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Diary - February 2011
Monday 28 February
Mardy Diary writes: With news of a board meeting this morning we may follow up today's diary with an update. If there's no news until late, I'm sure Idle Diary will pick it up tomorrow.
Until then the speculation continues to mount with the names Cooper, Foyle and Brabin being joined by the name of practically every other football manager across the country. I don't have a clue who it's likely to be, and largely I don't care. We can all get excited about a new manager, can't we? And we can all have our hopes ruined when we realise it's just the same old shit over and over again.
A little cynical perhaps, but I've been a season ticket holder for ten years now and it's just so... very... tiring. My own personal Groundhog Day, without Bill Murray there to cheer me up. My mood hasn't been lightened by Fenty's appearance on Radio Humberside, either. Whatever has happened between Fenty and Burns in the past is not relevant to the current situation, so to go on radio and act like a stroppy teen is embarrassing. And whatever your views on Dave Burns, it's not as if he's bloody Paxman, is it? Credit to him for asking the questions, but he didn't really push that hard. Fenty spoke in tongues, and when asked to expand or explain what he meant, he was largely recalcitrant. But Burns didn't keep pushing and pushing he asked a couple of times then backed off like a nervous rabbit poking a vicious dog with a sharp stick.
So we leave the interview no clearer to what has happened, or what will happen. It was just more depressing, outdated 'management' speak. A garbled mess of hokey phraseology and cartoonish double-speak. Rafts. Mindsets. In the building. Oxygen tanks. Closing out. Conveyors of changes. Platforms. Going forward. What about the orange? I'll leave it with you, Dave.
It seems to me that Fenty's reputation, or what remains of it at least, is in utter ruin. Here then was an opportunity to go on local radio and admit the mistakes that had happened under his watch. To be open and honest, regretful and respectful to show humility. Instead we got mardyness, defensiveness and sentences that meant nothing. We had accusations that the BBC were somehow trying to undermine Fenty by simply asking him about the money he has invested in the club. These 'benign' loans but not so benign that they have been converted to equity. So then, isn't it OK that these sort of questions are asked? By fans, by journalists, by whoever? No-one is twisting words here just asking straightforward questions. And Burns backed off anyway: how do you defend against that level of paranoia?
Even allowing for Fenty's usual idiosyncrasies, we were still left with a mess of an interview. This wasn't live, this was recorded there was time for a measured response. Instead we get contradictions within the same sentence. So, Dave Moore's job isn't under threat, except we'll be appointing a new manager and assistant. So it is. We have stability as the watch word, and "we are not looking short-term this time either we want to appoint the right man with a view to us getting promotion at the earliest opportunity". We have phrases such as: "Everything that is asked of you, you shouldn't always give." To what and whom, where, when? What is the context, John? Sure, I can interpret that to mean something but I can also interpret that in any number of ways, most of which will be utterly wrong. Just say what you mean there is nothing, NOTHING, to be gained here through being aloof.
Fenty has simply taken a terrible situation and made it a hundred times worse. Rather than waiting for the board to make the decision for him, perhaps it's time now to have one last stab at honour and make the decision himself.
They say that when the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. But when the trawler is sinking, the seagulls just fuck off.
Friday 25 February
Your Guest Diarist was running on empty last night. Despite afternoon sunshine and a balmy spring day the evening world looked sad, still-damp and smelling a bit to be honest. Inside my head was a whirlwind of managerial targets, rumours, rants and every kind of crazy Town talk. Thoughts turned to the pipe opium would clear this shit right out.
Dreams followed a clear-eyed vision of what's to come. After an epic evening where the year unfolded from the comfort of my chaise-longue, my visions showed me first team training outsourced to Scunthorpe and ticket prices increased by five pounds but to include a compulsory Town burger and a plastic cup of tepid brown water.
John Fenty assumed responsibility for first team selection and tactics when the new manager (a shadowy figure who was never ever clearly in view, so no rumour-mongering here) failed to get Town higher than seventh after five games despite not actually losing a match.
When results again failed to meet expectations and Town finished the season in 17th place, Fenty began wheedling to his fellow directors that they should seriously consider following Steve Evans' 2005 idea (as reported in Impstalk) and release the crowd on a free transfer after talks seemed to have stalled on season ticket renewal. Fans were apparently called in to the office and told their future at the club was seriously in doubt and that a bid for a rival team's fans was on the table. This, Fenty said, is the ideal way to manufacture a bubble of positivity strong enough to overcome both poor results and visible incompetence. Goal music and mercenary fans have to be the way forward.
Meanwhile a series of bright announcements were made in July about how the new stadium project was making tremendous strides and that details of what this progress meant would follow soon. The six remaining contracted players returned for pre-season training to discover that for the first week they would be engaged in ground work for Topcon on an unpaid intern basis. Digging drains played havoc with Hughes's achilles but luckily Dean Windass is signed as player-coach.
The season starts with 13 fit players and six crocks so Mr Fenty registers himself as an emergency sub. By mid-September the club is still in 17th place and the replacement crowd scheme has not worked out so previous fans are enticed back via a Telegraph voucher scheme offering free burgers provided the correct dress code is observed.
After a particularly disastrous reversion to a 2-3-5 formation John Tondeur and George Kerr are unable to commentate on the second half so radio and internet listeners have to put up with a recorded back-up transmission which consists of a lecture on stability from chairman and manager Fenty, who said: "We need stability at the club. We hoped we would get that with Neil Woods and all the other managers but we ended up feeling like we had to begin again. We are not in a position we had hoped for to give us a platform to build on for improvement. We are not looking short-term this time either we want to appoint the right man with a view to us getting promotion at the earliest opportunity."
Opinions are divided on whether this is some kind of resignation speech but it is noted that no mention was made of whether the benign-debt incompetent would-be-philanthropist except-he-can't-quite-ever convert-the-debt-to-shares for-the-good-of-the-club would hand over his reins. As I awoke Fenty is still in the building; Town are deeper in debt and still in mid-place Conference obscurity. The team lacks confidence, the manager is gone and even the chairman finally realises he's lost the plot. But stability remains the watchword. See yer.
Thursday 24 February
"If we didn't believe in what Neil Woods was doing, we would make a change but that's not the case."
John Fenty, Grimsby Telegraph, 22 February 2011
"Grimsby Town Football Club have announced that, with great regret, Neil Woods has been relieved of his duties as first team manager."
official website of Grimsby Town Football Club, 23 February 2011
Do you remember Newell's sacking...?
"The sacking, of course, follows the same contradictory pattern as that of Alan Buckley one year ago, when Fenty's statement of support for the manager after a Saturday game was shown to be utterly hollow when the chairman dismissed him barely 48 hours later. In a very real way, then, the identity of Newell's successor doesn't matter a toss. Why? Because it would clearly take even the best available manager more than a year to turn round the incompetence and culture of failure that now permeate the club from top to bottom. And when, towards the end of 2010, the new boss has not achieved this, Deadly John (Con) will presumably be unable to resist his itchy trigger finger once again."
the Diary, Cod Almighty, 19 October 2009
So yes, Fenty strikes again, if slightly later than predicted. Another manager sacked without completing a full season, having been backed by the chairman about five minutes before, same as Buckley, same as Newell. Fenty has now completely blown it. Your Part-Time Diary recommends a read of Pat Bell's excellent take, published on Cod Almighty earlier today, on Fenty's latest sacking.
