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Diary - May 2012
Thursday 31 May
Miss Guest Diary writes: Another week goes by and here I am again scraping at the close-season barrel of news. Thanks go to Lloyd Griffith on Twitter for drawing Cod Almighty's attention to this gem. I'm not going to tell you what it is about you'll have to discover that for yourself. But I promise you won't be disappointed.
With season tickets going on sale next week, there have been no signings to encourage me to part with my money. In today's Telegraph Shouty is urging fans to be patient. He anticipates there will be three or four new players arriving before the pre-season friendlies and the Telegraph suggests a deal for a striker "may be imminent". In the course of the article Shouty mentions a player called Eden Hazard a quick Google revealed he's just signed for Chelsea so obviously he's some kind of metaphor rather than a transfer target. But what a shame he doesn't play at Town's level: that name is almost as great as Manny Panther.
The Diary told you earlier in the week that the Mariners Trust will be managing the bars at Blundell Park next season. The trust has now appealed to members for some assistance with the refurbishment work. I confess that, having always sat in the Pontoon, I didn't realise there were any bars apart from McMenemy's at the ground. And, as someone who doesn't drink much anyway, I won't be offering my help. Now if they planned to refurbish the ladies' toilets... but I guess there's no profit to be made from that.
While searching for Town news on the Telegraph site I came across an interview with Guy Martin, the local motorcycle racer. He features heavily in a film I saw recently called TT: Closer to the Edge about the Isle of Man TT races. I recommend watching this film: Martin is an unusual character and the racing footage is exhilarating and, at times, quite scary.
And that's me done. I'll be away next week in the Peak District escaping all the Diamond Jubilee hoo-hah. I hope by the time I return we've signed some players who'll rekindle my enthusiasm for Town.
Wednesday 30 May
I have spent the last two years thinking about using a football clichι that was once worn out by the wonderfully inept hoity-toity, namby-pamby, stick-it-up-your-jacksy Detective Inspector Grimm during an episode of The Thin Blue Line. But, in the absence of any inspiration on yet another no-news Wednesday and perhaps subconsciously unwilling to put in the necessary legwork to present it as innate wit your West Yorkshire Diary is just going to say it.
Since the Mariners fell into the Conference... it's all gone a bit pear shaped.
Conference. Pears. Geddit? Discuss that on your message boards. I'd advise you to go easy on the praise, though. I don't want you making T-shirts or anything, and then have to sell them on well-known auction websites (alongside ancient teacups and saucers discovered in the vaults of your building) when you realised you made too many of them.
Shouty would be quite good at selling pears at a London market, don't you think? Well, he'd be good at the shouty bit at least not so confident about his customer service though. And woe betide anyone who dares to return their pears to Shouty and Shorty's fruit 'n' veg stall because they're too squashy.
Today Shouty's screaming in the Grimmo Telegraph about season ticket prices being put in the freezer alongside the ice cream and field fresh peas, which will definitely mean more people will come to Blundell Park to watch matches of football next season against the likes of Dartford, Nuneaton and Hyde. The newbies were something that Shorty has talked about because, you know, they've managed at that level before, they know the standard of those teams and they're not going to be easy. I can't remember the last time a football manager claimed any opposition as 'easy', though.
What sparked that particular clichι is that the wound from the 5-0 drubbing in Braintree clearly hasn't healed. And when it does, the scar will always be there no matter how much bio oil we rub on it. So it's all polite and respectful in the managers' union, then unless, of course, you're Forest Green's assistant manager who tried to lamp Shouty that time.
Is there any news on next season's kit? What needs to be addressed is the away strip. There appears to be this obsession by all football clubs lately to want to play in all-white kits, like it's going to turn them into Real Madrid or something. It appears they need no invitation to use this clean and pristine colour scheme wherever possible. Unless you're Town. I don't know how many times they played in the Michael Barrymore away kit last season, but it won't have been many more than the season when we trudged out in that shocking grey number from when we were sponsored by Jarvis. No one has ever been held to account for that crime against football fashion, by the way.
And in the absence of anything else to report not even a sniff of a new player I'm going to leave it there and you can spend the rest of the day considering how awesome that pear joke really was.
Tuesday 29 May
So there you have it, lads and lasses: season ticket prices are frozen again unchanged for, what is it, about the fourth year on the trot? Your original/regular Diary is pleased but not too surprised by this news. After all, the menu at McMenemy's looks like it's been frozen since 1981. The scoreboard above the Osmond hasn't changed in a couple of decades. And the GTFC business plan of "spend too much money and hope for the best" is unchanged for about the seventh season in a row.
Still, there it is. "Guarantees you a place at every league match in the area of the ground of your choice," apparently, which is nice. I presume there'll also be a sheet of vouchers offering 7.5 per cent discount with a range of local businesses including restaurants seemingly named after experiments in biological warfare. Yes, Oscablax, I haven't forgotten you, whether you still exist or not. With a name like that I suspect not.
When he wasn't featuring in short films with Danny North, in which they played video games in hotel rooms, giggled a lot, and came across like a couple of 11-year-old boys, Nathan Jarman used to play the odd game of football for Grimsby Town Football Club. He looked pretty good at times, too, so it was a shame he only managed half a dozen goals in 50-odd games. Especially after shedding all that timber at the start. Anyroad, Jarman the Starman's ex-GTFC colleague Gary 'The Lump' Jones has seemingly persuaded him to join Chester. Lumpaldinho is assistant manager with the, um, can we still call them the Deviants, and has clearly had much more success at signing Jarman than I used to in Championship Manager when he was still at Barnsley.
