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Diary - January 2012
Tuesday 31 January
So when Grimsby Town fans arrived in the Conference, the image freshest in the minds of their fellow non-League supporters was the disorder some of them had created at Burton Albion a few weeks previously. Many Grimsby Town fans went on to spend the next year and a half sneering about "pub teams" and "tinpot cups". And now a clutch of Grimsby Town fans have gone off snivelling "boohoo, I'm telling teacher" to the Conference because a club brought to the very brink of ruin by spending beyond its means has had the temerity to loan some new bodies in and prop up the squad left threadbare when other clubs came in to cherry-pick their unpaid players.
No, your original/regular Diary has no idea at all why everyone seems to have it in for Grimsby Town. But I'm sure that, in the unlikely event of, say, Deadly John (Topcon)'s word proving unreliable and Town being left in the shit, our fellow fans will show the same empathy and support to us that we've shown them.
Right then, let's do the transfer deadline day thing. First and most importantly, Straight Peter Bore will be performing heterosexual right-back duties for Lincoln City from now on ("popular with the Pontoon," apparently). Secondly, Ryan Bennett maybe dunno 15 per cent Swansea something or other 25 per cent perhaps can't be arsed. And in other news GTFC have acquired the services of former Aldershot and Southend winger Louis Soares. Look, he's got cool hair!
In a move that seems universally applauded by supporters (of Grimsby), Soares has arrived on an 18-month contract from Hayes & Yeading, where he's scored 16 goals in 34 games this season, says the Grimmo Telegraph. From midfield, in a struggling side, that's a great strike rate. The Telewag adds that Soares is "a Bajan international", which I didn't understand so I had a look on Wikipedia and it means he plays for Barbados, so that's pretty cool too. I'd never have learned that if we hadn't signed him. Wherever Serge Makofo ends up by 11pm tonight, they'll become my second club.
I can't quite remember whether the Diary has mentioned GTFC's commendable new scheme to raise money towards youth development. Supporters can pay £25 to have their name engraved in a 'fans' walkway' at the entrance to Blundell Park. Rather than go directly into the club, though, your money goes to something called the Parents' Partnership Action Group (PPAG). What does this do? According to the Telegraph, it "helps young people become future Mariners stars". And, er, that's it.
So Cod Almighty contacted the club on Twitter (given the club's sudden new aptitude for social media, it seemed like the right thing to do) to ask if there's any information to be had about the PPAG and how it works. The club sent us a direct message back to say, basically, no, there isn't. This seems to me a shame, as we'd probably be interested in adding at least one Cod Almighty brick in the wall, if only we knew a bit more about where our money would go. I'm sure the PPAG is perfectly sound, and doesn't have links to parent vigilante groups that burn down the homes of paediatricians, or anything like that. I'm just curious as to why the money goes through it instead of straight to the club. Am I being overly pernickety?
Well, I think that's about it for now. I'm going for a spicy tomato and crouton Cup-a-Soup, and with any luck Liam Hearn is locked in a trunk somewhere. T'ra!
Monday 30 January
Miss Guest Diary writes: Another home game, another victory. You might be tempted to think this is all getting a bit predictable, but there was nothing predictable about the outcome of Saturday's game. During the first half, it looked like Town's unbeaten run was quite likely to come to an end and I, for one, would certainly have settled for a draw. But then the Shouty/Shorty combo worked some magic at half time and Town came out fighting. The second half was very enjoyable, especially Frankie Artus's sexy little turn to score his first goal for Town.
We've had a taste these last few weeks of what it must be like supporting one of the 'big' clubs who go on extended unbeaten runs. If you turn up expecting to see your team win and they score an early couple of goals, there's very little tension or excitement after that. It's even a little boring at times. But when the team is under pressure and manages to turn things round late in the game, as they did on Saturday, it feels fantastic.
Some of you may be aware that Cod Almighty is heading towards its tenth anniversary and here at CA Towers we have been mulling over ideas for marking the occasion. I expect the off-line celebrations will involve copious quantities of beer and curry at a venue yet to be decided. But there will also be some online marking of the occasion, which will probably include looking back at some of the site content from the past 10 years. I have been undertaking some groundwork by going through the Tony Butcher reports and compiling a spreadsheet of match facts. I am now thoroughly bewitched, bothered and bewildered or, in Butcher-speak, fliggled, scrimpled and befoodled.
I came across a report on a 1-0 victory away at Rotherham in the 2002-03 season which really illustrates why I believe a narrow victory will always trump a 6-0 walkover. I thought I'd share some of it with you:
"Corner! Last minute! Up went Ford and Santos, over went the cross, out went the ball, upfield raced the Rotherham players. The crowd roared, 20 players hurtling towards us, then Ford stopped them and passed to Santos, who passed back to a Rotherham player, 30 yards out. Stomachs churned, eyes dropped, hands went to mouths, tears came to the eyes, and Santos redeemed himself with a hassle, hustle and tackle.
"The ball broke to Campbell. The Town bench stood up and waved the players forward. The Town fans were on their feet, a deafening roar forcing the ball back towards Pollitt. Campbell knocked the ball down the left wing and, well, we entered a twilight zone where the laws of physics and logic were inverted. Livvo beat the offside trap and bounded down the touchline like a starving, salivating leopard. He looked up and rolled a cross through the penalty area to the totally and utterly unmarked Oster, perhaps 10 yards out, in the centre. Oster leapt up and steered a right-footed shot high into the net to the keeper's left. The ball seemed to take an age to curl over and past Pollitt, and then the whole Town end disappeared in a sea of writhing, leaping, rolling, hugging happiness. It was pandemonium. Seven hundred people falling about, drunk on joy and relief. Oh the irony Town scoring a last-minute winner.
"The last few seconds of play were not actually seen by anyone, for the mass was still celebrating. The game ended with the Town players racing around, jumping on each other, sprinting to the Town support and joining the party, which became a street party as we all wandered deliriously around the back streets of Rotherham, people hanging out of car windows, manically beeping their horns, singing, dancing, leaping and now believing again."
Getting back to the current Town team, no doubt many will have been relieved by the club's statement to the effect that Liam Hearn will not be leaving despite "substantial interest" from other clubs. Scouts at Saturday's game apparently included representatives of West Brom and horror of horrors Scunthorpe. In other transfer news, Alfreton continue their bid to avoid relegation by snapping up Darran Kempson. Good luck with that.
Friday 27 January
Back when Grimsby Town were rubbish if you think hard enough, I'm sure you'll remember Cod Almighty would be regularly accused by some supporters of seeing things through rose-tinted glasses. Now, of course, the Mariners are certain to win this season's FA Trophy and Conference Premier play-offs, with a further promotion in 2013 and entry to the FIFA Hall of Fame shortly afterwards. And sure enough, there are now Town fans who pull us up for being miserable, doom-mongering, nay-saying and downplaying the team's recent upturn in form.