So Fenty threw in his seasonal pep talk before the Forest Green game, always a bad sign for whoever happens to be in charge of Grimsby that season. It feels like Woods was always destined to become the next scapegoat, as the Fenty axe has been hanging over him since he began his 16-month spell in charge. I always felt Fenty undermined Woods: his backing always felt hollow. Whenever they did those joint fans' forum jobs on the webcam, it seemed like Woods was the assistant, the better man, with the brains but none of the power. You can see him look at Fenty almost with raised eyebrows. Maybe Woods had about as much faith as the rest of us in Deadly John (Topcon).
Woods came in with an objective of restoring discipline, after everything with the likes of Barry 'Fucking' Conlon, Martin Butler and Nathan Jarman. And he did this. He has turned the club around, he has made people want to play for us, these were his players. However, after all Woods has done, there are still issues: Atkinson and Bore were dropped for his last game in charge due in part to their contract talks stalling. Non-football issues have to stop fucking up performances and having a negative impact on this club. Everything wrong about this club stems from the Fenty side. It's not the players or the management: it's higher than that. The shit travels downwards through Blundell Park.
The last three games saw two draws at home against struggling sides and a comprehensive defeat at the side occupying the play-off place we want. This isn't good enough. Those were the games Town needed to perform in, to play like they did after Christmas in that two-game purple patch we had. But is a rallying cry from the chairman the way to achieve this? Or does it serve to undermine the management? Woods was trying, and we were good granted, it was for nowhere near long enough, half an hour here and there, a couple of games, and always in training apparently but we were so much better than last year. We were moving forward. Does that earn him the sack? Even Fenty said we would have taken mid-table at the start of the season. But then because he's put some money in he expects better, and while he is the man putting the money he will always exert this ridiculous amount of power over the club. It's a tyrannical regime.
The board will meet next week to discuss the appointment of a new manager and, most importantly, "to determine if there is a mindset for a change of chairman". Is this the end of John Fenty's reign of relegations? This is the key decision to make in the next few weeks a decision that will shape the future of the club. Fenty's failures dwarf those of Woods. His appalling record of hiring and firing managers is just one example. The thing that bothers me most about Fenty is that we see too much of him. I don't want to see the chairman calling on the players to up their game. I don't want to see him in press conferences. I don't want to hear about him being on the team bus. And I don't want to hear him answering questions about fucking flasks. I want to hear from him once a year at the AGM; I want him to run the business side of the club because that's what chairmen are meant to do. We need a manager who can manage everything on the playing side and a chairman who stays in the boardroom. Please.
I haven't got a fucking clue how any of this is going to turn out. I don't know if history is going to repeat itself a fourth time. This is the best we could have hoped for in our first season in the Conference and Woods needed time to build for next season, to build a proper club. He was learning. He put together a good team, he found a proper goalscoring striker. Everyone can see the value of stability, and sacking managers has been spectacularly bad for the club especially with Fenty being allowed to pick his next victim each time. The club has again made huge changes mid-season and surely the buck must stop with Fenty this time.
We all remember Woods' appointment...
"Through no fault of his own, Neil Woods will fail, just as Gary Brabin, Gerry Taggart, John McDermott, Russell Slade and Lee Richardson would all have failed. He may fail honourably; he may fail miserably; but he will fail. Why? Because, as you know, as the Diary knows, and as even John Fenty (Con) might suspect, a fundamental overhaul is needed of every aspect of Grimsby Town Football Club."
the Diary, Cod Almighty, 24 November 2009
Wednesday 23 February
So John Fenty (Topcon) issued one of those motivational speeches, as he always does once or twice a season, about the players having to stand up and be counted and all that sort of thing. And it proved as effective as it always does. The players responded as they always do, by shrugging their shoulders and expecting to win just by walking out onto the pitch.
Because that's the attitude that's nurtured among the playing staff at Blundell Park. As it always has been since Fenty's arrival as the key influence at the club. An attitude of the utmost complacency. Town's players are the fittest players in this league: we heard Neil Woodses say so just a few days ago. And Town's players are among the best-paid players in this league. The supporters have made sure of that by demanding constantly that Fenty get his cheque book out as they always do. Town's players, then, are quite clearly amazing, and far too good for the tiresome business of trying to win games of football by, I don't know, running about a bit, making an effort, generally working at it.
So when the chairman says they have to stand up and be counted, well, whatever; they'll still get paid. After all, that's what he always says. He says he'll stand by the manager, and then he doesn't. He brings in a new manager, and the current playing staff get their contracts paid up and then immediately sign for another club, so they're getting paid twice. That's what always happens. Fenty has effectively established a system whereby players are rewarded with double pay for playing badly. Under Fenty, players have a vested interest in their own failure.
Now your original/regular Diary is not composing a state of the nation address because Town failed to beat Forest Green Rovers. I believe talk of "a must-win game" is nearly always daft and counterproductive. I loathe the way some supporters talk of the Conference as a "pub league" and lord it over the smaller clubs as if this isn't an exact cover version of the vile arrogance with which the fans of Wolves and Newcastle and the rest would look down on the Mariners not so many years ago. No: respect the opposition. If they're a pub team, well, it takes one to know one.
But with the play-offs slipping out of view and Neil Woodses running out of ideas, it seems a fitting moment to take stock. And you know what? It's not a rubbish team that will stop me going to support my club. It's not a manager. It's not even the hopeless fumbling of a well-meaning but incompetent chairman. If it was, I'd have walked away long before now. No. It's the fact that my season ticket money is paying the wages of whichever GTFC employee took a look at all these factors in the club's desperate malaise Fenty's system of rewarding failure, his impossibly bad communication skills, his catastrophic decision-making and his triple relegation and decided that we'll all forgive and forget the entire shameful list if they play 'Chelsea Dagger' over the PA when Town score a goal.
Fuck off, Grimsby Town Football Club. Fuck off. There's only so much contempt you can treat me with before I draw a line. And I'm drawing it at the fucking Fratellis.
Tuesday 22 February
Idle Diary writes: I've got 14 minutes to research this diary, write it, and get it live. And hopefully make it funny, like some of you regularly come back for. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Let's find out. Otherwise it's yet another whining email about how the diary isn't what it used to be, yadder yadder yadder.
You want comedy? No need to write the jokes with Grimsby Town Football Club advertising on their website for a chef/cook. In our house there's a difference the chef leads, the cook is the 'sous chef'. C'mon Town. Which is it that you want? And is this just all an analogy for our midfield? Woods wants a chef, yet all he has are cooks. Gotta get that job description right. man. And then advertise for it on the SNOS's vacancies page.