Last up today, CA's friend and reader Phil 'The Power' Watson has emailed to point out some good news for Poor Serge Makofo. This comes in the form of a pronouncement to the Grimsby Telewag last week from club mascot John Fenty (Hotdog), who said: "We do not have any excess baggage in the camp." Presumably, then, Poor Serge is now considered an integral part of the squad again. But then again, Phil adds: "Perhaps he's not in the camp, perhaps he's in the building. That would explain it." Ah. Poor Serge.
Monday 28 May
I'm eating a muffin, is that the maguffin? Do you want to join your Deviant Diary in a game of Monday morning Pontoon pontoon? Twist.
The bunting is out, the street parties have been licensed, the heat is on: season tickets are the same price as last year. Hurrah, we aren't going to pay more for more of the same, just more of the same for the same old, same old. And if you look deeper into the eyes of the obligatory link you'll find exciting news of exciting new pre-season friendlies against teams we always have pre-season friendlies against. Same old, same old. Like a spinning wheel, round and around we go again. Let's twist again.
It's free drinks all round next year as the Mariners Trust proudly announces that it will run all the bars. They'll ask you for money, but just tell them you haven't got the cash right now and if they don't give you a pint then you won't be able to guarantee that you'll want another one. Remember, it's all for the comfort of John. No news yet on the Mariners Trust stance on tractor trance though. Will they be providing the mood music, the ambience for the amber nectars, the beat for bitter shandy and bitter half-time recriminations? The assembled Trustmen look more on the Phil Collins end of the spectrum, so Cap'n Stevie G'll be a happy supper. Actually they look more of a Phil Collins lookalike line-up. Guilty as charged, m'lud.
Or they could just water the beer down. Yeah, that'll do for the kidney-punching metaphorical allegory du jour, as Joey Barton said to the bishop. Twist.
And the big footballing news from the weekend was that Nick Colgan didn't kick the ball away at Wembley. Who cares about That England: the charity chuggers provided more vim, verve and swerve than Roy's toy soldiers. Who didn't chuckle when the chunky chippy chef was felled by Teddy Slow. Twist.
Poor old Darlo fans, they're not even in the Northern Premier League Division One South. That's tautology on a stick. Being a comprehensive schooled lad, I was never taught tautology. It probably explains my shoes.
Oh, we're bust.
Friday 25 May
Mardy Diary writes: Ah, summer. The smell of lager on pavement, the crack of fist against sick-encrusted chin, the red-chested heroes of the fleeting British summer who march proudly around with their many layers of melanoma inducing sunburn. You can't beat it. Or avoid it.
All this, of course, is my way of saying there's bugger all else to talk about. Oh, what? Right if I must. So Fenty, barely able to contain himself in this barren close-season, has taken to the pages of the Telegraph once more to pass on his worldly wisdom to us. Today it's strikers! Strikers! More strikers! Not the ones on picket lines, no! The ones that score goals. Lots of goals. Strikers!
Yes folks, it's spending time again. And Fenty has decided that as we've released two players who scored 20 goals between them, then we really need to sign some other players who can score. No shit. Although I hate to point out the obvious, but maybe Hearn's "dry spells" were due to a lack of chances created? Maybe? Perhaps? Maybe that might be the problem? And maybe if we'd scored the same amount of goals last season but conceded less then we might have got more points? Perhaps? Is this crazy talk?
Yes! Yes it is! Buy all the strikers! The strikers! Collect them all! It's what Crawley and Fleetwood have done, and God dammit this is what football is all about. Sod the winning, it's not even a results-based business anymore. It's a spending-based business. If you don't spend then who are ya? Who are ya? You're not spending anymore. You're not spending any-more! Who spent all their cash, who spent all their cash, you broke bastards, you broke bastards, you spent all your cash.
Rich Mills has written to us on the topic of striker signing. He says "I will head down the bookmakers to place bets on both Duffy and Bore scoring goals against us next season and their combined tally taking Lincoln to promotion". Wow! Well, if that bet comes in enjoy your new life as a millionaire, Rich. Perhaps you could then buy GTFC and buy all the strikers! All of them! The strikers!
In non-striker-signing news, the debate on who should play Shouty and Shorty in a film
rages meanders on at a leisurely summer pace. David Miller takes up Miss Guest Diary's challenge to find a link to Donnie Darko "a film about a demonic rabbit and a hole in the time-space continuum." David says "Well it's not a film, but surely there's a tenuous link with Bunny Newtons night spot and the bottomless Chapmans Pond in there somewhere? OK. I'll get my coat." It's the summer David, there is no news. We need all the tenuous links with Town we can get.
Have a nice weekend people.
Thursday 24 May
Miss Guest Diary writes: Being in the privileged position of no longer having to work for a living, I have quite a lot of free time. In that spirit, I watched this so you don't have to. What is it? It's a film on the SNOS of a tractor spreading seed at Blundell Park to some backing music that sounds like something my partner knocked up a few years ago on Dance eJay. His opus was called Spatial Awareness Jobling; this must surely be Tractor Trance. And you thought we at Cod Almighty towers have been scraping the news barrel in recent days.
When I saw a Tweet yesterday evening about an exclusive Liam Hearn story, I allowed myself to fantasise for a few seconds about the Telegraph 'doing a News of the World' and listening into voicemails about secret deals with Notts County or Peterborough. But, in reality, I knew it would be exactly what it is: a cosy story about how much Liam likes being at Town and how he isn't looking for a move. But, if you want to do some reading between the lines, he doesn't say he wouldn't leave if another club came looking for him. In fact, he teases us a little by talking about how flattered he was by alleged Championship interest in January and how "chances like that don't come around very often...".