With a view to staying positive, then, your original/regular Diary is going to interpret Shouty's imminent FA misconduct charge in the most optimistic way possible. The more vocal of Town's two managers is to be hauled before the authorities for, I don't know, whatever he said to the fourth official last week when an offside decision went against his team. Shouty was sent fuming to the stands, and it's true that things might not go well at the disciplinary hearing. The FA are unlikely to accept a plea of mitigation that Shouty's nerves were on edge at the time, with the game being delicately balanced at 4-0.
But when things are going well as, generally speaking, they are things like this have a habit of galvanising rather than hampering a team. Our management duo, by all accounts, are the masters of building team spirit. So for one thing I expect them to turn Shouty's imminent touchline ban to their advantage by creating a bunker mentality/persecution complex among the players, after the fashion of, say, Sir Alex Ferguson. For another, we could see an improvement in Town's tactical responsiveness in forthcoming games, because while the other manager is sitting up in the stands, the players may actually hear what Shorty is saying to them.
The loud one also makes today's Grimsby Telegraph, where he discusses the demands of a long season on a playing squad. Shouty has recently learned from Gary Neville's autobiography that the former England right-back "played 57 games one season because Man United were at the top of the league and doing well in the cups". Pffff. As averse as the current management may be to hearing about GTFC history, someone clearly needs a word with Shouty about the 1997-98. Not just because of Town's double of Football League Trophy and play-off success, but because the great Paul Groves clocked up 68 matches that season without so much as losing his breath.
So before we go, who's playing against Telford tomorrow? Probably the same people who played against Barrow on Tuesday, Bath last Saturday and Hornchurch the weekend before. Lincoln can't afford Rob Duffy, so the Mariners could be looking at not just an unchanged XI but an unchanged XVI. Thinking about it, Town probably can't afford Rob Duffy either, but hey, we'll worry about that in 18 months' time. Let's not be negative now!
Thursday 26 January
I can smell cat food, but we haven't got a cat. Can you solve the riddle of the cans? It is Thursday, I am Deviant Diary, you are reading this with at least one arched eyebrow. Things are more Freda Karlo than Fred Karno these days.
I can't be bothered with Barry the Barrow Boy's me-old-china-cup-chirpy-cockernee-knees-up tickling of Hearn's ivories. And neither can he.
What would a Thursday be without someone's stockings needing mending? Today's holey sock is lying in the wreckage of the Safecracker Stadium. Now my advice to those who cry is beware the pennies on your eye. Dear old Darlo have another white knight goin' messin' up their brains.
Awww, these white knights are gonna drive them insane. It's the hope that kills. They started with six teenagers on Tuesday and had a full house on the bench too that's a youth team, not a professional club. Their mere existence is now starting to skew the league, the impact dependent upon the arbitrary fickle finger of fixture list fate. 'Tis a sad thing, 'tis a bad thing, 'tis a mad thing.
Which is not uncannily like the London Planetarium, but is uncannily like the mood of the average Townite when watching Anthony Elding bounding free towards an opening goal. He did it again on that wet Tuesday night in Barrow: the BSP version of an old sore.
Where would we be without clichιs? With half a diary, matey, which is better than half of nothing. Where are we? Rock bottom. Tragedies? We got 'em with that lazy, lazy journalistic tic the cold night in Grimsby. Here we go again the stock market is supposedly like a 0-0 draw at Blundell Park.
Someone hasn't been clocking the information that's sweeping the nation. Everybody knows we trail none but the brave Barca Boys. Get with the programme grandad. How many amps do you want with that gramophone of yours?
All of which diverts your attention away from the dry drudgery of life, the existential angst of late capitalist wage slavery. Sir, we gave you just one more slice of bread in the circus of Town life. Maybe jam tomorrow, eh?
Wednesday 25 January
For one very brief moment last night, Town were a tantalising two points off the play-offs. But old habits die hard and a failure to defend a lead going into the last few minutes of the game against ten men cost the Mariners two points. And with Kidderminster equalising in their home game against York late on, the long arm of the play-offs continues to hold the palm of its hand on the forehead of the Mariners as they rhythmically swipe in an effort to make an impact.
After Gateshead lost unexpectedly at Kettering, and Southport went down to the limp Imps, the biggest winners of the night were surely Cambridge who now have a game in hand on most of their rivals without having lost much ground. But let's not get too downhearted about the result last night. It was, after all, a draw; two points dropped, perhaps, but a point gained in the grand scheme of things. It's a feeling that is shared by Shorty, who told Radio Humberside in his post-match interview that he is philosophical about things happy with a point, unhappy with letting the lead slip. The winning run comes to an end, but not in the flimsy, lethargic fashion I imagined it might.
As your West Yorkshire Diary (and most other Town fans) observed ahead of the game last night, Barrow are pretty useful on their home turf. Earlier in the season they thrashed Fleetwood 4-0 at Holker Street and soon after recorded a 3-1 win over Wrexham too. They're no mugs. They're having a good season and probably didn't deserve to be spanked 5-2 at Blundell Park earlier in the season when at 2-2 they hit the woodwork twice. Back then, before we embarked on this brilliant run, Barrow joint boss Dave Bayliss dared to describe us as "not a very good side". He was probably right, but the improvement since then has been stark.
So it's one defeat in 19, a dozen games unbeaten in the league, and crowds on the rise. This period of football is quickly becoming one we're destined to refer back to in the future. Town don't do unbeaten runs; I can count on one hand the number of times we've gone longer than five games unbeaten in the 16 years I've been watching them.
Our opponents this Saturday, AFC Telford United, also drew 2-2 last night only they indulged in the practice of throwing away a 2-0 lead, which is so last year. I had a quick godge at their match report and they have a few interesting names in their ranks. Ben 'Future' Futcher currently plies his trade as a Shropshire Buck, and it's also the place where Dwayne Samuels has continued his profession as an 89th-minute substitute. Kyle Perry didn't hang around long after his release from Lincoln and has found his way into the Telford team, so he can have another go at scoring against us this Saturday after already failing twice over the festive season. Not that I want to tempt fate or anything.