The personnel who 'play' for GTFC seem to have had their staff appraisals. How does that work for you? Do you get one? If you do, is it behind closed doors? Not for the Town players. It's all aired in the open. Except it's all guff we've heard a million trillion zillion times from Paymaster Fenty, so much so that you question the effect it has when he spouts out phrases punctuated with such reflections as "hugely disappointing... inconsistency of the performances... frustrating... both the board and the management concerned..." I think the phrase the fans would reply with is "sort it". If any of them really are still that arsed. After years of skirting with doom, mid-table mediocrity makes a sanguine change. How many do you think will turn up to the match tonight?
Match tonight? Oh yes. Town are playing. Against Forest Green Rovers. Have you forgotten? Of course you have! You do more exciting things these days, don't you? Like hang around on Facebook saying how you're Grimsby 'til you die and all sorts of other clichιd Modern Fan crap. And don't actually make time to even check how the club have got on. If you're bothered, Woods is making changes to the side for tonight, although some of that is down to the enforced absences of Cummins (suspended, from the gantry of the Upper Findus), Bryan Hughes (achilles injury, presumably, not a God complex), Dwayne Samuels (knee) and Charles Ademeno (knee). Those in possible contention to drift back in are Rob Eagle, Dean Sinclair, Steven Watt, Michael Leary and Bradley Wood. Work out who and how as much as you want, in your own mental version of Footie Manager. It's just so easy isn't it, being a fan and dropping names into slots in your dream formation, and then berating Woods for not carrying out your wishful thinking.
Because it will be Woods doing that choosing the team for as long as it needs to be, according to Chairman John anyhow: "If we didn't believe in what Neil Woods was doing, we would make a change but that's not the case." I'm not sure if that is a punchline or not. Time will tell.
Monday 21 February
Mardy Diary writes: Right, we'll keep this quick I'm afraid. It's half-term, I'm in the middle of cooking a curry and this system identification of frequency response paper isn't going to write itself...
If you're looking for analysis of the weekend's capitulation (that'll be this weekend, rather than any of the preceding ones over the last ten years I know it's hard to differentiate), then look no further than Pat Bell's excellent match report (along with our post-match factfile, of course). It is rather depressing, if not predictable, reading though. I'm talking about the football there not Pat's writing. That's great. Pat does leave us a glimmer of hope at the end though something that the less rabid among us can cling on to. The morsel that will see us through to the next serving of gruel.
Among all the usual post-match talk from the usual sources, there doesn't seem much mention of what to do with the midfield for the next four games. That's right Cummins' second successive red (and this a straight red) means he will miss the next four matches. Some will say we won't miss him I'd say he's seemed alright in recent matches, but don't misinterpret that as high praise (yeah, you will Meeky, I know what you're like).
But with Cummins out, Leary half-fit and, at best, a substitute, Hudson frustratingly seeming to contain a decent player who never quite gets out, Sinclair never convincingly fit, Peacock old and not really a midfielder and Bryan Hughes still, one supposes, nursing a tight hamstring, we're still left with no real central midfield. It's becoming the elephant in the room with GTFC and an elephant that keeps getting bigger and bigger and making loud parping noises while shouting: "Look at me, I'm a big elephant." Perhaps the elephant could play in midfield? I dunno.
Or perhaps, at home at least, we could just dig up the central area of the pitch and play with four wingers. At least that way other teams' central midfielders would struggle a bit more. Or maybe, just maybe, we could sign a bloody central midfielder who would take the team by the scruff of its neck, control the game and allow what seem like decent players in other positions to get on and do their job. It'll have to be a loan of course although I'm not sure what the rules are on signing players from below the Conference: does the transfer window apply at that level? Anyone?
Phew. And I didn't even have time to respond to another wet email from Dave Bell, who now seems to be confusing the word 'diary' with 'calendar'. Seeya...
Friday 18 February
With almost a third of fixtures still unplayed, any of the top half of the Conference teams can still wistfully imagine 'putting a little run together' and getting into the play-off mix. But Grimsby manager Neil Woods has long given up harbouring such notions, your Guest Diarist suspects. Too many opponents find that it is relatively easy not to lose to this 'big' club. Points dropped hither and thither; a consistency of being inconsistent, a failure to beat those around them, and too often dropping points against the division's minnows all conspire to remove any credentials for Town to occupy a play-off place. And, crucially, no sign of any remedy for this malaise has been forthcoming from team or manager. No leaders in the team and no dynamic leadership apparent from Mr Woods, I'm afraid.
Tomorrow's 'difficult match' is away at Fleetwood a team who beat us soundly at home back in September when we were still 'gelling'. They dominated us in midfield, were organised, committed and, fundamentally, were too good. Will the Town team taking the field tomorrow, five months on, be a better one? Let's have a think, gentle reader.
Defensively, I'd say so. A bit better anyway. Arthur has pulled his fingers out and is playing pretty well. The back four are not quite as prone to let the ball bounce in the danger area and the crosses are not allowed to rain in quite as often as earlier in the season. Full-backs Wood and Ridley are two of our better players, Atkinson and Kempson a more than adequate centre-half pairing for this division. The bigger remaining defensive problem is the inability to close down shot-intending opposition forwards who seem to belie the notion that shooting 'from there' is a low-risk outcome by scoring a succession of goals against us that are far too good for this division.
In central midfield? Little progress to be honest. Cummins and Hudson have improved but by nowhere near enough. And the two signings Sinclair and Hughes? The two bits of class signed to add guile and playmaking skills to the totally misfiring Town midfield engine? Well, Hughes has broken down with his achilles problem and Sinclair has pulled out of training with a "tight thigh". Class might tell, but continual niggling injuries mean we never get the chance to see it. Sinclair is doubtful for tomorrow, Hughes might start back training today, but surely can't be fit enough to take on such an energetic opposition.
This area of the team is widely felt to be Mr Woods' achilles heel too. And he hasn't helped his cause with these doubters by explaining to the Telegraph that he failed to take his interest in Cambridge midfield player Paul Carden further because "circumstances are that we have five or six midfield players in the club at present". Given that the two key central midfield players are both equally injury-prone, and given Woodses' own admission that the other three are just too similar, this statement is frustrating to say the least.
Woodses likes to play two wide men. But their mission seems not to get behind the full-back and swing in dangerous crosses but to cut inside, which tends to take the impetus out of Town's attacks. Eagle, Bore, Makofo, Coulson: each have qualities, each have deficiencies. We've seen the glimpses of their abilities but, lots of times actually, we've seen them drift out of games and fail to worry opposition defences by running at them with committed pace.
Up front Connell is reduced to making the most of his own chances. He works hard for himself and his goal tally, given the lack of attacking support, is excellent. He needs a regular partner who can supply him with second ball and convince him to collaborate more. It's early days for Duffy he got off to a great start but didn't exactly convince at home last Saturday. Peacock is only good for a 20-minute cameo and Ademeno has had the nightmare injury season that cynics predicted when he signed. But hey, he's training again and "looked tremendously sharp" said Woodses. Perhaps we'd be better off watching the team train rather than play. I'd guess Ademeno is a fortnight away from his next comeback.
