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Thursday 30 September
Woo-hoo! The Fentydome is dead!
Wednesday 29 September
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but foresight would be even better. Hello readers it's your regular/original Diary today, cheered up and chilled out by Town's return to the top ten of the league last night. There was, of course, an assured home win against a Wrexham side that was only flattered by the 2-1 scoreline, and there was an impressive debut from Andrew Wright in central midfield. There was another goal for Alan Connell, who's been quicker out of the blocks and up the goalscoring charts this term than any GTFC forward in living memory (if you know of any who topped Connell's eight in his first 12 games, let us know, and do this week's quiz while you're at it). And there was, characteristically, a horrible, panicky conclusion to Town's performance which almost threw away two points for the second time in four days. But let's not dwell on that, because we could end up believing the Mariners will finish 17th this season, and there's absolutely no way on Earth that's going to happen, is there?
He cost Rangers a king's ransom when they signed him in 1988, but when Kevin Drinkell moved from Grimsby Town to Norwich City three years earlier a Football League tribunal set his transfer fee at 46 pence and a jar of mustard. All these years later the player's biography Drinks
All Round is to be published, and its launch takes place at GTFC's function suite thing McMenemy's on Friday 5 November. Promising "a night of memories and chat", the event will feature Drinkell, some of his old teammates, and a three-course meal. Despite having worshipped the ground Drinkell walked on when he played for Town, the Diary won't be going, because it costs more than I can currently justify spending on something like this. But you might fancy it if you've got 35 quid to spare. Call 01472 608007 if you'd like to know more.
Lastly today, Jon James has emailed to draw our attention to a small irregularity on this page yesterday. The flamboyant Idle Diary quoted a Telewag headline 'One win could ignite season' says Mariners' boss Neil Woods and stated that "Nowhere in the following collection of quotes does Woods actually say that". The article did, however, quote the manager as saying: "We just need that one win now to kick-start everything," as Jon points out. "Ignite... kick-start... means the same thing, so he does say it," he writes. Thanks, Jon, and OK, yes, you've got a point. Just don't play with matches around mopeds.
Tuesday 28 September
Idle Diary writes: "Woods Gets The Wright Man" reads the email in my inbox from the imperious and talented comms team deep within the concrete bunker of the Findus Stand. Except they're not "wright", are they? He's not the Wright man there are many Wrights out there. He's not the right man, as this has yet to be proven he is correct for the circumstances in which he has been chosen. Is it that wright is a combination of wrong and right? Maybe. What it is, is totally the wrong pun, a terribly weak pun at that. And, above all else, it makes me think of that talentless prick off Channel 5. You know, the one who is like a poor man's Jeremy Kyle (check this from 3:30). Still, Matthew Wright's reasonably entertaining at times and can get quite passionate preaching his values to those who care to listen, unlike a certain club chairman. Am I right, am I right? I'm not wrong.
Anyway, Neil Woods finds he is short of fit midfield players for Grimsby Town FC's upcoming fixtures and more immediately tonight's game against Wrexham. So he's brought in 25-year-old Andrew Wright on loan from Scunthorpe United. The SNOS has pretty much copy-and-pasted this page from the Scunny site, the plagiarising bastards, so we know when it says Wright is "a fine reader of the game", it isn't the SNOS meaning he's "a fine reader of [The Times'] The Game [supplement]". Whatever, let's hope he fits in to the team, and if he doesn't straight away, give it beyond tonight to see if Wright is the right stuff.
Ahead of the game, the headline on the local rag runs 'One win could ignite season' says Mariners' boss Neil Woods. Nowhere in the following collection of quotes does Woods actually say that, but there's one thing to take from this: Town have won four times already this season, two of which were against much-fancied Luton and Crawley. Wrexham will be a tough proposition, and are on an eight-match unbeaten run off the back of a 4-3-3 system. But it's the wins against the 'better' teams that stoke fans' hopes of a win, not the dropped points against the to quote David Burns "smaller sides" (like Histon). And when Adrian Forbes starts banging on about what quality players we have at the club, it's not gonna help those already scratching their heads at the team's inconsistency.
Still, all this anger and confusion are nothing really. I could have spent 13 years living in Battersea only for Asda ASDA! Of all the bloody people! to tell me I am wrong, and I actually live in Clapham.
Just think about that.
Monday 27 September
Mardy Diary writes: There's nothing we can know that isn't known. Nothing we can see that isn't shown. Nothing we can save that can't be saved. There's nothing they can say but they can learn how to play the game. It's easy. I'm not going to repeat myself. Pat Bell has the report covered and the other bits are in the factfile. Read them.
We'll use this opportunity, shall we, while the dust settles, to catch up on your emails. First up is Chris Beeley:
"I listened to the Gateshead game via the miracle of that computer thingy last night, and read the diary for today, and I'm thinking along similar (kind of) lines.
"I think getting a point away from home on a Tuesday night at a (by the sounds of it) soulless venue, against a team that, despite what Woods tells the Telegraph, have done pretty well in their earlier games in this league, was ok.
"I think Woods and Peacock (and other players) are putting pressure on the team by moaning about the performances every week let's just manage the expectations shall we lads? Accentuate the positive! Who do we think we are, moaning when we don't win every game, Chelsea or something? In the league we're in we are not going to have great players playing magnificent football every week, you have to go back to basics and start again. I can't help but think this negative attitude is impacting on us on the pitch, especially in home games when crowd and team seem to be unable to handle the fact that we don't score five times in the first half without breaking sweat. Let's stop expecting to bounce back to the Football League straight away, this is a hard league/conference/premier thing, and it may take some time to get out of it. Let's get real and get behind the team instead of heaping more pressure on."
There's something to be said for adjusting expectations appropriately. Nobody is happy to be down here, but we're not a Championship club playing a cup match against a non-League outfit. And so our belief that we're better than "the likes of" Gateshead and Altrincham (oh, the irony) will only serve to hinder our escape from this league, and the only way that attitude will change is if we spend a prolonged amount of time down here. I'm just going to walk in to the corner and have a bit of a cry now, if that's ok...
And while we're on the topic of "the likes of" tin-pot clubs like Gateshead, Richard Lord has this to say:
"I took this photo of Gateshead's home support about a minute before kick off and quite frankly I'm amazed that the overall attendance was more than 800. Not sure how many Town fans made the trip but for me personally it was the smallest attendance figure I've ever been a part of while watching the mighty Mariners."
On the subject of crowds, I looked up attendances for Buckley's first spell last night as I remember them being quite low. They weren't quite as low as I remembered, but certainly, before the ace cup run, we did see a handful of sub-3000 gates. I'm surprised our attendance has held up so well this season to be honest I fear the next couple of matches will see lower gates. I'm not sure what the lowest gate I've seen at BP was probably an Anglo-Italian Cup game. Although perhaps the gates for those matches just felt low in comparison to the normal gates at the time. What's the smallest attendance you've experienced for a competitive game at BP? Drop us a line and let us know, and no, Lincs Cup games don't count.
Over then, to Mark Wilson who writes:
"Because I am an inquisitive soul and like education-based or informative radio I often listen to Radio 4's 'More or Less' which aims to enlighten us on maths and stats in everyday use (stay with me). Today they were explaining how the Prime Minister's salary has become a benchmark in most media and anyone earning more is a fat cat, anyone any less is a reasonable human being and can pop round for tea anytime. As part of this they talked about what average UK earnings are, what a banker can expect to earn and what most bus drivers earn. Then they announced that the average salary at Scunthorpe United Football Club was £160,000! That fucking depressed me.