GTFC's surge into the world of social media continues to gather pace and I've particularly enjoyed seeing photos of our cult heroes like Dave Gilbert, Peter Handyside and, more recently, Georges Santos. There's a great photo on the official Facebook page of Santos powering a header past Kevin Pressman in front of a packed Blundell Park when we beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 back in 2002. I remember the goal well it was quite possibly the highest any Town player has ever jumped to head a ball. This digital voyage has been very productive not just for the club, but for the fans and the community as a whole. It's even re-posted Too Good To Go Down's excellent blogpost about our goalscoring prowess at home, which has caused countless others to write their own versions (despite varying inaccuracies and a failure to credit the original author), helping to promote the club's online reputation beyond the simple world of nesbit-infested messageboards. Well done!
Tuesday 24 January
These are heady times around Blundell Park way, and not just on the pitch. The Mariners, of course, have enjoyed a spectacular recent rise from 15th to ninth place in the Football Conference. Hey, after the decade we've had, that counts as spectacular. But at the same time, the football club has been at the hub of a little social media revolution. This season most of the players are Twittered up and some are using this medium to engage with fans. The club itself, not previously noted for its excellence in communications, has very recently taken to the digital thing with some gusto. And after Anthony Elding's fist-pumpy showing against Lincoln on New Year's Day, Town supporters had your original/regular Diary giggling like Kriss Akabusi on nitrous oxide as #eldingfacts trended across the North-East Lincolnshire bit of cyberspace.
After Town's latest big win, the excellent Too Good to Go Down blog calculated that our club had scored more goals at home in league games this season than any other professional side in Europe except Barcelona. This quickly became the latest mini-viral Twitter phenomenon, giving TGTGD a richly deserved upsurge in traffic. Today the Grimsby Telewag has run the same piece albeit without crediting TGTGD. Suddenly the Mariners' improved fortunes are creating a genuine rush of interest across the local area. It all goes to show that the people of Grimsby will support a winning team. Mind you, so will anyone else, so what's so great about that? The football club will only sustain any success when we learn to support a losing team as well.
All are present and correct for tonight's long haul to Barrow, so in the absence of transfer activity it's looking like the same starting XI for a third consecutive game. Though the Cumbrian side sit 11th in the league, three points behind Town, their home form is second only to that of league leaders Wrexham. Barrow have conceded just 11 goals in 14 home games, so the Mariners' shot-shyness on their travels will clearly need to be overcome if this winning run is to continue.
There again, there's so much talk of this long midweek journey but so little attention paid to the route. Google Maps estimates the time at a punishing three and a half hours, but offers two journey options, diverging where the M62 westbound joins the M606 at Cleckheaton. Motorway lovers will be inclined to stay on the M62 to the outskirts of Manchester, then take the M6 past Preston up the Lancashire coast. In the Diary's view this would be a grave error. The alternative A65 route skirting the south-west of the Yorkshire Dales will be far preferable, offering the players views of some of Britain's most beautiful countryside just the job to clear their heads and achieve a Zen-like state of calm ahead of the big game. Although maybe it's one of the managers who needs a Zen-like state of calm more than the players.
Safe journey, if you're travelling. T'ra!
Monday 23 January
Miss Guest Diary writes: I suggested a few weeks ago that we might need a new name for Shouty if he kept up his calm, reasoned post-match interviews. But I spoke too soon. Having taken umbrage with a refereeing decision at Saturday's game against Bath, he let the fourth official have a piece of his mind and was sent to the stands, quite justifiably according to a friend sitting within earshot. Apparently, Shorty then had no trouble in assuming the Shouty role, so any subsequent pitchside ban will be unlikely to affect Town's future performances.
Another six goals and another Hearn hat-trick then where will it all end? According to many pessimists, in the sale of Hearn to a bigger club and the end of Town's hopes for the play-offs and the FA Trophy. Hearn may well leave and good luck to him in furthering his career if he does but I don't share the view that this will necessarily blight Town's season.
Looking back at Town's results so far, in the first 18 games Town kept only three clean sheets and their record was: won 6, drawn 2, lost 10. In the last 18 games Town have kept 10 clean sheets and their record has been: won 12, drawn 5, lost 1. This remarkable upturn in form has
coincided not with the start of Hearn's prolific goalscoring run but with the arrival in defence of
I was introduced to football in the Buckley era and belong to the 'build from the back' school of footballing theory. Yes, it's fun to see Town score a hatful of goals, fun to see a player get a hat-trick but, if you keep a clean sheet, then you only need to score one goal to win the game and you can never lose it. And if Hearn does go, we have plenty of players who can score, and already have scored, one goal in a game.
People have started to compare this season to '97-98, when we had two visits to Wembley. Looking back at the results from that year, Town kept a clean sheet in 35 of the 68 games they played and the top scorer was not even a striker, but a winger. I rest my case.
Jumping down off my high horse, I bring you news that the Tamworth game originally scheduled for 4 February has been rearranged to Tuesday 28 February. Hmm, a bit too far to go for a midweek game, I think. February's starting to look a bit empty for me in footballing terms, with most of the games taking place well over 100 miles away. It could be time for some culture; I'm sure there'll be a new exhibition on at the Quilt Museum by now.
Friday 20 January
The good news this Friday afternoon is that Town are at full strength for tomorrow's match. For most of the past decade, of course, 'full strength' meant 'not actually that strong at all, despite no-one being injured'. Today, however, the Mariners boast an outrageously good run of results stringing back two or three months now. Today 'full strength' means 'no-one is injured, and there isn't a Town fan alive who isn't looking at the league table and rubbing their eyes vigorously in total disbelief'.
The rather less good news, as your original/regular Diary sees it, is that tomorrow's visitors to Blundell Park are Bath City. The Romans, of course, have continued to torment the Mariners in three league meetings since their infamous FA Cup win at BP way back in 2009, when the sides were two divisions apart. And while they might be bottom of the league, they're not on a bad streak of form themselves. Bath boss Adie Britton is pointing out to anyone who'll listen that his side has made a considerably better job of cutting the deficit than George Osborne, having moved rapidly from 13 to four points away from safety. I think I saw somewhere that they've only lost three of their last 14 games as well.
Looks like that full squad could be needed, then. Ian Miller will probably rejoin Scott Garner in central defence tomorrow. We'd expect Andi Thanoj to continue in midfield alongside the returning Craig Disley. So at left midfield, that just leaves one of Frankie Artus, that McCarthy lad from Bury, Kiernan Hughes-Mason and Serge Makofo, in order of how likely we think they are to get picked.
Poor Serge. I fully expect a heart-rending televised appeal to find him a new owner soon. "For just £300 a week, you could give this cruelly neglected puppy-dog winger a home. Look at him, scampering away from that full-back... Serge just loves life! Oh, he's fallen over."