Overall, Town haven't lost that many but haven't turned out enough efficient victories against lesser sides to deserve to be anywhere other than where they are. Fleetwood's run since Christmas hasn't been strong they've lost five this year but Grimsby have only made very slow progress in catching them, and a defeat on Saturday will be more damaging to Grimsby. Fleetwood might have lost to York in midweek but their performance gave the watching Woods little consolation in the result. Fleetwood played well enough to worry him, and the result has York jostling Town at the edge of the play-offs. A draw will be a decent result for Grimsby against a side that has only lost once at home. But a draw won't be good enough really, given the Woods propensity to make do with a point. See yer.
Thursday 17 February
"That Grimsby goal was my best," BOOM. What a headline. Your Part-Time Diary's brain immediately began flicking through former Grimsby strikers who went on to play for bigger and better clubs; which one had decided his goal for Grimsby was the highlight of his career? Mendonca, he always loved us, scoring for Town must have been better than scoring hat-tricks for that Charlton in the play-offs or the first division. Or maybe it was Jevons, yep, must have been, for his cup winner at Anfield. Oh hang on, talking of cup goals, it could have been Jean-Paul Kalalalala against Spurs... the list goes on.
So imagine your diarist's abject disappointment, pure devastation and utter deflatedness (it's not really a word, but, if for alliteration purposes only, it will do) when the headline was from none of our strikers. No, it was Muzzy Izzet
gloating about that overhead kick he scored against us years ago, which of course is again newsworthy now that some twat in the big boys' league did it last weekend. It was a great goal though, and of course got me out of a pickle with the intro to the ever manic, never dull Thursday Diary. Hurrah.
So, news. The reserves game yesterday, which saw a debut for that trialist lad Walker, ended in a 3-0 defeat to Gateshead. He limped off with a hamstring problem, shock. Part-Time Diary is sure we get more injuries than most other teams. It just seems like it's all the bloody time. Or maybe it's just because this diarist, due to not giving a flying fuck, does not check every other team's reserve match reports to scour for injuries to any trialists they may or may not have trialing. If anyone has got a lot of time on their hands and has some injury-related data then please email.
Talking of emails, this popped up in the inbox, from Richard Lord:
"One of the largest playing budgets for the division. Seven points outside the play-offs. Expected to go straight back up after relegation last season. Hull City aren't doing particularly well... or are they? The Tigers have almost exactly the same record as us, except they don't have three games in hand on the team occupying the last play-off place and yet the mood at the KC is upbeat. What we need is a bit of Hullativity!"
A rallying cry if ever we needed one. Although we all know that if you live in Hull you've got to be cheerful about something. Oh and hang on a minute they're fourth division anyway; they should very well be chuffed to be in the second division. Cheers Richard.
Better news came as the Myspace Mariners
beat their Lincoln counterparts 5-2, whoosh, there you go, have that Lincoln, the under-12s that was, and there are numerous other age ranges' results and reports available in the Telewag report. That's about it for today: it's been a week of short diaries and were not about to change that. Oh, and if you fancy a free home shirt then you need to start gambling through the SNOS. Go on, gamble, you know you want to, and if you get in too much debt you can always flog the shirt. Hullativity.
Wednesday 16 February
Seventeen goals, a few thousand disappointed Charlton fans, and more loans than Stony Stratford Library. That's the enigmatic career record so far of James Walker, a 23-year-old striker who will line up on trial for Town's reserves against Gateshead, oooh, in about ten minutes' time. Walker was highly thought of by those who saw him turn out for the Addicks' youth side, but never quite broke through. This season the player has been on the books at Russell 'Sort It' Slade's Leyton Orient in the third division. Orient have released him after 14 appearances and no goals, although it looks like most of those appearances were as a late substitute, added your original/regular Diary in a reasonable attempt to introduce some optimism.
Town's 1-1 draw at home to Cambridge last Saturday was a disappointing result, of course, given the Us' run of defeats. But it was only a bad game of football if you're one of those people whose glass is half full of dog piss. Neil Woodses did himself no favours, as usual, in his post-match interview on BBC Radio Humberside ("What went wrong out there today, Neil?" "I don't know"), but his chat ended with a cheerful mention of Rob Peet's recent trial at Manchester United. If you'd like to know more about the youth keeper's Old Trafford adventures, and you're affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, today's Grimsby Telegraph is the place for you. For one thing, the local rag continued its admirable practice of breaking up quotes into paragraphs that are sometimes as short as six words. But for another, it's actually broken up the whole feature into two separate articles. Sorry, are you still reading?
That's all for today, so I'll leave you with some links in case you're still at a loose end. The redoubtable Two Unfortunates blog today carries this piece from a member of the Cod Almighty team about Town's epic 1997-98 season. The Guardian website's brilliant football trivia series The Knowledge today refers to CA's very own Grimsby Reaper feature in a discussion of managerial sackings. And here's a quiz about football kits from the closing days of Town's real glory era. Thanks for reading see you again!
Tuesday 15 February
Idle Diary writes: "We maybe at times lack a real leader. We don't have a great talker on the pitch or a real orchestrator of people and the play," reveals Neil Woods in today's Telewag, in an interview that could also be culled from any with the GTFC managers from the past, say, seven years. And before you start voicing your frustrations at Town STILL NOT HAVING this missing link, Woods reckons that piece of the puzzle is in da bungalow. And that piece is shaped very much like Micky Cummins. So much so that it is Micky Cummins! "Micky Cummins has been our best player for a long period of time this year. Micky coming back will certainly help that."
Cod Almighty Towers would rather it was a different "Micky", specifically a Miki Berenyi-shaped piece, commanding Town through the power of her guitar-driven indie pop, but beggars can't be choosers. This does raise the more pertinent question of "where is the Lush comeback?" THESE ARE THE ANSWERS WE DEMAND. You get the picture.
Shit. Apart from the game against Tamworth being moved forward two whole hours, is that it? It seems to be so.
Monday 14 February
Mardy Diary writes: Another home draw. Should've won. Didn't. Must be more consistent. Must be ruthless. Yadder, yadder, yadder. It's a familiar story, one so familiar I can barely summon the energy to write about it. So I'm not going to but the details can be found in our match report and post-match factfile as usual.
So that just leaves me to delve in to the postbag, and what do we have here but an email from Dave Bell who says "Friday's diary yesterday's news today. We've been reading about the daft vege at Forest Green for 2 days now. Wakey wakey. Stick with copying the Telewag another pointless exercise." Right then. Let me just get my breath here. Just give me a minute. Ok.
Now then Dave, firstly let me refute the CONTINUED ON PAGE 42 scandalous allegation that we simply copy and paste from the Telegraph. I am almost offended. But I see the mistake you've made: you know those red, underlined things you see in the diary? They're called 'hyperlinks'. If you click on them what they do is open another page sometimes another page on Cod Almighty, sometimes a page on another website. When you click on one of those and it takes you to a report from the Grimsby Telegraph, that is actually a report on the Grimsby Telegraph's website. It's not a page we've mocked up to look like the Telegraph it's actually their words. Just so you're clear on that. This is the basis of 'linking' and it's what makes the internet what it is and what the word 'web' in 'worldwide web' is referring to.
Now I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this as I realise they've only just installed Prestel in whichever backwater Lincolnshire village they've just kicked you out of. So you're just catching up I can see that.