"And yes, that is more than the Prime Minister earns."
No, it's no good. I'm welling up again. Phil Watson will cheer me up:
"all other pubs in Hale should be blown up!"
"Now that you've published this on T'Interweb, and bearing in mind the Doncaster Airport precedent, I have begun baking all at CA a cake with a file in it. Say hi to George."
You're forgetting about that team of expensive lawyers we employ to keep us comfortable in our ivory tower, we're above the law here. One question it does raise though: if you were to threaten to blow Blundell Park sky high, would that be an act of terrorism or an act of charity?
Friday 24 September
Before your Guest Diarist retired to bed last night I made the mistake of watching interviews with both manager Neil Woods and the dual-purpose Mr Dave Moore. Moore is speaking as club physio and rather purposelessly tells us that Ademeno is still injured and a way off proper training, that Arthurs's finger is sore and a bit broken (three weeks) and so on. In a gesture of equal magnanimity to, say, Fenty throwing handfuls of jelly babies into the home stands, these interviews are drum roll 'freeview'. Yes, anyone who can work that interweb can watch the manager squirmingly fail to explain Town's indifferent performances for free. The masochism strategy to keeping your job Woods has noticed the calendar will turn to October next week. He must have shuddered.
It was a mistake because Woods has drifted from disarmingly candid honesty to repetitive hangdog drone. He's picked his squad, made his mistakes and is having to live with them. Colgans's elbow is no more mentioned in either interview than Colgan's name. They've forgotten about him a sure sign that his playing future at Town has been mentally written off. Woods has been startled by the height of the opposition he's six foot, he says, and everyone on the other team is always bigger than him. A painfully naοve admission, but he seems to have quickly become inured. We haven't.
Asked about signing a midfielder to freshen up his options (or put more plainly to add some height, pace and creativity), his instant response is: "Possibly." Possibly! Not abso-blooming-lutely the forwards never get the ball to feet, are starved of service and support, and the defence looks wobbly because our midfield provides inadequate protection. No, "possibly" is all we get.
Asked about how the signing of Danny Carlton would affect the team, Woods admits that his intention was to drop Peacock back to prop up the midfield. I say "was" because Peacock has a sore throat and head cold and is doubtful to play. And Dave Moore knows it is real because Mr Moore is sniffling too. He sniffles as he explains that, but doesn't sniffle elsewhere in the interview. Has the malaise at the club spread so far that even iron-man Moore is letting a sniffle get him down?
Carlton must be really match-fit if you add it up he's had a whole hour of football this season. He's only 26 but his respectable goals-to-games ratio was formed aeons ago and has slid inexorably down since then. He had it, then he seemed to lose it. OK, a nasty achilles injury didn't help. But will he radically and immediately improve a side playing with less confidence and cohesion game by game? Since leaving Morecambe his speciality has been impact sub who doesn't score. You decide, gentle reader, you decide.
But hey, let's cheer up, folks we are playing the bottom team tomorrow! Why, Altrincham have lost once more at home than even we have! People were saying how our start to the season had involved playing mostly teams from the top tier of the division. The big boys. But I notice that after tomorrow we will have played three of the bottom four (looking at the table as it is today). And Woodses has stirred the hornets' nest by insensitively remarking that none of the Gateshead team would get in the Grimsby side before watching his players completely fail to impose their 'superior ability' on the match that followed. The Altrincham few didn't take kindly to that, I'm told, never mind the Gateshead fewer.
I thought Woods was a nice bloke but he won't make new Conference friends talking that tosh in public. I'm afraid for him, very afraid. Michael Twiss can go out on loan, says the acting Altrincham manager Mr McKenna. He might just be the midfielder we need (especially if we temporarily change the club address to North East Lancashire as he's a home boy). Short of match fitness which is why he's available. But that's how we like them isn't it? See yer.
Thursday 23 September
Yeah Town! Come on Town! Yeah Town! Do-It-For-The-Shirt Diary is feeling positive! We're by far the grea... hold on a second... nynnggg... there, back to normal. None of that false positivity here. Gritty Northern Realist Diary has scanned t' world's media for a sniff of something Town to report and discovered that Neil Woods has recruited Bury striker Danny Carlton on loan. Our Danny made his name at Morecambe and scored at Wembley to take them into the Football League. Since then, however, goals have been harder to come by for the latest temporary Mariner.
As Town have borrowed practically the entirety of the Football League at some stage of the last two and bit seasons, t' Diary is adopting a wait and see approach. Will Carlton be more Conlon (who was rather good during his loan spell) than Ameobi (who wasn't)?
Apparently, Town are also looking to extend keeper Richard O'Donnell's loan spell at the Park on t'Umber. As yesterday's diary noted, O'Donnell is closer to Henderson than Forecast on the sliding scale without actually reaching the top end of that scale. With Town, though, competence is a rare commodity these days so we count our blessings and hope he does stay at least until Arthurs can play again.
Finally, while some cretin on 5 Live sycophantically crawled all over "Mr Scunthorpe" Graham Taylor, the Iron fresh off the Adkins Diet were being picked off by Man Utd. Or rather Man Who? As their 5-2 winning margin was completely eclipsed by the 8-2 and 6-1 beatings dished out to our neighbours' under-9s and under-11s respectively. Even though at that age we all had to earn a proper living it's nice to see that attacking football is alive and well in Great Grimsby. A symbol of good times (a decade) ahead? We can but hope. Oh yeah, and some other Town representative age group team played against Scunny. We'll not go into detail.
Wednesday 22 September
Five changes to the starting line-up, 863 spectators, two shots on target and, most importantly of all, one point. A point gained or two lost? The Grimbarian's glass is always half empty, of course, but it's hard to know what to make of last night's shut-out at Gateshead. Especially for your original/regular Diary, who followed the game at several removes, as Mrs Diary had the Spurs match on the radio, so I was picking up what I could via online chat with other members of the Cod Almighty team, who were relaying whatever they could pick up from George Kerr on Radio Humberside.
And from what I could gather, the first half was bloody awful, but Town began strongly after half time and created a handful of decent chances, only to lose momentum and return to the back foot after two curious substitutions before the hour mark. The Mariners' superb new official website has another of those actually quite good match reports if you'd like a look. Given Gateshead's improved recent form, especially at home, let's be kind and put this one down as a point gained. Boooo kindness, are you happy being non-League or something, boooo, Diaries out, etc etc and so on.
But what do the manager and skipper make of it? Happily for us, they've been Telling The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest. "We can't keep saying what we're capable of we've got to start showing it," says Lee Peacock, saying what we're capable of and not really showing it. "Without being disrespectful to Gateshead, there wouldn't be one player from their side that would get into our side before we started the game," says Neil Woodses, being highly disrespectful to Gateshead.
And this puts the Diary in the mind of a humiliated Steven Gerrard squirmingly telling the cameras: "It was their cup final," after Algeria outplayed a thoroughly inept England during the summer's World Cup. Isn't it precisely the kind of Billy Big Bollocks attitude that means the players go out onto the pitch expecting to win without having to actually play football, just because they're 'better' players?