Lastly today, one cruelly neglected former Mariner who has found a new home is Conor Marshall. I was really quite impressed by young Marshall sorry, for some reason I've decided to start talking like your grandad when I saw him in some of Town's pre-season friendlies. But with Bradley Wood and Gary Silk on the books his route to the first team always looked a tricky one. He's been adopted by Boston United though, bless them. Good luck Conor. Oh, and Straight Peter Bore has signed a new deal with struggling Harrogate Town, also of the Conference North. We're as surprised as him that nobody else came in.
Thursday 19 January
If it's Thursday it must be your weekly round-up of other people's woe. This is Deviant Diary, and I shall not deviate from the path of righteousness and self-interested obsession with impending insolvencies. It's sad for them, serious for us in the short term.
With dead cat Darlo bouncing for another fortnight our eyes sink southwards to the six-point Poppypeople. It's nuts in Northants as they wait to see how many players turn up for training today. Or if any do. Cooper's had enough. There's a winding-up petition to be heard on 6 February. And they are at a Conference hearing today as they haven't paid Southend Manor £3,000 from the gate receipts for an FA Cup game in October. Nothing can go wrong now.
These stories, unlike Roberto Duffy, will run and run.
And linking seamlessly into the next news we look west to Waltham and the subject of a long running local love/hate saga : Sir Alan of Buckley. Famously chipper, or to some infamously chippy, the legendary leader is to be the focus of a love-in at Ma-na-ma-na-McMenemy's on Friday 13 April, organised by the Mariners Trust. Fred Pontin says book early for an evening of pie, passing and movement, especially if the chips are under-cooked. At least it isn't a Greek themed night: it's smashing anecdotes, not smashing plates. No word yet on whether the Shouty one will attend and sneerily snide about pretty passing getting you nowhere.
I'll leave the Friday Diary to ponder whether Town will be a shower against Bath. Ooh look, a lady referee. No word yet on whether smelling salts will be available from the club shop for the more sensitive rednecks.
And finally Cyril, we have the continuing creeping ascent of the middle classes as Britain drifts towards Cameroonia. The BBC were blathering on, desperately filling air time, with tosh about people taking elocution lessons to eradicate their regional accents. What a load of crarp.
Apart from the 'Ull twang, of course. Positively dreadful my dear boy, absolutely ghastly.
Wednesday 18 January
So then, Town have players that other clubs want. More specifically, Town have Liam Hearn that Peterborough want. Posh director of football (whatever that means) Barry Fry has publically declared his love for Liam but doesn't know whether his manager some guy called Ferguson who might be related to that bloke at Manu will make a bid for him this month or not.
Fry is what some people call 'a character'. It's a nice way of saying he's absolutely crackers. Your West Yorkshire Diary remembers a time when my grandad turned up at someone's fancy dress party wearing a Nazi uniform with no apparent shame. Rather than ask the awkward question of whether he had well and truly lost it, guests simply accepted this anarchic fashion demonstration and put it down to my grandad being 'a character'.
The problem with 'character', you see, is that it negates credibility. So when Fry has something to say, in his right royal cockney barrel of monkeys accent, it's routinely dismissed as a load of hot air. It's hard to take him, or that mad Irish bloke who owns the club or the manager seriously. You'd think they'd be empathetic to our cause, in that we wouldn't want to sell one of our best players during this hideous transfer window, since they're not all that keen on selling lone of theirs. But empathy is missing from the Dictionary of Fry; it jumps from emotion to emperor.
With all this gossip over Liam Hearn's future, we're doing a disservice to other top performers in the Town team of late, one of whom is plucky Conor Townsend. It's easy to forget that before he joined the Mariners on loan in late October the 18-year-old had never played a senior game before. Three months and 17 games later he's only sampled defeat once. He's been there from the very start of this remarkable run, when he made his debut in the 2-2 draw at Bath. Now the Hully-Gully has even got his first senior goal scored with his 'wrong' right foot (as opposed to his 'right' right foot). Aside from the first-half wobble at Lincoln, Townsend has been most impressive during his time with the Mariners and the deal that secured him on loan until the end of the season could turn out to be one of the best bits of business Shorty and Shouty have carried out.
Do you remember the episode of Father Ted in which Father Jack becomes fond of a brick? The brick ends up saving Dougal's life when Ted puts it on the milk float's accelerator pedal and the vehicle, which was carrying a bomb, crashes into the phone booth where Pat Mustard the bloke who put the bomb on the milk float because Ted and Dougal lost him his job as the local milkman when they discovered he was the hairy baby maker of Craggy Island was calling from. And breathe.
Anyway, now that tenuous link is over with, I can tell you that you can put your name on one of the bricks outside the main entrance to Blundell Park. It's the latest brainwave from the club, but it's in the early stages and they don't yet know how much they should charge, so they're leaving it to the fans to decide. At the moment of going to, er... print, the number of voters stands at 61 and just over half of respondents have suggested £20. If you think it should be more, or less, then let the club know on its superb new official Facebook (SNOF) page!
Tuesday 17 January
You'd never have believed me if I'd told you just three months ago that, in the first fortnight of 2012, there'd be a lot of buzz and positivity about Grimsby Town FC. You'd have scoffed if I'd told you the team would suffer just one defeat in 17 games. You'd have shaken your head if I'd said the Mariners were second favourites for the FA Trophy. You'd have snorted if I'd mentioned GTFC's vastly improved use of social media. And you'd have screamed with laughter if I'd referred to Sunday tabloid rumours that Chelsea were to bid for one of our players. Actually, that last one probably still holds true.
But here we are, on the mid to late January day when your original/regular Diary traditionally fills in my tax return, and all looks rosy-ish. Apart from Town's game at Southport on Saturday 18 February being brought forward to the Friday night on account of the Conference's disastrous deal with Premier Sports TV. But you can't have everything, as my mum used to say every time I asked her for a Raleigh Grifter with a built-in CB radio.
Another game to have fallen victim of circumstances is a reserve/friendly-type fixture which was supposed to go ahead this afternoon against Town's Lincolnshire neighbours Plucky Scunny. If you're wondering why the Diary hadn't mentioned this game already, which you're not, that's because it was only announced yesterday afternoon, after Miss Guest Diary had filed her copy. The Irons have declared their pitch as frozen as a Conservative heart, though, so the game's off, denying new acquisition Kiernan Hughes-Mason and recent absentees Bradley Wood and Charlie I'Anson some valuable minutes.
One of the several things Miss Guest Diary did mention yesterday is the last time Town went on a winning run as long as their current one. Sam Metcalf has emailed the Diary to say: "I managed to get to all those seven winning games in the spring of 1990. The run was started off by a great goal from Keith Alexander against Doncaster, which none of us could quite believe he scored Keith included; and ended with a really tense game against Lincoln. Dave Gilbert scored with one of the hardest struck pennos I've seen straight down the middle. I think there was nearly 7,000 inside BP that day, and it was an amazing atmosphere. We took a lad from our school who was a Lincoln fan to stand in a packed Pontoon, and he was terrified throughout that we were going to out him. About ten of us got the train to Halifax the next Saturday to see the run come to end. Still, ace, ace days..."