But secondly, Dave, this is a diary. A diary, Dave. It's a diary. Hence the usage of the word 'diary'. And the structure of days, months and years. I think it's clear, Dave, that it's a diary. It's not something we try to hide. We're not a primary news source you see, Dave. We're a diary. We're not trying to get exclusives, Dave, like some desperate tabloid wannabe. No, Dave. This is a diary, Dave. A diary.
Just to clarify, and in the words of the OED, it's "a daily record of events or transactions, a journal; specifically, a daily record of matters affecting the writer personally, or which come under his personal observation."
It's a diary, Dave. A diary.
I really shouldn't have to put up with this on a Monday morning, you know. Sat here in my ivory tower with loafers made of gophers. I'm only paid £150k a year for this it's hard enough for me having to struggle with the higher earnings tax threshold and diverting my money into offshore accounts without having to put up with this dribbling, montonous correspondence. I've already got neck ache from shaking my head in frustration. There's a red mark on my forehead from repeatedly face-palming myself. To those staring at me from across this palatial office I look like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman when the smoke alarm goes off, but in fast-forward. Obviously you can't see the look on my face, but imagine if you woke up one morning to find the cat had vomited in your mouth that's the look I'm wearing at the moment. That's the level of despair.
Right, I'm off for a shit...
Friday 10 February
A few weeks ago, knowing Pontoon fans rolled their eyes at the sight of Councillor John Fenty (TopCon) doing a John Gummer as he self-importantly strutted by, munching a Town burger to prove how absolutely delicious and inexpensive they are. Your Guest Diarist daydreamed with a veggie companion about how good it would be if we ran a catering hut serving chimichangas, falafels and other deep-fried spicy delights.
But the precedent has already been set by those nice people at Forest Green who have gone a step further and actually banned red meat from being sold at their ground. So the pies will be chicken balti at the express instruction of vegan chairman Dale Vince who said: "If red meat was not good enough to feed our players, then it wasn't good enough for our staff, fans and visitors too. At its worst it means once every two weeks watching a football game without being able to eat red meat. Anybody that really needs it can bring a ham sandwich or something if they wish that's no problem."
That last sentence makes a complete mockery of Fenty whose risible attempt at claiming that food and drink really ought to be bought inside the ground provoked the desperately embarrassing Flaskgate episode. Dale Vince (whose name sounds like that of a commercial radio DJ, not a bloke who runs an electricity company) has class, something I'm sad to say our chairman rarely, if ever, demonstrates. Leaf and book spring to mind, eh?
Bryan Hughes, who, remember, has hardly played for a twelvemonth, has a problem with a tight achilles. Having myself had to retire from the dizzy heights of Sunday league football with a similar problem, I can sympathise. A sudden step-up of training activity is very prone to make this muscle complain. So whether it settles down for him to make his home debut remains to be seen. Manager Woodses, in his filmed match preview for the hoi-polloi, spoke at length about how knackered the first teamers were at the end of the January match marathon, saying that although fitness levels were high the excessive travel and the lack of recovery breaks had taken their toll. None more so than with Bradley Wood(s), who the manager realised "had played the last couple of games on positive attitude and adrenaline alone".
With Cummins suspended and Hughes a bit doubtful, Michael Leary has been ignoring his remarkably swollen ankle and is anxious to figure in first-team plans. Ridley is training better every day, so Woods has said thanks but no thanks to Lincoln and sent Joe Anderson home from his brief stay by the sea. The manager will prefer to either play Ridley if fit or to continue with the visibly refreshed Bradley at left-back.
Cambridge don't seem to be as good a side these days as when we fought out a draw with them in a decent game of football back in November. They sold their best player that day to Luton in January and have quite a few injuries so their team will be youngish. Add to that they've sacked Martin Ling and lost five league games on the bounce, as well being knocked out of the cup by Alfreton, who hit six past them. So you see, well, an upset on the horizon, frankly all they have to do actually is pick Daryl Clare for once and our fate will surely be sealed. Read our factfile for more information and conflicting predictions.
Anyone who thought that the Telegraph would just capitulate and allow Town to dump the weekly "we've been a bit shit lately but we'll get better soon, honest" player interview will get a shock today as notorious heterosexual Peter Bore and home debutant Rob Duffy have both been talking to the Telewag in time-honoured vein. Peter 'I'll Play Anywhere, Me' Bore has decided this week that he will play where he's put but prefers right-back really, whereas Duffy just wants to score at home. But there's more news about injuries from the manager, who reveals that young Andi Thanoj is close to a place on the bench because Hughes is even more doubtful than he was a few paragraphs ago.
So we got through all those games in January and not a lot has changed league position-wise, with a play-off place remaining tormentingly close but just as elusive as it has been all season. Mid-table obscurity by mid-March, or one of those oh-so-tantalising 'just miss out' seasons? Let's see. See yer.
Thursday 10 February
Players mumbling the national anthem, the club vs country debate, too many substitutions, matches scheduled during demanding periods of clubs' seasons, players who only trained with each other for a day expected to produce coherent performances, players not repeating club performances on the international stage or putting club before country, former legends moaning about the younger generations, a Trevor Brooking opinion. Yes, it's the old midweek internationals, more trouble than they're worth, usually.
This international week caught your Part-Time Diary's attention. No, I wasn't salivating with enthusiasm to see if that Jack Wilshere could perform without his club's technically talented supporting cast and in with all those England donkeys, against the fearsome Denmark with Nicklas 'Must Miss Less' Bendtner leading the opposition line. No, your Part-Time Diary got more excited about the Grimsby representative in the England C international at Kenilworth Road: our very own, for now at least, Rob Atkinson. That wasn't on the telly, mind, and, as a terrestrial viewer, passing up the chance to watch a live midweek footy match just isn't an option, so full senior England game it was. Bugger.
Anyway, finding out the England C score was hard enough. The FA 'Match Centre' refused to give the promised team sheet and there were no live score updates. They had just been too consumed by the 'proper' England, by those millionaire wastrels, who pranced and danced (but did not sing), to have any time to cover the England C team. Well, we're used to that now anyway, bloody big-timers. There was a great live text commentary on a Luton newspaper site, much better than any FA offering. There were several Luton fans and a couple of Town fans, eager to keep up with Atkinson's performance. The guy at the game was positive about our Rob; he won all his headers apparently. So Atkinson, as it turned out, had a good game,
the best player on the pitch, according to one scout. Well, it was the chief Grimsby scout, to be precise.
Lincoln say we can have Joe Anderson if we like. The former Fulham full-back (he didn't actually play for them or anything, maybe just lived in the area or knew a couple of their reserves, something like that) has been training with Town and may come in on loan as cover for Lee Ridley. Although Ridley is aiming to be back for Saturday's big return to action against Cambridge. Ridley chimes: "I spoke to Mooro (Town physio Dave Moore) and he said I'd need to be back training on Tuesday to have a chance and I was." Good news.
Just to be clear, that's not Mooro as in the Nyungar indigenous clan
who lived in Western Australia: it's definitely Town assistant/physio/all-round good egg Dave Moore. Thanks to the Telegraph for clearing that up for us. In other news, former tennis-playing, Intertoto cup scoring, flying Town winger/striker Micky Boulding is on trial at Derby. One last shot at the second flight. Good luck.