He could never be as good as Wayne Henderson, but he's definitely better than Tommy Forecast. And after two clean sheets in his four games for Town so far, loan goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell says he'd probably be up for a longer stay if we need him which is good, what with Kenny Arthur out for another two weeks. Despite the general failure of the team during his time at Blundell Park, O'Donnell has emerged with a fair bit of credit, even after his unexpected participation in last Saturday's horrific non-performance against Fleetwood following the dramatic malfunction of Arthur's magic finger-protecting gloves. And in a Grimsby Telegraph interview today the Sheffield Wednesday keeper explains that he'd "definitely consider staying" after his initial one-month loan expires. "I'm really enjoying it," says O'Donnell, which will come as a pleasant surprise to fans in the Pontoon during the Fleetwood game who witnessed the exasperated custodian bellowing: "FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" at the inept defenders in front of him.
"I've been surfing through your site and can see you are an online service provider," begins an email to the diary from someone calling themselves only Surya. "Just wondering if you outsource some or all part of your client campaign or would like to do so, maintaining the same quality but at a considerably reduced price." Well, Surya, it's funny you should mention it. As regular readers of the diary know, we've been trying desperately to outsource our "client campaign" recently. And a price that's considerably reduced from the current zero outlay would mean you'd pay us to let you write the diary, yes? Super. We'll be in touch.
Tuesday 21 September
Mardy Diary writes: Sorry, in all that Monday glumness yesterday I forgot to point out that the youthers suffered their first home defeat of the season at the weekend. I suppose it was the fact that they're usually the one team we can turn to when we want to mask the despair we feel at the first team. But alas, they can't be unbeaten forever well, they can but it isn't very likely. A 2-0 loss to the youthers at Notts County is no great shame, although can Notts County still afford a youth team? I'm not convinced they can, not without real, actual money surely?
And so tonight, a (ha!) must-win game. Really? Well, the messageboards are rife with rumour of this being Woods' last chance, which is ludicrous. Well, let me correct that: the fact there are rumours suggesting that this may be the case isn't ludicrous, whether they are true or not. The fact that we could sack a manager after ten games when we're in the top half of the table is ludicrous. Not that I'm suggesting it won't happen; just that if it does, it will be beyond stupid. A new record in short-sightedness. Further evidence, if it was needed, that the person who actually needed to go was the chairman. But let's wait and see. At the moment we have rumours, but rumours that can't be easily dismissed given the club's track record in recent times.
Arthur is out for tonight, anyway, having dislocated his finger in the warm-up for Saturday's match the good news being that he hasn't fractured it, of course. I thought those gloves he sold were supposed to stop that sort of thing? No? Anyway, all the other bits that you didn't want to know about the match tonight and weren't bothered about asking can be found in our handy, little pre-match factfile. Check it out.
Finally, an email arrived from Matthew Pakes at the weekend quite rightly pointing out the unfairness of the current TV deal. Matthew writes: "So we get to play York, but Rushden get to play bloody New York City! I hardly see how that's fair! I didn't even know they were in the Conference... Thursday 18 October sounds like a good day to wangle a lift with the R&D supporters' coach." Although if they're travelling by coach, they might want to set off a few days earlier. Seeya later, folks.
Monday 20 September
Mardy Diary writes: Monday. Bloody Monday. And here we are again, having not learned the lessons of hmm say, the last ten years? And first up to Tell The Telegraph blah de blah de blah is Gary Birtles... no hang on, that's not right. It's Michael Coulson. We weren't good enough. We need to win the next match. We'll win and it'll all be alright. You know the routine by now, right?
I know why these articles appear the Telegraph, desperate to fill a few column inches, phones up a Town player who just repeats the same old script. But it's wearing me down. I'd rather they just filled the space with a great bloody advert. Actually, I think they'd rather do that too.
So, the game then? And the club. Why do they do this to me? I stick up for them against the perma-miserablists, the fans who thrive off failure. The fans who take the safe bet. Yes, it's a safe bet. The club has been around 130-odd years and has achieved some measure of success in maybe 15 to 20 of those years. The odds are stacked on failure (or rather, a lack of success) that is the norm and the stats show that is the safe bet. If you bet Town will fail, chances are you'll get your money back. But I prefer a bit of hope, so I turn to those who sulk in perpetuity and say: "Look it takes time. You need to get the right players, settle in, have stability, keep trying and the results will come." But then we have a performance like that. And how can I defend that? What are the positives? I can't say we were unlucky, that we controlled the game, were denied by woodwork/referee/outstanding goalkeeper, and that we were unlucky to concede. We weren't. We didn't compete across the team. But it didn't seem to be through a lack of effort for most players they seemed like they were running around and trying, in the main. So, it was a lack of I don't know desire? Bottle? Responsibility?
Responsibility plays a big part here to me there were too many players shirking responsibility especially in midfield. Too many times players got rid of the ball because they didn't want to take the responsibility of doing something with it, so they knock it upfield to... who knows where? Most of the time it wasn't even to an area of the pitch we had players in. That is a lack of responsibility, bought on by a lack of courage. Fleetwood, in contrast, played without fear and with courage and determination. That is all they needed to beat us. And yes, I know, they come here without expectation or pressure which is something that lays so visibly on the heads of our players but they're professional footballers. They've got this far in the game: they should be able to deal with the pressure and the expectation. It's not a new concept for them.
Connell is politely excused from all of this, of course. He does his job, and he's scoring even in a team that is underperforming. We can't expect too much more. And O'Donnell, a player on short-term loan, shows more desire and determination than some of the players on long-term contracts. That, I would say, is embarrassing for those players. O'Donnell seemed as frustrated as a lot of the fans watching on Saturday. Who wants it? But we get Bore regressing, and Gobern... oh, Gobern football is about more than parading your orange-faced WAG in front of the crowds. How about you pass and move about and get yourself in a position to receive the ball? And central midfield oh, how we're so tired of repeating ourselves central midfield, where are you? Where have you been for so long now? I've seen so many Town games these last few years where we've played without a midfield. How can we still be having this problem? Where do they disappear to? It's like staring into the vacuous maw of a black hole as it rips my heart from my body and dispatches it into the icy wastes of time and space.
Change the manager. Change the players. What difference does it make? It makes none. I must be looking very old tonight.
Friday 17 September
Tomorrow, gentle reader it's the battle of the fish. Haddock versus cod, and as the Cod Almighty pre-match factfile forcibly reminds you haddock is the fish of choice at all discerning chippies. Your Guest Diarist spends enough time patiently explaining to all the southern people who have migrated to Lincolnshire that it is really not a bad thing they can't get rock salmon for love nor money in the fish shops. I can't be doing with arguing the toss as well with folk from the north-west about the feeding habits of cod and their slightly scary worm-infested flesh. I like my protein to come from the fish not the parasites, myself. So Fleetwood at home one side the highest they have ever been, against Grimsby who are probably as low as they have ever sunk.
I've been listening to Mr Woodses pouring his heart out on the superb new official Town website as usual. You get a nicely paced interview out of him never irascible like Buckley (who pretended never to know owt about the opponents unless he was mates with their old-school manager) or plain cynical like Newell. Woodses says lesser teams have been beating us with only their energy. Energy and enthusiasm. Energy, enthusiasm and workrate. Energy, enthusiasm, workrate and a will to win. Oh, and height. In fact everything but skill and class he says. He adds that he hasn't seen a Conference team yet that is head and shoulders above the rest. He plainly believes, with all the pieces of his squad jigsaw in place for a few games to get match fit, that Town have the skill and the class.
But the height thing worries him. And the way opponents pack their midfield where we are weakest. The Non-League Paper quotes Woods as saying he is poking around the loan market because he realises he can't play Peacock every game. Whether for a striker or a midfield player no-one knows. But take my advice Neil, we have all been telling you for weeks (nay, months) what you need I'm not gonna tell you again. And while I'm doling out the advice (with Kempson unjustly suspended) play Garner tomorrow. We need to see him, and it's too soon for Atkinson (who has had nine days training but hasn't played a match since the Burton fiasco).