Thanks for sharing, Sam. Wonder if Town fans in the early 2030s will be talking about the club's current little upsurge similarly, as the start of something special. Now, is it three more FA Trophy games before Wembley, or four...?
Monday 16 January
Miss Guest Diary writes: So Town have now won six games in a row, scoring 19 and conceding seven goals along the way. I know that most of the teams were lower in the league than us, and in the case of AFC Hornchurch from a different planet, but I still can't help feeling a little bit excited.
I didn't remember Town going on a long winning run before, so I looked at the Cod Almighty results database to see when it had last happened. It turned out to be in March 1990 when Town won all seven games that month. This is truly outside my experience, as my first Town game was away at Southend in April 1990. I asked Tony Butcher, the Cod Almighty match reporter, what it was like, how exciting it was, but he was living down south at the time and only got to one of the games. He was also brought up in the school of pessimism and simply said: "I knew we were good enough to go up." If you read his match reports, you will have gathered that this season he doesn't believe Town are good enough to get promoted.
Your regular diarist has also cautioned against getting carried away, but sometimes in life it doesn't hurt. Confidence in sport is crucial and can carry people further than their skills and talent might otherwise warrant. It can provide momentum what in US politics is called 'the big mo'. After all, why refer to the crowd as the 12th man if not to suggest that their backing can boost the team's performance? GTFC are, once more, offering ticket deals for next Saturday's game against Bath, so get down to Blundell Park and get behind the team. They may yet make it to the play-offs.
One area where I do think it's a little silly to get carried away is in the talk of Liam Hearn being wanted by Premiership, or even Championship, clubs. He's 26 years old, for goodness' sake, not a teenage prodigy. As one wag joked on Twitter: "in other news Tom Newey is linked to Inter Milan".
The saga of whether Anthony Elding did or did not make lewd gestures at the Lincoln fans on New Year's Day continues. Now he's claiming that the Lincoln fans were mean to him and called him names. More than a few Town fans called him some choice things too, before his recent run of goals and, of course, before he turned into a Twitter icon. Though this status has now apparently been usurped by #MichaelOwenFacts.
Oh no! The fates really are having a laugh at our expense. Town have been drawn away in the next round of the FA Trophy to... Bath City. Well, that makes it doubly important to keep the winning run going and give Town the big mo. Up the Mariners!
Friday 13 January
Just a quick 'un from your original/regular Diary today, before I nip out on urgent lunchtime business. Some friends of ours had a baby last night, and down the years I've tended to find that those heads just don't wet themselves.
Town don't have a league game tomorrow, which is probably for the best in many ways. Many folk on messageboards are fond of describing any mediocre goalless draw against Mansfield as the worst game they've seen. And the Mariners' current good run of form has taken them to the other extreme. For some supporters, the issue is whether it will be this season or next when GTFC are promoted. For others, the issue is whether, once that 100 per cent inevitable promotion is achieved, we'll go straight up again to the third division.
No, I wish I was making it up. So when Hornchurch visit Blundell Park in the FA Trophy tomorrow, it'll be a good chance for some folk to calm down and rest a little. This extends to Craig Disley, who's been playing through an ankle injury for ages. If Frankie Artus moves into central midfield tomorrow to replace him, then perhaps it's time to give Serge Makofo a little run-out along the left flank. I know it's been nice seeing Town actually being any good for the last few weeks, but I miss Serge and his occasionally thrilling, often side-splitting, but always honest wing play. And he ought to run amok against an Isthmian League defence. It'll probably be that McCarthy though, won't it? Ian Miller, like that double-barrelled London kid, is cup-tied, so Shaun Pearson will probably come back into defence.
Two more comic gems for you in the run-up to tomorrow's match. In a delightful preview on the FA's website, Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane says: "I'm sure Grimsby will be lovely." It's a shame he's just talking about the Blundell Park grass. And who says he just wants to "go about our business quietly"? Why, Rob 'Shouty' Scott, of course.
That'll have to be all for now. If you're going tomorrow, have a good time, and give Basil and Cliff an extra clap for those who are absent. See yer.
Thursday 12 January
A Cod Almighty diary is nothing if not a chronicle of footballing failure. Why deviate from that successful formula when it has brought forth two number one albums and a smash hit Broadway musical starring the mustachioed maestro of mirth, Tony Rees. The spinning hologram of Peter Furneaux was cut from the final version, by the way. Opinions are not divided on that.
Thursday's Deviant Diary is about footballing failure, and it isn't us! What is there to say about Town when everything is tickety-boo, rather than boo-hoo?
Great news from the badlands of Northants! Mark Cooper is taking a training session. Hurrah, those six points still exist, as do Kettering, just. Don't get too comfortable, as the Ketterpeople are unravelling at a slightly slower pace than poor old Darlington. Darlo, Darlo, Darlo: soon to be gone. There are only so many buckets that can be passed, and rivers to cross, and flippin' Sam Russell has finally flipped, doing a Miller and deserting the Darloship as the waves crash down. Beware five days before the ides of March, for his next wondershow will be on that day. He is the fruits of Forest Green's labour. Shame we didn't nick him.
Cliff Portwood, a Town striker from the early 1960s, has died, and what a colourful life he led; no boring old publican or estate agent he. Our local ragamuffin newspaper recalls that in his Mariners days he could regularly be seen selling crockery on Freeman Street market. What a nice little recurring earner that would have provided for any entrepreneurial spirits in the Buckley-era dressing rooms. What you'd lose on the win bonus, you'd gain on the fortnightly order from Blundell Park. Our Cliff later won a radio talent contest and became a professional singer. He was big in Aussieland and performed in Las Vegas and Florida. Anthony Elding, we can see your future as a crooner on a schooner: the Bing of Blundell, the Perry of the Pontoon. Get yer lounge suit out for the lads.
And finally Dizzy Mr Disley is taking his kids to Skegness on Saturday, eschewing a meeting with the Mighty Urchins of Hornchurch. Urchins are less mighty in Skeggy: that's an Urchin Fact!
Wednesday 11 January
Little did your West Yorkshire Diary know, when I sat down at my mate's house in Bradford to watch Town lose rather pathetically at home to Luton back in October, that we would embark on this tremendous run of one defeat in 16 and, more recently, five league wins on the trot. Because, quite frankly, on that night back in October, we looked like we could lose to anyone.