Well, that's it from your Part-Time Diary this week, and the wait for a game is almost over, so let's hope they've been doing whatever they did in training the last time we had a break from matches and we put a few past Cambridge. See yer.
Wednesday 9 February
He looked a great signing last summer. Fans of his old club were up in arms about his departure for Blundell Park. In the pre-season friendlies he seemed more able and assured than other, more experienced players in his position. During one or two excited moments there was even talk of the new Ryan Bennett. But despite the inability of Town's first-choice central defenders to keep a clean sheet, Scott Garner has found it a tough task to break into the team. And now he's off out on loan until the end of the season to Alfreton Town of the Conference North. Your original/regular Diary will not be the only fan hoping the Mariners can get the best out of Garner next year, perhaps after Rob Atkinson has done one to Rotherham or wherever he's supposed to be going. In the meantime it's just a shame Neil Woodses couldn't have found a slightly less capable player to lend to Alfreton, by way of proper repayment to their manager Nicky Law for all the great service he gave to Grimsby Town Football Club.
The official Twitter thing for Town's matchday programme, meanwhile (well worth a follow, if Twitter is your thing), describes the Garner loan as a "win-win situation for all concerned". This is an example of tautology, or the redundant use of an adjective to suggest something that's already implicit. Other well-known examples include "PIN number", "added bonus", and "miserable Grimsby Town fan".
Sorry this diary is dead late, by the way. Baby Diary has chickenpox and the house is a minefield of cotton wool and calamine lotion.
Part of the reason Town's defence has struggled lately, of course, has been the absence through injury of Lee Ridley just as he was really starting to look the part. After trying and failing to plug the round hole left by Ridley with a variety of square pegs, GTFC have at last given up and taken Lincoln City left-back Joe Anderson on trial. A 21-year-old product of the Fulham academy, the player made 24 appearances for the Imps on loan last season but has led a Scott Garner-like existence on the periphery since the move became 'permanent' last summer. We assume he's on trial, anyway; Town's superb new official website states merely that Anderson is "training with the Mariners". Granted, there wouldn't be much point him training with the Mariners if there were no chance of an actual game of football. But for all the SNOS tells us, it might just be that Anderson fancied a few days by the sea, or has a complexion well suited to black and white.
Anderson doesn't seem to be playing for the reserves at Hartlepool tonight, for what that's worth. But titchy young wing maestro Josh Fuller is so we'll soon discover the benefits of a few weeks' loan at Spalding.
There's talk of another fixture rearrangement, this time with the home game against Tamworth, scheduled for Saturday 26 March. But it looks like it won't happen. There's some kind of England game on the same day. And why would you support your home-town club when you can have the piss taken out of you by a group of fat, tax-dodging millionaires pretending they give a shit about representing their country at football? So Town were on about bringing it forward to the Friday night. But Tamworth reckon we can't because it's on the pools coupons, or something. So it'll probably stay as it was. At the time of writing, Town haven't mentioned the bit about the fixture can't be rearranged after all, because they feel a bit silly now for having brought it up in the first place.
Three of you have emailed in response to Mardy Diary's tirade on Monday against the inanity of televised football and in particular to his suggestion that we do away with commentators and pundits. "Excellent piece," writes Phil Watson. "What you suggest is precisely the one thing that could get me to start watching football on TV again. With all the spare broadcast capacity these days, why isn't there even an option to take just the game with the crowd noise, and no babble? If you found yourself at a match sitting next to someone who prattled like John Motson you'd contact the nearest steward and ask to change your seat, wouldn't you?" Peter Hopgood says that just such a choice is, in fact, available: "I find that when I have the option on interactive TV I really enjoy and actually follow the match more when I choose the 'crowd' alternative as the soundtrack. You benefit from all the replays and slow-mos but without the crap. Wish they had that option for all matches."
Richard Lord, meanwhile, has compared present with past, and found present wanting. "Back in the day, when VHS ruled the roost, I used to record the odd episode of Match of the Day and not have the heart to record over it once I'd watched it. This has led me to own a few videos full of top-flight football from the early 90s, and so I thought I'd delve into my accidental vault to analyse the punditry. There was Des Lynam smooth, suave, slightly unhinged but likeable. On the panel were Trevor Brooking and a fresh-faced, serious-looking Gary Lineker with a surprisingly insightful and intelligent analysis of William Prunier's debut for Man Utd in December 1995. It was only after watching this video, in conjunction with Monday's Mardy Diary, that has led me also to believe that modern-day punditry is shit. Apart from Lee Dixon I think he's alright. I'll forgive him for being friends with that mumbling, bumbling, unco-ordinated, squashed-faced West Brom-supporting, Croatian-loving twat Adrian Chiles."
I feel a bit sorry for Adrian Chiles, personally, but then I do have a soft spot for West Brom. That's all for today, so thanks for reading. And if you're still at a loose end check out this superb piece by Ian Plenderleith about the Premier League and its' minions mission to erase the history of football before 1992. Ta-ra!
Tuesday 8 February
Idle Diary writes: I don't about you, dear reader, but today I just can't be arsed. I don't think it's the fact I've been in work early just about every morning for two weeks, or that I haven't got off anywhere near on time on any of those days.
For lunch I slunk off to the "world famous" Harry Ramsden's in Guiseley (the original, they keep bragging). And I realised as I waited for my food to be served up, basking in the glorious sunshine, that I think I am homesick. I haven't lived 'back home' in Grimsby for years now. But if I go a while without a trip back I do get a sense of... longing, maybe? Somehow maybe the fish and chips would fill that hole in me.
I thought I'd come back to find a gush of Town news. But then I find all there is yet another enforced hole for Town's fixture list, with the postponement of the game against Darlington on 25 February.
And it twigged. Maybe it isn't just the going home that I miss, but also that I haven't been to a home game in ages either. If I am lucky I could make the game against AFC Wimbledon. But that's a long way off, and I am starting to envy all the people I know round these parts with season tickets to see teams like Leeds Utd and Bradford City. Going to watch a team that isn't Town doesn't fill that hole. Listening to Tondeur, Burns, and White commentate on Radio Humberside doesn't fill that hole. And neither does filling my time with other ventures, other pastimes.
So I still find myself in this funk, wondering about where to go in so many ways and how long I have to wait, bide my time. And to top it all, the fish and chips weren't a patch on Steels or Ernie Beckett's either.
Monday 7 February
Mardy Diary writes: It seems to me that Sky are missing a trick with the replacement of Gray and Keys. Now would be the perfect time to experiment, try something different just for a little while to see how it goes. What I suggest is that we try TV football without punditry. No pre-match analysis, no half-time gibbering, no full-time ref-baiting. Just the football. You can have a host, someone who says: "And now, Aston Villa versus West Ham," and then at the end says: "And this is how the table currently looks." No comment or opinion on how things are or will be, just a simple introduction and leave the analysis to us. After all, I've been watching football for years, and looking at league tables for about the same amount of time I think I've got it figured out now, to be perfectly honest.