Considering myself to be a film buff, I couldn't let this thing about who'd play Shouty'n'Shorty in a movie go by without adding my two penn'orth. I have delved further back into the oeuvre of Martin Scorsese than Deviant Diary did on Monday and come up with Mean Streets. Here we have Robert De Niro as the loose cannon who cannot control his temper or his mouth and Harvey Keitel as the cool-headed friend who tries to keep him in check. It all ends badly, of course, in a shoot-out with some rival mobsters.
Don't worry, all this film nonsense will end next week with the return of your original Diarist. It is well know he has only seen about three films, and one of those was Donnie Darko. I defy even him to link a film about a demonic rabbit and a hole in the time-space continuum to events at Blundell Park.
Wednesday 23 May
Trawling the Town the town of Grimsby is being trawled to find the most talented young footballers and give them the chance to sign for Town. That title again: Trawling the Town, just in case you forgot that Trawling the Town is called Trawling the Town.
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO the thing where you name drop whatever it is you want other people to find on the web so it promotes it on a search engine's results page. Take Trawling the Town, for example. If you use the same three words over and over again in an annoyingly rhythmical fashion (like a child beating the back of your seat on the Transpennine Express train from Donny to Cleethorpes) you may find that it dominates the Google results page when you search for Trawling the Town.
SEO is meant to be a subtle plan. But, as Blackadder once said to Baldrick: "You wouldn't know a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing 'Subtle Plans Are Here Again'." Perhaps it was just your West Yorkshire Diary that thought the Grimsby Telegraph weren't particularly subtle about the regularity of which they referred to Trawling the Town in the last half of their article on the campaign.
You know, if we were in America, Trawling the Town would be called 'Triple T'.
All petty and pedantic cynicism aside, Triple T is a great initiative that engages with the local community and gives youngsters a chance to take part in a bit of sport and enjoy themselves at the same time. It's my understanding that any funding we once received from the Football League to support our youth system ceased to exist the moment we realised we were going to be in the Conference for a third successive season, so anything that promotes the possibility of finding talent from our own town (like it used to be, in the good old days) is worth pursuing.
The only thing I would insist on when holding these Trawling the Town sessions is that the children are strictly prohibited from wearing the colours of badly run debt-ridden clubs owned by millionaires. So that prohibits them from wearing Grimsby shirts, then.
"Work has now began [sic] on preparing the Blundell Park pitch for the 2012/13 Season," says the official website that is both new and superb. The 'began' and 'begun' thing reminds me of the many times so-called professional sports commentators and pundits have used the word 'span' instead of 'spun' as in: "...and the ball span back over the line!" That particular faux pas happens quite a lot. It's spunned a generation.
Apologies, that's terrible. Time to end it there before I start talking about rotary blades or how sausage-shaped bacteria gave us the word Botox. Please, GTFC, sign someone before we all die on our collective arse here.
Tuesday 22 May
Middle-aged Diary writes: The 'Shall we have two goalkeepers in the squad?' traffic light is currently on green. That's the news.
On days like this, we all become like Grimsby Telegraph journalists, as Rob Smith observes while bringing us news of Nick Hegarty's rehabilitation in the Victorian Premier League. That's the state in Australia, in case you were wondering whether Hegarty had travelled back in time 120 years (and tried to take our Main Stand with him). 120 years ago was perhaps the prime of the Grimsby v Lincoln derby, which is the best I can do to link the fact that Rob Duffy and Peter Bore have both signed one year contracts at Sincil Bank. Whether we'll be moved to wonder, as Rob does of Hegarty, why we ever let them go may be determined by the results of the next Lincolnshire derby.
On days like this, themes suggested in a spirit of optimism by one diarist get legs as another has little choice but to pick them up. Richard Satterley, signing himself Man of Faith after the title given to his first letter in the CA postbag and reporting himself still bitten by the Mariners bug, suggests John Cleese and Ronnie Corbett to play Shouty and Shorty, an analogy which suggests that, in the pecking order of our co-managers' seniority, Paul Hurst knows his place.
That's it. Go outside and do something more interesting.
Monday 21 May
It's the Monday after the weekend, as Mondays tend to be. It's all over now baby blue, for we can swell our chests like capering capons and bask in the reflected glory of national success in the traditional finale to the European club season. Aren't we all so proud of them, every single one of 'em. Gawd bless 'em for vanquishing wealthy, haughty foe as destiny called. Yes, it was written: York proved that you can pass your way out of the Conference with super-dooper-uber-Buckleyball. The football nation rejoices. Your Deviant Diary reckons it's all about choices: I prefer a little bit of pickle with my choices.
There were other games apparently, but what have they to do with Town?
Or even the rest of this land of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? It's awl abart Laaaandon, innit. London sucks!. It's official 'cos the Big A, Austin Mitchell, aka "that bloke from Hull" (© Radio Five Live), says so. A bumptious, bloated Babylon full of chiselling barrow-boys. Rest easy, figurehead Fenty (Topsoil): he really was referring to That London. No need to send him to the back of the Findus.
The bricks have arrived! Mock we may, in May, but it's cheaper and less cheesy than those little Impies' cunning scheme to raffle off the naming rights to their Grand Ole' Opry for £50 a pop. Mmmmm, tempting isn't it. How does Really Little Blundell Park sound?
Do you think Serge wore his shin pads while watching Town games last season?
Who'd play Shorty 'n' Shouty in the motion picture event of the summer, asked West Yorkshire Diary all the way back last Wednesday. We have to somehow tickle your mental taste buds during the footballing famine ahead. Is he funny? How? Joe Pesci on stilts is a shoo-in for Shouty, with Ray Liotta as his quiet sidekick. If you ever meet Shouty in Sainsbury's don't call him a shoeshine boy. It'll end messily in the cat litter aisle with an unexpected nocturnal trip to Weelsby Woods.
Watch out Shorty, the witness protection scheme beckons. Like Town fans, you'll get to live the rest of your life like a schmuck.