Fleetwood, Woodses says pointedly, have men in holes. And Town have been working on that. The next seven days offer nine points and we need seven of them I reckon. Minimum. Apart from Ademeno everyone is back in training so there's only the excuse that they are fit but not match fit. And Mr Woods has played that card early, mentioning it at length in his interview. If everyone is beating everyone as it would seem, it is time to put a little run together like our friends at Wimbledon have. But that may be interrupted tonight as the Wombles play at Luton. It will be interesting to see how that one turns out eh? Come on Town let's have two good home games. Time for some 1-0 (Connell) I reckon. See yer.
Thursday 16 September
It was like watching Town play at a park. The park being disappointingly jumpy beneath a patterned turf. For Town it was no walk in the Lambs' park. No, Town were as subdued as a cider-swilling bench dweller, momentarily coming to life in the first half after the Lambs' sloppy bite, before slowly retreating back to their bench sulking, Gobern doing this quite literally. Never has this reserve-team diarist seen a 'winger' leave the pitch so slowly, especially while losing, and losing at Tamworth. It was this Reserve Team Diarist's first away game this season, and consequently the first in the Conference Premier. I know, I know it was five days ago, but I'm still going to talk about it. Not the performance, of course it was limp, but no surprise; we're used to that happening sometimes, or quite a lot, by now.
But this was definitely a non-League ground. The pitch flattered to deceive, sloping toward the centre circle, which is not good for drainage knowledge that a young diarist picked up from a proud groundsman on a '90s tour of Blundell Park, gazing from the dugout at the practically Himalayan peak at the centre spot. So, dodgy pitch, looked good but sloped all wrong and the ball bounced about far too much for our lads. That's what they say about Wembley as well though. Oh, but there was no bar in the away end, not too surprising, and according to a steward only closed that week. No roof either, but neither has the Lower Findus. Well, this Conference business seems just fine. Settled in nicely. True, there is a bloke in a lamb's head in full Tamworth strip dancing around the pitch, but then we used to have Mini Mariner, the boy fisherman in his yellow overalls, so it's fine mascots are a funny lot and we all know that. You can smoke in public next to the stewards but then... actually no, no, hang on, that's not normal, not any more, what is the lawless place? Laws aren't the same out of the League anyway: handballs don't count, linesmen don't look, and so on and so on.
Anyway, it's done. It mattered not what happened: the headlines were always going to feature a "silenced by" or "silencing of" the Lambs. Unfortunately, as soon as the Lambs were ahead it was always to be the former. Why is that lambs are now associated with a cannibalistic film rather than meadows and the springtime these days? And how many games a season does Tamworth have to endure that lazy headline? Speaking of lazy headlines to the news.
The youthers are out of their cup, in what sounds like a terrific game, for the last ten minutes at the very least. It also sounds like a very Grimsby game. After 82 minutes Town scored through Jack Bradbury. Unfortunately the lead was short-lived as Walsall converted a penalty just before 90 minutes and then won it in stoppage time, so we will have to wait another season at least for glory in this Floodlit Cup. Unlucky, youthers. Could be worse though at least you're not in the first team. And neither is manager Robbie Stockdale, which the Telewag explains in a typically long, drawn-out midweek report on how Stockdale feels about retiring from first-team duties, he enjoys the role as youth team coach and loves the area. This Reserve Team Diarist likes Stockdale, all the way back to his Middlesbrough days all the best against Notts County on Saturday, Robbie. The Myspace Mariners under-11s lost to Rotherham but were avenged by the under-13s, who recorded a 7-0 victory. I'll not go through all the results but the Telewag of course does.
Scott Garner has taken his turn at Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest even before his full first-team debut. Garner concedes we were shit against Tamworth, slow start, need to start brighter, yer, yer, yer. Garner is looking forward to his almost certain debut against Fleetwood on Saturday and so we are we Scott: we've all heard good things.
Here's an email to the Diary from Dave Bell:
"Do we have the best official club website in the UK? I think so. I was at work on Saturday so I couldn't get to Tamworth. I did get texts from a friend at the game though.
"When I got home from work I went onto the OS to read their match report to see how we played and stuff. Not only did they have a decent match report up they also had video highlights of the game. I am writing this because I know how much you like to knock the club's website and I though I'd perhaps try to enlighten you a bit. My son plays for the School of Excellence so I went on the OS on Sunday to see how the youth team had done. Again the OS was on the ball and had a summary of their game against Hull City. This same summary was copied by the Grimsby Telegraph the next day and was mentioned on your website on Monday. Can you think of a club website which has highlights of a game soon after the full-time whistle? It would be nice for you to give credit where it is due sometimes."
Thanks, Dave. We felt compelled to include your email. A glowing report of the SNOS is rare here at CA and it's always good to hear a different opinion. I don't think on the basis of one professional performance we can call the OS the best club website in the UK; however, we have all been guilty of getting carried away with Town performances in the past. Hopefully the SNOS can build on this good performance. You never know we could have an award-winning programme and an award-winning website one day. Maybe we should stop all this first team football nonsense at which we are clearly inept and invest all our resources into the media outlets of the club. Just a thought John. See yer.
Wednesday 15 September
It's one of those tricky times without much GTFC news but your regular/original Diary has been doing this since 2002. So fear not I'm a dab hand at eking out a few words without needing to go Telewag and report that a player who phoned in one and a half limp performances for Town on loan during Russell Slade's first season has just signed for Stockport County or something. For me, the intention of this page has always been to help you fill a few minutes of your working day and give you a feeling of quiet satisfaction at getting one back against your boss. You know. Reading the diary is a bit like going for a poo at work.
Let's get it out of the way, then Town's misspelt youth Darran Kempson will be suspended for one match after his sending-off in last weekend's defeat at Tamworth. I haven't seen anything about it on Town's normally superb new official website, but luckily the Grimsby Telewag is here to confirm the news. The visit of Fleetwood Town to Blundell Park this Saturday, then, will presumably see a full debut for Scott Garner, the 20-year-old centre-half who arrived from Mansfield in the summer and excelled in Town's pre-season programme. Despite clean sheets so far against some of the most feared strikers in the Conference Premier, the jury remains out on the Kempson/Watt partnership. So whisper it: if Garner's performances in the friendlies are anything to go by, that dodgy ref at Tamworth might have done us a favour by opening up a vacancy in Town's central defence.
Speaking of this weekend's opponents, the Diary came across a poignant reminder recently of our shared heritage and of the hazardous lives led by our not-so-distant ancestors. Divers have found the wreck of the Laforey, a Grimsby trawler which sank in 1954 in terrible weather off the west coast of Norway, killing all 20 mariners on board. Though the loss was marked with the naming of a local thoroughfare, incidents like this were far from unusual, as we know, in the heyday of the fishing industry. Most of the crew who died were Grimsby men, but one, George Scott, came from Fleetwood. There may be few communities in Britain whose fathers and grandfathers daily stared death in the face as closely as our own, but our guests this Saturday surely represent one.
Here's an email to the Diary from Chris Beeley:
"Just read Tony Butcher's excellent report on the Tamworth match, absolutely spot on. The Tamworth game was only the second I've seen this season, the other being Histon, but I have to say Gobern and Peacock are driving me nuts. Gobern clearly has ability but seems to think he just has to turn up, and I'm probably fitter than Peacock at the moment. Embarrassingly, I called him Gavin in a moment of extreme frustration at the Histon game by the way, I know, I deserve to be banned from the ground for life.