Yes, gone will be matey, in-joke quips; players having a fit about a match they can see but you can't; tired old cliches; and Alan Shearer thrusting his crotch at the camera. No more tiring interviews with players trotting out the same old crap. No blah-de-blah goal-line technolo... yawn! No stating the obvious or telling us that you know nothing about the team England are playing because they're not Brazil, Germany or Spain and you can't be arsed to do the job you're paid for and actually do a little bit of research. No more.
Punditry isn't a recent, post-'93 thing of course it's been around longer. But the quality has tailed off dramatically in recent years. I grew up with Saint and Greavsie on the TV, and in a lot of ways it was like a low-rent ITV sitcom. You laughed when you shouldn't and cringed when you should. But the analysis was largely kept to a minimum in my eyes, and that suited me fine. Anything marginally controversial would just be met with a half-shrug and a simple "It's a funny ol' game Saint". Marvellous. Move on, nothing to see here, back to the football. That's what we're here for isn't it?
Instead what we've been subjected to is well-paid players continuing to receive large sums of money in retirement for telling us things we either knew already (this isn't radio I can SEE what happened) or telling us things we didn't need to know. Commentators are just as bad in this regard from Motson just burbling out stats like some half-baked parody of himself to that awful commentator who seems to occasionally pop up on lower League/Conference games who just won't SHUT UP!
Another annoying trait that punditry has introduced to the game is 'catchphrases' that are picked up by casual TV footy watchers and regurgitated non-stop in any discussion about football. Yes, I'm looking at you Hansen, with your bloody naive this and naive that. If I hear another football supporter describe a player or manager as naive, I will be but mere whiskers from embarking on a killing rampage. Or perhaps, more rationally, I'd be better just fighting fire with fire: "You see Dave, you've shown a bit of naivety in your analysis of the referee's decision there and you've been made to look silly as a result."
And still the phrases come, repeated ad infinitum without any thought the words just spew out effortlessly from mouths again and again. And no-one challenges them. They're just left to fester until it becomes normal and tolerated. "Football is a business" is a particular favourite and yet I don't remember applying for a small business loan last time I went down the park for a kickabout. I did lose a few quid out of my pocket when going in for a sliding tackle though, so maybe I should have.
This brings me on to my pet peeve at the moment and bear with me while I get this off my chest. Yes, it's your favourite and mine from the past couple of seasons: "It's a results-based business at the end of the day." Is it? Is it really? It's a results-based business is it? If that's the case, then why do any of us bother to turn up to games? Why show the games on TV? Why have match analysis and punditry? Why have online text commentary and stats? If it's a results-based business, then why don't I just not bother with anything else and simply look at the result at 4:45 on a Saturday (or a Monday night, or Tuesday night, or fucking Friday afternoon or whenever the fucking games are played these days)? No, if it's a results-based business, you see, then there's no need for any fucking punditry is there, pundits?
So there we have it: let's see some innovation in football. Let's have pundit-free football just for a couple of years. Let's try it and see how it works out. You never know, it may actually increase our enjoyment of TV football.
Friday 4 February
A February Friday with no match to anticipate. So no first team news and your Guest Diarist won't regurgitate the Telegraph (Jimmy Fell has died but he's before even my time, and Rob Peet's heroics at Newcastle have been punished by making him train at Old Trafford for a week).
Instead let's run the stag story. Diary regular Eve Barnard has been in touch again with an old story that slipped her memory:
"I forgot to let you know about a crisis averted by myself and fellow Mariner Katie George at the triumphant 7-2 thriller against Mansfield. We have a little tradition amongst our football gang that touching the stag's nose that hangs on the wall in the entrance to the BP Hotel will bring a win to the mighty Mariners. As we entered the place following the Mansfield game we walked into a Stags fan trying to get out of the door with OUR stag's head! After much scuffling (bearing in mind we were two women against about five men), and fibs about it falling off the wall, we managed to prise their fingers off and end the conflict with a definite "IT'S OURS!"
"Katie then knocked over several pints and injured at least three people as she carried the stag through to the bar so that it could be locked away from the naughty Stags fans. They left soon after. What a fine tale they could have told if they'd managed to get the stag out of the pub and back to Mansfield. They would have done it too if it wasn't for us pesky girls!"
Talking of pubs, the previous landlord where us Cod Almighty types drink used to be naughty and hook his laptop up to the big telly in the corner and watch top division English footy on some foreign channel or other. I don't think that sort of thing is ever going to be legal but taking out a cheap (quarter of the price) subscription to a foreign satellite service apparently is, according to a very important, highly-paid EU person yesterday.
And that raises the whole issue of showing matches on telly at 3pm on a Saturday. Everyone has always said the voluntary embargo on doing that is essential so the likes of Grimsby Town continue to get a few paying spectators on a Saturday afternoon. Because, the conventional wisdom goes, if Man Ure are on the telly then Town fans will crack open a can, wiggle their toes in front of the two-bar fire and watch that instead of trekking to Blundell Park. To me, that's like saying I don't go out on new year's eve because there's a party on the TV. Oh, I actually never go out on new year's eve, but I hope you get my point.
I reckon there are about 3,000 diehard GTFC fans who live close enough to be able to go to the majority of home games. By diehard I mean they keep going to games through thin and thinner. Competition from other football on the telly will not stop them. And then there are a couple of thousand other Town fans who will only turn up if Town keep winning well and they smell triumph in the air. And another 20,000 who will only ever go to Wembley. So, if my idea holds good, if you could buy a TV Town season ticket or a reasonably-priced pay-per-view telly ticket it stands to reason that a fair few fans who live too far from Grimsby, or who can't get to the match live because they are working or who won't or can't afford a match ticket, might stump up to watch Town on the television. Aren't the politicians trying to devise a framework for micro-local TV stations? I've just sorted out the Saturday afternoon schedule for them.
I don't reckon the home crowds would dwindle much, if at all from what Town are getting now. And I'm sure the revenue take-up from the TV would leave the club with more cash. Plus a lot of exiled fans would be very happy indeed not to spend their afternoon deciphering text commentaries, frankly weird possession statistics and battling with ropey audio commentary streams in between double-checking everything on Ceefax. Come on gentle reader, you've nowt else to think about in this match-free zone, so consider my crazy talk and email us your thoughts to email@example.com.
If it's not enough to put you on the spot once, Richard Lord has emailed us asking another question: "I overheard a fan say this at the Kettering match: 'When Town are losing, a player like Cummins is shit but when we're winning he becomes "a tidy player" or "quietly effective".' I've concluded that 'quietly effective' is a very polite way to say he did fuck all in a winning side. Are there any other footballing words, phrases or clichιs that can be attributed to Mariners past or present that are kind on the outside but critical on the inside?"
Right, you've got your homework, our thoughts are with Mr Fell's family and friends, and I hope that young Peet has a right good time training at that Manchester United. See yer.
Thursday 3 February
Thursdays are never great for news, and you can forget Thursday afternoons. If you have something important to do during the week you tend to go for the start of the week. Same with afternoons. If you're doing something significant you get up and you do it in the morning; nobody declares war in the afternoon. So that's the scene suitably set and your expectations suitably lowered. Don't worry: your Part-Time Diary will try and make this as quick and painless as possible; we're going to rip through this Thursday diary like a cyclone through Cairns.