We had just lost our tenth of 18 league games. We were 15th in the table and seemingly staring into non-League nothingness. It's easy to forget that this impressive run of form actually began with very little form at all. Remember the two-goal lead we threw away at Bath? Remember the two goals we had to claw back against Newport because we spent 75 minutes being completely shit? In and among all that, there were two good performances against Port Vale. And, in my mind at least, it was that home victory in the replay that gave our current crop of players the self-belief they needed to play to a level the managers and fans suspected they were capable of.
Last night's victory was a hugely impressive one. Town went to a team higher in the league, who had only lost once at home all season, came away with three points and received plenty of plaudits. Town fans got excited after the local BBC station declared the Mariners as "the best team to have visited the Abbey this year". Can we beat the teams above us? Well, all you need to know is that bears are fans of Catholicism and Bradley Woods is the Pope's preferred pooping spot. Or something like that.
Well done also to the 425 Town fans who made the trip down to Cambridge on a typically cold January night. That's a tremendous turnout and the club can be proud of its growing throng of support on the road. As we all know, times are hard and it's not easy to justify to your loved ones that you're spending a big wad of cash on a team decorated with failure.
Since that infamous conversation between Shouty and the equally shouty Pontoonite earlier this season when we had played quite well but lost to the now-nearly-defunct Darlington we've been repeatedly informed by
chairman club director Deadly John (Topcon) that there is indeed "no fackin' money". The voiced postalveolar affricate-friendly Cambridge manager Jez George acknowledged that, despite our supposed skintness, we still 'shop on a different level', and that our paid-for striking duo in Hearn and Elding made the difference last night. That's an interesting observation. There's no money except when we want to buy players or hand out nice 18-month contracts, then.
Now, I'm not one to piss on anyone's bonfire but I'd like last night to be more than just an isolated victory. Town's next tricky away test is at Barrow, and although we're now above them in the standings I would class a victory at Holker Street where they've been equally hard to beat as more evidence that this good form is sustainable beyond the setback when it arrives.
The last time the Mariners won five on the trot was back in March 1990, when Beats International were number one with 'Dub Be Good To Me' (which was more recently 'done' by that Professor Green bloke who, incidentally, isn't a professor). I had just turned seven and got a massive birthday cake in the shape of a football pitch from that bakery down Oxford Street in Cleethorpes. Back then we beat Doncaster, Hereford, Exeter, Rochdale and Scarborough and also went on to defeat Gillingham and Lincoln too, so we don't have to leaf our way any further into the annals of Town if we do finally get one over on our nemesis Bath at Blundell Park a week on Saturday.
Tuesday 10 January
Town's not-so-distant days as a second-flight football club were notable for several features, your original/regular Diary recalls. The pundits tipped us to finish bottom at the start of every season. Malcontents among the Mariners' support would call regularly for the sacking of Alan Buckley, in the belief that lower mid-table Championship football was not good enough for Grimsby. And every year, when we played away at Wolves, the sleeping midlands giants would rack up their lowest league attendance in the several decades since their tannoy music was in the top 10. These days it's all different. People still call for the managers to be sacked every three minutes and 39 seconds, of course. But the 1924 who watched Saturday's win at Alfreton comprised the home side's biggest league attendance in almost half a century.
This figure included 1026 Town supporters, of course. So let's remind ourselves that we're the Best Fans In The League, shortly before we go on to force another mistimed managerial sacking, destroy another young player's career with constant abuse, and spend another early May afternoon terrorising the families of an unassuming town in Staffordshire. We're also up in arms about the stewarding at Alfreton, and
chairman club director Deadly John (Topcon) is on the case. Did Nicky Law let too many Town fans into the stand, or did the Town fans try and stand in the emergency access areas? You decide!
Looking forward to tonight's visit to Cambridge, that Grimsby Telegraph is expecting an unchanged line-up, and the Shouty manager looks forward to testing that unbeaten run against a side that's actually any good. Us manager Jez George, for his part, has identified the pace and power of Liam Hearn as a threat but looks likely nonetheless to field a player in central defence whose first name is Blaine.
The reformed Mariners Trust is up to all sorts, small stuff and big stuff. There's a fundraising prediction competition for members of the Fishy messageboard. There are talks about improved bar and catering facilities at Blundell Park. And trust leaders are writing to
chairman club director Deadly John (Topcon) asking if there's anything they can do to help resolve the frankly ridiculous ongoing situation whereby GTFC don't have a chairman nor any apparent plan to install one.
Sadly for the Mariners Trust, there'll still be fans looking at all this activity and saying: yeah, but what are they actually gonna do? It seems an unfortunate truth that, if the trust were to publish a 480-page manifesto clearly presenting its policies in their entirety, complete with a timescale, available in print, downloadable PDF, podcast, audiobook and Braille, there would remain a dozen people on a messageboard somewhere saying: yeah, but what are they actually gonna do? On the other hand, Town seem to have improved no end on the pitch since the club did away with the idea of having a chairman, so maybe the trust should hold off on that one for a bit.
Over to the Diary's inbox now. Thanks, first of all, for your tributes to the late Graham Rathbone, which we'll publish on a separate page shortly. Phil Watson, meanwhile, has commented on the new poem: I'll have some of what Al Wilkinson is drinking..."
Sibbo writes: "Like Miss Diary, I too travelled to Alfreton on Saturday and came away a bit deflated. Seeing your team score five away from home should be cause for celebration but somehow it didn`t feel like that. Even for a six footer, viewing was spoilt by the goal being obscured with bodies but then this is non-League so comes with the territory I suppose. I didn't feel the goose bumps that I did on Boxing Day and don`t know why. On the plus side we did find a good pub with good food (Jug and Bottle style), washed down with a pint of Adnams Jolly. Only 3.4% so a bit watery for The Original Diary I expect." Sounds good, Sibbo, but yes, I'll probably go for some of what Al Wilkinson is drinking too.
Lastly today, Anthony Elding's agent appears to have succeeded in a well-timed creative intervention to earn his client a new contract. Elding, of course, has gone from being a serial misser of sitters and target of fan abuse to internet phenomenon just by virtue of waving his arms and gurning at the Pontoon. No sooner had the initially enjoyable but now barrel-scraping #eldingfacts trended on Twitter across northern Lincolnshire than an unfounded story 'mysteriously' appeared on Sky linking the player with a move to Swindon. Swindon, of course, know nothing about it at all, but Town have fallen for it hook, line and driftnet and drawn up a new contract pronto. If only Elding's Mr 10% could have done the same for Charlie I'Anson, or perhaps even Rob Peet.