"Speaking of which, I would like to add my twopence worth to Mr Butcher's assessment of some of the cretins who attended the match on Saturday. Being midlands-based these days myself I've experienced some of these knobheads at games in the distant and more recent past, eg Molineux, Bescot, etc. On being latched on to by chief cretin on Saturday, who seemed to think the world revolved around him being unfairly criticised by contributors to The Fishy, I was forced to tell him to go forth and multiply, taking his stupid song sheet with him. Fortunately he moved away at that point, and I don't think he reappeared for the second half, at least not in my vicinity. Such a shame that the magnificent support for the day was spoilt for me by one or two morons like this. Still, I suppose 'twas ever thus.
"Anyway, we have Wood, Connell, and Corner, so there is hope."
Thanks, Chris. 'Twas ever thus indeed and, as your account confirms, Town's travelling support has mostly done the town proud so far this season. This, at least, comes as some source of comfort after the disgrace at Burton four months ago.
Lastly today, it would be remiss of the Diary not to mention the new issue of When Saturday Comes. WSC has a long history of Grimbarian involvement and the October 2010 issue features work from two Cod Almighty contributors the more pertinent of which being an excellent piece by Jack Johnson about Zhang Enhua's interesting spell on loan to GTFC ten years ago. Buy a copy!
Tuesday 14 September
This Idle diarist cannot remember the last time a Town player pulled on an England shirt. Was it Gary Croft for the u-21s 15 years ago? Does Ryan Bennett's u-18 cap a couple of years back count? Who was it before, during, and after then? Whichever, whoever, whenever, that wait will be for a little longer at least as Michael Coulson will miss the upcoming England C game against Wales in Newtown. While he is disappointed, Coulson's also realistic enough to admit that it's for the best, get some rest, heal properly, and be back for Town right and proper. And for Town fans, a fit Coulson maintaining the performances that moved Paul Fairclough to call him up will be just the tonic for the side's wobbly form. Anyhows, If you're interested, the revised England C squad is listed on this FA.com page.
Darran Kempson's one match suspension for being sent off at the weekend has been confirmed. There you go. 14 words for what the Telegraph does in just over 50 words. Boom!
One man who isn't counting his words, but is watching what he says, is Neil Woods. The Town boss falls short of going absolutely fucking ballistic in a pretty frank and emotional take on Town's defeat at Tamworth. In short: "The first-half was probably the most disappointing display of the season for me by a long, long way. Their goals summed up the way we played, it was half-hearted. People half-stopping crosses, half-winning headers, half-tracking somebody. Everything was second best." With not a single reference to fitness, Woods has now moved on to consistency: "I'm not interested in people who can do it one week or do it when they want to if their average game drops to that standard then they won't play every week, it's as simple as that." Words which will have Chairman John preparing for a knock on his office door with a list of "under performers" and another list marked "replacements".
Do you think Fenty sits at his desk like Robert de Niro in Casino? Y'know. With his deep pocketed trousers off. I leave you to dwell on that.
Monday 13 September
Mardy Diary writes: Another week, another mood swing. So after last week's "yay, we're getting promoted", we're back to the previous week's "boo, sack everyone". And so continues the Jekyll and Hyde life of the Town supporter and the players too, it seems. Cummin(g)s has been the latest player issued to Tell The Telegraph We've Not Been The Best Lately But We'll Get Better Now, Honest although to be fair, he makes no promises of getting better. He just says we've been shit. And Neil Woods has lambasted or blasted or fumed at his players or whatever word journalists are using this week to describe managers that aren't happy with the performance of their respective teams. I feel for Woods and share his annoyance at a team that is so up and down, but he's in a better place to 'sort it' than me, and ultimately it's his responsibility. But he knows that, and he knows we know that, so... well, let's get on with it, eh? Come on.
But what is the cause of this oddness? Why do we start so slowly and then pick up once we're losing it's almost the reverse of some matches last season where we played well for 45 minutes and then slowly let teams back in the game. But why is it happening? It's not fitness, that's clear. It certainly shouldn't be, and isn't, at this level we're still going until the final whistle, we're just not starting til later. Is it arrogance? But we don't look arrogant arrogant teams at least play with confidence, even if that confidence may be misplaced. We still look nervy a lot of the time. Is it complacency? Can it be? We raise our game for Luton, but don't get going against Tamworth because we think it'll be an easier match. But it can't be that can it? It can't be that because surely we've learned from that mistake against Histon and Hayes, and we've already said that we can't take these teams for granted. So we can't still be going in to these types of games thinking it's going to be easier. It can't be that. No.
I'm stumped then, and I'm open to suggestions here. In the meantime, I'm just going to revert to my old, favourite reason for us not competing in these games. Yup I'm back to the lack of a talismanic, creative central midfielder, but this is old ground, isn't it? It's like pinning all your hopes on that Hockless-like young sub who never gets a game and who you think is the answer to all of the team's problems. Maybe a midfielder of that ilk is the solution, although I'm beginning to worry that at the point we manage to sign such a player, we'll still be this nervy, uppy-downy, unpredictable bag of frustration. And then what?
Oh yeah, I forgot about sacking the manager. Or the assistant manager. Or both. Or sacking everyone. Meh! I've seen enough to see there's the beginnings of something in the team and we are still there or thereabouts near the top. A good place to be if you then build on it later. Patience then. I think we're just going to have to ride this one out, keep our fingers crossed for that midfield player who will join our disjointed team together and hope that the team starts to settle down and gain some consistency soon. Although the good kind of consistency the kind where we win games at home, and have a tendency not to lose away from home. Not the consistency of rubbish we've largely had for over ten years.
Still, it was good while it lasted, that little run of two games, wasn't it? We'll look back on this in a few years time and say "remember when we had that winning run? Good times, good times". Or maybe not. Maybe we'll win on Saturday and everyone will be getting the bunting out again (professional miserablists politely excluded, of course). Or perhaps we'll not turn up against "the likes of" (guh!) Fleetwood and we'll be installing suicide booths at Blundell Park. They should have put them in when they removed the green seats, anyway.
The final solution, I suppose, for those who don't want to be all post-93 and run off and support a 'successful' club, would be to give up on the first team and start supporting the youthers. Three wins in a row. Three. Three whole wins in a row. And they beat alleged Big Club and focus of Burnsian admiration, Hull City. Eh, they're a bit good these kids. Or maybe, no actually this is better make the first team players watch ALL of the youth team games. They might learn something about application and determination then. The bastards.
Well done to the youthers anyway I see they're playing Walsall in that floodlit cup thingy next. Don't they always play Walsall in that? Is it just Town and Walsall who contest the cup over several rounds? Who else plays in this strange cup? Whatever I've confidence that they'll get a result, something which I don't have about the first team at the moment. Seeya later.
Friday 10 September
Look, does anyone know a decent boozer within a mile of Tamworth's ground that serves drinkable real ale and edible food? Your Guest Diarist will need sustenance tomorrow. At least then if Town put in one of their unreliable Rushden-type performances I can endure it just ever-so-slightly tiddly, and with a full stomach. What can we expect? Youth Tamworth are a young team. Size. They are bound to be huge. Every team is massive in this division. Confident? Well, they beat all the fancied teams they come up against. It's a result I find totally impossible to predict, but I've never been to the capital of Mercia and here's a chance to put that right.
