The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Come Friendly Words and Fall on Slough

17 November 2023

Last Friday's BOTB diary was written in the dark shadow of the Mariners performance away at Slough, and I had the demeanour of a diarist who was about to give up watching football, set up a tent in the back of Weelsby Woods and survive on roasted squirrel. Ah, but since then we have three points on the board, have progressed to the next round of the FA Cuppington and I personally have witnessed 10 (ten) goals fly into the opposition's net at BP. Many at high velocity.

We have also conceded four and questions are still being asked about our defence. Well, if you attack more you will concede more. What drove me mad about ex-Plucky Little Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst was the way his defensive minded approach to the game was employed regardless of the opposition. Sometimes you just have to back yourself to score more goals than they do. Obviously I cannot prove anything but I suspect if Hurst had still been the manager on Tuesday we would have beaten Slough 1-0 with a solid if nervy performance and he would have talked afterwards about the fact that they had some very good players and we needed to be careful of them at set pieces, or something. Yes, that is an imaginary scenario I have made up inside my head. But you have to admit it has the ring of authenticity about it.

Slough made a lot of friends at BP and rightly so. I liked 'em. They gave everything, never really resorted to much on or off the field cynicism, had fans who sang like a drunk Welsh choir throughout proceedings and were gracious in defeat. I really hope they stay up this year and go from strength to strength. Slough is bigger than Grimsby and there has to be potential there. In short, come on you Rebels, even though I never really worked out what it is they are rebelling against. Defending, perhaps.

I wish I could extend such warm and fuzzy feelings towards tomorrow's opponents, Forest Green. Housed next to a duckpond somewhere between Cornwall and Birmingham, their home attendances wobble between 1,200 and 2,500 depending on how many the opposition bring. Football is, of course, the ultimate meritocracy and they are in the league on merit – 'merit' in football often being shorthand for how rich the owners are – but the sourpuss in me just doesn't like them. Like Salford, they are a vanity project and it seems fundamentally unfair to me that vanity projects should be taking up league places that decent sized clubs with great history and tradition are scrapping like hell to achieve in the division below.

More importantly, they are one of only three teams between us and the Trapdoor of Despair. We play one of the others, Sutton, at home next Saturday. Six points from those and everyone will be breathing more easily. I'm a bit nervous. I need a lie down and possibly even one of those rescue remedies. These are small teams but big, big games. 

Have you noticed how watertight the club is these days? It's easier to get information about Exxxxxxx xxxxxx than it is to get leaks from BP. In case you're wondering, I decided to redact that line because it was a bit much. If you've nothing better to do – very unlikely, of course, but you might be sat at home with a broken leg or something – you could try and work it out. Warning. It's not worth it.

All of which means that the ongoing mad managerial mayhem is being carefully hidden from the public’s view and speculation may seem fruitless or bootless. Though this suppression of information is undoubtedly more professional, more efficient and more impressive, it's also less fun. I liked the days when managerial wannabes would park in the car park with things like "Mike Newell is Sponsored by Bells Whiskey" written on their cars, or they would be seen at petrol stations in the area and give cheeky nods to fans and say things like "let's wait and see, eh der la" when asked about their chances. At the moment Shaun and Benji are doing well, but would they have been serious possibilities if they weren't already in situ? There are tricky decisions to make.

If you're going to Forest Green tomorrow do remember to set the satnav for Nailsworth (me neither) and I admire you for your dedication and support. It's going to be a big eight days for the club and no mistake. Let those who outlive these days stand a-tiptoe when these days are named, or something. I'm not good at inspirational quotes, but I mean well.