Friday 18 May
Mardy Diary writes: Yesterday John 'Shit or Bust' Fenty revealed to the Telegraph that next season the club will have a competitive budget, will be looking to have a 22-man squad and has already started early discussions with some potential targets. Today the Telegraph follows this up with an interview with Shorty, who tells us... exactly the same thing. We should be grateful for the consistency I guess, but I think I understood perfectly well the first time, thanks.
One player who won't be coming to Town is Sam 'Thermal Resistance' Togwell, lately of Plucky Scunny. I'm quite pleased about this on one level. Not because I think he's rubbish reports suggest he's pretty decent but that I don't think stretching the budget to buy players from the third division is really a good way to
spend our ever-dwindling finance reduce our excessive levels of benign debt.
Miles Moss has written in response to the SNOS report that Rob Scott has been looking at that art stuff. "I see Rob Scott is a fan of Vladimir Kush, especially The Farewell Kiss," says Miles before suggesting some other Kush works that may be of interest to the Shouty one. Miles adds: "Sounds like a more appropriate painting for him. The Fish, the Town ('a symbol of organisation and orderliness' indeed!) and the man's 'unpredictable outburst of emotions'... perhaps he'd buy this painting if he HAD ANY FACKIN' MONEY!" Well, maybe next season's "competitive" budget includes an allowance for modern art in the changing room?
Rich Mills has written in response to the request for actors to play Shouty and Shorty in a film. "I've put a lot of thought into this and, rather than plump for more established actors, I have decided on the popular magic duo Penn and Teller. You know it makes sense," says Rich. I think there's already a duo out there with a history of working together on film who would fit the bill perfectly: Danny Devito and Arnie. Shouty would be played by Arnie, of course, who I'm sure would give an accurate portrayal of a manager on the edge of sanity: "Remember when I said we'd be successful? I liiieeed"; "Hasta la vista, Boston"; "What the fack aaaarreee you..."
And that is all the fackin' news. Have a good weekend.
Thursday 17 May
It's so exciting I could crush a grape. A Thursday in the off season is like late-era Crackerjack: a faint echo of distant comic glories, vaguely yet fondly remembered with hope that things can on get better. It's a Deviant Diary, it's a rainy day and ain't we got the blues.
Who cares about sour-faced Scots in a land far away that many of us know little. Dalglish and McLeish are off the leash. It's like the highland clearances out there in Moominland.
What news of the Grimsbyfolk? Err, hmmm, lots of local cricket, nasty people not being nice, and Pennells have lots of lovely hanging baskets, which is not believed to be reference to sad old Serge's career prospects. Ah, yes, here we are: a figure of fun finally pops up after the Tory trembling local elections. It's the tree feller of Humberston Avenue, the manic tie straightener and now officially styled as Figurehead Fenty. Lash him to the bow, cap'n, and set sail for the land of make believe! The grey man of Grimsby takes off his grey hat to the short one and the shouty one. After a full season of getting to know you, getting to know one another, S 'n' S know everything, and nothing can go wrong now with 22 professional footballers, wild staring eyes and a strong urge to fly off the handle. Yes, John Fenty (top-flop, side parting) has set out his agenda for action, his Mariner menu. We've heard it all before, just the names change. Like Ron's 22 this time, more than any other time this time, he's gonna get it right.
And that, dear, dear Johnnie, is just about it for this dank day. Everyone's on holiday, everyone's gone to the moon, everyone's got something better to do with their lives. I'm off to 'Ull in 43 minutes, so perhaps not quite everyone.
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.
Wednesday 16 May
There was a piece on BBC Breakfast a few weeks ago about why humans instinctively recoil at screeching and scratching such as running one's fingernails down a blackboard or rubbing your hand across a balloon. We all know it's an unpleasant sound (for some it's as intolerable as Serge Makofo's first touch). But no-one really understands why we react with clenched teeth and a grimace, and so a student and a professor from one of the country's reputable universities set up an online test to analyse which sounds in particular get your goat.
Now, your West Yorkshire Diary has no idea what the results from that study were because I was only interested in using that story as a tenuous link to the bit I'm about to say. What's that horrible, dull, scratchy noise? That'll be me, scraping the bottom of the news barrel. If you're not already grimacing, you should be. Captain Disley said something about us being rubbish at the start of last season and being pretty good in the middle before tailing off again near the end. But that's such old news that it should've already been recycled and turned into a reporter's notepad, upon which he'll write robotic quotes from the next Town player he gets to interview.
Since there's sod all left to report not even a live webcam so we can see how those engraved bricks are getting on I suppose I should turn my attention to who I consider to be the worst Town player I've seen. It's not often the name Buckley is associated with inability, but when you precede it with the forename Adam you can see where I'm going. For some bizarre reason probably only known by Sir Alan himself the great man chose to play his own son on the left wing in our second division side of 199900 ahead of the very capable Dave Smith and Kingsley Black. I feel like it's borderline as to whether he met the ten-game criterion Mardy Diary set, but it felt like much more.
I remember Adam Buckley hitting the bar against Norwich City in a televised game at Blundell Park, but everything else he did was forgettable. His consistent appearance in our starting XI caused me such outrage that I penned a letter to the Grimmo Telegraph detailing my bemusement. I know this because I've just moved house and came across the letter in an old box. I never did send it in. I kept it to remind myself that I should never write when I'm that angry because it's not good for my spelling.
Those were the days when people actually wrote letters and sent them in. The editor would assess each one and only publish those that met strict editorial criteria and created sensible debate. Today it's all about juvenile usernames, anarchic spelling, an aversion to full stops, and the caps lock. Does anyone get the impression that Shouty, if he existed online, would fit that profile? Shorty would probably be lower case and politely disagree with a lot of people.