Earlier diarists have neglected to tell you, gentle reader, about the Town yoof's amazing 11-0 drubbing of the hapless lads from Market Deeping. Sam Mulready got five while Charlie I'Anson and Dayle Southwell each scored two with Jack Bradbury and Kieron Smith making up the rest. This was an FA Youth Cup qualifying game and the folk from south Lincolnshire got a tough draw eh? Still, a clinical demolition was asked for by hobbly ex-right-back Stockdale and duly provided by our lads.
Despite selling Ryan Bennett and the young lad Barlow for the best part of six hundred grand, Town still lost money last season to the tune of £40,000. The wage bill went up a bit, not down; the fans chipped in as much revenue as they normally do (bless them) and the TV money was over six hundred grand. Despite this, if you take the windfall transfers out, the loss was over half a million quid. This season we'll be lucky to get ten bob and a bag of spanners from the start-up TV company, so the financial outlook looks grim to me.
The only good news is that Messrs Fenty and Parker have each converted part of their loans to the club in to shares. The end result is that the pair will each own half a million quid's worth of shares (39.6 per cent each), thus strengthening the balance sheet a bit and stifling the mutterings from fans like me who complained they had the plc over a barrel. But again, in a letter from Fenty to shareholders, he is asking all the smaller shareholders to sign over all decision-making to them and also asking shareholders to waive their legal right to have their shares compulsorily acquired if the main shareholders (quaintly known as the 'concert party' in the wonderfully arcane language of the law) reach 90 per cent ownership. Maybe we can't live with them, but Town are miles off being able to survive without them, so I suppose we have to shrug and carry on.
Moore and Woodses have both been telling Mariners Player that various squad members are feeling a bit better. Atkinson is back in training but needs to get fit; Charles (don't call him Charlie) has had a minor knee operation while he is out with a knackered hamstring; Coulson is disguising his limp so he can play for England C next week (so may even figure tomorrow); and Kenny Arthur is "pain-free". But Woodses is tempted to stick with his winning team (how many Town managers have uttered those words in the last five seasons?). So I expect Coulson to be a substitute. Michael Leary, who turned out for the reserves the other night, looked rough, apparently so won't figure.
Thrusting young heterosexual Peter Bore has taken his turn to be interviewed by the Telegraph for the column inches normally reserved for players to explain we've-been-a-bit-shit-lately but-we-are-bound-to-improve-tomorrow. Mr Bore introduces the piece with the announcement that he is playing the best football of his life and ends it by saying: "I personally think we can win every game this month because confidence is high. We started the month with a win and hopefully it will continue tomorrow." Thus, putting the mockers on any chance of us coming away with three points.
Finally the redoubtable Anthony Wood has been on, noting that not only has Town's match at Forest Green been moved to a bloody Thursday night because of the telly, but also the following match at Kidderminster will now take place on a flipping Sunday (10 October). So if you've already bought a non-refundable rail ticket tough. Never mind, that afternoon they are showing Fleetwood versus Cambridge. Just what the doctor ordered, eh? See yer.
Thursday 9 September
BSP = Bugger Short Passing. I just thought of that one. Funny, eh? No? Okay, on with the diary.
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Diary here, with all the latest Town news. Reserves, trialists, yeah, whatever. One of the features of the internet age is that the amount of Town news has increased to fill the space available. In the old days, when Town news was essentially what they could squeeze on the back of the Telegraph, if a local golfer wasn't dominating the headlines, a player had to have been at the club three years and scored 40-odd goals before he was considered of enough interest to merit a short article. Now if someone from Woking Academicals turns up to watch a reserve match wearing his matchday underpants he is eagerly seized upon by various space-filling commentators who quote from his Wikipedia entry and find a video on Youtube of him playing keepy-uppy with a rolled-up sock. Well, I am of the doddery old school, and I don't care about a player unless he actually plays for us. So if you want to know that sort of stuff, go to the usual media outlets.
Cod Almighty doesn't, of course, have an editorial policy, but if it did, it would be the word 'Pollyanna' in big flowery letters. I can say that because Cod Almighty doesn't have an editorial policy, so my miserable old dissenter's quavery voice can be heard in all of its pessimistic glory. Last night a fellow diarist texted me and told me not to be 'miserablist', but to be positive and supportive in the same way, presumably, that the cabinet was when it followed Tony Blair into the Iraq war. At the moment, this is an easy dictate to obey we have just beaten superhot favourites Luton and played our best football of the season in doing so. We are fourth in the league, and Dean Saunders isn't our manager.
There are plenty of positives we can take out of the current situation. Unfortunately, if you take the positives out, you are left with the negatives (see what I did there?). Which is where I come in.
We have only scored three goals from open play. We have only performed well in about one and a half games this season. Last season we had a huge operating debt that has only just been offset by player sales. Our chairman is John Fenty. Our manager's current record is one of the worst in GTFC history. We have recently been fortunate to beat Ambridge, or Histon or whoever it was. We have been beaten not only by Hayes, but by Yeading. We have just been thrashed 4-1 by Rushden & Diamonds. We are in the BSFP, as Tourette's enjoyers may well describe it. Our messageboard users are often unable to write their own language. Freeman Street is cold. Grimsby has never in its entire existence managed to attract a single tourist. Nobody has ever come to live in Grimsby through choice. If Morrissey had ever lived here he would have left because it is too depressing. It is possible to see Tim Mickleburgh on a daily basis. Our midfield is still pretty rubbish in most games. Jedward exist. Bono.
There, that's got that off my hairy old chest. Normal happy talking happy talk will be resumed tomorrow. But remember, kids, if you want to moan, moan away. It is nobody else's business but your own. Ta ta, comrades.
Wednesday 8 September
There were those who expected a hearty walloping for Town's reserves last night at the hands of Leeds United. And certainly the game was dominated by the Yorkshire side, who used to be good, and sent a strong side to Blundell Park apart from it had Jason Crowe in it. The Mariners, however, grabbed a 1-1 draw thanks largely to an eye-catching display from trialist Nathan Dean (who was one of the nine goalkeepers on Manchester City's books last season when they were allowed to break the rules and bring in another one on loan). Indeed, Town's second string led for much of the second half after a glorious strike from Nathan Dixon.
So what might this tell us about the future shape of Neil Woodseses's first team? Your original Diary has been looking round for comments by the Town boss about Dean's star turn and the performance of the other trialist, Michael Burns. Burns, a former Liverpool and Carlisle midfielder, played the full 90, and the need for reinforcements in the centre of the park has been clear throughout the season so far. Another recent trial midfielder, Sam Hewson, yesterday completed a move to Altrincham. And what of Danish forward Bakary Bojang, whose international clearance didn't come through but who must remain in the manager's thoughts? We don't know. This match, sadly, is no exception to the recent rule that post-match quotes from Neil Woods have been as readily available as the excreta of equine wooden toys which move back and forth on curved runners.
Remaining with communication issues, Town's official website attains its usual standard of superbness with the travel guide for the Tamworth game this Saturday. Advance-booked "Credit Card purchase's" are recommended for "Town fans who require to seats", and the section "How to get there" really needs to be called "How to get there by car; anyone who can't afford one or wants to use public transport can fuck off". Apart from that, it's great.
And that's about yer lot today, folks. If you do the Young People's Web 2.0 thing, come and find us on the Facebooks and the Twitters. And remember to play this week's goalkeeper-themed quiz. Maybe there'll be a Nathan Dean question in the next one in ten years' time.
