickets at Burton. Who will be there is a question the club's superb official site fails to answer with the melodramatic headline "Burton chaos!", but basically if you've a counterfoil, you've got until 5pm tomorrow to get your hands on one of the 501 additional tickets. If you haven't got a ticket or can't make it you'll want word, any word on the local radio coverage of the match. Is there any? Radio Humberside can't consign this last day salvation/disaster solely to the online Mariners World service can they? Come on, Burnsy! Show your support by putting the Mariners on the FM commentary!
Tuesday 4 May
Neil Woods seems to be the only one surprised that Town have taken it to the last day. The rest of us knew all along that his players would prolong our agony to the maximum.
Hello, readers! Your original Diary returns for a day with news of extra tickets for supporters travelling to this weekend's shocking denouement at the Michelin Stadium. Oh wait, they've gone. No sooner had the Grimsby Telegraph website published a story this morning headlined "More tickets on sale" than football-mad Grimbarians snapped up the lot and the bewildered Telewag had to change the whole thing. It's all good news for Town's superb new official website, though, which can now pretend to be a professionally produced media organ by using the popular buzz phrase "ticketless fans". Basically they've now sold nearly 2,000 tickets and it looks like they'll be keeping an eye on how few Burton fans are interested so they can try and get some more. All of which, adds the SNOS firmly, will be sold "on a strict one-for-one basis". Yeah. That'll be the strict one-for-one basis on which the Diary phoned up for a ticket last Friday lunchtime and was asked by the Blundell Park staff: "How many do you want?"
The temptation at this point, of course – and quite possibly again this Saturday – will be to lull ourselves to sleep with a chorus of "oooh, Town fans are great, we don't deserve to go down, the chairman might have run the club into the ground but look, there are more of us than, er, Histon, oh, they're 18th this year, but you know what I mean". So give yourself an antidote by reading about Barnet supporters' experience of how great Town fans are.
It looks like GTFC were seriously considering putting the Barnet fans in the old disused corner, anyway, for what that's worth.
While all this fret and worrit has enveloped the first team, the Myspace Mariners have cared not a jot. Having lost their manager to the underachieving seniors earlier this season, Town's youth players have simply got their heads down and cracked on with the remarkable job of winning that Midlands Floodlit Cup again despite not being from the midlands. A Bradley Wood penalty was enough for the young 'uns to edge past Shrewsbury in the final, which the Grimsby Telegraph celebrates with the unusual step of awarding marks out of ten to all the players. In a hammer blow to the paper's reputation as an upholder of the Five Ws of Journalism, though, they don't seem to know When the match actually happened. What happens next, as we all know, is: (1) Myspace Mariners X, Y and Z being told they won't be offered professional contracts; (2) a procession of plum-faced numpties telling a Grimsby Telegraph website comments box that Town have made their biggest mistake ever in not offering Myspace Mariners X, Y and Z professional contracts and Fenty will regret it when those players go on to sign for Liverpool and Scunthorpe; (3) Myspace Mariners X, Y and Z never being heard of again.
Please allow me to recommend, after you've finished fine dining on today's Diary, a dessert of Al Wilkinson. Cod Almighty's poet in residence (he doesn't actually live with us) has turned his hand to prose this morning and dashed out a defence of Neil Woods to rival the best of Jonathan Swift.
"Grimsby get relegated and we get a Tory government. A double whammy indeed," writes Martyn Wyburn in an email to the Diary which offers a neat synopsis of the countless nights of insomniac terror I have endured in the past few months. The antidote here, of course, is the proven scientific fact that poor Town, as if they were a rich country landowner, actually fare better when the Conservatives are running the country. So if worst comes to worst this Thursday, and Dodgy Dave and his tribe of toffs march into Whitehall, it will at least clearly guarantee survival for the Mariners two days later, even if Britain's schoolteachers will have to give themselves a quick refresher on how to fulfil the National Curriculum as they dance around the 48 pupils in their class placing buckets to catch the water coming through the leaky roof.