If tomorrow's news is equally thin then may I suggest you start sending in your thoughts on who should play Shorty and Shouty in a film about their lives? It'll give tomorrow's Diary a chance to write more than two sentences that's if more bricks haven't been engraved, of course.
Tuesday 15 May
Technology. It's changed our lives in ways we couldn't imagine just a couple of decades ago. We can use social media to communicate with our mums. We can use smartphone technology to find out when our next bus is due. And your original/regular Diary can spend lunchtimes clicking links on web pages that say things like "Engraved Bricks Update".
If you're lucky enough to have a little spare cash after two years of the Coalition's slash-and-burn economic policy, you could spend it on an engraved brick outside Blundell Park, to help support Town's embattled youth system. Or you could put a quid of it on the turnstile tonight. There's a charity match afoot, kicking off at 7, between teams called GBA Allstars and Grimsby Town Legends. The cash raised will support research into leukaemia and lymphoma, in memory of the late Richard Broadley and Matty Dawson.
And that's about that so what a good thing it is that literally three of you have emailed on the subject of Town's worst ever player. Those of you with reasonable medium-term memories and nothing much to do will recall that Mardy Diary asked that very question here last Friday. Phil Watson suggests the infamous Mickael Antoine-Curier, "unless you meant worst person, when we have to mention Ashley Sestanovich". Rich Mills controversially suggests Tony Gallimore and Straight Peter Bore "both obviously talented but squandered their talents so therefore for me our worst players. Worse than some of the truly talentless players that have been through the doors lately, of which there are many."
And finally, Charles Lumley has penned a 250-word epitaph on Poor Serge Makofo. I won't reproduce it all here, partly because long emails can tend to overwhelm the Diary. But mostly because I regard any criticism of Poor Serge, however justified, as a form of bullying. And no, PSM wasn't really signed by accident after Town scouted his fellow Kettering forward Jean-Paul Marna. That was just a messageboard myth.
"This wastrel who can trap a ball further than I kick one is sat on a nice three-year deal," fumes Charles, "and is destined to be here for the duration as no bugger else will take him off our hands. Even Lincoln said no." You see? Gratuitous is the word. But as cruel as I deem Charles's outburst to be, he's got a super suggestion at this point. "There must be some use we can put the poor man to for the remainder of his contract. We still don't have a chairman in place do we?"
Monday 14 May
Miss Guest Diary writes: For once, all the football events at the weekend went the way I hoped: Man Utd didn't win the Premiership, QPR weren't relegated, York won the FA Trophy and Town won't have to play competitively against Gainsborough Trinity next season. My motives for desiring these outcomes are a mixture of schadenfreude, sentiment and an irrational phobia. Hmm, I think it may be time for a break from football for a while.
But that's going to be really difficult. What with the Champions League final, the various play-off finals, England friendlies and Euro 2012, there is no weekend between now and Town's first pre-season friendly on 7 July that is football-free. Of course, none of these games will involve a high level of emotional investment I save all the angst for Town but there'll still be scope for irritation, frustration and disappointment. Especially when England crash out of yet another tournament in the quarter-final stages.
News about Town is in short supply. Shorty is telling anyone who will listen that Serge Makofo is not wanted at the club and won't be playing even if he stays until his contract expires next year. He hasn't started a game since February and apparently declined the opportunity to go on loan to Gainsborough Trinity. Maybe Serge shares my irrational phobia about that club.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Anthony Elding has shown more insight than I would have expected by indicating he believes that "he still has to convince some of the Town faithful of his capabilities". He plans to come back "fitter and stronger to do more next season and get more fans on side". I'm very willing to be convinced but only by on-field performances and not off-field rhetoric. And that's an #eldingfact.
I'm sure everyone has already heard the news that Paul Groves has been given a two-year contract to manage Bournemouth. Congratulations! Groves is still in my list of top five all-time favourite Town players. Anyone who knows me will be aware that number one in my list is Wayne Burnett. Sometimes I daydream that Town are back in the league with Groves as manager and Burnett as his assistant. It could happen, couldn't it?
Friday 11 May
Mardy Diary writes: The second instalment of the highly anticipated management Q&A is now available on the SNOS and this time they've been kind enough to transcribe the answers. And place them after the actual questions. No more cross-referencing needed.
The answers themselves don't really tell us much more than we already know: they like the idea of using 4-3-3 from time to time; they want the midfielders to contribute more goals; they want players with desire and Work Ethic (© 2005 Russell Slade); beating Stockport 7-0 was great; losing to Braintree was bad. That sort of thing.
There's a few snippets in there though: they think Shaun Pearson has applied himself well over the season and made the step up hard to disagree with that based on how he ended the season. It's also nice to see that they see Artus as our creative outlet and link his run in the team after Christmas with the good run of results. There's the usual comments about the 'desire' of I'Anson and Coulson but they're not likely to change their tune on that although they do mention their willingness to learn as managers. Unit C is People Skills I think, so hopefully they'll be touching on that next semester.
What I like about the Q&A though is the way they haven't tidied up any of the submitted questions so you get to see how one person inexplicably switches to CAPS IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE IN HIS MISGUIDED RAGE AT THE USELESSNESS OF G SILK. Couldn't even bring himself to mention his first name, that's how appalled he is at Silk's lack of ability. It always amuses me that though that: I've been watching for 500 years and he is the worst player I've ever seen. Really? Silk? General opinion seemed to be that he wasn't bad. Steady, good crosser, bit lacking in pace. The worst player in 40 years? Worse than Terry Barwick? I pick Barwick there but really I could fill this page with names before I got to Silk.