Monday 9 January
Miss Guest Diary writes: I'm finding supporting Town an unsettling experience at the moment. To travel home from a 5-2 away victory, watched in the company of over 1,000 fellow fans, feeling vaguely disappointed makes no sense. But that is exactly how I felt on Saturday. Don't get me wrong I am really happy that Town won and are three points nearer the play offs, but... but...
The build-up to the game was perfect: a tasty lunch of liver and bacon casserole on the way, a car parking space on a side street just by the ground. Approaching the away end through a small coppice of tress and joining the queue of hundreds of Town fans singing, chanting and exchanging cheery banter was also great. Things started to go awry when it proved impossible to find a spot on the very crowded terrace of very shallow steps where we could see more than the upper half of the goal nearest to us (Town's two second half goals remained a mystery to me until I saw them on Mariners Player).
And then we scored an early goal, which seemed to deflate the Town fans. I have noticed that, of late, we seem to give our best support when the team are struggling. Maybe this is a hangover from the dark days of 2008-09, when we avoided relegation by the skin of our teeth and the support was all about backs to the wall and keeping the Mariners afloat. Whatever the reason, apart from a few wavering rounds of 'Mariners, Mariners' and a couple of failed attempts to get the 'black and white army' chant going, the crowd seemed relatively silent for most of the game.
Did this near silence affect the players? Asked to comment after the game, John Cockerill described the Town performance as "professional" which, as when a film is described as being "beautifully shot", I take to mean competent rather than inspirational. Shorty, in his post-match interview with Radio Humberside, described the support as "fantastic". In number terms it certainly was. But I can't help feeling that, if we had kept up the singing and chanting the way we did at Lincoln on Boxing Day, Town could have scored double figures. Then I certainly wouldn't have come away feeling let down.
But enough of my whinging: here is a good cause to support. Town fan Les Brechin plans to visit all 92 League grounds and 24 Conference Premier grounds in a week to raise money for a charity which helps brain tumour sufferers. If you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck Les.
And now some sad news, that former Town centre-half Graham 'Basil' Rathbone has died at the age of 69. He played 255 games between 1966 and 1973 and, judging from some of the messageboard reminiscences, he had a robust style of play. Apparently, he was once banned for eight games for fighting with a Scunthorpe player. If you have any memories of Graham which you would like to share, send them to email@example.com.
Friday 6 January
Your original/regular Diary is hurriedly penning this during a lunch break from a day of project management training. Expect references to Shorty and Shouty's excellent contingency planning in getting shot of Darran Kempson after his injury, and critical path analysis of Andy Parkinson's route to goal.
In the 24 hours or so since yesterday's diary appeared, the revolving door at GTFC has revolved once again. On his way in, Kiernan Hughes-Mason, described as a striker by Town's superb new officlal website and a winger by the Grimsby Telegraph. Wherever he plays, he impressed on trial for the Mariners last summer, only for Serge Makofo to surprise everyone with a stunning pre-season and get himself withdrawn from the transfer list. The 20-year-old striker/winger went on to join Kettering for the current season, so I'm not quite sure on what basis we've signed him. But hey.
On his way out, Damian/Damien Spencer, a player so far removed from first-team action that Town's superb new official website gave up two or three months ago on telling us whether he was still injured or just not being picked. One is no longer surprised when players' contracts are paid up by the club that says it no longer pays up players' contracts. But it does seem a shock to see the timescale shortening. Spencer was, of course, one of Shorty and Shouty's own signings, having only joined the club last summer. At this rate Kiernan Hughes-Mason can expect to receive his marching orders at some point during the first week of March.
KH-M, as I will call him until someone thinks of a good nickname, is in line to debut in tomorrow's visit to Alfreton. Even better than that: Cap'n Craig Disley is likely to be fit. Or likely to be playing, at least. Doubts had lingered over Town's influential midfielder since he limped out of the New Year's Day victory over Lincoln, but the shorter of the two managers is in today's Telegraph saying, well, yeah, he is sort of injured really, but not that much, so what the hell. Gary Silk looks set to fill in at right-back for the suspended 'all-action' Bradley Wood, while Frankie Artus, Andi Thanoj and Anthony the Banker are all options to replace the gone but not forgotten Manny Panther alongside Disley in the middle.
That's all for today, then, other than to spare a thought for Darlington fans contemplating the extinction of their club. Wish me luck as I project-manage my way hopelessly through a role-play this afternoon, balancing the competing demands of an imaginary but avaricious conference manager and a similarly imaginary and entirely impractical head of theatre studies. I'm off to buy a Twix. Up the bleedin' Mariners.
Thursday 5 January
Thursday: the dog day afternoon of diaries. Thursday: the footballing equivalent of the fens: flat, featureless, funless and fruitless. Thursday: now the domain of Deviant Diary.
It's confected controversy Thursday all around the world and some impassioned Imps want an impeachment. The word on the mean street of Lindum is that locally sourced policemen are going to probe into the trending enigma that is Anthony Elding. I would suggest you insert your own joke, but that in itself is an inserted joke, or a joke about insertions. It's an enigma wrapped inside a hum-drum double bass entendre of a dull diary day driven by drivel. Words are flowing out like the endless rain we had last night. Like Anthony Elding, they slither while they pass.
Like Darlington as they slip away across the Blue Square universe into oblivion. To go into administration once is a misfortune, twice is carelessness, thrice suggests they are peculiarly susceptible to draughts. It must be all those empty seats. The players are relying upon the charity of fans now after a whip-round to buy them a pre-match pub lunch on the way to Barrow. We can look calmly upon their travails as Town won't lose any points if they depart from our lives, unlike if those clots at Kettering clatter down the drain.
Ah, rest easy my people, do not worry about losing those six precious things. Kettering still have some oxygen in the rusty tank with serial Town non-appointee Mark Cooper returning again after his adventures in dilly Darloland.
You can have the team news tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day, another diarist in another hall who may still be vexed by the demise of Manny the Panther. No longer will player interviews contain words of more than two syllabubs.
That was Thursday, you couldn't make it up, but I could. Or did I? We can't all be Anthony Elding, all of the time.
Wednesday 4 January
Those not fully initiated in the world of football may be forgiven for thinking that when a club goes into administration it usually emerges stronger. After all, over 90 per cent of the time (I'm guessing), clubs do emerge from it. Some fall back in it. But, it seems, when you're in trouble and want a clean slate, call in the administrators. They'll sort out everything for you.
The only sticking point, of course, is that ten-point deduction. If you're doing alright on the field, it might not relegate you. Perhaps this is where the Mariners weren't so wise. If someone had a crystal ball in 2003 and could tell us that in seven years' time we'd be in the Conference, going into administration during a season in which we were destined to get relegated anyway would've been quite prudent.