So what news have we today? Well, the ever informative and always entertaining SNOS lets us know that there is no game tomorrow. That's the headline folks. No Game This Weekend. You can even have a look if you don't believe me. So don't you go turning up at Blundell Park tomorrow because there is nothing there for you, you scamps. Surely the SNOS is aware that Blundell Park is not a haven for the occasional fan, the passer-by, the interested observer. Not any more anyway. Maybe when the visitors were from cities you had heard of, but not now. Now it's down to those who have to be there, through that sense of duty, those who will definitely already know that we don't have a game tomorrow because they know that we lost to Chasetown in the trophy thingy and that because Gateshead went through they won't be turning up at Blundell Park tomorrow. But many thanks to the SNOS for the reminder.
The only other 'reporting' on the SNOS today is just a bloody big advert for the old gambling. The odds on Town going up aren't great really; that's from a fan perspective, by the way if Part-Time Diary was a gambler then 8/1 would probably sound pretty good. This diarist still believes. The facts state that four out of five of our next games are at home, Fleetwood being the away one, and we've still got the game in hand on Fleetwood. Beating them away would gain us some good ground on our fifth-placed fishing rivals. But then you knew all this already, just like you knew there wasn't a game tomorrow.
If we make the play-offs then our new marquee signing Bryan Hughes is confident his experience will help. Hughes says Grimsby are still a big club in his eyes and remembers playing us not so long ago when he was at Birmingham. He's just like us, our Bryan, those big club delusions and remembering Grimsby being a second-tier club like it was yesterday. Fingers crossed Hughes can maintain his fitness and be the cultured, higher-level player needed to bring this team together for the final third of the season. Hopefully he'll be more Andy Todd than Penis Peter Sweeney.
So that's it from your Part-Time Diary this week, but check out the match report from the Southport game and send us some emails to help fill up these pages 'til the next game, and beyond of course. See you next Thursday.
Wednesday 2 February
You know it, your original/regular Diary knows it, and Neil Woodses knows it: the Mariners' bid for the play-offs is being undermined by the failure of his team to compete for 90 minutes. Where you and I probably come to differ from the Town manager is over the exact length of time they do compete for. "At the moment we are only giving ourselves 45 minutes to win games," Neil tells the Grimsby Telegraph. Many observers of last night's 2-2 draw at Southport would argue that, far from half the match, GTFC started to play only after the sending-off of Shaun Whalley for the home side with just a quarter of the game remaining. Sandgrounders manager Liam Watson, however, says the outcome was a fair result a remarkably generous verdict given his side's utter dominance for the first hour.
So what did you make of Town's activity during the transfer window? It seems to me that Woodses filled exactly the positions in which his squad seemed lightest. We have our big lump of a forward and Rob Duffy has wasted no time at all in opening his account. We have another option for wide midfield in Serge Makofo. And the lack of dynamism in central midfield has been addressed by the arrival of, um, 34-year-old Bryan Hughes. Ignore that facetious "um", because Hughes was an excellent player in his prime and many an ageing maestro has enjoyed a non-League Indian summer. And the Diary was never worried for a moment that Alan Connell would leave on Monday, because the chairman staked his reputation on it. And you don't gamble with a reputation as big and unblemished as John Fenty (Topcon)'s.
With no further transfer activity, no matches for another 10 days, and nothing in the inbox, then, that's all from the Diary today (although the email address firstname.lastname@example.org should be working again now, so if you have a word to say, say it there). So cheerio for now. Those looking for further reading are directed towards the latest post by Lawrence Gray-Hodson at the admirable Three And In blog, in which the former Scotland and England international takes a look at the dark forces behind Fernando Torres' recent transfer to Chelsea Football Club. For once, make sure you do read the comments.
Tuesday 1 February
"A day of high drama," summed up the BBC website as the transfer window slammed shut last night. As your Idle Diarist logged off and slumped up the stairs wearily to bed for the night, it felt more like something long, drawn out, and a load of hot air. As drama goes, it seemed more like a long, drawn-out affair punctuated by drooling and stomach-churning sycophancy from the likes of Henry Winter.
What a load of guff. Sooner or later there is going to have be some financial leveller, said the financial expert on Radio 4 this morning, arguing that clubs being propped up financially by rich benefactors just can't continue. Sooner or later, he continued, there are also going to be restrictions put in place by the sport's governing bodies, and there will be clashes between all of those parties. "Football is what it is today because of all our money!" will be the investors' battle cry. Money, money, money, root of all evil. If people think this is football, they can fuck off.
By the way. "With Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll signed, this means Liverpool have Lou and Andy up front... 'Yeah I know'." If I hear or read that one more time I swear I will kill someone.
Town fans spending the previous evening in a mood of suspended, erm, suspense in the hope that Neil Woods would perform an 'Appy 'Arry last-second swoop will have been disappointed that there was none. But as their collective breath was exhaled, there was also relief that Alan Connell didn't depart. We're not the only fans who seem surprised and relieved that their goal machine striker hasn't moved on. Dover's Adam Birchall has 31 goals so far this season, for a team that currently lies eighth in the table prime statistical evidence for a mid-season move. But apparently not. Why? Who knows. Surprised Slippery Fingered Steve Evans didn't come in for either player after his "you can never have too many strikers" remark last week.
Talking of which, please stop the bad men and women talking about Crawley's "dream" tie against Manchester United. Please. It's not a "dream". It's a summation of all that evil about the modern game. Since two forces of evil clashing will not result in a temporal vortex into which both entities will be sucked into forever, which is the lesser evil to root for? THE ONE THAT ISN'T RULED OVER BY EYELINER STEVE EVANS OF COURSE. Crawley. Steve Evans. Romantic? If people think this is football, they can fuck off.
Signing Tommy Forecast? Ha ha ha! Poor souls. At least it wasn't us again. A case of lesson learnt there (Town) and lesson not learnt there (Eastbourne).
To warm you up for tonight's game check out our preview. We do these things for you, dear reader, so please do. If you can't make the match hey, it is on the other side of the country, after all and want to stay in touch there will be local BBC radio coverage tonight, available through the BBC website. Listen in, like we will be.
Intriguingly the "expert summariser" for the radio coverage will be Chris Casper it'll be interesting to see if Casper reveals any nuggets of insight into his time as Neil Woods' number two last term. And it'll also be interesting to hear his insight into this season's side. And that Mike White's quite good as well. Better than Burnsy. (You can quote us on that, Mike.)
After tonight's match there are 11 days until the next game. Time after such a hectic month for fans and team to relax a little, and time to prepare for the next spurt of games. But tonight is time for the team to haul their tired, aching bodies out onto the pitch for one more 90 minutes (plus time added on for stoppages) to play within their limited means to just a few thousand fans. Just one last effort, team, one more Herculean effort. Then you can rest, knowing you gave it all, you earned your wages this week, and our team is that little bit closer to the play-offs. Just like Alan Connell says. That, ladies and gents, that is football.