But let's settle this once and for all with that arbiter of fairness: democracy (© 1969 Rupert Murdoch). Let us know, via the usual means, who you think is the worst player to have appeared for Town in the last 40 years. We will tally up the votes from our readership of seven people and the player with the most votes will be declared officially the worst player to have ever played for the club. Let's be fair and say that the player has to have made at least ten appearances, so that we're making a fair judgement of their abilities. And it's those who performed badly for Town, not those we think are arseholes. Although Beagrie does fit in both categories.
One final thing before I go: with pre-season games coming in thick and fast it appears the club have missed one already although they barely acknowledged it last season. Barton Town Old Boys are claiming that Town will be taking a "strong squad" for a friendly match against them on July 28th. Although they don't say whether any of that squad will actually be playing or just watching from the side lines.
Have a good weekend.
Thursday 10 May
Miss Guest Diary writes: Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast of the Danny Baker Show from a while ago. James Alexander Gordon was a guest and Danny got him to read out some results for the second division of a hundred years ago. Town lost, of course 5-2 to Glossop North End (who?). But what I found most interesting was that Gainsborough Trinity were in the same division as Town. I had assumed that they were like Forest Green or Alfreton and had never been in the Football League. But I was wrong.
This makes me feel slightly less put out that we will be in the same division as them next season if they win their play-off final against Nuneaton on Sunday. I like the wonderfully garbled comments which Trinity's manager Steve Housham has made about their promotion hopes. I'm not sure Town's management share Steve's optimism. Surely they wouldn't have arranged a pre-season friendly against a club which they expected to be playing in the same division? I wonder if the game will be cancelled if Trinity do get promoted?
I was pleased to read yesterday that my current favourite Frankie Artus has signed a new contract with the club. Today he has told the Telegraph that he hopes Liam Hearn will stay. Don't we all. I was less thrilled to read that "the way the managers are looking to play next season suits my game" just after he had expressed his appreciation of playing 4-3-3. We all know how well that works for Town. Just how many of Liam's goals were scored when Town were playing that formation, I wonder?
I am aware that some fans claim to support more than one team, but it still always puzzles me when I see people on the #GTFC Twitter hashtag expressing hopes for their second team. But if I did have a second team, it would be QPR. It's the nearest professional club to where I grew up and also the team my dad supported as a young man.
So I am quietly hoping they manage to stay in the Premier League this weekend. But equally I am hoping that Man City snatch the title from Man Utd, which is only guaranteed if they beat QPR. I don't have a preference for either Manchester team, but it has been very amusing watching all the TV pundits, who gave the title to Man Utd around Christmas time, suddenly having to backpedal furiously in the last month. I suppose I will get some satisfaction from the result, whoever wins. That is, I believe, known as a win-win situation. As a Town fan that's not a concept with which I'm really familiar.
Wednesday 9 May
If you have seen the trailer to the new film The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, then you'll know precisely which scene I had playing in my mind when I learned today that the Chairman's Challenge match from last night was won by... the Chairman (or the Major Shareholder, or whatever title he uses these days). Only I imagine Deadly John (Topcon) would have been more subtle in the way he disposed of his challengers and at least avoided shooting the opposition players in the leg with a pistol.
Since your West Yorkshire Diarist has experienced playing in a Chairman's Challenge match, I can say with confidence that it's a good laugh and something the club should persist with if only to give fans the opportunity to see someone like Gary Jones turn out in the black and white stripes once again. The challengers have a good time; they get to play on the Blundell Park turf and pay over a grand between them that goes to that thing that looks after the youth team. The SNOS has promised highlights and pictures of the match later today, so if you played in the game or just want to see the Lump in all his lumpiness, keep checking back for the action.
The latest product to be delivered from the much-vaunted Grimsby Town youth team conveyer belt (just after the cuddly toy) is Dayle Southwell whose attitude presumably carries the scent of apple blossom in the breeze to Shouty. Dayle's chuffed to bits, of course, to sign a one-year professional deal with the Mariners. As any true fan would declare, I hope he takes his chance we just hope it's more of a chance that Kiernan Hughes-Mason ever got.
More friendlies have been announced. And it appears Scurst are keen to test the team out against opposition they know well from their time managing Boston in the Conference North. However, while playing Stalybridge Celtic on the eve of a new season was once seen as an opportunity to score loads of goals and boost the morale of your players ahead of your first league match (well, it was on Footy nιe Champ Manager anyway), today it represents a genuine examination.
Anyone who played Premier Manager on the Amiga in the early nineties will know that Stalybridge Celtic were the worst team in the Conference, and you would always storm to promotion as Wycombe boss with Steve Guppy in your team!
Tuesday 8 May
Want to know the answers Shorty and Shouty have given to supporters in GTFC's latest 'Question Time' exercise? Got the the time and the inclination to listen to a half-hour audio file of Shorty and Shouty talking, while cross-referencing their answers to a web page on the SNOS to find out what they're on about? Go right ahead. If you're anything like your original/regular Diary, you'll start listening with the best of intentions, only for your mind to start wandering within four minutes or so into a chain of free association linking Kingsley Black, the catering at Vale Park, indiepop bands who played Hull Adelphi in the early 1990s, and the logistical challenges of sex in the back of a Fiat 500. Never mind we already know they're going to try playing 4-3-3 again next season, and we already know it won't work.
Town have announced a friendly against King$ton Communication$ FC on Friday 20 July. All money raised will go to the Parent Partnership Action Group (I think that was its name), which supports the work of GTFC's youth system, who develop very good players so that King$ton Communication$ FC can nick them. More friendlies will be announced tomorrow, says the club. Some fans, however, are struggling to rouse any interest in this summer's set of pre-season kickabouts, arguing that the players themselves could barely be arsed to play in a supposedly competitive context for the final dozen or so games of the 2011-12 campaign. These people will be hunted down and shot this afternoon by Rob Scott.