Tuesday 7 September
Idle Diary writes: In 1994 some things I loved: hair mousse; Katie Hall; the Beautiful South; Dave Gilbert; Janine Turner; and freshly made bread, which was a rare, almost exotic scent in my younger days, packed away at some boarding school in deepest, darkest Louth. At some point a love leaves you. It always will. It deserts you, it betrays you. But you move on, a little scarred, but you move on.
I lost my curtains haircut and the need for sculpting mousse in '94. Katie dumped me in 1996. The 'Sarf went all shit after Blue is the Colour. Gilbert was in court a couple of years back for, well, you know, being a bit of a biffa. Today I found out Janine Turner is massive Palinist (Sarah, not Michael) which taints my loving recollections of Northern Exposure. And, so finally at the end of this over-elongated introduction, comes the crap pun segue to the football news that Town are giving Bakary Bojang a go, a player who I hope doesn't wreck the last bastion of my lower-sixth loves.
Not that the Bojang is without love, a believer that black women are sexy. The lad seems to lack consistency and features in a YouTube compilation video that features empty Danish stadiums and comic book diagonal framing that wouldn't look out of place in one of the increasingly camp Joel Schumacher Batman movies. LOOK! HE WON A CORNER! Yeah, it's probably something his agent put up there, and I'm sure John Gregory wouldn't agree (Bosko Balaban innit), but it's nice to see video of these mysterious trialists in action, don't you think?
Also being checked out is Michael Burns, "the type of player we are looking for," reckons Neil Woods. Given how much Woods has stressed, and stressed and then emphasised the need for this kind of player, here's hoping the Town manager has unearthed a gem, even if it is a rough diamond. Woods won't be continuing to pursue ex-Manchester United midfielder Sam Hewson, by the way, citing the player's lack of fitness.
So, to today's regular round-up of ex-Town players in the Grimmo Telegraph drops by Ryan Bennett and Danny Boshell. Barry Fry, a man who is to football what Max Clifford is to public relations, reveals ambiguously that Posh turned down a million-quid bid from "Kevin Blackwell when he was manager at Sheffield United". Fry, too busy largin' up Bennett's value, fails to reveal if Bennett was to be employed as a player for the Blades or as Blackwell's personal assistant. Never mind, eh. The Mighty Bosh, however, has decided to rock up at Guiseley, which is just across the River Aire valley for this diarist. Might have to pop over there some time soon, as indeed a jaunt to Macca to see whatever number twos do in non-League circles.
I've not even bothered checking the official Town site. They'll have copied and pasted something from the Tellywag anyway.
So, time to leave you, to leave you nice, with a letter to the local rag asking "Why do scroungers get more than me?", complete with a typically judgemental comment from the the Mail-funded Telegraph: "the work ethic in a portion of society simply does not exist". Spare a thought for the paper's staff, certainly not devoid of work ethic, working their socks off while living under the continual fear of the next axe swinging. If it wasn't for those folk, this diarist wouldn't bother looking at the right-leaning rag's website on a daily basis and would be happy just looking at the cribbed copy on the SNOS. Make a few more editors and publishers redundant and see how their values, ideals, and fortunes fare on the dole. You'll have to slum it, work your way back up. Just like Town.
Monday 6 September
Mardy Diary writes: Let's get physical. Physical. I want to get physical. Let's get a-physical. Or not. A lot has been said about the need to be strong and physical to get out of the Conference, but I'm sure everyone was saying that when we dropped down to the fourth division. Of course, you need to compete, so yes, you have to be physical and strong to a point in any division to compete. But not just physical, other things too. Luton were physical, York were physical but neither team really added anything else to that. Sure they'll create chances, just through sheer brute force but many chances? Not really. Histon, on the other hand, weren't physical. And so we have this strange situation where former League clubs assume that you need to be a really physical, strong side to get out of the Conference, whereas your traditional non-League teams seem to want to try and play football. I'm pretty sure Burton weren't a bunch of super-hard hoofers when they went up, and I doubt whether AFC Wimbledon are either (with an average squad age of 22).
So, let's not make the mistake that every team we play will try to kick lumps out of us. I've seen a fair bit of Conference North football over the past few years, and I've never seen teams try to kick the crap out of each other. I've seen teams try (and fail) to play football. I've seen players who looked young and lightweight, or old and slow. But not teams of hoofers trying to batter each other half to death. I've seen players trying to get in to the Football League, and players who've been in the Football League. We need to be strong, and compete but no more so than we needed (and failed) to in the past ten years.
Which brings me on to my second point, really which is that the game is largely the same as in the Football League, but with less ability. As it is down the tiers of the Football League. If a centre-back fails to make a 40-yard precision pass, or a winger fails to beat his man every time, or a shot goes wide, or a midfielder doesn't make a tackle here and there, or a player is a bit old and slow or young and inexperienced, or a decent looking player is a bit injury prone that's because this is Conference-level football, people. The point at which any of our players become complete, faultless, injury-free players is the point at which they will move to a club higher up the league. That isn't to say that there isn't still a standard that we expect the team and players to reach of course there is, and that standard should be high for this league.
So yes, we should expect a better performance against Hayes and Histon, because we didn't compete. And we should expect that players will be fit and will try. But we shouldn't expect a winger to play like some Premier starlet. We shouldn't be surprised and groan when a brick-shithouse central defender whacks the ball up field to clear his lines. And Mark Lever can make all the criticism he likes on the radio, but that's exactly what he used to do in the fourth division. Not that I think Mark Lever was rubbish, but just that I remember two things (mainly) about how he played: one he would put his head where others feared to put their boots, and two he did that ridiculous side-footed clearance all the time which ended up with the ball spinning directly up in the air about 15 foot. But I still thought he was great. Just flawed. Tillson, of course, he was a footballer. But then he didn't stick his head in dangerous places. And he was great and got signed by a club further up the league.
So look back at those great teams with a critical eye: Sherwood would rarely venture from his line, Cunnington would only pass sideways, Rees didn't score much and was always trying backheels, Childs would drift in and out of the game, Woods was slow, Alexander was clumsy, Reece and Gilbert were small, Birtles and Futcher were old, Lever would lump the ball forward, Jobling lacked spatial awareness. Cockerill, er. Hmm. Anyway, they were a great team and a great set of players, but not without flaws. That's why they were playing for us in the third/fourth division. But we didn't go on and on about their weaknesses we celebrated the great things they did. So let's hope that we look back similarly on the current squad, and let's give them the chance to show us what they can do without fear of their frailties being over-examined.
And if we get to the end of the season and they didn't try and they were rubbish, then they'll join a different list of players (mainly filled with names from the last ten years). But let's not assume right now that this will be the case, eh?
As you've probably guessed, there isn't really any news today, which is why I'm wittering on instead. However, the youthers have continued their good start to the season now seven points from their opening four fixtures. Although, actually that's a worse points-per-game average than the first team. Booo Fenty sack that clown Stockdale!
Friday 3 September
Hey up Town fans, Guest Diary here to help you over any trauma you may have suffered because of unintended exposure to Richard Madeley over the last week or so. The blighter clings on to whatever is left of his fame like a cockroach in the fridge and has been turning up in the oddest of media places most unexpectedly peddling his excuse for a book club. Sometimes with his would-be novelist wife in tow. Please avoid WH Smiths at all costs because it's not a bookshop anyway and I have the strongest feeling that their completely pointless shop interiors will be even worse than normal because there's bound to be life-size cardboard cut-outs of the gruesome twosome involved. You have been warned gentle reader, you have been warned.