But let's not be silly. No-one had a crystal ball. Taking a ten-point deduction was never an option certainly not from the fans' perspective. It was all about staying in whatever division we were in at the time. And, more crucially, your West Yorkshire Diary had this unerring belief that Grimsby Town would be one of those few clubs that would fail to emerge from administration simply because it's Grimsby Town.
With Darlington entering administration yesterday for the third time in nine years, it's got everyone talking about creditors, the club, that massive stadium and whether they'll see the season out. After all, the Football Conference has shown in the past that it is unforgiving of financially stricken clubs (see Chester City and Rushden & Diamonds). Those Town fans imbued with all the qualities of a seagull feeding off a whale carcass have been pondering what the league table will look like without the Quakers and whether their expunged results will fuel our push for the play-offs.
If Town were to win at the Shock! Bang! Impact Arena this Saturday and make it four straight league victories, then who knows? After waiting four years for three straight league victories, it's no wonder we're riding the crest of a wave and thinking anything is possible. But there's nothing like a sorry defeat at a relegation-threatened team that we stuffed earlier in the season at Blundell Park to bring us back down to earth. Alfreton had a 5-2 scoreline in their favour on Boxing Day when they beat Tamworth. They're undefeated in five and quite handy at home, but they still have a rubbish defence.
These weird and wonderful times in football make it possible for a player to play against a side he's destined to join on loan six weeks later and then rejoin his parent club to then play against the team he went to on loan. That's the position our resident banker Anthony Church finds himself in. After spending the last couple of months on loan at Alfreton, he's probably going to line up against them on Saturday following Manny the Cat's tearful departure. I liked Manny. He may have been a scruffy player but his presence in midfield coincided with our upturn in form. I'm not clever enough to analyse how exactly he contributed; I just know that he did. Not many players leave Grimsby saying their career is 'back on track', or that they were 'part of a team having a successful time'. In the meantime Manny plans to advise on whether Britain should intervene in Zimbabwe and oust that dictatorial shit Robert Mugabe.
If you're thinking about travelling down the M1 to Alfreton this weekend, Town's superb new official website has put together a handy travel pack. This basically tells you that adult tickets are £13, the away end is uncovered and Alfreton's not Southport. The club has also reminded us that it's now on Facebook and looking trendier than ever. If it was really trendy, of course, it would join in with #eldingfacts. Ciao!
Tuesday 3 January
So, that's that, then. GTFC are officially On The Up. Leaving aside for the moment Town's ongoing budget deficit and lack of a chairman, all the talk is of tides having turned and corners having been turned. The team are in the top half of the Conference Premier for the first time this season, and looking up rather than down for the first time since Deadly John (Topcon) sacked Nice Neil Woodseses.
Your original/regular Diary feels the new optimism as strongly as anyone (as opposed to the old optimism and the old new optimism, neither of which I subscribed to wholeheartedly, and the old old new optimism, which I was sort of meh about). When Anthony Elding's penalty made the second Lincoln game safe, I roared so vehemently that Mrs Diary gave me one of her looks. But (you knew there was a 'but' coming, right?) if Town's resurgence was built on the loan signings Shorty and Shouty made in November, can it survive the departure of Manny Panther?
Panther has been applauded by some Grimsby supporters for strengthening the team in central midfield. He's been admired by many more for his shrewd insights into the global economic crisis. Yesterday he Tweeted cryptically but unambiguously: "Got news earlier that unfortunately I wont be staying at grimsby when loan finishes on 7th jan. would like to have stayed but thats football". He also said something lovely about Town fans helping him "fall back in love with the game". Either way, he's off at an inopportune moment, as Craig Disley's ankle finally gave out under the weight of Grimbarian expectation. Anthony Church is returning from his loan at Alfreton with a lot to live up to. Andi Thanoj's moment may be about to arrive. Or, as Shouty, says in the Grimsby Telegraph, they might as well just sign someone else, because there's plenty of money; there's just no fackin' Manny.
A group of Town fans are looking to raise money and bid in the club's latest gate-naming auction. They want to name the entrance to the Pontoon stand after Richard Broadley and Matty Dawson, the two young Town fans who passed away last year. If you'd like to pledge a contribution, there's a thread on the Fishy messageboard where you can do just that; alternatively, send a PM through the Fishy to David Miller. If the auction is won, David will collect your money afterwards (by cheque, Paypal, or cash), and any spare funds will go to the club's youth development fund. Sounds worthy to us.
Monday 2 January
Miss Guest Diary writes: I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my reliance in recent years on Town's Boxing Day fixture to bring some excitement to Christmas. Well, this year the game against Lincoln certainly came up with the goods, with the added bonus of a New Year's Day rematch thrown in. Two games yielding six points, five goals and three hours of atmosphere-fuelled football is enough to make this a week to remember. Have we finally found the silver lining to being non-League? This festive season switcharound of two games against Lincoln inside a week, which may just have lit a rocket under Town's season, is not something that would happen if we were still in the Football League.
Looking back at both games, I feel that yesterday's was the better, more consistent performance but it couldn't match the second half of the Boxing Day game for excitement. Coming back from being a goal down and going on to win away from home is always special. Add to that the non-stop vocal support from 1,700 Town fans and the sheer fury emanating from some of the Lincoln fans and you definitely have the epitome of fever pitch. Oh and I think we won the battle of the away support too, Lincoln bringing only 748 to Blundell Park.
Returning to yesterday, I was very impressed by the new signing, Ian Miller, who looked very calm and competent. Garner also played well again. It looks like the management might face a selection dilemma of a good kind when I'Anson returns to fitness. There were also some downsides to the day: Wood's 10th yellow card, Disley's ankle injury and, worst of all for me, Manny Panther's dismissal. I didn't see the incident myself and, judging from the shortage of online comment from fans, neither did many other people.
If there is no successful appeal, then it may be that we won't see Manny in a Town shirt again, as his loan spell was due to end next Saturday anyway. That would be a shame. His arrival in midfield has added something indefinable, but positive, to the mix of the team a bit like that final dash of seasoning which turns a decent meal into a really tasty dish.
Town's exploits of the last week were deemed sufficiently noteworthy to warrant a short report in the Mail online, notable mostly for the terrible fishy pun "theatre of sea breams".
It's a shame the Cod Almighty T-shirt man has quit as it seems we may have a new Town 'hero' in the making. The Twitterati seem to have spent most of last night posting #eldingfacts. Here are a couple of my favourites:
Superman has a pair of Anthony Elding pyjamas
When Anthony Elding cuts onions, the onions cry
Happy new year to you all.