I'd like to thank Larne Mariner and Chris Beeley for two excellent emails recently. Sadly they're a bit too long for the Diary so I'll send them on to the Postbag editor. Electricity's Miles Moss, meanwhile, has been in touch to offer "105 Town programmes free to a good home. They weigh about 11 kilos in all, so if someone wants them for the price of postage they can have 'em (I've found £15, but if someone can find cheaper, even better). There are a smattering of games home and away from 1992 to 2006. They must be of use to someone. I'm putting them on Preloved too, in case any lunatic programme collectors are out there." Let the Diary know if you want to relieve Miles of his burden and we'll put you in touch.
Lastly today, then, Phil Watson asks: "Any idea why Miller's contract expires in April 2013? Surely that is before the end of next season? If we're in a tight promotion race next Easter, is it really going to help if a key player is in contract negotiations while we're playing those games, especially given the club's 'taking my bat home' approach to Coulson." No idea, Phil, sorry. All I can remember is that the CA team (well, me) thought it a little odd when Miller arrived on a 16-month contract. Answers on a postcard then, before the Tories sell the Post Office to their mates in high finance and the price of a stamp goes up to £14.90.
Monday 7 May
Let's go, children of the fatherland the day of glory has arrived! As the moneylenders and misanthropes finally get a Gallic hoof up the derriθre, let's throw our chapeaus in the air. It's a bank holiday bonjour and let us not forget willkommen, bienvenue, and welcome to Deviant Diary's cabaret.
Money makes the world go around, especially in the World of Blather that is modern football. FA Cup final day: like jumpers for goalposts, a thing of past beauty. With Saturday afternoon bereft of any real football, your average Town fan was reduced to B&Q's wallpaper aisle or an evening with Adrian Chiles: a Hobson's choice from hell. Chelsea v Liverpool was a such a devilish conundrum. Like a kickboxing death fight between the BNP and NF: who do you most want to lose horribly?
Grab your weapons, citizens. Form your battalions. Let us march! Doh, let's just forget about March. And April. Let's just forget about Grimsby Town Football Club plc, eh? Why worry about such trifling things? You'll only get het up over this long hot summer. Don't worry, Shorty (aka Drippy) has revealed the masterplan for next season: we will be Fleetwood. The gruesome twosome want to sign all Fleetwood's rejects and everything will be really nice. The streets are paved with chocolate, the houses made of ice cream and it rains hundreds and thousands and snows icing sugar. And then the magic fairies will start dancing in the chocolate streets and we'll all live happily ever after in a land far, far away, called League Two.
One day we'll step out of the shower and find it's all been a dream.
Friday 4 May
Mardy Diary writes: Well that's nice, isn't it? Bloody youth he thinks he's worth something, thinks he's made it. Well, we showed him. Stupid 18-year-old thinking he can get one over us adults. Pffft. That's the problem with kids isn't it, with their 'ideas' and their thinking they're any good at stuff. Well, we call the shots here us sensible, level-headed, non-shouty adults. Screw you I'Anson. We did you. Nur-nur-de-nur-nur.
And get a load of this the Telegraph finishes its Shouty interview with this quote: "As for Charlie, he joins the other 600 or so players looking for a new club." Yeeee-haaaa! In your face, jobless youth. You want to make it? Take a leaf out of our book. We've made it and this is how adults act, not like you, motherfucker. You'll never work again. Just look at the long, long, looooong list of players GTFC have released over the last ten years. See many of them in jobs? You do? Oh, well, yeah but I bet they're all playing non-League football and we're in the... oh shit.
If Scott wants to play 4-3-3 next season fine. That's his prerogative. If he wants to release a load of players and bring in more hard-working players with the requisite 'desire' fine. If he wants to reduce the squad and therefore reduce the wage bill good, it needs doing. But he should have a bit more fucking grace about it.
I'Anson has made his decision, whether rightly or wrongly. He may have made a mistake; we often do in our youth all of us. Perhaps he did think he was worth more than he is, I don't know. But he's 18. We're the adults here so let's not go bleating off in the press with snidey comments about him. And shame on the Telegraph for leading with such a pitiful "exclusive".
The decision has been made. Be the bigger man, Scott, and shut the fuck up for once.
Thursday 3 May
Just when your original/regular Diary was allowing myself to get cautiously optimistic about next season, I saw the team line up for the Southport game. They were in a 4-3-3 formation.
I'm not going to get all messageboardy and play pundit. I won't start pretending I can do that tactical analysis thing. All I know is what I see on the pitch. And what I've seen on the pitch for years now is that 4-3-3 doesn't work. It was a huge failure when Shorty and Shouty used it this season. It was a huge failure when Mike Newell used it at Meadow Lane in 2009, and when he switched to 4-4-2 at half time Town won and stayed up. It was a huge failure when Lennie Lawrence couldn't decide which two forwards to perm from Bradley Allen, Steve Livingstone and David Nielsen so he played all three. All the available evidence seems to suggest that when Shorty and Shouty try it again next season, it will be a huge failure.
It's perhaps with an eye on their 'new' formation for 2012-13 that the managers have opted to release Gary Silk. When Silk returned from injury midway through the season just ended, he and Conor Townsend offered an attacking threat from the full-back positions that was pretty much unique in the Conference. Silk's ability to cross a ball productively became a significant contributory factor to Town's great mid-season winning run.
The one telling weakness in Silk's game was a lack of pace. This is less of an issue in a 4-4-2 set-up, where the wide midfielders are tasked with covering when space opens up behind a full-back. In a 4-3-3 system, though, the full-back is left more exposed with no wide midfielders, and needs greater pace to peg it up and down the flank all afternoon. And, reading between Shorty's lines, that's why Silk is out.