Any road, at least this weekend I won't have to put up with Radio Humberside's way-over-the-top gloom about Town and their disparaging remarks about Conference teams they haven't heard of. Because of my enforced house arrest, I've had to listen to their commentaries on all the matches so far. And Messrs Burns, Tondeur and the younger one whose name escapes me had all better listen up. Town have sunk in to the fifth division. Stop comparing what you are watching to earlier halcyon days when Town had good players and played nice football in a respectable division. We all know that you are watching poor-standard football executed by much lesser gods. So stop telling us every 30 seconds how crap it all is, how scrappy, and how poor the quality of play. Just lower the bar of your expectation. Monday was perhaps the nadir I came away from the radio at full time utterly depressed despite Town winning, only to get a batch of texts from mates at the match telling me it was a lot better than the impression given by Mr Burns and his mate.
Don't get me wrong: it is harder work enjoying what's on offer this season. But we are stuck with it so we need to find ways to go through a game without harking back to the good old days all the time. Connell is a very good player. Peter Bore is becoming a good player, as will Bradley Wood(s). Give Eagle and Gobern a chance, for Christ's sake. So there are things to watch and enjoy. And pray, pray real hard that there's an unattached central midfield player who has a bit of pace or who can pass the ball creatively. Or score; or all three. What a difference signing him would make.
So I won't bother with Humberside tomorrow having already scouted out a hookey free video stream. And I'm off the leash next week, so Tamworth here I come. But one game at a time, as they say how's Town's injury list looking? Well, Woodses has revealed that Bore and Ridley (can't we sign a full-back called Newton?) trained on Thursday. But we have to wait to see if there's a reaction on Friday. Peter Bore we need you be a brave heterosexual and play. Connell was a momentary scare after he took a knock on his knee on Monday but it sounds as if he'll be alright. Ademeno is out for ages though. Coulson, no doubt buoyed by his England C call-up, is reported to be jogging again. And the new loan keeper, Richard O'Donnell, whom the manager had scouted several times last season he says, has fitted in a treat. Get tomorrow's game out of the way and the match frequency drops off to weekly so let's hope that gives time to get the injured fit and work on some of the more alarming deficiencies displayed of late.
Before I go I'll give you that link to the ropey Town pitch which Andrew Hubbert emailed in about ages ago. Sorry, Andrew this week's diarists have just ignored your good work in unearthing several bits of footage of the Town team of the 1930s on Pathι News. Note for the timorous: the video says Arsenal v Barnsley but Town's bit is near the end (ever the unfashionable Grimsby). In fact, if you chuck Grimsby into the site search box there are a few more Town games and other old stuff to do with fishing and that all well worth half an hour's slack time. Shame they always talked about the goals but rarely bothered to show them in those days. I can't be arsed to Google further but I seem to think 1936 was a very wet year. See yer.
Thursday 2 September
If you ever wondered during the course of last season, as your reserve-team diarist did, exactly what cosmic purpose was being served by the agony of seeing Grimsby Town plummet out of the Football League, the Grimsby Telegraph has found the answer: Olly Lancashire wanted experience of a relegation struggle. "Compared to playing reserve team football where nothing really matters", Mr Lancashire comments, "I was suddenly involved in a relegation battle going there (Grimsby) I had to scrap." Glad we could be of service, Olly. If ever you want experience of a promotion, or a goodish season with a glimmer of hope of a play-off place, or even another relegation scrap, do let us know and we'll see what we can do.
Fears that the alleged drinking culture of Mike Newell's tenure might resurface were confirmed in the next of the Telegraph's stories, entitled: Debut gives young Tom Corner thirst for more. Tom, presumably overheard at his local AA meeting, reveals that "it's a massive boost to have someone like the gaffer who believes in you." We all believe in you Tom, you can do it.
Like most Grimsby fans, your reserve-team diarist has spent many a night since the end of last season unable to sleep with worry over what fate might befall Adam Proudlock. Apparently, he might be about to join Kidderminster Harriers. A great weight off all our minds. As is the news that Grimsby legend Arnaud Mendy has joined Tranmere.
Should Sir John McDermott or Ciaran Toner ever suffer from nightmares of being harangued from the touchline by a short, bald man demanding that they 'keep it on the deck', they can doubtless offer the necessary consolation to each other, both having joined Harrogate Town.
Not content with offering a story entirely filled with news of a current Grimsby Town player, the Telegraph couldn't resist concluding a quite interesting story about Michael Coulson's England 'C' call up, with the news that he is to be joined in the squad by former "loan striker Ben Wright who recently joined Crawley Town from Hayes & Yeading." If anyone can remember which one he was, do let us know.
Wednesday 1 September
"We only had him for four games as I recall, towards the end of the '07-08 season. He was a bit 'all over the place' in his debut, a 0-3 panning at already-relegated Luton Town, then we played Millwall at home and he was stood at one side of the goal when Bas Savage was through on goal and he just rolled it past him into the gaping hole. He sort of redeemed himself in a decent display against Donny away (who went up that season) so I'd put the first two games down to massive inexperience and I missed his fourth game, an easy 4-1 stroll against Crewe. A mixed bag I guess."
Those are recollections of Richard O'Donnell, Town's new loan goalkeeper, from an Oldham-supporting acquaintance of your original Diary. The player has joined from third division Sheffield Wednesday for 28 days while Kenny Arthur gets better or the other two goalkeepers in the squad, er, get better. That debut spell at Boundary Park doesn't sound too bad considering he was only 19 at the time, does it? Oh, I don't know. He only has to be better than Tommy Forecast, right?
So that's the transfer deadline passed, with only O'Donnell coming in. Town and indeed most other clubs, as far as the Diary is aware remain free to sign unattached players, though, and the window for loans opens again in, um, actually, when is that? According to our friends at Vital Grimsby, sooner than you might think, with a "midfield boss" tipped to be arriving sharpish from Scunny, Nottingham Forest or Wednesday again. If you can shed any light on whatever the rules for loans are this week, readers, please drop us an email to the usual address.
Elsewhere in Grimland, the Mariners have released young midfielder Drew Rhoades and cheerful victim of racist stereotyping Adrian Forbes. The departing duo need not be too downhearted about their future career prospects, though, if the experience of another recent leaver is anything to go by. From redundancy at the fifth tier of English football, Nick Hegarty has landed himself a contract in the Premier League. Granted, it's the Scottish Premier League, and he's on a year's deal at St Mirren, but at least he gets to stay in black and white stripes.
An email to the Diary from David Elvidge wonders whether Hegarty is "treading on hallowed ground" with his new transfer. "What I'm really asking," he continues, "is for you to confirm the thought in my ageing rocker's mind that the great Matt Tees was signed from St Mirren? Come to think of it, was that the time when Matt was the idol of our beloved Blundell Park and Helen Mirren was bursting onto the silver screen? Over to Cod Almighty's archivist." Cod Almighty's archivist just wishes the Mariners circa Tees vintage had aged as well as Helen Mirren, David.
Next up, a quick plug for Around the Grounds, a new book which includes a feature by Cod Almighty's very own Pete Green about why it's better to support a rubbish team like Town than a successful one like Chelsea. The book is actually a guide to the 92 clubs of the Football League, but Pete apparently wrote the piece a year ago and the publishers didn't have the heart to chuck it out after Town got relegated. You can preview the book here and if that floats your trawler you can order it here.
Lastly today, could anyone who was listening on Radio Humberside to Saturday's game at Rushden please email the Diary to confirm or deny that George Kerr really reacted to the announcement of second-half stoppage time with the utterance: "Fuck me! Four minutes!" Goodbye and thankyou.