The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Is 54 still middle-aged?

5 December 2017

Not only is Danny Collins Welsh, he was also a left-arm spinner. Middle-Aged Diary can't quite claim that myself; left-arm and slow, certainly, but any deviations in line were entirely the product of an uneven back lawn. Nevertheless, the revelation that Collins practised my favourite cricket discipline further endears him to me.

I can't claim to be hugely knowledgeable about Shakespeare, but if Collins is able to reveal he took advantage of the weekend break to cross the Atlantic, it'll be a further feather in his cap. Fiasco Theater is currently putting on in New York a production of Twelfth Night that mentions Grimsby Town; a dirge, my brother informs me, no doubt exploiting both the 'grim' in our name and the assonance of 'town' and 'drowned'. The show is running until 6 January if you fancy it.

Did Collins find time in his teens, between cricket and football, to stand in shopping centres selling Trotskyist papers? My own experiences of politics in the 1980s have left me deeply suspicious of two tropes, both of which have been deployed in Grimsby in the last week. I won't apologise too much for revisiting old ground as I've already exhausted the new ground.

One of the tropes is indeed that it is time to move on. Whenever I hear that, I imagine a burglar making off with your telly. You chase after him and tackle him just as he loads the stolen goods on his van. A fracas ensues until finally, both of you exhausted, the burglar says "it's time to move on" – and move on he does, driving his van away, your telly still inside.

It doesn't quite meet the case here. But the Fenty apologists might like to consider that it is Fenty himself who seems unable to move on from the Woodhouse affair, adopting the demeanour of a pompous headmaster dealing with a naughty schoolboy. Whatever damage he claims Matt Dean's tweets did, Fenty has certainly aggravated it.

Then there is unity day, and you can bet that whenever anyone tries to end a debate with a call for unity, they are not offering to cede any ground themselves. Mariners Trust chair Paul Savage will be writing about this in Cod Almighty later in the week, so you will read another point of view, but let me set out my reservations.

I entirely welcome efforts made to promote attendances at any time, and in December especially. I also accept that the idea for GTFC unity day came from the trust and club employees before the fans' forum and with no board involvement. My problem is that using unity in a marketing exercise seems to me misguided for two reasons.

First of all, the call for unity is addressing those most engaged with the club: the people who write and read about Town on social media and turn up to fans' forums. We'll probably be going to the game anyway. I've had it in my calendar for months. It is the less committed fan who needs the extra incentive to pay the admission when there are so many other claims on their time and purses. And what they need is a sense that going to the game will be not worthy but fun.

That brings me to the second point. Unity is one of those words that immediately suggests its opposite. Just as no-one offers a manager a vote of confidence when the team is on a ten-match winning streak, so no-one ever calls for unity when everyone is in agreement. The casual fan, again, is going to look at the phrase 'GTFC unity day' and wonder what exactly is going on behind the scenes that they don't know about and don't much care for the sound of.

That said, Graham Rodger does a good job linking unity with community cohesion and common ground. Let's hope fans, for whatever reasons, pack the Park on Saturday and we send the strangely inorganic Forest Green Rovers back home on the end of a beating. Let's hope Carl Boyeson awards us a dubious penalty. And let's hope that Danny Collins – Welshman, cricketer and possibly Shakespearean scholar and former socialist activist – has a blinder.