This is different to what I assumed when I heard earlier this week that Silk's future was uncertain. I thought the move towards a more rational budget meant there was no room in the squad for two right-backs, and Bradley Wood would be enough. But no: the Shorty manager has said today that a replacement for Silk will arrive over the summer. "It may not be exactly like-for-like," he explains, "maybe someone with different attributes to Silky and fitting in to the way we want to play next season." If that way is 4-3-3, and if it turns out the way it always does, then good luck with that.
Breaking news, and breaking hearts: Charlie I'Anson has also left the club after rejecting a new contract. Last week I did kind of think the release of Scott Garner might prove to be, well, a huge failure if this were to end up happening. Now I feel this was a bit premature. It's not a huge failure at all: it's a disaster. If you're allowing yourself to get cautiously optimistic about next season, then good luck with that too.
Wednesday 2 May
I'd like to begin this rather rushed and shorter-than-usual diary by contemplating how two managers can say they didn't see a player in their cunning plan for 10th place in the Conference next season, yet offer him a two-year contract extension. That, to your West Yorkshire Diary, seems to be an attitude more at home on the terraces when fans watch their team get dumped out of a cup competition, only to later declare that they didn't want to win a Mickey Mouse trophy anyway.
I'm not one to dwell on the past and reminisce about the times when Town were less shit than they are today, but I liked Michael Coulson and I think Scott and Hurst (or 'Scurst', as they are known among the generation that reads Heat magazine) may yet regret the decision to allow him to leave. It's one thing to say that they didn't see Duffy or Garner in their plans next season, but to suggest they didn't see Coulson in their plans given the well documented and widely reported news of him being offered a two-year deal is a downright lie. Either that or the Grimsby Telewag misreported the issue. Based on the impressions I have on both parties, I'm not quite sure which one to believe.
I don't know. Maybe Scurst did see Coulson at the club next season, to work alongside Serge Makofo in the gym or something. A part of me forgot Serge was still here. The Telegraph reports that he's likely to be transfer listed during the summer, while the most talented midfielder to come through Town's youth system in years and the steadiest keeper the club has had since Steve Mildenhall have both spoken about their delight in agreeing new two-year deals. That's pretty good news as far as I'm concerned. Let's hope Charlie I'Anson can agree a new deal in the next few days.
I'm going to have to love you and leave you there, I'm afraid. Ciao!
Tuesday 1 May
Saddened but not surprised. That's how your original/regular Diary felt when I read a tweet by Too Good To Go Down the other day. It said that Michael Coulson recently released by GTFC from the remaining weeks of his contract after rejecting a new deal was allegedly "unable to train with league club for 6 weeks as Town still hold registration and won't let him". Is it true? We can't be sure. But former Mariners defender Steven Watt shared the Diary's feelings, tweeting: "that's shocking but if I'm being honest it doesn't surprise me".
If it's true, then it's not just the kindergarten petulance that's so terrible. Although that's bad enough (see also: Tondeur, John, removal to back of press room of). It's also the sheer stupidity. The utterly self-defeating nature of it. The reeling off of an entire round of live ammunition into one's toes. Has it even occurred to anyone at the club that professional footballers talk to each other? That word might get around about GTFC being a shit employer? That this will make the seemingly impossible job of building a decent Grimsby Town team harder still? No?
There's better news about the players who are staying although, reading the Grimsby Telewag and Town's superb new official website, I'm a bit confused about where being "given" or "handed" a new contract ends and where actually signing it begins. And don't even ask me how "agreeing" the new contract fits into the middle.
What it looks like is that James 'Don't Call Him Macca' McKeown has signed for two more years. Andi Thanoj is probably just about to do likewise. Miss Guest Diary's favourite, Frankie Artus (I intend no disparagement by thinking of Artus as a sort of Tesco Saver Wayne Burnett), has said he'd like to stay, and "been handed" a new one-year contract. There's nothing anywhere to say he's actually signed it yet though. Good news? Hell, the CA team were so excited yesterday that we even sent Andi a congratulatory tweet despite our policy of not using Twitter to try and communicate with footballers, except for Martin Gritton.
As ever, the Cod Almighty Contract Tracker is here to try and keep you up to date (beware of expensive imitations), but we're not sure what to enter into it next to the name of Charlie I'Anson. While the club has been happy to tell us exactly what length contracts have been offered to other players, and what stage negotiations are at, Town's shit-hot executive management are notably more circumspect over I'Anson's situation. "Talks are ongoing" seems to be the most we can get out of the SNOS.
But surely Grimsby Town Football Club, with its much-vaunted emphasis on youth, wouldn't allow the departure of the most talented central defender to emerge through the ranks since Peter Handyside? Well, don't hold your breath. This is the same club that lost future Premier League star Danny Butterfield on a free transfer because nobody in the office understood how the Bosman ruling worked.
Oh, and Anthony Church and Kiernan Hughes-Mason have been released. The exit of Church has seemed inevitable to me since his positionally challenged first half against Forest Green in March. Hughes-Mason's seems a shame, as many supporters thought he had a lot to offer and were surprised he wasn't given more of a chance. We could trust the managers' judgement on this one, or we could go on a messageboard, turn on caps lock, and randomly flap our webbed fingers at the keyboard for a couple of minutes. We haven't decided yet.
Lastly today, Chris White has emailed the Diary in response to Matt Pakes' question last week. Matt asked: "When was the last time we actually finished a season with the same managers we started with?". It's funny he should mention that, says Chris, because "at the start of the season I was hoping for three things: to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup; to finish in the top half of the table; and to finish the season with the same managers as we started it with. So by my reckoning a successful season!" Thanks, Chris! If anyone's glass is half-fuller than that, we'd be delighted to hear from you.